Simply Liv: June 2015


Evie- 19 Month Update

Oh my sweet Evelyn. By the next time I post an update on you, you will no longer be an only child. I tell you probably 20 times a day about the new baby coming to stay with us and sleep in the crib next to your room, but I'm not sure how much you actually grasp. You love babies though- and you love pointing to my tummy and giving it kisses. I know you're going to be the best big sister there ever was, and I can't wait to help you grow into that role.

But for now, it's only you. So I'm going to focus on you for a little while.

I love your joy. It's contagious, really. Without you as my reminder to have joy in everything, life would be much less exciting. I love how you run- it's technically really fast walking with an alarmed/determined look on your face- but you do it so well. I love how you play hide and seek all by yourself in our coat closet. I'm not sure how it keeps you preoccupied for so long, but it does. I love that when I ask you what a birdie says you flick your fingers together, like you're trying to fly away.

Roxy is your best friend right now and you love chasing her, pulling on her face, sitting on her, and playing tug of war with her. Not many dogs would be as patient as she is.

You're obsessed with horses and the carousel at Cody Park is your favorite thing ever- second only to the llamas at the little zoo there. You love them too and you think that they make the same sound as a peacock, because I don't really know how to explain what a llama says to you.
Your daddy and I look at you everyday and tell each other how ridiculous it is that you're growing up so fast. You'll be two before we know it- but I don't even want to think about that right now.

You have to sleep with at least two stuffed animals every night- you're such a snuggle bug and I love it. On that note, you're SUCH a good sleeper now. It's been a long road, but we've finally found a schedule that works and you're sticking with it like a champ.

You like eating the whole apple, not sliced or peeled, just whole.

I'm not sure how this started, but the only kind of chicken you like to be is an angry one. Whenever you're asked what a chicken says you respond, in your most growl-y, angry voice, "Bahk BAHHK".
You have to do everything by yourself, which is why it takes us five minutes to get down the stairs every morning and why there always ends up being puddles of water everywhere from you spilling your drinks. But I love your independent spirit; even if it means you make frustrating choices, like choosing to be angry at your daddy or standing up over and over in the bath tub.

You're my sunshine and I'm so proud that you're mine.


The Guy Behind the Blog // Round Two

I'm not sure if it says more about me or my husband, but last month's interview (it was actually the beginning of this month...but whatever) with AJ was one of my most popular posts ever. Either my normal posts are really boring or AJ is super awesome. We will go with the second one, ok? Don't crush my dreams.

Since the post did so well, and we both had lots of fun doing it, I figured I would make it a monthly thing! Lots of other bloggers are already doing this over at Heavens to Betsy, so I might as well jump on the bandwagon. Stop by the last Friday of every month to see what Mr. Anthony has up his sleeve for Simply Liv. 
1 // What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?
  "When I was 13 my mom and some family friends and I took a fishing trip to Lake of the Woods in Ontario. We woke up early morning to go fishing, hang out and jump off cliffs."
2 // If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
"I would backpack Europe with my beautiful wife." And then he added, "With no kids.
  Me too, babe, me too. 
3 // Are there any summer traditions that you have or would like to start?
"I want to have a family vacation every summer. Just me, you and the girls. We could go to a place that we all decide together and then go just us 4. 
4 // The 4th of July is coming up…what’s a must-have picnic or BBQ food for you?
"Sleep. Because I have to work on the 4th. But I would want a full rack of ribs and a peach cobbler and oh, girl- potato salad.

5 // What did you want to be when you grew up? 
"A garbage man. I'm joking, babe. I used to want to be an architect. When I was in 4th grade. Then I realized I sucked at drawing. I really did want to be a garbage man in preschool though- because I was really in to Tonka trucks."


Tips to Prepare Your Toddler for a New Sibling

It could be mistaken that by publishing a post on a certain topic, I consider myself an expert in said topic. That couldn't be further from the truth- especially today. Though my toddler is going to have a new sibling any day, I don't feel like I've done everything I can to prepare her. It hasn't even been my main focus, honestly.

Which gives me all the more reason to write this post. I know lots of mommies who either have multiple children or are getting ready to add another. So in hopes that it will provide a little bit of insight for the newbies (like myself) and that the seasoned pros would chime in with their advice- I wanted to open up the conversation.
 Preparing to have your second child is a COMPLETELY different story than your first. I feel much less worried about the "what-ifs" in pregnancy and much more confident in my abilities to birth and take care of a newborn. It's when Evie comes in that I get a little nervous. Up until now she has been my one and only focus (besides AJ and the house and the blog and what we're going to eat know what I mean...). I've been able to give her my undivided attention whenever she needed it. When she cried I was right there. When she wanted a banana, I gave her the banana.

But now, as I'm literally days from introducing her to her sister, I'm wondering if I should have been more intentional with preparing her. She's almost 19 months old, so the scope of what she can understand is limited. I'm pretty sure she thinks my belly is the actual baby at this point...

Given my limited experience on the issue, I asked some of my friends who have done this before for advice. And I got some gems that I've been applying at home (and plan on applying once baby arrives), but I wanted to also share them here in case they'll be helpful to any of you!

1// Talk about babies in a positive way. This feels like a no brainer- but even if you're referring to the baby as "your tummy", it's important that your child has a positive association with it. I've been reading lots of books about babies and becoming a big sister with E, and I hope it will help when the actual baby gets here!

2// Start making them wait. I read this tip somewhere and it's stuck with me ever since. When there's only one baby, it's easy to give them what they need/want immediately. I've started telling E that I'll get her something once I finish what I'm doing, or that she can go outside once she finishes eating...etc. Again, this is basically common sense, but I think it's important to be intentional to minimize the shock to them as much as possible.

3// Get them on a good schedule. This has been the one I'm freaking out about the most. Evie hasn't been the greatest sleeper and I worried for a long time that I wouldn't be able to handle a newborn and Evie waking up at night. Luckily, she has been sleeping through the night and going down super easily for most of my pregnancy, but if you haven't gotten #1 on a solid sleep schedule, now would be the time to do it!
(The rest of the tips are for AFTER baby comes- which I found super helpful and will definitely be using).

4// Schedule a special "sleep-over" for when you go into labor. Whether it's with one of your parents, a sibling or close friend, figuring out what to do with your kiddo once you go into labor that won't make them feel neglected is important. Maybe do a few practice nights, if they're up for it.

5// Give them something special to give the new baby (or a special present from the baby to them). I can't decide if Evie is too young for this or not- but I think it's an awesome idea to ease the shock of seeing mommy holding another baby.

6// Have a designated activity for them to do during feedings. This one was awesome for me to hear from several of my friends. One momma told me she set up a snack station for her older child right next to where she nursed the new baby. Someone also told me they got a doll for their child to feed while they fed the baby- both super solid ideas!

7// Go with the flow and don't worry when you can't handle everything at once. This is for the moms, not the kids, but I need to hear it so I'm sharing it! There will be times when both kids are crying and you can't cater to all their needs at once. That's fine. Take a breath and decide which need it most important. You got this.

To those who have done this before, what advice can you offer us first-time-second-time moms? 


Selfies for a Cause with Huggies Ultra Hug!

Today I am partnering with Huggies and their #ultrahug campaign to raise awareness for a local charity and an issue that hits very close to home. The Ultra Hug campaign is a selfie challenge, (and everyone is welcome to join in!) but I'm posting about it here as well so that more people have the chance to enter and win a $2,000 grant for a charity of their choice. Tag me in a selfie of you and your kiddo, post it to Instagram so I can see, and hashtag it #ultrahug. While Huggies is sponsoring this post, and I may receive a small compensation for links clicked, all opinions are entirely my own.

Ever since I became pregnant with Evie, I've had a heart for women in similar situations. You can't really know what it's like to go through an unexpected pregnancy with out experiencing it for yourself- and my heart hurts for the many, many women who don't have a support system like I did. It is a scary, sometimes lonely, road to walk- one that is usually frowned upon by others and may not always end happily. I feel all too blessed to have been surrounded by people who cared about me and AJ- but unfortunately, lots of women (and their partners) don't have that.

That is why I'm so thankful for places that offer help to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Most towns have their own resource center, and while I wasn't here in NE during my pregnancy, the resource center I went to was a total game changer for me. They gave me hope and encouraged me that a baby truly was something to be excited about.

I'm nominating my local Women's Resource Center for the $2,000 grant from Huggies and can't wait to get more involved with their work here.

The beauty of this campaign is that it uses real photos of real people to spread its message. These photos aren't professionally done (obviously...)- they're grainy, my hair is a mess and I have dark circles under my eyes- but it's real.

Now it's YOUR turn. Snap a quick selfie and upload it! Be sure to use the hashtag #ultrahug for your charity to be considered! Voting starts on July 6th and 10 winners will be chosen.


Simply DIY // Easy Mail Organizer

I've been doing a happy dance all week, guys. I'm so excited to introduce a new series here at Simply Liv! It's more of an "ongoing" series- with no end in sight, but I can't wait to start sharing it with you all.

I'm calling it my SIMPLE LIVING series (you never saw that title coming, did you?) and over the course of a few months (or forever maybe), I'll be sharing practical ways to simplify your life and live with intentionality. I'll share everything from DIY's, to recipes, to random life hacks about parenting and marriage. Since this is more or less the theme of my blog, I thought it would be fun to have more posts be specifically about practical ways to live simply. I've been rounding up ideas for a long time and decided this would be a great first post, since I haven't done a DIY in months, and my creative brain needed some release.

Raise your hand if your dining room table is overflowing with stack of bills and other random pieces of mail? Mine too. It's been driving me crazy for months- having to push everything to one end just to make room to sit down to eat. I've been brainstorming ideas for how to solve this problem and I think I finally came up with something that will work!

This mail organizer is super simple and can be made with basically anything you have around the house. I used pegboard, fabric and an old chalk board because it's what I had lying around- but the possibilities are many, my friends.

Here's how I did it:


-Peg board (Or any kind of board. I thought about using a bulletin board.)
-Fabric scraps
-Super glue
-Left over paint
-Magnets (I actually ended up not using them- but I think it would be awesome to make one of these for your fridge!)

1. First I sewed the fabric into little pockets for the mail to go in. Don't be intimidated by the word "sew". I literally hand-stitched up the sides and tops to make sure it wouldn't fray- super quick and easy. If you're anti-sewing though, you could just pin or glue the fabric pockets on without sewing up the sides.

2. I painted the pegboard with left over paint from our walls. One of the good things about remodels- LOTS of paint.  Here's what it looked like after one coat:

I ended up doing three coats.
3. Attach the pockets. I picked the easiest thing I could think of for this- super glue- and I don't think those pockets are going anywhere soon. I made the little labels with cardboard, because I'm super fancy. Then I painted them white and used the sharpie paint pen to trace around the edge for a little bit of distinction.

4. Superglue the chalkboard on and trace around the edges. I recycled the chalkboard from another piece of art I had around the house but wasn't crazy about- but you could also just use chalk board paint and another (super fancy) piece of cardboard or thin board.

And there you have it! Your dining room table suddenly has room to be used as nature intended AND you have a super cute (super cheap) way to store all of those bills that you've been ignoring.

What are some simple solutions to clutter in your home? I'd love to hear your stories of simple living success! And as always, be sure to let me know if you try this one out! 

Ps. to see my DIY TV tray makeover from the picture above click here




Liebster Award: Discover New Blogs

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had great weekends. 

Mine was spent relaxing, sleeping (I'm trying to do as much of that as Evie will allow lately...), writing, and dreaming about the future of Simply Liv. I have LOTS of fun ideas in the works and can't wait to see them come to fruition. 

Blogging has become such a passion to me. I never expected it, but I truly love the freedom, flexibility, potential and community I've found through it. I've been pushing myself a ton in the past few months to grow this little space into something more than just a journal of our day-to-day that my family reads, and while I'm not exactly where I want to be yet, I'm so happy with my progress and so excited to be connecting with some awesome women through this little blog. 
So, you can imagine my surprise and excitement when Simply Liv was nominated for the Liebster Award by another blogger who I've never actually met. I had seen this kind of obscure award a few times in some of the groups I'm a part of, but I never really took the time to see what it was all about. But once I was nominated, I got down to business ;) The Liebster is basically a way to connect even more with new blogs and help them grow their audience. Once you're nominated, you introduce yourself and your blog and nominate a few other bloggers to join in. It kind of reminds me of those email chain letters that went around when I was in middle school...but more official and actually fun ;) 
I was nominated by Nicole of Naturally Nicole. She blogs about her passion for natural, healthy living in every area of life. It's an honor to be nominated by her and I'm already loving her blog! She has some great advice, especially for young mamas.

 So without further ado, I will tell you a little bit more about myself, and then introduce the bloggers I'm nominating for the award! 

11 questions:

1// How did you come up with your blog name?
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure. I started blogging during my freshman year of college and called it "Life Out of Grey", after a song I recorded in high school, but somewhere along the line I decided I wanted to make my blog more "official". Simply Liv just kind of came to me, and eventually I (conveniently) realized that writing about simple and authentic living would be a good addition to what I was already doing.

2// What’s your favorite food to cook?
Oh man. Before I got married, I didn't even know how to cook. I loved to bake, but cooking was something I never really had to mess with. BUT, now I absolutely love experimenting in the kitchen. My favorite things to make are the simple meals that I can take my own liberties with and make healthier.

3// If you could be any animal, which animal would it be and why?
 Because I have absolutely no idea how to answer this question, I'm going to say a squirrel because Evie does a happy dance every time she sees one and waves hi and I love it. I actually don't really like them that much, but I would be one for my daughter's sake.

4// What is something that really makes you laugh?
My husband, obviously. Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or face palm, but he is hilarious and I love him.

5// What is your biggest pet peeve?
Sometimes I think I'm one of those annoying people with lots of pet peeves. Those people are my pet peeves. Also, when people fight or yell at their kids in public. I'm not sure if that really qualifies as a pet peeve, but it drives me crazy.

6// What is one item you just could NOT live without?
 I'm going to lie a little bit and say it isn't an electronic device....because one of the super exciting ideas I'm working on is a technology challenge. So my answer is ice cream (especially cherry chocolate!). Which is actually true, ask AJ.

7// If you could spend the day with one celebrity, who would it be?
 Definitely Jennifer Lawrence. I think we could be best friends if she wasn't a billionaire and super famous. I trip up the stairs all the time too.

8// What are you driving?
A Honda Accord.

9// If you could change your first name, what would you change it to and why?
I've always liked my name, but if I had to change it I would probably make it what we are naming our daughter in a few weeks, so you'll have to come back soon and see for yourself! ;)

10// If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
 Besides all of the actually important things I would change, I would make it possible for people to travel where ever they want to for free. I hate that the main thing holding people back from seeing the amazing places in the world is money. 

11// What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Growing up, my dad always told me to "remember who I am". And once I got Mufasa's voice out of my head, I realized how wise that is. Life throws a lot of curve balls at you, but staying grounded and remembering who you are (your strengths, beliefs, passions, weaknesses...all of it) will help you in everything you do. So thanks for that Dad :)

11 Random Facts About Me:

1// I met my husband on a music mission trip to Latvia. It was incredible.
2// I hate hot weather. I spent most of my life in the mountains of Colorado, so summers were gorgeous and NOT humid. AJ says he wants to move to the South...and while it is definitely beautiful, I don't think I could ever leave the house.
3// I haven't snowboarded in two years, but it used to be my life. I went around 40 times a season.
4// I have a terrible habit of starting projects and not finishing them.
5// Music is one of my passions- I love singing and playing the guitar and piano- I'm just not sure how it should fit in my life right now.
6// I hate painting my toenails, but I do it out of respect for anyone who looks at my feet.
7// Did I mention I love ice cream?
8// I was an English major in college. I finished two years and plan on finishing the rest when life calms down a little bit.
9// I'm a chronic over-thinker.
10// I love reading and have a weird habit of choosing the hardest, longest books to read for fun. Like "Moby Dick" and "Crime and Punishment".
11// After I had Evie, my hair got boring and not curly. I'm hoping that after this baby comes, it will reverse the curse!...?

Now for my nominees! Be sure to check out their blogs, because I think they're pretty great.

1. Julie from A Hopeful Hood
2. Angel from Pages of Curiosity and Coffee Spills
3. Brittany from The Kardia Blog 
4. Natasha from Natasha Byrd
5. Jasmine from A Gathering

My 11 questions for my nominees:

1// What is the story behind your blog?
2// If you could pick one place to live in for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?
3// Who is your inspiration?
4// What is your favorite "guilty pleasure" TV show to binge watch?
5// Sour or Sweet?
6// What is your "go-to" piece of clothing?
7// As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
8// What is your favorite room in your house and why?
9// What is one of your passions (besides blogging)?
10// Would you describe yourself as an introvert or and extravert?
11// What is one thing you want people to take away when they visit your blog?


36 Week Letter to Baby #2

Hi you sweet little rib-kicking baby,

I call these next few weeks the "time bomb phase", because I feel like I'm just sitting waiting to go into labor. Pregnancy is a weird thing, little one. You are such a part of me right now, and I know you so well already, but it's a finite time. It ends and you come into the world- it's a crazy thought.

You're basically just packing on the pounds at this point. The doctors tell me that I have small babies (something I'm perfectly ok with...), but for the next few weeks, you and I are going in twice a week just to make sure you're growing the way you should be. From what I can feel though, you're doing just fine and are doing everything you can to kick your way out of me.

We still have a few things to finish up before you get here, so it's ok with me if you wait a week or so. Your room is all ready though, and we have mommy and daddy's room set up for you for the first few months when you'll sleep with us. The hospital bag is all packed and we have all the arrangements made, so now we just wait.

Your sister was born at 38 weeks so, if you come early like she did, this may be the last letter I get to write you. If it is, until I get to see you for the first time, know that we love you infinitely. Know that I'm going to do the best I can to bring you here safe and sound- labor is a really scary thing, but one I'm getting ready to face again, since it means I get to meet you afterwards. Keep growing and kicking, girly.

Love you,



A Mother's Letter to Her Daughter // A Guest Post for Frost on the Vine

Happy Sunday friends!

I'm so excited to be sharing my first ever guest post today. Not surprisingly probably, I wrote a little letter to my girls (letters seem to be my go-to lately) with a few things I want them to know when they're my age.

Be sure to head on over to Heather's blog Frost on the Vine, to read my post! Heather was so great to work with and I'm honored to be featured on her very artistic and well written blog. Be sure to give her a follow! Thanks, as always, for reading, sweet people.

I hope you all have a relaxing rest of your weekend!

Simply Liv


Intentional Living: When All the Props are Pulled

Once again, this isn't the post I had planned to write today. Sometimes inspiration has her own plans. In fact, I'm sitting here re-writing it after I accidentally deleted the entire (finished) post right before I tried to publish it. It's one of those Fridays, guys. But I'm excited enough about what inspired me that I'm going to hopefully get it done today!

I had planned to share my "June Goals" with you all (more for my own accountability and inability to get anything done without a physical list...) but as riveting as that sounds, I hope this post will strike a few chords with someone as well.

Speaking of things not going as planned, that is ironically the very topic I was writing about right before I erased it from my hard drive. Maybe I needed to learn the lesson one more time before I shared it with anyone...

But before all of that, as I was brainstorming my list of goals for the month, I came across this quote I shared on Facebook two years ago today (thanks Timehop app...) -

It is a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand. It stops us from taking anything for granted. It has taught me a lot about living in the immediate moment. I'm somehow managing to live one day, one hour at a time. I have to. ~Madeleine L'Engle

I immediately stopped, slightly overwhelmed and taken right back to where I was two years ago. You see, two years ago today I was around three months pregnant with little E. Very few people knew about it at this point- we were waiting to tell people, afraid of negative reactions. But AJ and I knew. I won't share the whole story here, because I've already done that here and here. I will say that this period of my life felt very much like all the props had fallen out from under me.

Getting pregnant wasn't exactly on my to-do list at that point in my life. But there we were- dealing with the unexpected, like so many situations in life. As Madeleine L'Engle, one of my very favorite authors, so wisely says, these phases reveal what is rock and what is sand in your life. AJ and I both learned that certain people would stand beside you while others slid away like sand under our feet. The rocks kept us going; kept us hoping.

AJ was one of my strongest rocks in this time, one I took for granted often. Unplanned pregnancy is hard for both people- he could have ran from the responsibility of parenthood. But he stayed. And made sure that I knew he would.

Another thing I blog frequently about is living intentionally. I didn't know it at the time, because everything seemed almost like a blur, rushing by me without giving me time to process, but I had to choose to face every day. Despite the excitement and joy of having a baby, there was a lot of doubt and regret. Living intentionally became a reality to me, not just an inspirational phrase. These phases in our life are short, but when you're in the thick place, the unplanned, it feels like an eternity. Making the choice not to run but to embrace is everything.

Like Madeleine says, somehow we find a way to live day to day. We have to.

Maybe all the props are pulled out from under you now. Maybe you're in the thick, unexpected place. To you I would say, hold on, my friend. Find a rock and cling to it- letting the sand, the unimportant, slip by. Live each day, especially the ones you don't want to face, with intention and remember that it is good to have the props pulled. Whether you're facing a life altering phase or you just deleted all of your hard work, choose to live "in the immediate moment", knowing how you respond will shape the moments to come.




The Guy Behind the Blog

Sometimes I have a hard time coming up with things to post on a consistent basis. Blogging 101, I know, but keeping consistent content is tricky at times. So....when I come to a blank space in my planner, I have to get a little bit (more) creative. Today, being one of those blank spaces, I thought it would be fun to switch things up a little bit.  You're going to hear a little bit from someone you only know from my perspective- the guy behind the blog, if you will.

This is a super fun monthly link-up with a bunch of other bloggers who interview their guys with the same questions and share their (generally pretty amusing) answers all at once! So be sure to check out the other posts on Betsy's blog- there are some pretty great ones :) I think I may make this a monthly thing...I have a feeling things could get pretty interesting.

So without further ado- take it away, my love:

1 // What is your favorite family tradition? 
AJ: Spaghetti on Thanksgiving.
Liv: That's all?
AJ: Yep.

2 // Who's your male celebrity crush?
AJ: (without hesitation) Ryan Gosling.

3 // What song best sums you up? 
AJ: Lady Gaga's Poker Face.
Liv: Seriously? (next three were definite no's)
He finally decided on "Cleaning this Gun" by "Rhett Somebody"...who we later realized was called Rodney Atkins. It's actually a good choice, considering he has two daughters ;).

4 // What three things do you think of the most each day? 
-How grateful I am for our beautiful home and my beautiful wife and having a beautiful family to fill it.
- House chores. Projects. What we can get done before the baby gets here.
- What can I do to make things easier for my pregnant wife.
(He may have felt a little pressure to answer these "right"...but I think it's pretty spot on. Previous answers included, but weren't limited to, "when is my acting/modeling career going to take off?" and "what new dance moves should I show Liv tonight?")

5 // What's your most embarrassing memory? 
I don't think I've had any.

Apparently the man has never done anything embarrassing, ever. Oh well.

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