home | touches of autumn

Oct 24, 2014

I'm sure I've mentioned before that we moved into a house built in the late 80's with hardly any updating done since then. It was our plan all along to put up with the brown walls (in every room!), the blue original-to-the-house carpet upstairs, and the foggy windows until we slowly remodeled each room. One and a half down, and 1800 square feet to go! It's not easy as a woman who loves home decor to live in a space where it doesn't feel comfortable or quite like home yet, but I decided a couple of months ago that instead of leaving every space blank until we got to it, I'd try to decorate on a budget. I couldn't stand staring at empty walls and spaces any longer.

When I saw the first pumpkins for sale in town and felt the first crisp morning of the season, I got so excited. Not only do I love the beautiful weather fall brings, but the decor, if you do it right, can be simple enough to last until Christmas decor comes out! I grabbed a few mini pumpkins, a few bigger ones, made a fun "Trick or Treat" sign at a craft night I went to recently with friends, and used items we already had in the house.

I love having a mantle to decorate. Eventually we're going to paint the stone white and change out the original mantle for something more rustic, but for now I love having a central place in the room to display our things. I gathered some twigs from the yard and used the wine corks from our wedding decorations to fill in the space a little. I also bought a bag of candy corn to add a fun Halloween theme, and I promise I had the best of intentions to not eat them. You can see how that worked out for me!

I enjoyed putting some fun touches in the otherwise boring spaces of our home. I'm already inspired with some fun Christmas decorations and can't wait to go all out with those this year. 

What do you put up for fall decor? Do you focus on fun Halloween items or try to keep it more season-themed?


Oct 23, 2014

Risky Business, take two, anyone?  He looks like such a big boy in his little jeans and shirts and coordinated outfits, but when I strip him down to his diaper so he can get messy I see glimpses of my baby boy still in there somewhere. It's a bittersweet thing watching your boy grow, but mostly I'm so excited...to see him try and succeed, to see him struggle and work through it, to see him learn every day and know that all of this sowing will reap rewards by the grace of God one day. So while he grows and I cheer him on, I'll still take the opportunity to relish in these moments of that last bit of leg chub, the diaper stage, and his love for diving in, getting messy, and exploring.


Oct 18, 2014

feeling | super pregnant and more than ready to go into labor. I'm 38 weeks and 3 days and am so excited to meet our boy. It's a funny thing, housework...it just shows up everyday even when you just got done with it. Staying on top of it enough to feel comfortable going into labor and not having a trashed house is getting harder to do!

smelling | cinnamon sticks, orange peel, and apples simmering on the stove top. All I have to do is add water every day and it's amazing how far the wonderful scent will travel- even to our second floor. When the windows are open in the morning the whole house feels and smells like autumn. 

reading | Christ in the Chaos by Kimm Crandall. Every Friday I get together with other mamas and talk about how God has used the week's chapters in our lives. The book is giving me a new perspective on Grace and motherhood and I'm thankful. 

listening |  to my favorites from Kari Jobe this week. Noah, on the other hand, keeps requesting "Let It Go" from frozen. We'll be driving and he says, "Mama, wone, let doh, let doh, hmmmhmmmm moh" (Mama, phone, let it go, let it go, *mumble* anymore). He gets so excited when I put it on and usually hums or sings to the chorus. When it goes off he always says "Meh" (more).

cooking | lots of soups and chili! I've been waiting for these easy dinners and love how hearty and filling they are. So far we've done chili, homemade chicken noodle, and spicy Italian sausage and lentil soup (Carrabba style!). They're easy to freeze, too, so I've got about 5-6 full meals in the freezer ready for the next month. 

planning | on using and being in front of the camera more often. I want to be able to have pictures of me with my children instead of just them, or just them with M. I need to be more comfortable with handing someone else the camera and not feeling bad asking them to take a few candid shots. I'm starting out right with baby boy as we've hired a birth photographer. I'm so excited to get to have such special documentation of his birth and our first moments together.

deciding | between blog designs (in case you haven't noticed the random changes!). I don't know why, but I'm so wishy-washy when it comes to Hey Kelsea Rae. I paid for a wonderful blog redesign last year and it was amazing, but not quite me after awhile. I'll be honest, I've been feeling a bit uninspired. I'm a little hit or miss with writing, I can't decide on the overall design or look I'm going for, and because of that, I've not been successful at "branding", staying consistent, or becoming passionate about it. And the thing is, I want to be. I want to figure it all out because this blog has been a wonderful outlet for me in the last few years and I love being creative. I think I like too many design styles that vary quite a bit and don't know which of those mesh and which don't. 

thankful for | a patient husband who lets me sleep in and knows how to do pretty much anything around here, the sweetest boy ever who rarely holds back his kisses and hugs, new friends who have made the last few months bearable and wonderful, and weekends with my guys at home. 

Noah | a graduation speech of sorts

Oct 16, 2014

I can't believe my sweet boy has gotten to be this big. So big, in fact, that in a matter of a couple of weeks he'll officially earn the title 'big brother'. Where has the time gone? It felt like just last week I was holding my newborn, nursing him, and staring into his sweet eyes. Last night I cried thinking about how much will change when baby comes. (What haven't I cried at lately?!) I know the change will be wonderful and beautiful, but before it comes I want to document some fun things about this age and time in our lives. 

Noah is a month and a half shy of two years old. He loves all things trains, tractors, and Daniel Tiger. His favorite treats at the moment are Apple Pie Larabars, or "App-le Bah". He also loves just about any fruit and can chow down on some meat. Some of his favorite snacks are bananas, cheese, yogurt, raisins, grapes, cashews, and Kettle chips.

He loves reading books and calls them "boots". His favorite book is a John Deere alphabet book that my mom got him awhile ago. He also loves an animal picture book and loves pointing out the "pideh" (spider), "sark" (shark), "whool in da wawa" (whale in the water), and the snake. His favorite night-time book is Goodnight Moon and he can say the words along with me to every other page.

He still loves signing and his sign vocabulary is growing every day.  He gets plenty of practice day-to-day at home with us and when we Facetime his Papa. We always try to get a good recording of him when they're having a detailed conversation, but he always notices the camera and wants to see what's on the other side!

His vocabulary grows daily. He can repeat words after us now and is now putting words together to form short sentences. His first one was "Abbey Nana Papa house", meaning Abbey (the dog) is at Nana and Papa's house. He likes to say "Dada grass tractor mow". He doesn't always put words together in the right order but I love seeing and hearing his brain work in this way. It's also much easier now that he can communicate what he needs or wants in away that we understand. He's a talker for sure and I'm looking forward to many fun conversations as he gets older.

As far as routine, we've gotten a bit more consistent lately with out it feeling rigid. We've met some great friends and have found some fun groups, play dates, and events going on. It's nice to keep busy during the day and I like when we have things to do outside of the house. Our plans vary from day to day but lately it looks something like this: Wake up, have some breakfast, I'll do a few chores while he plays for awhile, then we usually try to leave the house. Some days we just run errands but many days we have something scheduled- open gym twice a week at the local gymnastics, a book study with other moms (just started and enjoying it!), MOPS program every other week, and the occasional play date with another mom and her kiddos. Whatever we do, we're usually back home right around Noah's nap time. I feel pretty lucky because if he falls asleep in the car he'll stay asleep when I carry him inside and to bed. He usually sleeps two hours or less and by that time Michael is on his way home and I'm getting dinner ready and finishing up household stuff.

Noah loves when Michael gets home and I can usually get him distracted for about twenty minutes by having him "watch for da-da!" out the windows. If he's in a certain mood he doesn't do well playing by himself while I'm making dinner and will hang all over my legs and gets kind of whiny. Those are the moments where I'm desperate and try to get him involved in something fun long enough to get things done. Sometimes this involves the iPad or a show, I'll admit. Other times I dump his markers out on the kitchen floor, roll out a long piece of paper, and let him draw.

We're still working on being gentle with others, but I think he's starting to understand more. Usually if he pushes, we ask him to be "gentle and easy" and then ask him to redo it in that way. Usually that just involves him going to the other person and petting their arm or back, but if it's Michael or me he will give us a hug and say "aw! mama!". It's the cutest. We're also working on being patient while waiting his turn for something instead of grabbing it out of their hands. Some days he gets it, waits, and watches. Other days he grabs and cries. It's all a part of learning and I try not to get discouraged on days when he struggles, because I struggle, too.

Noah goes to the nursery at church most Sundays we're there and seems to be getting used to it. The first few times I took him it took awhile to help him work through staying. I found that talking to him about it beforehand and even singing the Daniel Tiger jingle "grownups come back!" helps him understand what's going to happen. He now will usually walk right into his classroom on Sundays and for MOPS (same place!) and the ladies there say he does really well. Music to this mama's ears!

Overall, Noah truly does have the sweetest little spirit. He's adventurous, observant, and can be so funny and silly. I have loved getting to see his personality grow and develop along the way. I feel so thankful that God has provided a way for me to stay home with Noah and I truly love it, even though some days are harder than others.

He is so excited to meet his baby brother and I can't wait to see them both together- our boys. Noah now will come kiss my belly, say "baby" in a high-pitched voice, and has recently started saying "baby out" after I explained that baby brother will come out to see him soon. I'm 38 weeks today and our time as family of three is coming to a close. I'm so excited for Noah to have a brother and can't wait to see him learn to love his brother and gain a new best friend.

It's a Date | Pinterest Progress!

Oct 12, 2014

You know those hundreds of ideas and projects I've had nicely organized and pinned to my Pinterest boards? You know, the ones that I've never made time for? You know, the ones that make me feel guilty for having not completed them and can usually make me avoid Pinterest so I'm not disappointed? 

You should see me! I'm actually doing them! I've completed 4-5 projects right from my Pinterest boards in the last two months. I call that progress. It's fun to see how being intentional with my me time has actually allowed me to get some of those fun DIYs done without feeling guilty for not doing something else "more productive".

The past few weeks, while my It's a Date posts have been hit or miss, my me time hasn't been. They've consisted of propping my feet to read during nap time, participating in a craft night with some new, local friends, and spending time putting up some fun fall decorations around our otherwise aesthetically un-pleasing home. 

M and I enjoyed our getaway alone to Atlanta (thanks, Grandpa & Grandma!). After my emotions settled down from missing my baby and feeling so off for the first little while, we really enjoyed each other and our time there. Part of our plan while there was to visit  Ikea and get a few things for Noah and his almost-completed room. One of those items was a stool so he can have better access to the sink and counters and gain some independence with things like putting his dishes up and brushing his teeth. 

I decided to get the stool in natural wood so I could be more flexible with paint and colors. I finally settled on this design. It's nothing fancy or bright, but just the right amount of clean lines and detail. Last week, M had to be out of town for work and Noah and I spent a night alone at home before heading to Virginia for the rest of the week. I put Noah to bed, got my tape, paint, and brush, turned on The Voice, and enjoyed painting. 

 I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out and Noah really loves being able to see what's going on when I'm in the kitchen. It was one of the easiest projects I've done so far. I'm not sure what craftiness I'll attempt next. I have a few things in mind. I'm trying to choose things that can be done in a relatively short amount of time since, you know, I'm about to have a baby!

Tune in this week for some new posts- a possible last pregnancy update, some adorable pictures of Noah and what we've been up to lately, and maybe a new fall recipe!

Mamas Tell All | Choosing the Size of Our Family

Oct 1, 2014

When you're pregnant you get asked all kinds of questions. I don't mind. People are curious and questions make for easy small talk. One of those questions usually goes something like this, "Do you think you'll have more after this?".

I usually answer with, "I'd like to have four children, but we'll have to see how it goes!". M and I are high school sweethearts who dated for 6 years before we married, so conversations about family and the future happened pretty early and pretty often. I've always wanted a big family. M was never sold on the idea, but wasn't totally against it either. So when I answer "four" when asked how many we'd like to have, I suppose if I were to be a little more clear, I'd have to say that M and I aren't fully on the same page.

We both view children as an amazing blessing. M tends to think about the logical facts of having a family and I tend to think about it from a spiritual/emotional point of view. He tends to think about having enough money for college. He doesn't want to have such a big family that we never have money to experience things like travel as a family or to provide enough for each child's needs. He thinks we should wait to have more children after this one because he'd like to have time to enjoy the boys and have some adventures with them before another newborn comes along. He worries that if we have "too many" that we won't be able to meet their emotional needs or spend quality time with each one.

Me, on the other hand? I tend not to worry about college because I know that we're making smart decisions now to be prepared for that time in our kids' lives. I agree that I'd like to us to experience things as a family and travel, but think that it has a lot to do with financial priorities and planning. Part of me wants to wait awhile between #2 and #3 for the same reasons he does, and also to give my body a chance to get back to normal and a bit more fit and healthy. The other part of me wants to have our children close together so we aren't "newborn newbies" every few years. I want a big family to enjoy through each stage and love the thought of tons of children and spouses and grand kids running around. I feel that there will always be love to go around, even with a big family, and that intentionality is key in connecting with your children, no matter how many.

I think at the end of the day, several things could happen. We could plan (we use natural family planning) and space out according to how we feel as we progress in parenthood. Or we could plan all we want to and God choose to bless us with new life outside of our particular plans, and for that we would be happy.

I always feel a little off when I give the specific answer of "four" because I truly don't know for sure and it feels more like I'm answering "How many pets do you want?" than answering about the amazing privilege of parenthood. I think because M and I have some different feelings on the matter, we'll have to wait and see what we're both feeling when the time comes, and I'm okay with that. I also think that ultimately God has planned a specific family for everyone. He knows best and I want to be in tune with His heart along the journey, even when it comes to family size. 

What about you? Kids or no kids, have you thought about family size? 
What are some things you've considered when thinking about it?

I'm linking up again today with the Mamas Tell All  link-up party going on over at Everyday Thoughts. The hosts, Brittany from Everday Thoughts, Christine from The So-Called Homemaker, and Ashley at That Southern Mama  came up with a great lists of topics that have to do with the crazy job of being a mama! They're sharing their methods and inviting other mamas to do the same! Head on over there and check out how other people feel about family size!