Saturday, July 28, 2018

My 28th Year: A Birthday Reflection

I always felt like 28 was so old. But now that I'm leaving it behind for 29 (just one tick mark short of the big 3-0), I'm feeling like it's not old at all. Sure, I feel kinda ancient when I see that the people I once knew as "kids" are now in college, married, or having their own babies. But honestly, I don't feel that much different than I did at 23, 25, or 27. Heck, I'm still waiting to become an adult... but I assume that I am since I'm married, have a kid, and am starting my 8th year of teaching (how!?). When I look back on 28, I'll won't remember my first chiropractor visit, the insane amount of ice cream I consumed, or how disastrous my postpartum hair was. I'll remember all that I learned, the moments I loved, and the feeling that the best is truly yet to come.

28, you taught me wisdom and the importance of self-care, especially when raising a little one. You taught me to dream big, trust the Lord, and follow Him with reckless abandon- even when you have no idea how things will turn out. You taught me to choose hope and grace over fear and judgment. And you taught me to stop holding so tightly to the ways of this world, things we can't change or stop, focusing instead on what has true, eternal purpose and meaning. You taught me again and again that the plans I think I have for myself pale in comparison to the blessings that the Lord has in store- and oh, dear friends, I can't wait to catch you up soon on all He's been doing!! 

 As 28 year old Kelsie, I set big goals and I stuck to them. I trained for and ran four half marathons, setting new personal records with each of them. I rediscovered my competitive self, made new running buddies, and logged hours and hours, miles and miles of reflective time on streets, sidewalks, and trails. I survived my first year as a working mom, and gained tremendous respect and a new level of understanding for all the mamas out there who have been killing it for years. I made it through the days I thought I couldn't with the help of the Lord, caring co-workers, my sweet hubby, and some fabulous iced coffee.

I learned how to leave work at work for a change, and realized just how terrible my pre-baby work/life balance was. I watched my baby boy grow up way too quickly before my very eyes, thanking God each day for the sweet gift of him and his little stinker smile. I was reminded that I'm constantly learning how to manage relationships better, and to not take things too personally- to always assume the best in the intentions of others. I committed to and attended a Bible Study for ME for a change, and it was so life-giving. I realized it's okay to make changes in life, and that it doesn't mean I'm a failure. I grew deep friendships with some fabulous women who are "bonus moms" to E, who are there for me always, and who make life so darn fun (and full of laughter). I learned to listen more and talk less, to reflect before reacting. I was reminded that I don't have it all fully figured out, and I never will. 

And so, as I set off to my 29th year, I realize that life is pretty sweet right now. My parents are healthy and are the very best grandparents you could ask for. I have a fantastic hunk of a husband who loves me well despite my lonnnng list of flaws and selfish moments. I have the happiest little boy you've ever met, who brings me more joy than I knew I could feel. This year we have traveled and made beautiful memories that I will cherish forever. Thank you, my sweet friends and family, for loving me and shaping me into a better person this year. I've still got a long ways to go, but I'm so thankful that you're in in for the long haul. Let's do this, 29! 


Friday, July 27, 2018

Things You Must Have Ready Before Your Due Date

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

There’s a lot to consider when you’re approaching your due date. By now, you've spent so many months pregnant and waiting for the big event that you’re probably desperate for your baby to just get here already! (Thank goodness Mr. Eli came ten days early!) The lists to prepare can seem overwhelming and daunting, but really there are only a few things you really MUST have ready before having your baby. Heck, you don't even need a fully-decorate room (although it's super fun)!

I get it; you’ve got a lot going on. But  chances are that, when labor does come, it’ll do so at the worst possible, or at least most unexpected time. You’ll be in bed, like I was, getting ready to head to sleep, maybe not expecting it yet and not quite packed. And just when you least expect it, you'll suddenly know what a real contraction feels like. Admittedly, that first contraction doesn’t mean you should panic. If it's your first baby, you'll probably have quite a while until you need to head to the hospital (or you'll just be sent back). When I was in labor with Eli, I hung out in the bathtub for the first three hours. Still, once contractions start, you won’t have time to think about anything but your baby and, sorry to break it to you, the pain. Though you won’t need to rush to the hospital right away, some degree of panic is normal. There’s no chance you’ll think to grab everything you need before finally setting off to have your baby. Here are some things you'll want to make sure you have ready before your due date arrives!

Your Hospital Bag 

Every maternity class you’ve attended likely emphasized the importance of packing a bag for the big moment. You've probably seen lots of great ideas on Pinterest. If not, articles like this one containing the essential newborn baby hospital bag checklist can help you get ideas for yours. I should have finished packing earlier apparently, because I hadn't and I was having Aaron go throw things in a bag in between my contractions. Looking back now, I would have packed more outfits for myself because I didn't anticipate getting peed on or spit up on, so I had to wear one of my hubby's t shirts. Make sure your clothes are super comfy and you've got nursing bras ready. I also brought my pump which was super helpful before the lactation consultant showed me what to do. I brought along my Boppy too, which really helpful with feedings. I didn't pack postpartum stuff, because the hospital will have most of that for you during your stay (and send home extras). By packing ahead of time and putting your bag by the front door, there’s no chance to forget anything. Keep your bag near the door, and rest easy knowing it has everything you need inside it. 

Your Car Keys

This seems obvious, but you NEED to find a place right next to the door for your keys. If you usually leave them in your bag, get out the habit now before it’s too late. No matter how much you think you know where they are, you won’t be able to find them when labor kicks in. By the time you’ve searched the house and returned to your bag to find them, your labor will be much further along. Besides, who needs all that stress when they’re about to have a baby? Cut it out by placing a small bowl or a hook as close to your front door as you can. As soon as you get home, get into the habit of putting your keys here. That way you’ll be able to find them right away. Keep them in plain view and easy reaching distance. 

Your Phones

It’s also worth keeping your phones by the door, or on you/your nightstand. Much like keys, phones have an irritating habit of going missing when you need them most. You could even toss your phones into the bowl by your keys. That way, you can grab them before leaving too, and message loved ones with updates. (Side note, your hubby should be the one doing this while you focus on labor!) Knowing where your phone is will also be helpful when you need to contact your nurse or midwife. They’ll be able to advise you exactly when you should head to the hospital to ensure everything runs smoothly. If your phone has a good camera, you're set there too (or you can bring a separate camera if you have one). 

Your Car Seat 

Thank goodness we had Eli's carseat installed literally the day before he came. I would recommend putting your car seat into your car about two weeks before your due date. It can't hurt anything, and that last thing you want to do is have your hubby trying to install it in a rush, or in the hospital parking garage before you bring your little one home. Make sure you have the car seat, install it, and then have someone check it- they will do it before they let you leave with your new baby! 

Baby Essentials 

Although you'll feel like there are a billion things you need for your new bundle of joy, you really just need the essentials to make it through labor and bring your sweet baby home. The hospital will have diapers and wipes and some small outfits for the baby to wear. Ours also had a Sleepsack, and they gave us a brand new one to bring home. It's fun to bring a new outfit for the baby to wear home, along with a special swaddle or hat if you have that (but again, the hospital will probably have that). I threw a few of those things in my hospital bag. Back home, make sure you have a safe place for the baby to sleep: a bassinet, pack and play, or crib. You'll need a place to change diapers, and some diapers and wipes ready for when you come home from the hospital. Other than that, some onesies, and your breastfeeding essentials (if you're planning to nurse), you should be good to start baby's life. Don't stress! 

Postpartum Essentials

Make sure you've got some pads, witch hazel, Colace, and ibuprofen on hand. It's a hassle trying to send your hubby out to get things he doesn't know anything about, so just have them ready and available at home. It will make the healing process much more pleasant. My hospital also sent me home with some extra mesh undies and things that were really helpful. And don't feel bad wearing those maternity clothes for months after baby is born! Be comfortable! 

Is your bag packed? What other essentials did you have ready before your baby arrived, mamas? Let me know if you have questions! 


Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Top Ten Summer Reads of 2018

As an English teacher, I don't have a lot of time to read for fun because I'm constantly grading student essays with every spare second that I have. But during the summer, that all changes! When May rolls around, I crowd source ideas for great reads, put them all on hold at the library, and get to work at knocking out a whole bunch of great books. I've been getting lots of questions about this year's summer reads (and what I thought of them), so here they are!

1. Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty)

Holy smokes, this one was good! If you like plot twists with a little bit of mystery thrown in (without things getting too dark) you'll love this book. It's the story of several characters whose kids all attend the same school, with separate plot lines that are all unified in some way, but Moriarty keeps you guessing as to how the entire time. I've really started to love her style, so you'll see her multiple times on this list. I actually haven't watched the show, but I know it was based on this book. If you haven't read this yet, you should!

2. Where'd You Go Bernadette (Maria Semple)

I couldn't put this book down! It's the story of a mother on the verge of a breakdown who mysteriously disappears. Told through a variety of letters, emails, and general entries that are constantly changing point of view, it's very engaging and you'll try to figure out just where Bernadette did go the entire time you're reading. Loved it.

3. The Story of Arthur Truluv (Elizabeth Berg)

This book was so sweet and touching! It's all about the unlikely friendship of Arthur (a widower), his neighbor Lucille, and their young friend Maddy. This novel is full of compassion and emotion, and I did cry a few times while reading it. But overall, I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it!

4. The Wife Between Us (Hendricks and Pekkanen)

Ohhh, this was good! I seem to be into lots of mystery with plot twists and a variety of unknown, yet united characters this summer, and this one did not disappoint. This love triangle explores dangerous truths and complexities of marriage- things that people often overlook when they love someone. I don't want to say too much and give things away, but just know that this one will keep you reading and on your toes.

5. The Hypnotist's Love Story (Liane Moriarty)

Moriarty does it again! Her style here is very similar to Big Little Lies, so if you like(d) that one, you'll like this one too! An interesting and engaging story about a crazy ex-girlfriend who stalks the new woman in her ex's life, this one is really good, and manages to be funny yet intriguing. You won't be able to put it down!

6. Of Mess and Moxie (Jen Hatmaker)

On a completely different level than the theme of my other reads, Of Mess and Moxie is an inspiration memoir of sorts. Jen Hatmaker uses her own hilarious life experiences to help all of us women feel connected, courageous, and inspired to live grace-filled lives. As a mom of a 16 month old, I found myself nodding along, crying, and laughing over and over again. If you're a woman over the age of 25, you should definitely read this one!

7.  The Magic of Motherhood (Ashlee Gadd)

This books shares all about the good, the hard, and everything in between when it comes to being a mom- in whatever form that looks like. It's a compilation of essays from a variety of women on their experiences with infertility, adoption, miscarriage, birth, kids with disabilities, and just general mom emotions and struggles. It's powerful and moving, and I cried multiple times and found a lot of it so challenging and relatable. Again, I'd say any woman over 25 (especially if you're thinking about having kids) should read it.

8.  The Friends We Keep (Susan Mallery)

This one was a nice, light summer read about a group of friends and the struggles they go through while all supporting one another. Each friends has a different scenario, and it's nice to see how they are all undergoing different, yet similar struggles. It felt relatable to real life, and is a good beach or easy fiction read that I enjoyed!

9. The Husband's Secret (Liane Moriarty)

Another Moriarty fave, this one unveils a big secret early in the book, and then you follow along to see how the wife is going to handle the secret she discovers. Like Moriarty's others, it keeps you reading and guessing along the way. I read it quickly since I wanted to see how it ended.

10. Why Motherhood Matters (September McCarthy)

This book was an excellent read if you have any interest in parenting from a Christian perspective! I loved its insight into ministry as a parent, and how your kids can be a part of that. McCarthy discussed things applicable to parenting kids all the way up into their teens, so a few of the chapters and points she made weren't applicable to me just yet since Eli is so young. All in all, this was a really good read that provided guidance and ideas for hard times as a mama.

Bonus Reads: 

Here are a few books that I've read in the past year or two and really loved!

  • The Last Anniversary and What Alice Forgot, both by Liane Moriarty! 
  • All the Light We Cannot See
  • The Glass Castle 
  • Murder on the Orient Express 
  • Bossypants
If you have any questions about the books, I've love to hear about them in the comments below or on my Facebook page! Have any other books you'd add to this list (or that I should put on my reading list)? Happy reading! 


Monday, July 9, 2018

Home Repair Jobs You Shouldn't Attempt Yourself

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

While most of us can tackle basic painting and wallpapering jobs, and some folks are super good with tools, there are definitely some home repairs that require professionals. If you're super thrifty (aka, cheap) like me, it can be easy to try to just do things yourself in order to save some cash. But some of these jobs can go extremely wrong and cost even more money to fix, making you wish you'd just started with the qualified professionals in the first place!  Here are some jobs that are tricky, sometimes dangerous, and often better to leave to others.

Structural Work

Whenever you have to knock a door down, or build an extension, you'll need a professional builder and architect. Without the adequate checks and inspections, you won't be sure your house will stay standing, which is pretty darn important! Likewise, if you want to add a new window, you have to consult with a building professional to ensure that the points and beams are able to support the rest of the wall. In some cases, you will notice a crack in the wall and attempt to repair it yourself. Chances are that the problem is in the foundation, which means you'll need an expert to make sure the problem is not getting more serious.

Heating and Air Conditioning

No matter which type of fuel you're using, you shouldn't attempt to fix your heating and air conditioning system on your own. Modern furnaces are extremely complicated, and may actually need a diagnostic tool to find out whether the board has blown or there is dust in the fan, which is making it less efficient. You should sign up for a regular maintenance plan to prevent the most expensive repairs. Check out ABC Home & Commercial AC Repair to find out more about the packages and deals offered to homeowners. 


Electrical Issues

Electricity can be dangerous, and you can damage your home or your health if you don’t know exactly what you're doing. Every modification in the house should be approved for safety, including the installation of a heat pump, or even something simple like adding a mood light in your living room or dining room. Unless you really know you're stuff, leave these tasks to a qualified electrician. When things go wrong and your fuse box gets damaged, at least you'll be covered by the insurance of the company providing the service. If you try to do the job yourself, anything that goes wrong will be considered carelessness, and the insurance company is not likely to pay out! 

Roof Leaks

No matter how invincible you're feeling, you will not have the skills and equipment to stay safe on your roof. I repeat- you won't. While you might want to keep the wind and the rain out of your house, and save money at the same time, it's not worth it to risk an accident. Not to mention, you won't have the professional tools to complete the job, and will have no idea which concrete to use to fix the tiles on the roof. Roofing companies are insured to make sure that they don’t damage your property and provide guarantee on their work. Leave it to them! 


Garage Door Failures

If your remote on your garage door is gone, you will not be able to fix it yourself. The microchip inside the remote control will need to be programmed by a professional. If there are mechanical issues as well, you'll find it hard to locate the right parts and identify the issue. Since you'll want to keep your valuables and your car safe, you will have to get this fixed at some point. Instead of tackling this on your own, talk to a professional who can give you advice on avoiding further issues and making sure that your locks are safe and secure. 

Security System Issues

When your home alarm is not working the way it should, it's important that you get in touch with the company that installed it. If you don’t do this, you'll risk your valuables and your personal safety. In order to successfully claim on your home insurance, you'll need to get the installation and servicing of your security system completed and signed off by a professional installer that is accredited by the insurance company.

Floor Polishing

You might think that polishing wooden floor or laminate is super easy. In reality, it is a DIY job that often goes wrong. You might choose the wrong machine when you visit your hardware hire shop, or even the wrong polish, and you'll end up paying for a new floor. (And nobody wants that!) This will cost you much more than if you'd have just left the floor polishing and dusting to someone who's done it several times before.

While you might be confident enough to tackle some of the DIY and repair jobs around the house, when it comes to dangerous work and that requiring expertise, you might be better off paying someone who has the skills, accreditation, insurance, and guarantees. Protect the health and safety of your family by outsourcing the above jobs. There are definitely some jobs that are worth doing on your own, but these really aren't! Do you have any DIY jobs gone wrong? What else have you learned to leave to a professional?


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How to Create the Perfect Dining Room

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

When we first bought our house back in September of 2013, I knew the dining room was one of the very first places that I knew I'd need to update. Why? Because it's a place where we spend so. much. time. We've spent hours and hours there having long talks, sharing laughter with friends, and tasting delicious meals and yummy treats. We've made big decisions and debated bigger ones. We've felt joy and sorrow- all around the table in this room. For many families, a dining room is a place to host guests or share evening meals. This space should be one you're proud of, one that reflects you, your style, and maybe even your idea of hospitality. (If you'd like to check out ours, click here!) Here are some useful tips to help you create the perfect dining room!

Look for Inspiration Online 

Thanks to our world of Instagram and Pinterest, it's so easy to search for awesome interior design inspiration online. Why not create your own mood board on Pinterest to help you put together the perfect dining room based on current trends or your own personal style? If you struggle with creatively putting together different colors and materials, check out design blogs and image-based social media websites for the perfect starting point (then make it YOURS)! 

Pick a Theme 

After you've gathered some inspiration, you may want to consider choosing a theme. For example, I went with a rustic dining room for our home- you can take a look at the post for ideas. Of course, the options are endless, from classic and monochrome to glamorous and bohemian. Nevertheless, picking a theme will help you to tie everything together nicely. You'll have a focus point when shopping and planning, which makes the process a lot easier.

Think Carefully About Your Table

Your choice of table plays an important role. After all, when you are in the dining room, you're only going to be at one place – the table! Consider the style of the table in relation to the style of the overall room. Also consider the size and shape of the table. How many people do you want to fit around it? What do you see yourself doing at the table? This can help you determine what type of material you'd like it to be made out of, and how picky you want to be about having people use coasters. Rectangular tables can typically fit more people around them, yet round tables are great for encouraging conversation. Size wise, you'll need to make sure there's going to be more than enough space for people to move around the room with ease.  Rectangular tables can typically fit more people around them, while round tables are great for encouraging conversation. Don't forget that the shape of the room is important too. A rectangular table will suit a rectangular room, while a round table will suit a square room.

Keep it Comfy

Another vital element of any dining room is comfort. No matter what theme you've chosen or what sort of table you're going to purchase, you need to create a dining space that is comfortable. Of course, this always starts with the dining room chairs that you choose. Upholstered seats are a good option. You could also consider adding stylish seat cushions to wooden chairs. After all, no one is going to want to stay at your house for a long time if it hurts to sit in your dining room! (And they definitely wouldn't want to play cards or games for long periods of time.) You can also add comfort by bringing different textures into the room through your curtains and other fabrics.

Choose Statement Lighting 

Lighting is important in any room, and your dining area is no different. After all, you want your guests to be able to see what they are eating and converse with one another with ease! You can also use your lighting as an opportunity to create a statement feature within the room. Check out these rectangular crystal chandelier dining room options for a good example. If you were to walk into any dining room with lighting like this, the chandelier would be the first thing that captures your attention, completely captivating the room and dictating the look and feel of it. Find a good statement piece and go with it!

Don't Forget About Storage

Last but not least, if you need to store items within your dining room, such as your finest china, do so intelligently. Most dining rooms don't have any clutter whatsoever on display, so you need to make sure your dining room doesn't have any "extra stuff" just lying around. Think about getting furniture pieces with different functions and hidden storage, which can give you a place for those stubborn piles that show up around the house.

Embrace Your Colorful Side

One of the easiest and most effective ways to add some personality to your dining room is through the use of color. There are many different ways to inject some color into your room. One of the easiest options is by painting your dining room walls or by creating an accent wall. Painting made alll the different in our dining room redo.  You can also get real leather chairs in many different colors. For a cost-efficient solution, choose a vibrant tablecloth. I personally suggest going for a neutral color palette and then bringing it to life with carefully selected, colorful accessories.

Well there you have it: the important steps you need to take when creating the perfect dining room. With the help of these tips (and your creative self) should have no trouble creating a dining room that wows and amazes. This will ensure you have the perfect place for dining and socializing with friends and family members. And most importantly, choose what YOU love, something that you can fall in love with again and again as you see it each day. I still love how ours turned out! Cheers to decorating fun!