Sunday, September 29, 2019

Our Sixth House-iversary

Six years! There's no way we could have lived in our house for that long already, right?! Crazy to look back and see us grow and change from a couple of newlyweds to an almost family of four! This little house has been so good to us, and it has been such a joy truly making it ours. This year we are in the middle of tackling and planning a few home projects. Check out all that we're up to and all that we've done in the past six years in our sweet home!

The Deck/Patio Remodel

One of the things we've been wanting to tackle for a while now is re-doing our deck. We love that it's multiple levels and that we can enjoy being up on the deck or underneath it, hanging out under our outdoor lights. A couple of wooden support beams on the bottom level have been rotting out for a while now, and we've also had some cracked concrete down there, so we have been planning to fix that. We also previously had a step up off of the concrete onto a raised wooden level, and we were tired of the water sitting there and stripping off the stain on the wooden boards. So what began as an easy fix quickly turned into a pretty large project!

Over the summer, my dad and Aaron stripped all of the wooden boards off of the bottom level, broke up the old concrete, and made it a level area. They poured two separate concrete slabs, making it all one level now. They also built new posts, and are working on finishing the last two beams on the bottom level. Like most projects, one thing led to another new project, so we also had to strip off rotted siding on the house, and then replace all of that as well. Next up is to paint the new siding to match our house, and then move on to replacing new boards up on the top level of our deck (which has been down for the count this summer because it's been resting on temporary support beams). After that, we'll stain the new boards and touch everything up to match our original color. It is definitely still a work in progress, and it has taken longer than we planned because life gets busy, but it already looks so much better and I know that we will love the final result.

Eli's New Big Boy Room

Our other soon to be tackled project is creating a new "big boy" room for Eli. With our gender neutral nursery all done and ready to go, we plan to just move Eli over and then use the nursery again when the new baby comes in January. Eli will just move into the full bed that we have in our third upstairs bedroom, which is currently our "guest room" and the room that we used for Airbnb guests for three years. We plan to remove the wood trim, paint, replace with new white trim (which will match the new white trim in our recently remodeled master bedroom), and then hang up some new decor that is so totally Eli.


We're hoping to get this done and ready around Thanksgiving Break or so, so that we can get Eli transitioned out of his crib and into his big boy bed. I'm a little nervous about it, but I know that he will probably be really excited and love his new freedom once he gets used to it. I also know we aren't buying another crib, so there's that! I'm thinking of a very pale gray/white color for the walls, and then accenting with navy, white, gold, and browns. We've already got some Royals decor and Aaron also painted a bulldozer for the room, so we've got a good amount of the decor already. We'll need to find a dresser, and I may switch out bookshelves, since the huge one in there isn't something I'd love to have within reach of our little climber. I'm excited to get it all finished and to share it with you all in the coming months!

For all of the other home decor projects we've tackled over the years, and for a little trip down memory lane, here are photos of years one through five in our house. You can also click the links below to take you to the posts from previous years where I shared the changes that we made to make our house a home!

Year One

Year Three

Year Four

Year Five 

And here we are in all of our year six glory: complete with a toddler in pjs and rainboots on a Sunday afternoon.

I'm thankful for the over 2,190 days in this sweet home of ours, and I'm excited for all that the future holds. Thanks for stopping by- we hope you can come see us in person someday!


Monday, September 23, 2019

And the Kitchen Sink

Occasionally we need a "sub" babysitter to watch our Eli when one of his grandmas can't. Sometimes, that duty falls to Aaron's sweet 80 year old grandmother, affectionately referred to as "Gigi" by Eli. She's his only great-grandparent, and she is one incredible lady. I can always tell when Gigi watches Eli, because I come home and notice little things randomly cleaned up around our house. But they aren't little to me.

As a full time working mama who is often just trying to make it through (while also growing Baby K number two), there are just certain cleaning jobs that often get left undone. Sure, I can find time to keep up with the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the sheets, and the weekly bathroom scrubs, but I just can't find the time to do the random deep cleaning. And so, our microwave, our oven, our doors, and other random places just get a little less loving than they should.

But when Gigi is here, she isn't afraid to pick up a sponge and some cleaner and get to work. And when I notice, it nearly brings me to tears. When our double-sided white sink is freshly clean, I notice. When our microwave is returned to its original white, and not a spot can be found, I notice. When the little things are tidied up, I notice, and I'm grateful.

With Baby K number two on the way, I'm realizing more and more what an act of love and service this is. That I have all the bulky baby items and burp clothes I'm going to need this time around, but that what I'll really long for after delivery is this: those who come in and love and serve without asking. Who deliver coffee or a smile or a brief adult interaction. Especially knowing that this time around I'll also be wrangling a toddler while surviving the newborn fog.

I'm willing to bet that most mamas (new or not) feel like this: that what they really would love most is a little cleaning to make them feel like life is more in order, a meal that offers them more time to snuggle and less to cook, a free sitter for an hour or two so that they can nap, get their nails done, date their spouse, or just feel like a normal human for a little while. That someone would step into the void that feels like "I can't" and turn it into something that feels handled. Because there is so much that just isn't during that season, and to a "doer" like me, it can be both freeing and stressful.

And then I'm compelled to ask myself, how often am I willing to do this for someone else? How often am I brave enough to see or anticipate a need, and then step up to serve lovingly in that way, even when I'm not necessarily asked to? How often do I go out of my way just a bit to do something that feels like a lot to another? If they'd feel half as loved as I do when Gigi or my mom or someone else does the little things that make a huge difference, then gosh, it's certainly worth finding the time and energy to make it happen for someone else. Because to me, it means everything: everything and the kitchen sink.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Best Apps for Bloggers

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

When you first start blogging, you might just pull out a laptop one day and decide it's a good day to start a blog. Your photo quality may not be great, your photos probably aren’t all that impressive, and it may not be until later that you'd like to step it up and work on delivering more professional content. I definitely have made a lot of blogging mistakes along the way, but a lot has changed since my first year of blogging. When you're ready to take your leap into the world of more serious blogging, using applications will make your workflow as smooth as possible and provide a lot of support for you. Many applications even have a free package that will work well for you. Here are some great apps to check out!


Photography and editing photos are the bread and butter of blogging. They affect not only your blog itself, but also your Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts, and so much more. You want them to be slick and easy to access. Icloud sharing is fantastic for this. Of course, that will only work if you own something in the Apple family - an iMac, Macbook, or iPad. The file transfers take seconds. SmugMug comes highly recommended for ease of access to high-res images when you don’t want to compromise on quality and aren’t at home. Of course, for things like screenshots for information step-by-step guide style posts, you should read I also really love working with Canva for easy, high quality posts and labels for Pinterest-friendly titles. Before using Canva, consider using filters on Preview, Lightroom, or Adobe Photoshop. If you need free use photos, Unsplash is a great option!

Social Media

Once you have written a post, you can't just post it and be done. In fact, writing the post is only the beginning of the work most of the time. After all, you created the content for people to read and enjoy. In order to do that, you need to share it- as much as possible, and sometimes even more than once on a platform! It is worth remembering that even though the blogging world might seem small and oversaturated - you can’t over saturate the internet - it is limitless. So share a lot and often. Hootsuite is very popular and manages all of your social media in one space. It's especially great if you hate swapping between tools. Buffer now has more options than it has in previous years, and the free package is worth checking out. Once you have that in order, creating a drip feed campaign with MissingLettr will serve you well too. You can also stick to simple schedulers like Tailwind, which is a nice option I use.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash


You may not always be home when inspiration for a great post shows up. There are a few spaces that offer great ways to capture those ideas that pop up on the fly. I've even used text- to- speech before to get great blog posts started while I'm driving. Google Docs is a leading contender - they are constantly introducing new tools within docs. Slack is great if you are working with a virtual assistant, or need to be in communication with people often. Trello is perfect for arranging your to-do list and having it there on your phone to access instantly, and Pocket is a quick way to save pages that you want to read later. I love just sitting and writing on Blogger for my posts, but some people even kick it old school and hand write some draft of posts! 


If you struggle to stay focused, then you really need to think about putting deadlines throughout your day. Staying productive can be exhausting sometimes, but setting goals means you are more likely to get everything done when you need to. Pomodoro is the most popular method to get things done. There are a few options for this in terms of apps:
  • FocusBooster
  • Be Focused Pro
  • Pomodoro Tracker
  • Pomelle
  • Toggl
When you are creating content, it is better to maximize the time you have, and apps like the ones mentioned are a quick way to streamline what you do and help you get it done better. You can also check out some great blogging books for more info!

All in all, blogging is a rewarding creative outlet, but there is definitely a lot more to it than people may assume at first. It's a great idea to use the tools available for you in order to make it less work and less time-consuming overall. Hope these tips are helpful, friends! 



Monday, September 2, 2019

England and Scotland: A Travel Guide + Recap

This summer, Aaron and I got the chance to visit Europe on a 9 day baby-free trip to England and Scotland through EF Tours. We were chaperones as part of a group of 46 travelers that included students going into the 9th grade, plus their parents. We had quite the adventure getting over there, but once we arrived it was a wonderful trip full of history, beautiful sights, and irreplaceable memories. Here are all the details, tips, and photos from our adventure!

Getting There

To make a very long story short, our task as chaperones was much much harder this time around with some serious delays on the way out- something that had never happened to us on tour before! Our flights from Atlanta to New York City were delayed for five hours and then cancelled, which meant that we missed our overnight connection from NYC to Edinburgh, Scotland. We had a nightmare of a time in the airport trying to get our large group rebooked, with little help from any customer service, and we ended up having to stay overnight in Atlanta and try flying out again the next day.

Our group had to split up into several smaller groups for re-booking, so we had people flying all over the place, with our specific group flying from Atlanta to Boston to Amsterdam to Edinburgh. All of us ended up missing an entire day on tour, which was really a bummer. Additionally, in Amsterdam we had a student think that he lost his passport, which led to a mad dash and hour-long scramble searching around the airport before we found it in his brother's bag. Phew. Did I mention I was pregnant and tired and mildly morning sick? We were SO happy to get there, and then things really got much better!

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is beautiful, and full of so much history! Aaron and I had been to London before back on our 16 day trip to Europe in 2015, but we hadn't been anywhere else on our tour itinerary. (See my London Tips in this post!) Scotland was just what I expected: old and full of amazing accents. Once we finally arrived, we headed directly to Edinburgh Castle, which had breathtaking views, engaging exhibits, and a wonderful free guided tour! Definitely check out the prison exhibits. Once we were done at the castle, it started raining, so we ducked into a couple of shops on our way to the National Museum of Scotland, home of stuffed "Dolly" the sheep and other free exhibits, along with a cafe and coffee shop. We were so jet lagged at this point that we could barely keep our eyes open, but we made it through, grabbed dinner, and then headed off on a "Specters of Scotland" ghost tour, which told the story of legends, deaths, grave robberies, and other numerous horrific things that happened in Edinburgh back in the day. The guides were actually fantastic and quite funny, and our worn out group found a little pep in our step.

The next day, we were able to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the Queen's official residence in Edinburgh. This was an awesome visit we were able to fit in that wasn't originally a part of our tour, which was extra exciting because of the day we lost on tour. They had an incredible self-guided tour with headphones, videos, and a map that walked you through everything. It was one of the best guided tours I've ever seen anywhere, which is saying something because I've been on a ton. One of their exhibits even included Meghan Markle's wedding dress! I did throw up on the bus on our way there- it was one of the few times I got morning sickness on our trip. Thankfully I was able to do it subtly and no one really knew.

Warwickshire, England

After our adventures in Scotland, we took a quick drive and entered England. We were able to visit Warwick Castle, which was kind of a jazzed up castle with lots of touristy options for visitors. There was a long walk you could go on with lots and lots of stairs, which I tackled like the pregnant woman that I was, but it did offer some really great views. Unfortunately, the trebuchet was broken, so we didn't get to see it launch, but we were able to hear more about how it was used- let's just say that the hamster wheel job was not one I would be signing up for anytime soon. It was about 65-70 degrees for this entire portion of the trip, which was a lovely break from the steamy KC summer.

Stratford-upon-Avon, England

The next day was probably one of my English teacher favorites: a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare's Birthplace. It was pretty crazy walking through rooms where Shakespeare was actually born and grew up, especially since I teach his plays to my students every year and talk about the history of his life. We were also able to visit Anne Hathaway's Cottage nearby, which had the most beautiful gardens ever. Just for reference, this not the actress in her 30s, this is the original Anne Hathaway who was Shakespeare's wife. Sometimes people are confused as to why "our American" Anne Hathaway has a cottage over there! We also got to visit Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried.

Oxford, England

Oxford was up next, and it was totally what I would expect out of a Harry Potter book. We explored the streets and found some great coffee and gelato (something I can never pass up in Europe). We got to explore many of campuses of New College, including their beautiful chapel, and all of the small schools that make up Oxford University as a whole. The architecture was quite beautiful, and we found a delicious lunch at the local favorite Turf Tavern, which is hard to find but worth the trip. Fun fact, you order your food at the bar at almost every restaurant here- no one comes to your table to take an order!

London, England

After our visit to Oxford, we headed down to London for our last three days. Aaron and I had been here once before, but we'd always said that we wouldn't mind coming back- so here we were! We were bused around everywhere prior to this, but once we got to London we often rode the underground, or "tube" as they call it here. Let's just say that navigating that with 46 people was quite an adventure! London has almost 9 million people, so it's a huge city and we definitely had to buckle down on our chaperone groups to make sure we didn't lose anyone here! Did you know that curry is the national dish of England? With a large Indian population, British-Asian dishes like chicken tikka masala are incredibly popular, and very delicious, as we got to find out at dinner on multiple evenings!

Our first night in, we were able to take the twilight ride up on the London Eye. Aaron and I didn't do this back in 2015, so it was an extra special treat, and it offers amazing 360 degree views of the city. It was fun looking out and seeing all the places we had visited previously.

We started one morning on a narrated bus tour which was actually phenomenal. We got to see a bunch of places we didn't visit the first time around, including Abbey Road. Of course, we had to get a picture crossing the famous crosswalk! We also saw Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard again, visited Westminster Abbey, saw Big Ben (which was sadly covered up and under re-construction), and many other tourist favorites.

The next day, we were off to Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world! This is the Queen's weekend home, and also has the famous St. George's Chapel where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married! We were able to tour both, and again, the audio/video tour was incredibly well done. They also had lots of benches which helped this pregnant mama rest her feet from all of the walking we did each day (we're talking 5-9 miles a day).

One evening we were also able to catch a theatre performance, which was Thriller - a Michael Jackson tribute show. I guess the British folks are pretty obsessed. It was well done and the singers were great. The London nightlife is a whole different ball game, and after a long day I was ready to get back to our hotel, which was right next to the Wembley Stadium. We were in town when Wimbledon was taking place! I really enjoyed London, and felt like we have a really good grasp on it after visiting twice!

Stonehenge, England

One of things I was really looking forward to on our trip was getting to check Stonehenge off of my bucket list. As one of the new seven wonders of the world, it was a place I knew I'd want to visit someday. Ironically enough, Aaron and I took Eli to visit the Stonehenge Exhibit that happened to be at Union Station in KC this summer, so we had a lot of prior knowledge coming into our visit. We also planned to do our pregnancy reveal photo in front of the iconic stones, so I was extra excited for that! I'm really glad we got to visit, and I would definitely recommend it, although it did fit a bit underwhelming in the moment. Maybe because the pathway is fairly far back in some places, but it just felt a little smaller than I had anticipated. It was still really cool to see though, and I love the photos we got to announce that Baby K was on the way again! Definitely worth a trip outside of town a bit!

Salisbury, England

On the same day as our visit to Stonehenge, we got to visit the city of Salisbury. This was honestly one of my very favorite parts of the trip. We got to tour and visit the beautiful and historical Salisbury Cathedral, which has the best preserved original copy of the Magna Carta (only four remain in the world). After that, we went into the city, and I just loved the rolling hills, the sheep, and the feeling of being outside of the big city after our time in London. They were even having a farmer's market in town that day, and they had some of the very best bread, sausages, and hummus I've ever had! I would highly recommend a visit here as a part of your visit to Stonehenge!

All in all, a trip to Europe is never a bad one, and once we got over the initial craziness of trying to get over to Scotland, we thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our trip adventuring around Scotland and England. If you're looking for a great trip for July, with temperatures in the 65-75 degree range (with it being cooler in Scotland and warmer down in London), definitely consider this trip! Some of our group also went on to Paris, which is an easy ride through the Chunnel or a short plane ride away. We had been there before and had been away from Eli long enough so we decided to pass and come home earlier. Either way, it would be easy to add on a trip to Ireland or a trip to Paris and make this a multiple country adventure! Send any travel questions my way!