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Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland: September 2010

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Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland

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Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland: September 2010

Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland

September 30, 2010

I know you’re here. Now introduce yourself!

**I am guest posting today over at From Here to Eternity!! Make sure you head over the Jhen’s and check it out! She’s hosted a fabulous love story series this week that you simply must check out!**

I know you’re out there.

Yeah, you.

The one sitting at the computer right now reading this.

The one who comes and reads my blog every day [or every other day, or every week…whatever] and never comments.

What gives?

The truth is, I want to know YOU! You guys know all about me and I can’t keep up with you and get to know you if you don’t let me know you are out there!

Don’t feel like you have to leave some intelligent, witty, well thought out comment. Just be you. Whoever that is.  :-)

Today my challenge is for you lurkers who watch and read in silence to come out of your blogging comment bondage and say hello. Tell me about you. Who you are, where you blog, what your hobbies are. Tell me what you like about my blog, or don’t like. Tell me anything you want, just come out of hiding.

Have a great Thursday!

September 29, 2010

The Post where I empty my brain…

I had a breakdown the other night on the phone with my husband. Friday night, I think it was. I just seemed to have completely and totally lost sight of everything that did matter and focused instead on a bunch of junk that doesn’t. The separation is taxing and exhausting. Especially on the days where Little Man just can’t seem to get his act together [or maybe it’s MY act that isn’t together…] We both get cranky and I just lose my head. Almost to the point of wanting to snatch out my hair.

Thankfully, I am married to a man who knows how to call me out and put me back in his place. I wonder sometimes how either of us functioned before the other came along. We compliment one another so well. He puts me in my place when I need it most, just like I put him in his. I can not fathom a life without him. And I can not wait until we are back together again. I miss him terribly.

I can not even put into words how in love with my son I am. He’s reached this really sweet stage where he loves to hug and give kisses. He clings to me most days like he is my sidekick, and I am in love with everything about him. He’s growing so fast. We’re potty training this week [watch for an entire post dedicated to the process] and I am reminded every single second that he is almost two. No longer an infant, no longer a baby…a toddler who is turning into an amazing little boy and I blessed beyond measure to be his mom.

I am finding my way back into my writing passion. I spent the day yesterday writing my Guest Post for Jhen’s Love Story series, and I realized how much I miss it. Writing has and always will be my first love. I pray God opens up the door to show me how I can incorporate photography in with it.

Speaking of Photography, is this not the cutest thing, well ever?

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             Day24-28 215 Day24-28 252 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gah. I love him so much.  :-) And yes, he’s puckering up for a kiss in the last photo. Sweet, sweet, loving & affectionate little boy. I hope he stays this way to an extent. I don’t want him giving away too many kisses [those are all for me!] but I do want him to love and love BIG.

I was really excited with the turn out for my first No Mom Talk Monday. There were 6 entries when I got around to checking in on Monday morning and I was overjoyed! Thank you so much to those who entered! I’m really hoping to see more than that this coming week. This is something I feel very passionately about. Not just the meme, but the purpose behind the meme. Getting to the point of knowing ourselves again. Finding the woman that we have somehow lost sight of among the chores the cooking and the parenting.

There is a possibility, albeit I don’t know how big or small that possibility is, that we could be getting the list of where we could end up at the end of this week. Not sure. Hubby just mentioned it briefly over the weekend…and mentioned it in a “I look for us to possibly get our list at the end of this week” kind of way. Don’t hold me to it, because I really don’t know.Trust me, when I do those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook will know almost as soon as our families do.

I am such a big baby. I didn’t realize that I was still scared of the dark until the other night when Little Man and I were here all by ourselves for the night. My mother/brother in law decided to stay at the beach on Saturday night, so we had the house to ourselves. I slept with the light on in the living room and the TV on in my bedroom. I have such an overactive imagination and every little noise creeps me out. Even if I feel safe where I’m at, I just hear things. I never feel that way when the husband is home. I always feel so safe with him next to me in bed.

I have come to realize that if I go to bed early and wake up late then I am more exhausted than if I stay up late and get up early. Does that make any sense to anyone? Because I don’t get it at all. Maybe it’s because I drink too much coffee on the days I’m up before 8:00. Or maybe it’s just that my head is all kinds of twisted right now. I know Little Man is totally off schedule. Can’t wait to get him back in his own house where we don’t have anyone coming in and out at all hours of the day and night waking him up.

Hope you guys have a fabulous Wednesday!

As of right now, we are officially down to less than 80 Days until A-School Graduation! Hallelujah!

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September 27, 2010

“No Mom Talk Monday” Pilot

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First of all, I want welcome you to the BRAND NEW, very first ‘edition’ of No Mom Talk Monday. If you didn’t read my introductory post about this new meme on Friday, then allow me to go over the very simple and very basic rules. You can talk about anything. Anything in this great, big, wide world EXCEPT motherhood or your children.

I know that to some it may sound harsh, and that’s ok. If you don’t want to post about anything other than your children, then maybe this meme isn’t for you. My goal through this weekly project is to encourage us moms [and women in general] to take time out every week to get back to who we were {and still are} before we were mothers. There are women with passions and desires and dreams inside of all of us that tend to get pushed to the back and thrown to the sidelines as we go about our lives taking care of our husbands and children. Aside from the no kid/mom talk rule, you can say or write whatever you wish. Don’t think there is any kind of theme to this, because their isn’t. Feel free to be yourself and ENJOY the few minutes you’ll get from this where you can just be YOU again! Without further ado, I give you my first {Miscellaneous} No Mom Talk Monday Post:

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{ONE} We are anticipating getting our orders for our new Station within the next 2-3 weeks at the latest [we hope…] I am really excited to find out where God is going to send us next. I’m planning on going back to school in January, so I’m eager to get the ball rolling with where we are going to live, picking out a house, getting ready to go back to school, etc. It’s an exciting time, but I’m waiting on the ‘storm’ to hit and everything to start rolling at once.

{TWO} I think that I have decided to get my major in Graphic Design and Business Advertising. I have the fullest intentions of taking photography classes while I’m in school, but I want to make sure that I have something to fall back on. A Bachelors Degree in Photography won’t do me much good if the market for photographers is low. I plan to pursue photography professionally-set up a business and whatnot once we move-but I want to be able to do a lot of the other things that go along with photography myself; without having to pay someone else for it. Meaning, I want to get my degree in Graphic Design so I can do up my OWN logo and marketing material, without paying someone else. I want to know how to market and advertising my OWN business without having to hire someone to do that for me too.

{THREE} I am guest posting on Thursday & Friday over at From Here to Eternity. Jhen is having this super fun series on Love Stories and mine & hubby’s story is up those two days. YES, I’m taking up two days. Could be because I have so much to say and don’t to leave anything out, resulting in an uber-long post that no one would want to read in one sitting. OR it could be because I’ve had on  my heart to share the trials that my husband and I went through our first year or so of marriage with others, so that they can see that God can turn everything into something beautiful. If you want to know more about what I’m referring to then I guess you’ll just have to go visit Jhen to find out.   :-)

{FOUR} I successfully managed to put together my media kit this past week. It took ALL day to get it done, but I am VERY excited with how it turned out. Now just to get some businesses who want to advertise here.

{FIVE} I am working on a SPECIAL post to go up later this week targeted at all of you lurkers out there who love to read my blog but don’t like to comments. I know you are out there and I would LOVE to get to know you!! Keep your eyes peeled for a post. :-)

{SIX} I am waaaaay excited about Fall being among us. Our forecast this week is glorious. We’re looking at overcast skies with temperatures in the low 80’s through the day and the upper 50’s/low 60’s at night. The leaves around here are starting to fall off the trees and turn those beautiful shades of red and yellow and orange. See?

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Let’s not forget that football season is also in full swing {Roll Tide…by the way.} And we are gearing up for Halloween and Harvest Festivals. It also means that we are almost less than 80 Days away from Hubby’s Graduation. I. am. excited.

{SEVEN} The Photography gig is going pretty well for me right now. I am heading down to Tampa in a few weeks to shoot a Military Retirement Ceremony & some family portraits. I have a shoot with my friend Mandi planned for one weekend in October; and an Engagement Session Scheduled for Halloween Day. There is also a photography contest at the local fair this year and I plan on entering several of my prints. Not sure which ones yet, but I’m excited to be able to participate this year. Here is one of the black and white prints I’m thinking of entering. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

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That’s all for my post today. The linky for No Mom Talk will be up until Wednesday night. Don’t feel that you have to get it up today. I understand that there are other memes and things going on. I will just be excited that you play.  :-) The button is in the right sidebar! Hope to ‘see’ you guys this week!

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September 26, 2010

I will Praise you in this Storm…

 

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And I'll praise you in this storm,
and I will lift my hands.
For You are who You are-
no matter where I am.
And every tear I've cried,
You hold in your hand.
You never left my side;
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm .

“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

September 24, 2010

No Mom Talk Monday-Coming SOON to a Blog Near You!

Once upon a time there was a girl that dreamed of becoming a Professional Photographer, a Novelist, and a Graphic Designer. She lived in a little Floridian townhome, was married to a handsome man who aspired to save lives through cardiovascular surgery. While they had some marital spats-as all honest & happy couples do-they were content. They were happy. They were in love.

She found out she was having a baby and her life soon seemed as if it would be complete. She had high hopes of being the perfect mother, maintaining a beautiful home-finely decorated and abounding with guests that she would wine and dine. She would have a nursery decorated with items from Pottery Barn, and her child would sleep 8 hours a night starting at two weeks old. She would never be sleepy; she would always have it together, and her house would never look like a hurricane hit. She would finish her degree-a Double Major, and a Minor-and would beat the odds at finding a way to balance everything.

Umm…yeah. Right.

Is this a Fantasy, or is this a Fantasy?

Truthfully, I always knew that this picture perfect lifestyle didn’t really exist outside of the big screen. That’s just not how life works. While it’s not a lie that I aspire to be a Photographer, a Novelist and a Graphic Designer. And YES my husband is going to Physician's Assistants school to become a Cardiovascular Surgical PA. We are content. We are happily married. We have our Spat’s like everyone does. But that’s life.

What’s NOT true, is the “finding balance” aspect of life. I struggle. Majorly. Especially when it comes to finding time for myself. The cooking, the cleaning, the laundry…all of that comes first. My husband [even with him currently 3,000 miles away] and my son come first in my life. I am usually completely and totally selfless when it comes to those two amazing boys. And I don’t mind that. At all. Because that’s the choice that I made. That’s the position that God has put me in and am extremely thankful for the blessings of the role I play.

Where does that leave me? A jam-packed schedule where I fight for time to be alone. Fight for time to read a book, or to write a blog, or to just sit and watch a movie. And if you are a Mom, then you can completely identify with what I’m saying.

SO…starting on Monday, I will be kicking off a BRAND NEW Meme called No Mom Talk Monday.

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Yep. You read that right. NO Mom Talk. As in ZERO. As in you can blog about anything you want-your husband, marriage, shoes, photography…anything in this great big wide world that you want-except parenting. No kid talk. No diaper talk. NOTHING.

Does it sound harsh? I don’t think so. I think that we moms are entitled to a few minutes a day to cut off our Mom Valve and just be women again. Just be us again. Remember before you had children? Before you got married? You had dreams. You had goals. You had desires and passions and things that meant something to you. And starting Monday we are going to revel in that again.

I want to use this new meme to help you {and myself} rediscover the woman that is buried behind the laundry and the cooking and diapering. I set this up to introduce today so that you have all weekend to prepare a post. I can’t wait to get this started! I hope you all will come join in and get back to your Before-Mommy Roots!

Have a Great Friday and a FANTASTIC weekend & I will see you back here next week for the first edition of No Mom Talk Monday!!

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September 23, 2010

A Heart for Pickle’s

I wrote a post the other day about how horrible I am at Fatherhood. Being a daddy is not for me. I know nothing of the sorts about football and cars and tools. I’d rather sit inside and play quietly or read or do something equally as boring relaxing. This is much, much easier said than done when you have a rambunctious little boy running around the house. Especially when your son is a sports fanatic who is missing his daddy more and more every day.

As stressful as these past seemingly unending months have been, I am faced with the realization that my time as a single mother will soon be over. Come December my little life will go back to normal and my husband will be back home with us. I’ll have my best friend back and Little Man will have his daddy home to play football. And talk cars. And tools. And all of that other jazz that boys talk about and play.

Likewise, I’ve been faced with the same realization that for so, so, so many moms out there, the single life doesn’t end. It goes on day after day after day after day. In fact, 80% of Single Households are now being run by women. There are 12,905,000 one-parent families in the United States. 10,404,000 are headed by women; 2,501,000 are headed by men.

47% of women are on their own.
27% are single.
20% are divorced, separated or widowed.

These numbers break my heart. I’ve never had to worry with raising my son completely on my own. I don’t have to worry about getting a job, about paying my rent, about putting food on the table or clothes on his back. But some women do. And I admire them. I applaud them. And my heart breaks for them. I can not imagine what kind of strength and faith it takes to do something so profound by yourself.

So I have partnered with a beautiful and fantastic new company called Baby Pickel. They have a WONDERFUL project going on. They are created a way for all of us to help out these moms. These mothers who strive and long simply to care for their children. They have this amazing baby pickle jars that you can purchase that are full of baby goodies. These jars run a low $10 and you can purchase for a boy or a girl. Inside each jar is a pacifier, a onesie, a bib and a washcloth.

Aside from the baby jars, you can also make monetary donations or clothing donations. The wonderful ladies behind this beautiful project are always looking for help and volunteers. Are you interested in getting involved? Are you interested in becoming a part of this project? Please feel free to email me and I will be glad to pass your name and email address on to my Pickle Contact.  :)

This is something that has grown close to my heart really quickly. I could not imagine raising my son on my own. Without his daddy. With full parental responsibility on my shoulders. And I don’t pretend to know what these bold, brave women are feeling. Being a military wife is hard. And in its own way it is single parenting at times, but not the way that it could be. I have already made the choice that part of our Christmas Charities this year will go to this project and I’m planning to become even more involved over the coming months.

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September 22, 2010

25 ways I’m going to embrace Life before I’m 25

As promised, I decided to make list of 25 things I’m going to do/say/change about life to really embrace every moment before I’m 25. As I mentioned yesterday in my “What is Living Beautiful?” post, we aren’t promised tomorrow. We are certain that this moment won’t be our last. And me, being the slightly neurotic and obsessive compulsive person that I am, the only way for me to truly stick with something is to make a list. So…that’s what I am going to do.


In order to truly embrace life and live in the moment, I am going to:


1.  Spend more time listening and less time complaining. God gave us two ears and one mouth because he meant for us to do twice as much listening. I am guilty of not listening to the Big Man as much as I should. My aim is to designate a time during the day to just sit and BE with the Lord and hear what he has to say.


2.  Learn to joyfully accept the things that I can not change. I want to actually put the serenity prayer into action. I am not in control. No matter how much I try to fight the circumstances, I. can’t. change. them.


3.  Surround myself with people who matter and people who care. I am guilty of trying to find friendships and relationships that end up leaving me feeling empty. When really, in truth, there are people around me [both in real life and virtually] that would be there when I needed them. Some of the ‘posers’ I can not rely on for so much as a phone call. It’s time to change that.


4.  Set up a schedule for my time spent blogging and my time spent editing photos. While I’m not on the computer all day, I spend far more time on here than I should. Especially with a toddler in the house. Though there are many times that I think he just assumes to play with his cars in the floor while watching a movie, he’s not going to be little forever. And it’s time I start pulling myself away from my chaotic world and into his. We all know how easy it is to sit down with intentions of being at the computer for 15-20 minutes, and then we look up and the whole day has gone by. Been there.


5. Love my husband more than I do now. When I found out about the wreck that killed that poor girl, I cried. I cried for her and for her family, but I also cried at the acknowledgement that that could have just as easily been my husband. That something could happen to him out there just like it did her. That, as hard as it is to even think about, I could never see him again. Good Lord willing that will never, ever happen, but whether we want to think about it or not, it could. And I want to make sure that he know, without any shadow of a doubt, just how much I truly, wholly, and completely love him.


6.  Revel in the small things. A card. A hug. A sweet kiss from my little guy. Our world is too fast paced and too materialistic to spend much time enjoying the tiny things. But I’m going to. Because in essence, they mean more than anything else ever will.


7.  Continue my ‘Photo a Day/365 Project’ as indefinitely as I can. I have Maegan to thank for this. Her very moving, very sincere post on how she was affected by her willingness to push herself to take photos everyday moved me in ways that I can not even explain. I’m already enjoying looking back at the photos in my project and remembering where I took them, why I took them, and how happy I was when they turned out the way that I wanted. Granted, I’ll begin to challenge myself with this project in many ways as time passes. But I have to make it till the next year first before I can even think about talking about that.


8.  Keep better track of the small things Little Man does. I initially got this idea when I read Suzannes Diary for Nicholas and started on it pretty quickly. I bought a journal and I’ve been writing ‘letters’ to Little Man about life before he was born, and all of the things that he’s done that make us smile. It’s very rewarding and I’m looking forward to sharing it with him when he’s older.


9.  Get involved in a charity. This has been on my heart lately. I want to use my blog and my photography to give back. I pray about this a lot. God has given me this talent [and I use that term loosely because I don’t like to feel like I’m bragging, because I most definitely am not.] and I want more than anything to use it give glory to him. I find joy and fulfillment in writing and photographing people, but I want to find more. I want to use it to glorify him…in whatever way he deems fit.


10.  Develop better exercise and eating habits. This may not make sense to some, and to other it probably sounds perfect for what I’m writing. I have already made the choice to make the move to Organic for the good of our family. More will be coming on that as we move and get in our own home again, but this is something that means a lot to me. I want to make sure that I provide the best for my family and take the best care of myself that I can.


11.  Find time to myself. This one is a key point in my life. I was talking to my BFF last night about this, and it is amazing at how many of us moms never take time for ourselves. If I don’t get any time away from parenting, I get irritable and frustrated and too often, my son and my husband are the ones that catch the raw end of the deal.


12.  Read. Read. And read some more. I love books. I love reading. Self-explanatory.


13.  Study, shoot, study more. This pertains to my photography. There is so much that I don’t know. And so much more that I want to know. I want to devote time everyday to the things that I love the most, and that includes photography.


14.  Stop sweating the small stuff. I get bent out of shape sometimes for no reason. This needs to stop. There are too many other things in life that I could be doing other than worrying. This post says it better than I ever could. Jhen’s writing is beautiful and there is no way I could word what I’m feeling any better than she did here.


15. Write Cards & Letters. Sounds silly doesn’t it? I love getting cards. I love sending cards. For birthdays, anniversaries, just because…nothing says “I care” better than sending someone a card to let them know you are thinking about them. I used to be really good about sending cards out to people, but I slacked off. And that’s not good. I need to start that back.


16.  Accept myself and how God made me. I am a woman. I notice my own flaws. I critique myself harder than I should. I have a husband who loves me and thinks I’m beautiful, but I spend more time noticing what is not {beautiful} than I do embracing what is. And I should be rejoicing because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.


17.  Give. Of my time. Of my finances. Of my love. Of my abilities. There are enough selfish people around who think only of themselves. And I don’t want to be one of them. I want to give of myself and all that God has given me. Nothing is mine anyway. It’s all a gift to me and gifts are meant to be given.


18.  Teach and Inspire. There are people in this world who inspire me in all different ways. Beth Moore for her Faith and  Trust in the Lord. My high school English teacher who pushed me and challenged me in developing my own writing skills. Skye Hardwick, Jasmine Star, Amy Wenzel for their amazing photography and beautiful outlook on life. I want to reach that point myself. Where I use what I’ve been given to inspire others. If it’s here on this blog, or through the emotions stirred up in a photography…There are people who have shared their knowledge with me and I want to pass what I've learned on as well.


19.  Laugh.


20.  Dream. And dream BIG. Nothing is out of reach if you really want it and work for it.


21.  Strengthen my Faith. Someone said yesterday via a DM on Twitter that they admired my strong Faith. I thank you for such a kind and encouraging comment, but my Faith is no where near as strong as I would like it to be. I know what I believe and I know that God is in control, but that does not mean that I don’t doubt. That I don’t worry. That I don’t fear. Because I do. And I want to be stronger. I want to withstand things that I think I can’t.


22.  Sing, Dance and be Silly. I’m an adult. Well, most days. :) And adults are stiff and forget too often how to have fun. I want to dance around the living room being goofy with my son. I want to dance with my husband in the kitchen to no music because we love holding one another. Without a care as to who sees us or what anyone thinks. I want to sing in the car and in the kitchen while I’m cooking because I want to. [It definitely won’t be because I can. Trust me I am NOT musically inclined. AT all.] After all, why not?


23. Say what I feel. Whether it’s that I love something, dislike something or that I am offended or hurt by something that was said. All too often I feel things and don’t share. With my husband, with my family, with my friends. I hold feelings in because I’m afraid to hurt people. Or to be hurt.


24. Simplify. We don’t need a bunch of “stuff,” a bunch of “things” to make our livescomplete. And I want to de-clutter my home and my life and fill it with simple things that matter the most.


25. Live. Just live. Just take it day by day. As if there is no tomorrow. Because one day, there won’t be.


What about you? What is on your list? I’m going to leave this link open until NEXT Friday, October 1. Then I’ll come back and pull some of my favorite things from the lists that we linked and share here.


Happy Wednesday, guys!

September 21, 2010

To Live Beautiful…

The past several months have been life changing to say the least.

Time passes, whether we choose to enjoy the days we’re given or wallow in the self pity and sorrow that we can choose to make for ourselves. Being without my husband, being without a home of my own, being a single parent-all make for some stressful and mentally challenging and exhausting days.

There are moments I want to scream. Moments where I want to cry. Moments where I really just want to tell everyone, including my son [bless his innocent little heart] to just leave me alone. No one does anything intentionally to make me feel this way, but that’s life. And sometimes we can’t always help it.

Or can we?

One of hubby's former classmates-a young girl, not even 25 I don’t think-was killed in a car wreck the day she graduated from A-School. Gone. Instantly. No warning. No chance to say goodbye. Nothing. Just taken by God without any notice. And that shook me up. Shook my husband up. Shook up my entire mentality about life.

We say things like, “Live every moment..” and “Time is of the essence” {ok. So I don’t know anyone who actually says Time is of the essence except my high school English teacher) but do we ever really mean it? Do we ever stop to embrace it? To truly and completely acknowledge that this moment, this one we are in right now, could be the last we are given?

And that’s what Live Beautiful is about. My mentality on life and on marriage and parenting has changed. God has given me this sense of really living. Really doing. Really being in a moment. He has convicted my heart of this. Pointing out to me that I spend too much of my time thinking about the past and planning for the unknown future to really live in the right now.

I have a sweet little boy who is already growing faster than I can keep track of. His second birthday party is in a few short weeks. And I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that he’s grown up so quickly. I have a husband that I adore more than words could ever describe, and I find myself sometimes wishing there were things about him that I could change. Tiny things that I wish he would do differently [like organize his closet…hint hint] rather than just loving him for who he is and all of the little annoying things he does.

God has shown me, for whatever reason, that Life is too short. I want to live a life where I know that when I pass away, everyone in my life KNEW what they meant to me. They knew how I felt and knew that I cared for them all deeply. I want to love with everything that I have. I want to live in each moment rather than worrying about the moments to come. And I want to challenge each of you to Live Beautifully as well.

What are some of the things that you find holding you back from living in each moment? From living Beautifully? What does “living beautiful” mean to you? How can you challenge yourself to take advantage of the time given?

Coming tomorrow here, you’ll find my second list of 25 Before 25. This is a special Live Beautiful list that outlines my ideas and ways that I’m making changes in my life. I would LOVE to have some feedback from you guys. If you are interested in making your own list (it doesn’t have to be a 25 before 25 or anything…just a living beautiful list) then please let me know in the comment section and I will set up a Linky tomorrow. I can leave it up all week and next week so we can get several posts together and you don’t have to feel pressured to write it tomorrow or anything. Then next week, I will do another post of things you all are doing to change your lives and live your moments to their fullest.

The sun is rising on a new chance to embrace life in a big, big way.

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What do you say? Will you Live Beautiful with me?

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September 20, 2010

Miscellany Monday

{ONE} My weekend was packed full of Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition. I’m sure you notice [and if you don’t, well, that’s just weird] the new look. New colors. New name. New lots of things. I have a post coming tomorrow {tentatively…} that will go into more detail and explain the new changes and what you can expect from my blog in the coming months.

{TWO} On a similar note…you will notice that there is no link at the bottom of this page (if you’ve ventured in through the main page of my blog rather than through a direct link) to leave a comment. PLEASE do not fret! I am aware of this glitch though I honestly have no clue how to fix it and I’m in the process of getting it sorted out. This does not mean you can not comment {hint hint}. If you click on the TITLE of my blog post, it takes you to the main and you can comment there. Let me just say in advance that I much appreciate those of you who comment. Because I know there will be some who decide this extra click is too much trouble. :)

{THREE} We are officially down to less than 90 days until my husbands graduation from A-School! Can we say EXCITED?! The next few months are going to fly. I was looking at my calendar yesterday and I have something planned for every. single. weekend. from now until the second weekend in November. Which is fantastic. The busier I stay, the better. AND we are supposed to be getting orders in the next 2-3 weeks [hopefully!] Stick around for that! I can’t wait to see where the Good Lord puts us next!

{FOUR} I am trying to start up my own community over at The Blog Frog. I would love to turn this into a great gathering place and discussion forum. No topic is off limits. Ok..that’s a lie. SOME topics would have to be off limits, but I’m pretty sure no one would need to hold your hand to explain that. Right now, I’ve got a discussion going on what kind of things you would enjoy reading about here. Are there things that I blog about occasionally that you wish you saw more of? Please let me know. I enjoy writing and blogging for my own personal satisfaction, but I want to connect. I want to network and meet other moms like you! One of my very best friends in this entire world I have recently met through blogging. And I’m hoping to connect with more of you in this way as well.

{FIVE} I bought the first *new* item for our soon coming *new* house last week! I finally picked out our new comforter for our bedroom. When I tell you what it looks like you are going to laugh hysterically. After spending hours and hours in stores and on the internet browsing for something perfect, I went with something like this:

Hampton-Bedding-Set {Image Credit}


Ok. Go ahead and laugh. Like I said, I spent countless amounts of time in Kohl’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond and this was what I decided on. No worries. It’s not going to be just plain brown. I’m going to go with bright teal sheets or either bright yellow. And I’m going to do the teal, yellow, red and maybe orange accents. Warm Fall-ish type colors are my absolute favorite. You’ll see that when we get moved and I start uploading photos of the house. I’m doing my kitchen and my living room in the same colors. Oh well.  :)

{SIX} Thank you to those who entered my Giveaway last week!! I was excited to read your comments about where you would put my photo if you won. I wish I could give you ALL a photo, but I can’t. So…without further ado:

Congrats to Jenny commenter #7!!
Please email me with the name of the photo that you want and I’ll get it ordered and sent out ASAP!

Did you enter twice? There was another giveaway over at my photo blog…better check there to see if you won!


Hope you guys all have a fantastic week! Make sure to check back here often this week! More exciting things to come!

MMbutton3

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September 19, 2010

New Name, Same Content

Yes. You’re in the right place. This was formerly “Make Me a Blessing” and now you’ve been redirected to something called Live Beautiful… well that’s me. Same content, different name. There have been a lot of changes in my life the past several months and I felt like it was time to rename the ole blog to go along with these changes. I’ll be posting more about all of this in the coming days, but I just wanted to let you all know that there are some new things and a new name. I’ve also added a nice, nifty navigation bar that I hope will help you all get around easier.

Please feel free to contact me with any recommendations or things that you would like to see here. Hope you all have a great Sunday! ‘See’ you all tomorrow!

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September 14, 2010

Happiness is…

Watching this little blue eyed boy fall in love with life…

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Telling my husband that I love him at least 8 or 9 times before we ever say goodnight…

Opening the door to Little Man’s bedroom in the mornings to find him standing up in bed with a grin on his face…

Hearing one simple word: “Mommy.”

Watching Little Man discover the world around him and how things work…

Knowing that my husband is achieving his dreams and fulfilling his passion…

Knowing that God blessed me with a faithful, loving and supportive husband who would sacrifice anything in this world for his family…

Photography. Seeing the world for what it truly is…

Mending friendships and relationships from the past with people you still genuinely care about…

An answered prayer. Even if it isn’t the answer we want…

Coffee…lots and lots of coffee first thing in the mornings…

Knowing that my future is not in my hands. That I don’t have to worry about where the road is going to lead, because someone much bigger and much more powerful than me is in charge…

Knowing that I am forgiven. Even though I don’t deserve it…

Happiness is…

Seeing Little Man go from being a baby to a toddler…with all of the “boy” characteristics in tow:

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The beauty of God’s creation, even in it’s simplest form…

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Living the life I was intended to live with the people God intended me to share it with…

Happiness is…

Faith.

Family.

Love.

Happiness is choosing to view the world in a positive light. Choosing to cast out the negative and thrive on the beauty and greatness that is around us.

If marriage, parenting and photography have taught me nothing else, it is that you make your own happiness.

You choose it.

You embrace it.

You can see the world in whichever light you wish.

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I am a horrible Father…

Single Parenting is not for me.

I don’t know how you other single moms and military moms do it.

The past 4 months have been exhausting and extremely taxing on my nerves and my patience level. I worry that I am doing an awful job. I fear that Little Man isn’t getting everything he needs, with the male influence being absent. It scares me to think that our decision has effected him more seriously than we initially assumed.

He’s had nightmares. He’s cried for long periods of time wanting his daddy. Even screaming for his daddy at times. When his nightmares first started, he would wake up and I would hear him calling for Hubby.

And then other days he is fine. He talks to Hubby on the webcam, he talks to him on the phone. He points to his pictures and acknowledges that that is his daddy. He’ll even walk around the house and talk to him…basically carrying on his own little conversations about his daddy. I have no clue what he’s saying most of the time, but occasionally I will catch the phrases, “da-da” and “my daddy” in with these thought patterns.

I am not a father figure.

I don’t do sports or dirt or cars or tools or any of the other masculine things in life that Hubby so eloquently succeeds in. I do nurturing and cooking and quiet indoor play [which is very, very rare…the quiet part that is.] I’m really bad at the gun noises, the ‘vroom-vroom’ noises, the airplane noises and simulating war with the miniature army men that have invaded our house. I can’t throw a spiral with the football. So being ‘daddy’ isn’t really my thing.

I feel like I have let myself baby Little Man in some ways more than I should have. Almost like I have felt guilty for what he is going through. We-hubby and I-made this choice to better our family, but Little Man isn’t old enough to get that. I know he will at some point. But right now, I feel like I have to make it up to him.

That’s why I let him hold onto his bottle habit for so long. {We DID finally kick that habit a few weeks ago. He put it down all on his own!! Such a big boy!} I discipline him, but probably not as much as I should. He gets spankings when he acts bad, and usually when he throws his little tantrums, if I ignore the fit he’s throwing, he stops.

But I worry.

I worry non-stop about Little Man. And how this is effecting him. I worry that he is afraid his daddy isn’t coming home. I worry that he feels abandoned. I worry that I’m not doing what I need to for him. That he’s missing out on something important. And I worry that my parenting skills, my individual skills as a mother, aren’t enough.

What about you? What aspects of your life do you worry effect your children more than you would want? What parts of your parenting style do you worry about the most?

September 13, 2010

Miscellany Monday & Grand Opening Giveaway!

{ONE} I started house hunting this weekend. We still have no clue where we are going to move, but the idea of getting out of here and being in my own home again was a relief. It took a little bit of the tension off of my shoulders and I allowed myself to get sucked into the whole “how I’m going to decorate” and “where I want to put furniture” mode of looking at houses.

{TWO} I’m starting to feel like my sanity is hanging by a thread. At least, some days I do. Last night was one of them. I spent the afternoon with my parents for Grandparent’s Day, and on the way home I realized how much I dreaded having to go back to someone’s house that wasn’t my own. So instead of turning into the driveway, I kept going. Little Man was asleep in the backseat and I just drove. All the way around town for about 30 minutes. Just listening to the silence. Crying a little bit. Missing my husband and our life. And then I came home. To someone else’s house. And cried a little bit more.

{THREE} I am still really enjoying my Project 365. I am amazed at how hard it can be to find things to photograph. But I’m equally amazed at the fact that you can really turn anything into something beautiful if you want to. That’s been the most rewarding part of this journey so far. And I’m really, really, really excited to see where else it takes me over the next 11 months.

{FOUR} I feel as if my little blog is lacking something. Not sure what. I think I feel lacking more in content than anything else. I do all of my photography work on my photo blog, so I don’t really post any of that here. And since I’m not in my own kitchen these days, I haven’t been cooking. Same with crafting…I don’t have anywhere to craft, so posting that is out the window. What would you guys like to see me post more of? Would you like to see some photography tutorials? Or editing tips and techniques I use? Or more posts on marriage? Or parenting? Or military life? Or do you just want me to keep doing what I’m doing? I posted a little poll over in the sidebar. If you would please give it a click??

{FIVE} My son is totally and completely a sports nut. College Football kicked off last weekend, and he is entranced. He loves Football. He recognizes the University of Alabama t-shirts and whatnot that we own, and points to them and says ‘ball.’ Understanding that the emblem does in fact represent the football team. What’s so funny is that the other day I was saying something about a “big ballgame.” Little Man undoubtedly misunderstood me because he’s been walking around ever since calling football, “Big Ball.”

{SIX} I have finally opened my own Etsy Shop!! Life Beautiful-Fine Art Prints is now up and running! I am slowly adding all of my prints to the shop, but it’s a slow process. In honor of this Grand Opening, I am doing a giveaway! Actually, I’m doing TWO giveaways: 1 here, and 1 on my photo blog. Rules for entering a simple.

1: You have to be a follower.

2: You have to go visit my Etsy Shop or Flickr Page [since all of my stills
aren’t on Etsy yet] and let me know which photo is your favorite and where you would hang it if you won.

3: You can tweet this or blog it or Facebook it or whatever for 1 extra entry. And you can also enter to win on my Photo Blog.

 

The Giveaway will close at 9:00 pm Central Time on Friday, September 17! I will choose the winner via random.org! Good luck!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Monday and a great start to another week!

MMbutton3

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September 9, 2010

Panera Bread Mac & Cheese Recipe!

I am totally in love with Panera Bread. I’d never eaten at one until we moved to Florida, but now I scout them out wherever we go. Their macaroni and cheese is to die for. Fortunately for me [and you] I managed to stumble across the recipe. Which I will now share.  :)

You will need:

  • 1/3 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of 2% Low Fat Milk
  • 8 oz [1 block] of Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
  • 6 Slices of White American Cheese [cut into small pieces]
  • 1 Box of Medium Shell Noodles
  • 1 tbsp of Dijon Mustard
  • 1/3 tsp of Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp of Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Cup of Butter

Directions:

-Prepare your noodles according to the directions on the box and drain.

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-Melt butter in Boiler on Low Heat. Once melted, gradually mix in 1/3 cup of flour. Whisk continually for 1 minute until creamy and thick.


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-Gradually stir in milk on Medium Heat. Sauce should thicken and bubble but remain creamy. Whisk until smooth.

- Next, remove sauce from heat and add cheeses, mustard, hot sauce and salt. Mix thoroughly until smooth and creamy. There should be no lumps in the sauce.

**Personal note: I found when making this that it helped to do 1 kind of cheese at a time. I added my sharp cheddar and once it was smooth I added my American Cheese. As for the American Cheese, I recommend placing one slice at a time in the pot until melted. This will make it easier to mix your sauce and keep it from getting lumpy.

-Once mixed, add your noodles back to the sauce and cook over Medium Heat for 1-2 minutes…just long enough to heat the Pasta the entire way through.

-Add Paprika as a garnish if you desire.

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We like to serve this in a Bread Bowl…the way they do at Panera Bread.

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And then everyone enjoys…



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This is a delicious comfort food; perfect for the coming winter months! Hope you guys enjoy! If you try this out at your house, please let me know! I’d love to know how it turned out! I’d also be interested  in any fun modifications you guys make to this dish. Making it more organic…adding additional garnishes…Lots of ways to make this yummy recipe your own!

Happy Thursday!

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September 7, 2010

Journey toward an unknown destination

I touched very lightly on the subject of Faith yesterday.

How I’m feeling tested…strained…stretched even. And what’s unusual, is that I find myself welcoming it. Anticipating it. Expecting it. I’ve come to learn that while we have moments in life that are perfect and go exactly as we hoped and wished, more often than not, those moments are followed by pits, falls, and trails.

Hubby passed his EMT Class. With flying colors. Straight A’s throughout the whole class. And ending up with the highest GPA in his EMT group. And then he blew through his National Registry Exam the first time. I could not be more proud of him. He started A-School today, and as with everything, we received some unexpected and somewhat unfortunate news. Little Man and I aren’t going to be able to visit him in October. His overcrowded and hectic Class schedule just isn’t going to allow it.

I was a bit crushed to say the least. But I know that it would be completely pointless to fly out to visit when he really wouldn’t have anytime to visit with us anyway. No point in wasting the money or the time to go if we aren’t going to get to see him anyway. I think I was more disappointed for Little Man’s sake than my own. I know he is missing his daddy something terrible. I don’t know how he’s going to handle the next 3 months. He does well for the most part, but he has days {and they are coming more frequently lately} where I feel like I can’t do anything with him.

And his birthday is coming up. To say that I’ve shed a few tears at the fact that Hubby won’t be here to help celebrate, is an understatement. It breaks my heart to think that his daddy won’t be able to be at his birthday party. I know people do it all the time and deal with these types of things endlessly…but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

But my Faith through all of this is strengthening. I realize that earlier this year, during the first EMT School experience, that I let my faith waiver and didn’t lean on God himself for understanding and guidance through the tough times. And I should have. Maybe that’s why things have been so much easier to handle this time around. I’ve placed my fears, my anxieties, my hesitations, and my doubts on the one who handles everything. The one who knows it all already and is willing to be my rock during the unstable times in our lives.

I wonder sometimes if my lack of Faith during the first EMT run is what caused such a dip in the road to begin with. I’ve thought countless times that maybe my lack of faith and my failure to trust God instead of myself, may have been the reason Hubby had such a setback.

I’m a firm believer that God will punish us for our lack of Faith. And that he will try us, test and push us to the limit to get us to the point he wants us in our spiritual walk. I’ve always found that when I start to stray off the unbeaten path, he always manages to find a way to pull me back to him.

I’m eager to see where this road we are on now is going to take us. With the end of EMT school,  I feel like we are finally starting to move forward. I feel like the path we’ve been meant to walk down is finally approaching. I don’t know where we’re going. Have no clue as to what’s in store. But I am finding that this season of separation and time away from Hubby has made our marriage stronger, our vows tighter and our trust unwavering. We’ll be finding out our next station soon…hopefully in just a few short weeks. And then the ball will get rolling on the moving, the house hunting and the furniture shopping.

I’m excited. And antsy. And eager. :)

We’ll see where this journey takes us…I have a feeling we are only at the beginning.

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September 6, 2010

Miscellany Monday

{ONE} I feel my Faith being pushed. Being testing, being strained even. And I am in awe and great appreciation for every single second of it. I know in my heart that there can be no spiritual growth without tests and trials. And with every good and happy and perfect thing that comes our way, another trial and test of my Faith follows. I’m doing a fabulous study by Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore called Faithful, Abundant, True with my friend Courtney. The first several days have been all about Faith and the testing of our Faith. I’m feeling myself dying to really dig into the word again. And I’m intending to post a deeper and more drawn out post on this subject in the coming days.

{TWO} I watched the first hour of the documentary The Beautiful Truth last night. Wow. I still have about 30 minutes left in it, but I saw enough last night to make my decision. Our family will be going Organic. I told the husband to watch it and I’m hoping that today he’ll get around to seeing it on Netflix. It covered everything from how Food Additives to the danger of the fillings in our teeth. Made me stop and think about what I’ve been putting in my body and what I’ve been feeding my family. Again, I’ll be keeping my blog updated as we make the move to organic.

{THREE} Little Man is repeating almost everything these days. It seems like we just woke up one morning and he decided that he was ready to start talking. And he hasn’t slowed up. Last night, out of the blue, I was telling him what we were having for supper and he clearly repeated it back to me. “Butterbeans, Corn, Pork chop…” So fun! And he is SO independent. He has to do everything on his own. Has to feed  himself, brush his own teeth, pick up his own toys…it’s amazing how fast he is growing before my very eyes.

{FOUR} We have been making the most of technology and the webcam lately. Alabama had their first football Saturday night, but it was only on PPV. The hubs couldn’t get PPV out there where he’s at, so we hooked up the webcam and situated it in front of the TV so he could watch the game with us. It was fun. He got to watch the game, it felt like he was here with us. We’ve also had supper with him a few times. Setting the computer up near the table while we have our meals and he has his. So we still can talk and socialize over our food just as if he is here with us. I know it’s not the same, but it is definitely making it easier on all of us to feel like he’s a part of our day to day.

{FIVE} I am in an insanely good mood this morning. Little Man slept in, the words are flowing freely as I type, and the sun in shining in the window as I sit. I’m looking out at the yard in front of me and I’m thankful for how blessed I really am. How fortunate our little family is and how in love with the life I’ve been given I am.

{SIX} I am about to begin the process of planning a 2nd birthday party! We’re still debating on a Halloween Party or a Toy Story Party. Little Man’s birthday is October 27, but the party is going to be on the 30th.  I have a lot more ideas for things to do with a Halloween party than a Toy Story party, but we’ll decide closer to time.

Hope you all have a great Monday!

If you haven’t been by, go check out the latest progress on my Project 365! I’m starting on week #2 and  I’m loving every single second of it! Let me know what you think, and feel free to leave ideas of what I should photograph. I love getting feedback and inspiration from my readers.

MMbutton3

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September 5, 2010

A Touch of Faith

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September 1, 2010

The Big “2-2”

Thought today I would give you guys a wee bit of a Little Man fix.  :) This little guy hit the big “2-2” mark on the 27th…we’re a mere WEEKS away from turning two years old. I can’t believe my baby boy is already getting so BIG! Fortunately…talks of Baby #2 may be right around the corner…but you’ll just have to stick around and find that out for yourself over time. As is the usual, in honor of hitting another month older, I’ll give you guys lots of cute new photos to gush over. As well as fill you in on some of the new things that the Big guy is doing.

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At 22 months, Little Man has turned into quite the chatter box. He’s verbalizing his wants and “needs” much more clearly and it seems that he is picking new words and phrases up every few minutes. He can clearly tell us that he wants something {“I want…”} and who people are. He knows Grandma, Bubba [Hubby’s brother], Aunt KK, Gran Gran and especially Paw Paw. And mama and daddy of course.

He has somewhere picked up the idea of pointing his fingers like a gun and going “boom boom boom.” Which, we think is both hysterical and adorable! He has learned how to put his animal puzzle together. And put it together correctly. I’m going to have to go invest in some new puzzles…like, today. His favorite toys right now are his Bucket o’ Soldiers, his Buzz Lightyear, his toy cars, and still playing with any sort of ball he can get his hands on.

He rode his first scooter this past weekend. With his Gran Gran and Paw Paw. Want to see? Needless to say, he had a BLAST!

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He is a remote control hog. He thinks he owns the TV. This may become a problem when Hubby gets back home.

TV time
And…as all boys do, he has learned to pick his nose. Not just point to it. To really pick it. Gross. This is one of the photos I’ll use to humiliate him when he’s a teenager

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We’ve been to the park several times here lately and he is in LOVE with the swings. It takes every bit of energy I have to get him off of the swingset.

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We started having nightmares and borderline night terrors this month, but once he started talking to his daddy on the Webcam every. single. night. and I started praying over his dreams at night before he went to sleep, we haven’t had anymore issues. I did a lot of reading and I’m about 99.99% certain that his nightmares were resulting in separation anxiety. Hubby was calling him usually 3 or 4 times a week…just because that was really all his schedule was allowing for. But when the nightmares kicked in, daddy did good and they’ve talked every single night since.

I am getting ready to start planning Birthday Party #2 here in a few weeks. I am thinking we are going to go with the Toy Story theme, since that is his favorite movie right now. I’ll be sure to keep you guys informed and updated. The party will probably be middle October because if all goes according to plan, we will be in California with Hubby on Little Man’s actual birthday.

Little Man,

I know that someday you will look back and read these posts. I hope that if nothing else you realize just how much mommy and daddy love you. I hope you know that you are the absolute BEST thing that ever happened to us. You are the light of our lives and we are both so proud to be your parents. We hope that you always know how much we love you, how proud of you we are, and remember that GOD is in control of your life. He has a plan and a purpose…always, always, always rely on him to get your through.

All of our Love,

Mommy and Daddy

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