Saying Hello to Fall & our Front Porch Swing

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Happy first day of fall! I don’t know about where you live, but here in Jonesboro it definitely doesn’t feel like fall yet. It’s still been in the nineties every day and the humidity is worse than ever, but I’m anxiously awaiting the cool fall breeze and being able to enjoy sitting outside.

Duncan and I were recently gifted a porch swing, and all it needed was a little paint job before it matched our front porch. I love how homey porch swings make a house look/feel, so I was thrilled when we received one!

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*This is the swing originally… just needed a little TLC 🙂

Duncan began by nailing any parts of the swing that needed extra stability, as it is older and well-worn. He, then, removed the chains, so it would be easier to spray-paint. He sanded it down and spray-painted white over the natural wood color. It only took one layer and dried pretty quickly! Once the swing was dry, he reattached the chains, and it was ready to be hung up!

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Duncan and my dad hung the swing in the corner of our front porch, and I love the new look it gives to our porch! My mom was so sweet and picked out navy and white pillows for the porch swing to match our shudders. While the boys were out putting up the swing, my mom and I focused on cleaning the front porch. We wiped down the siding, scrubbed the shudders, cleared all the spider webs, and swept the porch. I love how clean it feels and am so looking forward to spending falls days sitting in our new porch swing!

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Always and forever,

Alex

Cute & Comfy Maternity Robe

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Well, I’ve officially made it to 37 and a half weeks! I really cannot believe Lively could arrive at any time. This week I packed her diaper/hospital bag and made a list of what I will need for my hospital bag (I’m sure I’m overpacking… both because that’s how I am, and since this is my first baby, I’d rather bring too much than not have something I want/need). Duncan and I also installed Lively’s carseat base in the car; it’s so weird seeing it in there every time I go to run an errand, but I love it! 🙂

Another highlight of the week was receiving this adorable delivery/nursing maternity robe! I knew I wanted a comfy robe for in the hospital and afterwards, and this one is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve gotten quite a bit of other cute maternity clothes from Pink Blush, and this robe is definitely one of my favorites! None of their clothing has disappointed; if you are looking for maternity clothes, they are a great resource.

Thankfully, my robe came in just in time, as I’m starting to pack my own hospital bag! I love how it is made of lightweight material, is super soft, and the feminine, yet simple, added touch of the lace trim.

Duncan finishes his first big week of medical school tests on Friday, so any time after that would be perfect for little miss Lively Mae’s arrival! 😉 I’m excited to see Duncan become a dad and already know he will be the most unbelievable and intentional dad in the world, because of the way he loves me so well. Lively is a lucky girl, and I know his love will give her a glimpse of her Heavenly Father’s unfathomable love for her.

Thank you for all of your support and prayers! We’ll keep you updated!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

 

T-Minus 1 Month Until Baby!

 

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I am currently 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant with our first baby girl! Pregnancy has flown by faster than I could have imagined, and we are so excited to meet our daughter. It’s surreal being to the point where I go in every week for a doctor’s appointment and knowing she could be born at any time… tomorrow, next week, 2 weeks… anytime within the month (Duncan has his first big week of exams next week, so just hopefully not next week :/ )!

Last week at my 35-week appointment I was dilated 1 cm and 50% effaced, and this week at my 36-week appointment, I found out I’ve dilated to a 3! Hopefully she keeps progressing at this rate, but there’s no way to really know. I don’t think I’ve felt any contractions yet, and everyone says I’ll know when I do.

This week I’m focusing on some final preparations for Lively Mae’s arrival. I’ve been washing her crib sheets, changing pad cover, swaddle blankets, nursing cover, baby sling, clothes, breast pump parts, etc. I’ve been looking through directions on how to properly set up her carseat & load it in the car, put my pump together, and all kinds of other little things that aren’t as self-explanatory as I would have thought.

Cannon and I are still going on our daily 2-mile walk with a friend and her dog, which is definitely a highlight in our day. I love getting out in the mornings and getting some good late-pregnancy exercise.

We’re anxiously awaiting Lively Mae’s arrival, while treasuring this last little bit of time as a family of 2… well, technically 3 counting Cannon 😉 (and of course he counts!). Cannon is amazing with kids, and I know he’ll love Lively!

A major highlight this week was Duncan surprising me with a Snoogle body pillow (thank you to Lively’s “Uncle” Shil for introducing Duncan to this brilliant invention)! For those who don’t know what this is… you’ve got to look them up. Whether you’re pregnant or not, it is the most comfortable pillow EVER! It’s made falling asleep at night and taking naps during the day so much easier.

Thanks for reading my update on the upcoming arrival of our little girl!

 

Always & forever,

Alex

A Shift in Perspective

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I read this quote by Mother Teresa a couple of days ago, and it really resonated with me! I love being in a new town, supporting my husband on his journey to becoming a physician, and preparing to welcome our precious firstborn daughter into the world; however, it is not all easy and doesn’t always feel “fulfilling.” That sounds horrible, I know, and I do not take for granted the fact that I will be able to stay home with our daughter, but it is a difficult transition after leading such a “busy” life.

Usually the fall time is extremely busy, with starting school and all of the chaos that entails. This year, on the other hand, it has been quite the opposite for me. Of course, it is a little busy with Duncan having started such intensive schooling, and I know it’ll be busy once our little girl arrives, but it is much different than being bombarded with homework, campus events, and trying to balance all of that with work. When I was in college, I felt like I was constantly around people and opportunities to serve others. Now, I don’t interact with nearly as many people in a given day.

It’s easy to feel like what I’m doing now is insignificant. I know that is a lie the enemy tries to let creep into my mind, though. My husband is in school, becoming equipped for his dream job as a physician- a career in which he will make a significant impact on many lives. I see friends on social media or hear about others it seems like are making such an impact in the world, and it’s tempting to compare the contribution they are making with the small contribution I feel like I’m making. BUT, I have to remember that comparison is the thief of joy, and God created each of us uniquely, with the purpose of serving Him and loving others, and that is not going to look the same for everyone! He places us in different seasons and grows us in different ways throughout our entire lives.

Staying home and making sure our home is a comfortable place for Duncan to come home to is worthwhile. Being fully devoted to spending my days taking care of our daughter is not settling for less or making less of an impact than if I were traveling around the world doing missions work. The mission work God is calling me to in this season is to love my little family and invest in them, as well as everyone else I come into contact with along the way. It is so reassuring to know God always is in control and simply wants us to remain faithful to Him. We don’t have to compare ourselves to someone else’s standards of what is significant; rather, our worth and the impact we make comes from our Heavenly Father!

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*Totally not related, but just wanted to share how much we loved having my parents and youngest brother come visit us this past weekend. Bowling & visiting the arcade were definitely highlights!

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Always & forever,

Alex

A Month of Memories

This week marks one month of living in Jonesboro. Time is a funny thing… it feels like we just left Branson and like we’ve been here for months, all at the same time. It’s been tough being away from our friends, family, and the town we grew up in, but it’s been a month of growth, new experiences, and big changes.

It has been so humbling to watch Duncan begin his journey through medical school. Duncan and I have been praying for this opportunity for years, and it’s so cool watching God open doors and helping us overcome obstacles.

I’m adjusting to Duncan’s busy school schedule and all of the studying required, spending lots of quality time with Cannon, and cherishing Duncan’s and my weekly date nights. Honestly, Duncan’s been amazing about keeping me informed on what he is learning and not letting me feel alone. I cannot say thank you enough for the way he intentionally tells me about his day and asks me about mine. There’s no one else I’d rather go through all these crazy changes with.

It would be easy to be negative and discouraged amidst these new challenges and this drastic change of pace; however, I’m choosing to seek the Lord and what He is going to teach me in this season. I’m choosing to treasure the good memories we are making and learn from the obstacles. Below are some of my favorite memories from this first month:

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I love making new friends. It’s such a blessing spending time with wives of some of the medical school students Duncan goes to school with, who are walking through the same new season as we are.

IMG_0134Our date day to Memphis was one of my favorites!

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We loved having Duncan’s family come visit us for his White Coat Ceremony!

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We went to Memphis for an evening with the Porters, exploring the city and even going on a horse-drawn carriage ride!

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I love my quality time with Cannon! We go on walks every morning and basically spend all day every day together. He’s such a good buddy.

Not every day is easy, but I will continue to focus on the good. We’re taking things one day at a time and are not taking a single day for granted. Our Father has never failed us, and I know He won’t start now. There is always something to be thankful for, and perspective is everything. This month we’ve laughed more and harder than ever before. I’m grateful for this unforgettable first month of memories!

 

Always & forever,

Alex

My Favorite Room

I love everything about Duncan’s and my home in Jonesboro, but if I had to pick a favorite room, I would definitely say our bedroom. I like how cozy it is, how much natural light comes in the long windows, and I especially love our new bed Duncan made!

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The bed we had before was dark brown and would not have matched the gray color of our walls. This was the perfect excuse for a new one! Duncan’s made a lot of the furniture in our home, including our new bed. We knew we wanted a big, wooden bed, and Duncan made it all from scratch (seriously so impressive!). Once the frame was built, we painted it white, following up with sanding some of the edges (to give a more distressed/antiqued look). Duncan proceeded to wipe a dark brown stain over the white paint, wiping it off with a clean rag immediately after. After the paint and stain were dry, he finished by sanding the entire bed frame to tone down the color (to make it less of a brown). I love the way it turned out!

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I love white, fluffy comforters, and we spent most of the summer looking for a reasonably priced king size one. We finally found this one for a great deal at the At Home store in Springfield! I wanted a blue throw blanket and pillows to add a little pop of color. We found this Southern Living striped throw at Dillard’s and these soft, comfy decorative pillows at T.J. Maxx.

We wanted to find our initials to put up above our bed, which was another endeavor that proved to be more difficult than I initially thought. It felt like any time we went to a home store, they had one of our initials, but not the other’s, or they had both of our initials but no “&” symbol. After lots of looking, we finally found these at Hobby Lobby! I was nervous the silver color would blend in with the gray walls, but the rusty finish on the edges helps the letters to stand out and ties them in with the antiqued finish on our bed.

We’ve had these matching night stands since we’ve been married and started looking for matching lamps once we moved here to Jonesboro. I didn’t realize how expensive lamps are, so it took us a couple of weeks to find reasonable ones! These white ones were super cheap at Target, and I love how simple they are.

I enjoy spending time searching for new pieces for our home, as well as finding the right places for the pieces we already have. It’s fun seeing our room come together and feeling like our house is becoming more and more homey!

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Always & forever,

Alex

What to Wear for a Hot Summer Pregnancy

My second trimester and half of my third trimester have taken place during the heat of the summer. It’s been one of the hottest, most humid summers I can remember… but I suppose that could partially be due to my little bun in the oven! One of the best parts about being pregnant this summer was working at our shaved ice trailer, Yeti’s Shaved Ice! Although there wasn’t air conditioning in the trailer, it always helped having a shaved ice at the end of the day to look forward to (especially since I’ve been craving shaved ice throughout my entire pregnancy) :). Since the majority of my summer was spent in the shaved ice trailer, I typically wore my Yeti’s Shaved Ice tank top with athletic shorts. This was super nice, because all of my athletic shorts still fit and the tank tops were a nice way to stay cool!

When not at work, it was a little harder to know what to wear. I didn’t want to spend all of my money on a new maternity wardrobe, but I did want to invest in some key pieces of clothing, since we want to have more children in the future. Over the past few months, I’ve invested in a few flowy shirts (I love these, because they can be worn during pregnancy, as well as after!), a couple of flowy dresses (also great for pregnancy and afterwards), a pair of maternity jeans (that can be rolled into capris), a white pair of maternity jeans, and one “fitted” maternity shirt. I didn’t buy many fitted maternity shirts, just because I wanted to be able to wear what I bought both pre- and post-baby, in order to save money. Most of the clothing I’ve bought during my pregnancy I’ve ordered from Pink Blush, an online maternity store. I love the way their clothing fits and have been happy with everything I’ve gotten from them! Just make sure to check the sizing chart on their website before placing an order, as most of their clothing runs a little big.

Since I carry our daughter pretty high, I’ve thankfully been able to wear all of the shorts I had pre-pregnancy. Many of the dresses, shirts, and tank tops I had before still fit, which has been really helpful, as well! The majority of the time, thanks to all the heat and humidity, I wear shorts and a tank top or a flowy dress. We’ve gone out on the lake and to the pool a couple of times, which is the perfect time to get some sun on the bump! 🙂 I definitely prefer a two-piece when pregnant, because it is not fun having tight clothing on your pregnant belly; a two-piece is much more comfortable!

Below are some of the outfits I’ve worn this summer (during the later half of my second trimester and first half of my third):

These photos were taken when I was 19 weeks pregnant. I didn’t have much of a bump, so I went with a more flowy top for our graduation party and this flowy maroon dress for graduation!

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This was at my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding. I was almost 21 weeks pregnant and still didn’t really have a baby bump I wanted to “show off,” so I wore this maxi dress!

IMG_9859This photo was taken on Father’s Day, which was still during my second trimester. I chose to wear another maxi dress, rather than trying to accentuate my mini baby bump.

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I constantly craved being in the water this summer, so we tried to go swimming any free chance we got. This was taken at White Water towards the end of my second trimester, and I loved getting some sun on my baby bump!

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I had this dress pre-pregnancy, and it’s one that’s been perfect to wear this summer, even with my growing bump!

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Duncan and I took a day trip to Memphis a couple of weekends ago, and it was extremely hot! These white shorts have been a go-to during my pregnancy, and this tank top I had prior to pregnancy is perfect whether pregnant or not.

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This floral dress is one I bought from Pink Blush! I love that the sleeves and length of the dress are a little longer. It is super comfy, and it’s definitely not just a maternity dress.

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This was the dress I wore for Duncan’s White Coat Ceremony last weekend (32 weeks pregnant). It’s not a maternity dress, but the flowy design of it and the length fit well with my belly that is growing more each day!

As far as shoes, I tried to wear shoes that had good support! I basically lived in my Birkenstocks all summer, because they’re my favorite & most comfortable shoes. When I worked, I tried to wear tennis shoes or Chacos for the support. For formal occasions, like graduation and Duncan’s White Coat Ceremony, I wore heels, but made sure to bring a change of shoes!

I’m no fashion expert (or an expert at being pregnant), but these are some of the ways I made it through a hot & humid summer pregnancy! You don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a new maternity wardrobe, but it’s fun to splurge on a few items; after all, growing a baby is something worth celebrating! 🙂

 

Always & forever,

Alex

 

The First Step in Making our House our own Home

One of my favorite qualities in a home is when there is plenty of sunlight radiating in! I feel so lucky that our home has lots of windows (my favorite being the four floor-to-ceiling windows in our living and dining room). In order to take full advantage of these windows, I knew I wanted to lighten up the walls all over the house. I really like gray walls; however, gray clashed with the chocolate brown couches we have. Upon looking at more paint colors, I found a really pretty light blue color (with a grayish tint) that matched our furniture and decorations we received as wedding gifts and have accumulated over the past 2 years. We decided to paint our whole downstairs this same blue: Sherwin-Williams Crisp Blue, which included our living room, dining room, kitchen, half-bath, and laundry room (as well as our master bath upstairs).

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*A little glance at what crisp blue looks like in our living room*

I wanted to still use gray somewhere, so we decided to use it for our bedroom and Lively’s nursery, as it matches the furniture in both rooms well! There were so many shades of gray to choose from… we wanted it to be a light gray, so I started looking on Pinterest at some of the grays we liked the best to see what they looked like in other people’s homes. I found that Sherwin-Williams Repose Gray, which we ended up going with, is used often by Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper (one of my favorite shows!). This is the gray we went with, and I love how it turned out!

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*Repose gray in our bedroom*

We wanted to use a few different colors in our home that all go together well, but give some variety. We decided to do a light green color for our guest room and guest bath. I wanted to choose a green that was not too bright or “too green” (I preferred a more neutral green). We decided to go with Sherwin-Williams Filmy Green. I actually love it even more than I thought I would!

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*A sneak peek of filmy green in our guest room*

Since the walls were deep red and orange prior to us buying the house, we used latex Kilz on all of the walls as a primer before painting. The Kilz was pretty inexpensive and saved us from having to do multiple coats of the actual paint colors. I’ll admit painting definitely tests my patience… it feels like it takes forever waiting for the primer to dry, wiping the walls down and cleaning the baseboards, moving appliances out of the way, taping off parts of the wall, removing electrical covers, waiting for the paint to dry, touching up any spots that need a little extra paint, etc. BUT it is so worth it! I love how the paint turned out. It lightens up our home and makes it feel even more spacious than I’d imagined! I love the way it looks with the natural sunlight. I’ll post more specifically about each room in our home as we get more done (& share more photos!).

 

Always & forever,

Alex

 

Little Life Updates

Since I last posted several months ago, Duncan’s and my lives have changed pretty drastically. We graduated from College of the Ozarks, found out we are having a daughter this fall, bought a house, and moved to Arkansas for Duncan to begin medical school.

In the midst of finding out about all the transition to come, I couldn’t bring myself to blog. I could hardly process through all the upcoming changes and needed time to start working through all of it before I could even think about blogging.

Up until the middle of December, we were planning on moving to the Caribbean for Duncan to start medical school there; we’d sold my car and packed up our entire house. Then, two weeks before we were supposed to move, Duncan was accepted into a school here in the States. After seeking the wisdom of various friends, family members, and physicians, we made the decision to stay in the States for Duncan’s schooling. Even though I understood it was probably the smarter decision for us, I struggled with the last-minute switch. I’d prepared myself for the island life and had a difficult time getting past the “glamorous” and “adventurous” life I thought I’d be missing out on. The Caribbean sounded exciting and new, while Arkansas was a place I’d told myself I never wanted to live… it’s shallow, I know, but I didn’t want my first “big move” to be to Arkansas.

My attitude was something I had to give up to God and wrestle through with His help. I can’t follow God wholeheartedly and allow Him to grow/mold me when I’m constantly getting caught up in my selfish “dream” desires and comparing my life to the lives of others. I’m realizing it’s not living in a breathtaking place that’ll make me happy, nor anything else circumstantial; rather, joy and contentment are based on seeking the Lord, allowing Him to shape me, and embracing where He has me.

A few months ago we bought a house in Arkansas. We came down one day, and by the end of the day we knew which house we wanted to put an offer on. By God’s grace, the house was ours just about a month later!

Despite the fact we’re only four hours away from Branson, the process of moving has been more challenging than I expected. We’re constantly learning new things every day, and I’m working on taking it one day at a time. We’re discovering what is involved in buying a home, moving to a new state, figuring out insurance, delving into the world of school loans… and a myriad of other things. In the midst all the big unknowns, I’m trying to see everything as a learning experience and not stress out.

We officially moved down here three days ago and are enjoying getting settled in.. making our house a home! I love hanging up our decorations on the walls and making our home cozy, getting to know the town better, and spending as much time as possible with Duncan before his classes begin. It’s hard not seeing our families on a daily basis, but we’re beyond thankful for their endless support. It’s hard to believe that (God-willing) our daughter will be here in a short couple of months, adding to our little family!

With all of this being said, I’m ready to embark on my blogging journey again! I want to keep everyone posted on our new adventure, share what we’re learning, and hopefully encourage some of you along the way! I’m learning to boast about my weaknesses and give them over to my Savior, so His power can be made perfect and my strength truly comes from Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I’ll be posting about our house, pregnancy, motherhood, life being married to my medical school student, and more :).

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Coffee at Shadrach’s (the BEST local coffee shop) before our moving crew headed back to Branson!

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With my sister on the front porch of our new house!

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In front of our new home!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

Best Valentine’s Cookies!

With Valentine’s Day being only a week away, I thought it was fitting to post one of my favorite cookie recipes (with pink & red sprinkles, of course!).  I found this Softbatch Funfetti Sugar Cookie recipe on Averie Cooks, and it has quickly turned into one of my go-to cookie recipes!

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These cookies are soft, delicious, and the perfect solution for a sweet tooth.  I used pink, red, and white sprinkles this time, rather than the normal rainbow, to celebrate Valentine’s Day drawing near!  Another modification I sometimes make when baking these cookies is substituting 1/2 cup coconut oil in place of the 1/2 cup butter.  There are numerous health benefits to coconut oil, and I have been substituting it in almost every recipe I’ve been making lately!  The cookies still taste amazing, and the flavor is not lessened whatsoever with this healthier substitute :).

Attached here is the recipe for these delicious cookies!  Make sure to fully follow the directions for the best results!

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If you’re in the mood for some Valentine’s Day baking, these cookies are definitely worth a try!  They are sure to be the perfect way to impress your valentine (I know my valentine loves them 🙂 )!

Always and forever,

Alex