24 Things Being 24 Taught Me

24 Things Being 24 Taught Me

Hello Everyone!  Tomorrow is my birthday and I plan on celebrating by going to the DMV, woohoo!  But in all seriousness I am excited about the birthday not the DMV though.

24 was a big year for me, so I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned with you all.

 

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  1. It’s okay to reboot, you’re still young.  This year I quit my job and became a stay-at-home mom until my daughter finished nursing.  Now that she’s finished, I’ve decided to go back to school and get my Masters in teaching.  My husband and I prayed about it and decided it was the right thing fir us to do.
  2. Take care of yourself.  I want to be able to run around and play in the front yard with my daughter when she’s a bit older, and to do that, I need to get into shape.  I’ve already lost the baby weight, which wasn’t much since I was so sick, and now I’m working on that extra bit that was already there.  I’m also taking care of myself mentally reading more and separating myself from negativity.  (The way I’ve done that is outlined here in my new morning routine.)
  3. Nursing is hard, but totally worth it.  I nursed Elizabeth until the end of her 11th month. It was an amazing experience that definitely led to a deep bond between us.  I’m not going to lie, it was challenging, some days it even sucked.  But once we got into a groove, it was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
  4. Healthy food can be yummy.  I’ve been trying to eat healthier since deciding to take better care of myself.  One day, after I made a Turkey, spinach, Sweet Potato Skillet, my husband turned to me and said something along the lines of, “you don’t have to sacrifice taste for health.”  Granted, the only reason he said this was because he doesn’t like spinach… or sweet potato… or ground turkey.  Since then my healthy recipes have been tastier.  I think his favorite so far is my Ranch Burgers, or maybe the Stuffed Pepper Casserole, both of which are super yummy and under 400 calories a serving.
  5. Loose-leaf tea is soooo good.  If you’re into tea, you should totally try out loose-leaf tea.  I originally picked some up two years ago from Teavana when we went to Little Rock on a family trip, but my zeal for it didn’t last long.  I’ve recently picked it back up when I found some yummy loose leaf at my local Kroger.  I drink more tea than coffee now.
  6. Self help / advice books are not for me.  I’ve tried two different books like these this year, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick.  These were both good books with good points that I was very interested in, but I just couldn’t push myself to finish them.
  7. Trying new food is fun!  Cody and I tried Indian food for the first time when we were in Dallas in April.  SO. GOOD.  Chicken Tikki Masala with naan is one of our favorite things to eat now.  We haven’t tried any local Indian places yet, but it’s on our list of date night meals.
  8. Live theatre is something everyone should try.  Eh, let me rephrase.  Good theatre is something everyone should try.  My sister goes to an artsy school, and I went to their production of Once Upon a Mattress with my mom.  It was really good.  The next time my husband and I take a trip, we’re going to try to see something together.
  9. Audiobooks are the bomb.  My husband and I started using Amazon’s Audible this year for audiobooks (not sponsored).  He listens to them as he works, and I listen while walking the neighborhood or driving someplace.  This year we listened to, the last four Harry Potter books, Girl on the Train, and the two books in the King Killer Chronicles.  I thought it would be difficult to follow along with something that I hadn’t read before, but it wasn’t.  A word of caution:  the narrator must be easy to listen to or you will not enjoy it.
  10. Relationships take work.  Ding, ding, ding!  This is an obvious one, I know, but it’s something that I’ve dealt with this year.  One thing that I pride myself on is our communication, but this year, with his new work schedule and the demands of the new baby, we’ve been a little out of sync.  So we started a new routine that has really helped us connect on days that we’re in a funk.  Each night we take turns telling each other one (different) thing we love about each other, then our favorite part of the day.
  11. It is important to have one nice outfit that fits properly.  By nice, I mean nice nice.  This is the time that most of your friends will be getting married or celebrating big accomplishments that will require a nice outfit.  Something classy.  If you don’t know where to look, try here.  I’ve have a few dresses from here, and they are super classy and excellent quality.
  12. True, die-hard friends are hard to come by; once you find one, don’t let them go.  When you are no longer forced to interact with the same people every day, like in school, you have to work harder to keep friendships alive.  Like I said, relationships take work.  When you do find “your person,” put the work in.  You need someone you can go to and spend time with.  Even if you don’t physically see each other every day, don’t let the life get in the way of your friendship.

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  13. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL… RSVP!!  You’re an adult now, so be responsible.  If someone invites you to something and asks for an RSVP, do it.  Food prep, room, seating, it’s important to know how many people are going to be there.  Don’t be the guy who shows up unexpected, and don’t be the guy that the host is waiting on because you didn’t let them know you weren’t coming.  Also, RVSP at least two weeks before the actual event.  I threw a party this year that half of the guest list did not let me know that they were not coming.  I had cake and goodies left over for days.

  14. Don’t compare yourself to other around you.  We’re young, and most people in we crew are young too.  Don’t compare yourself to someone who you think has it all together because looks can be deceiving.  Everyone takes their own path to success and sometimes your select the scenic route that takes an extra twenty minutes.
  15. Start thinking quality over quantity.  This can apply to all aspects of your life, but here I’m talking about clothes again.  I love cheap Rue 21 clothes as much as the next girl, but you get what you pay for.  Wash it three times, and it disintegrates.  I’ve had to throw out so much this year because the quality just wasn’t there.  Invest in something that will hold up and makes you look like a million bucks (but it doesn’t have to cost quite that much).
  16. Being awesome is a choice.  Being “awesome,” confident, or even social is a decision.  Force positivity, tell yourself that you are great and you’ll eventually believe it.  Personal pep talks can be a life line when you’re exhausted and elbow deep in a poopy diaper, believe me.
  17. If you are unhappy or dislike something, change it now.  You’re an adult, but you’re still young.  If your unsatisfied with something, your body, your job, your relationships, now is the time to change it.  This has basically been my mantra this year.  I’ve switched careers and am working out more.
  18. There is no age limit for YA fiction.  I love young adult fiction.  They say that it’s for ages 16 to 25, but I don’t care.  I love YA fiction and probably always will, so I’m going to keep reading it.
  19. Adult coloring books are the bomb.  I recently bought myself a coloring book.  I’ve wanted to try it for a while but kept putting them down because I thought I didn’t have the time, or I wasn’t even sure if I liked to color.  Turns out I love it, and it’s pretty easy to find some time to squeeze it in my day.
  20. Buying baby clothes is addictive.  Seriously.  I think my new favorite store is Carters.  Everything is so cute and miniature!  I absolutely love it!  The dresses, shoes, headbands, all of it.  Even the little onesies.  Love it.
  21. You don’t have too many books, you have too few bookshelves.  Enough said.
  22. You can live with less.  Except books obviously.  Most people, myself included, have too much stuff.  Useless stuff that we can’t even remember why we bought it.  I ave thrown out or given away so much stuff this year!  It wasn’t “junk”  it was useful stuff that I just didn’t need or have the room for.
  23. Helping people is so good for you.  Giving gifts, time, whatever you can to those in need it is an amazing feeling.  People aren’t kidding when they say it’s better to give than to receive.  The feeling that you get from watching someone get something they truly want or need, it’s amazing.  We’ve went out of our way a few times this year to help others, and it was so fulfilling.
  24. It’s good to know how to make at least one impressive meal.  Everyone likes to impress people, that’s a given.  One of the most satisfying ways to impress someone is by cooking an amazing meal.  Then you’ll be known as that girl/boy who can cook that amazing ______.  Any time there is a pot luck, everyone is super excited to see what I’ve brought because I’ve mastered a few things. The older you get, the more likely it is you’re going to have to bring some food to something, so nail whatever that something is.

Goodbye 24, hello 25.  I’m excited to see what you have in store for me!

Thank you for reading my longest post so far.  Did you learn anything this year?  Share it in the comments below, and Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Today is the day!  It’s Baby Elizabeth’s first birthday!

I’ve shared my birth story here and her birthday photos here.

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We had her big birthday party earlier this month, so we are just doing something small for the actual day, a little cupcake with a candle on it.

It blows my mind how quickly this first year has flown by.  We constantly marvel over the fact that she has become her own little person.

She loves to watch Princess Sofia in the mornings with her buttered toast; loves her daddy cuddles while watching tv; loves to giggle at the dogs; loves to do her own little thing.

She’s super active.  Even though she isn’t walking just yet, she can crawl SUPER fast.  If she sees something she wants and isn’t supposed to have she takes off!

She has seven teeth and will eat anything that doesn’t eat her first.

She’s an excellent sleeper.  She sleeps for about 10 to 12 hours every night and takes naps.

Bath time is one of her favorite times.  She is a big splasher!

She seems so solemn in public, but around people she knows, she is all giggles and talks a ton!  Wonder if that means she’ll be a little shy.

I just want to hold on to her and cherish each and every minute of her being little because I know it isn’t going to last.

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So today, please forgive me if I’m a weepy mess; my baby girl is one.

We love you Elizabeth!

Elizabeth’s Cake Smash Session

Elizabeth’s Cake Smash Session

Hello All!  Man, this past week has been a BUSY ONE!  We had little Elizabeth’s Winter ONEderland party, which I’ll be blogging about later.  In the meantime, I figured I would share some photos from her cake smash session.  Cyndi Shewmake took these, and Elizabeth’s newborn photos.

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She never wants to crack a smile when we have a camera out.  Saying “cheese” used to get her to smile but not anymore.

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So we only got one smile.

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However, when you say “yay baby” she will clap her hands together.

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We constantly had to pull the snowflakes on the prop away from her.  She even tried to get the poms in the background before we brought out the cake.

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A friend of mine made her onsie and I made her tutu.

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That tutu though.  I got the tulle from Walmart, and the glitter went EVERYWHERE.  Seriously.  We took these photos three weeks ago, and we still find glitter around the house.

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Since I made the tutu, I thought about making the smash cake too.  I even bought two little cake pans, but it wasn’t very pretty.  So I figured I’d leave it to the professionals.

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For the cake smash, we got her bib and bloomers at Hobby Lobby, since I wanted her to be able to wear the “one” onsie at the party later.  We also had a pink hat for her to wear, but her head was too small.

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She started out so daintily.  She used her finger and thumb to pinch off the green icing leaves from the roses on the top of the cake.

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But, she finally got into it.

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Then we pulled it off the stand so she could get a better angle on it.

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Surprisingly, I was able to wash all that dark blue icing out of the bib, bloomers, and footless sandals.

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I think she really enjoyed it 🙂

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Have you all did cake smash sessions with your little ones?  How did you do it?  Let me know in the comments!

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Welcome December: Birthday Month

Welcome December: Birthday Month

Hello everyone and happy December!  This year has flown by.  I can’t believe it’s already time to bust out the Christmas tree and gear up for New Years!

I’m always excited for December and the holiday season, but it is definitely the busiest month for the Cantrell house, not just because of Christmas, but because of all the birthdays.

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When I say “all of the birthdays,” I mean all of the birthdays.  Every person in our little family’s birthday is in December (except the fur babies).  When Cody and I got married, we celebrated our birthdays by taking a trip together.  We figured that was the best since they were so close to Christmas and to each other, mine is the 26th and his is the 30th.  Our first and only (so far) trip was to Dallas.  We had a blast!  We went to a murder mystery dinner, Medieval times, and the zoo.  Our second year together, we didn’t do anything special since we had our new born baby girl.  Her birthday is the 21st.

l6ylvm-fjxc-sofiya-levchenko So not only are all of our birthdays in the same month, but they are within a few days of each other and surround a huge holiday!

This year we decided to celebrate Elizabeth’s birthday early, so that all the family could attend before they started their Christmas travels.  We’re having her party on the 10th, which is actually my mom’s birthday.

I sometimes wonder if, when we have our next child, they will feel left out if their birthday isn’t so close to ours.

Even though we are extremely busy with the celebrations in December, it is still one of my favorite months, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love the togetherness that December brings.

This December is going to be a fun one for us.  First, we are celebrating Elizabeth’s first birthday.  I cannot believe she is already one.  Her first year went be so fast.  I’m extremely grateful that I’ve been able to stay at home with her and not miss a single moment.

 

51ahxwkyyho-viktor-forgacsCody and I still haven’t decided what we’re going to do for our birthdays.  We’ve thrown around the idea of taking a day trip to Little Rock, but haven’t set any concrete plans just yet.  Do you guys have any suggestions?

I’m also excited for Christmas with Elizabeth this year.  Even though it isn’t technically her first Christmas, this is the first year we have decorated and are opening presents.  I can’t wait to see if she will actually try and open anything, or if she’ll be too preoccupied with the wrapping paper.  We’re also getting to start our first traditions this year.  We’re going to do Christmas Eve presents of pajamas and a Christmas movie.

What are your plans for December this year?  Leave it in the comments, and let me know!

 

A New Adventure: My first week as a stay at home mom

A New Adventure: My first week as a stay at home mom

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Three weeks ago, I put in my notice and left the company I was with for four years.  It was a tough decision that took lots of thought and prayer.  I’ve decided to stay at home with Baby Elizabeth, who is now seven months old.  I was a little nervous at first, going from two incomes to one, but I really think we’ve made the right decision, and that this is what’s best.

This week, we didn’t do too terribly much.  We re-did our bedroom, which I had been planning to do over the 4th of July weekend but came down with pneumonia, so that didn’t happen.  We repainted, rearranged, and decorated.  It’s almost finished and looks amazing!  I’ll do a post on that as soon as it is finished.  We also met up with one of my best friends whom Elizabeth is named after.

We also did lots of tummy time and play time with the dogs, Orin and Abby.  Hopefully, Elizabeth is enjoying the time I’m spending at home with her as much as I am.  Not only have I been able to spend time with her, but Cody was on the late night shift so he has been home too.  It’s been a amazing to spend every day with the two of them.

I’m looking forward to all the milestones I’ll be able to witness since I’ll be home with her.  She has already said her first word, “dada,” and it looks like she is cutting a tooth on the bottom!

I’m still adjusting and creating a schedule, but I look forward to all the time I’ll get to spend with the family.  We are planning to go to the park when the weather settles down (it’s over 100 most days).

What do some of you stay at home moms like to do with your babies?  Do you have any advise for schedules?  Leave it in the comments below!

Mother’s Day Weekend: Weekly Wrap Up

Mother’s Day Weekend: Weekly Wrap Up

Hello!  I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day weekend!  This was my first Mother’s Day, and it was wonderful.

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The week was average, just working.  I finally finished Tracked by Jenny Martin.  Finally.  It only took forever.  Now I’ve moved on to The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead and rereading Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas for book club.  I also hit a baby weight loss goal this week: I’m one third of the way there!  I was actually able to wear a skirt after the 5k that I haven’t worn since before I got married.  Also, this week I started working on a new blog feature, quick meals which will be recipes that take 30 minutes or less to prepare.

The weekend was the best.  During my lunch break, my husband brought a lunch and Baby Elizabeth to the park.  We had a great time and let her play around in the grass.  This was her first time at the park.

Since it was a Friday, we didn’t expect it to be too crowded, but seniors got out of school that day, so there was actually a really large group of people already there.  We still had a great time.  It was nice to get some sunshine during this rainy season.

Saturday we went to The Color Run 5k.  I was nervous about bringing Baby Elizabeth, so she spent the morning with my in-laws.  After we got there though, I saw tons of babies in strollers, so next year she will definitely be joining us.  At the beginning of the year when I signed up for the run, I really wanted to be able to jog it.  But, I started trying to jog too soon after giving birth and pulled something in my knees, so we decided to walk this one.  That was actually the smart choice because hardly anyone ran this.  It’s basically designed to be walked because of all the powdered color they throw.  We completed the 5k in about an hour and then ran some errands around town covered in color.

Then Sunday was my first Mother’s Day.  Cody told me I could do whatever I wanted to since it was my day.  I wanted to go grocery shopping and pick up some pizza.  However, he said it was my day to relax and not have to do anything, so after church we went home and he cooked Indian food for me.  Chicken tikka masala with rice and warm naan.  Super yummy!

How was your Mother’s Day weekend?  Let me know in the comments!

 

What I Packed on a Weekend Road Trip with an Infant

What I Packed on a Weekend Road Trip with an Infant

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We took our first road trip with Baby Elizabeth to Dallas in April, in preparation for our big road trip to Orlando/Disney this month.  I consulted other mommy blogs, via Pinterest, on what all I needed to pack to keep baby (and us) happy on the car ride.  FYI, Elizabeth is a good car rider.  We live about 20-30 minutes away from “town” so she is used to riding around.  She doesn’t like being put in her car seat, but once the car is moving she settles down and usually falls asleep.

I love packing and planning out packing.  I HATE last minute packing, hints the planning.  I am the type of person who likes to be packed a week before leaving, that way you can make sure you are not forgetting anything and aren’t feeling harried.  (However, ever since I got married, I am becoming more of a last minute packer, and I HATE IT.)

Here is the first round of stuff I packed for Baby Elizabeth:

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I started out with my Guess diaper bag:

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I bought this diaper bad when I was still pregnant because I thought it was big enough to hold everything and looked super classy, even though a lot of my mommy friends told me to buy a backpack diaper bag.  I didn’t want some boring backpack, I wanted something cute.  Well, I totally should have listened to those mommy friends and went with the backpack.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this bag, but it’s basically a duffle bag.  Trying to tote a baby in a car seat on one hand and this over the other shoulder was super cumbersome and I knocked into everything.  So it was downgraded to Elizabeth’s luggage, and I got a backpack diaper bag from Amazon (I should have went to Target to look around first cause I later saw a super cute one I really want!)  I was able to fit all her clothes and mine in this bag for the weekend.

Night time:

What I packed: Three sleep suits, one being her super thick bear suit (because we keep the hotel room really cold to sleep), with three onsies to wear under it.  Also, a swaddle sack.

What I used: Two onsies and the bear suit. That’s it.  The bear suit kept her warm in the room Friday and Saturday night with a different onsie under it each night.  We didn’t use the swaddle sack, and haven’t swaddled her since this trip.  At the house, she now wears a Halo Sleep Sack.  (She hasn’t slept well this week, so we might go back to swaddling.)

Day Time:

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What I Packed: Four outfits, two for each day, and four pairs of socks.

What I used: Luckily, we didn’t have any blowouts on this trip, so I only used two outfits and two pairs of socks.

Miscellaneous:

The non-clothing items I packed:

  • Nursing cover (pictured top left) – I am still nursing, and this was my first time nursing in public so I made sure to bring it.
  • Hand pump – Just in case I needed to pump.  I didn’t use it
  • iPad – I attached my iPad to the headrest of the seat with a stretchy head band, so Elizabeth could watch Frozen there and back.  This helped keep her occupied for a little while.
  • Toy – I didn’t think to bring any toys for her to play with on the ride, but ended up picking up a ball rattle when I had to stop at the drug store for diapers.  I attached it to the car seat with a pacifier holder.  This had become her favorite toy and definitely keeps her entertained.
  • Car Bottle Warmer (pictured bottom left) – I thought I was being super clever bringing this along.  We had some frozen breast milk I had brought along in a bottle, so we could feed her without having to pull over.  Well, the bottle warmer didn’t work so we had to pull of the interstate onto a side road in the middle of nowhere and nurse.  On the long car ride to Florida, I am going to bring the hand pump and express milk directly into a bottle for her to eat if we are in an area where we cannot stop to nurse.
  • Stroller – For obvious reasons.
  • Baby Carrier – I also brought her baby carrier just in case I wanted to wear her.  I didn’t use it.
  • Bumbo Seat – I brought this because I thought she wouldn’t want to lay around the entire time we were in the hotel room if we were there relaxing.  We did use this, but not at the hotel.  We went to the drive in theater and had to get there 2 hours before show time to get a good spot and avoid all the traffic.  We used the bumbo in the car while waiting for the movie to start.
  • Small pack of diapers – Instead of packing loose diapers from the box at the house, we just picked up a little pack and used those.  When we go down to Florida for the week, we are going to buy a box when we get there so we don’t have to pack up any loose ones or take up any room in the back of the van.
  • Diaper bag (pictured) – This is the diaper bag backpack that I got from Amazon.  it is where I packed the everyday, always needed items like medicines, wipes, bibs, and the like.
  • Packing list (pictured) – A friend of mine bought me a pad of these new parent check lists as a gag gift.  It promises to get you out of the house in two hours flat and has items on it like, coping mechanism, breasts, brain, and baby.  Well, I actually used it to plan out certain things to pack and whether I was packing them in the diaper bag or the Guess bag.  It was surprisingly helpful, and I’m going to use them again on my trip to Florida.
  • Pack-n-Play – I didn’t want to use one of the hotel’s cribs, so we brought our own pack-n-play.  If I were worried more about luggage space, I would have just used their cribs and left it at home.

The take away:

So, from his trip, I learned that I over packed in some areas and under packed in others.  When it comes to clothes, I over packed and didn’t use several of the outfits.  When we take our longer trip, I will pack fewer back up outfits because we will have somewhere to wash our laundry if I end up needing more than one.  The areas I under packed were the entertainment areas.  I forgot to bring her a toy to play with and didn’t plan out any stops (because I thought she could make a three hour trip no problem.)  When we go to Florida, we are going to map out all the Rest Areas, so we can take little breaks.  I’m planning on bringing a little blanket that we can throw out and have tummy time for a fifteen minute break every four hours or so during the day.  We’re also hoping to leave around bedtime so she will want to sleep for the first half of the drive.

What are some necessities for you when traveling by your self or with babies?  Leave it in the comments below, so I can be better prepared next month!