MomGirl Products are HERE! Plus, a Giveaway!

Look! Up in the sky- it’s a bird! It’s a plane! No. It’s MomGirl!!!

She is here, y’all!!! MomGirl products are officially up on my shop to order! I’ve been working so hard on these for a couple months, trying to figure out how best to offer my messy-bunned, legging-clad, coffee-drinking superhero to the world.

So, if you are in need of some MomGirl in your life (or if you know someone who does), here are all the goodies so far! Click on any of the pictures to be taken to the listings within my Etsy shop.

(Side Note: I sense this post will be filled with all the exclamation marks and much all-capping. You have been warned.)

First, greeting cards!!! 

There are 3 cards up in the shop at the moment, which are the following:

 

GAH. Aren’t they so cute?!?! (Is that ok to say about your own artwork? I’m just so excited about them!) Each card comes with the teal envelope you see pictured.

Each card has a fun caption inside, too.

 

 

Here’s the second one:

 

And here’s the third:

Plus, they’re pink on the back!

You can see more details and/or purchase any of the cards over on my Etsy shop, Ebenezer Designs! 

 

NOW. Prepare yourself for what I’m all giddy-like-Hermione-Granger-in-Gilderoy Lockhart’s class about.

Letters from MomGirl- aka a MomGirl Subscription!!!

YOU GUYS. I’m so excited. SO EXCITED!!! Ok. Here’s how it works. You can choose from a 3, 6, or 12-month subscription, which will feature one 5×7 MomGirl print per month, with a short note of encouragement on the back from me, MomGirl! (Gasp! I’ve said too much…now people will know I’M MomGirl…) 

Here’s what I can promise about the encouragement: it’s real, it’s brief, and it’s lighthearted. Moms carry enough weight- baby or otherwise- and levity is such a gift when you’re parenting littles and overwhelm hovers ominously close by.

Plus, it arrives each month in a pretty pink envelope!

This subscription is an ideal gift for new moms, no matter how many children they have! But really? It’s a gift for anyone who feels like a hot mess. MomGirl is here to say- “Me too, girl.” She wears a messy bun for the fourth day in a row, throws on that pair of leggings with the mysterious crust on them, and loves on her people the best she can- often while doing one or more jobs on top of all that!

I wanted to offer something that would be a means of support and a smidgen of self-care to those who need it. Hopefully, these Letters from MomGirl can be a vehicle for that!

SO. In celebration of launching these MomGirl goodies, I wanted to offer a gift and a giveaway.

Here’s how to get the gift:

The first 3 people who purchase the MomGirl subscription (regardless of 3, 6, or 12 month) will receive a custom print of themselves as MomGirl!

Here’s the giveaway:

One lucky winner will receive a MomGirl care package including one MomGirl greeting card, a pack of these watercolor thank you cards, and a Starbucks gift card! (So you can get your coffee on.)

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Purchase any MomGirl product.
  2. Subscribe to this blog.
  3. For bonus entries, repost one of the MomGirl posts on my Instagram and tag me in it using the handle above!

This giveaway will run for one week, ending on May 25, 2017!

I have been so excited to share this with you, and hope you enjoy these goodies!!!

Keep on momming.

MomGirl, out.

 

P.S. You know what another fabulous method of self-care is? Listening to the Kindred Mom podcast which just launched yesterday!! I am already enjoying listening to these ladies share encouragement from their journeys in motherhood. PLUS, THEY are doing a giveaway too, which includes stuff from Magnolia Market y’all. MAGNOLIA MARKET. Go check them out here! And enter their giveaway by following them on IG @kindred_mom

Why It’s Ok If You’re an Extrovert

I’ve noticed something in the last few years. Maybe you have too? And it’s not just that one ubiquitous blanket scarf that has been all over Pinterest and every woman from 12-70 years old for a few years now.

(That scarf is to white girl clothes what pumpkin spice lattes are to white girl drinks. It’s not racist when I say it, because I am a white girl who loves pumpkin spice lattes and plaid blanket scarves.)

It’s introverts. Or rather, it’s a lot of stuff on the internet about introverts: memes and gifs about the challenges of being an introvert, bloggers sharing posts with titles like, ” How to Be an Introvert in [insert setting here]”. Just generally there’s a lot of talk emanating from a community of people who ostensibly don’t- well- like to talk. (Or at least they don’t like to talk in a huge group of people… whatever, you get it.)

 

I know there’s truth in this, but “My response would probably be over your head…?” Really? That’s not an introvert thing. That’s just rude and pretentious. Here are a few more:

My husband is kind of like this. He is hilarious, y’all!! But a lot of people aren’t super aware of this, because he’s not like me, interjecting loudly every time I think I have something remotely funny to say. At least that one isn’t overly dramatic or angsty… unlike this next one.
Wow. I can feel your angst through the computer… You’re such a martyr for dealing with all the peasants who must demand your precious time and energy… Too much snark? Not for something this ridiculous. Frankly, it’s an insult to introverts, making them sound like lofty, tortured 13-year-olds. Sheesh. On behalf of whoever made this, I apologize to my introvert friends who aren’t like this AT ALL.Okay, again- there’s actually some good stuff in this. But also? Why aren’t there a bunch of “How to Care for Extroverts” posts out there??? And hello, give ME 15-minute warnings to finish what I’m doing before making me move on to the next thing. I think that would be immensely helpful.

Ok. I love that last one. I relate to it. But maybe that’s because I have kids and going places together sometimes feels like trying to go on a trip to Mars.

A lot of this content is really great! It’s often insightful, helpful, and downright funny. Because real, awkward, uncomfortable life often is funny! Plus, don’t we all need help learning how to navigate ourselves through the world? Sure. But here’s the thing.

Not all of us are introverts. Some of us are extroverts. And if you are such a one, I’m here to tell you, it’s ok.

I did some research (a term which here means: I googled some stuff), and found some great articles about extraversion which were thoroughly refreshing and insightful.

The first was this one:

6 Things Every Extrovert Secretly Has To Deal With

My favorite quote from this article is as follows:

…there seems to be some romanticizing of introversion (via tumblr and social media) that involves depicting introverts as deep, philosophical, misunderstood, quirky unicorns… or something along those lines. Since when has ‘outgoing’ been a synonym for ‘shallow’? Extroverts are just as capable of complex thought as introverts are of talking to people.

Quirky unicorns, indeed. And how much of all this talk over introversion and extraversion really comes down to issues of people skills or a lack thereof? (Side note: if you’re like me and wondering whether extrovert/extraversion is spelled with an “a” or an “o” there is apparently some debate, but it doesn’t really matter. Here’s a whole article about that.) 

I mean, to label all the quirks of your communication as products of extra- or intro-version seems, well, lazy (or at the very least an overgeneralization). Just because you renew your energy by being alone doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to warmly greet someone, make eye contact, and say, “Hi, my name is Haylie. It’s nice to meet you.” And just because you love talking and being the life of the party doesn’t mean you can’t also learn how to listen and be aware of other people.

When I was a child, I remember waiting with my mother in a line somewhere and, upon seeing another little girl with their mother- somewhat nervously, vulnerably- attempting to introduce myself to them. I remember the girl hiding behind her mom’s legs. That’s totally normal kid behavior, right? But I was so super-sensitive that in the moment I felt hurt that the other kid didn’t seemingly like me or want to play. (I was just trying to make the most of having to wait for a million years! That kid missed out on the most epic line-waiting-playtime of her life.)

Of course, growing up, my mom had to help me understand things like this, and ultimately to learn how to put on my big girl panties and just be cool with the fact that sometimes it has nothing to do with me, and that people are different.

Just recently, I watched my little girl introducing herself to a kid who didn’t talk back. Which just prompted her to talk even more loudly at them. Bless her heart.

But I’m wandering into rambling-soap-box territory… Where was I?

The second article I found was this one: 17 Things Everyone Gets Wrong about Extroverts 

The two most pertinent points I think she makes are this one:

Life is somehow easier for us to navigate

Ah, yes. The secret to a successful, A+ existence is to be a bundle of awkward that talks way too much and too loudly and feeds on human companionship like it is their life blood. YOU’RE TOTALLY RIGHT.

 

Seriously. Does it ever occur to anyone that we might be talking because we are uncomfortable?? That maybe we feel as awkward being around you as you do being around us??? That maybe being extroverted results in us being nervous-talkers because we are wired that way and you are making us straight up anxious with your super power of being quiet????

And the second point:

We don’t realize when we’re talking too much

Truth bomb: I totally know when I’m talking too much. I know it before everyone else knows it. It’s like a runaway train. And nothing on the planet is more humiliating than someone pointing out that you have been talking too much, especially because, at that point, you’re fully aware and already trying to reign it in. Speaking a reasonable, socially acceptable amount is an actual struggle for a lot of extroverts—but we always know when we’ve crossed that line.

Again, yes. My propensity to talk has often been a source of frustration for me. Must I fill every silence??? Yeesh. I like to think I’ve gotten better at this with age, but there are still days when I feel my inner, awkward, talky fifteen-year-old self stumbling out of my face and SAYING ALL THE WORDS.

Like in the first quote I shared, this quality often seems to leave an impression that extroverts are shallow, that we’re all vapid, messy twenty-two-year-olds who love going clubbing and steam-rolling other people with our personalities. But I posit that it’s no better to paint extroverts as shallow, annoying party-goers as it is to paint introverts as pretentious, brooding philosophers who can’t even be bothered to use full sentences when they meet someone new.

You know what kinds of people are introverts? Albert Einstein and Rosa Parks, according to Google (so of course it MUST be true, because Google knew Rosa Parks so well). You know what other kinds of people are introverts? David Berkowitz, the .44 Caliber Killer (a serial killer from the ’70’s… I don’t recommend reading about him, but if you want to, I encountered his story on Wikipedia, so once again, my sources are rock solid).

You can make either personality type sound good or bad. I mean, if we listen to Professor Google, then supposedly famous extroverts include Gandhi, Hillary Clinton, and Moses (yes- as in Moses from the Old Testament. Sounds totally legit, right?) 

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure Google is just making this stuff up… I mean, A) if anything, Moses sounds like an introvert to me, what with his whole, “Uh, God? Uh, public speaking is just not my jam, sooo… I mean, the burning bush thing was cool, but like, ask someone else, because words are hard.” and B) Are you kidding me? Hillary Clinton?! Come on, man.

If you think I’m being unfair by citing a serial killer as an introvert, keep in mind I literally just googled, “famous introvert serial killer.” There was a whole list of articles, but the Berkowitz guy was the first one I found. You know who shows up when you search, “famous extrovert serial killer?” No one.

Ha. Okay, okay, don’t burn me at the stake just yet… This is not a hate-on-introverts post. If it was, I would’ve titled it “Down with the Introverts!!!” But I have plenty of close friends who are introverts, not to mention my husband is an introvert… and not to mention as I’ve grown older I’ve identified more and more with introvert tendencies.

And guys? Obviously I don’t mean there haven’t been terrible extroverts throughout history. I mean- has anyone out there researched Hitler?? I haven’t. Maybe he was an extrovert…or maybe he wasn’t. I don’t know. Maybe he was just a straight up psychopath. That’s not the point.

Whether or not you are introverted or extroverted, you are still a person, and that aspect of your personality is just that- one aspect. People are not boxes and for the most part, they are not extremes. Regardless of how comfortable you feel talking to strangers (or acquaintances or even friends), you can still learn good people skills. That goes for extroverts and introverts alike. Just as the former can be mindful of squashing other people with their enthusiasm and ready stream of words, the latter can be self-aware enough to realize that being quiet is totally fine, but that it can come across as judgy and aloof if you don’t at least smile and/or acknowledge someone else.

Is this totally unnecessary? You guys already know all this stuff, don’t you??

Well, I’m just going to keep talking anyway, because I can and apparently that’s what all of us extroverts do…

My third and favorite article relating to this issue was this post: 5 Myths About Extroverts That Need to Die. Now, I will say this post contains what Shakespeare might have referred to as saucy language. But girlfriend is on point as far as the content goes.

Her first myth is the following:

Myth 1. Extroverts don’t have feelings.

I can only assume that introverts think this about extroverts when I read articles like Revenge of the Introverts.

I get it. I talk too much. I’m loud. You feel overlooked and marginalized. You’re afraid you’re being left out.

That said….

WE ALL FEEL LEFT OUT.

You don’t have the market cornered on feeling unwanted or under-appreciated..

I’m not your enemy, and it hurts my feelings when you label me as one. Stop it.

Also, she says this about extroverts caring about what you have to say:

When I get excited, I tend to talk my [butt] off. I can’t seem to help it, although I am getting better. Later, I am totally traumatized, because:

A: I am petrified of being a bore, and I’m certain you don’t like me.

B: I wanted to learn all about you, and I totally sabotaged myself.

So I stop myself, sometimes mid-thought, to turn the conversation back on you.

Again, YES. I get so excited and/or nervous to meet people sometimes that I find that- again- I’m saying ALL THE WORDS. I still often have to stop myself when I realize, “Hmm, the most prominent sound I’ve heard for the last 5-10 minutes has been my own voice. Dial it back, girlfriend. Try and listen as well as speak.” (Something which I have yet to master, and which will probably be a lifelong learning process.)

You know what else? Extrovert or introvert, it’s hard to communicate. It’s even harder to communicate well. Whether you only like talking if you have something to say or talking until you have something to saycan’t we all agree that communicating is often awkward and uncomfortable and challenging?

Then there’s how being a mom affects this whole saying-all-the-words situation. Being around my little ones all day is such a wonderful thing for the most part! But when I get to be around other adults, I often notice the stream of words escalates to a flood and the decibel of my enthusiasm rises to a piercing shriek because ADULT CONVERSATIONS WHAT?!?! Plus, chances are I haven’t gotten to finish a single sentence the whole day with my almost-three-year-old who talks more than I do. Did you hear that? MORE THAN I DO. Just think about that for a minute.

Now, think about my husband, who gets home and immediately gets hit with a bunch of word-bombs from both of us! Bless him. (Evie can’t talk yet, but just imagine when there are THREE talkative girls in our house… Unless Evie is introverted, of course.)

If you are like me, then this article about having zero chill by Amber Salhus will be like a great big “Me, too!”  for, “All of you nervous-talking, big-feeling, over-thinking, off-beat, sensitive, hilarious souls. I got you, boo.”

So, what was my point again? My point is, it’s all ok. Being an extrovert? Fine. Introvert? Totally good. Just remember it’s only one part of who you are.

Point #2? Don’t paint the opposite -vert as a weirdo or crazy person, or your own type as the sane one, the more fun one, or more intellectual one etc. (Although funny memes and gifs are still fun, and laughing at ourselves IS pretty important too.)

Point #3? It’s part of being human to learn to care for each other- for all types of people. And it’s hard- for everyone- to learn how to do that.

Here is my most favorite post about introversion/extroversion:

The first time I read through the How to Care for Extroverts part, I was all- YES!!! Exactly all these things!!! I love especially #2 where it says, “Compliment them in the company of others.” I don’t know why, but that is huge! I mean, a compliment is kind no matter what, but this touched a nerve, because I’ve never heard anyone put this into words, and it’s SO TRUE for me. (To be clear, it doesn’t mean I need compliments given to me from a stage in front of a billion people, but for example, whenever my husband tells people we’re hanging out with something nice about me, it seriously sends me over the moon. It tells me he thinks I’m worth telling people about.)

Also #4 because VERBAL PROCESSING PEOPLE! It’s a real thing.

One of my favorite quotes that is empowering to anyone, regardless of your vertness (a word which I just made up, because I’m good at words), is this:

Let people deal with the full force of who you are. – John Eldridge

When you do that, you give others permission or freedom to be more fully themselves as well. So, maybe that can be our goal? I’ll say my words and you can be quiet if you want, and then we’ll trade, and everyone can wear cute blanket scarves and be friends.

Deal? Deal.

P.S. I’m not immune to the power of that blanket scarf. See?

 

 

 

A Few Tools for Creative Juices {And Spring Starbucks Cups}

So, one of the purposes of this blog is theoretically to talk about and/or wrestle with being an artist (in all the senses of the word) and in particular, being a follower of Christ who is an artist. But obviously, I’m not able to write as regularly as I was pre-second baby. Which is totally fine!

But lately, I’ve felt the nudge again; I’ve felt the pull to tell you some things. Namely, I want to say- Remember! This is a safe place, where hopefully you’ll feel the hospitality of the Holy Spirit to bare your battles and burdens as an artist, and where you can come on over any time to get a cup of coffee (or tea, if that’s your- well- cup of tea) and we can say all the things to each other. Probably a lot of, “Me too!!!”

Things like:

  • I’m discouraged.
  • I feel like I’ll never be the type of artist I want to be
  • I feel overwhelmingly small, like a dust bunny swept under the rug.
  • Is anyone else out there feeling this way?
  • I know God is faithful, that he gave me dreams and desires, but I’m having trouble shaking the dust of today off of my perspective.

OR

  • I’m loving my life right now and I just want to see and/or celebrate all the pretty things.
  • I am so thankful and encouraged.
  • I’m praising Jesus!! Because I’m feeling security in my now, not because everything is secure, but because he is.
  • I feel small in such a good way, because he is so much bigger, and because I know he can do big with small things.
  • My art is my art, and I’m going to do it and feel joy abounding, and not question it.

OR really, any other think you could think. (No, that’s not a typo, but we’re working on “Seussical Kids” at the performing arts center right now, and that’s an actual song from it.)

Also, I love the idea that occasionally when you come for a visit and for the aforementioned hot beverages, you might find something helpful in your artistic journey. Something to encourage and bolster you with the stalwart ferocity of a British sea captain in the 1800’s (or at least one from the movies).

So, here are some ideas to help provide encouragement and bolstering and stalwart ferocity:

  1. On Being Creative– Remember this? Well, if you don’t, it was a series I poured my heart into last spring, all about many of these struggles we face as creatives/artists/people in general, and specifically about my own struggles.
  2. Frannerd and Iraville on Youtube- if you’re an illustrator, THESE TWO are my favs right now. Find them on IG. Just do it. You need the beauty, the inspiration, the skill of these ladies… Also, Fran is HILARIOUS. She likes cussing a little bit, though (can we all just admit we like doing that sometimes?), so if your kids are around, you know… wait til they’re not around.
  3. Art & Faith Conversations– My friend Libby John has been doing some big things in the past year, like recording and releasing her album (WHAT!) and now, launching this new podcast with her friend, Sarah. They talk about exactly what’s in the title: conversations about all things art and faith, the battles a creative fights, identity, Jesus, how we approach art as believers, and of course- C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, because can you talk about art of any kind too long before bringing up those guys? No. No you cannot. You can also find links to the podcast on her Facebook page here or you can just search it in the iTunes store.

So, these were just a few things I thought I might share with you, my artsy friend. Keep making your art, okay? If this isn’t enough stalwart ferocity for your British sea-captain sensibilities, I suggest renting Master and Commander.

 

P.S. Have you SEEN the springy cups at Starbucks?! They are my new favorite thing. Here’s one I doodled this week. Doodle-able cups are the best. (Fyi I used a red micron pen, a light pink tombow dual brush marker, and this random blue pen that just says “Le Pen” on the side.) Also? That aqua/turquoise color is MY JAM. That is all.

The Adventures of MomGirl!

If you and I hang out on Instagram and/or Facebook on the regular, you’ve probably seen some posts featuring illustrations. Specifically, the illustrations of MomGirl!

Y’all. I have never had such a deluge of responses as I have had regarding MomGirl. Namely, that many of you are like- GIRL, that is totally me!!!

Here she is, in her glorious debut.

 

I mean, seriously. Don’t you feel like this, momma friends?? Like you’re winning at life because you’re keeping small people alive and loved and also you’re doing all the things all while drinking coffee?! (Which you’ve inevitably microwaved 5 times.) And simultaneously don’t you feel that as much as you’re winning at the most important things (i.e. child-rearing and drinking the aforementioned coffee) you maybe also have piles of laundry that have sat on the floor for a month?

Or is that just me…

Anyway. MomGirl is, I think, here to stay.

 

One word: Potty-training. This is our life right now. Bless it.

And in case you’re having a day of MomGirl fails, let me just remind you what you look like most of the time:

 

Most of what I do consists of all these things at once and Coffee. In. Hand. Amiright? Nursing, entertaining my crazy almost-threenager, talking on the phone/working, and let’s not forget my handful of jobs done from home. Oh, I’m not complaining! I’m just saying- this is 100% accurate, at least in my own experience.

 

And because of all the responses of joy and delight and “Me too!” types of sentiments I’ve received over MomGirl lately, I thought- wouldn’t it be nice to do something more with her? Offer something to MomGirls everywhere who would like some delight in their lives??
Suffice it to say I have about ten ideas on how to accomplish this. At the very least, I’m thinking there will be some greeting cards. But I’ll keep you apprized of details as they develop.

In the meantime, I’m going to heat up my coffee again.

 

MomGirl, out.

Happy 2017- Wait. Let’s Try That Again.

The month of January was a month of false starts. After traveling for two weeks with our little girls, we got home. Ahhh home.

After we unpacked and ever-so-promptly did all the laundry and cleaned up the assorted Christmas debris, I prepared to settle in, get a new calendar, arrange my life in ever-so-orderly a fashion.

Focus, I thought to myself. Focus shall be my word for this year. I will cultivate true presence with my husband, with our children, in our relationships. I will engage in the varied jobs and responsibilities I have with humility and attentiveness. I will be patient with where we are in life and savor the season with gratitude and joy. I will practice listening to the Holy Spirit and quiet my chatty soul.

And all in all, I shall transcend the heretofore tolerated messes in my life and failures of character into a rosy, glorious existence of serenity and wisdom.

I mean. So much serenity, you guys.

These are the things I considered with much anticipation as we undecorated in the last day of December and first of January. And then, January second arrived, and I’m pretty sure Peeves the Poltergeist was lurking somewhere  enjoying the coming upheaval, cackling in delight. He was probably also eating popcorn…

First, I got a cold. Then, in those first days of January, Ryan asked me, “Where’s your wallet?” I unconcernedly assured him I didn’t know, but that I’d find it. Fast forward to a week later, by which point we had ransacked all of our earthly possessions and even gotten so desperate as to call the Cracker Barrel we ate at on our way home from Christmas traveling. No luck.

On top of that, one of my big toes started hurting. Real bad. It started as a minor annoyance that first week of January, but by the end of the second week, I was limping around pathetically, with a swollen, gross horror movie of a toe. I decided I was probably dying.

So, we paid the urgent care $100 only to have the doc come in and say, “Yeah, I don’t do toes. That’s infected. You should go to a podiatrist.” And I was like, “Greeeaaat. Would you like to tell me any more obvious things while I light some more money on fire?”

Later that week, we went to the podiatrist. Let’s just leave some mystery there. I don’t think you really want to know what they had to do to my toenail… Regardless, it was expensive. So, you know, a really good time to lose my wallet (and the extra Christmas money we’d received which was inside it).

“Focus.” I flinched as my glowingly good-intentioned word for the year arose in my mind. The irony was not lost on me.

Meanwhile, marchers protested and blew up the internet with their signs and their rage and their holy hashtags. What was all this about? I wondered. I looked into it and was kind of like, “Wait, so what are they marching for again? Did Trump like, veto women’s rights to vote and I missed it??? Oh. They’re just…preemptively protesting. Got it. Well, they’re allowed… Oh, and pro-life groups were removed from the list of protesters. Okay.” I felt increasingly disconnected from this group. Which is weird, since I’m a woman.

But I say this because the holy hashtaggers flooded social media, and subsequently another wave in the onslaught of political arguments resulted across the board. Friends I know deactivated their Facebook accounts. (I didn’t. Because cute pictures of other people’s babies, you know.)

So it felt like I’d stumbled into 2017, into a loud, distracting mess. I wanted to back away slowly- back into 2016. Maybe no one would notice?

But we can’t run away from our messes. Does that mean we join protests? Do we take the bait and follow the crowds? Follow the popular instagrammers, YouTubers, some who used to be pillars of faith and now have decided a deep end of half-truths is a better place to dive than to face the hard things- minor or major- head on?

Clearly, I experienced some disillusionment as these things transpired. Not that I now despise anyone who is well known or think blogging is a waste, or that hashtags are evil. (They’re not necessarily. They’re fun, and I usually overuse them.) But I just reminded myself that I’m not one of their “followers.” I am a follower of Christ.

No, I’m a disciple of Christ. And that means certain things for how I view the world.

For one thing, it means that when a mini-maelstrom of minor calamities befalls me, I don’t feed my fearful, suspicious side. You know, that ominous voice inside that says, “It’s a sign. Doom is at hand. This will be the year of crap.” 

Instead, I say, “You know what, no.” Just because January threw a fit and marched in protest of not being 2016 anymore doesn’t mean it’s worth coloring all the other months in similar hues. I am not the victim I once was. Not that I’m not weak, but that Christ’s strength is growing inside me. This is a time to be a victor.

So, whatever, January. You sucked and you’re over. Also, you didn’t suck because the Lord helped me drive a stake in the ground and declare that even times of losing my wallet and subsequently our Christmas money, times of stupid toenails and stupid toe infections, times when I have a cold on top of all the other stuff and can’t take any normal decongestants because I’m nursing, times when half-baked opinions and wholehearted unkindness is rampant- in the midst of times like those, I can be joyful. Because the Lord is sufficient in all things; he always gives us what we need.

And he did.

Aimee always says that laughter is usually her default. I decided that was a better plan than implosion. So I tried laughing at all the distractions. I asked God to help my trust sing louder than the noise- trust that he would provide, that we could handle this, that light is still brighter than darkness, and that darkness is paltry and puny in comparison.

It worked out well. Because you know what? Someone left a Walmart gift card with a hefty amount on it anonymously at our door. Ryan ended up receiving a chunky check for some work he did recently. And several other providential, out-of-the-blue things like that happened. In fact, only a few hours after my procedure at the podiatrist, we received word about that check. Hours, you guys.

God is good. He gives us everything we need. And I realized these distractions were just opportunities- to focus. So that’s still my word for the year.

Therefore, I will not be joining the ubiquitous tantrum that everyone is throwing about how terrible things were in 2016, or will be in 2017, or whatever.

Instead, let’s throw a party. Or at least have some cake pops. Let’s be people who add flavor to the world. It’s February. Happy New Year!

A Song for Christmas: Silent Night (Sweet Melody)

Today, I just wanted to share a song I wrote that I got to share at church recently. What a blessing to get to share something I’ve written live and not just in a YouTube video… But that’s what you’re getting today- ha. Regardless, I hope it encourages you!

 

Four of my original songs are available for download if you’re interested (free! unless you just feel like being super crazy nice and leaving a tip, but you definitely don’t have to!) on noisetrade.com here.

(Did you know I shared some fun Christmas decor earlier this week? You can see my attempts at a “cozy minimalist approach to Christmas here.)

Shifting from Fall to Christmas Decor!

Well, the fact that you’re reading a new post from me right now is nothing short of a miracle. Because babies. I can hardly believe it, but sweet Evangeline is already two months old! What even?! And a post is coming (someday) which will feature a ridiculous number of pictures of her adorableness. But it’s a lot easier to sort through 20 pictures of decor versus 20 billion pictures of my new baby…not that I’ve taken that many or anything.

Anyway, because I haven’t gotten to share any of our fall decor this year (though I did document it), I wanted to include that as well as sharing what our Christmas decor looks like this year, since you know, fall is kind of my favorite thing ever…

So, here is a look at what fall looked like at our apartment this year.

fall-living-room-1

My favorite thing in this setup is either that light aqua throw pillow (from At Home, that giant Home-Goods-on-steroids-warehouse store) or that pumpkin painting, which I did real quick one afternoon.

fall-gallery-wall-2Also, that wreath is my new secret weapon, since I can decorate it for any time of year, not to mention it was $4 at Walmart!! #winning (My mom came for a visit and brought some other lovely things with her, which meant that some of the decor got shifted around and/or improved, but I failed to document that since, you know, it was right after Evie was born.)

I do also love that thankful pillow over on the brown velvet-y chair… It’s always hard to put that one away.

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That painting in the middle is a VERY rough attempt at copying The Umbrellas by the brilliant Renoir. I painted it in college, and it’s so far from perfect (cough* those disproportionately long arms * cough) but it brings me joy so I don’t even care that it’s sort of janky.

fall-gallery-wall-3

I love that I can feel like the art on my walls has been updated just by switching out pictures! So I had to put up this “Autumn Dreams” watercolor, one of my most favorite fall pieces from the shop. Creating art is my outlet of expressing my unrequited love of swirly hair. Such profundity…

Then there’s the entertainment center. I really wish I had taken a photo after Mom came and I added two orange pumpkins to either side, because it looked so happy! But I was still pretty excited about trying out adding color with books. A-like so:

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fall-armchair

Yeah, that cord… it bugs me that it’s in the picture, but whatev.

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I wanted to utilize oranges and blues (cobalt like on the Blue Willow dishes, and aqua because it’s my fav), and grabbing a couple stacks of books with those colors made me feel like I accomplished that.

So, there you go. I wish I had been able to snap photos of it after we’d added some things (including these two cute white and orange houndstooth patterned throw pillows from Target- that I got for like $8.50!!), but I still enjoyed this simple decor for fall. Of course, I still got to enjoy my happy fall wreath on our front door again this year, but you remember that since I think I’ve talked about it for like a year.

And now, Christmas decor!! I did a combination of switching out artwork again, using our normal Christmas stuff, and shopping the house (as The Nester says) for some red accents (i.e. the red pillows in the next picture).

christmas-living-room

I also found that blanket scarf that the entire world seems to have at a fall festival for super cheap, and discovered it looks super festive on my couch too! Those white trees light up and change color, so they’re on the coffee table for now since Lucy LOVES them.

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There’s that wreath. I just love it! Plus, throwing a bow on it that I already had was so easy, and now it’s “Christmas” decor. You can find that Christmas print of winter pines in my shop for immediate download or you can order a physical print (but I need all orders for physical prints in by this Friday at the latest!!)

christmas-gallery-wall-3

And the Prepare Him Room watercolor is in the shop too!

christmas-living-room-2

This old painting is another that I did in college of berries in the snow. I like it because it goes along with everything without being super loud and distracting.

And of course, the Christmas tree.

christmas-treeEarly in January this year, we found this prelit tree for something like $25!!! It’s our first year without our wonky little 6 foot tree. (5 foot? 4? I don’t know, but it was falling apart and Ryan’d had it since before we were married!) Lucy gasped when she woke up the morning after he put it up and said, “I so ‘cited dekkate da chee!!”

lucy-and-the-tree

I mean… Is that not the most precious thing you’ve ever seen??? Ok, maybe I’m biased.

Moving on.

For the entertainment center, I basically just switched out orange and blue stacks of books for red and green…

red-books

 

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So here’s the big picture.

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Obviously, the ocean-themed baby swing isn’t exactly Christmassy, but it IS necessary to our sanity. (The baby on the other hand makes every room brighter!)


Also, I show you this next photo because of the banister, not because of the fact that it’s a selfie.

banister

It’s not the most voluminous garland, but you know what? It still makes me so happy. Oh, there’s another of those red bows (like on the wreath above the couch) on the end of the banister.

I guess I could explain that the reason I even have this selfie is because I have a billion photos of my babies on my phone and like, none of myself (since a typical day rarely has me looking this put together right now). Plus, I was headed to see two of my sweet voice students perform in a production of “Alice in Wonderland, Jr.” which was great! (I also enjoyed getting to go somewhere by myself. I mean, that is even more rare than me looking put together…)

I’m so enjoying this new season, attempting to navigate life with a toddler and a newborn, a crazy but lovely gift. Hope the little ways we’re making a lovely fuss inspire you to do the same, even and especially if the only place you can afford to shop is your house.

Imperfect, Artful Living. {Sweet Days + iPhone Memories + Art}

Man. I can’t believe our 2nd baby girl is about to join us. Any day now… Really. Any day. *AHEM.*

I was looking through my phone and the RIDICULOUS amount of photos there, and saw the increasing fullness of this year- from my belly to our schedules- and back to my belly. It’s been dizzying (sometimes downright nauseating- ha), unexpected, miraculously productive, risky, and so good.

 

all-the-art

 

I’ve been so blessed to work on multiple custom orders for the shopnew exciting illustration projects that hopefully you’ll hear about some time, whimsical thank you cards, and of course the autumn pieces I shared recently which are my happy place. All of this means I’ve not only created more items for the shop, but I’ve had more business- real, actual business- from the shop this year! Easily more than double last year! That’s such a huge blessing.

 

Beyond work or the shop or any measurable productivity, as summer wraps up- ANY DAY NOW please– I find the deluge of iPhone photos reminding me it hasn’t been all to-do lists and travels (though often it felt that way). 

There have been coffee shop visits, in which much prancing around in tutus occurred:

coffee-shop-1coffee-shop-dance

 

There was the annual weekend lakehouse trip with our small group:

 

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There was the incredible and unexpected experience of getting to perform 8 months pregnant at Gospelfest in Kettering, Ohio alongside 9 other artists (and Sidewalk Prophets!)- all of whom had to audition back in June (except Sidewalk Prophets…obviously). That process alone was a risk for me, and definitely a challenge, considering Ryan had to take the afternoon off work and lug a keyboard and equipment and our toddler across town to make that even happen!

It was one surprising moment after another- not the least of which was being asked by one of the audition judges to be on her radio show the day before the performance! I’ve definitely never done that before. Lucy enjoyed it, too!

 

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Oh, don’t mind my crazy eyes and dorky face. I was just freaking out a little…

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The concert happened the next day in an outdoor venue. Naturally, the weather decided to helpfully be either 91 degrees with 200% humidity or crazy thunderstorms that caused a 45 minute delay- RIGHT before it was my turn to perform. So, just more time for me to feel nauseous backstage, no big deal… (My husband was so awesome; at one point during our wait, he said, “You’re gonna Adele the crap out of this place.” I just love that man.)

 

poncho-tastic

 

In case you’re wondering what love looks like? It wears a raging bright orange poncho. And it runs through the rain to make sure all your stuff is okay.

Oh yeah! I had a booth there too… that’s the stuff to which I’m referring. All the artists had the option of utilizing a booth, and this was my very first time actually having all my Etsy shop stuff out somewhere for purchase!

 

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(Hey look- Bethany is totally hiding in the background! And WOW I’m so pregnant in this photo. Who knew I could get even more pregnant than this?)

That whole weekend was filled with such meaning and encouragement! Dear friends rode over with my parents- a 2 hour drive one way- to come and see me perform (and get totally drenched in sweat followed by torrents of rain). Not to mention people from our church who came out to support me, and even other extended family who I rarely get to see! I felt overwhelmed with encouragement and that they all took the time to come and be part of such a great experience with me!

Then, the last two weekends were occupied with two separate women’s retreats…at which I led worship. Because I’m super good at planning. Yet, in spite of how exhausting it is to really do anything at this point, all of those endeavors were such a blessing! I’ve prayed for God to open doors and provide opportunities for me to utilize the abilities I have, and I’ve even prayed for opportunities to risk!

This year has been chock full of those. Throughout the summer, I’ve just prayed desperately that God would help me get all the work done I needed to before Evie is born! But now, other than my desire for her to arrive, I’ve prayed that he would help me savor the sweetness of these days, of these answered prayers, and especially this time with Lucy before we go from a family of 3 to a family of 4.

Yesterday, I told Lu we were going to have special Mommy + Lucy time and do fun stuff. “Fun stuff!” she gasped, “For us??” Just like that, which was the cutest ever. I kept it simple, which is pretty much all I have capacity for anyway, and documented our “fun stuff” as follows:

  1. Fall Coloring Pages- free via Google!

coloring

I decided to make it feel semi-preschool-ish and talk all about fall, because obviously. So, after we talked about pumpkins and acorns and leaves and colored several pages, we watched some youtube videos for kids about fall which she loved. (Notice: she is looking super adorable in Ryan’s old Cubs t-shirt from when he was a little boy! How cute is that?!)

2. Making Peanut Butter Cookies! This was a brave activity for me to do with her. It was the first time I’ve ever had her help me make anything, thus I picked the easiest thing I could think of that was also cookies. My mom’s PB cookies have literally 3 ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes and BAM! Peanut butter cookie deliciousness. There is no possible way you can mess these up. Oh, and you can sprinkle sugar on the top of them if you want. That’s optional. However, making a criss-cross pattern with a fork on each one is mandatory. I’m pretty sure that’s what makes them so good…

 

Lucy was a great helper! She helped dump the sugar in:

dumping-the-sugar

Then she got to help stir with the bright green “fa-tchua!” which pretty much made her life.

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And then that 10-minute wait, in which we could barely contain our excitement as the cookies baked… Then they were done!

 

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Then this happened so fast, I’m pretty sure she just inhaled it.

eating-cookies

 

These aren’t perfect pictures. They were not carefully curated to be part of a blog post. But they’re here because this is part of living beautifully.

This is part of leaning into the art made in the imperfect moments: when you still have storage bins in the middle of your living room that have been there for weeks or your little one is in mismatched pajamas, or you find yourself wearing the same top and leggings all the time because literally nothing else fits because of the new life preparing to arrive (as evidenced by this rare photo of my prego-profile… I don’t typically post lots/any of those).

 

prego

 

I’m happy sharing our moments of imperfect art with you. Freshly baked from my iPhone. With a criss-cross pattern and sugar sprinkled on top.

For a little while, I’ll take a breather from writing here. But rest assured I won’t be able to stay away long! See you soon- most likely with lots more iPhone photos. Much Love!

 

pb-cookies

 

P.S. I almost forgot!!! 4 of my original songs are NOW AVAILABLE on Noisetrade!!!!! Eeep! I’m SO excited about this!!! CLICK HERE to go visit the page and download them!

Closet Nursery! {Aka Let’s Pretend This is Another Room}

pomelierI’ve been pondering and planning and perfecting Evangeline’s mini-nursery in my head for months now. The key words here being “in my head.” I had envisioned one of these cute types of closet nurseries on Pinterest where everything is coordinated and somehow doesn’t feel like it’s just a storage space into which I shoved a mini-crib.

Which is how the closet-nursery felt for a long time. Here’s how it started just after we assembled (listen to me- “we”- you all know it was my husband, right) the crib.

 

shelves

Gah. So much stuff!!! Hmm let’s move those diapers down into that bottom left cubby and/or to other shelves, shall we?

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Ok, that’s a little better.

These last few weeks I’ve been scratching my head as to how to make the closet feel less, well, closety. And less crammed. And just generally more like a space I’m comfortable thinking about one of my children sleeping in.

The thing is, when I looked over those Pinteresty options, I noticed they all had one thing in common: margin. Did you notice there really is still a lot of space left over in all of those super cute pictures? Evenly spaced storage bins, shelves that only hold a few items… Like, where are these people keeping all their crap???

shelves-2

So, storage wise, it was okayish… I’m loving the turquoise containers for sure! But I wanted to move some of that bottom stuff (aka the wooden lazy Susan, the boxes and folders and just whatnot that isn’t kid-friendly). Still, it was starting to look more organized at this point, which was good.

But it was still pretty crammed. I determined to figure out a way to make it feel pretty and intentional and not like it was a catch all for all our possessions including our new baby, along with getting rid of the really heavy stuff we were storing above the crib. Because that just makes me nervous. You know, with all the earthquakes we get in the midwest…

 

So, here it is as of yesterday:

shelves-4

 

And here it is after I decided to move a bunch of stuff on the really high shelves up to our laundry room (downside: now my back hurts a lot- can I just go into labor already?). 

Finally! It feels- mostly- like a nursery. So, welcome! Let the explosion of pink and girly commence.

mini-nursery-full

Yes, somehow I managed to find new places for all the clothes that were hanging above those white shelves. Okay, maybe a couple things will be hung back up that made the photo less cute… And yes, there are still some empty boxes and possibly a trash bag with those aqua poms I love up on that top shelf. But not everything can be extricated from this closet, because valuable real estate, people.

I hung a gold polka-dotted scarf behind the crib, just for some interest, and this cute little canvas sign that says “You are the best adventure.” Yes, I know it’s not centered. That’s semi-intentional, semi-because of the white metal thing holding up the shelf above it.

…Which I managed to decorate a little bit! Yay!

vignette-portrait

Look at those FABULOUS sparkly baby girl shoes!!!! Can you even handle it? And that sweet little air-balloon lantern was made by my ridiculously crafty and fancy sister-in-law, and was part of the Baby Sprinkle decor back in August. Isn’t it adorable? It says “Evangeline” on the little tissue bunting around it.

And what’s that? Is it pink flower poms? Is it a chandelier??

Nope! It’s a pomelier.

pom-chandelier

 

I felt like the space needed something above the little vignette area with the pictures and shoes. So, I hung these via packing tape to the ceiling… It’s possible that one has already fallen down. Ryan may have the job of securing them better to the ceiling. You’re welcome, hubs!

 

pink-shoes-close-up

gold-shoes-close-up

 

Remember the Reclaiming Abundance Project? That little pink frame has a verse from week #2, which was all about Lucy aka The Princess. Now our second princess is almost here, so it’s only fitting for it to be in her space too.

And the shelves. I wrangled those shelves until they felt less crazy, and here’s where things stand for now.

all-the-shelves

 

Better, right? I mean, it’s not perfect. But look! There’s actually some margin on some of them now! Including above them, which excites me to no end.

 

shelves-upper-half

 

The big turquoise bin was $5 at the Target Dollar Spot, the cute little pink bin was part of a gift at the sprinkle, and the top two little baskets I already had. Here’s a look at the bottom half of the shelf.

 

shelves-lower-half

 

The other turquoise bin was also a gift at the sprinkle. At some point, I’m hoping to get a couple bins or baskets to use on the shelf for all the clothes there. For now, all newborn-3 month stuff is stowed in the dresser we use as a changing table in Lucy’s room. So, this shelf is all 3-6 month stuff! Can you believe that? But it’s a combination of Lucy’s old clothes, other hand-me-downs, and gifts we’ve received. (Also, can you believe the incredible amount of diapers in there?! It’s so awesome. And it’s 100% a testament to people’s generosity to us as we prepare for Evie’s arrival.)

gold-stuff

 

This is basically the same. However, there’s just a smidgen more room for both the diaper bag and that super cute gold polka-dotted bin from Target. Somehow, I ended up with a lot of pink and gold things, and I love that! Now, it looks like I planned it as the mini-nursery’s theme.

 

cubbies-on-left-2

 

I share this just to show what’s on the other side of the crib. These built in cubbies hold things that aren’t super crucial right this second, or things like the big boxes of diapers that didn’t fit anywhere else (except above the crib), and/or mason jars which I have no other place for. Still! I think this closet is shaping up to feel very nursery-ish!!

 

closeup-vignette

 

We already love you, Evie! Feel free to come any time!

How I Happy: August + September 2016 Edition

Before we get to the happiness, I think it’s important to articulate at least once every August (or you know, September… whatever) why August is the worst. Ok, MAYBE February beats it, but hear me out:

August is when summer is at its hottest, humid-est, gooey-est, and buggiest. For FIVE WEEKS.

And the bugs, people! Walking out of my apartment this August felt tantamount to the risk of walking across a busy highway; you never know when some big, terrifying thing will race out of nowhere- except instead of cars and semis, it’s bugs that WILL EAT YOUR FACE. Like the GINORMOUS locust-cicada-things that have recently found it pleasing to positively LURK on both stairways leading from our apartment down to the parking lot below.

What in the actual heck.

I don’t care if they don’t do anything, they are bigger than any bug should be allowed to be. (Grammar? That felt like a lot of “be”s… Who knows.)

Anyway, the heavily redeeming quality about August is that two of my kindred-spirit-est friends celebrate their birthdays this month. Fine, August. You can stick around. (Literally. Because you’re inherently sticky.)

August-Mockup-5

That’s a quote in my shop about August. A quote from one of the August-born kindred spirit friends.

“August is the month that stretches itself out on lavender horizons. Everything hushes. It’s the only time of year you can hear the last of the plants growing in their dirt beds. They are amber days with caramelized sunsets.” – Brooke Reed

Oh, Brooke, with your ridiculous, beautiful way with words… August sounds awesome according to her! However, I can’t think carmelized, lavender thoughts this year because I’m 9 months pregnant, so August just feels evil.

And yet, let the happiness abound! Without further ado and/or whining about summer, here are the ways I’ve been happying through August and September:

First and foremost, it’s SEPTEMBER! Or as I’ve previously dubbed it, “October Part 1.” I told myself that I’d allow myself on September 1st to begin decorating for fall. ***FALL!!!!*** Let’s just talk about the glories of fall from now until Thanksgiving, ok? Just kidding, you don’t have a choice.

  1. “Happiness” by Needtobreathe.

This song. This album. It’s my new happy place! Even Lucy loves it; she will request the “Happiness Song” every time we get in the car, or I open my laptop… or anything that plays music.

2. Mermaid & Fairy Thank You Cards!– I already shared about these a couple weeks ago

Fairy Card ScaleBut they really make me so happy just looking at them!! I want to send them to people for all occasions- not just as thank you notes! That wouldn’t be weird, right??

Mermaid Card ScaleAnyway, each pack comes with two of each design, so if you’re in need of some thank you cards and want to support my little shop, get you some whimsical, punny, thank-you-card goodness! You can see them here.

3. Elf Facewash + Moisturizer

elf-skincareFirst of all, let’s talk about the fact that the packaging is straight up pretty. Which of course, is crucial to any good skincare… Seriously, I was a little apprehensive to use these when I first bought them back in June, since it was the first time in 5 years that I’d purchased a different brand of face wash and moisturizer. But they have proved to be lovely- and to work!!! They just feel good on my skin, they smell wonderful (they’re not scented- it’s just how they smell). And plus, they are only $7 and $8 respectively!!!! Yay for cheap + pretty + smells good + feels good on my skin! If you’ve been wondering about that cute Elf stuff, I give it a thumbs up (in my highly unprofessional opinion).

4. Gevalia French Roast Coffee

gevalia-french-roast-whole-bean-coffee-12-ounce-pack-of-6

This is the BEST strong coffee I have found under $8. I think usually it’s about $6.99 depending on if you’re at Kroger or Walmart, and around here we consider it fancy if it’s not the absolute cheapest version of anything you can buy. However, because coffee reigns supreme above all other beverage or food items I consume (and because it makes me supremely happy), I have explained to my non-coffee-drinking husband that this is the one “fancy” item which I am happy to spend more on (aka HE will be happy about it too). Hey- I work from home, so I’m not eating out or taking weekly trips to Starbucks. So, I’m saving us money.

5. This story, by my friend, Libby. Wow. For anyone who needs to know that light shines in the darkness- that it even shined on the dark day of 9/11, read her unique and beautiful story of what happened to her, her mother, and other “plane people” when they were forced to land in Newfoundland that day and the days that followed.

6. Re-reading the Nesting Place + those tiny eclairs. (Which are from Aldi’s.)

nesting-place

I was possessed of a sudden desire to reread this book, which I’d first read back in January (one of the best Christmas presents ever!) and it just did my soul so much good to reread it now. I love it because it’s not just a book about home decor. I love reading Myquillin’s story- all the houses, apartments, rentals, and glorified-two-car-garages she and her family lived in over the years.

It speaks into my story, living in a third floor apartment and trying to figure out how on earth we’re going to make room for another person in here. Most of the time, I enjoy this place and this season, and I even like the challenge of moving stuff around and making it work for our family. But sometimes I have crazy hormones that hate everything and feel like nothing is working because those stupid boxes of things I can’t seem to find a place for will ALWAYS be in the way forever and ever amen and why haven’t I just thrown it all away yet??? Or sometimes, my brain cells evaporate and I have no inspiration whatsoever, and this book is good for that too.

Basically, it just feels like a good friend having me over for coffee and eclairs and telling me my home is beautiful. Right now. As it is. Stupid boxes and all. So, thank you, Best Friend the Nester… Nester Friend. Best Nester Friend. Bester Friend??

Of course, maybe I just wanted to reread it because I’m- wait for it- nesting. Bahahaaa.

 

7. Last but not least, Parks & Rec– I’m rewatching this series for maybe the 3rd time? 4th?? Anyway, apparently when I’m pregnant I turn on comfort TV (while eating comfort food in the last pair of comfort pjs that will fit me). With Lucy, it was Scrubs. With Evie, it’s Parks & Rec. But not really until the third trimester- both times! I don’t know why, but apparently this is something I do when I’m so pregnant I don’t feel like a person anymore.

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I mean, isn’t Ron Swanson just the greatest ever?

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And for some reason there is no meme for arguably my favorite Leslie Knope quote of all time, which is:

Martha, I’m gonna need two hours worth of waffles.”

 

I hope you enjoyed this double edition of How I Happy!

 

How are you happying?