Chattanooga | the hunt

Apr 18, 2014

This week we've been in Chattanooga house-hunting and exploring the area. This is not for the faint of heart, as I'm sure many of you have experienced for yourselves in a similar process! We've left the hotel early in the morning, driven more than we've been out of the car, and had lots of things on our plate. It's a little stressful, but fun at the same time. By the time 3 or 4 rolls around, this pregnant mama is worn. plum. out. Thankfully, Noah is sleeping really well even though we're out of our routine and that has been a huge win!

Some good things have come from it all, though, and we're at the end of our trip feeling encouraged, a little nervous, and hoping that some details work out in a specific way. I've finally come to terms with the fact that we're not going to find a place here for our homestead dreams. M reminded me that we're only twenty-five and that we have plenty of time to work towards fulfilling our dream. It doesn't have to happen right now. He's right. Once I got there in my heart, we were able to broaden our search a bit more and have found some really promising houses! Our house goes on the market next week, though, so we're kind of stuck as far as putting an offer on something here until we have an offer on our current place. I'm trying hard not to worry about it and just trust that God has the right house in mind for us. 

We haven't been working the whole time. We've had time in the day to relax, have some fun, and explore the area. Noah's been a champ and we wanted him to have some fun and some space to run around. We started off by going to the Tennessee Aquarium downtown. It was our first time there and we really enjoyed it. Noah loved being able to run around freely and thankfully it wasn't too packed. It will be fun to take him back as he gets older and watch him show more and more interest in all the different exhibits there.




Yesterday we spent our free time at Coolidge Park soaking in some sun, getting some fresh air, and letting Noah spend up all his energy. It's such a great park by the river with a pretty view and plenty of room for a toddler to roam around. I'm excited that we'll be close enough to enjoy it often, especially during the summer!



Part of traveling that I love and hate at the same time is having to eat out every meal. I absolutely love being served, exploring new restaurants, and trying different foods - it's an experience for me. But after the third or fourth day my body feels it! On top of that, my appetite is all out of whack and I really am slave to it at this point. By day three, I was kind of getting tired of traditional chain restaurants so we set out to find something different. We were passing Warehouse Row and saw Tupelo Honey Cafe! I've always wanted to eat at the one in Knoxville and was so happy to find out that Chattanooga has its own! The restaurant was gorgeous, I loved every single little detail of the the decor, and the menu was delicious! I got sweet potato pancakes and they might be my new favorite breakfast food. Also, they had biscuits and honey which I've been craving lately. It was so good that we went there again last night!


All in all, this has been a productive trip. I wasn't so sure after the first day, but the rain stopped, the sun came out, and my moods were lifted. We talked through this whole process a lot every day and made sure we were honest about how we felt along the way and that helped make a stressful trip go pretty smoothly. This morning we're heading to North Carolina for a huge family Easter weekend. It will be the first time that  M's dad's side of the family has been together in a few years. We're so excited to spend time with everyone and make some fun memories!

Just a quick reminder- don't forget to enter a giveaway I'm hosting with Bottomley Cottage, my latest Made Series feature! It's a simple entry this time- head to this post, visit the Etsy shop, and comment with the watercolor you'd choose if you win! 

Happy Weekending!

Total Truth Thursdays 07 | All Things Domestic: I'm No June Cleaver

Apr 17, 2014

Welcome to our seventh Total Truth Thursday! Thanks to all of you who have linked up every week and shared your heart! If this is the first time you’re hearing about Total Truth Thursdays, head back to this post and catch up on what it’s all about!

Before we dive in and link up, here are a few reminders:
1 // You can find the list of topics for each week HERE 
2 // Kindness is key.Whether you follow the topics for each week or come up with something on your own, please remember that others may or may not agree with you, and you may or may not agree with them! Disagreements are natural, passionate opinions are welcomed, and constructive feedback is fine. However, we won’t put up with rudeness, ugliness, or name-calling. Just be nice! 
3 // To link-up, please follow Hey Kelsea Rae & These Moments Called Life on Bloglovin’ or GFC and copy and paste the button code to your post somewhere! We are so excited to get started!

Today's topic is all things domestic!

When it comes to all things domestic, I know many women who think housework is only their job and don't expect their husbands to help out. If that's you and that floats your boat, then more power to you! But that isn't me. I've always been a little irritated when those gender-specific expectations have been thrown my way!
As a stay-at-home-mom, I do realize that because I'm at home more, more of the chores will naturally fall to me during the week, and that's okay. I'm happy to do them because that's how I'm contributing to my family. I see it like this- M's job is 40 hours at his place of employment. My "job" during those hours he is away is taking care of Noah and whatever the day allows for me to get done for our family. M's and my time apart is spent carrying out different responsibilities, but our time together at home is mostly fair ground.
M doesn't come home and expect to do nothing because he's been away all day. One of us doesn't deserve to rest and relax more than the other. Most days we do a really great job at picking up each other's slack. There aren't chores M won't do (besides fold towels because I'm particular about them!) and there aren't chores I refuse to do if they need to be done (besides all that wood splitting he does because I can barely lift the ax, much less swing it). 

There are chores that we prefer doing, and in that case I guess you could say they're gender-specific. He enjoys doing the mowing- it gets him outside, is physical exertion, etc. I don't mind mowing, but it doesn't happen too often unless he needs me to. I prefer to have our closets organized so I don't mind taking the time to fold or hang the clothes a certain way.

Don't get me wrong- I'm not trying to be too modern and deny that there are gender differences, I'm just saying that I don't believe certain tasks or household chores should belong to one or the other solely based on gender. 

What do you think? How do you and your significant other handle chores and other responsibilities at home? 

Alright, it’s your turn! Grab the button below and link up your Total Truth! Also, use the hashtag #totaltruththursdays to share on Instagram and Twitter!







MADE SERIES 07 // Jenni Haikonen: Bottomley Cottage

Apr 16, 2014

I'm excited to get back to Made Series this week! Today, our small business feature is Bottomley Cottage, an Etsy art shop with beautiful water color prints! I've always really loved watercolor as it is such a delicate and cheerful medium. Jenni Haikonen is the creative behind Bottomley Cottage and I'm so excited to introduce you to her!
Jenni is an artist from the prairies of Canada, living in Vancouver with her husband. She loves exploring and seeking out ways to satisfy her curious mind. She likes connecting with others over a cup of coffee or something sweet. She's a true Romantic and has dreams of living in a coastal village on Prince Edward Island. Here are a few of her beautiful pieces....
Aren't those gorgeous? Jenni answered a few questions about her shop and her creativity.... 

When did you open up shop?
I only recently opened up my first Etsy shop! I’ve been making and selling things for a while through Facebook and word of mouth, but I now have an official website that I can direct people to for viewing my work, which is pretty nice. 

What is the story behind your shop name?
I started a blog years ago called Tales From Bottomley Cottage. It referred to the house I was living in at the time that was known to people as Bottomley Cottage. I loved living there and it was a place of comfort and inspiration for me. I thought it only made sense to name my shop after it…plus it kind of just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? 

Who has been your biggest encourager?
While my family has definitely pushed me to pursue passions and achieve dreams, my husband has been particularly encouraging in this new venture. He loves my watercolour work and tells me so every time I work on a new piece! 

How did you learn how to do watercolor? 
I have a diploma in art and design, along with having completed a certificate program alongside accomplished artists, so that experience has exposed me to so many different mediums…except watercolour! I had been painting in acrylic up until recently when I decided to explore watercolour. It’s similar to acrylic in that it is water-based, but you definitely can’t control it in the same way. I am just learning through practice, but I hope to take a class in technique soon. 

What do you use for inspiration? 
My biggest inspiration recently has come through other artists working in similar mediums and styles. Some of the artists include Oana Befort, Emily Winfield Martin, and Becca Stadtlander. I have been so drawn to folk painting and children’s illustration and I hope to one day be experienced enough to illustrate a book, myself! 

Be sure to follow Jenni on her blog and social media!

In honor of today's feature, Jenni would love to giveaway a print from her shop! 
To enter is simple: Visit Bottomley Cottage on Etsy and comment below with which print you'd like to win! 


15 & 16/52

Apr 13, 2014


15/52: Getting ready for his pizza at Mellow Mushroom in Asheville, NC (4/5). 
16/52: Looking up at the American flag during our tour of the military cemetary at Shiloh National Military Park (4/12).

Total Truth Thursdays 06 | Kids/Parenting: Why We Don't Spank

Apr 10, 2014

Welcome to our sixth Total Truth Thursday! Kirstin and I started this link-up in hopes that it will be successful in creating a safe environment for us to share our opinions, beliefs, and thoughts- however strong, against-the-grain, mainstream, or out there they are! If this is the first time you’re hearing about Total Truth Thursdays, head back to this post and catch up on what it’s all about!

Before we dive in and link up, there are a few things that you need to know:
1 // You can find the list of topics for each week HERE 
2 // Kindness is key.Whether you follow the topics for each week or come up with something on your own, please remember that others may or may not agree with you, and you may or may not agree with them! Disagreements are natural, passionate opinions are welcomed, and constructive feedback is fine. However, we won’t put up with rudeness, ugliness, or name-calling. Just be nice! 
3 // To link-up, please follow Hey Kelsea Rae & These Moments Called Life on Bloglovin’ or GFC and copy and paste the button code to your post somewhere! We are so excited to get started!

Today's topic is kids/parenting.

Here's my chance to share something I feel very strongly about, and I'm nervous! Nevertheless, here I go.
 This parenting thing has been quite a journey, especially as Noah has become a toddler and his growing need for independence leaves him exploring boundaries in new ways. Even before Noah came into the world, I was very intentional about learning about parenting and raising children. I'm a psychology major, for goodness' sake!

When it came to "discipline" and spanking, I was a little on the fence. Something inside of me was uncomfortable with the idea and not just from an emotional standpoint, but from a realistic, behavioral one, too. I solidified how I felt in the year before Noah was born.

My history with physical discipline ranges from personal experience to what I observed around me. As a child, I was spanked. Sometimes it was done in a calm manner and sometimes it was out of anger. No, I don't feel scarred, I have a wonderful relationship with my parents, and I turned out well (something I don't attribute to the spanking). All of my friends were spanked, too. It was a common theme, especially in the "rod of reproof" culture I was surrounded by, and what I observed ranged from "normal" to what I consider abuse.

I feel pretty strongly about this topic and would like to share a little bit about why we have chosen not to spank our children, and a little of what we plan to do instead.

Spanking is behavior modification. What is the goal of spanking? For physical pain to be associated with the negative action- when the negative action is tried, the pain is recalled, and the action is avoided. With our children, we want the goal to be different than just external obedience. Spanking doesn't address the issue or solve a problem. When our children do something wrong, rather than have them change their actions out of fear of physical pain, we want them to eventually change their actions from a place of intrinsic motivation. We want, through relationship and natural consequences (when appropriate), to help them understand why what they did was wrong/inappropriate/negative and help them understand how to choose better alternatives. Just like legalism, spanking produces an outward action, not a heart change.

Spanking devalues. I'm big, you're little, so I can cause you physical pain. That's kind of the premise behind spanking isn't it? If they were big, they wouldn't be spanked. Spanking feels to me like telling kids that we don't think they're capable of seeing boundaries and learning from mistakes, neither of which is true. And if we don't expect it from them, then we're not even giving them a chance.

Spanking does not prepare children for the adult world and is often a quick fix. When our children are fifteen, twenty, thirty, they won't be spanked because they didn't show up at their job. Could they be fired as a natural consequence? Absolutely. And that would be painful. But there will never be another time in their lives that they will experience physical pain as punishment. In their adult lives, our children will need to be able to pull from their intrinsic motivation, their ability to analyze the results of their own decisions, and the ability to make it right. Spanking often accomplishes just enough for the child to avoid the action, but does nothing to teach them why. Some parents might argue that they have conversation with their child afterwards and in a loving manner, explaining the "whys" and consequences, etc. If that's the case, what is the point of the spanking? Aren't there other ways to help your child feel the weight of their decision without invoking physical pain?

Spanking feels hypocritical. There is no one else who it is okay to hit. It's unacceptable to hit our spouses, our parents, our siblings, a friend, or a stranger on the street. It is never okay to cause physical pain to someone else. Why is it okay to do so to our children? And what does that communicate to them about their value and worth?

Spanking sets precedents for violence. Violence begets violence. Hitting begets hitting. Spanking is a humiliating cycle for children, often in which they in turn resort to physical violence with others. It's too easy to take spanking too far, and in my opinion it doesn't take much. The child talks back? Spank them harder! They really make you mad? How do you regulate your own emotions, and what are you teaching your child about how to handle strong emotions? How hard is too hard? What are we teaching children about what they deserve from the people who are supposed to protect them?

From a spiritual standpoint, I believe we Christians are supposed to follow God's example and look at how He deals with us. He uses the Holy Spirit, through relationship, to convict us, mold us, and direct us. He doesn't dole out punishments, but He does often allow us to deal with the consequences of our own actions. Over and over again He gives grace and mercy, even when it takes us twenty times to get something or learn our lesson. He wants our hearts, and we as parents want the hearts of our children. Some might argue the "rod" verses of the Bible, but after some research I believe those verses are often misinterpreted. The rod he talked about comforted and guided the sheep, protecting them from danger. He instructed gentleness of Spirit, even when dealing with a strong-willed child.

There are many more points I could make about the trust between a parent and child and how a child can grow to view themselves and their relationship with God through this lens, but for the sake of time and length, I'll leave it at this.

If you're sure you're going to spank your kids, already do, or are on the fence, you might think some of the following...

"Kids who aren't spanked end up spoiled brats!" or "Parents who don't spank are permissive!". In my opinion, kids who end up spoiled and bratty are the kids whose parents don't set or enforce boundaries. I know plenty of parents who spank, but whose kids don't listen. Empty threats don't work, spanking or no spanking. We have pretty high expectations for Noah and our future children. And high expectations can be wonderful when they're met with high support. We want our children to know what we expect of them, to know that we mean exactly what we say, and that we will follow through with what we say. When you're consistent and your children know what to expect from you, they eventually learn to feel secure in those boundaries.

"How else will they learn?" Children learn at different levels at different ages. I think the key is having age appropriate expectations and boundaries for your children. I know little children who got spanked for crying. They were punished, made to fear their parents, and caused physical pain because they expressed their feelings. I've seen children spanked because they did something they didn't even know they weren't supposed to. Communication is a vital role in setting boundaries. We're not perfect and neither are our children. We all mess up sometimes and need grace and understanding.

We couldn't expect our fourteen month old son to remember every single time that he shouldn't hit the buttons on the dishwasher. He'd hit the start button just as the two hour cycle was about done, meaning the washer restarted and we had another two hours to go. We didn't smack his hand or spank him. Instead, we got down on his level, made him look at us, and worked on helping him understand "Not for Noah". We also don't stop at "no". We redirect and give alternatives. It's fun to press buttons when you're a year old! We wanted to help him understand that while we weren't going to let him press the dishwasher buttons, he could find other buttons to push on his toys. Did he get it the first time? Nope. Not even the second. It did take some repetitive redirection, but he eventually got it and it's not a problem anymore. Was it a little more work for us? Yeah. But children learn by our example. It can only benefit them when we remain calm and take the time to help them find ways to stay in the boundaries.

"I was spanked and I turned out okay!" Hey, me too! But when you know better, you do better. I ate pretty unhealthy as a child but I turned out okay! Does that mean I should keep eating junk? No! If there is a healthier alternative, don't be afraid to try it.

I know this is kind of a touchy subject, especially lately when we all need to leave parenting "to each his own". While I agree that a parent has a right to parent in whatever way they choose, I don't have to pretend like I think it's healthy.

So what are some things that came up for you as you read this? Did your opinion change after you had kids? Are you in support of spanking or have you chosen not to spank? Why or why not? 

Want some more gentle/positive parenting resources? I love Dr. Laura Markham over at AHA Parenting. She has a ton of amazing information on every age and topic you can think of!
Alright, it’s your turn! Grab the button below and link up your Total Truth! Also, use the hashtag #totaltruththursdays to share on Instagram and Twitter! I'm trying a new, free link-up today so let me know if something isn't working!


winds of change are blowing

Apr 9, 2014

You might have noticed that it's been a little quiet on the blog the last month or so. Some of that has been intentional as I've been trying to be more introspective and present. However, a pretty big part of my absence has to do with something fun!






Yep, that's right! We're expecting baby #2! We couldn't be more thrilled to be adding to our family.  I will be 11 weeks tomorrow. 

So far, this pregnancy has left me with many of the same symptoms that I had with Noah. I've been really nauseous and exhausted all morning and afternoon, and it finally begins to wane around three or four. What this means for my day, and unfortunately for the blog, is that most of the things I need to do and want to do get put off until late afternoon or evening. As far as the blog, it doesn't really work to sit at the computer while Noah's awake (he wants to press ALL the keys!) and by the time he goes down for the night I'm ready to do the same! Thankfully he's starting to sleep better so I'm getting a little more sleep, too.

My appetite has been wrecked completely. Right now I consider myself in survival mode when it comes to eating and just have to eat what it is that my body is able to get down. Noah is still nursing some, too, so I'm trying to make sure I'm eating enough. Noah's second trimester treated me much better, so I'm hoping my body follows suit again! Also, I've cried more in the past two weeks that I have in the past six months. These hormones aren't joking.

We usually try to keep ultrasounds at a minimum, but my anxiety needed to know that things looked okay. Our seven week ultrasound looked great and at my last appointment with my midwife we were able to hear baby's heartbeat strong and steady. I'm still trying to figure out where and with whom I'll deliver because of our move, but thankfully we've got some time to figure that out. 

In other news, we had a fun weekend! It started with a drive through our new town for a meeting M had. Noah and I explored town a little and had fun playing in the water fountain at Coolidge Park downtown while M was gone. Afterwards, we met up with M's family near Asheville, NC to help his dad and brother celebrate their birthdays! We had a nice cabin on top of a beautiful mountain, spent some time exploring, enjoyed a wonderful Italian dinner on a rooftop downtown, and enjoyed spending time together.




I'm so thankful for weekends like this to relax, rest, and recharge. This next month is literally jammed packed for us! We've got to put our house on the market, schedule a house-hunting trip, work with our realtor in Chattanooga, and keep our house ready at all times. We've got a fun Easter weekend planned with M's entire extended family in NC and we couldn't be more excited to all be in once place together for the first time in a few years! Afterwards, I'll be spending a week in Virginia with my dad after he has shoulder surgery, he'll come back home with us for a week, then we'll finish up April by helping my mom celebrate her 50th birthday! 

I'm actually kind of glad I'll be that busy. Maybe because it will help me get ready to detach from our little home (I get choked up writing that!), or maybe because I'm getting tired of being home all day feeling stuck. Maybe it's healthy to start detaching, and maybe it's not. I'm curious how my hormones will play into how well I adjust to these changes coming up. I'm thankful for a husband who listens and supports me no matter what. 

So that's what's going on in our lives and we couldn't be more excited! I'll be back tomorrow for Total Truth Thursday and I'm going to talk about something I feel pretty strongly about. Will you be linking up? I'd love to hear your total truth!


12,13,14/52

Apr 5, 2014


12/52: Noah had just spent about five minutes playing with his reflection in the glass door.
13/52: Another gloriously warm afternoon spent on the back porch with snacks, water, and me trying to avoid the bees!
14/52: We're trying to spruce up our flower beds before the house starts showing. Noah got right down beside us and dug in the dirt. He was fascinated with the watering can, too. It's too bad he doesn't know not to step on the flowers! 

This week's goal? Try to get the camera out more and post one 52 project post a week instead of having to clump a few together! Happy Saturday!

Total Truth Thursdays 05 | Modesty: When It Goes Wrong

Apr 3, 2014

Welcome to our third Total Truth Thursday! Kirstin and I started this link-up in hopes that it will be successful in creating a safe environment for us to share our opinions, beliefs, and thoughts- however strong, against-the-grain, mainstream, or out there they are! If this is the first time you’re hearing about Total Truth Thursdays, head back to this post and catch up on what it’s all about!

Before we dive in and link up, there are a few things that you need to know:
1 // You can find the list of topics for each week HERE 
2 // Kindness is key.Whether you follow the topics for each week or come up with something on your own, please remember that others may or may not agree with you, and you may or may not agree with them! Disagreements are natural, passionate opinions are welcomed, and constructive feedback is fine. However, we won’t put up with rudeness, ugliness, or name-calling. Just be nice! 
3 // To link-up, please follow Hey Kelsea Rae & These Moments Called Life on Bloglovin’ or GFC and copy and paste the button code to your post somewhere! We are so excited to get started!

Today's topic is modesty.

Modesty is an interesting subject for me. I grew up in a very conservative Baptist church in an area where churches like that were and still are abundant.  While not all of the things I was taught there I've let go, most of it has caused me a great deal of pain and confusion as I've become an adult. I won't go into much detail about it all (another time, another post!), but I will sum it up by saying that I was taught, most of the time by actions more than words, that what we did WAS our righteousness. It usually wasn't about following God's personal leading and conviction in any one area of my life (drinking, dress, activity, music, relationships, etc), but more about living up to a set of standards that someone else had placed on me. And boy, were the expectations never lacking.

When it came to modesty, well that was just another level of spiritual maturity. "Oh, she still wears jeans to church? I guess she just isn't that close to Jesus yet" kind of thing. I was judged by others, and taught to judge my own spiritual well-being, on my decision to wear what they thought was modest, usually involving some sort of skirt/sweater combo if I'm being specific. And if I knew what spiritual maturity looked like, well it would come naturally that I was also able to peg exactly what it didn't look like. The checklist was easy, and I was safe, admired, praised, and on my way to meeting everyone else's expectations of me.

In my home, modesty was encouraged but never rigid. We knew what was expected of us because it was what was appropriate, but our parents never used it as a spiritual marker, for which I am thankful. I thank God everyday that I didn't do what many people my age are doing- leaving the church, forsaking the God they were taught wrongly about, and never looking back. Nope, I didn't do that. But I can't say it's been an easy journey, this trying to see God for who He truly is and live in the light of truth.

You want to know how I see modesty? First, I absolutely believe in it. In a hyper-sexual society where you literally cannot escape some sort of sexual image or innuendo everywhere you go, it's not helping things when I flaunt it for everyone to see. I want to be seen for me, not my body. I certainly don't want to give other men an easy opportunity to think about me in ways that I only want my husband to, or ways that they should only think about their wife, and I don't want to aid in the temptation of someone who may have any number of sexual struggles. That's not Law, that's just being thoughtful. 

I think, though, that some Christian circles get modesty wrong in several ways.

1.  It is often used as a spiritual gauge.  The more you had covered, the more righteous you must be.

2. They throw out these detailed, specific "requirements", when I truly think each Christian woman's choice of clothing should be between her and God only.

3. They address immodesty with unbelievers rather than addressing the heart and leaving the rest to God.

4. Women are held largely responsible for the thoughts and actions of men. While I don't want to help some guy think about my cleavage, he certainly has just as equal a responsibility to look away, commit his thoughts to God, and control himself, regardless of what he sees. I don't care if a woman were to walk around half naked, a man is 100% responsible for his actions and the woman is not "asking for it" (assault, rape, etc), even if she should choose to dress more revealing.

In my opinion, modesty, along with a lot of other issues, is a matter of personal conviction. It is between me and God and whatever He is choosing to touch on in my life. I believe there are some absolutes in the Bible and clear commandments. But mostly things aren't so black and white, and I think God did this because He wants our hearts and knew that if it was as simple as "do" or "don't do" he'd lose us to our own attempts at perfection. He doesn't want our neatly crossed-off checklists. They make him sick. He doesn't want us to live up to the expectations of our pastor, our fellow believers, our parents. He wants us at full abandon to Him only, because it is then and only then that He can accomplish whatever it is He has for us.

Alright, it’s your turn! Grab the button below and link up your Total Truth! Also, use the hashtag #totaltruththursdays to share on Instagram and Twitter!