Simply Liv: April 2015


Evie- 17 Month Update

It's that time again- my girl is another month older. It really hit me this month that soon it won't be only Evie in the house, and a part of me was a little sad about it. I'm trying to soak up all of our little moments- even the frustrating ones- because I know that my attention is going to be very divided after baby 2 comes.

I'm not sure if it's my third trimester self, or Evie's age right now- but she is EXHAUSTING. She's constantly on the go, getting into everything and in need of constant attention- unless Daniel Tiger is on, then she's distracted for about 7 minutes. She has also developed quite the attitude lately. If she doesn't want something (or wants something she can't have) she will frown at you with the most penetrating glare. I'm nervous for the terrible twos, because I think they've hit a little bit early with this one.

- Snuggles with her babies: She's been the most cuddly bug lately. She loves carrying around her stuffed animals and other random things, giving them kisses and loves.
- Going "bye-bye": she loves to leave the house. Whether it's a walk in the stroller, a car ride or just to play outside, she's always up to be out of the house.
- Making everyone "Klop klop" with her: One of her favorite books is Dr. Suess' "Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can you?" and in it, he says horses go klop now if someone is holding her she will demand they "klop klop" around the room with her.
- Repeating words with the utmost urgency until someone responds to her.

- Being told no: Surprise surprise. Her opinions change daily now- she will like something one day and refuse to eat it the next. She will love someone and then not look at them the next minute. It's exhausting, but I'm told, very normal. (Just a little bit earlier than I expected, I might add).

-She's learning to say new things everyday. The newest is "thank you" ("ta-ta"). She loves learning what animals say and different body parts, so her list of things she knows is ever expanding- it's so fun teaching her new things.


We Bought A Home!

Happy Monday! I've been waiting to write this post for months now, but I'm so excited to finally announce that we signed on our first house!

We've been in the process of buying it since January, but as every homeowner I've talked to has told me, these things rarely go as planned. There were lots of complications on the seller's end, and the house was a repossessed foreclosure to make things more complicated. But AJ and I fell in love with the little house's old charm and potential (and the price we could actually afford) the first time we saw it, so we decided to see it through and not give up. I'm so glad we didn't!

Most of these pictures were taken during our final walk though, so pardon the blurry focus- they were snapped in a hurry!

Aj and I share a love of old houses and antiques so we knew we wanted to find an older house and fix it up. This one is DEFINITELY going to require lots of work, but we've hit the ground running and can't wait to turn it into our home.

I will be sharing pictures of the remodel room-by-room as we fix it up, but I thought it would be fun to give you a little sneak peak of what we're working with at the very start so you can follow along with our vision for it.

Before we move in our goals are to refinish the hardwood floors (which were covered up by layer upon layer of carpet, tile and plywood...what were these people thinking?!) and paint most of the rooms. That should get it to a point where it's safe for a pregnant mama and 1 year old to live in without having to breathe in nasty chemicals and dust.

 The stair case is one of my very favorite parts! The house was built in 1910 so there are lots of original, unique features, like the french doors and tiny details in the light fixtures and door hinges, that you wouldn't see in a newer home.

The view looking down from the stairs

This room pictured above is one of the stranger parts of the house. We decided we are going to keep all of the cabinets, refinish them and turn the room into a craft/brewing room :) Every house needs one, right?

The upstairs has nicely finished floors and newer paint, so we aren't worrying too much about it for now. Three of the bedrooms are pictured below.

This obviously wasn't a full house tour, but I wanted to show you a little peak into our new home, and then save the rest for a surprise as we slowly but surely renovate it!


I'm in full remodel mode now, so I'm always looking for inspiration. If you have any stories/advice/blog posts that you want to share, I'm all ears!

Thanks for letting me share a little peak into our new home, friends! :)


10 Things My First Year of Marriage Taught Me

Is it just me or has it been an absolutely crazy week? I'm almost glad that it's over- I'm ready to turn the page into a fresh new one. However, this week did bring some exciting things that I cant wait to share with you all! Stay tuned for some exciting news :)

(Also, my site is a little bit "under construction" at the moment, so I apologize that the menu bar up top isn't working properly...We are working on getting it just right!)

In my endless quest for blog post topic, I've been continually reminded that I post plenty about my baby and being a mama, but I don't write enough about my relationship with AJ and things I've learned since entering in to this crazy thing we call marriage. I want to change that. Relationships (whether dating, engagement or marriage) are something we all experience at some point or another. Navigating life with another person is hard, to say the least, and I want to be as transparent and genuine about that as I am about being a mom or my incessant love of coffee. start things off, I thought I'd share 10 things-some pretty obvious, some I've had to learn 100's of times- I've learned in my year (and a half) of being married to my handsome man. It's not an exhaustive list, but rather the top things that popped to my mind when I was asking myself what I WISH I would have known at the beginning. Also, AJ can tell you that I mess up on probably every single one of these every single day. But that's the beauty of marriage- you get a whole lifetime to work on it ;)

1. Don't get hung up on non-essentials: This one is HARD for me. Marriage is the union of two completely different people who spent their lives doing things the way they were used to doing them- until they got married. Now, even the way you fold towels or put the toilet paper roll on or make sandwiches is different. It can seem like you're not even "compatible" (whatever that means...) at times just because the list of things you wish the other person did differently gets so long. I've learned to just let most of it go. Who cares if AJ folds clothes differently. At least it's getting done. Ask yourself, "is this REALLY important?" before you get angry about it. Chances are, it's not.

2. Don't have unrealistic expectations: I found that I usually expect way, way too much of AJ. I entered into our relationship expecting AJ to basically fulfill me and when I found out that he couldn't- he's a person, Olivia, not some ideal you've constructed in your head- I didn't think we could work out. In my naivete, I thought getting married would fix every problem in my life. My problems are still here though, I just have someone by my side to help fix them.

3. Forgive for real: Once I got over seeing my husband as an "ideal", I learned that he was human. Shocking, right? And humans make mistakes. We've both had to forgive each other for things every day. Holding on to past mistakes, no matter how big or small, only drives you apart. Forgiveness, real forgiveness, means giving your spouse a clean slate.

4. I am not number one: Learning to put yourself second is hard. But it is essential for any relationship to work. When I look to AJ only to meet my needs, instead of asking how I can meet his too, I drain him without giving anything in return. Marriage is a continual giving of yourself to another person- who in turn, continually gives to you. If it's a one sided giving, one person naturally gets burned out.

5. The small things are what count: In the movies, we are shown grand gestures of what marriage is. Huge proposals, dramatic fights, passionate sex scenes, slow-dancing and candlelit dinners. Don't get me wrong- marriage is that at times- but not ALL the time. It's the day in, day out, going to work, making dinner, taking out the trash and giving each other quick kisses on your way out the door that real marriages are made of. Honestly, the times I appreciate and love AJ the most are when he gets up with Evie at 5:30 am just so I can sleep longer. Or when he brings me lunch when I'm at work, just to spend time with me. Or when he texts me "I love you" during his lunch break.

6. Have time apart: Before I got married, I truly expected us to do EVERYTHING together. But I quickly learned that without short times apart to refuel and be alone, we quickly burnt out. Who ever said "absence makes the heart grow fonder" for the first was Shakespeare probably....was a genius. Being married doesn't mean you can't have a girl's night, or time to grab a beer with the guys after work. It just means you better be home before midnight ;)

7. Say "thank you". A lot. : I learned very quickly that when I didn't feel appreciated, or when I wasn't showing AJ how much I appreciate him, things unravel quickly. It can be as simple as saying, "thank you for working so hard for us, babe" or "I really appreciate it when you take the trash out". Nothing fancy. But trust me, it works wonders.

8. Say "I'm sorry" more: Sometimes all it takes to stop a fight in its tracks is admitting that you were wrong. Don't expect an apology in return, just own your side and move on.

9. Say "I love you" the most: It seems obvious, but just saying those little words is probably the healthiest thing I can do for my marriage. It reminds me of why I'm married in the first place, and that we have something to fight for. And plus, I get little butterflies every time he says it back.

When I was preparing to write this, I asked AJ what he thought should make the list. Of course, he gave the most profound advice. I could have summed up all of my points with this one.

10. The wife is always right: See what a great guy I have? ;)

What would you add to the list? What are some unexpected lessons marriage has taught you??

 *All photos taken by Amy at A Moment Photography*


When Your Toddler Prefers One Parent

Today I'm writing about something I think all parents deal with at some point in their child's life. AJ and I are struggling through it with Evie right now, so I thought I'd do some research and share what I've found. I also just want to hear how those of you with children dealt with (or are currently dealing with) a child who prefers one parent over the other.

A little background on where I'm coming from- Evie and I have always had a super strong bond. I stayed home with her 24/7 for the first 7 months of her life and when I started working again it was only for a few hours three days a week- so basically, I'm a stay at home mom. I nursed her until she was 13 months, which we both loved. It was such a special time for me and I adored getting to connect with her and be so needed by her.

However, since E was tiny, it has been very hard for AJ not to have that same connection Evie and I share. I'm not saying she doesn't love her daddy or that they haven't bonded in special ways either, they have- he was there for her in different ways. And I don't think he is alone in this. I've heard of many fathers who don't feel as connected to their children until they're older just because of how intensely babies need their mothers in the first year or so of life.

Now fast forward to today when Evie is entering toddler-dom and LOVES making it very clear that she would (usually) rather be with me than her daddy. She knows how to make choices and she isn't concerned with our feelings in the least. And I'm sure she will only get more assertive from here- she's only 17 months old for goodness sake.

I reassure AJ that it's nothing he is doing wrong and she is only learning to make choices. She doesn't actually love me more- and he knows that, but I can see that it still hurts him. And that hurts me too. So, in an effort to make sense of this silly preference, I did some research and this is what I found:

 1. It's completely normal. Don't take it personally. As kids develop and learn, making choices and learning to exert their opinions comes naturally. Every child does this, whether it's preferring the mother or the father and whether it lasts a year or a few days. Toddlers make irrational decisions all the time- they will only eat grilled cheese for a week and then not touch it the next day- it doesn't make sense, but it's normal.

2. It's a good thing. One article I read (listed below) said we should actually celebrate our kids' ability to choose because it is a sign of emotional and cognitive growth. A quote I was particularly encouraged by said this, "(your child) is secure enough in your love to know he can jilt you and still get a warm welcome back". Evie already feels the unconditional love from both AJ and I and so she feels comfortable pushing boundaries and making choices.

3. Set firm boundaries and don't give in: This one is especially applicable for older children. While it's awesome that our kids are independent and can make choices, it's important to teach them from an early age that their choices have consequences- like hurting someone's feelings. Setting aside time for them to spend one on one with each parent will help them see that they will be fine without mommy (or daddy) and that they are loved equally by both parents.

4. Be a team: It is equally easy to resent the "preferred parent" or feel a sense of guilt about being the preferred parent, but remember that kids go through phases. Show affection to each other, in front of your kids, so that they know it's ok to do the same. And encourage each other! Parenting is hard, but it's even harder when you and your partner aren't on the same team.  

These tips really helped me see Evie's preferences less as a problem and more as a sign of development. Hopefully they will help you too!

What are some ways you handled your children's crazy phases? I'd love to hear! We can use all the advice we can get ;)

Here are some links that I found super helpful if you want to check them out!-

That's all I have for today. Have a great Monday, friends.




27 Week Letter to Baby

Sweet girl,

This is the last week of the second trimester. That means next week we are officially in the home stretch! It's kind of scary how fast this pregnancy is flying by, but at the same time, I just want you to be here already. Every time I feel your little hand or foot kick me (or, more accurately, smash up against my ribs, bladder and stomach) I try to picture what it will be like to hold you for the first time. But I've learned with your sister that it's impossible to fathom how incredible those first moments together are. You wouldn't believe me if I told you how excited I am.

You're about 15 inches long and weigh over 2 pounds. You still have lots of bulking up to do, but your lungs, brain, eyes, heart- all of it- is developed and working like it should. You get the hiccups probably 8 times a day and it makes me laugh every time. How can someone so small get the hiccups already!? You're too amazing for your own good.

We are trying to prepare your sister for your arrival as best we can, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't understand. She loves babies though, so don't worry. You'll be her favorite. It's me she will be mad at- you're going to be pretty demanding at first ;) But we will figure it all out and get settled into a routine in no time. We just can't wait for you to get here!

I love you,



Easter Weekend

It's a new week! I'm feeling pretty exhausted from a busy (but special) Easter weekend and am not quite sure how I'm going to make it through this Monday with my sanity intact, but the promise of a new week and a clean slate is keeping me going. Mondays are kind of special like that, aren't they?

I'm going to share a few too many photos of our fun weekend, but first I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all of you. In my last post I wrote a little letter to other young moms and shared some of the struggles I've faced since learning the life changing news that I was pregnant in hopes that it might resonate with someone out there. I wrote it to encourage other people, but it actually encouraged me so much more than I was expecting. It was by far my most popular post to date and has reached more than three times the amount of people my "normal" posts do. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

(And if you wouldn't mind, those of you who read it, tell me what you liked about it...I want to keep cranking out material that strikes the same chord. What worked about that post? I want your feedback! If you subscribe to my email updates- which you should ;)- just reply to my email and let me know. I'm trying to really narrow down what works and what doesn't and could use your help!)

And now....our Easter weekend!

Aj's mom, step dad and little brother came up for the weekend so we got to be with lots of family which was great! Unfortunately, AJ had to work all weekend, so he could only be with us for bits and pieces, but we all had fun and enjoyed being together while we could.

This might be my new favorite picture <3
It was E's first time swimming in an actual pool, and I think she loved it. She wouldn't let go of AJ, but as long as he was holding her, she did great. :)

She LOVED kissing the Easter bunny

On Saturday we went to the big Easter egg hunt in the park. Evie wasn't quite sure what was going on, and we didn't have her in the right age section, so she was battling 7 year olds for eggs, but uncle Sammy showed her the ropes and we fought off some children so she could put her (grand total of 5) eggs in her basket ;) I'm pretty sure Easter egg hunts should be prefaced with a warning that your protective parental instincts will kick in quickly...they are chaos!

That night we had our big dinner together since AJ wouldn't be home on Sunday.

And on Sunday we went to church and ate a delicious lunch at my parents house. It was so great having both his momma and my family together for a holiday.

She loves her Nona!

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. Such a special celebration to spend with our families. How was your Easter? I hope it was spent with those you love!

As always, thanks for reading!




Dear Young Moms- it's worth it

I'm generally pretty open about my personal life. I think vulnerability and honesty are important qualities to have, especially if you want to relate to other people in a real way. There is nothing worse than someone who pretends to always have it together- even online, where it's far too easy to fake having an awesome life with your edited pictures of your kids smiling and your perfectly styled outfits. But that isn't always real life. And here at Simply Liv, I'm all about life as it really is. Genuine, simple, hard, beautiful, real life.

That said, there is one area of my life that I think I tend to gloss over. It's not that I'm ashamed, or even trying to hide anything (because, honestly, I can't hide it). It may be that I feel it makes me less knowledgeable or inspiring to others. Like my words aren't as valid as someone else's in a different scenario. But here it is, my big confession:

I'm a young mom.

A really young mom.

I had Evie a few months after my 20th birthday. I was a sophomore in college. I was dating the guy I planned to marry, but we definitely weren't at that phase yet.

This was maybe a week or so after we found out about the pregnancy
Finding out I was pregnant was probably the hardest wake up call I've ever received. In all honesty, I didn't want to be pregnant. I wasn't sure I'd even be good at being a mom- maybe 5 years down the road, sure, but definitely not at 20. There were still so many things I wanted to finish- college mostly. I wanted to travel and write and play music and have time with AJ- just the two of us. And now it felt like I wasn't going to be able to do any of those things.

And let me tell you- I'm 100% sure I took everyone I knew by surprise too. I could see it in everyone's faces when I told them. I was the "good girl" who did well in school and was expected to succeed. Not the "kind of person" who has an unplanned pregnancy. I was even that girl in my head, which made coming to terms with this new reality even harder. I had to completely rewire my thinking of who I was and what was happening.

I won't even get into how AJ (who is now my incredible husband and an amazing father, just for the record) felt about the situation. We both had a lot of adjusting and changing to do, simply put.

Over the nine months it takes to grow a human, I did a lot of growing myself. I knew that the needs of this baby, whoever she would be, had to be superior to my own. I knew the things that seemed so important to me at the time, would still be there when I was a mom (besides the alone time with AJ part...I'm not sure that one will ever come back ;). I knew I needed to grow up quicker than I wanted to.

And I did. A lot.

I'm not saying I've arrived, or that I'm the "ideal" mom. I just knew that this baby was going to be my life now- and I had to be okay with it.

Young parenthood and unplanned pregnancies in general are pretty frowned upon in our world today. You're supposed to have a career, and a life plan, a husband and lots and lots of birth control before you even consider starting a family. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people warn their children about having kids young, as if it's the absolute worst thing that could happen. I've had my fair share of dirty looks and rude comments and intrusive questions. Those still happen pretty frequently- even with a ring on my finger.

But I've learned a few things along the way-

- Life, in all its craziness and unexpected turns, is beautiful. It's the situations we don't know how we will ever make it through that end up shaping us and giving us the unique strength we need.

- It really is the simple things in life that make it worthwhile. The people who love you through hard times. Having a safe place to unwind. Enjoying the good days and knowing that the hard ones won't last forever.

- What you "do" and how "good" of a person you are, ultimately, doesn't matter. Your worth isn't found in your successes and mistakes. Therefore, the need we feel to appear perfect all the time, is all just for others. Life is messy, houses get messy, relationships are messy. There is no "one size fits all" approach to handling our messes- but having gone through my own hard thing, I can extend the same grace to others, knowing that their life isn't perfect either, just like mine. Having Evie was undoubtedly the best thing that has ever happened to either AJ or I and we wouldn't change a single unplanned moment of our (almost 3) years together.

Whew....there you go. The nitty gritty, taboo detail of my life. And honestly, I'm proud of it.

So all that to say, if you can relate at all- maybe not in the motherhood way, but in the life-not-going-as-you-expect-it to way. Be vulnerable. Don't try to hide the ugly, hard moments of your life. Be open. Be true. Share your story.

And to all my young mamas out there:

You go girl. You blow me away with your bravery and strength. Don't ever let anyone look down on you for your age. Own it, and learn from others. Be the best you can be. You inspire me.


© Simply Liv

Website Design by CoffeeShop Designs