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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : December 2014


My New Year's Resolution: Focus

This 2014 year was good to me. I decided to make a change and use a single word to define the goal for my year. That word was intention. My thoughts on how I did? I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

I was sick of lying around and wasting my days. Being homebound is an obvious side effect of having an infant and a two year old, but I wanted my days to be more full, more meaningful. Intention was the perfect companion to those dull, and sometimes frustrating, days.

We thoughtfully went out and explored new places. I was able to expand my library and acquaint myself with new literature and music. I finally let myself let go of toxic feelings and people in my life. I worked really hard to find new opportunities in blogging and I feel like I achieved that. Conversely, I (kinda, sorta) learned how to unplug myself from technology without feeling guilt or impulse. (But I am still working on it!) We even moved to fulfill our needs for our growing family.

Like I said, 2014 really was a wonderful year. There were mounds of amazing growth, personally and as a family. And I look forward to carrying over my goals under the umbrella of intention into a new concept for 2015...


All of those ideas and adventures I experienced were incredible, and I really learned how to seek after the things I want in life. I found a quote a few years ago, and it stuck out to me as a motto to live by, "In order to lead a fascinating life—one brimming with art, music, intrigue, and romance—you must surround yourself with precisely those things." So here I am! I am surrounding myself with the things I want in life. But it seems a little... messy? Chaotic? I feel like there were so many things I wanted to do that much of it got lost. They were buried deep in the thick of journals scribbled with thoughts and calendars unrealistically packed with events and deadlines.

This year is about highlighting the things that matter and applying a tack sharp focus on how to go about living a purposeful life "brimming with art, music, intrigue and romance." My time with Luke and Wes will be more attentive and less full of distractions. My relationship with Matt will be nurtured more and I will work to put down my phone or iPad and be completely present when we are watching a movie together or out on a date.

I am going to blog with more focus, too. This might mean I will be posting more of what I love. Whether it's a post full of photographs (something that has turned into a love and hobby for me) from a day discovering new places, or me writing out the innermost parts of my brain and heart, I want it to be meaningful. I want to share more of my thoughts on how I really feel about life and the things around me without being afraid of people thinking I am an idiot or a stark, raving lunatic. And I don't want to be apologetic for who I am. I am absolutely SICK of blog stats and dissecting my analytics reports. Seriously. Is it really going to matter how many visitors I had in 2015 when 2035 rolls around? I really don't think so. I am absolutely appreciative that this blog is able to bring in some extra income for our family, and it is not possible without that side of things, but I also feel that the glossy effect of commercials and magazines has slowly crept its way in to social media and blogs. And honestly, I don't know if that's all I ever want to see, or create. I love creating posts with content that is useful, but I want to know and show that people still bleed, and cry and are real.

I suppose the optimal word I am reaching for here is "relatable." That's why I do this. I want to find people like me. And chances are that if you are reading this, you are like me! In fact, I know we would be marvelous friends in real life! And that's what life is really all about. Relationships. To quote the great Maya Angelou, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Here is to living with focus. Here is to intently concentrating on the moment. And here is to connecting with people in a genuine, conscientious way.

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

Anthropologie Hat.
LOFT Sweater.
LOFT Black Skinny Jeans.
H&M Handbag.

1. Once again, here is my tried and true formula for the ultimate momiform. Sweater, skinny jeans, booties, and a hat. I used to be afraid of having a "uniform" of sorts or being too boring with jeans and a tee. Seriously. There was this terribly misogynistic boy at my junior high who told me that girls who wear jeans and tee shirts only are ugly. I was in that awkward puberty phase and took every word boys said literally (I clearly had no self-confidence or identity at this point in life) and consciously tried to not just wear jeans and a shirt of some sort. It took me, like, five years to get out of that mindset with the help of some feminist ideology and growing a backbone, and I am happy to report I thoroughly embrace the jeans and tee movement. (Insert high five emoji.)

2. Fact: The average person produces enough saliva to fill two swimming pools in their lifetime (source).

3. I have this theory that Seinfeld is inspired by Mickey Mouse. No really, hear me out! There is Jerry, who is the star of the show and the nice, well-balanced guy who everyone likes for the most part. Then we have George, the short, balding guy with a chip on his shoulder and is sure the world is out to get him. And it's funny to watch how ridiculous he is. Next up is Elaine, the quirky gal pal of the bunch, and was once upon a time romantically involved with Jerry. Last, but certainly not least, we have Kramer, the tall, goofy guy who just hangs around and eats everyone's food. Now, who else does this quartet sound like? Yes! Mickey, Donald, Minnie, and Goofy! Sure, they have their differences and are obviously targeted at different age groups, but I am telling you they are roughly the same people. If Mickey Mouse and Friends were to be written for adults, you would basically have Seinfeld with animal characters. And instead of living in Manhattan they would live in LA. I will call it the Mickey Mouse Seinfeld Theory. Feel free to discuss it at your book clubs and dinner parties.

4. I am so tired from writing out that last paragraph, I don't have anything to say. But I just heard this song for the first time and thought it was pretty cool.

5. Would you rather jump from a 100-foot high ledge onto an enormous pile of sofa cushions, or jump from a 100-foot ledge into a 95-foot high pile of thick whipped cream?

(And here are some outtakes from the rest of our day in Laguna Beach, where we happened to be while taking these pictures. A blooper is up first for your viewing pleasure.)

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Weaning Sucks

Sometimes I feel like a terrible mother because I get bitter and resentful toward Wes for weaning before I was ready. Or before I thought I was ready.

At 12 months practically on the nose, he just up and stopped breastfeeding one day. I picked him up, swung his body horizontally and plopped him on my right side. But instead of latching in that needy, hungry way babies do when they are sure they are going to die from thirst, he turned his nose up at me. It was if he was saying, "Ew, mom! What is that thing?!"

I was completely confused. Baffled. Totally dumbfounded! Nursing was his favorite thing in the entire world up until this point. Why the sudden and drastic change?

You know those scenes in the movies where there is a perfectly stacked pile of papers, which has taken weeks or even months of energy and time to compile? And then one harsh gust of wind blows it all away into chaos, never to be returned? That is exactly how I felt. The whole situation left me disgruntled and deeply mournful. I felt like the bond we had grown and carefully nurtured was ripped and torn apart in an instant, just like an unexpected outburst of wind.

(The very last picture I took of Wes still breastfeeding. It will always be special to me.)

I had a hard time dealing with him the next four weeks. Usually I would console him by nursing whenever he was grouchy. The nights were more peaceful because I would cosleep with him and simply roll over to feed him if he was waking in the middle of the night. But that all changed. He would scream and cry, and there was nothing I could do to comfort him. I felt helpless and incredibly frustrated by the incessant wailing. The nights were even more brutal. Any time he would wake up screaming from his crib I had to a) hurry in there so he wouldn't wake Luke and b) drag my butt all the way downstairs to get him a sippy cup of milk. And not just pouring it in quickly and running back up in a zombie half-sleep. It had to be warmed up because of his fondness for the warmth of breast milk, which he was not ready to give up. I asked myself a million times, Why am I doing this? However, now that I have two kids, turns out I will do next to anything to get some uninterrupted shuteye.

It has been about a month since all of this transpired. I would say I am doing much better—we are doing much better. But I still miss it. And honestly, I just really struggle with the 12-18 month phase. They are still babies, but want to be independent and cannot communicate their wants or needs efficiently enough without having a meltdown every 10 minutes. I remember feeling this way with Luke as well. Does that make me a horrible mom? I feel so conflicted about it sometimes, like I don't love Wes enough or something. And he often goes to bed a half hour early because I just can't handle it anymore. It will all pass, though. It will pass more quickly than I will want, and then I will be pining for the days when he was tiny and would let me still snuggle him and breath in the scent of his head with the fluffy baby hairs. Such is life, right?

Motherhood is a funny thing sometimes. It has the power to completely unhinge us, turning us into legitimate lunatics. But it always redeems itself with that little whisper of, "I wuv you, mama" or the warmth of small, chubby arms wrapped around our necks. And in the end, it's always worth it.

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Christmas Morning 2014

On Christmas morning at 6 am on the dot, Luke marched his way into our room just as he does every day. I didn't need to worry (and I never do) about setting an alarm to make sure he didn't go down without us because his sleeping schedule is like clockwork. (These are the joys of Christmas morning with little people. It's still predictable and easy to wrangle them in without running downstairs and spoiling all the fun.)

"Good morning, mama!" he chimed. I rolled over with a sleepy smile on my face and replied, "Merry Christmas, Luke! Guess what? Santa came last night!"

His face lit up and then we had a lengthy discussion (more like an interrogation because you know how 3-year-olds are with all the questions) about the affairs of sliding down the chimney and eating cookies and drinking milk. 

About 45 minutes later, Wes was chirping from the other room signaling his grand entrance for the day, and off we bounded down the stairs to see what tricks Santa had up his sleeve this year! 

(By the way, can we take a quick second to let that picture of Wesley's face sink in? It's the face he pulls when asked to smile. The kid is a ham with a side of goober berries.)

The looks on their faces were priceless. It's the kind of thing you wait to see your whole life, but you don't know you were waiting for. Does that make sense? I was more excited this Christmas than I have ever been, and had actual butterflies flitting around in my stomach as we sat out the toys on Christmas Eve. Their reactions didn't disappoint. There were sounds of crisp, ripping paper and those terribly annoying, plastic, wire doodads littered everywhere. But the best were the grins and gasps as each present revealed itself.

That right there is my excited face.

This is Wesley's. (Too freaking cute to handle.)

This is Matt's. (So much joy radiating from that handsome mug!)

And this is Luke's. (Disney movies will do that to ya!)

We need to talk about this present. This may seem like a boring, old picture of some horribly wrapped present which looks like Christmas barfed all over it. While that is true, this is going to be one of those pictures I look back on in 10 years and have a good chuckle over. You see, Luke was watching me attach all of the gift tag stickers to the gifts under the tree about a week before Christmas. The next day when I came downstairs after taking a shower I found this present covered in gift tags. He's found a serious, new love for stickers and he thought he was being the most diligent helper in all the world. He used the entire pack and then some, leaving none for the other gifts we still needed to tag, but I didn't even bother to buy more or care. All I could do was laugh and admire his handiwork.

And then this is what he did when asking him to "smile like an elf!"

Let us take another minute to coo over yet another picture of Wesley being ADORABLE. He finally got a mimi (what we call blankies at our house) just like his big brother and this was the very first thing he did after we unwrapped it. And they haven't parted since. Such a beautiful love story, is it not?

Santa ate all the cookies and drank all the milk! This was actually the first thing to be inspected upon coming downstairs Christmas morning. Luke approved of Santa's efforts.

Ahhhh, my favorite part—the food! The very first year Matt and I were married we started the tradition of making the most ridiculous and grand Christmas breakfast. Or more like a Christmas break-feast. It has evolved over the years to include FIVE beverages. One for every dish, as I like to say. The french toast goes marvelously with the chocolate milk, the hashbrowns work nicely with the orange juice, the bacon pairs well with the sparkling cider, the sausage complements the grapey undertones in the grape juice, and the eggnog takes the edge off the churizo and eggs. Stay thirsty, my friends.

After we recovered from our food comas, we tried on Mr Potato Head's glasses, but decided they didn't go with any of our face shapes. We built car tracks looping from the stair railing, which launched into the new toy barn. We attempted to skateboard, but decided on boarding the Death Star instead. (But it's basically the same thing since I already wiped out on the skateboard in an attempt to look cool. Fail.) Oh, and Luke and Wes nearly finished off an entire bag of Butterfinger bells.

Christmas 2014 was a wonderful success, and I am overflowing with love and gratitude for my gang of boys. Hope you all had the most merry of Christmases, and here's to the happiest new year!

P.S. Here are our Christmas mornings from 20112012 and 2013!

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

DIY Tulle Skirt
LOFT Plaid Scarf in Red Crush
Women's Loretta Plaid Sneakers
LOFT Striped Tee (similar)
Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Outlaw

1. This was my Christmas outfit for church, but Wes has double ear infections again and we ended up staying home. But I had to photograph it! For posterity's sake ;) Actually, mostly because this DIY tulle skirt is the greatest thing I have ever made. I refashioned a piece of crap thrift store skirt into this beauty with a few layers of tulle. You can get the whole tutorial here. But what I really need to talk about is the lipstick I am wearing. It has changed my life... as much as an article of makeup can. It's a liquid lip stain so once it dries it is there to stay FOR. EV. ER. My red lipstick usually feathers out, even with lip liner. If you have the same problem, waterproof lip liner and this lipstick will solve all of your lipstick problems that have kept you up at night.

2. Fact: The average woman does NOT consume seven pounds of lipstick in her lifetime (source). I always wondered where that myth came from and set out to find the truth behind it since I have lipstick on the brain! You can really sleep soundly now that you know the best lipstick to use AND that it won't fill your body with an extra seven pounds of rubbish. It's a Christmas miracle!

3. When I put this skirt on, Luke came up to me and said, "Ohhhh, Mommy! You a pwincess!" Then when we were taking pictures, he ran up to me and demanded a hug. The picture of us above is Luke saying to me, "Mommy, I wuv your makeup! Mommy, I wuv your green eyes!" Talk about flattery! Watch out, ladies.

4. My friend Gentri has a wonderful style blog, Gentri Lee, and she featured me on her series, "Know Your Style" the other week! Sharing my best advice for figuring out your sense of fashion style and how to build a great wardrobe around it over here!

5. Would you rather see everything upside down or hear everything backwards?

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Our 2014 Christmas Card!

Merry and bright are perfect adjectives for describing Luke and Wes. This card design wasn't even included in our original roundup of Christmas card ideas, but it stuck out to us as we were perusing and previewing all the designs with our photo on Minted.

We decided to keep it simple and sweet, and I am really excited with the way they turned out. The colors and quality are beautiful, and they even print addresses for you! Saved my wrist from developing carpal tunnel ;) Minted is the way to go for photo cards, and we will definitely be using them again for our Christmas cards in the coming years.

Also, did you know they sell art prints? Me either! I have my eye on this one. I think it is fitting for my birthday coming up. (Team Aquarius all the way!)

Happy holidays, everybody! (Said in the voice of Kevin G.)

Photo of Luke and Wes by Jamie Johnston Photography

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5 Christmas Movies To Watch On Netflix This Weekend

1. White Christmas. Ahhh, the ultimate Christmas classic! I was raised on all of the old Hollywood movies. We just barely watched this a couple of nights ago and I was crying by the end. Every single time I see the little ballerinas dancing and Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing their final song it rushes me back to the house I grew up in. I could see the twinkle of the lights on our tree, smell the fragile, slightly sweet scent of the popcorn garland and recount every last flaw and character in the bricks on our fireplace. That, my friends, is what Christmas is all about.

2. Love Actually. Hello! This is one of the greatest feel-good romance movies of all time! I could watch it over, and over, and over.

3. Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas. Because it is not Christmas without watching Mickey Mouse deck the halls and having Disney stuff blasting through the house all holiday season. (Kids or no kids! For the sake of nostalgia, guys.)

4. Holiday In Handcuffs. If you are anything like me, you lived for TGIF when you were a tweenager, which included one of my favorite shows, Sabrina the Teenage Witch. (Also, Two of a Kind—er, everything Mary Kate and Ashley ever made—will forever be my number one! I am not exaggerating when I say it is what would get me through the week at school. I had terrible anxiety as a kid and would motivate myself with this show. Also, I am still convinced I am the long-lost Olsen sister.) Clearly, I support all of the fantastically corny shows and movies that Melissa Joan Hart does, and this one is certainly no exception! And Mario Lopez's dimples? You know where to find me if I get lost! (That was a horrible joke. Looks like I have a shot at being a writer for ABC Family! Heyooo!)

5. The Muppet Christmas Carol. One of Luke's favorite Christmas songs is "The Twelve Days of Christmas" by the Muppets—Miss Piggy really shines! Obviously, we need this classic kid's Christmas movie in our lineup for the next week.

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