Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Currently | November


I'm currently...

missing my niece, Zoey.

packing for a spontaneous trip to Southern California.

reading this blog post and this blog post, both filled with tips for taking a toddler to Disneyland.  

boxing up all of my used rubber stamps to send off to my cousin.  (Thanks, Chris!)

eating yummy fresh pineapple.

listening to this podcast with Ali Edwards.

sporting my first ever pair of Converse shoes. (They're rad.) 

enjoying a massage.

piecing together a fall/winter capsule wardrobe. 

finishing up Music Together classes with Noah and Zoey. 

looking forward to doing it all again come January.

laughing out loud at this video. (If you have young kids, I think you'll chuckle too.)

scrapping my Week in the Life book using Simple Stories supplies. (I just discovered their products at Michael's and I'm in l-o-v-e!) 

doing more cleaning than I've done in awhile.

enjoying lunch and a pedicure with two of my favorite Mountain Moms. 

checking off my holiday shopping list. 

feeling grateful for time with Noah.

typing up three things each morning (that have happened within the last 24 hours) for which I am grateful. (And it's so cool to read back through my list from the last week and relive all the good things that have happened.)

renting this lens for our trip. (I'm ridiculously excited to shoot with it!)

loving these free printable thank you cards.  

What's happening with you currently?



Monday, November 10, 2014

Rubber Stamps For Sale

 
In an effort to make a little cash for Christmas (and let's be real, clean up my downstairs office), I'm clearing out the last of my used rubber stamps.  

First up is this set of nine Christmas stamps (pictured above), which would be perfect for holiday cards, tags, mini-albums or scrapbook layouts. Seven of the nine stamps were produced by A Muse Artstamps.  


Secondly, this HUGE lot of miscellaneous stamps would be ideal for crafters who make greeting cards for all different occasions--Father's Day, graduations, St. Patrick's Day, anniversaries, Mother's Day, Easter, etc.

I also have five sets of Stampin' Up! rubber stamps for sale on Etsy:

Just Celebrate

Friendship Blooms

Botanical Blooms

For a Friend

Happy Harmony

If you're interested in purchasing any of these stamp sets, check out my Etsy shop or email me directly at brianandjennieadopt@gmail.com.

I'd love to find new homes for these stamps soon.   

Thanks for looking! 



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday, Zoey!



Today, we celebrate a special little girl who entered the world two years ago.

I remember the day my niece Zoey was born very well--for I was in the delivery room--along with my sister, Nichole (Zoey's mom), and my mom.

It was my first time (and so far, the only time) witnessing a child take her first breath.

I know what you're likely thinking: But what about your adopted son, Noah? For reasons beyond my control, I wasn't there. But it's probably for the best...since he was delivered by C-section and I might have fainted at the sight of, you know, blood and stuff. I'm serious, I faint so easily--just ask my mom, dad, fifth grade teacher (long story!), or husband. (Perhaps, I'm part goat?! Just kidding.)


WOW, that was quite a tangent.  Let's get back to Zoey's birth, shall we!

It was nothing short of miraculous. A God moment, for sure. The kind that gives you goosebumps and makes you tear up. (I was tearing up then, and I'm tearing up now thinking about it.)

I remember holding my sister's hand during labor, and then letting go just as Zoey made her appearance so I could capture the moment with my DSLR camera (which at the time was my Nikon D90).

I won't be sharing those pictures here (for obvious reasons), but I'll always treasure those photographs. And I know my sister does too.

Instead, I am sharing this series of photos which I took on Thanksgiving in 2012. (And if you want to see a photo of 2-day-old Zoey and 10-month-old Noah, check out this blog post.)

Oh my, Zoey was so little (which in my head comes out wittle).

Sometimes, smiley.

Sometimes, sleepy.


She was precious then, and she's precious now.  

Over the past four months, Zoey (whom I affectionately call Zo-Zo), has danced her way right into my heart. 

I've hugged and played and bathed her.

I've fed and comforted and clothed her.

I've cuddled and tickled and read to her.

She's become like a daughter to me.


I have no idea what the future holds, but I know one thing for certain: Zoey will always occupy a special place in my heart.

When I think about being Zoey's aunt and what a blessing it has been, I think of my aunt Susie (my dad's sister), who was also in the delivery room the day I was born. 

Way back in 1978, forever and ever ago, when Susie was just 16 years old.

That's what happens, time marches on. 

The bond I have with my aunt has always been special. She's always made me feel loved and supported. 

She's cheered me on in countless ways--like in 2006 when I opened up an Etsy shop to sell handmade greeting cards and she was one of my first customers.

Not only has she loved and supported me, but she's also taught me through her actions what it means to care for others. What it means to set aside your own wants and serve others. She's taught me that it's important to show up, even when it's not easy or convenient.

Like she did over five years ago, weekend after weekend, when her mother got sick and needed care. During that difficult time, my aunt Susie showed such strength, such compassion, such devotion.

She's also taught me that it's important to laugh--sometimes, at yourself--especially when it comes to being a mom.
 
I'm hopeful that I'll learn more from my aunt in the coming years. And, in the future, I hope to model some of these same qualities, these same actions, for my niece, Zoey--and of course, for my son, Noah.

But for today, I'm going to stay right here rooted in the present. I'm going to focus on celebrating Zoey--and her two years of life--among family.

We're planning to live it up, Elmo-style (because well, Zoe IS Elmo's best friend after all!), and celebrate a sweet, smart, spunky, and silly girl (my left-brain loves that all those adjectives begin with the letter s!) whom we've all come to adore.

Zoey: Thank you for blessing our whole family (including your mom, Uncle Brian, Cousin Noah, Nonni, Pop, Aunt Katie, Uncle Preston, me and many others) with your light.  

Keep shining on, sweet girl. 

We love you. 






P.S. Speaking of Aunt Katie and Uncle Preston: Happy Anniversary, you two! Hope you have fun today celebrating your first year of marriage. We wish you many more years of happiness!

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Thoughts on Week in the Life 2014


"For what is joy if it goes unrecorded, and what is love if it is not shared."

This quote from last season's final episode of Call the Midwife really resonated with me. So much so, that I paused the DVR, jumped off the treadmill, grabbed a pen and paper, replayed the scene, and jotted it down word for word. I then reread it out loud and thought, Yes, yes, yes!  

I didn't have a clue what I'd do with the quote, but I loved it.  It articulated two things I wholeheartedly believe: 1) That documenting life matters; and 2) That loving others is one of the main reasons we are here on this earth. 

It seemed fitting to share these words today because this coming Monday, I will be recording my joys and loves during Week in the Life, a 7-day documentary project started by one of my favorite scrapbooking gurus, Ali Edwards.
 
If you've been reading my blog for a year or more, you know that this is not my first rodeo. I participated in this project in 2013, 2011, and 2010.

I love looking back at the photos + words from those weeks, reminiscing about what life was like back then, and taking note of all that has changed from then to now. 

This year, though, with everything we have going on, I considered not taking part. But after looking through the photos + words from past years, I've decided to do it. Why? Because I think it's important to document what life looks like for us right now.

No matter how crazy it is.

How imperfect it is.

It's our reality.

It's our story.

And the great thing about this project is that I can make it anything I want it to be. I can choose to make it as big or as small as I want.

This is the attitude I've adopted this year: Something is better than nothing. I'd rather take a handful of photos and scrawl down a few words than have zero photos and no words at the end of the week.

With that said, in an effort not to get overwhelmed, I'm going to focus strictly on shooting and writing next week and leave the rest (the photo processing and blog posts and possible album making) for future weeks (okay, more like months since the holidays are fast approaching).

Here's my game plan:

1. Shoot every day--with both my iPhone 5S and my Canon 5D Mark III.

2. Post at least one photo each day on Instagram. #weekinthelife #weekinthelife2014

3. Jot down some of my thoughts; they can be related (or unrelated) to the photos.

4. Hand the camera over to Brian, so I will be in some of the photos, too. (First, I need to show him how to use back button focusing.) 

Here are my ideas for possible photos:
  • A pair of Noah's and Zoey's shoes
  • Their favorite toys
  • Their potty chairs
  • Most requested bedtime books
  • Bath time (take the shot sitting on the floor)
  • Music Together fun
  • Costumes (shots taken during the day for better lighting)
  • Zoey and her mom
  • Pumpkin carving (with Brian)
  • Kids gazing at the jack-o-lanterns in pitch black (may need tripod)
  • Baking the pumpkin seeds
  • Just Brian and me
I'm sure I'll think of more ideas when I begin shooting with my Canon 5D. I'm pumped to capture our daily routines from behind the lens. To detail on paper the little things happening in our lives. To slow down a little bit and take stock of all that I have--all that I am grateful for.
 
In the meantime, I'll be charging up my camera's batteries and gathering up some paper and a few pens. 

Who's with me? Will you be participating in WITL this year? For more information, check out this post by Ali Edwards.

Happy documenting,



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

13 Tips for Staying on Top of Your Running Goals


Recently, I rediscovered my love of running. After a nearly 6-week hiatus, I hopped on the treadmill and quickly realized how much I missed it.

I missed the way it made me feel. The energy it gave me. The bounce in my step. The confident “I-can-take-on-anything” feeling. The way it cleared my head of those yucky negative thoughts. The good tired feeling. Dare I say, I even missed the sweat on my brow.

During some seasons of life, time just gets away from me. Our days become packed full of fun activities—gymnastics and play dates and music classes and library story time—and of course, runs to the grocery store and Target.

Carving out time for regular, uninterrupted exercise becomes challenging—particularly when your two toddlers don’t nap at the same time (or don’t nap at all!).

Still, staying on top of my exercise goals is important to me. Lately, I’ve been asking myself this question: How do I get back to that place? That place where I was on top of my running goals.

Coincidentally, while I was mulling this over in my head, Oscar, a company that provides health insurance in New York, reached out to me asking if I would write a blog post about how I stay on top of my running goals. And that’s how this post was born.

I’ve compiled a list of what has worked well for me in the past—as I trained for a 5K, a 10K, a 12K, or a half marathon. I wrote these 13 tips for myself as I strive to reach my latest running goal, but I’m hopeful they will aid you, too, in staying on top of your own running goals.

1. Register for a race or run.
Setting my sights on a specific race is key for me. I need to have a goal in mind--as well as a target date. I'm planning to register for an upcoming race as motivation to continue running on the treadmill at least three days a week.

2. Create an exercise calendar.
You can design your own handmade calendar using paper and pen; print a free, customizable calendar at www.timeanddate.com; or search for a running calendar online. When I ran a half marathon, I printed this 12-week calendar. If you'd prefer to track your running goals on your smartphone, try one of these fitness apps: Map My Fitness, RunKeeper, Strava, or Nike+ Running.  

3. Post your exercise calendar in plain sight.
Find a spot where you will see it frequently. For me, hanging the calendar on a clipboard near my computer monitor means I will see it at least twice a day; once at naptime and once at night.

4. Make running a priority.
Place it in the number one position on your to-do list. When I worked outside the home, I found that if I didn't complete my run as soon as I got home, I'd often procrastinate and work on other projects, and before I knew it, it was time for bed.

5. Dress for success. 
Setting out my clothing the night before always helps me to get dressed faster, whether I'm going to work out that day or not. Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom (not an elementary school teacher), I often put my running clothes on first thing in the morning, so that when nap time rolls around, I can hit the treadmill immediately. If you want to take it a step further, follow positive psychologist and author Shawn Achor's advice: Wear your workout clothes to bed! (If you haven't read Shawn's book, The Happiness Advantage, I highly recommend it.) I’ve never tried this practice myself, but it makes sense: The less you have to do before you start your run, the better the odds that you'll actually hit the pavement or treadmill.

6. Work out when it's convenient for you, not someone else.
I know many people who love starting their day off with a run. But that’s just not for me. I’m so not a morning person.  When I worked as a teacher, I tried many times to get up early and run before work. I'd tell myself the night before that I'd get up, but I never did. I'd hit the snooze button six or seven times. Which is why now, I always work out during the day (nap time) or after the kids go to bed (but not so close to my bedtime that I won’t be able to fall sleep).

7. Buy yourself a new pair of running shoes. 
When I spend $125 on a pair of athletic shoes from Fleet Feet Sports, I really want to wear them. Not only are they clean and pretty, but they feel so good on my feet. And my rule is, if I put them on, then I must run. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

8. Surround yourself with inspiration.
Pinterest is a great place to find funny quotes or inspirational sayings about everything and anything running. Gather a few that resonate with you or make you laugh, print them out and then stick them up all over your house--on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, even your treadmill.

9. Create an awesome running playlist.
Need ideas? Check out these Pinterest playlists. If you love listening to Pandora during your workouts, there are many station options, perfect for your running workout. I just added Country Fitness radio and 80s Cardio to my Pandora list. 

10. Watch television when you run.
Catch up on your DVR shows—whether it’s Parenthood or The Voice or The Walking Dead. Want to take it up a notch? View your favorite shows only when you're running. That way, you'll be really motivated to jump on the treadmill. I'm chuckling as I write this because I watch very little television. I literally had to google, "Most Popular 2014 TV shows," because I had no idea what people are watching these days. (By the way, Big Bang Theory was #1, and I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I've never seen it.) I write all that to say that it’s easy for me to only watch television when I run. If you're an avid television watcher, then you're probably laughing at me...and the absurdity of that very idea. I can hear my television-loving hubby now, "Run every time I watch TV? Never!" Ha! 

11. Track and celebrate your progress.
In the past, every time I finished a run, I'd check off the box on my exercise calendar (thinking, Ah, yeah!) and jot down my time or mileage. And then I’d let out a little "Woohoo!"  

12. Keep yourself accountable.
One way to do this is to exercise with a friend. Or join a running club. If you exercise alone (as I often do), share your running goals with friends and family. Ask for their support during your training as well as on the day of the race. Post your progress on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your blog.

13. Celebrate your accomplishment.
When you cross the finish line (and you will!), be sure to share your BIG running accomplishment with friends and family--in person, via email, or on social media. Go ahead, brag a little. You've earned it! You never know, you just may inspire someone else to tackle one of their own exercise goals. 

In short, this is what I want to remember going forward: Plan. Train. Race. Celebrate. Repeat. 

It’s as simple--and as challenging--as that.
  
Fellow runners: What tips would you add?  How do you stay on top of your running goals?

Keep on running,






Thanks to Oscar Health Insurance for inviting me to write this piece. I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions and suggestions are strictly my own.  
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