Friday, July 31, 2015

Meet Me in St. Louie

When your hubby goes out of town for a week, and you've got a few free days, how better to spend those days then with a best friend? Especially a best friend that you don't get to see very often. This was the case a few weeks ago, when I finally got to see my maid-of-honor-college-roomie-english-teacher-workout-buddy-sorority-sis-bes-fren Jenn. When you haven't seen someone in nine months, you don't really care where you meet up, you just want to see each other. And so, we decided to meet in St. Louis, a city pretty much in the middle for us KC and Memphis girls. And SO worth driving a few hours for.

We met in St. Louis on a Thursday, where Jenn's sweet aunt hosted us. After being accidentally locked out of the house, we dropped our bags in the garage and headed off to lunch at Anthonino's Taverna on the hill. Strangely enough, our server was the sister of one of Aaron's friends, so I knew her. Small world! 

We started off with an amazing Toasted Ravioli appetizer. Yummmmm. A St. Louis staple for sure, and something we've missed since the Theta kitchen days.

We also split the Sicilian pizza (being true to my Sicilian roots), which consisted of Capocolla, pepperoni, roasted red peppers, and red onions. We didn't even eat half of it, so it made a great lunch for the next day. Not to mention it was delicious.

Next stop, Forest Park! We went to the zoo this past November on our YoungLife Non-Stop trip, but it was pretty chilly and we didn't explore anything outside of the zoo. Forest Park is GORGEOUS. We saw the World's Fair Pavilion, then got distracted by the gorgeous flowers.

Then we made a quick stop at the art museum and enjoyed the view, before meandering through the galleries. Keep in mind, my favorite part of all of this was just the conversation as we walked around- getting a little exercise while we caught up on life and all that we'd been up to.

From there, we made a visit to the arch (see mandatory pic at the top), walked around downtown in the midst of both Herbal Life and little people conventions, and grabbed some sweet tea near the river. The next day was full of a walk with Jenn's aunt, her friends, and a puppy- followed by pedicures. It was a nearly-free, laid back, fun St. Louis visit.

The best kinds of friends are those that you just pick right back up with. Even from hundreds of miles apart, I'm so thankful for Jenn's heart, encouragement, and intentionality in keeping our friendship up. I hope for that kind of friendship for each one of you, one founded on fun, honest conversation, shared values, and lots of laughs.

And here, I'll leave you with one more pretty flower picture from Forest Park!


Monday, July 27, 2015

A Moment with Natalie: Getting Pregnant with Endometriosis

My friend Natalie is one of the sweetest, kindest, most intentional people I have ever met. She is a wonderful listener who asks amazing questions and seeks after the Lord with all that she has. Aaron and I met Natalie and her husband, Dan, at church about four years ago, and we instantly clicked (even before Aaron and I were dating). We've traveled to the Passion Conference, New Orleans, and Cancun together, and they are some of our very dearest friends. While we were in Cancun, they told us they were adopting a snowflake baby, but God had another plan: we are SO excited for them to welcome their little miracle baby at the end of the year. 

So here it is, the first installment in Moments:

A Moment with Natalie: Getting Pregnant with Endometriosis

I’ve been away, basically bedridden for three months with intense morning sickness. That’s right! Morning Sickness! Here is my story about how I became pregnant with Endo.

First, here is some quick background info regarding my infertility journey:
After trying to conceive with no success, I started infertility treatments. Time passed, and I still was not pregnant. We were told our next option would be IVF. The previous treatments had made me feel horrible, they were taking a toll on my body, and we didn’t know the long term effects of the drugs I was taking and would have to take for IVF. My husband and I decided we should stop treatments and start the adoption process. We were accepted into an embryo adoption program and would be able to start the embryo transfer within 6 months. Around that time, my husband started looking into natural remedies for curing endometriosis (posted below). We decided it was worth a try, especially since we still had six months until we would receive our precious snowflake baby. To our surprise, three months after healing my body naturally, I became pregnant! Praise God!

The Natural Plan:
1. Research and take an enzyme that dissolves and breaks down existing “cobwebs". Stop once ovulation starts and resume after period.

2. Use Castor Oil packs to soften and to assist with flushing out the “cobwebs”. Stop once ovulation starts and resume after period.

3. Stopping the use of OTC pain meds. This is a hard one, but after further research, pain meds actually make it worse in the long run because they are hard on your liver. When you don’t have a healthy liver, your hormone levels can become imbalanced, potentially feeding the endometriosis. So instead of pain meds, I substituted different herbs such as turmeric and cramp bark. It helps to take these a few days before your period arrives.

4. Changing the diet. I avoided gluten, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dairy (you can have goat cheese and coconut/almond milk), soy, peanuts (you can have almond butter). Processed foods can create an inflammatory response in your body. Inflammation makes endometriosis worse. Try to fill up on organic: green tee, chicken, fish, turkey, dark greens, vegetables, beans, hummus, quinoa, and fruit.

5. The month I got pregnant I took more turmeric than usual. I don’t know if that helped or not, but I remember taking one a day the week before I got my positive test result.

Let me conclude by saying I believe God has a plan for everyone. He decides when life is created. In addition to my diet etc., there were a lot of prayers. I believe some couples are barren because He has called them to adopt. Even if I never became pregnant, I would still follow this diet and regiment because it makes the period pain more manageable over time. Endo does not flare-up during pregnancy (Hallelujah!), but I plan to continue this diet once baby arrives.

Disclaimer: The information on oohlalamaison is for informational purposes only. Oohlalamaison is not to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek medical advice from your doctor first as each case is different. 
xoxo  Natalie 

Be sure to check back for more installments of Moments to come! If you want to be sure you don't miss them, follow Currently, Kelsie on Bloglovin'


Thursday, July 23, 2015

10 Tips for Creating a Great Gallery Wall

I'll admit it. Sometimes, I just want home decorating to be simple and quick. But other times, I find that the longer I think, and drool, and dream, and shop for just the right item, the more I love it in the end. This has definitely been the case for the gallery walls that I've done in our front room. It's sort of like wedding planning, but without a set timeline. And just like I shared in A Young Homeowner's Tips for Saving Money, home decorating doesn't have to break the bank! Here are 10 tips to making a great, personalized gallery wall:

1. Choose a theme.
What do you want your wall to include? Pictures? Travel? Art? Things that describe you? Where you come from? An initial? A little of each? I would encourage you to decide this before you begin. For the small gallery wall next to our stairs, I wanted to do some artsy pictures from our wedding and engagement. I balanced color and black/white photos. For the gallery wall shown above, I choose "places we love", highlighted by our initial and the year we were married and bought our home.

Theme: Wedding/Engagement. Color Scheme: Black. Location: Stairs.

2. Choose a location.
You know that empty spot on the wall you've had your eye on? Could be the perfect spot for a gallery wall. This is important to keep in mind when deciding on the size of your frames and how many items you want in your gallery. I didn't decide on any set sizes of everything, I just let it happen fluidly and I kept on eye on my space.

3. Choose a color scheme, and stick to it. 
You should choose one to three of your favorite colors to really highlight, and then bring those colors out in the frames, the pictures, the art, and whatever else you include in your wall. Keep the colors that are already in the room in mind. For example, in our front living room, I knew I wanted to highlight black, white, and red. I chose mainly black frames, and then accented with white and red to match the other color accents I'd already put in the room.

4. Be patient. Very patient.
Building your wall (and finding the items) takes time. Don't be in a rush. Keep your theme, budget, and vision in mind. I knew that I wanted to have a map of some places that were significant to our story, so I kept my mind out for some old maps. I found two perfect ones at First Fridays in the West Bottoms: one of the Southwest to commemorate our Spring Break trip, and one of Mexico to commemorate our honeymoon and Cancun trip. They were $1 each, and I found the matching black frames for them for $4 at Hobby Lobby. Winning.

5. Include something that can be changed up during the year.
Think about a place in your gallery wall that can be changed and or personalized for different seasons, celebrations, names, etc. On my gallery wall, my personalized space is the small red frame on the bottom left, which has a little folding picture clamp. For now, I have a picture of me and my hubby on it, but I'm planning to print off various pieces of paper that I can put on it with different holiday sayings, and one with 6.15 on it for our wedding date. Or maybe, someday, we will use it to showcase our kiddos art! Who doesn't love having an item that can be changed as much as desired?

Theme: Places We Love. Color Scheme : Black & White (with Red Accent). Location : Front Room.

6. Include things of personal importance.
Have cute art your kids made? Frame it. Have an awesome artsy picture or map that are important to you? Put it up. Our front room wall is all personalized: our last initial, where we went to college, where we're from, where we went on trips, and a photo! (And I spent no more than $10 on every item.) Make it yours for less.

7. Leave room to grow.
When I was creating our gallery wall, I wanted to make sure that I felt like I could add new items as desired (because being totally done with it means I don't get to keep my eye out for other cute things to add!). I have room on both sides where I can definitely add more if I find it. Tip: Add in pairs. Balance both sides if you add more.

8. Before you hang anything, play around with your arrangement. Then sleep on it.
If you're anything like me, you can be pretty indecisive, and feel unsatisfied with any rash decisions. In order to avoid this (and to help your gallery look its best) lay everything out on the floor and get a feel for what you're looking for. Then (and this is the hard part) don't hang anything. Not yet! 

9. Hang it up!
Keep things as straight as possible. Have other eyes help you (or if you're lucky like me, have your great hubby hang them for you!).

10. If you don't like it, change it!
Seriously, you aren't married to it. Change things around. Paint some frames. Make it yours, and make sure it's something that YOU truly like!

I LOVE gallery walls. I think they are such a fun little puzzle to put together. Have questions? Let me know below, or connect with me on the Facebook page. I hope you have a blast putting your wall together, and making it yours. Hope these tips help!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Easy Dinner Sides (That Still Look Fancy)

When my hubby and I first bought our house, we knew that we wanted it to be a place full of laughter, sweet conversation, and lots and lots of visitors. We are so thankful that it has been just that. Over the last two years of marriage and home ownership, I've had a blast figuring out my go-to meals and side dishes, especially ones that look really pretty but don't necessarily take a lot of time. If you're anything like me, you love cooking, but it can be really hard to squeeze it in with a job and a busy schedule. Thus, my love for yummy simplicity.

I'm sharing two of my favorite dinner side dishes over at The Felicity Jar : Easy Spinach Salad and Cheesy Potato Casserole. Check out the recipes and tips for making them here

Easy Spinach Salad 
Cheesy Potato Casserole
 I promise, these are some good eatin', folks. If you come over, you just might find them on the table for dinner. They also are GREAT to bring to potlucks or family get-togethers. Happy cooking!


Do you have a favorite recipe to share? Have any questions about how to modify these recipes? Let me know. I'd love to help. Also, check out my Recipes to Try  board on Pinterest. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to Fly to Europe for (Almost) Free

Aaron and I hop on a plane to Europe in less than a week! Somebody pinch me. We knew Europe was a destination we really wanted to visit pre-kids and after my Master's Degree. And so, in March, we booked a fifteen day Euro-Trip. We've made it very affordable by using Best Rate Guarantees for our hotels, as well as using our free reward nights from our Hyatt and IHG Credit Cards. No lie, we are staying at $600 a night hotels for free because we paid our bills on those cards! But we got a STEAL on our flights. Read on to see how.

As everyone knows, flights are a big expense for any trip. We've taken lots of free flights domestically thanks to our Southwest Credit Card. But for our dream trip to Europe, using Southwest points really wasn't an option. So, with the recommendation of a friend, we found a travel card that would help us get overseas for a lot less than the regular cost of a plane ticket: the US Airways Dividend Miles Barclay Credit Card.

We just had to get the card, make one purchase (which could literally be a 79 cent fountain drink), and pay the $89 annual fee and we had 50,000 bonus miles. A round-trip flight to Europe in the peak season (which is now and includes the summer months) is 60,000 miles. So for Aaron and I to get to Europe for pretty much free, we each needed to get a card and earn 10,000 miles.

How did we do it? Well keep in mind, any spending you do on the card is going to count, plus you've got the 50,000 miles you earn automatically. So we pre-paid several months of bills, made our regular purchases, got a few QuickTrip gift cards, and joined a wine club that gave us 5,000 miles just for ordering $40 worth of wine. Totally worth it. You can also purchase points in increments of 1,000 as needed. We got our cards in late January, and our required mileage posted to our account by the end of March.

 So instead of spending roughly $5,000 on flights for two to Dublin and then home from Rome, we paid about $230 for the mandatory taxes and fees. Total. For both of us. To EUROPE. (Insert happy dance here.)

Now, here's something you should know. The US Airways card is no longer available, as they've merged with American and our card became the American Airlines Aviator Red MasterCard. But don't worry, there are lots of other cards that you can use in a similar way. One of the best places to look for card updates is The Points Guy, which offers info on all of the latest deals (as the available bonuses are always changing).

One great card option that's out right now (and is similar to the deal we got) is the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard.  This card is currently offering 50,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening the account. Those bonus miles would get you to Europe and back in the off-peak season, without even having to earn extra miles!

The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard.
So you may be wondering, how does this whole process work? How do I start? Great question.

Determine your best card option.
The Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard listed above is a great option if you're thinking about going abroad. There are lots of cards that offer great deals every now and then. Plan months ahead for your trip.

Apply for the card and meet your required spending for your bonus miles.
Applying is easy enough, then go to work meeting whatever requirement is needed. For the Citi card, it would be $3,000. Pre-pay bills, make that big purchase you've been waiting on, or buy gift cards for things you'll need someday anyways like food or gas.

Decide where you would like to go, and determine the miles needed to get you there.
In order to do this, every airline rewards program should have some way for you to determine the miles needed. Most use awards charts that show you how many miles or points for flights from the US to regions like Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe. Here is American Airlines' rewards chart for one way travel per person:

You may notice that there are different miles needed for MileSAAver Off Peak and MileSAAver. (And note, these are all economy, not first class pricing. You can upgrade.) Peak dates depend on the time of the year and the region, and can be found below:
 If I'm wanting to go to Europe from the US on American Airlines in June or July, it will be 30,000 miles per person, per way: a total of 60,000 miles per person. If I want to go to Europe between October 15 and May 15, I can go for 20,000 miles per person, per way: a total of 40,000 miles per person. So if your travel dates are flexible, you can save a lot of miles. If you're like us, and need to travel in the summer, you may need to earn a few more miles. Just make sure you do your research and plan ahead.

If needed, earn or buy more miles to reach the amount of reward miles you need to book your flights.
Each airline reward programs offers various ways to earn more miles, possibly by renting a car on the card, purchasing a certain product, or joining a club. You can also buy or share miles as needed to reach your bonus, which can be done through the website and has a small fee. Set a budget for this- you don't want to spend a whole bunch or it defeats the purpose (which is why you want to choose a card that gives you the highest amount of miles for the smallest required spending).

Book your flights, pay the minimal taxes and fees, and enjoy your trip! 

I would've never dreamed that we would both be able to fly in and out of Europe for less than $300. Buying things on our credit card that we know we can pay off has made our trip a reality, and has really stretched our travel budget so that we can enjoy staying, eating, and exploring abroad for weeks without depleting our bank account. I can't wait for this adventure, and hope that you'll give this a shot so your dreams can become a reality just like ours.

Ready to get started? Still have more questions? Comment below, or contact me here. If you like this post, check out the other posts in the Using Points category. If you'd like to be in the loop for other posts like this, I'd love it if you'd join the Currently, Kelsie mailing list. You'll receive no more than two emails a month with updates on the newest posts and tips! I hope you'll join us.


I'm linking up with Homemade for Elle and The Weekend Re-Treat Link Party.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Old Has Gone: Castaway 2015

It's taken me a while to collect my words for this post. No matter how many times I've been to YoungLife Camp, it always blows me away. There are few places in this world that are more beautiful, more alive, and more life-changing. Camp is one of the places where you truly get to see the backstory behind all that YoungLife does. Literally every single part of the camp schedule, program, and activities are based on the Gospel, and serve as a beautiful presentation of grace, hope, teamwork, love, and a chance to be made new. Spending a week away from the distractions of the world, cell phones, social media, and struggles at home makes this one of the best experiences a high school kiddo can ever have. And they just might meet Jesus.

Without giving away too many of the beautiful surprises of camp, each day includes three amazing family-style meals, fun camp-wide activities (ranging from lake rides to parasailing to volleyball tourneys), club, cabin time, and more. Cabin time is one of my very favorite times at camp, as it consists of the entire cabin hanging out together to engage in trusting, vulnerable, honest conversation about life, God, and what we'd heard in the camp talks. These are beautiful times full of laughter, tears, questions, and the incredible realization that those we "know" from school are people that we don't really "know": people with an amazing story to tell that may just be pretty similar to our own. I was struck by how much the beauties in my cabin (see below- aren't they gorgeous?) had in common and by the amazing way God worked to have them end up in the same cabin after lots of prayer and switching up cabins last minute. (Thanks God!) We had an absolute blast.

My nine crazy roomies for the week.
One night during a leader meeting, I was struck by the devotional that a head leader shared. He was reading from Mark 5, which focuses on Jairus's daughter. In verses 22 and 23 Mark writes:

"Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live'". Mark 5:22-23

Later on, people tell Jairus (in the presence of Jesus) not to bother the teacher anymore because his daughter is dead. Though people laugh at Jesus when he says that she's not dead, he tells the little girl to arise, and she gets up and walks. What a beautiful image of where these kids are at. Some of them enter the week of camp spiritually dead, needing to be made well and alive by a loving God. What an amazing opportunity to be able to return some of them to their parents as newly spiritually alive. What a blessing for them to be made new.

The whole gang.

One of my favorite activities of the week involves giving the kids some time to themselves to process the talks and sit in silence, alone from others. How often in this world do they ever get the chance to do something like this? This time is a wonderful opportunity for kids to really talk to God, or even commit their lives to him, and many often do. This year, the time occurred on the night of July 3rd, and many people around the lake were starting to shoot fireworks in celebration of the 4th. Though I was frustrated at first by this, and didn't want kids to be distracted from their time with God, I realized that some of these fireworks may be the very "signs" that kids are often praying for during their 20 minutes.

Pop after pop rocked through the camp, and my English-teacher self couldn't help by think of The Hunger Games. In the book, a cannon goes off every time that a contestant dies. This connection really struck me, as I thought that this was exactly what was happening at camp right now. Kids all over the camp were dying to themselves, and being made new as they started a new relationship with Christ. I got chills. In the very moments that each firework blasted through the silence, kids were saying yes to Jesus. What a gift from a sovereign God as He did work all over camp. As kids died to themselves and chose to live with Him.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 
2 Corinthians 5:17

Friends, it is safe to say that even after going to camp seven times (both as a camper and a leader), it is still one of my favorite, most-challenging, most-exhausting, most-amazing weeks of the year. It is a time when the Lord shows up in a huge way, and when dead kids are made alive. And that is a beautiful thing.


If you are interested in finding out more about YoungLife, and how you can get involved, please contact me here or on Facebook. It has truly changed my life and I would love to help you or answer any questions.

Today, I'm linking up with Amy Schlichter, The Beauty in his GripLink it To Me Link PartyTuesday Talk, Testimony TuesdayTell it to Me Tuesdays, Intentional TuesdaysRich Faith Rising, Turn it Up Tuesday, and Purposeful Faith

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Liebster Award

I'm beyond excited and SO honored to announce that Currently, Kelsie has been nominated for The Liebster Award. This award is given to new bloggers with less than 200 followers on a social media site, such as Bloglovin', as a way to help discover and promote their blogs. Safe to say I'm thrilled and I'd like to give a huge thank you shout out to the wonderful Julie at A Modest Vessel  for the nomination. Her blog is beautiful, and full of inspiration and heart-felt encouragement. Y'all should definitely check it out.  As part of the award, I'm answering some fun questions so you can get to know me better, then I'll nominate other newer bloggers! 
1. What is one item that you could NOT live without?
Music. I love singing, dancing, and worshipping. A world without music would sure be a sad one.

2. Who is someone that really makes you laugh?
My hubby, Aaron. He is a major goofball, but so am I, so it works. I'm never bored in life with him, and we laugh on a daily basis. Whenever we get into a bit of a disagreement, we always know we're over it when it ends in laughter (and it almost always does). He helps me see when I'm being ridiculous, and like my momma taught me, I'm never too cool to laugh at myself.

Leading Songs for Vacation Bible School This Year
3. If you could change your first name, what would you change it to and why?
I wouldn't. I actually really like my name, even with the -ie spelling. Plus, then Currently, Kelsie  wouldn't be here! If I HAD to pick something I guess I would go with Keslie, since Aaron already calls me that.

4. Why did you start blogging and is this your 1st attempt at blogging?
I share a little bit about how and why I started blogging here. This is my first attempt, and it's something that I've always wanted to do. When it came down to it, I love to write, remember, reflect, and share life with others, so I felt like Currently, Kelsie could be a great place to do just that. I also wanted to share my heart, helpful tips, and faith with others, while enjoying life in my current state.

5. What is the story behind your blog name? 
There were numerous times that I found myself wishing away my current years so that I could be on to the next phase of life: if only I was dating someone, or married, or had a house, or had babies, or insert whatever you want here. I had to stop and remind myself that I am only blessed with a short life, and that I'm never guaranteed another moment on this Earth. I sure better enjoy every single second that I'm given, while still setting my eyes on eternity. This is why I landed on Currently, Kelsie. I want to enjoy every stage of life that I'm in, without living in the past or rushing to the future. I want to live with purpose and adventure, saying yes to the important an eternal things, and no to the things that will only bring me down. I want to look back at the end of my life and think, "Yep, I did it right. Would do it all over again if I could." I want to be true to my heart and my God, and to know that I found joy in the little things, without worrying too much about the big things that I couldn't control. See more behind this, as well as my mission to love fiercely, learn fearlessly, and live full here. 
Candlelight Dinner Watching the Sunset on our Honeymoon

6. What is the best thing you have ever splurged on for yourself?
Our honeymoon. We had an amazing time at the gorgeous El Dorado Royale in Riveria Maya. It was an all-inclusive, which was oh so relaxing and wonderful. Our biggest decision was which restaurant to go to for dinner, and I'm cheap so I loved knowing that we had paid for everything up front and I could have all of the food or drinks I wanted without paying a dime more. 

7. If you could spend the day with one celebrity, who would it be?
Oh, this is a toughie. I'm not necessarily a huge celebrity person, but I would really love to spend a day with Francis Chan. He has some powerful books that I've read (particularly You and Me Forever and Crazy Love) that have really made me think and live out my faith in a new way. I've seen him speak numerous times, and he is a passionate, vulnerable man of the Lord with so much wisdom, and I just think it would be amazing to meet and talk with him.

8. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher. Guess I had it pretty well figured out! The only thing that changed was that I started out thinking I would teach math. One calculus class in and I hated it. Totally should have realized that I love reading, writing, and speaking, so English is totally my scene. Plus I get to be creative, read fun books, and lots of other things.

9. What is your favorite place in the entire world? 
Jury is still out on this one. Talk to me in a month after I visit Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, and Italy. For now, I'm a really huge fan of Frisco, Colorado and home sweet home.

Our Home Sweet Home
10. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Flying. I could get anywhere anytime, and in a hurry. I love flying on planes and parasailing, so I can't even imagine how great it would be to fly. 

11. What is the greatest advice you've ever been given?
In reference to relationships and finding the right guy, I was once told, "Run hard towards Jesus, then look around and see who's there with you." This is what I finally did and guess who I found right there alongside me? Aaron. The God-fearing man and leader that I'd been waiting for. The rest is history, which I talk more about in The Story of Us.

12. What book are you currently reading?
I'm diving back into the book of Mark with my Bible Study girls, and then I just started reading an early birthday present from a friend: The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels.

I just wanted to take a minute to thank each and every one of you all for reading and commenting on the blog. It has been such a fun adventure these last six months, and I am so thankful for your encouragement, your conversations, and your hearts. Thanks for sticking with me as I started this journey. Thank you for making a crazy little dream into something that has been so much fun. I am so grateful for you all.

Now I'd like to introduce you to my nominees. Please take a minute to explore their amazing blogs!

Kayla from The Felicity Jar
Abby from Winstead Wandering
Lauren from Sobremesa Stories
Brandy from The Dutchman's Wife
Ashley from Grace Mountain Diaries

-Answer the questions given to you below by the person that nominated you. Please comment on this post with your link when you are done so I can see you answers! 
-In your post, link back to the person/blog who nominated you and give a little thank you shout out.
-After completing the questions, nominate at least 5 bloggers with under 200 followers on the social media platform of your choice (I chose Bloglovin'), and give them questions of your choice.
-Notify your nominees of their nomination, and provide a link to your post so they know what to do.

1. What is one item that you could NOT live without?

2. What is something/ who is someone that really makes you laugh?

3. If you could change your first name, what would you change it to and why?

4. Why did you start blogging and is this your 1st attempt at blogging?

5. What is the story behind your blog name?

6. What is the best thing you have ever splurged on for yourself?

7. What is something you're learning right now?

8. What did you want to be when you grew up?

9. What is your favorite place in the entire world?

10. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

11. What is the greatest advice you've ever been given?

12. What book are you currently reading?

I'm so excited to see all of your answers! Have fun.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Our Days With Dusty

It's always hard saying goodbye to a loved one, even if that loved one happens to have fur, paws, and an ever-wagging tail. Yesterday, we said goodbye to our sweet Dusty, the gray, feisty peek-a-poo who loved us unconditionally for the last 14 years. He lived a good long life full of walks with mom and attacking the vacuum, and we knew this day would come quickly, but it's still hard to say goodbye to the pup that you've shared over half of your life with. I guess it's just another little reminder of how precious and temporary life is, and how we've got to make the most of each day we are given. Because someday those days run out.

We got Dusty in November of 2001, just a few days after our first puppy, Walter, was hit by a car. I sobbed and sobbed for days, then told my dad that I wasn't sure I wanted to get another puppy because I would love it and I didn't know that I wanted to love something that was going to die. Pretty profound thoughts for a sixth grader. But we all missed Walter and the day to day activity that comes with having a puppy, and thus, Dusty joined our family. He was a crazy, fluffy pooch who had spent his first few months living with another family who had other bigger dogs, so when we first got him, he ate everything in sight, and made himself sick. Eating the trash and grill scraps would continue to be one of his favorite pastimes. Silly pooch.

Dusty quickly settled into the family when Kirk was four, Scott was eight, and I was twelve. He slept on the foot of my bed every night, and waited outside my door for me when I moved away to college. We always said he was a dumb jock: never very good at playing fetch or doing tricks, but he had some mad ups.  He was the most loyal of dogs, and had a deep deep love for our Grandma, going on long walks with Mom, and getting beyond excited every time someone came home. He loved riding in the car, especially if he could stick his face out the window. And he had a deep passion for puppy cups at DQ (watching him eat them was hysterical). He was always your biggest fan when you came through the door, even if no one else was there to greet you or got up to say hello. He was just another quirky member of the family.

Dusty hated men he didn't know, and always barked when people hugged. He was so protective of me that he didn't like Aaron at first, but he warmed up to him pretty quickly. After we were married, Dusty came to stay at our house a few times when my parents were out of town. Last year on my birthday, we took him to Grinder's and then to the dog park. I'll always love the memory of Dust tumbling head over heels as he tripped while trying to sprint down the hill after a bigger dog on the other side of the fence. Always so fierce, and unaware that he actually weighed 7 pounds full grown. Our little fighter who kept at it until the very end.

Dusty's wild side showed through when he had a little fun with some blinds, peed on our comforter because he was scared of the dark, and attempted to run away when we left our garage open (but only because he was mostly deaf at this point and couldn't hear us calling his name). Despite all this, we loved the little guy who snuggled at our feet all night, snored, and jumped off of the bed in the morning, ready for the next adventure. He made you feel like you were his favorite, the person he couldn't wait to see. He kept you company at night when no one else was home, and waited in the window all day for you to return. He was the best puppy.

As the years passed by, we knew Dusty was getting older and that his time could be short. After all, we'd been more than blessed with this crazy pooch who had spent so many years sharing life with us and all of our friends. Life as we knew it had just always included him. In the end, things happened pretty quickly. He even went on a long walk just a few days ago. But by the time he was getting sick and went to the vet, they said almost everything in his body was failing. He'd been on IVs before and had made a comeback, so we were hopeful, but when my parents went back they said he was only getting worse. And so, we had to let him go.

It's going to be really hard and weird for a while, but we are thankful that he didn't have to suffer long, and we are even more thankful that we had so many wonderful years of loving the crazy, feisty, stinker of a puppy who filled our hearts with so much joy and laughter. We'd do it all again.

We'll miss you, Dust. Thanks for being the best dog we could ever ask for. We loved every minute.


Today, I'm linking up with Twinkly Tuesday, Link it To Me Link Party, and Turn it Up Tuesday

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Moments: A Guest Post Opportunity

At the heart of the blog, I'm hoping to provide a place for real, honest conversation- one that is full of laughter, wisdom, reflection, and opportunities to learn. In the spirit of this vision for the blog, I hope to share not only my own voice and ideas on loving, learning, and living fully, but also the voices of others. It is my desire that we would share stories and life in a way that unites us and helps us navigate life with new hope and purpose, as we find that we aren't alone in our struggles or successes.

And so without further ado, let me introduce you to my guest post category: Moments.

Each installment of moments features "A Moment With...." so and so, and will have a heartfelt story about life, love, and the way that each guest poster has grown and learned things as a result of their life experiences. Topics will include everything from family struggles to amazing experiences and more. I am so excited to share the words of incredible writers as we unite in shared stories and moments that make us think, "Wow, I'm not alone in this." I hope this becomes a time of honest two way conversation, like a coffee date or time huddled around the kitchen table. And guess what- I'm looking for stories just like yours!

If you are interested in sharing your own moment on Currently, Kelsie, please contact me here for more information. I'll ask you to provide some basic info in order to get a feel for your story, but I'm happy to help you pick a topic or finalize a title if you're going back and forth on the small details. I can't wait to see your ideas!

Thanks so much for sharing in this journey, and I look forward to sharing many moments with you in the time to come.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Garage: An Unexpected Lesson

In his spare time, my awesome hubby works on cars. We aren't talking like tinkers just for fun, here. We're talking- he worked at Goodyear and Firestone and is a licensed mechanic. This is a huge plus when trying to keep cars running forever. I mean, cars are a big BIG hit on the budget, am I right? It seems like there is always something going wrong with them, and fixing them can be expensive with a capital E. But I digress.

 Aaron's car work is a huge blessing, not only to help keep our cars running without breaking the bank, but also to help others. Aaron is honest, while many shops are not, and he is able to save people lots and lots of money, and bless them with his talents. Shameless plug, if you're looking for car work in KC, he's your man!

While all of these things are a blessing to many, including myself, it caused a decent amount of tension for a while in our marriage. I had to learn to give Aaron up for hours at a time on nights or weekends so that he could work on cars. I was never jealous, or mad at him, it just felt like I was losing time I could be spending with him. I found myself sitting on the couch alone at night while he slaved away in the garage, fixing cars for hours. I'll admit it, I wasn't always super happy about it. Selfish, I know.  But Aaron takes his role as a provider very seriously, and he works hard to take on car work as his second "job" to help supplement our income. And, most importantly, he enjoys doing it.

It wasn't until I was meeting with a mentor of mine that I realized the obvious solution to this problem. One of Aaron's love languages is quality time. He loves spending time with me, no matter what it is that we're doing. To me, spending time in the garage with Aaron wouldn't make sense- there was so much I could be doing inside while he was working. Things like laundry, schoolwork, and more took precedence for me. After all, I know pretty much nothing about cars. But to Aaron, having me with him in the garage while he worked on cars would mean the world. Even just my silent presence there. He'd mentioned before in passing that he'd like for me to come be with him, but I responded as stated above- so many other things to be doing with my time. Wifey fail.  

After coming to this realization, I decided to make a change and see how Aaron responded. We have several folding yard chairs that people gave us as wedding gifts, so I pulled one out of its bag, brushed off the leaves, and set up the chair in the garage. With a stack of papers in my hand, and a drink in the cup holder, I settled in for a few hours, just to sit and be with Aaron (even if I was working on a few things). For me, "quality time" often means being together, making eye contact, and having pretty uninterrupted time filled with conversation. But for Aaron, I've realized it simply means one thing: being together. That's not to say that we don't have moments where we sit and talk with no distractions, we definitely do. But that doesn't have to happen for Aaron to feel like we're spending valuable time together. This is just one way we're different. No one's views are right or wrong. Just different.

Later that night, as I was cleaning up the dinner dishes, Aaron told he he was really glad I'd spent some time out in the garage with him, and that he loved having my company. Success! A few days later, when Aaron invited me to go to Lowe's with him, I remembered my new perspective. I knocked away my initial thoughts, clouded by all the other things that I could get done in the time it would take to walk around a store and look at things that weren't really my scene. And I went. And it made Aaron so happy, because we were together. 

It's funny that our garage would teach me a little life lesson, and a helpful one for our marriage. Not only should I not be jealous of Aaron's time (which I'm not, so please friends, keep the cars coming!), but I also need to say yes to spending time with him, even if it's not doing something that I love. Because it means a lot to him. And I need to say yes and go instead of worrying about my "to-do list". The laundry will get done. The blog posts will happen. The trip itineraries will work out (or, heaven forbid, we will be spontaneous). What seems like a waste of time to me may mean the world to my husband. And so, I'm making changes. I don't compete with the cars or the garage, that's where I get to hang out with my hubby and keep him company while he helps our friends.