Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!


My absolute favorite holiday.

It's so genuine, so simple.  Family, food, friends, fellowship, feeling thankful.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" (Psalm 107:1)

Every year, CK and I do some sort of thankful activity together throughout the month of November.  This year, I found some pre-made leaves at good ol' Hobby Lobby.  So I hung up some twine and each morning CK would bound down the stairs and the first words out of her mouth were, "It's time for my thankful leaf!"  She put so much thought into each leaf and it was such a joyful activity.  Girl makes me SO proud. <3

Without further, ado, here are the people/things (in order) that made her thankful list this year!

Everest from Paw Patrol
Smith (her cousin)
Fruit Loops
Everette Lawrence Peele
Mama (finally!)
Birthday Parties
Ms. Tina (her preschool teacher)
Santa Claus
Banks (her cousin)
Ms. Sherry (her swim teacher)
Allie (a friend at preschool)

Yes, we should always give thanks and feel grateful for all that we have... But because life is crazy and busy and nonstop, I know my thankfulness can sometimes get lost in each day's wonderful chaos.  But today - today I will pause throughout the day, soaking up all of the sights and sounds and tastes and smells and feels of my world... and I will appreciate everything - thanking God for everything - not taking an ounce of this beautiful life for granted and wondering how I got so incredibly lucky.

"As you go through this day, look for tiny treasures strategically placed along the way.  I lovingly go before you and plant little pleasures to brighten your day.  Look carefully for them, and pluck them one by one.  When you reach the end of the day, you will have gathered a lovely bouquet.  Offer it up to Me with a grateful heart.  Receive My Peace as you lie down to sleep, with thankful thoughts playing a lullaby in your mind."  (Jesus Calling)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! <3

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Everyday I...

Everyday I...

...wear workout clothes.  Honestly, other than church on Sundays and the occasional date night or girls' night out, I am always and only in workout clothes. breakfast.  I am HANGRY in the mornings and will never understand how people can start their day and function without breakfast.

...drink one cup of coffee.

...have a bowl full of M&Ms in my house.  You will never find my house without a bowl full of M&Ms.  My grandparents used to have this little tin of M&Ms, and I always looked forward to diving into it when we'd visit them.  Because of this, I think I will always always have my bowl full of M&Ms on my counter 'til the day I die.

...wonder what my life would've looked like, how it would've been different had I grown up with my dad alive.

...sleep on my stomach.  I try so hard to sleep on my back because I know it's better for your skin, but I always end up on my stomach!

...become more in love with all things fringe and tassels.

...worry about money and simultaneously feel guilty for not working full-time. healthy until about 2:00pm - then all bets are off.

...say prayers with E before bed.  And it has become one of my most favorite parts of the day, as he tries to repeat after me as we say our prayers each night. <3

...make our bed.  I used to never, ever, ever make the bed - but now I cannot start my day if the bed is not made.

...miss my mama and wish we could see each other more often.

...wish I had cute pajamas!  But I always end up in a ratty old t-shirt and too-big pajama pants.

...take my vitamin, no fail.

...wash my face, twice a day, and put sunscreen on it every single morning. 

...put chapstick on before I go to bed.  I cannot sleep without it!

...wake up before the rest of the house even stirs.  Getting up, going for a run, and doing a devotional while T and the kids are sleeping gives me just the right amount of alone time to keep me sane, and a much-needed kickstart to my day.

...say something special to my kids before bed.  They each hear their own little "thing" from me before their heads hit their pillows.

...drink several liters of water.

...communicate with my sisters, in some way, shape, or form.  I couldn't survive as a mama/woman without them!

...worry about my children.

...think about weaning E from breastfeeding, but we're just not ready - so I'm not rushing it.

...feel so incredibly thankful for all that I have, which is way more than I deserve.  And it's probably why Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving week! <3

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Brain Dump!


*I am so happy to see Friday because I am T-I-R-E-D.  It's been a long week, which all started when E spiked a fever on Sunday night, out of nowhere.  I guess he partied too hard on Saturday!  He battled the fever on and off all week, and it got as high as 103.5.  At first I was waiting it out, but when it got that high, I decided to take him to the pediatrician.  She confirmed my suspicions - just a virus.  But luckily the fever finally broke Wednesday morning and he's been fever-free since!  But between that and the most rain I've ever seen in my life, we've been stuck inside and going stir-crazy.  Today, however, a little yellow ball of fire appeared in the sky and the angels sang, HALLELUJAH!

*I swear I was able to cut E's sickness time in half with essential oils.  I am a new user and am loving them.  T was battling a nasty cold last week and they helped him a ton, and I think I was able to keep CK and I in the clear because of the oils, too.  Being new to the oils game is definitely overwhelming because there is so much information out there, but I really am excited to make them a regular part of our lifestyle!

*Why do Reese pumpkins taste so much better than plain old regular Reeses?  Whether it's a pumpkin, an egg, a tree, etc... those seasonal-shaped Reeses get me every time!

*Every time we have family in town, the minute they're gone leaves me wishing we lived closer to them.

*But thankfully we DO live close to my sister-in-law and her family!  And just recently, CK's Aunt Beth decided to absolutely spoil her for her birthday and take her to the American Girl store to pick out a doll and eat lunch in the cafe.  Y'all, it was absolutely precious.  I'm not sure CK knew what she was going to experience, and she was definitely overwhelmed at first... but she loves her new doll - Julie - and insists on having her in her bed and having her hair in a matching braid.  This little girl is adored by her Aunt Beth... and the feeling is definitely mutual. <3

*And speaking of the American Girl experience, Julie came with the first chapter book in her series and now CK and I sit down and read a little everyday before her nap.  I've been wanting to start a chapter book with her and this was the perfect one to get us going!

*Someone got his old-man mullet cut, finally!

*And speaking of the little buddy-roo, y'all - I swear - he slept for like 12-13 hours the first six months of his life.  And he hasn't slept the same since June when he got that dang helmet.  Well, this mama is exhausted.  So last night we started some serious sleep training around these parts.  Fingers crossed it works (and that I'm strong enough to be consistent about it!).

*And that same buddy-roo is apparently allergic to tomatoes (random, I know) and peanuts!  I had some suspicions after a small taste of peanut butter gave him a little rash around his mouth.  Well, our pediatrician referred us to an allergist after E had what was a likely reaction to amoxicillin.  So I requested that they go ahead and do a full panel of testing, which confirmed the peanut allergy.  Thankfully at this moment in time it is mild, and I'm hoping it stays that way or that he possibly grows out of it!

*Please, for the love of all things holiday, can we PLEASE celebrate Thanksgiving before Christmas?!  It's my absolute favorite!

*But I do have to admit I've done a little Christmas shopping already.  Online, of course.  And that reminds me, do you shop online?  If so, do you use Ebates?  Please say you do!  Y'all, it literally pays you to online shop.  All you do is go to Ebates, type in the store, and click on it.  And TA DA!  You make money.  Just got my most recent Ebates check in the mail today!

*Somebody looooooves his daddy...

*And somebody looooooves her E.  At this exact moment she had walked over to him out of nowhere and hugged him tightly, saying... "I love having a little brother." 

*I love this stage with Everette!  He's very close to walking and says new words everyday.  It's so fun to watch him get excited over his ability to communicate with us!  His favorite?  "Uh oh!"  Yesterday we tried to keep a tally, and got up to 99 uh-ohs by the time he went to bed.

*But you know what he doesn't love?  SWEETS!  The cupcakes on his birthday, the cake at his party, Oreos, cookies I baked today... he has no interest in them whatsoever.  Whose kid is he?!

*We've been so bad about eating dinner as a family lately.  Our typical rule of thumb is that we sit down as a family of four at the table Sunday-Thursday, and then T and I put the kids to bed a little earlier on Fridays and Saturdays so we can enjoy some kid-free takeout on the couch in front of our DVR'd shows.  But lately I've just been so tired by the evenings, and T has been working late - so by the time he gets home it feels impossible to get dinner on the table for all four of us without losing my mind.  Also, does this resonate with anyone else?  Or is it just me?
So anyway, I really hope to get back into a good routine so that we can have our family dinners regularly!  I really do miss it!!

*When my G Gram showed up as a surprise for E's birthday party, she (of course) showed up with booze.  And I am obsessed with the wine she brought!  It's Running with Scissors cabernet and it is yummy!  And guess what?  An hour 'til I can pour myself a WE MADE IT TO FRIDAY glass!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kindness Inspires Kindness 2.0

Two years ago I was in a very dark place, struggling with our fertility issues and pregnancy losses and just generally in a funk.  I did some soul-searching and stumbled upon the blog of a girl who did a huge project she titled Kindness Inspires Kindness.  I knew right then and there that it was exactly what my heart needed - to focus on doing good for others - to put others before myself - to try to make a difference, albeit a small one, in the lives of those around me.

The icing on the cake was that I could teach CK all about the word kindness, what it means, and why it is so important and something I want her to be conscious of every single day of her life.

So in November of 2013, our own version of the Kindness Inspires Kindness project was born. (And omigosh can you even handle two-year-old Cameron in that video?!) 

And y'all, we had so much fun.  It was absolutely one of my favorite memories as a mama, and it was the perfect time of year, too... we tend to get so wrapped up in ourselves during the holiday season, concerned with present-buying and present-receiving - and this reminded us to focus on and enjoy the little things while spreading kindness around our little corner of the world.

I promised myself we'd do it again; unfortunately, last fall we were adjusting to life as a family of four and I dropped the ball with getting it going.


Here we are!  We're back!  And so stinking excited to begin our second round of Kindness Inspires Kindness, and this time with a four-year-old CK who truly understands what it means and why we're doing it (and a one-year-old E who is just along for the ride!).

We've kicked off this year's edition by looking at pictures and videos from our 2013 project, which has been so fun.  And we've also been having lots and lots and lots of conversations about kindness, putting others first, giving during the holiday season, being thankful, etc.  Especially with Thanksgiving coming up - which just so happens to be my most favorite holiday of all.  And our first two tasks were simple, but a great way to get started.  We donated to the 9th Annual LW Rutland Thanksgiving Food Drive and I'd love if you did the same!  This is something my sister and her husband's family are involved in every year, meeting up in Aiken, SC, to work to get food to so many families who otherwise wouldn't have a Thanksgiving dinner.

The second way we got started was by filling up our first ever Operation Christmas Child box!  CK absolutely loved this and had such a giving heart while we accomplished this task, often feeling frustrated that we couldn't fit more things into the box and also telling me we need to go get a box to fill up for a little boy, too.  Yes, my sweet girl, yes we do.

I have a whole list of tasks we hope to accomplish throughout the holiday season as we focus on kindness and giving, and will post all of the ways we attempted to inspire kindness when our project is complete.  Also, I'll document some of our Kindness Inspires Kindness adventures on Instagram, so make sure to follow along! (@jmpeele)

I am so, so excited about this!!  If we inspire even one act of kindness, it will have been a success. <3

"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22)

"Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." (Proverbs 3:3)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Turning ONE, Pancakes & Pajamas!

We had such a wonderful time celebrating E's first birthday!  I could go on and on about how I cannot believe he's a year old - because I REALLY cannot believe it's been an entire year!  But I'll stick to documenting how we celebrated the fastest, best, busiest, most wonderful year of my entire life!

On his actual birthday, we opted to spend the day just the four of us, knowing we'd be having a big party with family and friends over the weekend.  As is tradition, the birthday boy had a present on his bed (or rocking chair, in this case) when he woke up in the morning.  CK was insistent on buying him a gift just from her and making that the present on his bed... She picked out a green ball from the grocery store and helped me wrap it. :)  He loved it!

We had lots of snuggles, all day long, from this sweet, sweet boy...

He then opened up a couple more presents before Daddy had to head to work for a few hours!

All day long we spoiled him with firsts and favorites - his first cinnamon roll (with sprinkles!  a birthday tradition!!), and lots of cheese puffs, his favorite!

And then, we braved Chuck-E-Cheese's.  I brainstormed all week about what would make for a  fun family outing, and also something we could squeeze in before CK's preschool Open House.  And honestly, we had the BEST time!

Then it was home for cupcakes and more presents.  His very FIRST cupcake, to be more precise.  And y'all?  He was completely indifferent!! 

And now, on to the partay!  Everette has always loved breakfast foods, and who doesn't love pajamas?!  So after perusing the internet, I decided a couple months ago to do a Pancakes & Pajamas birthday party!  I collaborated with Amy from One Good Name for the invitations and all printables/signage, and you guys?  She is AMAZING!  I was obsessed with everything, especially the invitation (which she coordinated to match the pajamas I bought for E).  Here is the front of the invite:
 And the back:

And here is the food/decor:
My favorite little touch, "bacon and eggs" ~ which was melted white chocolate, a yellow M&M, and two pretzel sticks!
The smash cake, made by my mother-in-law, looked like a donut!

We had juice and mimosas, chocolate milk, water, and coffee...

Activities for the kids since I knew we'd have some older ones in attendance:

And the favors, "donut seeds," aka Cheerios.  Just add milk!

I had originally hoped we could all find matching pajamas, but after searching and searching I gave up.  So this is the best we could do!

I had planned to have a large portion of the party on our back deck and in the backyard; however, mother nature was not cooperating!  So we improvised with a bounce house in the garage and a very crowded living room!

Just a few of the "Bunco babies"!!

We were able to herd the cats and snap a pic of most of the kids who came, though we were missing a few!!

I was absolutely SHOCKED when E's G Gram, my ninety-one-year-old grandmother, showed up as a surprise!  So, so special.
And we were so excited to have all of the grandparents in attendance, and T's sister and her family!

Ready for his smash cake!!
He got SO excited when everyone started singing "Happy Birthday!"  He started clapping his hands and got the sweetest look on his face...
And then, the pictures stop for a minute, because this little buster was so interested in the flame that before we knew it he reached out and put out the candle with his tiny little fingers.  OUCH!  Poor little guy needed some time to recover, had a blister on his finger, and wanted nothing to do with his cake after that.  Ha!  Thankfully Uncle Cory cheered him up:

And a trip to the bounce house erased all memory of his first kleptomaniac experience!

We really and truly had such a great time celebrating Everette.  Yesterday I was definitely humbled as I looked around our chaotic, crowded, happy house full of so many people who mean so much to us.  From the moment our journey of trying to grow our family began, the unconditional love and support from our family and friends got us through some pretty tough times.  And with all my heart I believe that it took a village to get this little boy here... so thank you, all of you, for being part of our village, for being there every step of the way, for your love and prayers and support, and for helping us celebrate an entire year of our precious little buddy!