Simply Liv: May 2015


Evie- 18 month update

A year and a half has flown by since little E joined us, and I can say without a doubt that everyday since then has been more vibrant, busy and heartfelt because of it. We love you so much, sweet girl, and I'm so lucky you picked me to be your mama. (Even if you insist on waking me up at 5 am every morning. That's what love is, baby.)

- Giving herself hugs: See above.
- Tucking her hair behind her ears: it's the only thing she wants done to her hair. Heaven help me if I try to put it in a pony tail or clip it back.
- Bath time: ever since our move, the bath tub is literally her favorite place in the house. When we say it's time for a bath, sometimes I think she is going to fall over from excitement.
- Dandelions: when we go on walks, I have to stop the stroller every time she sees one, pick it and give it to her so she can smell it and say "mmmmmm!".
- Saying that sheep say "moo" even though she knows the truth.
- Tickling the squirrels we see out the window.

We take naps together almost everyday now. It will probably come back to bite me later, but by the time she naps, this mama needs one too.
- Sleeping past 5:30 am: this one has been rough. I'm not sure what is causing it, because she usually doesn't go to bed till 8. I'm going to try cutting her naps short (sometimes they're as long as 3 hours!) to see if that helps at all. Any advice is welcome here...
- Roxy eating the food that she drops on the floor after saying "Roxy".
- Being told no. She's probably the only child that has that problem right?

Like any logical toddler, she insisted on drinking her rice.
New words:
- Hot = "bot" (usually said with a very concerned frown on her face)
- Thank you = "tata"
- Llama = "mama" but with her tongue sticking out. She loves llamas.
- Shut
- Up= "pup"
-Help= her newest sign that she's learned


A Grateful Heart (Link-up with Ember Grey)

Happy Memorial Day, friends! I'm posting a little bit later than usual, but I hope you all are having a fun filled, reflective Memorial day. AJ works Saturday-Monday and, unfortunately, doesn't get Memorial day off, so Evie and I spent the day together at the park and enjoyed a three hour nap. I can be jealous.

Today, I'm joining in a link-up over at Ember Grey (who is also hosting an awesome giveaway/ challenge for the month of June, so be sure to give her blog some love!). The theme for the link-up is "grateful hearts"- a theme I'm really excited about, because honestly, I need a little boost in the gratitude department today. It's getting down to the wire with this new baby, and I tend to focus on all the things I still have to get done, instead of taking a few moments to be grateful. So this couldn't have come at a better time!

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

Today I'm grateful for:

+ extra hands over the weekend (thank you Aunt Patti for spending your weekend with us!)
+ the afore mentioned 3 hour nap. I think I'm starting to need those more than E does....
+ having enough space for a garden. AJ finished planting last night, and oh I'm so excited. Growing fresh veggies and fruit right in our back yard? What could be better?
+ a husband who works hard (even on days we wish he could take off).
+ Evie's new-found ability to entertain herself. It makes my day much easier when she can spend a half hour chasing Roxy or rearranging the magnets on the fridge.
+ where I am. I've said a million times how much I never expected to be where I am in life right now, but I wouldn't change a single thing. Even the frustrating, repeating-yourself-fifteen-times, no-you-cannot-eat-that, sit-down-or-so-help-me....moments.

What are you grateful for this week? I'd love to hear! I'm always inspired by what you all have to say.




Beauty is in the eyes of my daughter

I don't have the most accurate memory when it comes to my childhood. I remember lots of things, but a lot of what I know is through pictures. I know we took a road trip up the west coast when I was 5, and that we drove into the redwoods and saw lots of relatives- but the only actual memory I have is pretending to vacuum with a family friend's little boy. I know that I lived in a house with green carpet, and that my brother Sam and I were the best of friends- but I don't have many actual memories until I was 5 or 6. 

Despite my spotty memory, there are a few things that I have very vivid memories of.

One of which is always thinking my mom was the most beautiful person alive. I remember the smell of her make-up and this certain perfume she used to wear. I remember being so excited to grow up so that I could be as pretty as my mama. (Sorry, mom, I know you're crying already....I have a point to make though).

Then, one day, I don't know when or where it happened, I somehow realized that she didn't always see this same beauty in herself. I've heard my mom say the same thing about her mom, and I'm sure it's been the same way for every daughter and mother everywhere.

And now, 20-ish years down the road, I have my own little girl and I can't help seeing that she already thinks I'm the most beautiful mama out there.

When I'm putting on my make-up, she HAS to have some of her own to hold. She will put my eyelash curler up to her eyes and squint- trying to curl her lashes just like mommy. She loves to hold my lipstick and pretend to put it on her lips (and all over her face). She likes brushing her hair, and putting "pretties" in it (she always asks for Daddy to show him afterward). She smells my perfume and exclaims "mmmm!" after I spray it. When we ask her "how pretty is Evie?", she raises her arms up as high as she can reach, with the biggest smile on her face. "SO pretty!", we always say.

Part of my heart is worried that I'm creating a girly-girl monster (which is concerning because I'm not a girly girl in the least), but I know that her tastes will change a million times over the years. I'm very aware of the weight of my role as her mommy- right now, until she realizes differently, I'm the prettiest woman in the world, and she is beautiful.

My attitude towards my appearance has a profound effect on how she will view beauty.

She sees my negative looks and sighs and size up-s. She hears me mutter how I wish these stretchmarks on my legs would just go away or that I could hurry and up be "un-pregnant" so I can loose the almost 30 pounds I've put on.

That scares me.

 Teaching my daughter that she isn't beautiful enough or showing her that she should find faults with herself is the very last thing I ever want to do. I never want her to worry about her weight or wish she had different hair or eyes or lips or thighs. I want her to see her innate beauty and KNOW without a doubt that she is enough.

This goes so far beyond looks, but for girls, often that is the starting place. We are born with a longing to feel beautiful- to know that someone thinks we are the prettiest one. And it's a good longing. As we grow older though, we begin to compare ourselves, and doubt creeps in.

"Comparison is the thief of joy".

It's so true.

As hard as it is, living in a culture that holds impossible standards for beauty, I've committed to seeing myself as my 18 month old sees me- stretch marks and all.

Nothing can compare to the feeling of her little hands feeling my face and kissing my ever-growing tummy and hearing her little voice whisper "I yuv ya". She sees no fault, and I don't want to either.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder- I'm just choosing my 18 month old's eyes to be the ones I look through.


10 Free (or really cheap) Date Ideas

If your relationship is anything like ours, the main thing stopping date night from happening is (surprise, surprise) money. Going to dinner and a movie once a week (or even once a month) adds up, and our tendency is to skip date night all together in an effort to save money. AJ and I are definitely guilty of postponing or just flat out cancelling dates simply because our budget is too tight, or we spent the money elsewhere. However, while we are saving our dollars, we are simultaneously straining our marriage. Time alone is VITAL for any healthy relationship. Whether you have kids or not, it's so important to make dates a priority.

This post is as much for my benefit as anyone elses- I've witnessed firsthand how even a few hours alone can revive your connection.

So, in hopes that "date night" will once again become a regular staple in our marriage, I've been brainstorming some free (or *very* cheap) options for outings we can take together, sans children. Hopefully they give you some good ideas too!

1. Have a picnic: this one is fun because it can be super versatile. You can pack an easy dinner, drive out to a park or river, throw down a blanket and eat- or you can go the fancy route- candles, wine, a string know the drill.

2. Go antiquing/thrifting: AJ and I might just be very gracefully aging 78-year-olds, but antiques are some of our favorite things. We love searching thrift stores or antique shops for unique finds, imagining what amazing stories are behind each item. Even if you don't buy anything, it always feels like time well spent.

3. Have an at-home movie night: even though this is basically every night at our house, setting aside a specific night for a kid-free snuggle session on the couch with popcorn and a movie can be just as fun and much cheaper than going to a theater.

4. Hit range balls together: If you're with an avid golfer, like I am, this will earn you major brownie points. A guy will never turn down an opportunity to watch his wife "try" to do something he loves to do. It might be worth the embarrassment (if your golf swing is anything like mine).

5. Find a fun DIY project to do together: I know, I know, you could technically fit "working on the house" into this category- but that takes the romance out of it. Choose a project that you can hang on your bedroom wall, or something for your yard. Paint some furniture. Personalizing your home together will automatically bring you together.

6. Cook an adventurous meal: Is there something you've both been wanting to try? A restaurant you've been eyeing? Pick a few things from the menu and try making it together. Pinterest is a great resource for finding unique, doable recipes.

7. Volunteer your time: spend the evening at your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Nothing brings two people together more like serving someone else.

8. Train for a 10k or fitness goal together: because what guy doesn't want to watch his wife work out?

9. Have a backyard cookout: grill some burgers, have a few drinks, sit around the fire pit. Sounds like a perfect night to me.

10. Get out of your comfort zone together: is there a class you've both been wanting to try? Go do it. Aj and I are both terrible dancers, but we would love to learn. Couples who are embarrassed together, stay together.

I hope this gave you some fun inspiration! I'm excited to try them out myself.

What are some dates you'd add to the list? I'm always looking for ways to spice up our typical date nights.

Happy Monday, friends!




On Intentionally Transitioning

Isn't it crazy how many stages we move through in life? Not just from babyhood to childhood to adulthood, but all the tiny transitions within the larger ones? If we tallied up all of the phases, seasons and changes we go through in one lifetime....well, we probably couldn't count them all.

As this pregnancy progresses, I'm getting more and more aware of just how many transitions I've gone through in such a small piece of time. Within the last two years the titles of student, girlfriend, barista, writer, friend, fiance, mommy, wife, nanny, stay at home mom, daughter, teacher (and probably many more that I didn't even realize I had) have all applied to me.

In a few weeks, I will be done working my job at the coffee shop. "Stay at home mom", with all of its connotations and implications, will apply to me once again.

In a few short months (unless she decides to surprise us early...), I will go from "mom of one" to "mom trying to juggle two". I'll go from full-term pregnancy to postpartum in the span of one day. From toddler to newborn AND toddler. From loving one to loving two.

Evie will move from only child to big sister, from being more spoiled than I'll admit to having to share everything with a brand new human.

AJ will turn into provider for 4, bringing in our only source of income until we figure out what to have me do long-term. 

Using two bedrooms, to three. Holding one little hand to pushing a double stroller.

 It can be overwhelming, all of these stages we go through. Something as simple as a mood swing can feel like climbing a mountain. But that is where we have a choice.

We can let the change "happen" to us- an innocent bystander in our own life, even feeling like a victim of our own transitions- or we can be intentional. Taking each transition in stride, with confidence, we destroy the notion that change is something to be feared. What would it look like to embrace the seasons we go through? Even the short ones or the painful ones or the boring ones?

Summer is a time of transition, not just in season, but in lifestyle. I think of many of my friends who are graduating college this week- they are making the transition from being a student for at least the last 16 years of their lives to having to navigate the world "as an adult" (whatever that means). Many people are bringing new life into the world or moving into new homes or starting new jobs, planting new gardens, planning summer vacations. We never stop transitioning, really.

Moving through these changes with intentionality and purpose can make all the difference. Without it, we are at risk of becoming bystanders in our own life, like a moviegoer, sitting in a chair, eating popcorn while the action happens in front of them. BUT. If we chose to be in the moment, transition with our transitions, we grow.

So, in this season of what feels like a lot of transitioning, I'm making the choice to be present. I will face labor head on, knowing that my body is meant for it. I will embrace the sleepless nights, the jealous toddler and the long hours at home.

What about you? What does transitioning look like in your life?


31 Week Letter to Baby #2

Hi there little bug,

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that in less than 2 months you're going to be out here in the big, wide world with us. The nervousness is kicking in full force now, as I'm trying to face labor head on. I'm not nervous to meet you, don't worry about that. I already love you more than you'll ever know. I'm nervous about the whole bringing you into the world part. I feel like I just went through it with your sister and I'm not sure I'm mentally ready to do it again....but that's probably why I don't get to choose when you come. So come whenever you're ready, little one, and I'll be ready too.

We are all moved into your new house, but your mama needs to get her booty in gear and get your room ready for you! You're going to love it here, we have so much space for you and E to explore and you get your very own room. I can't wait to show it to you....once I finish it, of course.

I'm feeling very pregnant these days. Back pain, pressure, going to the bathroom every 38 seconds....the whole package. Usually all I want to do is just sleep or sit down, but the knowledge that you'll be here so very soon is motivating me to hurry up and get ready for you!

We're doing our best to prepare Evie to meet you, but you two are so close in age that she doesn't quite understand yet. So don't let it hurt your feelings if she doesn't always show you the love you deserve right at first, this is all new for her too. And go easy on your mom and dad please ;) We are doing the best we can.

We love you to the moon and back!



On a slightly unrelated note, and just because I wanted to share them, here are some photos from my Mother's Day yesterday. It was a special day with my family and later AJ, once he got off work.

We had a hard time getting any decent pictures with Evie. She was demanding to "klop klop" with everyone and didn't want to hold still. As always.

We had some tasty (gluten-free) pizza for lunch and then watched Jane Eyre (because the boys weren't allowed to say anything negative...). A perfect, girly afternoon.

 You can thank AJ for teaching her this face the other night. We were both having a hard time not laughing, though she definitely has a better poker face than me....

I feel so lucky to be this little lady's mama. Her personality just sparkles and she's so much fun to be around. I can't wait to see what life with be like with two!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and that all you mamas got spoiled!




A Letter to Pre-Mom Me

*The winner to the Stitch Fix giveaway is announced below, but first here's a little letter I wrote to myself in retrospect. I felt it would be appropriate in honor of Mother's Day and maybe to offer a little encouragement to those of you who aren't so thrilled about the title of Motherhood yet. Happy Mother's Day, loves! *


Dear pre-mom Olivia,

Hi there. Sometimes I don't even recognize you when I think back or when I look at old pictures- so much has changed. If someone told you that by the age of 19 you'd be pregnant, at 20 you'd be a mom and a wife and then at 21 have baby #2 on the way, you would have laughed. No, probably not laughed; passed out probably. Or quit school and run away or something. Because, I know, that is not the direction you saw your life going.

The weird thing is, you aren't really sure where your life is going. You absolutely love college. You're doing great at it, you have awesome friends, a great social life, a sexy boyfriend.... life is good.

But when it comes to "big picture" things, that's where it starts to get hazy. You know you want to get married, but you're not sure when. You know you love writing, but you don't know what to do with it. Your English Education degree is fun and sparking a lot of passion inside you, but you're still not really sure if teaching is for you. You know you want to have kids- when, where, how many and with whom is still up in the air. Basically, you're normal. So good job there.

Things are about to get really, really (really) stressful though. Something you never expected to happen to you is about to change your life.

You're going to be a mom.

Take a deep breath and let that sink in for a while. It might take the next few years to sink fully, but embrace it. As unprepared, inadequate and inexperienced as you are, you're going to be Evelyn's momma. It's going to be the most life-giving, challenging, stressful, beautiful name you're ever given.

I know it seems crazy, because motherhood is the last place you want to walk into right now, but it's happening. You will jump in heart first and sometimes it will feel like you'll never be able to come up for air, but you'll be fine and you'll learn so much along the way. You'll read all the books and take all the classes, but nothing will ever truly prepare you for it.

No one ever told you that becoming a mom would be the most fulfilling life-path you've ever taken.

No one ever told you that sometimes you won't shower for days, most of the time you'll look like a zombie, and you'll loose your patience a lot.

No one ever told you that giving birth would be THAT painful. And you get to do it twice....yay.

No one ever told you that watching AJ be a daddy would make you fall in love with him more than you ever did before.

No one ever told you that you would take all the fear you're feeling and turn it to strength. That's how confidence is born. Sometimes you just have to jump in.

No one ever told you that sometimes your heart will feel so full that you just have to laugh. Like this morning when Evie was playing on the kitchen floor with her newly found stuffed puppy- giving him the biggest hug her arms could muster. Or when she gets so excited to take a bath in her new big girl tub that she can barely hold still. Or when she runs up to you and kisses your legs and says "I yuv ya" in her own little voice.

All the love, the stress, the lack of sleep. No one ever prepared you for any of this. Not even your childbirth class or that childhood psychology class you took.

And that's okay.

You're going to be a mom. No matter what you do with the rest of your life, that job will always be there- the most important one.

You'll fail a lot. But you'll succeed too.

Motherhood is like that- a crazy mixture of success and failures, hugs and tears, dance parties and time outs.

But at the end of the day, the literal day, when all you want to do is lay down, take off your bra (sorry, its true..), and have no one touch or speak to you for the next 8 hours, you'll realize that it is all worth it. And that you're actually pretty good at this motherhood thing.

So, brace yourself, because change is coming. But don't brace yourself so hard that you close your eyes and miss all the beauty coming your way. Embrace the small, quiet moments and the loud, hard ones equally.

You can do this.


Finally, congrats to HOPE PRATER (who I'll email directly with your Stitch Fix $$$) you lucky girl you! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Happy Mother's day friends! I can't wait to hear about how you get spoiled ;)


7 Mother's Day Gift Ideas for New Moms + A STITCH FIX GIVEAWAY

Happy May everyone! There's something about saying "it's May 1st" that brightens up my mood. May just feels like a happy month...let's hope it lives up to my high expectations ;)

It has been one crazy week over at the Youngs' house. AJ has been working harder than I've ever seen him work (which is saying something, since he is the hardest working man I know) on our new house to get it live-able before we move in. Our goal is to be in by Monday, so I'm hoping and praying that all goes smoothly! I CAN'T WAIT to share some "after" photos with you all. Just redoing the floors and painting the walls with fresh coats of grey (my weakness...) and off white, has already turned it into my dream home. I'm in love. Now I just want to live in it.

But for today, in honor of the month's big holiday, I want to share a few gift ideas for new mamas, or any age of mama for that matter, that I'm sure they'll love. (Yes, Mother's day is the 10th. You're welcome.) Don't just go with flowers and a store bought card, people. This is the woman who brought life (maybe your life) into the world. Put a little thought into it- or just use one of my ideas and say you thought of it on your own. You're welcome again.

I'm also super excited to be doing my first giveaway! I'm giving away $20 to Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service that delivers 5 handpicked items of clothing right to your door as often as you want! Sounds pretty amazing right? I just received my first "fix" this week actually and I'm so glad I signed up with them (I'll be sharing about my first fix later this week). It's like Christmas in May. They use your Pinterest boards and a detailed style questionnaire to pick the perfect pieces to send you, and if you don't like what they send, you just mail it back and tell them what you'd like them to do differently. The styling fee is $20 and you can pick what you buy or don't buy once your fix comes (and the $20 is deducted from whatever you buy), so basically, if you win you get your first month free! Read below for details on how to enter. Good luck! I'll be announcing the winner on Friday the 8th and contacting them directly.  

 1. Alone Time. Sometimes all a mama wants it to be with no one except herself. No one pulling on her clothes or yelling or asking for food (husband or child...those are all appropriate examples...). Just tell her you'll watch the kids for a day so she can go do whatever the heck she wants. She'll love it.

2. Relaxation. This one doesn't have to be pricey, but it can be if you want to go all out. Pay for a pedicure or facial, or better yet a massage. Know a pregnant mama? Get her a prenatal massage. I guarantee she needs it.

3. A meal. Offer to cook her a meal one night. Cook for the whole family, or just her, either way it will be a treat. You can even take her out to dinner for some one on one time, if your wallet allows.

4. A gift card to somewhere with lots of caffeine. Because she's a mom, that's why.

5. Something handmade. Even if you're not crafty per se, you can still make something she will love. Print off some photos of her and her kid(s), or you and her, frame it with something pretty, wrap it, and write a note about how she is the best thing you've ever met. Moms love the mushy gushy stuff. Moms also love mason jars and candles- you can make her one with this tutorial.

6. If you have to go the flowers and a card route at least hand make the card ;) Or do something a little more non-traditional like this mini succulent gift box, and a handmade card.

7. Breakfast in bed. If you live with her. If not, that could get a little weird. It's an oldie, but a goodie. Also, sorry to my mom who endured many (probably too many) years of the same breakfast in bed because we weren't creative enough to think of anything new....if that's you, try something different this year!

And now for the giveaway!

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