Dear 3 1/2 year old Eloise

Our sweet Eloise,

You are such an entertainer. You love when we show you our undivided attention, clap, and making us laugh. This last weekend, your “cousins”, Hadley & Karsyn, showed you their gymnastics skills. You got on their mat and bent your back backwards and popped your neck back. We clapped and laughed. You loved it so much that you kept doing it waiting for our applause.

You are so talkative. You actually said, “I talk a lot” lol. You love to tell us stories especially bedtime stories. You always start it with “once upon a time” and end it with “amen”.

You are pretty independent. You can pick out your own clothes and put it on yourself. You can put your own socks and shoes on. You can open child-proof doors! You were so proud of yourself for that one, “Mom, I did it!”. Over the Summer you told me, “I want to wear panties like you to sleep”. So from that day on, you did. We returned our big box of pull-ups back to Costco. We told you how proud we are of you, you replied, “So is Jesus? And Goofy?”.

You have high emotional intelligence. You are so kind and thoughtful. When you found out you were going to be a big sister, you were so excited. “Like real? I’ve been wishing and praying”, you said with glee. When we told you that you will have a little sister, you replied “Jesus gave me a sister!”. We can’t wait to see you blossom to be the best big sister.

You love to travel. This last year, you went to Disney World, Canada, and North Carolina. Some people say you won’t remember these days, but to this day, you still talk about your adventures. You remember you got your first hair cut at Disney World and that you made snow angels in Canada. You, also, remember about our time at Hyatt Lost Pines, “I love that adventure hotel. Can we take sister there?” When we were in North Carolina, you asked your friend, “Will you married me, Landon?” lol. You had so much fun vacationing with friends.

You have great understanding and comprehension. Once we were at Target, you really wanted a singing Minnie Mouse. You really wanted to take it home and play with it right away. I can see you wanted to throw a fit and cry because I said “no”, but then I added, “you can put it on your birthday list” you were able to comprehend that maybe not now, but another time I can have this toy. You thought about what I said and replied, “Okay, I’ll put it on my birthday list!”. When we go to the store and when you want something, now you say, “I’ll just put it on my birthday list”.

I would ask time to slow down, but I love watching you grow and learn. You have quite the personality and I love it.

Mommy and Daddy love you very much. We are so proud of the little person you are becoming. We hope you will always remember to be yourself because you are more than enough.

Love,

Mommy

I just can’t wait…. or maybe I can.

I have been in the “I just can’t wait” mood today.

I was driving back home from the dentist office and it was snowing. I was sliding on the road and I became frustrated. UGH. Not again. Last week the same thing happened to me; I slid and hit a curb then slowly hit a pole. I ended being stuck in the middle of the road until some angel of a man pulled me with his truck to safety.

“I just can’t wait to get an SUV!”

“I just can’t wait for hubs to graduate!”

“I just can’t wait to have our own house!”

“I just can’t wait to have babies!”

This mood made me discontent with my present. My present isn’t bad; just in that moment I felt pity for myself. I wanted to fast forward my life to 14 months from now. As if in 14 months my happiness will be fulfilled.

“I’ll be happy when (fill in the blank).”

I have a good life. I have a job I love, a warm place to sleep at night, a vehicle that takes me places, a supportive husband, friends in this new land… what more do I need?

In my moment of frustration, I disregarded every blessing I have.

The moment is now. (“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24)

I can hope and dream, but don’t take the present for granted. Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present. 🙂

Find joy in everyday. When I graduated college, my aunt told me “You’ll make more money, you’ll spend more money. Life is about the time you spend with the people you love.”

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, far he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Hebrews 13:5

I love to play in the snow. Problem was, no one was here to enjoy it with. I decided that wasn't going to stop me!
I love to play in the snow. Problem was, no one was here to enjoy it with. I decided that wasn’t going to stop me!

Sorry, I’m on a cleanse!

For the holidays, we went on multiple out-of-town trips. We went to the Smokies with my in-laws, traveled to Florida to see our grandma, and spent the New Year in Charleston. Hubs and I are food lovers. We tried out new foods and ate out for every meal. Of course, I gained a few pounds, but I also felt like I trashed my body.

My New Year’s resolution is to live healthier. I started incorporating ‘Meatless Monday’, stopped eating after 7, and started doing cardio at the gym 3-4x a week. After trashing my body during the holidays, I wanted to start a juice cleanse to start fresh.

Before Cleansing:

Before starting a juice cleanse, get educated. I read blogs, reviews, tips, advices, and anything that could help me decide on which company to purchase the juices from, what to expect, and if I even can do this!

I chose to do a 3-day juice cleanse because a 1-day was too short and 5-day seemed too long to do for a first timer! I chose the company Pressed Juicery, a California-based company, from reviews online.

Prepping my body before cleansing meant only drinking one cup of coffee instead of two, eating a salad for lunch, and having dinner at 6pm. I, also, chose to do the cleanse on my 4 days off to lessen any temptation. This turned out to be more than just a physical cleanse for me; it was also spiritual.

My 6 juices per day!
My 6 juices per day!

Juice 1: Greens 2 consists of kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon

Juice 2:  Citrus 2 consists of pineapple, apple, lemon, mint

Juice 3: Greens 3 consists of kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon, ginger

Juice 4: Roots 3 consists of beet, apple, lemon, ginger

Juice 5: Didn’t have a name, but consists of lemon, cayenne pepper, alkaline h20

Juice 6: Vanilla Almond consists of almonds, dates, vanilla bean, sea salt (my favorite & most calories)

I, also, bought the chlorophyll h20 (recommended to drink throughout the day) and the aloe vera h2o (recommended to drink before bedtime- not that good!)

Day One:

Day one was the toughest, mentally. There were a lot of prayers this day! I never felt like I was starving, though. I drank the juices every 2 hours as recommended and plenty of waters. I didn’t do any cardio this day, just a minute plank. I went to bed at my usual time, and I was actually full!

Day Two:

I felt pretty dang good on day two! Mentally, I was stronger. If I could finish day one, I knew I could do this! Hubs took me on an afternoon date, despite my hesitation. We went to mall to grab some things we needed and to the movies. I sneaked my little cooler in the movies with my next 2 juices. I totally forgot to sit in the aisle, though! Oops! I just did a little cardio this day.

I sneaked my bottles of juice in at the movies.
I sneaked my bottles of juice in at the movies.

Day Three:

Day three was the toughest, physically! I think it would have helped if I picked my juices because by the third day, I was over the flavors! We went grocery shopping and I cooked gumbo for hubs’ dinner. SO TEMPTING! It smelled so good; I wanted it so bad! It took a lot of self-control to tell myself ‘no’. Hubs wanted to watch a movie, again, so I packed my little cooler. This time, the smell of popcorn got to me. I really, really wanted it! Ahh! But I toughened it out. I just kept drinking my juice and water. It was almost the end of the cleanse, I COULD DO IT! I repeated to myself, just a few more hours, just a few more hourssss!!! I did a minute plank before bed.

ALL DONE!
ALL DONE!

After Cleansing:

Being a food lover, I was really surprised that I was able to stick out. My body and mind felt pretty dang good. I did lose a couple pounds (more like water weight), but that really isn’t the point of a cleanse. I didn’t get a headache from the lack of caffeine and didn’t feel tired. I was still able to do things around the house, run errands, go on dates with my husband, and do a light work-out. I did start saying things that people on a cleanse typically say, for example, one of our friends invited us for dinner on Friday, my reply “Sorry, I’m on a cleanse!” or when my hubs wanted to go to a coffee house Saturday morning, “Ugh, I’m cleansing!”.

I didn’t realize how much hubs and I go towards food for a date activity. It was hard to decide what to do without involving food. Also, I felt like ridding my body of toxins helped me grow closer to Jesus. Is that silly? When I eat junk, it affected my body, mind, and spirit. I get moody, impatient, and lazy. Indulgence and gluttony is of a sinful spirit and to hold strong for a fast is so good for a spiritual awakening. One of my best friends said, “Your body doesn’t have the energy to waste on silly and petty things and instead your eyes and mind are open and closer to the realm of Heaven.” Ain’t that the truth!

Today was my first day off the cleanse. I ate light: small bowl of cereal with almond milk for breakfast and a turkey pinwheel with Laughing Cow spread. I did drink a small hazelnut latte… Mmmm. After our little coffee date, we went on a hike. It was a peaceful time.

My first taste of coffee in 3 days. 8oz hazelnut latte.. mmm..
My first taste of coffee in 3 days. 8oz hazelnut latte.. mmm..
Hubs and I went for a hike and found a peaceful spot to relax.
Hubs and I went for a hike and found a peaceful spot to relax.

Hello Fall!

This is our first official fall in North Carolina. You can actually see (and feel) the season change here! The leaves change colors, the weather is cooler, and we can enjoy the outdoors!

I have been working a ton this month, since they allowed overtime again. When I would get off work, hubs and I would go on a hike and hammock, or go biking on the trails. The weather just feels too amazing to waste it indoors! It’s been really fun exploring what North Carolina has to offer, too!

This was the last weekend to rent canoes at Umstead park. It was a beautiful fall day!
This was the last weekend to rent canoes at Umstead park. It was a beautiful fall day!
We bought ENO hammocks and it was perfect to relax in after canoeing.
We bought Eno hammocks and it was perfect to relax in after canoeing.
We went trailblazing! We took our bikes and hit the trails at Umstead!
We went trailblazing! We took our bikes and hit the trails at Umstead!
We spent the afternoon picnicking at Dix Hill. We could see the Raleigh skyline while munching on some Trader Joe's. We still support our Saints even in Carolina territory!
We spent the afternoon picnicking at Dix Hill. We could see the Raleigh skyline while munching on some Trader Joe’s. We still support our Saints even in Carolina territory!
We enjoyed a bonfire at one of our friend's house. It was a beautiful crisp fall night. Hubs played some tunes on his guitar and I ate up some s'mores!
We enjoyed a bonfire at one of our friend’s house. It was a beautiful crisp fall night. Hubs played some tunes on his guitar and I ate up some s’mores and hotdogs!
One day after work, we hiked at the Eno River State Park. I am so grateful for this state and my husband!
One day after work, we hiked at the Eno River State Park. I am so grateful for this state and my husband!
ENO hammocking at the Eno River. Perfection.
Eno hammocking at the Eno River. Perfection.
We celebrating National Dessert Day with ice-cream at The Parlour in Durham.
Celebrating National Dessert Day with ice-cream at The Parlour in Durham.

It’s been 10 months since we moved away from our family.

It’s been 10 months since we said “Yes” to God’s call for us.

It’s been 10 months since this adventure has started.

We surrendered it all to Him, and He has abundantly blessed us far beyond our dreams.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

– Psalm 19:1

OOTD: 9/21/14

I am a huge football fanatic. I love football season! I root for the New Orleans Saints. It’s been hard to catch all their games living in North Carolina (Panther territory!), but I still keep up on my ESPN app (cue “Football on my phone” by the Manning Bros.).

We decided to celebrate the Saints win by checking out Boylan Bridge Brewpub in downtown. Of course, I had to dress for the occasion. 🙂

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset photo-11

Hat- Free People

Jersey- Reebok

Shorts- aniina (bought at a cute Christmas boutique in Fredericksburg, TX)

Sandals- Tory Burch

Purse- Coach

Sunnies- ray ban

Watch- Michael Kors

Documenting the Streets: Tips from Dominic Stafford

Awesome tips for street photography!

The Daily Post

A street photographer must adapt, improvise, and blend in to any situation — and be ready to find beauty in even the dullest of scenes.

Photographing on the streets is like no other form of photography. It’s real, it’s pure luck, and most importantly it shows life as it is, in real time. A street photographer must adapt, improvise, and blend in to any situation — and be ready to find beauty in even the dullest of scenes.

When I brave the streets of South East Asia, I never really think about anything else other than: “Would that be a good shot? Would that be a good shot? Or would that be a good shot?” I’m in photo mode, and it can become quite tiring. After thirty minutes I’m sitting down, enjoying a soft drink. But even then, I think: “That would be a great shot, and that would…

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