Bryan’s Journey: Part One

Bryan’s Journey: Part One

As you may (or may not) have noticed, my blog has been fairly quiet as of late. There is a reason for this, and unfortunately it is not a happy reason.

My husband, Bryan, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last week, and our family is really still processing all that this diagnosis entails. I am taking a break from my DIY posts, to share some of my heart with you all, and I am hoping you will pray for us as we begin this journey. I plan to continue to blog as normal, but may interject things about Bryan along the way. 

About a month ago, Bryan noticed that he had a lymph node near his neck that was enlarged. He had just had a cold virus, so we assumed that the lymph node was swollen because of that, however he went to the doctor just to be sure. After a series of appointments and blood work that didn’t show anything conclusive, Bryan had a CT scan done. We went to meet with a surgeon to talk about removing the lymph node for a biopsy, and in this meeting she told us that his CT scan showed that there were other enlarged lymph nodes in the upper part of his body and per the radiologists words that this was “likely lymphoma.” This was seriously out of left field for us, as Bryan had no symptoms or any other signs pointing to something so seriously wrong within his body. Since then, Bryan did have the node removed, and it was biopsied and found to be Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The week following the biopsy was filled with further tests — a heart scan, a lung test, a bone marrow biopsy and a PET scan. The PET scan showed that there was a random lymph node below Bryan’s diaphragm that was related to the lymphoma, but outside of that, nothing new showed, and we are praising God for that. As of now, his organs remain unaffected and his bone marrow is also not affected (this is a huge praise!). His heart is strong and his lungs are also performing in the 98th percentile, so these are all really good things. Bryan has health and youth on his side as he fights this!

We met with his oncologist (seriously, even typing that word makes me anxious) this week and received his treatment plan. Bryan has been diagnosed at a Stage 3 (we had thought he would be a Stage 2, but the random node/nodes near his pelvis have moved him to a Stage 3). The plan is that Bryan will go through six modes of chemotherapy, with potential radiation to follow. Each mode consists of two treatments, so Bryan will receive a total of 12 treatments. His first treatment will be this coming Monday, and each subsequent treatment will follow every two weeks. We are planning to treat the lymphoma with ABVD chemotheraphy (for those who know more and would ask this!), instead of using the STANFORD or BEACOPP approach, given that the risks and side effects seem higher than a small percentage potential decrease in the likelihood of a relapse.

Bryan will be having the four chemo drugs administered together, every two weeks and his total treatment duration will be 24 weeks. His doctor is extremely optimistic about the results of this treatment path and because Bryan is in excellent overall health, doesn’t anticipate that Bryan will have terrible side effects. A PET scan will be done after 2 modes (so 4 treatments) to make sure that the chemotherapy is doing its job, and heart and lung scans will be done again after 3 modes (6 treatments). We have an appointment this week with another oncologist for a second opinion, just to make sure that this is the best way to combat this disease, but don’t anticipate a change in the treatment plan as Bryan’s diagnosis usually receives a “standard” form of care. But, we will see what the other doctor has to say, and go from there.

(Side note, Bryan’s doctors have been AMAZING so far. Even his dermatologist has been calling to check up on him and see how she can help. Bryan has a natural talent at meeting people and really just drawing them in, and even in this valley he is walking through, he continues to do that, and I am not surprised!  That’s just totally Bryan. His oncologist is a wonderful doctor who communicates so well, and I am so thankful for that as well as his willingness to answer the million questions we have and not make us feel rushed. The doctors have called quickly with results and have really taken the time to explain things. I feel really well taken care of by the medical professionals that we are coming in contact with, and definitely feel God’s hand in all of that.)

The good news in all of this, if there is any, is that Hodgkin’s lymphoma has really high curable rates. In the words of Bryan’s oncologist, “If you had to pick a cancer to get, this would be towards the top of the list.” I know this doesn’t make the treatment easier, or the situation any more fun, but it definitely leaves a huge ray of hope on the entire situation. (P.S. I am in no way a medical expert, and I actually try to stay away from medical things as much as I can, and have really succeeded in that up until now. So, I apologize if I spell something wrong, or say something wrong. I am just relaying the information that I know, and that changes with every day!)

I can’t tell you the emotions that raced through my body when the surgeon  told us the results of the CT scan. I am a positive thinker, and I try to see the good in every situation. I thought for sure that this was just a lymph node acting up that would go back to normal and turn out to be nothing but maybe the aftermath of a virus. And all of a sudden, I realized that was likely not going to be the case. In the moment, I didn’t know whether to cry or stop breathing, but it was the look on my husband’s face, that kept me from doing either.

Bryan is an amazing protector. He is the husband I always dreamed of in the fact that I feel so safe around him and completely just protected. It has been extremely difficult to see him not being himself — to see the worry in his eyes, and to hear the anxiety in his voice. And on top of all that he is dealing with, somehow he is still constantly apologizing for this as if he brought this on himself. But, I also know that Bryan is a fighter. He has overcome many situations already in his life that have not been easy and how I wish that I could take this from him so he didn’t have to deal with this as well. But, I am confident that he can fight this and that he will come out stronger on the other side.

While I am confident in Bryan and his positive outlook and attitude, I am even more confident in our God. I have been so comforted by many Bible verses and songs these past few weeks. The song I keep repeating over and over again lately is Passion’s, “The Lord our God.” The lyrics say that God is a promise keeper and He finishes what He starts. God has begun this journey in our lives, but He will finish it and He will ultimately have the final glory in the entire situation. We know that while we wait for results, wait for plans, wait for our lives to move forward, He is here and He is good. (Seriously, if you haven’t heard this song, go download it now, you will love it!)

The Lord our God is ever faithful

Never changing through the ages

From this darkness You will lead us

And forever we will say

You’re the Lord our God

God will lead us. This is a valley in our lives, and while we don’t know what tomorrow holds, we know Who holds tomorrow. What an amazing comfort that is. I often wonder how people deal with situations like this and don’t know the One who loves them more than anything. We have such Hope, and I am just in awe of that. God is able and He tells us to “not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.”

We are definitely stressed, and struggling to handle this diagnosis. We are fearful for what treatment will hold for Bryan and what the next steps will be. But I know that in all of this, we ultimately trust God. He is in charge. He is the one who decides, He is the one who heals, and He is the one who already knows what Bryan is going through and what awaits him. He has not left us, but He is with us every single step of the way. In the waiting, in the tears, in the struggle of dealing with something we were not prepared for, the God of all is literally right next to us as we walk this road, and honestly, the more I remember that, my fears completely subside.

Can I also just take a minute to tell you how impressed I am with Bryan? He has been so strong through all of this, when I know that inside, he is just a wave of emotions. He continues to work, and live his life with confidence knowing that his life is not in his own hands. I am amazed at the dad and husband he continues to be, in spite of a fairly big obstacle being thrown his way. I seriously don’t think I have ever loved him as much as I do right now. Not to mention, in true Bryan-form, he has made friends with all of his doctors and nurses already, and I know that he will be a shining light to so many others through this journey!

Thank you SO much to our friends and family who have come alongside us in this journey. I remember thinking the morning of Bryan’s surgery that I couldn’t believe how calm I was. And the reason is because we were so surrounded by prayer. Without that, I would have been a mess. I have a peace that is not coming from inside me, but is clearly coming from Jesus. We can feel your prayers and we have really never felt so loved before. We appreciate all of the offers for help with the kids, and help with meals and every kind word and card passed our way. We are so thankful for the people reaching out to us and know that God is really reaching out to us, through all of you. I am so thankful for those that are standing with us and walking this journey with us — we are so not alone. I can’t really express in words how thankful we are, so I pray that each of you that has supported us knows who you are and knows just how much we love and appreciate you.

What we need now is really just prayer! We definitely don’t want a pity party. We honestly want to feel as “normal” as possible. So please continue to treat us the same! A sense of normalcy throughout this will really help time pass. We know that realistically we will need flexibility from people as the next few months may be unpredictable, so bear with us as we figure this all out! 

For those of you asking how you can pray for us right now, we would love prayers for continued peace and calming as we approach the beginning of this journey. Please pray that we would make wise decisions and that Bryan’s doctors and caretakers would be the absolute best that there is. Pray that the chemo would do its job and eliminate the cancer. Please pray for Bryan, that he would remain feeling as healthy as possible, and that the side effects of the chemotherapy would be limited to none. Please pray that I would have energy and strength as I pick up some additional responsibilities and that I would be support that Bryan needs. And, please pray that Bryan might be a light to someone (or many!) through all of this — we know that God has His hand in everything, and we want Him to use it mightily. Thank you, so much, for walking with us through this! God is so good, you guys, and I know that He will work this all out for His glory.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

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Happy Birthday, Madalyn!

Happy Birthday, Madalyn!

Today our first baby turns THREE! Seriously, time is going by way too quickly for my liking. Read on to hear my birthday thoughts for this very special little birthday girl. 

To my sweet baby girl,

Happy 3rd Birthday, Madalyn! I can not believe that today you are officially a three-year old. I can still remember the day you were born like it was yesterday. I’m not going to lie, that day itself was not one of my best, but, it brought me you and I am so forever thankful for the blessing of your life!

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When I look at your newborn pictures, I can see you in every little feature still today. It is hard to see you grow up so quickly, when I can so easily remember the days of you being a newborn.

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You were the one that made me a mama, Madalyn, and I am so thankful for the chance to play that role in your life. You were the one who made me realize I can run on less sleep than I ever thought possible, and the one that first made my heart almost burst when you took your very first steps. You made your Daddy and I parents, and while we have gone through ups and downs in our roles, we wouldn’t change that for the world! I never knew how unconditionally and how much I could love someone until you were born, sweet girl.

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Every year that passes, I continue to be so amazed at the person you are becoming.  You are no longer that little newborn baby who was unable to do a single thing on her own. You are no longer that little one-year old girl, on the verge of walking…

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Or, the little two-year old girl who had just become a big sister…(could you look any more grown up in this picture?!)…

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You are now three. Three years old.

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I mean, just look at you! So grown up.

You love to sing, Madalyn, and you rarely stop. We know you have fallen asleep only because we no longer hear you singing from your bedroom! Your favorite songs are probably “Shake It Off”, “Under the Sea”, and “I Love You, Lord” (yes, quite the variety!). I love how creative you are! You are often making up words to the tune of songs you know, and just singing away. I love listening to you and your Daddy sing before bed — I hope you always have a special place in your heart for music! You also enjoy serenading your brother and making him laugh, which I love. You love to dance, which is usually more of jumping and running around, but it is dancing nonetheless.

You are a great talker, and your Daddy and I are still constantly entertained by the things you say. You speak super well, and put together great sentences. You have always been really good at communicating, but this past year I have seen the greatest difference! You also have an amazing memory. I mean, we could have said something one time, two months ago, and you just do not forget it! You are really great at associating places and people with memories that you have.

You are a girly girl, which I absolutely love. You love to play dress up, and you are frequently asking to wear a dress, when given the choice of picking out your outfit for the day. You also love picking out a bow and/or necklace to match your outfits, and pink is definitely your favorite color! Although you are girly down to the core, you also really love to be outside. You are always asking to play outside and you could stay out there and play forever if we let you. You love to swing, and slide and blow bubbles, especially with your Daddy. You also really enjoy animals, and the zoo is one of your favorite places to go! Although, your favorite part of the zoo is the carousel, and you would ride on that over and over again if you could!

I am so thankful that I am able to stay home with you, because I can tell, that you, just like your mama, enjoy routine. You really like knowing what’s coming and what to expect each day. You love to be home in your “cozy, cozy” bed and in general, you just really like being home. You like adventure as much as any other toddler, but there is an obvious sense of security that you get when we are home.

You are a really fun big sister! You and your brother do not perfectly get along, but, you have a sweet spot in your heart for him, and I can already tell. Whenever we FaceTime with family, you always want to show them Gavyn, and make sure they know he is there. You are always excited to help get him up in the morning, and as much as having a little brother isn’t always the most convenient thing for you (i.e. when he wants one your little toys that he can’t have!), you love him. You love to hold his hands when you are in the wagon together, and you love to give him hugs. Gavyn is really lucky to have you for a sister.

I hope that you always know how much you are loved, Madalyn. You have so many people who love you so, so much. You are an energetic and spunky little girl, but you also have a lot of kindness and sensitivity in your personality which makes you just a wonderfully unique little girl. You are very passionate about what you think is important, and I think that is something that is really going to carry you far.

My prayer for you, my princess girl, is that you would continue to grow and thrive and love Jesus. He is already doing some amazing things in your life and I pray that this next year would be one where you continue to ask questions about who He is and sing those songs that praise Him in your sweet little voice. I pray that you would stay strong in your convictions, no matter how small they seem now, as I know that will be something to your advantage as you grow up. I pray that you would continue to be a good friend, and a good sister. And, most of all, I pray that you would know how loved you are, that you would know that there is a God who loves you so much more than you could ever fathom, and that you are never, ever, alone.

Thank you for being the wonderful daughter that you are, Madalyn. We love you so, so much!

Love,

Mama

Friday Favorites: Makeup Favorites

Friday Favorites: Makeup Favorites

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I am linking up with AndreaErika and Narci to share my Five Friday Favorites again this week!

(P.S. Andrea was kind enough to post about Nora’s fundraiser this week on her blog! Check it out HERE!)

I am keeping this post light today and sharing with you my five favorite makeup items! I actually had a hard time picking just five, even though I don’t wear a ton of makeup — but the five listed here would be the ones I put at the top of my list:

1) Too Faced Amazing Face Oil-Free Liquid Foundation

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Of course, they are discontinuing my favorite foundation as far as I can tell since both Ulta and Sephora have stopped selling it, but nevertheless, it is my favorite so I’m sharing it with you! I had my makeup done at Sephora about a month ago, and I will be switching to Marc Jacobs Genius Gel Super-Charged Oil-Free Foundation, which I really like too. But, you can still grab this Too-Faced foundation on sale HERE. This foundation has awesome coverage and keeps shine away for longer than any other foundation I have tried!

2) Too Faced Shadow Insurance Primer

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I have been using this primer for a couple of years now, and I really love it! This little tube goes a LONG way, since you don’t need to use much of it per application. It prevents crease in your eye shadow, and it also really brings out the true color of the eye shadow that you are wearing. It also helps your eye shadow stay on longer, overall. I definitely recommend using a primer underneath your shadow to make the time you spend putting on your makeup worth it!

(I also loooooove Too Faced’s Primed and Poreless Primer for my face. It makes my foundation last a lot longer! Yes, I know, I am cheating by throwing in a sixth item to my five favorites this week — oops!)

3) Urban Decay Naked3 Eye Shadow

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I just purchased this eye shadow compact  about a month ago, and I am loving the many color options! I love the shimmer in a lot of the colors and I like that I can pick a completely different color combination every single day! You can’t beat the variety for the price. And, this compact will last me for literally forever! The eye shadow stays on well (paired with the primer I use above), and the colors come out true.

4) Cover Girl Lash Blast Fusion Mascara

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Cover Girl has been my favorite mascara for years and years. I loved the regular Lash Blast when it came out, but now my favorite is the Lash Blast Fusion. It gives you both length and volume, and it doesn’t clump! I have tried many different mascaras, and I have always had an issue with them clumping. I have longer eye-lashes, so the length isn’t a huge issue for me, but I just really love this mascara and keep coming back to it as my favorite.

5) Sephora Ultra Shine Lip Gloss

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My favorite lip gloss is Sephora’s Ultra Shine Lip Gloss. It lasts long enough for me and I love so many of the color options. I also love the price point!

I hope you are having a great Friday!

xo,

Abby

Nora — Little Light of Mine Fundraiser

Nora — Little Light of Mine Fundraiser

Happy Monday, friends! Today, I have the privilege of getting to tell you briefly about a sweet little girl, named Nora.

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This is Nora, and her daddy (look at that sweet smile!). I went to high school with Nora’s mom, Carrie, and we have been able to keep in touch since then even though we are both busy being grown-up moms now! Nora was born with a rare lymphatic malformation, which affects her face, tongue, airway and lungs. Because of this, she had a trach placed at birth to allow her to breathe, and a g-tube to help her eat. She is currently traveling to New York every six to eight weeks for surgeries with a doctor that has had great success with LM patients.

Nora is one year old, and having met her, I can tell you that she is such a little joy. She really smiles so often and her whole face lights up! She is an active little girl, and I am sure that her two older sisters keep her busy! She really is such a little light to those around her.

As a mom, Nora’s story hits home hard with me — Nora and her family have incurred many medical and travel costs as they have been on a long journey of care for Nora. Flying to New York frequently would be hard enough, but to do it with a little one year old who just wants to move around would make it even more difficult. Besides those larger trips for surgeries, the every day care that is needed by Nora is really a lot in addition to the normal care an active one-year old needs. I know we all complain when we have newborns that don’t sleep, but this little girl has alarms that go off in the middle of the night if her heart rate isn’t where it should be. Talk about restless sleep for both Carrie and her husband, and Nora.

Nora’s story is so inspiring to me for many reasons, but one reason is that I can see how God is working in Nora’s life and in the life of those who come in contact with her.  I can tell you that if you met Carrie, you wouldn’t know that she is a mom struggling with a really difficult situation. She is bright, and cheery, and while maybe sleep-deprived, she is 100% focused on what her family needs. Not only that, but she isn’t sulking! Carrie is praying, and moving through life knowing that she knows a God who is stronger than the situation that they are facing. (You can read her blog here.) Carrie fully trusts that God has Nora in the palm of His hand, and while this may not be a situation she would have ever imagined herself in, she is confident that God is in complete control.

As you can imagine, this situation has not been easy for Carrie, her husband, or their other two young daughters. I have two questions for you, as a reader of this post:

1) Will you pray for Nora and her family?

God has performed many miracles in sweet Nora’s life already, and we are continuing to pray for many more! Prayer is the most powerful thing that we can do to show our support for Nora and her family.

“You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  Psalm 139:13-16

Carrie wrote this on her blog last week: “Nora is fearfully and wonderfully made, and because God has all her days planned out, there is nothing for me to worry about.   I may not understand the ‘why’ of everything, but I know it will be used for good.  Thank you for coming alongside Nora and our family as we continue on this journey!  I don’t know what we would do without you!! Please pray for continued healing and protection from any more infection/issues, and also for wisdom for the doctors as they make decisions regarding her care. Her heart rate was a little higher last night which can sometimes mean trouble-please pray she stays healthy!!”

2) Would you consider purchasing a t-shirt and/or donating money to help out Nora and her family with medical and travel costs?

Traveling back and forth to New York is expensive, and I can only imagine the medical bills that they have seen over the last year of Nora’s life. Finances can be such a stressful thing for a family, and I would love to be able to help them out in whatever small way that we can so they can at least cross that one concern off of their list.

I have set up a fundraising site here: Nora–Little Light of Mine Fundraiser

You can purchase a t-shirt on that site, that says “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” (as little Nora most certainly is!) — there are both unisex and ladies fit options for the shirt. Any proceeds raised from the sale of these shirts will go directly to Nora and her family. If you also feel so inclined, there is an option to donate a set amount of money towards the family (they would receive every penny of that amount) as well. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at simplybeingabby@gmail.com, and I will be happy to help you.

My hope is that we can wear these shirts and show Nora and her family how much they are loved and being prayed for! This fundraiser will only be open for a couple of weeks, so make sure you check it now!

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To keep up with Nora and what is going on in her life you can follow Carrie’s blog.

Thanks so much for being a part of this sweet little one’s journey — she is definitely so loved!

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145: 17-19

xo,

Abby

 

 

DIY Dress Up Wardrobe

DIY Dress Up Wardrobe

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Madalyn has really been enjoying dressing up as of late, and the organizer in me knew that we needed a place to neatly store all of her dress up clothes and accessories! The sentimental side of me also wanted to re-purpose a dresser that I had been storing — this dresser was part of my bedroom furniture growing up, and I was really excited to be able to turn it into something really useful and pretty for Maddy! This was my first experience using Annie Sloan’s chalk paint, and it was a really positive one. I am already looking for other pieces of furniture to paint! The best party about the paint, is that you don’t need to sand the furniture at all. As you can see, the dresser I used had a super shiny finish to it, and it did not require any sanding to still end up with a smooth, non-shiny surface after painting! I also think that the cost for the paint is reasonable especially when you consider you are getting a completely different looking piece of furniture in the end.

I turned this…

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I wanted to give a quick tutorial on how I turned this dresser into a dress up wardrobe, and what supplies I used.

Supplies Needed:

  • Old wardrobe/dresser
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the color of your choice (I used the color “Florence“)
  • Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax
  • An old t-shirt to use for a rag
  • ConTact Paper
  • Closet rod & pole cups (Home Depot)
  • Spray paint (for the closet rod)
  • Hangers & Clips
  • Mirror
  • Hooks for the sides
  • Optional: New Drawer Pulls (Hobby Lobby)

Directions:

1) Remove any drawers you are not going to use. Remove drawer pulls from the drawers you are going to be painting.

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2) Clean off the furniture. This is really important! There are multiple ways to prep the furniture before you paint it, including using mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol. Your paint may not stick if the furniture isn’t clean — so don’t skip this step even if it looks clean!

3) Paint on your chalk paint! This paint was SO easy to use! I did two coats of paint on this dresser and the drawer. The first coat was dry in probably less than an hour.

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4) Apply the wax coat. This was the scariest part, but it was so easy! I just ripped up an old t-shirt and used that to smooth on the wax (the Annie Sloan wax brush was pricey so we skipped that and went for the economical option!). If you look really closely, you will see some streaks, but it doesn’t matter because it all just blends in and dries really nicely! I just used one coat of wax, but if you are going to be frequently touching the painted parts of the furniture, it does recommend using a couple of coats.

5) Line the inside of the dresser with ConTact paper. I did this because I didn’t like how the inside of the dresser looked and I wanted to pretty it up a little bit!

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6) Cut your closet rod down to size and spray paint it if you desire. Attach it to the inside.

7) Attach your drawer pulls.

8) Hang the mirror and the hooks on the sides of the dresser.

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9) Organize all of your dress up clothes and accessories!

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Madalyn loves her new dress up wardrobe, and I love that she has an organized place to store everything! Win-win! What do you think? Brave enough to try out some chalk paint now that you see how easy it is?!

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Downstairs Playroom

Playroom Update

Playroom Project: Part Four

Monster First Birthday Party: Monster Jell-os & Monster Cups

Monster First Birthday Party: Monster Jell-os & Monster Cups

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This is the end of my many monster birthday party posts, friends! These little monster jell-0s were a hit at Gavyn’s Monster First Birthday Party! I wanted to give you all the directions on how to make them, since they didn’t follow the regular jell-o making instructions:

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Ingredients Needed:

Directions:

1) Spray the silicone muffin pan with cooking spray, making sure the holes are entirely coated.

2) Make the jell-o, according to the box, BUT use 1/2 of the amount of water. I used 1/2 the amount of both the hot AND cold water that the directions call for.

3) Pour the jell-o into the molds and allow them to set.

4) Add the candy eyes right before you are ready to serve them. They will slide around and melt off of the jell-os after they sit on them for too long, so I would wait to do this until an hour or so before you are going to serve them.

These were a fun snack for both the kids and adults alike!

On a completely unrelated note, I just wanted to mention that the little Monster Sippy Cups I made are another SUPER easy craft that you can do yourself for a monster themed party. I hot glued plastic googly eyes (from Michael’s) onto Take & Toss sippy cups. They turned out super cute and the eyes are actually still on ours (I hand wash the cups!), but you could easily peel them off too if you wanted to remove them — the hot glue is not permanent.

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I hope these posts have been helpful! This was one of the most fun parties I have ever planned, and while Gavyn won’t remember it, I hope all the family and friends there had a blast!

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Monster First Birthday Party

Monster First Birthday Party: DIY Monster Utensil Holders

Monster First Birthday Party: DIY Water Bottle Labels

Monster First Birthday Party: DIY Monster Favor Bags

What I Wore Wednesday & Stitch Fix Review

What I Wore Wednesday & Stitch Fix Review

I am linking up with The Pleated Poppy again this week for What I Wore Wednesday!

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I received my second Stitch Fix box last week and thought I’d give some feedback on my Stitch Fix styling thus far. Overall, I really do love the concept of Stitch Fix! If you haven’t heard of it, let me give you a brief summary on how the whole process works:

  • Go online to Stitch Fix and fill out a personal survey. The survey will give you example outfits to rate, and ask you lots of questions about what you like (colors, jewelry/no jewelry, patterns/prints) and about your body type (height, weight, pants size, long torso, long legs, etc.). You can even give a link to your style board on Pinterest (if you have one), and they can look at that to see what kinds of things you pin. The survey is pretty detailed, and while it won’t take a long time to fill out, I think it does a fairly good job of helping your stylist figure out what you generally like and dislike.
  • Sign up for a “fix”. You will receive five items delivered right to your doorstep. You can try on everything at home and figure out what fits, doesn’t fit, what you like and what you don’t like.
  • Figure out what to keep from your fix. There is a big advantage to keeping all five items in your box. If you do, you get 25% off of your total order. If I had kept everything in my last fix, that discount would have been like getting one of the five shirts I received, for free.
  • You go online and checkout (within three business days of receiving your items) — marking what you are keeping and what you are sending back. You rate each item based on fit and price and there is a place to leave comments on each item. All of these help your future stylist figure out what you did or didn’t like about something, and should ultimately help you receive items that you would like! You pack the things you are returning into a postage-paid bag that they provide, and just toss it in the mailbox.

So what is the cost? 

It costs $20 for a styling fee. However, this $20 is applied to any items that you keep, so as long as you like one of the things you receive, there really isn’t a “cost” for the service. Shipping and return shipping is free. Items are usually between $40-$60 each, on average. I don’t consider that to be an inexpensive price, however, the clothes seem to be of good quality, and I wanted to get outside of my normal “fashion box”, which this has done for me.

What I Like About Stitch Fix:

*Convenience: I am a mama to two little ones under the age of three, and my time is limited. I like that I can have items shipped right to me, and I can try them on in the comfort of my own home. Returning items is also so EASY.

*Change: I like that this gets me to try some new things that I wouldn’t have thought to try out myself.

*Styling Ideas: Each shipment comes with individual cards showing ideas for how to wear the items you are receiving. I like getting new ideas and it helps me decide if something will work for me, or not.

*On My Time: There isn’t a requirement to sign up for a schedule of shipments. You get to pick and choose how frequently, or infrequently, you want to receive a fix. I like that there isn’t pressure to sign up for recurring fixes!

*Customer Service: So far, they have been great with customer service. One of the sweaters I received was pilling after only a day of wear, and they speedily resolved the issue for me by offering a replacement. I was really pleased with the customer service in that particular situation.

What I Don’t Like About Stitch Fix:

*Pricing: I am a bargain shopper. I shop sales and hunt deals and so to me, $40 on a shirt is not inexpensive. However, I now do have a couple of shirts that are unique to my wardrobe that I wouldn’t have tried on elsewhere. I am somewhat unique in my pricing ideals, though — for many of you, the prices may not bother you. In both of my shipments, I had items that just did not fit. Because of this, I lost out on the 25% discount that I would have received by keeping everything. Had I received that discount, I would feel differently about the pricing.

*Trial and Error: I think it will take a few times for the stylists to get an idea of what fits you and what you like. Therefore, again, you might miss out on the 25% discount on everything. If you were face-to-face with the items, this wouldn’t be an issue. This is probably just an overall issue with online shopping! Just because you are a certain size pants, doesn’t mean the pants they send you in that size will fit — every brand is different. And by telling your stylist you have a long torso (like I did), doesn’t mean that her definition of a long-enough shirt, will be the same as yours.

Overall, I definitely think that Stitch Fix is worth checking out and giving a try. I don’t know that I would sign up for a box every month, but maybe several times a year. It can freshen up your wardrobe and give you some new ideas, and you really can’t beat the convenience. I think that the more fixes you get, the better they will be!

For my “What I Wore” post this week, my outfit features one of my Stitch Fix shirts:

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Shirt: Stitch Fix

Jeans: Gap (same style, different color)

Scarf: Old Navy (in white)

Shoes: Aldo

Happy Wednesday, friends!

xo,

Abby

 

***I was not paid for this post, and the opinions given here are solely mine.***

Monster First Birthday Party: High Chair Garland

Monster First Birthday Party: High Chair Garland

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One of the other fun and “easier” projects for Gavyn’s birthday party, was this high chair garland. The fabrics that I purchased for this were actually what inspired the colors that I chose to use to plan his party around! I had seen little high chair “garlands” or “skirts” on Pinterest and on other blogs I follow, and decided to make one for Gavyn. This was a project I did one night after the kiddos were in bed, while watching a movie, so it wasn’t intense at all! I am also not a sewer, so this tutorial I have put together is completely non-sew –hooray! (All you sewers out there can feel free to change the directions as needed if you feel like getting more creative!)

Supplies Needed:

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  • Fabric
  • Pinking shears (You will want these so that your fabric doesn’t fray or tear when you cut it into pieces.)
  • Jute (Hobby Lobby)
  • Tape/Masking Tape (to attach the garland to the high chair)
  • Optional: Wooden #1 (Hobby Lobby)

Directions:

1) Cut your fabric into strips, using the pinking shears. The length and size of these strips is completely up to you! I did a few trial and error strips to figure out what would work best on our particular high chair. I used five different patterned fabrics, but you could use as little or as many as you want.

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2) Tie the individual strips to the jute. I just tied them in a regular knot and they held just fine. Remember, fabric is light, so it shouldn’t require too much intense adherence.

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3) Hang your jute onto the high chair. I used some regular masking tape to attach it to the underside of the high chair.

4) Optional: Attach your wooden number. I used jute to tie it onto the jute string.

That’s it! Super easy and a nice addition to the high chair for the birthday boy’s first cake!

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I have one more post to finish up the DIY’s from Gavyn’s first monster birthday party, but then I’ll move on to something else! I hope you can use this specific tutorial and really cater it to any birthday party or theme!

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Monster First Birthday Party

Monster First Birthday Party: DIY Monster Utensil Holders

Monster First Birthday Party: DIY Water Bottle Labels

Friday Favorites: My Organization Inspiration

Friday Favorites: My Organization Inspiration

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I am linking up with AndreaErika and Narci to share my Five Friday Favorites again this week!

It is no secret that I love to organize. (If you didn’t know that you should check out these posts here, here and here.) It is something that I have actually always enjoyed even since being a little girl! Okay, so for real — my mom used to let me stay up late and help her organize a closet or two once in a while, and I literally thought I was in heaven. Now, before you think I’m crazy, I will tell you that being organized has saved me so much time and effort. I am not looking for things that are lost (well, since having kids this has changed a little!), and I know that everything has a place. It also helps when I am cleaning, because picking up toys, and putting away towels all goes a little more quickly when you know where they are supposed to go! It takes effort and motivation to get and stay organized, BUT, it is so worth it.

Feeling motivated yet? Here are my favorite organization inspiration sites/places/people — check them out and I bet you will be on a mission to organize something this weekend! (Oh, and it’s garage sale season! I have seen a lot of advertised garage sales that are selling used organizational items for less — definitely something to check out!)

1) Pinterest

pinterestPinterest is genius for many reasons, but I love how inspired I am after I spend some time pinning. I know that Pinterest can be overwhelming and can even make you feel like you are so behind and stressed out, but, I think if you use it the correct way, it can be really, really helpful! I love to think creatively when I can, and Pinterest has been a really awesome tool for me. Feel free to follow me over there, as many of my pins involve organization, but search around and I know you will find some great ideas that will work for you on your organization mission!

2) Real Simple Magazine

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If you want to physically read something that has great, simple organizational tips, I really highly recommend this magazine! I have been subscribed to Real Simple for a few years now, and I always get an idea or inspiration out of each issue. Not every issue is geared towards organization, like the one I showed you here, but, they all have sections with tips on organizing and even how to make use out of the simple things that you already have in your home. The magazine also offers good cleaning tips and even beauty tips, which have nothing to do with organization, but I’m a girl and still enjoy growing my lip gloss collection! Their motto is: “Life made easier.” I can get on board with that!

3) Blogs & Social Media

I have a few bloggers, as well as a few Instagram accounts that I follow, that really give me some great ideas when it comes to organization. A lot of these I stumbled on through Pinterest, and then began following their blogs and social media. Some of these bloggers are: IHeart Organizing, A Bowl Full of Lemons and Honey We’re Home. There are so many gifted people out there — I guarantee you can use at least one of their ideas, or even one of mine, to start with and then make it your own! The internet can be a really useful thing — use it!!

4) Catalogs

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These are a FREE way to get inspiration! I love looking through these catalogs each time they are sent out. They give me ideas, and even if that particular company has something I can’t afford at the moment, or doesn’t quite fit the space I need it for — it still inspires me! I get endless ideas on how to organize the kids’ rooms, the playroom, our bedroom, the kitchen pantry…everything. I only end up a little envious of the completely clean and clutter-free rooms that they photograph! 😉

5) Store Browsing

Once you have exhausted your internet and magazine browsing, hit up some actual stores for ideas! My favorites are Target,  TJMaxx/Marshalls, The Container Store, Crate & Barrel and Ikea. Places like Ikea are GREAT for inspiration because they actually have rooms on display that are neat and organized. The Container Store is genius, because they pretty much have something for everything that you could ever think of that would need to be organized. Endless options. Target and TJMaxx are great because they have really cost-effective solutions for organization. Target and The Container Store also have great websites that offer more options than the actual store carries. I also like to compare almost everything to Amazon’s prices…because that’s what I do. Amazon Prime is the bomb.com.

I hope these are helpful tips to get you started! I have been thinking about writing some more specific organization posts — what do you think? Would you find that useful?

Happy Weekend!

xo,

Abby

Looking for more?

Downstairs Playroom

Kids’ Bathroom: Re-do!

Simple Pantry Storage

Rodan + Fields Mini Facial Review & Giveaway!

Rodan + Fields Mini Facial Review & Giveaway!

So, have you all heard of Rodan + Fields? I am constantly seeing pictures flood my social media sites that are focused on this company and their skin care products. My beautiful friend from college, Kara, recently began selling Rodan + Fields and asked if I would try one of their mini facials. I decided that it was time to try out these products and see what all the hype was about! Not only that, but Kara is going to giveaway a free mini facial for one of you to try (instructions on how to enter are at the bottom of this post!) — woohoo!

Kara started selling Rodan + Fields because she struggled with dark spots on her face and uneven skin tone due to sun exposure. Her results have been amazing and she decided to join as a consultant for the deep discount and to help her family financially. Rodan + Fields are the makers of Proactiv and decided to do a skin-care line for all skin types. They have skin care for acne prone skin, sun damaged skin, evening-out skin tone, helping with wrinkles and fine lines, and for skin that struggles with skin irritations such as rosacea and psoriasis. There is really something for everyone!

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I had a chance to try out the mini facial which included a sample of the Micro-Dermabrasion Paste, a capsule of the Lip Renewing Serum and a capsule of the Night Renewing Serum.

I LOVED the Micro-Dermabrasion Paste! I put it on my skin dry and massaged it on my face for about 3o seconds to a minute. I rinsed it off with warm water and patted my face to dry. My face felt SO smooth afterwards. And it was only the first time I had used it! I also noticed that my skin-tone even looked a little bit brighter. The paste basically feels like a sugar scrub. It exfoliates and it left my skin feeling smooth without any greasy residue.

The Lip Renewing Serum was thick, but not too thick and it left my lips feeling really moisturized! I had never tried a serum on my lips before so this was definitely something new for me, but I really liked it! My lips still felt smooth the next day.

The Night Renewing Serum also left my face feeling smooth for even a couple of days after I had used it! It was really silky feeling. I put it on before bed and let it work throughout the night on my skin. I definitely noticed that my skin seemed more even looking and brighter the next morning!

In summary, I only tried this small sample of product and I was impressed! My skin felt like it was renewed and refreshed, and I really couldn’t stop touching my face after using the products because my skin felt so smooth. Kara would be more than happy to help you purchase these products, or recommend other great ones. Make sure you check out her website and peruse everything that Rodan + Fields has to offer! You can always email her at kgormong@gmail.com as well.

And now for the giveaway: Kara is giving away a FREE mini facial to one of my readers! All you need to do, is leave a comment on this blog post with your email address (or, if you prefer, leave a random comment on this post and email me your email address at simplybeingabby@gmail.com with a subject line referencing this giveaway). This is a super easy way to be able to try these products out for yourself! The giveaway will be open until Tuesday, May 19th, so get your comments in before then to be entered to win the mini facial. Kara will contact the winner and send out the facial straight to you – good luck!

xo,

Abby

***I was given a Rodan + Fields mini facial in exchange for my honest opinion of the products. I was not paid for this post and the opinions given here are solely mine.***

Giveaway has ended! The winner is Laura S. — congrats and enjoy trying out this awesome product!