Where I've Been & Where I Am

Oct 31, 2013

The beautiful, golden maple tree in our front yard. The colors this week are spectacular!
The past few months haven't been easy. If you've been around for awhile, I'm sure you've noticed. I've spent a few posts lately just spilling my guts and working through things out loud and for all to see. I won't apologize for the melancholy atmosphere my blog took on for awhile because I pride myself on being real and open with people in my life. If I'm struggling, you'll know, because I simply can't live life with a mask on. 

All this to say- things won't ever be perfect, but for the first time in a long time I feel hope. It's interesting because when I look at the circumstances in my life, not much has changed. But I can say without a doubt that it is Jesus and His peace. I don't have peace because things have changed, I have peace because He is in control and I've finally learned to rest in that. I've fought through prayers and pleading and doubt and numbness and am finally starting to feel sparks of life and joy again. 

I've found myself this week wishing that I could go back to earlier this year, look myself in the eyes, and tell that girl that was afraid and sad that she'd get through it. I know there's a reason we go through trials. I've learned all kinds of things about myself, my marriage, my relationships, and I know that the stretching and strengthening process wouldn't have happened outside of the struggles. I'm thankful that it feels like I'm nearing the mountain top. I know it's not permanent, as life promises valleys, too, but I'm thankful for the rest and joy that comes with knowing who holds tomorrow.

Changing the subject a bit, I've been thinking a lot about blogging lately. It's become one of the things I enjoy doing the most and it's definitely a creative outlet for me. But I think I got off track for awhile. It's fun thinking about growing your blog. I follow so many amazing bloggers who inspire me every day. But I think the insecure side of me internalizes that and creates dissatisfaction. My pictures aren't good enough, my style isn't creative enough, my life isn't interesting enough....and it's not fun to feel all of that. 

I've read post after post on how to grow your blog and how to successfully draw readers in. And I think I've gotten a little ahead of myself. I feel all this pressure to write posts that people will be drawn to, or that are "pinnable", or that will make people laugh and not be so....melancholy. And that's just not me right now. I want readers to want to come back, and think all those things about my life that I've thought about other amazing bloggers. I've felt bad about myself when my numbers haven't shot through the roof. I've felt bad about the life I live. And then I feel bad about feeling bad.

I know others have written about these exact feelings, so this isn't anything new. It's something that's so easy to fall into when you're part of this blog world. After a few good conversations with people who know and love me, I've had to come back down to earth, put the brakes on some, and take some pressure off. I want to write about things I love, things going on in our life, things going on in my heart and head, and things that make me feel creative. 

I shouldn't feel jealous of other bloggers. I shouldn't feel bad about my life or my posts because others seem to get more traffic/comments/follows. I'd love to eventually get there someday. Who wouldn't? But I need to remember that I've got to be myself in the process. Because IF (and that's a big fat "if") I ever get there, I'd want it to be because people knew the real me, and not the one that wore herself out striving for their admiration. 

That being said, I just happened to see a post about a link-up from Chasing Happy entitled The Thankful Project, in which each day is given a prompt to write about with gratitude and thankfulness. I was so inspired by this and have decided to link-up for the entire month. I've spent awhile in a low place, and what better way to help myself than focus on what I have to be thankful for? I'm excited to get creative with these prompts and share some more things about my life. 

I also want to take just one second to thank anyone who comes and reads what I have to say. Thank you for taking the time to comment and follow along. I appreciate the friendships I've made and my blogging experience wouldn't be the same without you. 

Alright, I may be done spilling my heart now.

Noah: Eleven Months

Mommy fail months 8-10...oops!
Dear Noah,

You are officially 11 months! We seriously can't believe that in one more month you're going to be ONE! This year has flown by. You bring more joy to our lives than we ever thought possible. You're getting to be such a big boy and I notice changes almost every day. 

You're still an amazing eater, although we think your taste buds have matured because you're getting picky. You now refuse brussel sprouts, anything else green and leafy, and squash. We have to put your veggies on your plate first or you'll gobble up the meat and ignore the veggies. You're a steak guy like your daddy, I guess! 
Our routine goes something like this....you wake up between 6:30 & 7a, you eat breakfast while watching the Disney app on the iPad, we play and watch some cartoons and play some more, you get tired and take a nap around 11am and usually sleep for an hour or so, wake up and have lunch to more Disney on the iPad, you play while I do chores, we play or go out into town for a walk, etc, then we come home and play some more until Daddy gets home. You get so excited when he gets home! About an hour before he should arrive, I always build up his arrival with "Da-da's coming! He's on his way!" and your eyebrows shoot up and you look straight to the door. Daddy plays with you while I get dinner ready then he gives you a bath, lets you run around naked for a little, and then you head to bed.

Oh, bedtime. You've given us a challenge with this lately. Since we got home from our trip to Virginia in the middle of September, we've transitioned you to your own crib and room. Co-sleeping has been wonderful, but it just isn't working for us anymore. I've spent many hours up at night shuffling, rocking, or nursing you back to sleep. There have been good nights, and not so good nights. The best night is when you slept six hours straight, then another two. I almost cried for joy. We know you'll get there eventually, and until then, you're welcome to join us in bed at 3am (mostly because I'm too tired to try to do the "mommy shuffle" anymore. 

You're signing more now. You sign "more", "finished", "bye" & "eat". We're working on "mommy", "daddy", "go", & "outside". When we sign to you, you usually sign back and it makes no sense. I can't wait until we can have conversations! You love "signing" with your Papi over Facetime. You can actually verbally say "mama", "dada", "out", "done" and I SWEAR your pointed at the iPad yesterday and gave a high-pitched "mouse"!

Last month we got you a tent with tunnels and you really only go in there to take care of business. If we can't find you, we look in there. Most of the time we don't need to because we hear you grunting first! You love being outside, don't really sit still for us to read to you, and never let me unload the dishwasher without being right there. When we laugh out loud, you think we're laughing at you and you slap your own face to keep us laughing. You love tickle attacks and your little squishy butt is ticklish.

This time I have as your mommy with you under my wing is precious to me and I thank God every single day for making me your mommy! I can't wait to throw you an awesome first birthday party next month. And yes, you get a smash cake. Although it's going to be as healthy as I can make it!

Now stop growing so fast!

Love, Mommy

Date Night In

Oct 30, 2013

Date Night In2
Last weekend, Michael and I finally got that date night in I'd been dreaming about. It was one of the first cold nights here in Tennessee and after Noah went to bed we got ourselves ready, put batteries in the monitor, heated up something to drink, and headed for the fire pit. We really needed that. We ended up talking for almost two hours, about everything from family to politics to spirituality to our marriage. It was a lovely night, even if it was spent in a couple lawn chairs with some really bad hot chocolate.

If I could pick a few must-haves for another date night in by the fire, I'd choose a cozy sweater and leggings, warmer boots, a pair of mittens, a couple of warm blankets to sit on and cuddle under, some hot mulled wine (and cute mugs to sip it from), and some dark chocolate...to split of course.

Weekend Snippit

Oct 28, 2013

This past weekend my parents came to visit and we went to Piney Campground for their annual Halloween festivities. My dad and his twin brother dressed up like walkers from The Walking Dead, Michael and I were pirates, and Noah was the parrot on our shoulder. He was super cute, although he really hated the hat we put on him! The rest of the weekend was spent at the Nashville Flea Market, grabbing lunch at the famous Noshville, and hanging around downtown Dickson. This time with family always makes me look forward to our move a little bit more with each visit. 
How was your weekend? Did you dress up for any Halloween festivities?

And now for the winner of the Sunshine To The Square Inch Giveaway...Congrats Courtney Patterson of Shiraz in my Sippy Cup!  Thanks to everyone who entered and to Beka for being awesome and giving away an item from her shop! Happy Monday!

let's skirt around the issue...

Oct 25, 2013

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

I've always had a thing for skirts. You'd think I'd be scarred by them from my private Christian school days of ankle length khaki or blue jean skirts. But nope. Even though we've had some rough patches, skirts and I will always have love. The flowy feminine ones, the sleeker sexy ones, the floral summer ones, the down-to-your-toes hippie ones- I love them all. Michael always rolls his eyes when I fawn over a dress or skirt in a store. He always says "You love skirts so much, but you never wear them". 

Darn him, he's right. As much as I try to stay up to date on fashion and look like I know what I'm doing, the truth is most days I'm in jeans and some form of a plain shirt. It's pretty obvious I'm no fashion blogger, and like another blogger recently shared, I feel super dressed up in the clothes that other women wear everyday. 

I suppose that's why I tend to shy away from skirts. I feel so dressed up and a little out of place, especially in the town we live in. But when I see someone else in a skirt, I never think "geez, what are they so dressed up for?". I need to be better about not caring what other people think and wear what I like. I dare say my closet would change if I took on that attitude. And I'd probably buy the dozen pretty skirts I try on in the dressing room instead of sadly putting them back on the rack.

What about you?
 Is there a certain look that you love but shy away from because you might feel out of place?

Today, I'm linking up with the Five on Friday gals - Natasha, Darci, April, and Christina!
Happy Weekend!  

the boy needs to roam

Oct 24, 2013

Last weekend while Michael's parents were still here, we spent a couple hours at a local state park. The weather was warm and had drawn others out to enjoy the playground, a game of frisbee football in the field, and several picnics along the stream. 

I don't say this enough- Michael is such a good dad. He whisked Noah away and they explored the slides and the swings. They crawled around on our quilt for awhile, then I tried to keep up as Michael took Noah to the stream to play. Michael's going to be good at that, I can tell...the getting Noah all in on something. There's a stream? Let's go explore and who cares if we get dirty in the process? There's a motor that needs to be taken apart? Here, help me and learn how in the process. And once again, who cares if we get dirty.

 I love that mindset. If there's something to explore, I love knowing that if Michael is there, he'll be right alongside Noah, helping him explore, showing him that he can do it, showing him he'll be okay if his feet get wet, both literally and figuratively, and setting fire to that adventure every boy (and girls, too!) has within him. I want to contribute to that free and curious spirit, as his mom, as much as I can. It's made me want to take advantage of every day that isn't unbearably cold and get Noah outside, with the fresh air, and end the day with dirty hands and a refreshed spirit. I've been wishing for the cold weather to set in, but I think I might be okay if it held off for just a few more weeks.

#ootd & A letter to my newlywed self.

Oct 23, 2013

Two weekend ago M's parents kept Noah while he and I hate a date. And not just dinner five minutes away. This was a date date. We went to Nashville, ate a delicious dinner, drank a quart of Sangria each, had wonderful conversation, and ended the night with a movie. We had such a good time. I made us promise to each other that we wouldn't go this long again without one.

I had fun getting dressed, too. Now that I've lost some weight, my clothes fit better and shopping isn't so frustrating. Earlier that week I had found some cute tops at Goody's (of all places- the only department-like store in our town without going to Nashville), and I was excited to wear one. The weather was still warm, so I ditched the heels for some sandals. Consider this my version of #ootd..."outfit of the date"!
 Speaking of date nights, M & I had a little date-night-in (post to come!) over the weekend, chatting outside by the fire after Noah had gone to bed. We ended up talking about our marriage, comparing the first year and half to now. It's only been two and a half years since we've been married, although we've been together for ten. With the kind of perspective that all we've been through in our life together brings, we were able to admit that it's SO much better now. And then of course, we agreed through the list of whys. And that list got me thinking about all the things I wish I could go back and say to my newlywed self. Here's some of what I'd say...

Dear Kelsea,

You're probably still reeling from the wedding and walking down the aisle to your man and feeling pretty in your dress and the honeymoon and moving and getting a job and all the rest of the amazing things that come with starting your life with someone. If only you knew the ringers you've got coming. Here are a few things you should probably take my advice on...

1. Stop focusing on all the ways Michael can love you, and just focus on loving him.
If you spend all your time dreaming about all the ways he should be loving you, you're going to be disappointed, and you'll miss out on all the ways he is showing you love.

2. He's not perfect. Stop expecting him to be. 
He's going to mess up sometimes. He'll hurt your feelings and make you mad and occasionally get on your nerves. And that's okay. You won't feel those things forever. Most likely they'll be gone just as quickly as they came, or at least with a good night's sleep. That's the beauty of marriage..you choose to love and commit anyways, knowing that love is there, even when those other feelings cloud it out for a little.

3. Speak positively ten times more than you do negatively.
 Sure, it's healthy to tell him when he's hurt you and what he's done. Do that. But if that's the only thing he hears from you, it will wear him down. He needs to hear when you're proud of him, when you're appreciative of his hard work, when you admire the way he can fix anything and knows just about anything, or when you think his butt looks sexy in those jeans. He needs to hear all of that way more often than he does the things you think is wrong with him.

There will be times you're angry, disappointed, deeply hurt, and yep, you'll even question your sanity when you thought this was a good idea. You won't always admire everything he does, but you'll have moments in which he does something that reminds you of why you love him in the first place. You're going to watch him grow, watch him change, watch as he becomes an amazing daddy, and life will ebb and flow.

Remember- life won't be perfect, marriage is crazy hard, love is worth it. 

A slightly wiser yourself 

What about you? What are some things you wish you could go back and tell the you of the past?  

Noah's First Pumpkin Patch

Oct 22, 2013

This past Sunday morning was spent at the pumpkin patch in our town. We got there early, the weather was perfect, and we had a great time. Looking back, we should have gone after Noah's nap, because he was pretty out of it the entire time. He got pretty excited crawling around in the pumpkin patch, but was out in less than five minutes once we hit the road. We enjoyed seeing some animals, playing in the play area, navigating the mini corn maze, playing in a corn pit, taking a tractor ride, and picking the pumpkins we wanted to bring home to carve. We're excited to take Noah to places like this with each year he's older and more and more able to enjoy everything there.

Miscellany Monday & A Giveaway

Oct 21, 2013

Michael came home last week with the best news (and no, it's not any more information on our move, unfortunately!) His boss approved him to work four 10 hour days, as opposed to the five 8 hour days he has been working, at least until he's relocated. We're both ecstatic! I'm always a little down on Sunday evenings because it just seems like the weekend and our time to have all day with him just flies by. Now, he's got Mondays off! Oh, the possibilities! Today will be the first Monday off and while he still has a conference call, I"m looking forward to having him around!

Last night, my dream of a fireside "date night in" was finally made a reality. We made our fire pit last weekend and I've been itching to grab my man and go sit out there all week. This time, he was the one who had to grab me and go- I'm a bit of a cold wimp. In my head, we'd cuddle on and under blankets with drinks in our hands. This date looked more like camping chairs and a disgusting hot chocolate, but I loved every minute. We sat out there and talked for two hours. I love that guy. 

We finally were able to go to the pumpkin patch. We made plans to go a few weeks ago, but the weather was still ridiculously hot for October. I had this dream of us going in the perfect weather- sunshine and chilly enough to have to wear a coat, scarf, and boots. Okay, maybe I was dreaming about the perfect outfit. Either way, Saturday rolled around and it was cold, alright. Cold and rainy. I was bummed. We decided to wait until Sunday and I'm glad we did- the weather was perfect. I've got another post to come with an overload of pumpkin patch pictures. But here's a little teaser...

Saturday night we walked over to the neighbors' halloween party and got to "test out" Noah's halloween costume. He was less than thrilled, but actually kept the hat on. This weekend Michael's going to be a pirate and Noah is going to be the parrot on his shoulder. Michael actually came up with that idea and I love it! I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to be. There's a plethora of slutty female pirate costumes, but I think I'd rather get a little more creative.
Can't you tell he's just thrilled?
It's been a really wonderful weekend, and I think this week will be just as great. I've got some fun things planned for Noah and me, I'm looking forward to my posts this week, and my parents will be arriving Thursday night for a long weekend visit. Let the goodness begin!

lowercase letters


Now to the fun part! I'm excited to introduce to you the blogger and shop owner behind today's giveaway!
I've enjoyed her posts about her life, culture, experiences abroad, and now her adventures as a newlywed! She opened up her Esty shop not too long ago, and was gracious enough to answer a few questions about how it all got started....

If you could describe yourself in five words, what would you say? 
friendly, laid back and super energetic

Why did you start your blog, Sunshine to the Square Inch?
I started my blog as a way to document my life abroad while I taught English in South Korea. I've since then moved back to the States and now document my travels and adventures with my husband, some DIY and recipes as well as fitness. 
When did you start making bags & clutches?
I started making bags and clutches this past spring. I moved from Korea to America in February, got married in March and immediately moved to a small town in the middle of nowhere. It was my first time to not be working 40 hours a week and I began crafting as a way to keep me occupied. I also began making bags for gifts as friends. I had a sister-in-law and a good friend get married and I made them each a clutch that coordinated their wedding colors and put lingerie in there. 

What inspires your creativity?
Is it really terrible to say Pinterest? I saw some chevron clutches on there and thought I would make my own. Once I made a few I began coming up with new ideas and would change them up a bit. Sometimes things will randomly pop into my head (like the pumpkin spice latte clutch) for a design and I'll make that as well. I also incorporate colors and places I love. I made a teal bag to represent my love of the ocean, my yellow bags to represent 'Sunshine to the Square Inch' etc.

A huge thanks to Beka for being awesome and excited about giving one of her adorable bags to a lucky reader! Enter below for your chance to win the adorable, medium yellow chevron bag
a Rafflecopter giveaway