What It’s Like to Be 28 + 30 By 30 Update

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Y’all should know by now that I LOVVVVVVVVVVVVE my birthday. Always have and probably always will. But two years ago, when I turned 26, I had a weird moment. Literally, that picture at the top of this post could not be more real. 25 was my golden birthday – turned 25 on the 25th – and I felt soooo adult-y and grown-up. And then I turned 26 and was like, “Hold up…”

28 wasn’t intimidating until I remembered that my mom had me when she was 28. When Daniel and I got married, I was 22, and I never felt in a hurry to have kids because my parents were 28 and 30, and they did just fine. But I also didn’t expect to be married for 6 years and still not have kids, and as my birthday approached, I couldn’t stop the flood of thoughts:

I’m about to be the age my mom was when she had me. And I’m the oldest kid. I better get a move on; I can’t have my first kid when I’m 30. And what in the heck am I doing with my life?? I’m almost out of my 20’s and haven’t I cured cancer or created a new social media site yet. Everyone else is doing super important things with their life and yesterday I tried to get out of my car with my seat belt still on. *sigh*

All things considered, though, my birthday was actually AMAZING. My husband woke me up with breakfast in bed and some wonderful birthday gifts, we went to lunch with a group of friends from church and did a little shopping, and then celebrated with friends, pizza, cake, champagne, games, and a movie night at our house that night. It didn’t have to be anything extravagant or expensive – just knowing that Daniel planned everything in advance made me feel very loved. ♥

I also wanted to take a second to fill you in on my 30 By 30 progress, since I brought it up – so here’s a few things I’ve accomplished since my last update!

30 By 30 Update

#5. Throw someone a surprise party.
I actually did this twice last fall – a Stranger Things party for Jeremy, and a 13 Going on 30 party for Courtnie!

#15. Take Fitz on a trip.
Fitz goes to Thackerville with us all the time, but he also took a little vacation to meet up with a female German shepherd named Scarlett…! Haha. Things apparently went well, because Scarlett had a bunch of super cute puppies.

#17. Make a map of places we’ve visited.
When we went to Colorado with my family last summer, I found the perfect thing in one of the shops in downtown Silverton – a tea towel with a giant map of the United States on it, with all the states outlined. I’ve started coloring in each state we’ve visited with a Sharpie.

#27. Go on a fancy dress-up date.
We got to do this in Vegas for the MONAT gala. I just love dressing up!

I also finished another book (The Meaning of Marriage) and traveled to another state (Nevada). I never would have guessed when I created my list that I’d go to so many new states so quickly. My goal in 2016 was to visit five new states by February 2020, and I visited four in 2017 alone!!

What’s coming up in 2018? Nothing definite yet, but hoping to check #13, #19, and #26 off the list. What do you have planned this year?

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

A photo by Matthew Wiebe. unsplash.com/photos/tBtuxtLvAZs

I’m convinced that once you graduate high school, your life afterward is just one big question mark after another. Do you go to college, or not? What kind of job should you look for? Do you stay close to home, or venture off somewhere new? How do you decide who to marry, when to have kids, when you’ve had enough kids, how long to stay in a particular job before moving on, how much to save for retirement, and where to grow old with your spouse? I struggle with remembering what day it is sometimes, and I’m expected to figure all of that stuff out?! Sheesh. I can’t believe I wanted to be an adult when I was little. I want to go back  to nap time and someone else cooking all my meals for me. Only half kidding. :) But seriously, adulthood is hard. There’s no manual for it. Everyone’s life path is unique, and all of us are faced with difficult choices from time to time. And your twenties are extra intimidating, because the choices you make during that season will literally direct the rest of your life.

So…what do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Think about what you DO know.
There may be a lot of things up in the air, but I’m willing to bet there are still a few things that you’re sure of. No matter who you are, one thing will always be certain: You are seen, known, and adored by God. This knowledge alone should bring all kinds of motivation, joy, and obedience if you are a follower of Jesus. As believers, we know that regardless of our marital status, age, financial position, knowledge level, or career path, we are all called to do two things: (1) love God and (2) love people. Nine times out of ten, when I feel like I just keep running into a spiritual or mental wall, it’s because I’m not spending time with God and I’m not serving others with a kind heart. So if you’re in a rut, ask yourself – are you doing those two things? Are you genuinely growing in your love for the Lord? Are you actively looking for ways to love others around you?

Remember who is in control of your emotions.
Emotions were created by God, which makes them GOOD. It’s okay to feel, and to feel deeply! This is one of things that makes us human. God didn’t create us to be robotic, dragging dully through life with our eyes glazed over like zombies. On the other hand, however, emotions were not created to carry us away like a rushing current. I struggle with this a lot. It’s easy to be overtaken at times by sadness, anger, or fear, but in those overwhelming moments, you have to dial it back. Take a breath and ask God to give you a clear mind. YOU are in control of your emotions. They are not in control of you. Don’t give Satan a foothold.

Talk out loud to God.
Few things in my life have strengthened my relationship with God as much as this has. It might feel weird at first, especially if you’ve never done it before. But just try it! You might be surprised by what comes out of your mouth – or what doesn’t. I’ve been made aware of sin in my life because as I was talking to God in my car, He brought something to my mind and I didn’t want to talk about it out loud. Verbalizing your prayers is also a great way to keep yourself from getting distracted. I know I’m not the one who has done this: “God, thank you for your grace today…thank you for my husband…thank you for our home and our friends…oh crap, I forgot to text Ashley back…I need to figure out what we’re going to have for dinner tonight…”

Take some time for yourself.
Having “me time” or “alone time” is really hard for some people to do, especially if you’re an extrovert, a parent, or a people-pleaser. Sometimes, though, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to just take care of yourself. If you spend all your energy pouring out but never allow yourself to be poured into, you WILL wear out. If you’re tired, worried, or stretched too thin, set aside a day, an evening, or even just an hour to do something that’s just for you. Take a bath; watch something funny on Netflix; take your dog for a walk; do something crafty; bake your favorite dessert. And maybe try that talking out loud to God thing while you do it. Spending time with the Lord and doing something that brings you joy is an easy way to fill your empty cup back up.

Surround yourself with encouragers.
This is a big one. We were not created to go through life, including the hard parts, alone. We need each other, and God designed it that way on purpose! Whether you find it through family, friends, your church, or elsewhere, community is both healthy and necessary. Daniel and I have experienced some truly awful heartache in the last year, and I can confidently say that one of the biggest reasons we survived is because of our foundation group through our church. Having people around you who pray for you, grieve with you, and help meet your needs is life-giving. It is so much easier to carry a heavy burden when you have multiple pairs of hands (Galatians 6:2). If you don’t like to let people in, pray that God would give you courage and willingness to build relationships with solid people. If you aren’t plugged into a community, find one. If you don’t know where to find one, email me. :)

Learn to be okay with waiting.
Lately, I’ve been reading this fabulous book by Wendy Pope called Wait and See, and one of the things she talks about is learning how to be patient in your pasture, using David from the Bible as an example. He was just a young shepherd, tending sheep, and God sent Samuel directly to him to anoint him as king when he was only ten years old. But that didn’t mean it was time for David to take the throne immediately. God kept him in the pasture a little while longer, and while David was there, he learned how to truly, deeply love God and recognize His voice – two things that were absolutely vital for him to know to serve as king later on. Patience is not only a virtue; it is a skill, and one that can be learned. There is a purpose for every pause. As Wendy so beautifully put it, “The wait is more about experiencing God than enduring the delay.”

To my friends in a season of waiting and decision-making – I hope this encourages you. ♥

2018 Goals + My Word for the Year

One year ago today, I started something new! Instead of creating resolutions that would be too easily forgotten or too quickly broken (like giving up fast food or working out every day – uhhhh yeah right), I made a list of a few specific, measurable, realistic goals for the year. A list that I could come back to now, a year later, to see how I grew in 2017.

I don’t know about you, but 2017 was a roller coaster for us. We experienced some really high highs and some really low lows. But when I took time to reflect on 2017 through my 20 Questions post, I remembered how many good things took place and how faithful God was to us. When the ball dropped and we toasted at midnight on January 1st, I took a deep breath and let it out, feeling both relief and resolve, thankful to leave 2017 in the past and step forward into a new year. I knew I had to continue this tradition from last year, and just like last year, my hope is that at the end of 2018, I will see obvious growth and progress from where I am now.

What I did last year:

  • Almost every night (as often as I could), I wrote down something that made me happy that day. This was surprisingly therapeutic and a great way to remind my heart that at least one good thing happened each day. I’m thankful to be able to go back and read about seemingly-small-but-still-significant things that I would have forgotten if I hadn’t written them down. I don’t remember how I came up with this idea, but I’m so glad I did, and I want to continue it in 2018.

  • I took a week-long vacation with Daniel to celebrate and refresh our marriage. ♥
    We went on a wonderful Alaskan cruise, during which we visited Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, and Victoria! Yay for good views, good food, and good company.

  • I (semi)permanently integrated healthier eating and exercise into my lifestyle. Doing Keto was honestly life-changing. I had no idea I could exercise that much self control for that long. We are actually doing it again for a month or two, right now!

  • I learned something new on purpose. Although it wasn’t hand lettering or a different language, like I had planned. :) I learned how to have self control with food. I learned how to lead a group of newly-married couples and become a family. I learned how to sing the lyrics to that Shane & Shane song – “Though You slay me, yet I will praise You” – and mean it.

  • We had intentional date nights at least once a month. Lots of yummy food, a murder mystery dinner party, David Copperfield, and binge-watching TV shows. Originally, my goal was date nights that WEREN’T dinner and a movie, but hey – we love dinner, and we love movies! Why mess with what works?? (Here’s the full list of our dates, by month.)

  • I began to view food as a gift to enjoy with wisdom, not as an indulgence I deserve. 
    Again – Keto was life-changing. I’ll be forever thankful that God helped me do it successfully, and that it’s something we can easily revisit and incorporate into our lives when we need a boost.

As far as the other two goals go: I didn’t cut down on screen time quite as much as I should have, but I did nurture new relationships and finished multiple books! And although I didn’t earn $1500+ every month from MONAT, I did earn enough in bonuses in one month to pay for our Alaska anniversary photo shoot, including a plane ticket for our photographer; I more than doubled my number of team members; and I earned a free trip to Vegas with Daniel in October. I still consider that a win. ♥


• 2018 •

Each night (or as often as I can), write down something that made me happy that day.

Read through the whole Bible chronologically.

Send 12 random surprise gifts to family, friends, or coworkers. ✓
1. Took ice cream to Daniel at work.
2. Surprised my coworker Sarah with a birthday cupcake.
3. Left a “welcome home” basket for the Wesberrys when Laeklyn was born.
4. Mailed Robyn a bride-to-be package.
5. Sent Eliya a date night gift card when Corey came home from Afghanistan.
6. Gave Jen & Stacey a date night gift card for their anniversary.
7. Delivered coffee to Sheridan at her office.
8. Made a snack basket and left it on Daniel’s desk to celebrate Friday.
9. Participated in an Instagram gift swap for Christmas.
10. Sent some cute druzy earrings to a secret sister via Facebook.
11. Surprised my boss with a group Christmas gift.
12. Gave my coworkers cute little DIY stovetop potpourri jars.

Create new blog/social media content more consistently. ✓

Go on a group vacation with good friends. ✓
Easily one of my favorite things we’ve done this year. We made such great memories on our Caribbean cruise with Brandon and Ashley and the Rains family!

Have at least one TV-free day per week, and one social media-free day per month.

Become a MONAT Mentor by the end of the year.

Take a trip to visit my brother at his new place in Florida. 
Our 2nd annual Simma family vacay in June was so much fun – we explored St. Augustine, soaked up the sun at the beach, and even visited Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World!

Plan a few out-of-the-ordinary date nights – new things we’ve never done before. ✓
1. For our 6th anniversary, we went to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House and ate one of the best meals either of us has ever had.

Walk more: with Daniel, with Fitz, in the park, on a beach… ;) 
We walked allllll over Disney World until our feet about fell off! And we started trying to take Fitz on walks again, even though he is frustratingly strong.


Last year, I also picked a word to be my theme for 2017 – Hope. The anchor of souls, assurance despite repeated disappointment, and the companion of trust. It couldn’t have been a more perfect choice. As the end of December drew near, I started thinking about a word to define 2018. Everything I came up with seemed cheesy or didn’t quite fit, until one particular word starting showing up everywhere.

Courage. AKA, Something I suck at.

When I googled “courage” to find a photo for this post, I came across this quote from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, and my heart swelled with encouragement:

“Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, ‘Courage, dear heart,’ and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s.”

I believe with all my heart that God Himself gave me the word “courage” for 2018, just as He gave me “hope” for 2017. I felt Him nudging this word closer to me for about a week, and although I tried to ignore it and pick another word for awhile, I have finally accepted it as a gift from Him. Although hope was my word for last year, I still spent too much time living in a state of fear. I refuse to let my life be dictated by “what if’s” anymore. ♥

What is one of your goals for this year? Tell me in the comments!

20 Questions for 2017

Before the ball drops and we sing our way into another January, it’s only fair that we take some time to reflect on 2017. Maybe it was an amazing year and all your dreams came true! (And if so, just shut up and enjoy being a Disney princess.) Or maybe this year completely sucked, and you’ve been ready for 2018 since June. Either way, we can’t successfully walk into the future without making peace with our past, whether it was good or bad. Over the last few years, I’ve seen several other bloggers do different versions of this reflection exercise, and I absolutely love it.

What was the best thing that happened this year?
Hmmm…that’s hard!! There was a lot of goodness in 2017. But I think our Alaska trip takes the cake. Glaciers, anniversary pictures, mountains, delicious food – pretty difficult to top.

What was the most challenging thing that happened this year?
To be real? Infertility. I haven’t talked about this publicly at all, and it’s scary to put it out there. But I would be lying if I answered this question with anything else. We’ve been dealing with it for awhile, but it really kicked me in the teeth this year. It’s almost impossible to explain to anyone who’s never experienced it. But we know that the Lord has not overlooked us, and we trust His timing. ♥

Who were my most valuable friendships with?
I consider all my friendships valuable, of course, but the newest friendship value came from our foundation group! We host a group of young married couples at our house every week, and they truly have become our tribe. We’ve seen each other through a lot in just a year.

What are some new skills that I learned?
I learned that I CAN be disciplined about food. Keto changed my life. Seriously. We aren’t doing it currently, but I have never felt as good about my body in my entire life as I did when we went on Keto. I learned how to cook differently and treat food with a healthy perspective, and I’m so thankful for both of those things.

Pick three words to describe this year.
Wait. Hope. Heal.

What was my biggest personal change from January to December?
Probably switching jobs. I finally moved from an entry-level position as a college recruiter to more of a mid-level position as an HR Communications professional. Intimidating, but rewarding, and definitely a big piece of my adulting process this year.

What was the best book I read this year?
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.

What did I do to serve others this year?
The biggest ways were (1) participating in activities with the young adult ministry at our church, and (2) serving my new mom friends by hosting baby showers, taking them food, and helping around the house.

Name a couple of positive memory-making experiences from 2017.
1. Our cruise to Alaska
2. Colorado with the Simmas
3. My niece Karis and “nephew” Cole were born
4. The MONAT Vegas trip
5. Absolutely everything about our foundation group

What 2017 accomplishments am I most proud of?
Losing 30 pounds on Keto and earning a free trip to Vegas!

What are some things I’ve learned to accept this year?
I don’t know that I’ve fully accepted it…haha…but I’ve learned that I’m not really in control of anything in my life. I try to be, really really hard, but ultimately, everything plays out exactly the way God designs it. My job is not to control everything and make it make sense, but to continue to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus and trust that what He does is always right.

In what ways did I grow spiritually?
I have a deeper understanding of how powerful and purposeful prayer is. It’s not about getting God to do what we want if we cry and beg and plead enough. It’s about communication: talking AND listening. Telling Him our joys and sorrows, asking Him for things while accepting that He may not give them to us, affirming His faithfulness and goodness, and truly being still with Him so He can speak back.

What did I gain in 2017? What did I lose?
Gained = new friendships, new job, and a stronger marriage.
Lost = time. I wasted too much of it by worrying.

Name a difficult situation I overcame.
About halfway through Keto, I hit a weight plateau. Daniel had gone off of it because he met his goal and was still losing weight (the jerk); meanwhile, I was stuck gaining and losing the same pound for more than two weeks, only FIVE POUNDS from my goal. It was miserable. I couldn’t understand why I had stalled, and I just wanted to be done. I finally figured out that I needed to adjust my macros and eat less calories, since I had lost weight, and lo and behold – it worked!! I finished Keto just in time for our trip to Vegas. :)

What is something I want to do better in 2018?
Write more. I get out of the habit and forget what a great outlet it is.

What was the best thing I did with my time this year?
Spend almost every Monday with Dara, Sheridan, Kendra, and Brianna (and their husbands). I really can’t overstate how special these couples have become to me this year.

What was the single biggest time-waster in my life this year?
My phone.

What am I most grateful for in 2017?
Two things! First: the chance to travel to so many new places. 2017 was a wanderluster’s dream come true. Second: after experiencing some awful personal tragedies this year, I have never felt more loved by our families and friend community. Their prayer support was overwhelming, and I will never forget that feeling.

What do I want to leave behind in 2017?
My lack of trust in the Lord, (many) moments of failure, fear about the future, and tears shed over all three.

Who do I want to be in 2018?
A woman of wisdom and courage. ♥

I can’t think of a better year to close the book on 2017. Feel free to join in and answer them for yourself, if you want!

Playing Catch Up

It does NOT feel possible that tomorrow is the first day of November. October went by in a FLASH, and boy was it full! I’ve got lots of content planned, but here’s a little preview/life update in the meantime!

This wasn’t technically in October, but I hosted a sprinkles-themed baby shower for my friend Brianna and her baby girl Mallorie, and it was so perfect!! I’ll share more pictures soon. I can’t wait to meet Mallorie in a few short weeks!

Daniel and I got to take a trip to Las Vegas at the beginning of the month, because I EARNED IT. Still doesn’t feel real to say that, even though I’ve got the pictures and everything to prove it. I met some goals in my MONAT business this year and earned this trip, for free. We stayed at the Planet Hollywood resort, and it did not disappoint!

Fitz continued to be adorable, like always.

Speaking of adorable – I got to welcome the most perfect human into the world last week, and my heart still explodes every time I look at this picture. Say hello to my “nephew”/self-appointed secondary child by proxy, Cole Alan! ♥♥♥

I also got to check something off of my 30 By 30 list – throwing someone a surprise party! And what an EPIC surprise party it was. My friend Sheridan wanted to throw one for her husband, Jeremy, and asked me to help. It was incredibly nerve-wracking keeping the secret and hoping it didn’t get ruined, but we pulled it off! Jeremy was very surprised, and we had a blast celebrating with everyone. And it’ll be really hard to top a Stranger Things theme.

What a lovely month it was! Stay tuned for more detailed posts and lots more photos of our October adventures :) 

Post-Keto Food I’m Dreaming About

If you haven’t already heard, I’ve been doing Keto since the end of June! My first blog post about it is here, and you can see my first before-and-after shot on my Instagram. My husband and I started Keto because we were in a total rut with our eating habits and needed something intense to snap us out of it. And it absolutely has. Daniel lost 23 pounds before he quit, and I’ve lost about 25! But my last 10 pounds have been the hardest to lose, and I am seriously about to scream. Daniel quit Keto early because he had already hit his weight goal and actually lost more than he meant to. Terrible problem, right?? Excuse me while I go punch something. Annnnnyway, I decided to keep going because I was so close to my goal. At first, it was fine doing Keto alone. Daniel told me not to cook anything different, which was really sweet. The next time I went to the store, I bought him a few snacks that I knew he missed (which he obviously appreciated). But as the weeks have gone by, I have found myself growing more and more impatient with my weight loss plateau. Y’all, I’ll be honest – I’m about done with this. I miss food like WHOA. Over the last week or so, I’ve been working on a list of all the specific things I can’t wait to eat as soon as I’m done with Keto, and OMGlookatallthecarbs:

French fries. (Far and away, the thing I’ve missed most.)
Biscuits.
Pancakes.
Pasta.
Warm, melty chocolate chip cookies.
All versions of popcorn.
Donuts.
Tortillas.
Chips.

And weirdly, that’s pretty much it! If you read my other post about all the foods I gave up in my first month, you’ll notice that list is significantly longer. I’ve been surprised by how many things I thought I would miss more that I haven’t really missed much at all. Even though we had to give up a lot of things, Keto was not that hard of a diet. We’ll definitely return to it in the future we we need a jumpstart again. In the meantime…….I’M SO READY TO BE DONE. Pray that these last 4-5 pounds will finally come off. And pray that I will have self-control not to stuff myself with carbs and gain all that weight back in the first three days.

For my buddies doing Keto – you’re doing so great!! Don’t give up!

What It’s Like to Own a Dog

Oddly enough, having a dog is exactly what I thought it would be and nothing like what I thought it would be, all at the same time. I know it sounds weird and confusing, but it’s just true! I spent almost 26 years of my life wanting a dog, and I felt exactly as excited as I expected to feel when we got Fitz. And yet my expectations for what it would be like to actually own a dog haven’t always been accurate. I’ve been surprised by how many different feelings this furry tornado has made me feel – everything from shock, to disgust, to anger, giddiness, pride, intense worry, and – of course – unbelievably fierce love.

Like I said, I always wanted a dog. I asked for one for my birthday every single year until I went to college. (Sidebar – for my 16th or 17th birthday, I asked for a car, a dog, and a phone. And I got a Hot Wheels Car, a stuffed dog, and a plastic baby phone. Thanks Mom and Dad.) But even after all those years of dreaming, I never thought I would get overly attached to a dog before Fitz came home to live with us. I poked fun at people who called their dog their ‘best friend,’ and don’t even get me started on the people who call them their ‘babies’ or their ‘children.’ But I found out how much Fitz actually mattered to me on the day he pulled the leash out of my hands to chase a stray out of our front yard and I thought I’d lost him for good.

To give you some context: we didn’t get Fitz when he was a brand new puppy. He didn’t come to live with us until he was about 7 months old, so while we TRIED to crate train him and teach him how to take walks like a normal dog without pulling our arms out of our sockets, it was much more difficult than it would have been starting with a younger puppy. He is incredibly strong, and although he has a really nice harness that he can’t pull himself out of, he can pull the leash out of my hands, and there’s not really much I can do about that. Anytime he has gotten loose, he just runs. He’s not a good listener once his mind is set on something across the street, especially if it’s another dog. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that when he jerked the leash out of my hands, I’m pretty sure my heart literally stopped beating. I truly can’t remember another time in my entire life when I felt that panicked about anything. I ran barefoot across our front yard that was covered in stickers without even feeling them. I had to stop zooming down our driveway to make myself breathe normally and keep from hyperventilating, because it was getting dark and I had heard the sound of a car swerving down the street just seconds after he ran off. Worst. hour. of. my. life. Thank God for a tribe of friends who were willing to drop whatever they were doing, hop in their cars, and help me look for him. Thank God that my friend Alesha found him and somehow – seriously, by God’s grace alone – managed to get him in her car.

That hour proved that I really did fall in love with Fitz. I had no clue how much of my heart he had stolen until I thought I would never see him again. I never could have guessed, when we got him almost two years ago, that I would fall totally in love and would continue to love him even though he ripped up all of our outdoor furniture cushions, has shed enough hair to cover about 57 other dogs, and NEVER stops begging for a bite off of our plates (and steals bites when we aren’t looking). I can’t really remember life without him, and even though he’s a pretty terrible roommate, I wouldn’t trade him for all the money in the world.

Literally Just a List of Food I Haven’t Eaten in a Month

Bread, in all its glorious forms.
Pasta.
Rice.
French fries.
Mashed potatoes.
Baked potatoes.
Scalloped potatoes.
Sweet potatoes.
ALL POTATOES OKAY.
Ice cream.
Cake.
Chocolate chip cookies.
All other (less worthy) desserts.
Milk.
Pizza.
Chips.
Tortillas.
Donuts.
Carrots.
All fruit, except berries.
Fried food.
Soda.
Juice.
Lemonade.
Snow cones.
Corn.
Gum, mints, and candy.
Crackers.
Pretzels.
Popcorn.
Granola bars.

We started the Keto diet on June 21, meaning it has been exactly one month since we’ve eaten any of those things. And you know what? I’ve survived. I didn’t think I would, but I have. This is sort of a humble-brag (sorry), but I really just want to be able to come back to this post and remember that I actually did this. I’m not saying I want to do Keto forever, but what a wake-up call it has been! God has been really gracious to me, because I was truly expecting Keto to be the worst, hardest thing ever…and it honestly has not been half as bad as I thought it would be. I’ll be thankful forever that we decided to do this. I am more disciplined about food than I have ever been in my life, even when I was doing the DietBet. I’m praying earnestly that God gives me the ability to maintain this new discipline, especially if and when we allow ourselves to start eating some of those things again. But in the meantime, while we’re still on Keto, I’ll eat all the bacon, cheese, butter, and cream I want and enjoy it with all my heart. ;)

Would anyone be interested in hearing more about our decision to do this or taking look at my recipes and meal plans? Let me know in the comments, and I might do a follow-up post!

Alaska Anniversary Photo Shoot

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When Daniel and I took our Alaskan cruise, one of the most exciting parts of the trip was meeting up with one of our wedding photographers in Juneau for a 5-year anniversary shoot. And honestly, the whole day feels like I dreamed it. There were a few mishaps, like the fact that our original location was covered up by clouds and it rained on us a lot. But it really didn’t matter because we had the most incredible time wandering around Mendenhall Lake with Catie, and I will treasure these pictures forever!

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Nugget Falls. Aka, the waterfall of my dreeeeeams.

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Cool story – see that glacier behind us? The adventure excursion we took later that day included paddling across the lake, hiking up on top of the glacier, and exploring the ice caves underneath!! AH-MAY-ZING. Pictures from that part of our trip are here.

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In this next little mini segment, Catie told Daniel to cuddle up close and whisper in my ear. So naturally, he did this: ⇓ ⇓

Catie: “Whisper sweet nothings!”
Daniel (seductively): “I love asparagus…”

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Man, I like him.

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The pose above has almost become a “signature” for us – we have an engagement picture and a wedding picture posed and positioned exactly like this, so I asked Catie to take one like them to keep the accidental tradition going.

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SIGH. I seriously want to take a photographer on all our vacations now. So dreamy! Thanks again, Catie! ♥

 

 

Up Up & Away Co-Ed Baby Shower

How’s that for a throwback?? This picture is from 2010. 2010. Say hello to the skinnier, baby-faced, dating versions of Daniel, Laura, Tiffany, and Cole. :) We share a very special kindred-spirit kind of friendship with the Newtons, and it’s been wonderful to watch them go from friendship to dating, to engagement, to marriage, to ministry, and now to parenthood. I’ve known for years that I would throw Tiffany a bomb.com baby shower, and I FINALLY got the chance last month!

Originally, the plan was for Tiffany to come to the shower with her baby still swimming around in her belly for another month, but baby Éowyn surprised us all and came 5 weeks early! There is NOTHING like going to the hospital to see some of your best friends with their new baby, exhausted but glowing with love for that little life they created. We got to praise God together for a safe, easy birth for Tiffany and the fact that no extra oxygen was needed for Éowyn, even though her lungs were and are still developing. The Newton girls are both warriors. Baby girl is so, so tiny, and getting to hold her made my heart burst!

I don’t remember when exactly it happened, but several years ago, Tiffany and I started talking about babies. Up until this point, we did literally everything else within months of each other – dating, engagements, finishing school, weddings, new jobs, new homes, even getting dogs – so it was just natural to imagine our future kids and arrange their marriages. I have a vivid memory of her saying she wanted to decorate a nursery with hot air balloons, and from that moment on, I always knew that whenever I threw her a shower, it would be hot air balloon-themed.

In all honesty, this is probably my favorite shower I’ve ever thrown. I put months of thought into the little details, and I’m over the moon about how great it turned out. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my co-hosts though – I owe a huge “thank you” to Brittany, Lenzie, and Pamela for their hard work, and to Nancy at the museum for helping me pull this thing off!

The Three Valley Museum was an absolutely wonderful place to host this shower. The exposed beams, brick walls, and vintage accents created the perfect atmosphere for a fun, adventure-themed party! Nancy made my job so much easier – all I had to do was set up the decorations and the food. The tables, chairs, coffee, and GORG antique wagon that served as the food table were all provided by the museum. I love discovering new event venues, and this one will definitely stay on my short list.

When guests came in, they were encouraged to sign the globe guest book and write pieces of advice to the new parents. I put pieces of paper with individual alphabet letters printed on them on each table and asked guests to color a picture of anything that started with that letter. The pages would later be turned into a homemade alphabet book for baby Eowyn. And I got everything from nice things like “Y for Yellow Yak” to a bizarre drawing of nothing but eyeballs as “A for Albino.” Thank you, Jeremy Burns.

THE MENU: 

Snack bags on the guest tables
Cupcakes
Individual veggie cups
Chips & snack mix
“Babies” in a blanket
Coffee bar
Fruit-infused water
Hot air balloon cake balls

The cupcakes had a special twist. Before we knew baby Newton was a girl, my original plan was to create a mini blue cake and a mini pink cake, and fill one of them with colored frosting. Cole would cut into one and Tiffany would cut into the other, and whichever one was filled would be the supposed gender of their baby. Instead, I just made two pink ombre cakes, and I filled one of the cupcakes! I created a sign to display next to the cupcakes with a caution for guests to choose wisely – whoever chose the sprinkles-filled cupcake would be the next to get pregnant. And, of course, it was hilarious when Tiffany’s younger brother Kevin discovered he had picked that special cupcake!

All of the decor was DIY. I was really nervous because I hadn’t ever worked with giant balloons before, but they turned out great! I ordered the balloons and nets online, and got most of the baskets from Hobby Lobby on sale. The banners were individual triangles…cut out and painstakingly taped on string…by me. (Labor of love.) Because the museum was already decorated, I didn’t have to bring anything with me besides tablecloths, the hot air balloon centerpieces, Mason jars for the paper pinwheels, my giant chalkboard, and little odds and ends like sequin table runners and stuff for the guest book table.

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This was the only picture I got of the sweet parents. Seriously – she does not look like she just had a baby, am I right??

And I had to take a pic of two of my favorite guys! :) This little dude made me an aunt. I can’t believe he’s already two years old.

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Honest to goodness – could not be happier with how this shower turned out. I’m still really proud of myself and so thankful to the co-hosts for everything they did. Thanks again to Pam, Brittany, and Lenzie! And happy parenthood to Tiffany and Cole – you’ll probably never sleep ever again. ;)

 If you need help planning a party on a budget, picking a theme, or figuring out a menu or decorating scheme…let me know! I’d love to schedule a consultation (a fancy word for “let’s go get ice cream and hang out”). Hope you have a lovely week!