Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Eli's 15 Month Update

Normally I post some fun Eli updates in my monthly recap post, but I'm a bit behind this month and Eli is already nearing 16th months, so I figured I'd pop up in and give a more lengthly recap. Sure, some of this is simply for this Mama to remember, but I also love sharing with all of you who have watched him grow right along side us. So, without further ado, here's Eli's 15 month recap!


Little man continues to be on the little side, but he's always followed the curve for his age so everything's fine. He's weighing in at 20.6 pounds (18th percentile) and is 31.25 inches long (50th percentile). His big ole noggin has an 18.75 inch circumference, which puts him in the 75th percentile. So basically he's got a tiny waist, is decently long, and has a big head. This can make clothes a challenge sometimes. He typically wears 18 month clothes, but he still fits into some 12 month clothes. If we do two piece outfits I have to put him in 18 month tops and 12 month bottoms. Jammies and rompers are fine. Who knew that I should have never bought any clearance shorts last year without drawstrings?? The 12-18 and 18-24 month clothing jumps seem so huge that it's so hard to guess sizing! He's still got his beautiful big blue eyes and I hope they never change!


Eli is a great eater! We made it 15 months nursing, which surpassed my goal of one year. I am thankful for that sweet time and what it did for our bonding, my health, and our wallets. I'll miss some of those snuggles since Eli is wiggly these days, but he drinks whole milk like a champ and will usually cuddle with me while he drinks his morning sippy cup of milk. He enjoys cereal pieces or rice cereal with his breakfast, but will also totally eat eggs, hashbrowns, and even bacon if Mama and Daddy are making a big meal. He usually eats some sort of fruit and yogurt for lunch, and his favorite is bananas- which he's learned to eat on his own as long as I peel it for him. He sometimes gets so excited about his bananas that he forgets to chew, which has led to a few banana-vomit-nap-wakeups (momming is glamorous, folks). Dinner is usually his biggest meal, and he is all about bread, peanut butter, most veggies, rice rusks, strawberries, and the occasional pouch. He also loves anything he can find on Mama and Daddy's plates, and recently tried pulled pork, pizza, and enchiladas. He has seven teeth, with an eighth on the way. Generally, teething doesn't give him much trouble. The boy can eat!


Eli continues to be a great sleeper, and I'll continue to pray that this doesn't change. With school ending and without having to get up so early to get to work and daycare, we've been letting Eli sleep in a little, and he totally will. He generally goes to bed around 8 and wakes up around 8 or 8:30, but if he wakes up sooner he'll just lay in his crib quietly and hang until we go get him. (What a champ, am I right?) He took two two-hour naps all the way through the end of the school year, but I decided to try to transition him to one nap this summer. After letting him sleep in a little later in the morning, he pretty effortlessly could stay up from 8 until 1 pm, and then go down for one three-ish hour nap. This means mama can get some stuff done...or go to the pool while Daddy is home and E is napping. What a dream!  If E has any early cranky moments, we just go outside or have a snack and then he's good. It's been so nice to have a good chunk of the morning free to go to the park, the pool, etc, and not have to worry about coming back or a morning nap. And I generally try to get up and work out before he's awake, so I'm basically in love with this schedule and have no idea how I'm going to get myself back to work in a couple of months. Ugh! Who wants to leave a sweet face like this??


I have genuinely loved every single stage with Eli. He's so great, and I really find more and more to love about him as the days pass. I had no idea how much fun this new toddler stage would be! Eli is talking up a STORM! His new words and phrases (in addition to his previous words) include the following: tree, flower, bubbles, car, shoes, bug, pool, puh (which he says when he poops), bye bye, wow!, bath, and (my new personal fave) "See ya"- which he says at completely appropriate times. He is a huge mimicker and it is the sweetest thing ever. He is FINALLY walking, after taking his sweet time and just preferring to crawl everywhere at breakneck speed. He isn't completely flawless, but generally he'll take 12-16 fluid steps, pause to catch himself, push back up, and then get after it again. I'm so excited for this new progress, and all that it means when it comes to less crawling in awkward/dirty public places, less carrying, and more exploring together, hand in hand. I have a feeling he'll be running before we know it! He's so full of wonder and discovery and it's incredible to watch his brain at work.


Other fun things Eli does: dances and tilts his head side to side whenever he hears music (see video above of him tearing up the dance floor at my brother's wedding), pauses to pick up twigs and carry them in one hand while holding my hand with the other, tries to put any shoe in the house (including my heels) on while saying "shoes" over and over again, loves going outside to watch Daddy do man things, begs to go down the slide in my lap again and again (and how could I deny him?), shoves way too many "fishies" in his mouth at once, giggles and blows bubbles in the pool, gives mama kisses on the lips, LOVES his finger toothbrush and tries to brush on his own, tries to put my sunglasses on backwards and upside down, loves pushing anything with wheels, giggles with glee anytime I tickle him or point out his belly. I could keep going. This boy is the best!


All in all, Eli is a joy and I couldn't ask for a better baby. I know that there are lots of days ahead, and that not all of them will be easy or fun or wonderful. We will have our moments, but I'm cherishing the ones we do have now. Eli is the greatest gift that I never knew I was so desperately missing. I never knew I could love someone so much. My love for him is fierce and he loves right back. My heart could burst into a million pieces when he looks up at me with raised arms and a cheesy, toothy smile, and says, "Mama!". Sweet Eli, you are prized and precious, liked and loved, chosen and cherished, blessed to be a blessing. You're a child of God, and a treasure in our family. We love you so much, no matter what, and we always will!

Currently,
Kelsie

Saturday, May 26, 2018

5 Secrets to Being a Happy Mom

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Currently, Kelsie.

Over the past year and a half as a new mama, I've learned countless lessons- all ranging from the need to "tuck" little boys into their diapers to the life changes that happen with friendships once you're a mom and your friends aren't. Being a mom is the best thing ever, but it's also incredibly challenging and can be lonely, frustrating, and emotional at times. Here are five life lessons or "secrets" that I've learned that can help make your experience as a mama the best it can be!

1. It’s Okay To Focus On You.

As a loving mom and wife, I can relate to the desires to put the family first. This is often innate and is what makes mamas so awesome and sacrificial. On the other hand, learning to create some "me time" is absolutely essential. In fact, failure to do this can actually lead to health issues and general unhappiness, which is the last thing anyone in the family needs. A happy and healthy you is a better you for everyone! Establishing a sense of balance in life is the key, even though it can be oh so hard!  If there’s only one change that is incorporated immediately, this should be it. Figure out how to create a little me time for yourself, and then do it!

2. It’s Okay To Accept Outside Help.

I absolutely would not have made it through my maternity leave and my son's first year of life without the help of an incredible "village" of folks: family, friends, church family, and more. It can be humbling, but leaning on others for help and being willing to ask them for it is so freeing. It's so easy in life to let pride get in the way of seeking support. In truth, though, there are dozens of situations where grabbing a helping hand can make a world of difference. Maybe it's having someone watch your baby for a couple of hours so you can get a mama break, asking a friend to watch your little one for a much needed date night, or hiring a local mover to help you move rather than tackling it all on your own. Trust me, someday you'll be super willing to help other moms out too because you get how much it is needed. Just ask, and don't feel bad about it!


3. Experience the Moments Fully While You're in Them.

I know this sounds so cliche, but it's so true!! Life goes by so quickly, and even those difficult nights of helping your newborn fall asleep will soon be distant memories. So cherish the moments, good and bad. Take pictures and videos as much as you can to capture these days, but don't be afraid to unplug and be present as well. Take vacations and days off for special occasions and experiences, or simply spend time together. These days will be gone before you know it, and you don't want to look back and regret not spending enough time with your family just enjoying the positives of this stage of life. (This is the entire heart of my blog mission statement, which you can read here!)

4. Remember that Money Matters, But Isn’t Everything.

Money is an inevitable part of life. You've got to have it to pay the bills, feed your family, and care for yourself and your little ones. Some people go to the extremes, either having almost unhealthy obsession with money, or going through life without being financially responsible at all. The best answer is to find the happy medium. Achieving financial stability should absolutely be a priority, but you also need to realize that the reason for achieving this goal is to spend time with loved ones. Every family has to work through the dynamic of moms working or staying at home, and money has to be a factor, but shouldn't be the end all. Remember what's most important, while also being responsible.

5. Stay patient, even when it seems impossible. 

Again, this statement seems cliche, but it rings so true. While good organization and planning are key, realistically you have to acknowledge the fact that things can and will go differently than you've planned. Blowouts in the car seat will happen right before you need to leave. Cheerios will get thrown all over the kitchen moments before guests arrive. Just remember,  your kids will be better off when you handle the unexpected in a calm and patient manner. Don't lose your cool so that they won't lose theirs. There are times where you’ll have to delay a chore until tomorrow, or change your plans, but it’s not the end of the world. Life is tough enough without creating problems that aren’t really there. Let things go, and just relax.

These are just a few of the biggest lessons I've learned over my first year as a mama. I hope they're helpful for those of you just entering this stage of life. What life lessons have you learned from being a mom? What are your secrets?

Currently,
Kelsie




Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ideas for Your Home Bucket List

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Currently, Kelsie.

Lots of people have a bucket list of some sorts. Many bucket lists (like my travel bucket list) include far and exciting destinations to go see or events to witness at some point in your life. Your list may be full of things like experiences and food you want to try, or maybe you even have a bucket list for the year and the summer where you include self improvement goals you want to accomplish and achieve. What if we gave this same level of thought to our homes?

Hang in there with me for a moment. A bucket list can be anything that you want to achieve and experience, and so you can create your own bucket list for your home. It may be long term goals for your home, it may be thoughts and desires for future homes, or it could simply involve the type of home lifestyle you want to create someday. Here are some ideas to create your own Home Bucket List!


Change the interior decor with the seasons.

A simple place to start is by changing things up on the inside of your home each season. This way, you don't take on a big investment or massive jobs that need to be done. To freshen up your new look, try out websites like Deconovo, which are full of different interior decorating pieces you can get to help you feel inspired by the seasons. Some great places to start are floral patterns for cushions, new colors to embrace and add to your living spaces, and greenery- especially succulents.

Decorate your home with your favorite colors.

Another really easy place to begin your bucket list is by changing up color. Color is one of those things that's really a personal taste issue. It's one of the best ways to inject personality into your home. You can add color to the walls or you can add it subtly through your choice of home furnishings and accessories. Feature walls can give you the confidence to inject a brighter color into a space without it feeling too overwhelming, and you can even use color to give more effect of light or an open space. Be clever with your choices while ensuring you embrace what you love.

Change the way you use some of the rooms.

Another idea, especially if you aren't ready to tackle a big build job, would be to simply repurpose some of the rooms in your own home. We often feel like we have to conform to a certain way of a living, but a living room doesn't have to necessarily be that if it would suit you and your family to be something else, like a dining room or even an at home office for your small business. Changing the use of a room could help you make your current living space work better for you.

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Add on to or renovate your home.

If you're willing to dream a little bigger, but love a lot about your current home, you could start by adding on or renovating your current space! This could really change the way your home looks and feels. Renovation is a popular way to make your current home work for you. It might give you the extra space you need, the living arrangements you like (such as a gorgeous open floor plan), or it could give you the extra push you need to make as much money as you can by selling this home so that you can move on to your next. An addition might feel like a big job, and depending on what you are doing, it could take some time to complete. But the finished product will be worth the wait.

Build your own home.

Here's the big bucket list dream- building your own home. This is a goal for us! If money was no object and the perfect plot of land became available, building your own home is the absolute dream. Yes it may sound drastic, but actually building your own home isn’t as complicated, or probably even as expensive as you imagine. Sure, it is pricey, there is no question of that, but you may find that building the home you want (exactly as you want, not settling for something) will be a fraction of what it would be to actually purchase one- especially if you can subcontract it yourselves. It could be a legitimate possibility for your future and certainly isn’t a dream to disregard! Dream big, y'all!

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Move to the country.

Everyone has different preferences on ideal living location. Maybe it's your dream to live in the country, so you may want to add it to your home bucket list because you'd love living in wide open spaces some day. We definitely love the idea of owning land and having some space. There are definitely some great advantages to living in the countryside, especially the open aspect and the fields. You could even have the opportunity to have more animals and try things like having your own garden, chickens, or even livestock. You might spend more time outdoors and embrace a slower paced life.

Move to the city.

On the flip side, you may be someone who dreams of living in the city, and again this could give you a totally different lifestyle. You may want to be close to where all the action is happening, and being in the city puts you a matter of minutes (or even a short walk or metro ride) from fine dining, shopping, and tons of entertainment and nightlife options). City life isn’t for everyone, but I think most people would like to experience it at least once in their lives.

Add on a pool, gym, or whatever your dream is.

Finally, what is the dream for your ultimate house? Is it a pool in the backyard? (I grew up with one and it is the BEST.) Is it a home gym, a tennis court, or just lots of land so that you can have animals, grow your own food or even start your very own small farm? Like any bucket list, it's good to have a dream, a dream where you can feel like you have something to work towards. It can be as elaborate or as big as you want it to be. But remember every scenario is a possibility. Start with big dreams, and put your plan into action.


I hope that this gives you the home improvement inspiration you need for this year! We're definitely taking strides towards our own home bucket list this summer. There is exciting stuff ahead, which I'll be sharing more about later! What's on your home bucket list?

Currently,
Kelsie

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Five Great Places for a Couples Vacation in Italy

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Currently, Kelsie.

If you'd like to find a country with natural beauty, warmth, friendly people, and loads of history, Italy should be on your bucket list. When we went on our 16 day adventure around Europe, I totally fell in love with this country, and I was incredibly jealous when my husband got to go without me last summer (mom probs). There's such a wide range of activities to enjoy in all of its major cities. Whether you’re a wine lover or are interested in the latest creations of Italian designers, you'll find great places to explore, even on a budget. Regardless, Italy’s cities are also some of the most romantic, and are perfect for a couples’ trip. Here are five Italian places you should consider for your next getaway!

Venice

Venice is seriously one of my favorite places I've ever been. Ever. In case you haven’t been down the canal on a gondola with your other half yet, this might be your time to experience romance on the next level. Visit the Bridge of Sighs and the Doge’s Palace, and be sure to sign up for a walking tour so you can fully appreciate everything this great city has to offer. We had an amazing experience on our walking tour, and it was so fun to ride the water taxis and navigate the maze of streets (where no cars are allowed)! When in Venice, you shouldn’t be on a tight travel schedule; simply soak in and enjoy the atmosphere and make memories that last. 




Florence

Those who love beautiful things and architecture could spend months in this amazing city: the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence has breathtaking scenes and buildings, as well as modern department stores and vibrant nightlife. The museums are amazing too! You can find great boutique hotels to suit every budget. Admire the rooftop terraces or the private gardens, take a trip to the countryside, and go on a wine tasting tour. We loved our evening trip out to Tuscany, even though it briefly rained and hailed. Tuscany is incredibly gorgeous and perfect for a couple's trip.




Rome

Rome is the eternal city, and is lives up to all the expectations by being full of history, character, and culture. Whether you want to see the usual attractions or explore the seven hills that surround the downtown, you won't have any trouble finding something to do. Roam the churches and cathedrals, visit the Baroque fountains, and - of course - make time to see Pantheon and the Acropolis. We loved staying a little off of the beaten path and finding the less touristy spots. We also went on some self-guided tours that were great and saved us money on public transportation.

Milan 

We were only in Milan for a brief train stop, but fashionistas and young couples will love it. Milan is a modern city with a lot of history. There are designer stores all over the city, and you're sure to find something to learn from those living here when it comes to sophisticated style. With plenty of galleries and museums, you can enjoy the great hospitality of the city- no matter what time of year. To see some stunning architecture, be sure to check out the Sforza Castle and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. And by the way, they don't mess around with their pizza over there! 

Naples

Naples is less known among couples, but is another fantastic destination for a romantic getaway. Try a traditional pizza, check out the shopping district, and find your next favorite designer. From Naples, you can book a Pompeii tour or a trip to Herculaneum as well, so you get in a little history too. There are several sites providing recommendations on the best things to do in Naples, so be sure to create a list so you don’t run out of time.

Italy is a perfect destination for couples looking to spend a few romantic days together in an incredible place. The locals really are kind, and the Italian cities are full of character, charm, and history. I will definitely be back again soon! Enjoy!

Currently,
Kelsie


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Teachers: Get Your Work Done More Easily

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Currently, Kelsie.

If you ask people who don't know much about teaching, they'll say that teachers only work for a few hours each day, and get all summer off. But, as any teacher knows, there's a lot more work to do when you're not actually in your classroom. Teachers spend time preparing lessons, grading and planning work, and attending meetings and training sessions. Though they might only be in front of students for a few hours each day, there is literally always work that can be done. In fact, the workload can get overwhelming and require tons of extra (unpaid) hours from your free time. If you're a teacher who is struggling under a pile of work, try these solutions to get it done more easily!

Speed Up Your Grading

Grading student work can be extremely time-consuming, whether it's a pop quiz or essays. Reducing the number of assignments you hand out is one option, and I've done it, but it isn't always the best choice. Some teachers spend too long grading papers and tests. I know I've been guilty (which is miserable when you've got hundreds of essays to grade). Long comments often aren't necessary, and you might not even need to correct obvious mistakes on some assignments- especially if it's their final draft! Give the feedback earlier in the process, when they can still make changes. Fortunately, there are ways you might be able to change your habits, so you can speed through everything more quickly. There are great tools to use like Quia, Turnitin.com, and Noredink to also help you provide formative, electronic feedback in a hurry. Some of these options even grade things for you!

Learn to Let Go

Some teachers spend an unnecessary amount of time preparing for their lessons. It's easy to get sucked in and even to become obsessed with getting things just right. I get it- I'm a perfectionist too. Although you want to do your best for your students, sometimes enough is enough, especially when this extra (unpaid) work is taking away from your life with your spouse, children, and friends. You don't need to spend half an hour searching for the perfect picture to use in your presentation or selecting the ideal font for your new worksheets. Learn when it's time to put your work aside- or even try not to take it home at all!

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Have the Necessary Tools at Home

Although I'd recommend trying to leave work at work, there may be times when you do need to take some of your work home. Why stay at school when you could be sat at home with a drink and some snacks? If you do have to take your work home with you, make sure you have all the tools you need to do it effectively.  I always bring my laptop and charger home with me, just in case. If things aren't submitted electronically, I stick a stack of papers in my school bag, just in case I'm in a situation where I could have gotten some easy grading done. That way I'm not kicking myself over a lost opportunity! One thing that might be helpful is to take a look at optimum.com/ to see if you can improve your internet connection. Speedier internet can remove a lot of your frustrations and help you get things done faster. It also means that if others at home are online, they won't slow you down.

Get Support from Others

Teaching is wonderful, but also so draining. It's not always easy to get the support you need. Some teachers are luckier than others when it comes to having supportive superiors and colleagues. I know I have some really amazing work friends. However, you often don't know how helpful people can be until you ask. Many are happy to help you get your work done more easily or maintain your work-life balance in any way that they can. Reach out to other teachers, friends, and others to help you emotionally and mentally, or even so you can get a little physical activity in to relieve stress.

You're always going to have a lot of work to do as a teacher. That's just the nature of the game. However, you can take some steps to get your work finished more quickly, so you have more free time. Try to work hard when you work, but then also build in time for some much needed rest. I won't be doing any work this summer, and I'm so excited for that time to just unwind and recharge before doing it all again next year.

Currently,
Kelsie

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

April Recap

As a teacher, April can be a long month. There are literally no days off, which is a hard transition when coming from March (when there's spring break), and February (when there were snow days and government holidays). Not to mention, there's state testing, squirrly kiddos, and just the overall readiness of everyone for school to be over for the year. But this year, April actually went pretty quickly. This could be because I've finally learned a little more work/life balance (funny how that happened after I had a kiddo). All in all, May is here, and this past month has brought me more joy and taught me more than the months before. Here's what we've been up to.



Loving our Not So Little Man

I've loved every stage of life with Eli, but man oh man is he fun right now!! He is curious, and has the biggest personality. He is still easygoing overall, and is still a great sleeper and eater. We made it over a year nursing, and are still doing so at morning and night. He has another tooth, and is standing on his own, but not quite walking- he prefers the speedy power crawl. He is speaking more and more each day, and his newest fun words are "Yay", "Eli" (which sounds like E-I), and "Baby". He can shoot hoops in his Grow to Pro basket, stack blocks, and point and call out every dog-gie he sees (or sometimes cats). I hope I never forget his strange obsession with my large bendy straw, the way he army crawls under the chair rungs, or the way he kicks in glee every time I go in to get him out of his crib. This little man has my whole heart, and I honestly don't know how I could love him any more than I do. Counting down the days (less than 17!) until I'm home all summer with him!

Learning to Rest 

I have always been a "get a lot done" kind of person. I still do like to pick up a little bit each night and get laundry and dishes done when I can. But lately, I've been working on really intentionally resting. This means taking "off days" from working out on Sundays, skipping housework in favor of playing with my boys, and giving myself the grace to go ahead and nap or just hang with friends rather than worrying about my to do list. This is SO important for my sanity, especially now that my time at home is even more special with little man (and big man too!). I am trying to be strategic about my time these days: see Finding Me Time as a Working MomHow to Survive and Thrive as a Working Mom, and How to Balance Work and Motherhood for more on that! 



My Third Half Marathon

On a completely different note from the whole "resting" thing- I ran my third half marathon this month! I was so excited to set a new goal and to beat it by a minute and a half! My old PR was 1:53, and I wanted to run a 1:50, but I ended up running a 1:48. My pacer was so awesome, and I even wrote a blog post about the experience (check it out here). I have another half up in June, the Hospital Hill Half in KC. I'm a little nervous that hill is in the title, but I know it will be okay and I hope for another PR. I'll probably go ahead and sign up for the KC half again too- that will mean I've completed 5 half marathons in a year! They are kind of addicting, and I also like how they've helped me stay fit!


Intentional Friends

Lastly, this month has made me really appreciative of the intentional friends that I have in my life. Finding and maintaining friendships in your 20s can be really hard, and if I'm honest, I've felt lonely and rejected in some friendships (and attempted friendships) these days. Once you have kiddos, it's a whole different season as well, which can make things complicated. All that to say, I'm even more grateful for the good, dependable, intentional friends that I do have. In the true spirit of my word for the year, I'm working to cultivate the good friendships I have, and not feel like a failure or rejected if I have to prune out those that aren't life-giving.

In Case You Missed Them:


The Pacer

Secrets to a Great Night's Sleep

Reasons Your Home Decor Isn't Working

What I'm Clinging To

Eli's First Birthday ONEsie Party

That's all I've got! We've got some exciting things on the horizon, friends! I'm excited to tell you more about that in the coming months. Love to you all!

Currently,
Kelsie


Sunday, April 29, 2018

I Can Only Imagine: Bible Study Review

I received a complimentary copy of the I Can Only Imagine Bible Study from City on a Hill in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own! Be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway, or use the code at the bottom of this post for a discount! 

If you've been to the movies lately, you've heard the chatter about the popular worship song- turned- movie, I Can Only Imagine. This song was released in 2001, but has gained recently renewed popularity because of the movie, which tells the story of Mercy Me lead vocalist Bart Millard's rocky relationship with his father, along with the real meaning behind the song. If you haven't seen the movie yet, it's worth checking out!


Right about the time I was contacted to review the I Can Only Imagine study, my weekly women's Bible study finished up our previous book. The timing was perfect, and I was excited to work through the beautiful 28 day Bible study journal, which is meant to take the reader on a "journey through Jesus' encounters with broken people, found throughout the Gospels", Gospels that are personal and powerful. The journal includes questions, scripture, and prayer, and when combined with the short video clips offered in the small group study, it's the perfect content for any group Bible study. The study journal can stand alone for personal study just fine!


Each week of the study focuses on "imagining": imagine a loving father, imagine forgiveness, imagine redemption, and imagine going home. The weeks all follow a pattern, asking the reader to recall, reorient, and reimagine. It mentions that we read and reflect in order to experience, rather than to simply learn.

Although the study is intended to take you 28 days, I could definitely see chatty Bible study groups (like my own lovely Tuesday night ladies) taking a lot longer to go through it. There is a lot of depth and great content for discussion, and I always err on the side of not rushing through studies in an effort to simply "get through them". This study hits hard on learning to see ourselves as God does: completely forgiven and eternally restored.


The study journal is beautiful, and I truly feel like it is something that anyone could discuss with other believers, or just reflect on individually if you're more of a personal Bible study person. Watching the actual film before doing the study isn't required. It is recommended, but is not a hindrance from completing the study if you haven't yet seen it. The content is easy to relate to, and the scriptural focus makes for a solid foundation. My son, Eli, even wanted to help me get in my study one day. Start 'em young! 

All in all, I give two thumbs up for the study. I appreciate its Biblical foundation, but also feel it is relatable and not so over your head that it becomes inaccessible to most readers. I'm excited to help lead my own Bible study ladies through it. Click this link to purchase your own I Can Only Imagine study materials, and use the code frontgate10 for 10% off of the series or journal!


Be sure to enter the giveaway here to win your own copy of the 28 day study journal! The giveaway ends on 5/25/2018, and the winner will be notified by email! Good luck, friends!

Currently,
Kelsie



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Pacer

The vast majority of our world will never run a half marathon (or farther) simply because they believe they can't. It feels daunting. The training seems endless (and feels that way sometimes). It seems like a chore. Lonely. Boring. But I have found running to be much more relational than I expected. Every Saturday, after I put my son down for a nap, I run alongside a friend. We share our life updates, our hopes, and our fears as the miles tick by- and they truly do tick by. Sure, we're a little out of breath, but we fall into a comfortable and familiar rhythm.

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For this last race, my goal time required me to stretch and push a bit harder. This meant foregoing racing alongside my running buddy, and instead striving to stay up with the pacer. If you've done any longer races, you know that the pacer exists to help bring you in at or below your overall goal finish time. They run each mile at a specific time, based upon the elevation of the course (slower on the ups and faster on the downs) and help you succeed by literally running right alongside you, with a pacing sign high in the air. As long as you follow them, you'll meet your goal- a shiny new personal record and a race well done.

Another beautiful thing about the pacer is this: one of their main goals is to keep you from going too fast too quickly. Many runners make the race day mistake of shooting out of the starting line like a light, and then regretting it miles down the road. Pacing is all about actually taking the first few miles slower, so that you have more to give once your body is warmed up and you're a little farther along. The pacer is constant and steady, consistent without being controlling. Ultimately looking out for your best.


For this particular chilly April morning race, my 1:50 pacer was a woman named Kelly. I told Kelly about two miles in that she was my temporary running buddy for the day, and apologized in advance for how much I'd be talking to her. I needed that positive distraction. One other female runner fell into step with us, and together we spent the next hour and 48 minutes talking about a little of everything. We strategized, we laughed, and we grew to develop a relationship of sorts- grateful for the company of one another during this huge race.

Kelly was constant. She reassured us that we would indeed meet our goal time. She told us how great we were doing, and that we had this- easily. She distracted us in the best of ways, chatting and answering our questions while checking our pace. And she was there- running this race right alongside us.

As I took the hot shower I so desperately needed later that afternoon, I couldn't help but think of the beautiful picture this pacing story gave me. An image of faith. Of empathy and relational pursuit, a small representation of the love of our creator himself. That every day, as I run the race quite literally laid out for me, God is there, cheering me on, encouraging me, and helping me push through the pain, as mile by mile I draw nearer to the finish. And most impressively, he is right there beside me the entire time. Just as my pacer had run this race before, and knew how to help me navigate it, He's lived through the heartache, the sadness, and the joy of this world too. He gets it.

I can see him doing just what Kelly did that day- only on a broader scale. Helping me remember that slower and steadier truly is the best approach, even when I'm discontent in a season of waiting. Showing me how to navigate the ups and downs of life, and giving me the energy to chase my dreams. Telling me that, though it may not be comfortable, there are times I have to kick it and give it all as I near the finish. That he'd stay back for now and I'd go on ahead and be just fine. To trust. Staying the course with me, and then letting me fly to the finish all on my own when the time came: challenging and cheering me on with each step I took.


I saw Kelly a little later, when we were picking up our sweats from the bag check. She asked me how the finish went. When I told her of my new PR, she gave me a huge hug and celebrated right along with me: sweat, shivers, and all. This woman, who I literally had never met before this day, and likley will never see again, had just become such a great picture of the Lord's love for me.

When I'm unsure, scared, and anxious, he's there- right beside me. When I'm doubting, yet finding strength to trust as each mile of this "race" ticks away, he's there. When I'm starting to believe that I can really do this, he's there- assuring me that I will indeed. And then, when I finish, he watches me fly on ahead, then comes alongside me again to celebrate with me. He is strong and steady, comforting and caring. And in this race of life, there is no one I'd rather have pacing me, each and every mile.

Currently,
Kelsie

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Secrets to A Great Night's Sleep

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Currently, Kelsie.

If you're like me, and you've been struggling with getting enough sleep, you are not alone. Research suggests that almost half of the adult population suffers with sleep problems on a chronic basis, so clearly I'm not the only one surviving on coffee these days. Even though Eli is an excellent sleeper, there are only so many hours in the day to get things done. I struggle with getting to bed on time, and even then I have a hard time falling (and staying) asleep. The truth is that there are many things we can do to improve our sleep quality and time, so we never have to worry too much about not getting enough of it. Here are some easy, practical steps you can take to get your best sleep!

Try An Adjustable Bed

First off, look at your bed. I'll be honest- ours is terrible right now, and I'm tossing and turning like crazy at night. Like me, you might have thought that adjustable beds were just for the elderly or the sick. But that's not true. Actually, adjustable beds are also used by insomniacs who find it hard to fall asleep. Their highly adjustable nature means that you never have to worry about being in the wrong position, as you can always change it, so this might prove to be the best bed solution for anyone suffering with severe or chronic sleep problems. With an adjustable bed, you'll always be in the best sleep position, and you might even just want to use it temporarily while you get back into the rhythm of getting enough sleep. Adjustable beds can be expensive, but their long term use can be so worth it!

Stop Using Screens

One of the biggest reasons that people in our society are struggling to sleep is that they are overusing their screens. Using tablets, phones, and laptops in the evening disrupts the production of melanin in the brain, which tells your body when it is time to go to sleep. So if you find a way to reduce your use of screens in general, you will be able fall asleep much quicker and easier every night (and wouldn't that be awesome!?) If you find it hard to do this, you might want to keep your phone in another room, so you're not tempted to pick it up while you are lying in bed. (I'm guilty!) As long as you give yourself a good few hours in between screen time and bedtime you should find it doesn't make too much of a difference - but no more texting in bed!

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Improve Your Diet

In general, the better you eat, the better you sleep. It's no wonder then that along with sleeplessness, another major problem for today's adults is poor diet. If you know that your own diet could easily be improved upon, it might be worth taking a look to see what you could do to make that happen. Improving your own diet could be as simple as making sure you eat less processed food, more whole foods, and more vegetables. As long as you do these basics, you should be able to regulate your body clock much more effectively, and that means more sleep! You should also make sure you're drinking as much water as you can during the day, as this also plays an important role in allowing you to drift off to sleep each night.

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Calm Down

Probably the biggest cause of lost sleep, however, has to be an overactive mind. We live in a world which constantly demands our attention in a million different directions, which really makes it hard to rest. My brain is always going, and it's hard to shut off! If you find yourself regularly lying in bed worrying about things, it might be time to try and handle the situation. One great method is meditation, something which anyone can do without any formal training, but will make a huge difference in how well you sleep. Another option would be to try going on a walk or working out throughout the day, which can help relieve stress and get your blood flowing. Just be sure you don't do it too close to bedtime, so that your body has time to wind down.

What helps you get your own best sleep?? I hope these are helpful tips! Sweet dreams! 

Currently,
Kelsie

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

March Recap

And just like that, it's already April! It doesn't really feel like it around here, since it's honestly been more frigid and snowy than anything else (although there were a FEW gorgeous days last month). I'm so ready for spring and its warmer weather, beautiful sunsets, and time outdoors- anyone else with me? Here's what we've been up to this March- complete with some fun photos from my one year shoot with E.



My Second Half Marathon

I kicked off March with a bang by running in the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon. Not going to lie guys, the hills were pretty rough! I was able to rope my brother last minute into running with me, and he did an awesome job of encouraging me and keeping me going. I was excited to set a new personal record and knock over two minutes off of my time. We'll see how my next half goes in two weeks! Follow along on Instagram (if you don't already) to see how it goes!


Spring Break

We didn't do much exciting this year for spring break- just stuck around the house and tackled some home projects and such. Although a small part of me missed our travel-filled spring breaks of old, honestly, it was kind of nice just to be home for some slow days with my boys. We started most of them with a home-cooked breakfast (courtesy of Aaron), and I was able to get my workouts in early in the morning so that the whole rest of our days were free. Of course we had to squeeze in a couple of dentist appointments (#teacherlife). I also got lots of sweet time with dear friends who have flexible schedules, and chatting with them was so refreshing! And we threw a little 25th bday party for my not so little brother. I'm terrible and I forgot to take pictures, but it was so fun and he is so loved!


Another spring break "highlight" was that Eli had a little fever and rash most of the week. I'm diagnosing him with roseola- a little viral thing that kiddos get that doesn't really bother them- they just run a high temp and act otherwise normal. Once the fever dies, they get a rash for a day or two. I spent some quality time chatting with the triage nurses at E's pediatric office, and they assured me that as long as he was acting fine, he could go up to a temp of 105 for up to 5 days! He bounced back just fine and I'm so glad I was home to get in some extra snuggles with him while he wasn't feeling quite 100%. I mean, that. face.


The Best Village + 1 Year Pics

Because of some conflicting spring break weeks, Eli was home with us for a week and then with family and friends for a few weekdays. I am so thankful (yet again) for all of the amazing folks who love on our baby so well when Aaron and I can't (or when we just need a little break). E is the most blessed little boy and I hope he always knows just how lucky he is to have so many amazing people who love him and care for him.

By the way, I've learned the best way to get your wiggly, crawly one year old to sit still for photos: Put them in a swing and make them smile. They can't run away! I love his sweet emotions- especially those when he saw a dog-gie walk by at the park.





That last little face- what a stinker. We've got lots of fun ahead, that's for sure! We are excited for all that April will bring- especially that warm weather...hopefully! If you'd like to follow along on FB, click here to like our page. Love to you all, friends!

Currently,
Kelsie




Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Reasons Your Home Decor Isn't Working

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Currently, Kelsie.

Are you wondering why your current home decor just doesn’t seem to be working in your home? Are you ready for a rehaul? I've been there, and I know how frustrating it can be when you aren't sure where to start- maybe you aren't even sure what you don't like or how to change it. There may be a really easy (and cheap) solution! Check out these pointers and see what you can do to improve your home.

Reason 1: You’re Not Using Your Space Properly

You'll be able to create the best home decor by considering how you actually use the space you're looking to decorate. You don’t need to design your living room like every other living room you see, for instance, if you don’t use it to watch TV. Perhaps you're generally chatting with friends in this space instead. What are you using the room for, and how can you make it best fit those needs? What problems do you encounter on a daily basis, and how can you make it so your home better suits your lifestyle? This is a great place to start!

Reason 2: You Need to Rethink Your Furniture

Your furniture might be pretty or beautiful, but it might actually be the problem. Sometimes, it can be that a coffee table is too small or big, or your chair arrangement is a bit too cramped. You may simply need to change the layout, or swap a piece of furniture out for something bigger or smaller. Choosing the right size furniture is a must, as small pieces can make a space look cluttered. You might think that large pieces in a small room will make the room look smaller, but they can actually help to make it look bigger. Take a look at your current furniture before moving on.

Reason 3: You’re Not Using All Of The Senses

Home decor isn’t just about what you can see. It’s about what you can touch and smell. This means you need to make sure you’re focusing on bringing in texture to make your home look more interesting, and even going to buy a home fragrance diffuser so your home smells amazing. Using all of the senses is the key to making your home amazing. Think about ways you can awaken all those senses for both yourself and the people who visit your home.


Reason 4: Your Color Scheme is Off

When you create a good overall color scheme, your home will instantly look more put together. Think about different color that complement each other, and figure out ways to bring them into the room through the small details. Don't do anything too crazy on the main paint color- it's easier to change up the small details than it is to repaint the entire room. One of the easiest ways to find a good color scheme is to pick a paint swatch and go off the colors on it- they are typically just lighter and darker versions that play well together. Or check out Pinterest and channel your inner Joanna Gaines!

Reason 5: Your Lighting is Off

I don't know about you, but we have some really terrible basement lighting. It can make decorations (and nighttime events) hard. Relying only on overhead lights can really wash out a room. You need to make sure you’re creating more intimacy with the lighting in your home. For example, try using dimmer switches and adding lamps to each end of your sofa. It’ll make your home look far more inviting if you use them rather than the overhead lights all the time. Also think about playing up the natural lighting in your home!

Hopefully these ideas give you a good place to start, and can help you figure out why your current home decor isn’t working. Use some of the suggestions to improve your home and see what happens. Don’t feel overwhelmed; just try one at a time and see how it goes. Leave your own tips and ideas below!

Currently,
Kelsie



Thursday, March 22, 2018

What I'm Clinging To

Every day when I get home from work, Eli throws his hands up in glee, wraps his arms around me with all that he has, and pulls me in tight with his chubby little fingers. He quite literally clings to me with all that he has, and is none too happy if I set him down for a minute in order to do anything else but hold him close. He's generally super easygoing with just about anyone holding him, but there are times that a boy just wants his mama. And really, I love that he clings to me in those moments.


Over the last few months, I've really felt like the Lord has been calling me to do two things, basically in opposition: to cling and to hold loosely. To cling to things that matter, and to hold loosely those that don't. In a world like ours, it is so stinkin' easy to get too "clingy" to the temporary: approval on social media, money, appearances, and more. That's not to say that our goals and dreams in life aren't important, but rather that if we let them become our everything, or put too much weight into them, we can lose sight of what really matters. In the grand scheme of life, should I really be worried about my Instagram followers, finding a gray hair, or the extra savings in my bank account? Those things are nice, but not necessary (especially that dang gray hair).

I've heard more and more the silent whisper of the Savior telling me to hold loosely to things of this world. And that's confusing sometimes. I've checked all the boxes: graduated college, married an incredible man I don't deserve, landed a great job, bought a cute house, had an even cuter baby. Life is good and I am blessed. But I'm also living in moments of "What's next?" and "Do I just continue on this same path forever?" And it's comfortable. And it's simple. And yet, I hear the whisper: "Your plans? Hold them loosely. Your savings? Hold it loosely. Your well thought out life plan? Hold it loosely, Kels. You have no idea what all I have in store."


And little by little, I get glimpses into the potential of His plans. I worry less about having the best decorated house or the cleanest car or being the best supermom. I worry less about staying up on the latest trends and having the laundry done every single night. I hold loosely to the control that I so desperately want, since the fact of the matter is that I'll never really have it and it's exhausting to try to deny that.

And then, I cling. Just like Eli, I cling with all that I have to the one who knows infinitely more than I know (or will ever know, for that matter). I don't always understand the Lord's plans, but I know that they are good. I cling to His promises. I cling to His truths. I cling to the fact that His plans are to help me and not to harm me, and that I can trust them, even if His path for me takes an unexpected, confusing turn every now and then. And in those moments when they do turn unexpectedly, I cling even tighter.

"Do not store up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV).

Currently,
Kelsie

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Things to Do on Your Florida Vacation (Other than Disney)

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Currently, Kelsie.

Spring is here, and with summer on the horizon, you might just be planning a big trip to Florida! Florida is a great "in the USA" get away with lots to offer when it comes to entertainment, whether you're looking for a beach or a great amusement park. Although DisneyWorld is often the big focus, there are lots of others great things to see and places to visit in the Sunshine State. Here are some fabulous options that are worth considering!

Things to Do on Your Florida Vacation (Other than Disney)

Live it Up on Miami Beach

We added Miami on to our Florida Keys trip last summer. It was an easy drive from Fort Lauderdale Airport. Although we aren't big club or late nights folks, Miami Beach is simply stunning. It’s famous for golden sands and incredible art deco buildings that line the edge of the sand. It’s a place that's definitely worth seeing (even briefly) if you never have before. Live it up, have a good time and enjoy the sun. It’s your chance to relax and simply enjoy the splendor of your surroundings!

Visit the Everglades National Park

If you’re looking to spend time in a natural environment, Everglades National Park makes it possible for you to do that. This National Park also made it on our list last summer, as it was an easy drive on the way back from the Florida Keys. It’s the second biggest national park in the country, and it offers a landscape like no other. It’s full of life (be VERY prepared for mosquitos if you go in the summer), and you just may see an alligator! We saw this one!

Things to Do on Your Florida Vacation (Other than Disney)

Learn at the Kennedy Space Center

The visitor center of the Kennedy Space Center has so much to offer. It’s a rare example of an attraction that makes learning about complex things a whole lot of fun. Whether you understand much about space or not, you'll have a great time at the Kennedy Space Center. It’s an educational, wonderful experience for kids and adults of all ages.

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Head to Dinosaur World in Plant City

Plant City is a relatively small part of Florida, but it has plenty of attractions of its own. It could be worth a visit, and has several very reasonable places to stay, such as Holiday Inn Express & Suites Plant City. One attraction you really can’t afford to miss is Dinosaur World. It’s a lot of fun for kids and adults alike, and it is pretty much impossible to have a bad time there.

Experience Universal Studios

Movies and TV shows are still made at Universal Studios in Orlando, but that doesn’t stop you from being able to look around and experience everything it has to offer. You get to see behind the curtain at the inner workings of the entertainment industry, and it’s kinda magical. It’s great for families or any entertainment lovers. We made a visit there a couple of years ago, as part of our "Anniventury" trip. It's so fun!


Florida is one of the greatest states in the US, and there are truly so many fun things you can do there. These are just a few ideas to get you started! Make your trip to Florida one to remember, and you’ll probably want to come back again soon. I know we'll be there someday when Eli is a little bigger. Where are your favorite places to visit in Florida?

Currently,
Kelsie