Simply Liv: 2014


Merry Day-After-Christmas and an Announcement You Already Know About

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you all had a magically peaceful Christmas and were able to spend it with people you love. Our Christmas was exactly that- we spent the day at my parent's house with my brothers and new sister-in-law. AJ cooked his family's famous authentic Italian spaghetti and meatballs and my mom went all out with other Italian side dishes. Having "themed" Christmases is becoming a new tradition over here and I'm not mad about it.

It was awesome to see how much our family has grown since the last Christmas I spent at home; we gained three new members! Soon to be four, actually....

Which brings me to the main event of this post. If you're friends with either AJ or I on Facebook or in real life, I'm sure you've heard the news already, but I wanted to officially share it on here so that I can post updates as we go along. Yep, you guessed it. BABY #2 IS COMING! 

We are unbelievably excited (with a fair share of nervousness/howwillweeverhandletwokids thrown in)  and can't wait to meet this little one due to arrive on July 9th of 2015. 

I'm 12 weeks along and am SO excited to be past the horrible hump of the first trimester. Hopefully the morning sickness I've been dealing with (which has been SO much worse than with E) will start to subside and I'll start feeling happy/energized pregnant instead of shut-up-don't-talk-to-me/let-me-sleep pregnant. 

I wanted to share a few of the announcement photos we had taken that sort of double as our holiday/family photos for the year. E had her one year shoot as well, but I'll share those when I write her 12 month update :)

These were all taken by the incredibly gifted Amy at A Moment Photography. She is THE best at capturing special moments. I've loved every single photo we've had taken by her. 


#FoMO - an ironically timed post on my struggle with contentment.

I don't know about you all, but for me, Christmastime seems to be a time of extremes. In either a positive or negative way, the season seems to take the feelings we are already feeling and multiply them by 100. If you're prone to giving, you'll give above and beyond. If I'm feeling crafty (which of course, I am), I'll spend every second of free time crocheting or painting. If spending money is second nature, watch out. If you're struggling with depression or loneliness, the holidays set those feelings into overdrive. If you're stressed about finals, moving into a new home, or having relatives come to visit, this season can push you over the edge.

found here
I'm not sure what it is about Christmas that exaggerates these already present feelings- there are probably a multitude of reasons. Whatever the cause, one of the biggest struggles for me (and I'm sure I'm not the only one), not just around Christmastime but all year, is contentment. Which is ironic, because isn't the whole point of the holidays to be thankful?

Its not that I want more things or that I'm ungrateful for what I have- I'm not. I feel incredibly blessed. What I struggle most with is contentment with where I'm at.

This digital age that we live in has made it increasingly easy to access each others' lives and with that accessibility comes comparison. I find myself seeing photos of friends or even photos of myself "pre-mommy" and "pre-Nebraska" and envying where they are at in life or what they are doing.

And then comes the pressure- "if I just take Evie to do more "fun" and "Christmas-y" things I'll feel like a better mom" or "if I looked like I actually spent more than five minutes on my appearance, maybe I'll actually want to post a selfie" or "if we took that vacation to Colorado maybe I wouldn't feel so homesick (or self-sick?)". On and on and on.

An article I recently read from Darling Magazine (my newest obsession) titled "In One Place at a Time" summed it up best, I think:
"We see what our friends are doing in this moment and we wonder if what we are doing in this moment is as great or as 'post-worthy'. Hyper-aware of what everyone else is doing as we scroll down our screens, we either become numbed to the life that is actually in front of us or worried that we need to go find something better to do" 
I read that sentence and was knocked out with a proverbial ton of bricks. Is is possible that my discontentment is rooted in comparison? Just over half a year into our move and I've already found myself longing for our old home and our old stage of life. I could just write it off as pregnancy hormones, which is the easy excuse for everything right now. (Sorry, AJ). Or I can dig a little deeper and look at my heart. Its not that my life is any less valid, exciting or fulfilling as the next, its just that my contentment- and therefore my gratitude- has taken a nose dive.

With the pervasiveness of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest...its easier than ever to fall into the trap of "missing out"- something the article quoted above referenced as #FoMO or fear of missing out. We envy, oftentimes subconsciously, the lives of our friends, believing that the party they just attended or the concert they Instagrammed, is more important than the homemade dinner you just cooked or the paper you just spent hours on.  But guess what?

We are free to miss out.

The lives everyone else lives, with their own unique beauty, adventure and challenges, are not mine. And "becoming numb" to the life that is right in front of me just because my house isn't "pinterest-y" enough or I'm feeling a little nostalgic, is a low that I never want to hit. Embracing our freedom to miss out awakens a brand new person. I can celebrate with others the beauty and excitement of their lives without jealousy or comparison. I can embrace my own life with joy and gratitude, knowing that even in the most monotonous, un-post-worthy of days- where I've changed 98 poopy diapers and shared half the desert that I made for myself and still don't have dinner on the table by 8- I can be thankful and satisfied.

In the midst this season of craziness and comparison, if this is something you struggle with as well, I encourage you to just BE.

Be where you are with your whole heart, even if where you are isn't thrilling or new. Learn to find beauty in monotony. And be grateful for the little things. And maybe log off Facebook for a little bit....that could help too.

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Evie- 11 month update (a few days late...)

Whew....things have been a little a lot crazy around here. We moved into our new (much bigger) apartment, found out something very exciting, and celebrated Evie's FIRST BIRTHDAY all within a couple of weeks. And yes, I need to blog about ALL of it. But today I'm going to play a little bit of catch up and post about E's 11th month of life, even though she's a few days into her 12th. You can forgive that, right? And I promise I will update you all on everything else next time!

So...Miss Evelyn.

She seems more like a toddler and less like a baby by the minute. I'm not sure when the transition happens, but it is definitely on its way.


- Kissing everyone: even if she doesn't know them, if someone is smiling at her or talking to us, she will usually stick her face out with her mouth wide open and try to kiss them. This is only socially acceptable when you're a baby.
- Having her own room: this is HUGE. In our old, tiny house we were all in the same room and it. was. rough. Since we've moved she has been sleeping MUCH better and so have we. I'm one happy mama.
- Trying new foods: she's a very adventurous eater. She will at least try anything I put in front of her and the only thing she really doesn't like is eggs (still). We started dairy this month and she LOVES yogurt and cheese.
- Tickling herself and other people: she tickles her own tummy with her fingers and says "tick tick" or something that sounds kinda like that...its pretty cute.
-Taking her socks off: she literally will take her socks off the second I put them on. It's a battle I always lose. She has also taken to removing the socks of other babies when she's around them. Oh, child.


- Being away from Mama: she is in a bit of a mommy phase right now. Sometimes she won't even go to AJ, which makes him sad. But I just remind him that she will go through phases when she only wants him and not don't take it personally if my daughter pushes you away when you try to hold her.

We had a little play date at the Childrens' Museum with her friends Brody and Mylo :)
Notice: no socks ^^^

-Learning how to sign "more": I decided to teach her a few easy signs so that she could communicate with me instead of just yell and point. Its much, much easier. I'm working on "please", "eat", and "all done" now.
- Learning how to "talk" on the phone: If she is holding one of our phones, she'll put it up to her ear upside down and backwards and say things into it.

Her first Halloween wasn't a success at all. While I'm not the biggest fan of the holiday, I did want to dress her up and maybe trick-or-treat a little bit, just for the heck of it. But the flu struck with a vengeance and we had no such luck. This is the best photo I got of her in her cute little pumpkin costume. Oh well. 
As the sock is coming off....
These two are best friends in every sense of the word.


Evie- 10 Month Update

With her tenth month under her belt, this little girl feels less and less like a baby every day. She gets into everything, asserts herself, and is learning to communicate in new ways all the time. AJ and I are always talking about how much fun she is at this age. While the cuddly-tiny-newborn phase is amazing, I think this stage is even better. Our little girl, who used to be smaller than my forearm and actually took naps, is growing up so quickly, and it has been the most amazing thing to watch.

One highlight of the month was our mommy-baby trip to Omaha. AJ's cousin Jessica, who was like a sister to him growing up, got married and unfortunately, AJ couldn't get the weekend off, but E and I went to represent the North Platte Youngs' side. We had such a great time. The wedding was perfect, we spent lots of fun time with the family and I got to do lots of shopping that I wouldn't have wanted to force the husband to endure ;) I didn't take nearly enough pictures, but here are a few of shots of Evie from the wedding:

E with Aunt Patti- the mother of the Bride

Another one of our little outings this month was a picnic we brought AJ at his second job working for a family friend's farm. He absolutely loves being outside and getting to do "man things" all day, but we miss him at home, so one day we decided to bring him lunch and eat outside together. The weather was SO gorgeous and Roxy loved getting to roam free on their massive property.

And now onto the 10 month old of the hour....

- Exploring: she is quite curious these days. Now that she learned how to open cabinets and drawers, her favorite game is pulling everything out and throwing it on the floor. I've gotten away with minimal baby proofing until now, but I think the inevitable has come.
- Pointing: when entering a new room, the very, very first thing she does is find the light and point at it. She as an obsession with lights and she makes sure we know where they all are. Its pretty informative, really.
- Kissing her reflection in the mirror: I don't think she realizes that the reflection is her (my freshman psychology class at least taught me that much...) but whoever she thinks it is, she sure loves them.
-Taking a bath in Roxy's water dish: this pretty much explains itself.
- Eyes: her obsession with eyes is a close second to lights. If you ask her where your eyes are she will point to them and feel your eyelashes. And by point, I mean poke and grab. But if you tell her "no, no" then you'll get a kiss, so theres at least a reward for your pain.

These pictures are of our park date with our new friends Alyssa and Brody earlier this week:) 
- Bonking her head: she does this a lot nowadays
- Having a stuffy nose: We've all been sick at the Youngs' house lately, and she's had a nasty stuffy nose. So hard for this mama to watch :( She has been a trooper though.

- Blowing bubbles in the bathtub: new last night!
- Standing without assistance (until she realizes what she's doing and gets scared)
- Two more teeth...she has six total now.


Foodie Files-- Gluten-Free Banana Oat Cookies (that also maybe have a little nutella in them too...)

I love eating healthy. I really do. But I also have this problem that seems to rear its head every time I eat anything healthy. Its called I love sugar. I also have the I love dessert and pastries and ice cream problem. Just not frosting, but that's beside the point. The point is that I crave super unhealthy things about 75% of the time, which makes my clean eating goals a little bit tricky.

I have a feeling I'm not alone in this.

So in light of this problem, I'm always on the lookout for creative ways to trick myself into thinking that I'm eating dessert when I'm actually not. Enter my newest concoction: banana oat cookies. The trick is having super ripe bananas. You wont even notice the lack of sugar. Tricky, tricky- right? I've also made a version of this recipe as muffins (or one giant single serve muffin...) but I'll save that for another day.

This little helper makes baking a lot more fun too ^^^

So the next time you need to lie to yourself about dessert, or if you have nothing else to do with the next 20 minutes- make these cookies.

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (make sure they're gluten free, if you're into that...)
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp raw honey (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips (I was out of chocolate chips so I substituted nutella, and I'm not mad about it.) 
- Preheat oven to 350 
- Blend oats in your blender/food processor till it has a flour-like consistency. I like mine a little bit more coarse, so I blended it less. 
- In a small bowl (or just throw them in the blender too), mash up the banana with a fork.
- Mix in the honey and cinnamon and fold in the chocolate chips/weakness of choice. 
- Drop in spoonfuls onto a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes or until firm. 

There you have it! The dessert to end all desserts. I've made this recipe two or three times now and I LOVE them. They're quick and a heck of a lot healthier than a bowl of ice cream.

 Give them a try and let me know what you think!


Ramblings on Turning Twenty-One

A few weeks ago I entered into a new world where I can legally consume alcohol, gamble, or adopt a child. I can even apply for a license to drive a semi, or supervise my 16 year old brother who just got his permit. Seriously, this adulthood thing is pretty neat. While, in all honesty, I'll probably only ever do two of those five things in my entire life (I'll keep you guessing about which two though....), its *kind of* cool that I at least have the option to spend all my money on russian roulette.

So, this is what 21 feels like.

If I didn't know better, I would think that adulthood meant having responsibilities and owning them. I would think that it was more than a legal age or whether your driver's license is vertical or horizontal. I would think that it was about having character, maturity, and life goals. But, maybe turning 21 is just about legally being able to do all the things you've already been doing since high school. I don't know.

Whatever it really means, you have to celebrate turning 21, right?

All rants aside, for MY 21st, the only thing I really wanted was to go to Colorado. So that's what we did. In the spirit of adulthood, AJ and I left our responsibilities (child, dog and jobs) with Mimi and Papa for three days and roadtripped to Fort Collins, one of my most favorite places.

Aj's a beer guy, so the first thing we had to do was head to Odell's Brewery where I had a pilot tray 
This was the first time I had been away from Evie for longer than a night, so I was a little nervous to leave her. At the same time though, I was SO excited to have alone time with the husband and be back in my college town with all of my friends.

It just so happens that my wonderful friend Liz turned 21 the day before I did, so we kept our three year strong tradition of sharing birthday parties and celebrated together.
The Moscow Mule in the copper mugs was one of my favorite drinks ;)
These beauties came all the way from Denver to celebrate with me <3

The best part about turning 21 is that literally EVERYTHING is free. I don't think I bought myself a single drink or meal. I think I'll say its my birthday more often....Though we definitely did more than just go to bars and restaurants, that seems to be the only time it crossed my mind to take photos. We had SUCH a great time visiting friends and experiencing a little bit of the Fort Collins "night life" like I hadn't been able to do before. So far, I give adulthood 4 stars out of 5.

Of course, I was more than ready to be home after three days away- I wouldn't trade my real "adult" job of being a mommy for anything...not even free brownies covered in ice cream or Moscow Mules in awesome copper mugs. 
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