Drool-Worthy

We have a house!!! Not only that, but it’s an AMAZING house. That’s not nearly enough emphasis, so here: my notes and Caitlin’s response to the pics I sent (for the record, she didn’t see my notes until after she used the word and I died laughing).

It’s a brand new, never-been-lived-in three story town house in Manassas Park, about 45 minutes from DCA (Reagan International) and a little over an hour from Martinsburg, where his Guard unit is.  I NEVER thought I’d fall in love with a town house, but ohmygosh.  It’s beautiful. The top floor has our master bedroom/bath, Matthew’s room, guest room, laundry closet, and guest bathroom.  The master bath has separate sinks (no shared counterspace!), and a shower with a double shower head.  Our bedroom is plenty big, and has TWO massive walk-in closets, plus a linen (read: shoe) closet.

The bottom floor has a walkout door to the backyard, which is small but doable. That floor will be used for Matthew’s play room, a pullout couch in a fun color, and a TV. It also has a full bath, so we can use it easily as a guest room (without making our guests go up two floors to find a shower!) but it’ll work great for comfy seating for us grownups while babies play, too.

The center floor is the drool-worthy floor. That one, I took pictures of.  Of course, you’ll all get new photos once it’s decorated with Pinterest-worthy projects and decor. I might or might not have a different pin board for each and every room in the house, but that just makes it easier to remember where I wanted what idea! (This is only some of the boards… Oops.)

Anyway… Introducing, our beautiful… middle… floor…?

When you walk up the stairs, you see the den to the right and the kitchen counter kind of right in front of you where Ryan and our realtor, Lisa, are standing. The carpet area will be our “grownup den” with the leather couches, big TV, etc. Obviously Matthew will be in it sometimes, but we’re going to do our best to keep it toy-and-kid-crap-free. It’s actually brighter than it looks, but you get the general idea. Thanks to a wall of windows you can see, plus another wall of windows on the opposite end of the floor, and no walls in between, even on cloudy days, we didn’t have to turn on lights to read or anything!

See the two windows and the little corner that juts out? Behind the corner is the powder room for the floor. Dark wood like the kitchen, stainless steel fixtures, and beyond bright (this picture is without a light on!).

This is where we’ll put the dining table. Ryan is going to build me a farmhouse table for it, so we finally have a table we’ll keep forever that will seat all of our kids (hopefully) AND guests. I’ve already got some ideas for how to decorate that back wall, including where I’ll put my herbs (mostly because I’m too cheap to buy them).

The kitchen is the part I lost my mind over. It has a gas range (Cait and I decided we’d trade each other’s bedrooms in our houses for a gas range… Luckily, she doesn’t have to sleep in the hallway like she offered when she saw the kitchen) and double ovens that are crazy fancy (they even have a proof setting for bread!). Stainless steel appliances sparkle with all the light, and I love love love the huge, long granite countertop. We’ll get bar stools for the counter, and it’ll give me SO much room to put out food for our friends!

This back area is probably supposed to be the breakfast area, but it seems dumb to have a dining table, eat-in counter, and breakfast table all in the same vicinity, SO we’re going to use it for a mini-play room for Matthew so he can be entertained while Mama cooks and Daddy is gone. We’ll put down a pretty rug and put his kitchen, a little table and chairs, some art supplies, and maybe his kinetic sand (which he’s getting for his birthday in two weeks… don’t tell him!) since it doesn’t make a mess and will be infinitely entertaining.

We’ve already found a church we absolutely adore– it felt just like home when we walked in, the priest was great, and the choir was fantastic.  The grocery store I’ll be going to has 150 options for Greek yogurt and their own organic brand. Y’all, after years of living in Columbus (tiny town) and now Altus (hardly even deserves its name on the map), I nearly cried at how beautiful the produce was.

In short, we are counting the days until we get to move to D.C., and can’t stop talking about where we’ll put what piece of furniture and how we want to decorate each and every corner of the house. It’ll take some time to get it the way we want, but it’s looking like we might actually get more than one Christmas in this house (a first for us in the last 5 years), so I’m excited to put some TLC into the house to make it our home.

*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. It won’t cost you a dime but helps keep up this hobby of mine!*

What Oils? Wednesday: Gal’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and Ryan and I like to try to come up with creative ideas for each other for holidays, especially since we have SO many right next to each other (Christmas, anniversary, Matthew’s birthday, Valentine’s Day). This Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking I’ll use my essential oils to make him some special gifts, just for him. For more posts in the What Oils? Wednesday series, check out the doTERRA Essential Oils page.

1. Essential Oil Cologne: Make a scent just for your man using one of these recipes! Cheaper than buying it at the store and better-smelling, too!
2. Lotion Bars with Peppermint and Lavender: Soften those tough hands and feet of his and make him that much more cuddly.
3. On Guard Beadlets: It’ll freshen his breath and keep him healthier.
4. Essential Hair Wax: Super low-maintenance and long-lasting styling wax for your sweetheart. Good hair makes every date better! Here’s a recipe for a healthier (read: non-chemical-y) version than what you’d get in a store.
5. Chocolate Dipped Pretzels: I know I talked about these on the Guy’s Guide, but boys like chocolate dipped deliciousness, too! Check it out for the recipe!

**These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Use/consume at your own risk. These are just suggestions that I complied. I have not personally tested each one. Always dilute with children and only use topically and aromatically with children.
**There is an actual science and art to blending oils that is explained in Modern Essentials 5th Edition. doTERRRAs blends are scientifically based. I do not recommend putting a lot of oils in a blend just because you need all of their benefits (ex: combining On Guard and Breathe because your sinuses hurt and you want the benefits from each) Layering oils is a very effective way to use multiple oils. Apply one, and wait a min and apply the next. They absorb very fast allowing you to apply the next one soon after the first. 
**Always dilute sensitive or hot oils. Always dilute for babies or children.**Remember: less is more with oils. You only need to use 1-3d at a time, and less with children.

Lightened Up Zuppa Toscana

As cold as it’s been around here, I was craving something warm and comforting. Last Sunday, none of us were feeling great, and then my Cowboys lost, so I needed to console myself with some carbs. I couldn’t justify making French bread just to make French bread (or else I’d end up eating the whole loaf) so I decided to make my favorite soup, zuppa toscana, along with it.

Y’all, I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I have perfected this recipe. It’s just a little creamy, not heavy at all, and crazy good. It’s also not too bad for you, since I put in a ton of kale and lighten it up using water along with the chicken broth and a little bit of heavy cream.

1 lb Italian sausage (we prefer hot, unless the toddler is going to share)
2 sweet onions, chopped
4 yellow potatoes, cut in half and then sliced 1/2″ thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1/4 c bacon (bits or cooked and diced small)
4 cups kale
1 cup heavy whipping cream
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, to taste

  1. Brown the sausage over medium-high heat in your soup pot. Make sure it’s not just cooked, but you let it sit on the bottom to get that delicious crispy brown parts (you want flavor from it!)
  2. Add in the chicken broth and water.
  3. Add the potatoes, onion, and garlic.
  4. Once the potatoes are cooked through (20 minutes or so), reduce the heat to low and add the kale, whipping cream, and bacon.
  5. As soon as it’s heated, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Scoop into bowls and top with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.
How crazy easy is that?! It’s practically fool-proof (and completely doable even when you’re feeling lousy). You and I both know this would be a thousand times better than chicken noodle on a cold, winter day when you’re just feeling a little under the weather.

Planning My Week with LifePlanner WashiTape

It’s Monday! That means time to plan my week and figure out my life. Again. The good news is, the stickers, wash, and other supplies I use in my planner actually make it fun to organize what I have to do that week. Sometimes, I like functional stickers; other times, I’m into the decorative ones. My anniversary, for example, I wanted hearts galore, but last week, we were going house hunting in DC and had a TON to do, too, so it couldn’t all be happy hearts and smiley faces. Thanks to Christy at LifePlanner Washi Tape, I got both in one pretty package!
Obviously one of my favorite things in the world is my Kitchenmaid mixer. To find stickers that ARE my beautiful red stand mixer (that recently got replaced with a slate pearl grey pro) on Christy’s site was simply amazing. I can plan out when I’m going to bake what (like oatmeal raisin cookies for my sweet husband) and do it in style! Speaking of our anniversary, see those gorgeous little heart banners? From the shop, too, along with the little bottom-of-the-box “banners”! How cute are they?!
The half-square stickers are especially useful for highlighting appointments or, in this week’s case, which town we’re going house hunting in on each day (because DC is big, y’all). The little churches are perfect for marking when Mass is, especially since we’ll be in six different places in the next few weeks (or so it seems) and out of our usual routine. Plus, the phones are small enough to list several different people I need to call in the same box in my planner so I can use them as bullet points and check them off as I go. The laundry machines are small, too, so “do laundry” doesn’t take up a ton of space (I need to remember to do it, but I don’t want it staring me in the face).
If you want a gorgeous spread like mine, the first thing you need to do is use the code PEARLPILOT15 to get yourself 15% off of your $10 order, and check out Christy at LifePlanner WashiTape. She’s quick, she’s amazingly talented, and an awesome lady!

Weekend Free of a Toddler in DC

We’re on our way to DC this morning! YAY! We’ll be house hunting and enjoying our long weekend sans toddler. I’m definitely sad to be leaving my little guy for so long (and nervous, even though I know he’s in amazing hands with my sister who absolutely dotes on him), but excited for some time alone with Ryan, especially since yesterday was our anniversary!

That being said, we feel like rookies at this whole dating-without-a-kid thing now. We’re definitely going to see a movie since, y’know, we can. And we’ll be sleeping in every morning since, y’know, we can. But beyond that, we’d love some suggestions for fun (different) things to do in DC. We’ve both spent enough time at the nation’s capitol to not want to see the usual monuments and museums, so if you have ideas for something unique or hidden, I would LOVE to hear them. Of course, if you have a favorite museum or monument, I’d love to hear what it is in case we’ve missed it!

So, where do YOU think we should go?

Baby #2 (…or 7) Update

Y’all, I am so sorry. I just realized that I haven’t updated at ALL since finding the OB and finding out he couldn’t see me. Well, thanks to a wonderful “spare mom” of mine, I managed to get in a week after writing it.

My OB
Dr. K is far and away the best OB I’ve ever had. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to babies and pregnancy, but he’s a huge proponent of NaPro Technology. For those who don’t know, NaPro Technology is new women’s science that works cooperatively with a woman’s ovarian cycles to enhance fertility. In other words, it works WITH my body to maintain a pregnancy. Because he’s a Catholic OB that is associated with the John Paul II Life Center, I even had to sign forms saying that I understood that he wouldn’t prescribe birth control, perform abortions, or do any fertility treatments that aren’t in line with Catholic teachings. For some, that might put them off, but for us, knowing we don’t want any of those treatments, means we won’t have to deal with the pressure of another OB trying to convince us to do something we didn’t want to do, us having to explain what we do and don’t do, and it means (most importantly) that he’s extremely informed on how to best use the technology available to us to get us better chances of having another baby.
So, what are we doing to try?
Because I’ve lost all of the babies between 6 and 8 weeks (with one at 5.5 and one at 10), he can’t guess very easily what’s most likely to be wrong because prior to 6 and after 8, there are “more likely” scenarios, but in between is no man’s land. We have been tested for a variety of things, including blood clotting disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, and thyroid issues (that last one wasn’t likely, but since we were taking blood anyway, why not?).
I’ve also begun charting using the Creighton Model method. I won’t include a ton of details, but basically, it can tell what your hormones are doing throughout the month, as well as accurately show what days you are and aren’t fertile. The other methods are guesstimates, and rely on prior months, whereas this one is accurate day-by-day, no matter what time of day or what you’ve done that day/night. Unlike some methods, drinking, staying up late, sleeping in, change of diet, etc. have no affect on what my chart looks like, making it the most accurate method out there (99.5% after 12 months of use to avoid pregnancy, and therefore super effective to achieve pregnancy as well). Once I hit my “peak” day this month, I’ll go in for blood work every other day until Day 11 post-peak, or until my period starts, to see what my progesterone levels are doing (the most likely cause for all of the lost babies at this point).
In short, it’ll be a few more weeks before we know whether that’s actually what’s wrong, but if it is, it’s a relatively easy fix, thankfully. If not, we’ll have knocked another thing off the list and can continue on the journey to figure out why we haven’t been able to give Matthew a sibling to play with down here!

What Oils? Wednesday: Guy’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

As much as I love Ryan, sometimes he needs a little nudge in the right direction when it comes to gift ideas. We have more than enough “stuff,” so I usually prefer something a little more personal, like a way to spend time together (or time on my own at a spa!). I’ve come up with a few ways for your man to use your essential oils to make for an extra-special Valentine’s Day, even when money is tight. (Feel free to send him a link or print out this post and leave it on his side of the bed!)

If you want more ideas for how to use your essential oils in every aspect of your life, check out the doTERRA Essential Oils page at the top for a list of this whole series!

1. Lip Balm: Have him order some of doTERRA’s delicious wild orange and peppermint lip balm for extra kissable lips (because, let’s be honest, even if I gave you a recipe, he wouldn’t make it!).
2. Peppermint beadlets: Make sure he stocks up on some of these to freshen his breath before wooing you with a nice dinner, dessert, and massage!
3. Chocolate dipped pretzels: Speaking of dessert… Even your man can handle melting some chocolate and dipping pretzels. Try dark or white chocolate melted with a touch of vegetable oil, in a double boiler, and add a few drops of wild orange, cinnamon bark, or peppermint essential oils for an extra special twist on a classic.
4. Aromatouch essential oil and fractionated coconut oil: Use this amazing oil for an even more incredible massage. Who needs an expensive masseuse when you have the guy you love and the aromatic power of essential oils?
5. Healing Hands Lotion with Bulgarian Rose: Instead of gorgeous-but-short-lived roses, this year, ask for some of this rose-scented lotion to keep your skin soft all year long (especially in this cold, cold weather everyone seems to be having).

**These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Use/consume at your own risk. These are just suggestions that I complied. I have not personally tested each one. Always dilute with children and only use topically and aromatically with children.
**There is an actual science and art to blending oils that is explained in Modern Essentials 5th Edition. doTERRRAs blends are scientifically based. I do not recommend putting a lot of oils in a blend just because you need all of their benefits (ex: combining On Guard and Breathe because your sinuses hurt and you want the benefits from each) Layering oils is a very effective way to use multiple oils. Apply one, and wait a min and apply the next. They absorb very fast allowing you to apply the next one soon after the first. 
**Always dilute sensitive or hot oils. Always dilute for babies or children.**Remember: less is more with oils. You only need to use 1-3d at a time, and less with children.

“Be Thankful You Have One”

I posted a status a couple of weeks ago that said “Really struggling with not having a sibling on the way (or here) for Matthew today… Time to stop reading Facebook for the day. Ugh.” Most of the comments were sweet, and all were meant with the right heart behind them. One, though, was like a knife to the gut. It said something like “Be thankful you have one. Some people aren’t lucky enough to even have that.”

I know I am unbelievably blessed to have our sweet little boy, and thank God every second of every day for him. Truly. I don’t go an hour without thinking how blessed and wonderful our life is with him in it. However, that does not mean that there isn’t a piece of my heart that’s missing something to fill it. Every mom will tell you that you know when your family is complete. Ours is not. That may mean we get more babies from me, maybe through adoption, maybe fostering. I don’t know. What I do know is, there is still a baby missing from our family, and I know God will find a way to fill that hole, even if it’s not on my timeline or in the way I desire.

Beyond that, how am I to be purely thankful, and not grieve in the least, that I have one living child when I have 5 waiting for me in Heaven? As much as I know that I’ll see them one day, I grieve for the lives that I didn’t get to share with them. I want to know if they had blonde hair like me (we all know they didn’t) or if they would have had my hands like Matthew does. I wish I could see Matthew bringing them toys and snacks the way he does his puppies. I want to be planning their birthdays and coordinating toys with Matthew’s for Christmas. Instead, I have 5 birthdays that bring tears and heartache every year. It’s a strange mix of joy and sorrow every day of my life, and to expect me to choose joy over sorrow every second is not only unfair, but unreasonable.

Am I thankful for Matthew? Yes. Would it be possible to NOT be thankful for him when I’ve gone through the loss and guesswork that is infertility? I don’t think so. If anything, it’s made me MORE thankful for every second I have with him, every smile he gives me, every “Mama” he says. But I’m also allowed to grieve for what we don’t have, and I won’t apologize for wishing for the best friends for Matthew that Ryan and I both have in our siblings.

Planning My Week with Obsessed with Cute

With the start of the new year comes a refreshed need to get uber organized. I’ve been reorganizing my desk, my blog, my business, my house, my routine, you name it! The most important piece of my organization, though, is my planner. It keeps track of my blog stuff, business stuff, life stuff, and gives me a place to decorate and make pretty (yay creativity!). The most important part is to keep it useful, though. As much as I love cute things, ultimately, the planner is useless to me if all it is is cute and not functional. Thanks to Liezel at Obsessed with Cute, I have some very practical– but stinkin’ adorable– stickers for using in my planner.

We all know how addicted to Starbucks I am, so Liezel’s coffee stickers are perfect for keeping track of my habit and when I add to my Gold Card (judge me all you want) so I can hopefully keep a little better handle on my spending there, as well as use the dollar stacks for keeping track of when Ryan and I each get paid. I love using the credit card stickers for making sure bills get paid on time (or rather, planning out when I’m going to sit down and actually write checks/go online to pay all the bills).

I have so many chores that I do weekly, like deep cleaning the house or grocery shopping, so to have stickers to plan out when I’ll get that done makes it MUCH more likely that I’ll do it, rather than hitting Saturday and going “Oh crap! I haven’t gotten any of the weekly chores done!” I use the little rice cooker stickers (yay Asian family) that Obsessed with Cute sent for my meal planning, because I typically think I’m going to meal plan on one day and end up making up meals for a few days before I sit down to actually meal plan. Again, it’s all about having it scheduled so that it actually gets done when I need it to.

One of Ryan’s and my goals for the year is to read the Bible (all of it), so I’m going to use my Bible stickers to outline what we’re reading that week in my “notes” column. I love using the laptop and typewriter stickers for keeping a list of what blog posts I’m writing/publishing that week.

My personal favorite sticker from Liezel is the “date night” sticker. Why? Not because it’s cuter than the rest (I think the cutest one is probably the rice cooker!), but because it means I can map out when we’re going to do a date night. Is it always a night out on the town? No, but planning a special night to rent a movie, make an extra special dinner, and turn off technology is extremely important to us and our marriage, so I love being able to plan when I’m going to do that for us.

Looking for stickers like these (and SO many more) to help you get accomplished what you need to? Check out Obsessed with Cute and use the code OBSESSED15 for 15% off of your order through March!

Want Free Slurpees for the Rest of Your Life?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 7-Eleven Franchising . All opinions are 100% mine.

Getting out of the military is a scary, scary time for many U.S. veterans and their families. We voluntarily separated with 5 months notice and a decent-sized bonus, enough to pay off some debt and keep us with a home and food until Ryan could find a job that would do that for us. Many vets, though, aren’t that lucky. Thankfully, there are companies out there that aid in ensuring our U.S. veterans and their families aren’t forgotten and have the resources they need to succeed in the civilian world.

50,000 U.S. veterans in the last year have found employment in the franchise industry. In the past four years, 203,890 vet and military spouses have started franchising careers, and 5,608 became franchise owners. The one voted “Best for Veterans” Franchise was 7-Eleven, a company I KNOW you’re familiar with (mmm… Slurpees…). What I bet you didn’t know is that their President and CEO, Joe DePinto, is a veteran himself! As such, he truly cares about veterans and their families and wants to do something AMAZING for them through OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND.
7e_vet_contest_1

On April 13, 2015, he’s going to give a 7-Eleven Franchise to one lucky veteran. What makes this deal so amazing? 7-Eleven is going to provide the store, the land, AND the equipment. Since they split the gross profit with the winner, they’re VERY invested in their success. They’ll also give the franchise owner extensive training and support from franchise pros. The winner will be making their store into their livelihood with a quick start up in only 3 to 6 months. And the best part? Free Slurpees for the rest of your life!
All they have to do is enter and apply at OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND before January 25, 2015. Finalists will be announced in March 2015, and will then be required to make a video explaining why they should be the winner. All of the videos will be posted to the 7-Eleven Facebook page, where America will have a chance to vote for their favorites. The top 3 will be flown to Dallas for a final interview, and then, on April 13, the winner will be announced!
So, if you’re a U.S. veteran (or a veteran’s spouse who loves Slurpees), go fill out that form and get to thinking about a creative way to make your video so that you can enter to win your OWN 7-Eleven Franchise, courtesy of Joe DePinto!

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