Sunday, February 18, 2018

How to Find Balance Between Travel Planning and Spontaneity

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

Are you thinking of doing some traveling in the near future? If so, how much planning are you doing ahead of time? Most people want to have a little spontaneity while traveling, while not putting too much at risk along the way (or wasting too much time being indecisive in the moment). Although it can be a constant struggle for a planner like me, it’s certainly possible to balance the planning side of things with the need to keep things a little spontaneous. When you do manage to achieve the perfect blend, you'll walk away with a trip that is reliable, safe, and a whole lot of fun. If you ask me, that’s what traveling should be all about: it makes it possible for you to get the best of both worlds. Here's how to get the balance of your travel plans just right.

Locate Yourself in the Middle of the Action

It’s so much easier to be spontaneous when you’re located right in the heart of the city where everything is happening. There will be plenty of opportunities to do things that you ordinarily would never have done (like wearing trash bag ponchos and scalping tickets to a football game last minute). Of course, it’s a lot harder to be spontaneous when your location is in the middle of nowhere and there’s not much happening near you, so remember that when you start selecting places to stay on your travels.

Plan Where You're Going to Sleep Each Night Ahead of Time

This is one thing you don’t want to leave to chance because, especially when you’re in a new place, it’s always best to know where you’re going to be spending each night. Find a room for rent while you’re still at home and then you'll have the security of knowing that you’ll always have a base to go back to. This doesn’t take away from the spontaneity; if anything it makes it more possible than ever because there’ll be one less thing for you to worry about!

Use an App That Tells You What’s Happening Near You

Modern technology is there to help you when it comes to having a good time in a place you’re visiting for the first time. You can find plenty of local apps that give you good information on what’s happening in the area where you’re located. Don’t forget about these options because they offer you the easiest ways to find what you need to know. From there, you can have fun and do whatever might be happening that day without having to plan it all out in advance.

Find the Cheapest Possible Flights

Finding cheap flights is definitely something that has to be planned. You don’t want to leave things until the last minute and then end up having to pay more to get where you're going. Luckily, that doesn’t have to happen because cheap flights have never been easier to find. There are comparison sites out there that tell you where to go and when to buy if you want to get the best possible deal on your flights, so make the most of those.

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Leave Room in Your Schedule Each Day for Exploration

Even if you do want to plan out your days, you can always leave room in your schedule for doing things that you haven’t planned. Leaving a little free time in your schedule will make that possible- and sometimes I've literally scheduled "free time" into the spreadsheet of our travel itinerary. Then you can explore your location and do things that you would otherwise never even known about, let alone planned to do. Make sure you have time for that spontaneity each and every day.

For Activities and Events That Require Tickets, Book Early

There are some activities and events that can get sold out and booked up pretty early, so buy tickets for those early on. You don’t want to show up day off only to find that the things you wanted to do are no longer possible because you didn’t book them in advance. Not everything can be done spur of the moment. It’s just as important to plan out the things that require planning.

Talk to the Locals More

You should definitely make the most of local people and their knowledge of the area you’re in while you’re traveling. They’ll be able to tell you about the places and the activities that you should definitely head to during your stay because they know the place inside out, especially restaurants and fun activities. No one is in a better position to inspire you to do new things spontaneously than local people who know the area well. It all starts with making an effort to talk to them and learn from them.

Research the Public Transportation Options

This is one element of your planning that should definitely be done before you leave home. You need to have a decent idea of how you’re going to get around your location once you’re there. Do you need to rent a car? Or are the trains and buses suitable for your needs? You’ll only be able to be spontaneous and have a good time if you are able to get around easily enough and cheaply enough, so don’t forget about this.

Follow What Sparks Your Interest

If you’re doing something else, but spot something going on that catches your eye, you should just go for it! Too many people make plans and then stick to them more rigidly than they should. Don’t allow yourself to miss out on things that are going on just because you’ve got some other plans you made when you were still back home. That’s never the way it should be when you’re traveling. Be alert to what’s going on around you and follow whatever takes your interest.

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Read Bar and Restaurant Reviews

The last thing you want is to have a bad experience in a restaurant. Paying to eat out can be costly, so you don’t want to waste money by eating or drinking in the wrong locations. That’s why you should read reviews of the most popular bars and restaurants in the place that you’re heading to. Doing this will help you avoid wasting your money during your trip, especially on disappointing or bad food.

Don’t be Afraid to Get Lost

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with getting lost, so you shouldn’t be afraid of doing this while traveling. It’s when you get lost (within reason) that some of the most interesting things can happen to you. This is when you learn new things and see new sights on your journey. If you’re too afraid of getting lost, you’ll play it too safe and then there will be no room at all for spontaneity. Stay safe, but give yourself the chance to get a little lost.

Make Sure Your Paperwork and Documentation Are Protected

One thing you can’t be spontaneous about is your paperwork and documentation. If you don’t take the protection of these items seriously, you could lose them, which would make further travel impossible. Not to mention, the dangers and stress caused by losing such important documents when you’re on a foreign country. Just make sure all this stuff is protected whenever you’re traveling anywhere.

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Be Open to Things You Normally Wouldn’t Be Open To

Being open to new things means not judging them before you’ve tried them. You’ll never be spontaneous in your approach to travel if you have already decided the things you do and don’t like before you’ve actually tried them. When you’re traveling you have to be open to doing things that you might never normally do back home. It’s all part of the fun!


Keep Yourself Safe

Finally, make sure you take your own personal safety as seriously as you can. After all, nothing is more important than returning home safely. Traveling can be risky and dangerous in some ways, especially if you’re doing it alone. But as long as you know how to be safe and look after yourself, you should be fine.

The best kind of travel always straddles the dividing line between spontaneity and planning, so make sure you remember these tips. It’s more than possible to plan out the things that need to be planned out while also leaving enough room for you to be spontaneous too! Have fun!

Currently,
Kelsie


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How to Make Your Wedding More Personal

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

Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life, and it's something you've likely been dreaming of for your entire life. Since you'll only be doing it once, you want it to be special- but you should also want it to be you. If you're throwing a huge party for all of your closest family and friends, don't you want it to be a meaningful glimpse into your love story? Here are some ideas to help you make your special day truly about the two of you!

How to Make Your Wedding More Personal

Write Your Own Vows (or A Letter to Each Other)

It can be pretty daunting, but if you’re brave enough to write your own vows and stand up in front of your friends and family to declare your love for one another in your own way, it can really add some special meaning and emotion to the day. Aaron and I didn't actually write our own vows, but we did share a back and forth journal throughout our entire period of dating and engagement. We wrote to each other on our wedding day, and it's so special to look back and read our words to each other!


Make Choices that Reflect You as a Couple

Are you avid adventurers? Did you both meet because of a certain event or hobby? Think about ways you can reflect this in the style or "theme" of your wedding day. Perhaps you dated long distance and have letters from your dating days that can be hung above a table at a "travel" themed wedding. Or maybe you both are very simple and would prefer to skip a wedding cake and go with fun ice-cream sandwiches instead (because you went out for ice cream on your first date). You may not even want to do dinner or may want to have a breakfast or afternoon wedding. Point being, make your day about celebrating your love, and don't worry about doing things just because they are "expected".


Create Your Own Soundtrack

Music is very personal, especially when it is music that you share with your love. Sit down and create a playlist of all of the songs that accompanied the most special/intimate moments in your life, so you can start your marriage with some musical meaning. Be sure to make them into a CD once the wedding is over, so you can re-listen and relive the memories over and over again. I especially enjoyed picking the songs for our ceremony, as well as the ones that played over the dinner hour before the dancing began. Don't be afraid to choose music that isn't the most "traditional". Choose music that is YOU.



Choose Wedding Rings You Truly Love

You’ll be wearing your wedding ring forever, so it makes sense that BOTH of you choose rings you truly love and which have some kind of deeper meaning for you. All too often it is the bride who chooses the wedding rings, which means they may not be exactly what the groom wants. Instead, take a look at the collection of wedding rings available at https://www.whiteflash.com/wedding-rings/tacori/ and pick something you’ll both adore. If you can get it engraved with a special meaning for you both, then that's even better. My ring was too small to have anything engraved in it, but Aaron's has our wedding date engraved on the inside as a visible reminder of the start of our forever. I also love that Aaron actually picked out my engagement ring himself (and you can read more of that story of our proposal here!).


Use Decorations That Tell Your Story 

Aaron painted the beautiful canvases above when he proposed (again, read that story in the link above). We ended up using them at our wedding as decorations behind our table assignments. Think about different ways that you can use beautiful images and items from your dating and engagement period. This really lets your guests feel like they are a part of your story. Consider adding a wedding slideshow with fun images from your childhood and relationship, or even have a photobooth so that your guests can be a part of your story too! 

Get Your Own Wedding Stamp

If you want your wedding invitations to be totally about you and your beloved, then use a service, like the one at https://www.zazzle.com/custom/stamps, to create your own wedding stamp that you can use on your invites, save the date cards, and thank you notes. An added bonus is getting one with your address on it so you can use it for years to come when you send mail!

Remember, a wedding is a special day, but a marriage is forever. Have fun planning and personalizing your wedding, but don't let it overshadow your preparation for your actual wedding. How did you personalize your wedding day?

Currently,
Kelsie

Saturday, February 3, 2018

How to Do Chicago on the Cheap

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

Chicago is a wonderful city, which sometimes has a bad reputation simply because it's cold and windy (as its nickname clearly states). But it's full of history and culture, and is an amazing place to explore. We had a BLAST there on our first babymoon last December- the perfect long weekend getaway. However, like any city, it can be expensive if you're not careful about how you spend your money. Fortunately, there are always ways you can avoid overspending, especially if you plan your trip in advance. Here are some tips for making your Chicago trip more affordable.

How to Do Chicago on the Cheap

Stay Farther Out

There's no denying that staying in a city means paying top dollar to be close to all the main attractions. If you want to stay in the middle of all the action and save money, you could try something like Airbnb (which we've enjoyed hosting through). Another option is simply to find a hotel a little further from the city, which is what we did when we stayed in Evanston. We just used our CTA transit passes and rode the metro right down into the city to see what we wanted for the day. A great Western option is the Chicago Marriott Schaumburg, where you can drive downtown or take the bus. A less central location is often worth it, and will save you hundreds of dollars.

Image: Pixabay

Seek Out Affordable Food

Eating is often another big expense, especially if you eat out for your whole vacation. Some accommodation options will make self-catering easier, but you'll still want to go out to eat sometimes. In Chicago, you'll find plenty of markets, food trucks, and offers on food and drink that will help you save. Go to Maxwell Street Market on a Sunday, and you can find authentic Mexican food at great prices. Food trucks are a good option for lunches, while you should check out the restaurants downtown if you want to find some Happy Hour deals.

Look for Freebies

Free stuff can save you if you're running low on cash. You'll save a lot by looking for anything you can do for free. One thing Chicago offers is free trolleys, which run from the Art Institute of Chicago to Navy Pier. It's a great way to get around if you don't want to spend too much. The trolleys run all week in the summer, and on weekends the rest of the year. You can also find some great free attractions, such as the Lincoln Park Zoo (which we loved visiting for their awesome ZooLights) and Conservatory.


Take Walking Tours

It can be tempting to go on an expensive tour, especially with the Chicago River. But there's no need to pay for a cruise when you can walk along the same path for free and see the same things. Chicago's architecture is particularly attractive, including what you'll find along the Chicago Riverwalk. The Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District in Oak Park is interesting to walk through too, and you can get a tour of the famous architect's house if you're willing to pay for it.

Chicago doesn't have to be expensive if you approach it correctly. Look for the bargains, and you can save a lot of money. Being thrifty while traveling has made all our adventures possible, and we've loved every second! Have any Chicago travel questions (or travel questions in general)? Let me know, or check out my travel tips series on the blog!

Currently,
Kelsie


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Recap

I can't believe that February is already here! January was a fairly long month compared to the last few, but it definitely still managed to sneak by in the way that only time can. I can't believe that this is our last month before Eli turns one year old. How is that even possible? Here's what we've been up to since 2018 started.


Eli's Eleven Month Update

And just like that, it's time for my last monthly update before we've had a whole year of loving Mr. E! I'd say he's weighing in right around 19 pounds and is about 30 inches long. With him pulling up on everything, I'm realizing I'll be saying how many inches "tall" he is in no time! Aaron is making him a special growth chart board in his shop at school, and we're excited to start using it on Eli's first birthday.

E's still in the same size clothes and diapers, is still sleeping through the night, and is still nursing, but boy oh boy has this been a big month of change for him in other ways! Eli started standing up in his crib, and even took some little teeth mark chunks out of the inner railing while waiting for Daddy to come get him one afternoon. He cried a few times because he wasn't sure how to get down, but ever since he has gotten good at squatting back down. E is also crawling up the stairs like a boss, and pulls up to stand on anything he can find around him.


Our first Christmas and New Year's Eve with Eli were fabulous. Seeing everything through the eyes of a baby truly brings new life to it all. And snow days with baby boy are a whole 'nother level of wonderful! Last year I was worried about having to make the days up, and go unpaid on extra maternity leave, but this year I'm all about surprise days home with my boys.



There have been SO many new fun things that little man is up to these days, including waving, high fiving, playing with kitchen drawers and dish towels, and pointing to everything while making the "hmmm" sound. He laughs when I stick out my tongue and say "Boo", says "dog" occasionally, and loves running up and down the halls and around the table with Mama and Daddy. His little laugh just kills me! I am so excited to celebrate his first year here soon. He is the best!

Snow Day Fun and Productivity 

We enjoyed two snow days off together (being married teachers is the bomb!). In addition to our New Year's Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day off, plus weekends, we didn't work a whole lot in January. It was pretty nice to be honest, especially coming off of Christmas Break. I love getting to sleep in just a touch later, hang out with Eli, enjoy breakfast and coffee with Aaron, and have a built in day to get a lot done around the house. We are knee deep in the midst of our bedroom remodel. Over the course of January, we were able to get everything painted and get new white trim done. Aaron also re-did the tile in our bathroom. Now I'm dreaming and planning our dream room and I'm SO pumped. Can't wait to share!

Shower Fun!

I have a whole lot of dear friends who are expecting sweet babies in the next few months. It's so much fun to get to welcome them into motherhood, and I love being there to chat with them about their worries and the new experiences ahead for them. That's a huge part of my blog, and if you haven't checked out my Motherhood posts, you should! I'm helping host a shower for a friend in January and I'm SO pumped because I love throwing parties, especially when they are for awesome friends!

In Case You Missed Them

My Word for 2018
Finding Me Time as a Working Mom
Key Signs Your Bedroom is in Desperate Need of a Remodel
3 of the Biggest and Best Sights Across the World

Cheers to February, and Superbowl, valentines, babies, and birthday fun. What have you been up to!?

Currently,
Kelsie


Saturday, January 27, 2018

3 of the Biggest & Best Sights Across The World

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

As y'all know, I absolutely adore traveling. From going on cruises to staying at all-inclusive resorts, or even taking two week backpacking adventures around Europe, there are many ways to travel. If you love checking items off of bucket lists, like I do, then you should consider making a list to see some of the biggest and best sights around the world. We've been on adventures to many different countries, and seen some incredible sights, but I still have a lot of places left on my list. Here are a few to get you started!

The Great Barrier Reef

One of the world's most beautiful sights, the Great Barrier Reef is the kind of thing you could visit again and again without it getting any less interesting. (Don't you just love things like that?!) It's one of the most popular tourist destinations anywhere in the world, and when it comes to natural wonders, there are few more incredible than this. One of the best ways to see this amazing view is to take a tour from a nearby location. Fortunately, there are many places locally to do this, and if you take a look at ReefFree.com.au, you'll see some great examples of awesome tours to take! When it comes to the biggest and best, you can't go wrong with the Great Barrier Reef.


The Burj Khalifa

Pictured at the top of the post, a recent popular destination for "biggest" sights is Dubai. This Emirates city is home to the tallest manmade structure in the world, namely the Burj Khalifa. Many visitors go to see this incredible spectacle year after year, and it's alms worth the scorching heat and incredible humidity of this desert city just to see it. If you're brave enough, you can even go up to the very top and witness some of the most incredible views you'll find anywhere in the whole world. Of course, that's not for everyone- but even observing the building from nearby is quote an unforgettable experience. 

Stonehenge

Next up is something for all you mystery-lovers out there. What exactly is Stonehenge, and how was it built? This incredible collection of huge stones in South-West England is one of the world's greatest mysteries, as nobody is quite sure what purpose it served, or how the rocks were actually placed they way they are. It's generally believed that the rocks themselves originated in South Wales, meaning that this was quite the feat for those Pagan men and women. For the full effect, consider visiting the site on the day of the summer solstice, when you can get right up to the stones and even witness the sunrise and sunset through the central pillars. We'll be visiting Stonehenge in July of 2019, and I am SO excited to check this one off of my list! 

Ready to get started seeing the world? What are some of the biggest and best sights you'd like to see?

Currently,
Kelsie

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Key Signs Your Bedroom Is In Desperate Need Of A Redesign

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

If you're like me, you're probably dreaming of completing a few changes to your home this year. Your home is like any other item that you own: left for too long, it falls out of date and out of style. But, unlike other items or assets, it's easy and affordable to update your home. If you want to update a car, you have to buy a new one. But if you want to update a home, you can look into the possibilities of renovations and remodels. You can add new furniture, remove old accessories, and give your home a completely new look and feel. All it takes is a touch of imagination and a little belief in your own ideas. And coming up with those ideas is my favorite!

When people think about renovating and redesigning their properties, they typically focus on two areas: the kitchen and the bathrooms. I know I focused there first. If you make changes to these areas around your home, you could definitely add extra value to your home, but a different room renovation could actually be more important: the bedroom.

If you change up the bedroom, you can make your home a more comfortable and cozy place, perfect for long naps and sleeping in. If you're a parent, your bedroom can also be a place to retreat to when the stresses of raising the kids get to be too tough. After years, I'm finally changing our bedroom up! Here are a few signs that you should too!

It's Cold

You might find that regardless of the season, your bedroom is quite cold. This is a major bummer through the winter months when you're trying to stay warm in bed. One option is adding a rug to the floor. You might not realize this, but a rug adds quite a bit of extra insulation. It will also mean that you don't freeze your toes off when you wake up in the morning. A rug can also bring a room together as a wonderful decorative feature, giving your bedroom some much-needed texture. Look for a fluffy rug that is an absolute pleasure to sink your feet into, and put it next to your bed.

Of course, you can also think about decorating the bed and adding extra warmth with a lovely throw. Simply hang this over your bed, and it will provide warmth at night while also bringing a new dash of color to your room. If your room is exceptionally cold, there's a good chance that the cold air is entering in through the window. If you don't have the money or the time to complete a full renovation on the window, think about adding a fresh set of curtains. They can be used to provide further insulation. Be sure to look online for a thick set of curtains that are heavy enough to hang flat against the window.


Your Back Hurts

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling like you were sleeping on concrete? My husband was never comfortable in our old bed, and we discovered that a board was actually broken. But our mattress was also terrible, and way too soft for us. Let's just say that we weren't sleeping well. A lot of people wonder what's more important: Is it the bed or the mattress? Well, the main reason for the bed is aesthetic purposes. That's why you can get beautiful headboards and sleigh beds made, like the one my hubby is building us! Mattresses, on the other hand, are going to be concealed, and are purely there to make sure you're comfortable when you settle down to sleep at night. As such, if you are having trouble with pain in your back or perhaps your neck when you wake up, it's likely something to do with your mattress.

Thankfully, it's an easy fix: you can get a new mattress and add a little more comfort to your room. According to https://www.mattress-guides.net/, mattresses like the Nectar sleep mattress are perfect because of their plush design. You can sink right into them and avoid waking up with your back in an awful state. Be aware that an issue with your back could be caused by a bad mattress but there are lots of other reasons. As such, you do need to make sure that you get your back checked out by a professional doctor before you go out and buy a new mattress. As for the bed, the choice is entirely up to you. Personally, I'm a sucker for a beautiful headboard with a rustic finish.


The Lighting is Terrible

Some people can only sleep in pitch black darkness. They hate light creeping in underneath the door or from behind the curtains. That's why one of the first changes to your bedroom should be to add blackout blinds. These can fit behind your curtains and will make sure that light can't slither into your room through slits and cracks. Instead, the room will indeed be pitch black. Of course, this might lead to issues waking up in the morning. One popular option is adding a natural alarm. You can also get automatic blinds and make sure that they roll up at a certain time of day, allowing the sunlight to shine right on through. Learn more about automated blinds at https://www.mysmartblinds.com/.

On the other hand, your bedroom may feel super dark and you may want to add a little more light to it. Think about how you can use paint color to brighten your room (especially if it's very dark right now). Soft whites, grays, and greens are great options, and so is painting dark oak trim white (although it's time-consuming). I was amazed at the difference that paint and natural light made in our dining room. You should also consider purchasing some bedside lamps to help brighten your room and encourage bedtime reading and relaxation.

It Lacks Organization  

I hate having a cluttered bedroom. As we take on our remodel and new bedroom design, my hubby made us some awesome nightstands to hide my mess with self-shutting doors and drawers. The drawers close themselves once they reach a certain point and it's awesome! These types of drawers are easy to install in existing units. Or, you can go out and purchase a brand new nightstand with this feature. Consider other ways to add organization and hide clutter in your room with cute bins, tubs, and baskets. You can use these to add character and design to your room while also giving things more of a place (or hiding those things that don't). My favorites are usually from Target or Kohl's.



It's Not Cozy  

Your bedroom should be one of the best rooms in your house. It should be a place where you can quite happily stay for a good few hours, whether it's the middle of the day or late at night. If it isn't, you probably have some work to do on improving it. I'll be real- I neglected our room for years because I figured I could just shut the door and no one else would really see it. But now I'm realized that our bedroom needs to be a sanctuary of sorts- a place I enjoy waking up each morning. A place that feels relaxing, fresh, and inviting: one that I love instead of one I just tolerate. This doesn't mean that you have to spend a lot of money to do so. Rather, consider new ways to shop sales and bring in new cozy features like cute throw pillows, fresh walls, or even some new curtains. Some people feel like a cozy bedroom needs a TV. While I'm an anti-bedroom TV girl myself, there are easy ways to mount one on the wall these days and still keep your room cozy and cute. It's all about finding out what makes it feel warm and inviting for you- and then doing it. Don't be afraid to take a few risks in your bedroom- it's yours! The only one who needs to love it is you.

I hope you love these ideas and have fun making the changes that your bedroom needs. I can't wait to share our bedroom update with you when it's finally done!

Currently,
Kelsie

Monday, January 15, 2018

Finding "Me" Time as a Working Mom

Now that I've got an entire semester as a working mom under my belt, I feel like I've really found my groove. Not that I still don't miss my sweet baby while I'm at work (that will never change), but I've figured out the best ways to maximize the time I DO have with him: cherishing each and every sweet second. Being a mom is the best: but I've found that I still do have to make time for myself every now and then- it keeps me refreshed and rejuvenated in order to be my very best for myself, my husband, and our little man. Here are some tips for finding "me" time as a working mom.

1. Get Creative and Strategic with Fitness 

By the time you get home from work, it can be SO hard to squeeze in a workout or a healthy without giving up time with your family. Be as strategic as possible, and make it a priority. Maybe you go for a quick 30 minute walk on your lunch hour. Maybe you squeeze in a quick workout before grabbing your kids from the babysitter, or take your little one along on a jog. Or maybe, like me, you run on the treadmill while watching Netflix after the baby is in bed. This way you can see your baby when you're home, but also get those steps in. As much as you may or may not like working out, it's so important to make it a priority, and it helps reduce stress, keep you fit, and keep you healthy. 

2. Use a Few Minutes of Each Day to Feel Beautiful

As a mama who has gone through pregnancy, childbirth, and lots of sleepless nights, it can be hard to feel beautiful. Of course true beauty is on the inside, but it's nice to feel beautiful on the outside too. Figure out what makes you feel beautiful, and then find a few minutes to do it! Maybe it's working out, putting on some lipstick, or simply washing your face with a fancy face mask at night. Maybe you love touching up your nails, wearing cute pajamas, or putting on a pretty pair or earrings. It may be whitening your teeth with the free kit you can win at the bottom of this post. No matter what you choose, rock it and feel the positive vibes- you beautiful lady! 



3. Multi-Task as Much as Possible

Make time for you by multi-tasking as much as possible. Cook meals in the crockpot on warm all day. Run the dishwasher and the washer while playing with your baby. And whiten your teeth while doing all of the above! 

I recently used Smile Brilliant to whiten my teeth, and I am in love! Their teeth whitening kit is such a great, easy product to use. I made my own teeth impressions following their easy instructions, shipped them in using the provided mailer, and then they sent me back custom trays that fit my teeth exactly (small tooth gap and all)! Then I just put the whitening gel into my trays, and popped them in for 45 min - 2 hrs. If I needed to follow it up with desensitizing gel, I could do that too! I was able to whiten my teeth while running, showering, cooking, playing with Eli, and more! I love that I was able to feel a little more beautiful and make time for me without having to mess with strips that fell off of my teeth or made me drool. And it's so reasonably priced compared to expensive treatments elsewhere! 


Here are my before and after results, and I still have some more gel that I can use whenever I feel like I need to whiten again! I really see a difference, and love whitening right before big events like weddings and family photos. And since I already have the fitted trays, I can even order more whitening gel at a great price and continue to whiten. Just make sure you use the product before bed so you don't introduce new stains. If you have any questions about Smile Brilliant, check out these FAQ answers, or feel free to comment below. You can also enter to win your own tray!! 

4. Let the Guilt Go

Mom guilt is a real thing, y'all. But we have to let it go. We have to understand that sometimes the best way we can care for our babies is by taking care of ourselves. We shouldn't feel bad when we ask for help from a spouse, a sitter, family, or friends in order to take a little time for ourselves. So do it, and let the guilt go! 

5. Relax, Unplug, and Unwind

While it can be incredibly hard, we've got to find time to let ourselves relax and unwind. We need to mentally care for ourselves, and that often means putting the phone down, turning off the TV, and diving into a good book, bubble bath, or even a conversation with a spouse or loved one. Take time each day to give yourself a little break and relax so that you're ready to take on the world the next day! 


How do you find time for yourself (especially as a mom)? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to enter the teeth whitening giveaway!

Currently,
Kelsie

Giveaway is open for one week (closing on Monday, January 22nd), and is open to USA, UK, Australia, and Canadian Residents. 

If you just can't wait, or if you don't win, you can still get 15% off your order with the code currentlykelsie15 ! 

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Monday, January 8, 2018

My Word for 2018

I've never chosen a "word of the year" before. In the past, I've shared 16 things I was excited for 2016, or 17 things I was excited for in 2017. And while I'm still just as excited about 2018, as the years grow I find myself stretching and throwing things in solely just to fill the number in. But I am trying to avoid that in my life: to do things just because. I'm working to prune and invest in things that really, truly matter. Which leads me to my word for 2018: CULTIVATE.


This word first popped into my head on our little Napa Valley getaway. Aaron and I were talking about our goals and dreams for the future, and I just couldn't shake this word from my head. I want to cultivate so many areas of my life: my friendships, my family, my faith, my health, our goals, and more.


Yes, cultivate has an association with gardening. One of its definitions is to "prepare and use land or crops for gardening". Another is "to break soil in preparation for sowing or planting". And yet another is to "apply oneself to improving or developing". Aaron's dream (and therefore mine too), does perhaps involve gardening of some sort, but there is much more to this word than just tending to plants. I love the idea of the work that happens before things are "planted": the figurative breaking of the soil. I feel like I'm breaking the soil in so many areas of life right now: not really sure of what all I'll plant or how it will grow, but breaking and tilling the soil the same.

I definitely can get behind the definition of applying myself to improve or develop. Not that I need to go out and start a bunch of new things right now, but rather that I need to prune and invest in everything that I already have. I need to go all in with a focus on things that really matter, and to really focus on nourishing those areas in preparation for all that is to come. I need to be open to what's next.

I'm not really good with change, not typically good with discomfort, not a huge fan of chaos. I like things to have a role and a place, and I like them to stay in that place. But I'm learning that chaos and some hard pruning and change sometimes has to happen before we reach beauty and order. So I'm living in that chaos and discomfort, dreaming towards the future while asking lots of "what if" questions, and choosing for this year - 2018 - to focus on cultivating. Because that's what I'm called to in this season, and that's what prepares me for the next season.

Genesis 2:15: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." (NASB)

What's your word for the year?

Currently,
Kelsie





Wednesday, January 3, 2018

December Recap

Christmas break came and went in the blur that it always does, and now it's 2018. I'm seeing pictures pop up on my Facebook Timehop that are literally a decade old, and I'm in shock at how quickly time is moving. December was a good blur full of family, holiday cheer, and new fun with our sweet baby. Safe to say that I think Christmas with a baby is my favorite thing ever! Here's what we were up to this December.


Eli's Ten Month Update

I can't believe that I only have two more of these updates left! Over Christmas break, I truly feel like Eli was growing up before my very eyes. He is so so fun, and just when I think I'm really missing something from his smaller baby stage, he does something new and fun that makes me love this stage even more. Numbers-wise, Eli is weighing in at right around 18.5 pounds, and is around 29 inches long. He is the sweetest, happiest baby ever! How did I get such a chill kid?


Eli is squeezing into a few nine month outfits (especially pants), but is wearing mainly 12 month clothes at this point. He's in size 4 diapers, and is all sorts of on the move these days. He still army crawls most of the time, but lately he has been getting up on his knees and rocking. We've had to use the baby gate, as he is all over the house in a matter of seconds. This month, he also started clucking his tongue and eating his first crunchy puffs.


Eli attended his first Ugly Sweater Christmas Party, had his first Thanksgiving, and successfully went to see Santa (he even patted him on the arm). E loves fake standing, reading lift the flap books, playing "find mama", and messing with wrapping paper rolls. We are still nursing (almost made it to my one year goal!), and he is eating rice cereal, fruits, veggies, and even some meat everyday. He is just the best, and each day with his is such a precious gift.

Mommy and Daddy Getaway

The first weekend of December, Aaron and I took two days off and jetted off to California for our first baby-free vacation. Leaving a 9 month old at home meant that I had to plan ahead with lots of bottles and food, but Eli did so great and I have amazing parents who took excellent care of him. I really wasn't worried at all, which was awesome, and it wasn't as hard to be away as I thought it would be. I didn't even cry, though I did start to tear up when a baby cried while we were in line to board our plane. Mostly, it was nice to have time just Aaron and I- to remember who we were and how we started this all in the first place. It was fun to dream and plan and talk about our goals for the future. We really had a great time exploring the Napa Valley area, especially Calistoga, using our "Winter in the Wineries" pass, taking our first mud bath, and enjoying nice meals out. We even went to a lighted tractor parade, and visited Muir Woods, which were both super fun!





Parties and Wedding Fun! 

December was a great time to enjoy lots of celebrations with friends. We took Eli along with us to an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party and a crazy gift exchange. We also enjoyed a date night out on the Plaza for one of Aaron's friend's birthdays, and we danced the night away at the wedding of our sweet friends (where Aaron was a groomsmen). It's always so fun to enjoy a little time just us this time of year.




Christmas (Eli's First!)

I am the biggest Christmas fan you ever did see, but this Christmas blew all of the others out of the water! Eli was SO excited about everything, so cute, and so happy that it just made everything better. He brought so much life to things I've been doing for years and years. I mean, just look at this joy!



And then he went to see Santa and he just patted his arm and my heart could just melt. 


I love it all- the decorations, the sweet time with family who we are blessed to have so near, the time off. It was a wonderful, wonderful Christmas and break went too fast! We also hosted a little New Year's Eve Party to ring in the New Year, and Eli was quite the party animal there too!




December was a wonderful month, and the perfect end to 2017. We are excited for all that 2018 will bring. Happy New Year!
Currently,
Kelsie

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: A Year in Review

2017 has been a defining year for us: the year that we became parents. It's almost like all of the time before Eli was a whole different life. Pre-kiddo life was sweet, but life is even sweeter now.  Being a mama is the best thing ever. As I reflect on the year, I love looking back at the 17 Things I Was Excited for in 2017, and seeing how we've accomplished all I hoped to. Some of you may stop by this corner of the web more often than others, so whether you're new here or read regularly, here's a recap of our year: complete with highlights, posts, and fun photos. Cheers to you, 2017- you were the best year yet!


January

In January, this blog marked its second birthday! I celebrated by sharing my Two Year Blogging Anniversary post. I wrote my last letter to our unborn baby, and shared my 32 week bump date. We also took our maternity photos on a 70 degree January day! They made me feel beautiful, even though I was pretty big at that point.


February 

February was all about finishing up the nursery and getting it ready for our sweet Baby K! I shared my final bump date at 36 weeks, wrote and shared my Christian Labor Playlist, and literally shared our Gender Neutral Nursery Reveal the DAY BEFORE Eli decided to join the world on February 23rd :) Crazy! I'm still in love with our finished product, and the best part is the sweet little boy who calls it his room.




March

Our Baby K was always supposed to be a March baby (due March 5th), but he came ten days early! In March, I wrote and shared his birth story! Eli attended his first parade on St. Patrick's Day. We also took his newborn photos, and adjusted to being brand new parents to our sweet baby boy.

April

April brought a fun trip to the zoo and Eli's first Easter. I starting working out again and training for my first half marathon. I also wrote and shared my 10 Tips for Surviving the First 6 Weeks with a Baby, and Eli started sleeping through the night! Woo!


May

May brought the end of my maternity leave, but then I was able to go right into the summer time before having to go to work! I wrote Shower Gifts New Moms Really Want (and Need), and shared our Secrets to Thrifty Travel.  I enjoyed my first Mother's Day with my sweet boy, and planned our summer trips! 


June

In June, we took our little man on his first vacations, plane ride, and road trip! He visited the ocean and was basically a champ on all of our adventures! I wrote a First: A Letter to Eli, shared some DIY Newborn Photo Shoot Tips, and had a blast in Florida and Colorado. We loved the Florida Keys and Everglades, and it was fun celebrating Aaron's first Father's Day while in the mountains! 



July

In July, we celebrated Eli's first Fourth of July! We also squeezed in another family trip- this time to gorgeous Seattle! A highlight was meeting Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain at the Royals game while on our trip. They even signed Eli's onesie and my jersey! I wrote about my Oxygen Mask Mentality, and said Goodbye to My 27th Year. Eli and I also made it through ten days alone while Aaron was in Italy, and we took our first round of family photos. It was a busy month!




August

In August, my six-month maternity leave ended as I returned back to school. Guys, it was hard. But after a while, I fell into a good routine (more on that in October).  Between working and being a mama, I didn't find a lot of time to blog, but I did share my Travel Bucket List and a sweet piece to Eli called "I Carried You". 


September

In September, I picked up my training for the Kansas City Half Marathon, enjoyed sweet time with church friends, and made it out to Starlight for a little girls night fun! Again, the blog didn't get much love, but I did share a Fourth House-iversary post. I can't believe we've already been in our home for four plus years! Time flies! 


October

October was a big month for us! We had parent teacher conferences, two weddings (one out of town with Aaron being a groomsmen), Eli's Baptism, Fall Fest, a Half Marathon, and Eli's first Halloween! Phew. I wrote about How to Survive and Thrive as a Working Mom, and followed up on my initial 9 Reasons I'm Afraid to Have a Baby post with What Being a Mom is Really Like.  I'm already signed up for my next half! 



November

In November, we celebrated Aaron's birthday while leading music for a weekend trip at Clearwater Cove YoungLife Camp. We had a great first Thanksgiving with little man, and I didn't blog at all because we had so much going on. Just after Thanksgiving, we took our next round of family photos. I love them!



December

And here it is the last day of December- I can hardly believe it! I shared Our Winter Family Photos and a 2017 Holiday Home Tour. We enjoyed some fun Christmas parties with friends, and Aaron was a groomsmen in a wedding of two of our sweet friends. Aaron and I also had a little parents-only getaway to the Napa Valley area. Eli's first Christmas was AMAZING! He was so funny, cute, and excited, and it truly brought new life to things I've done for years and years. Being off for 12 days with him and Aaron has been incredible, and it's going to be hard to go back.




Cheers to 2018 and all that it will bring! I pray that it finds you healthy, happy, and oh so loved. Thanks for sticking around this year and loving on us in this new season. We hope you'll join us next year for all of our new adventures! 

Currently,
Kelsie