Monday, September 22, 2014

Influence Conference Meet + Greet

So in just a few days I am heading to the Influence Conference! I am so excited to hang out with my roommates for the weekend Grace and Joanna (I'm already good friends with our third roomie Jess) and meet some new people!

As part of the Meet + Greet, we are supposed to post: a photo  + a little bio, one part of the conference we are most excited about and one thing I wouldn’t leave home without

So here is my introduction:



Hi! I'm Kara. I am a lot of things - silly, passionate, a fiercely loyal friend and an constant encourager. I love listening to stories as much as I love telling them and I tend to ask a lot of questions if I am interested in the subject or person. So if I meet you and it feels like an interview, my apologies in advance (it's just that I think you're cool and I want to be friends!)

During the week I write for a big corporate company, and freelance for a little marketing agency. During my free time I have the privilege of spending it with my darling husband Matt and my precious two year old daughter Brighton, plus all our amazing friends. We have made our home in the Queen City - Charlotte, North Carolina - where I have been living since I was 10. I'm in love with interior decorating, writing (I have a novel I've been working since grad school) and hosting parties or dinners at my house. I'm a total Southern belle, with a side of potty mouth. I'm trying to work on that, cause Jesus and my mama expect more from me!

I am most excited about the opportunity to have some dedicated time to talk about Jesus. I go to church, I read my Bible, but listening to others share their hearts about the Lord and being able to digest their words with other women makes me so happy.

I never leave home without lipstick or tinted chapstick. I feel naked without it.

I can't wait to meet you!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Currently

I've been MIA for the last few weeks, sorry. Matt and I went to Cocoa Beach, Florida last week for the kid-free first vacation we have taken since Brighton was born. It was a wonderful week to just focus on my marriage and Matt.

We went to Harry Potter World at Universal (that's the Hogwarts Express).

Love this guy!

Here is what I have been up to currently:

Feeding – I feel like a pigged out this summer on bad food and my hips are definitely showing it. Over the last week and through the entire month of October I am cutting out sweets, alcohol and any extra carbs where I can. I’m trying to get back to cooking dinners with more veggies than dairy/meat and also ensure I have some veggies during lunch each day.

Reading - I read so much last week while Matt and I were on vacation.  I finished “The Passage”, “Eleanor+ Park”,  Landline”, “Is Everyone Hanging Out WithoutMe?” and “Crimson Roses.” I am now in the middle of “Dad is Fat” and “TheTwelve”. None of these books were on my original reading list for the year, but I am still trying to get through that list as well.

Conceding – That I need to spend at least a few minutes a day taking stock of what I should be grateful for. Over the last year I have really struggled with negative thoughts – some of my attitude is based on things that have happened to my family or my friends – but it’s unhealthy and not fruitful and I want to change that about myself. Also that I need a night every single week to just talk with Matt. No tv or technology, no cleaning, no chores, just us and our hearts.

Needing – To clean my house, like mop the floors, scrub the tub type cleaning. I hate cleaning.

Gearing up for – Girls night tonight (we are doing a clothing swap), getting my hair cut and colored tomorrow and the Influence Conference next week!

Procrastinating – Finishing the decorating of our master bedroom and guest bedroom, starting the landscaping of the front yard (I have so many bushes and shrubs to cut back or remove) and setting aside time each week to write.

Thankful for – My relationship with my husband, my precious daughter and my wonderful friends. I have a great support network and a wonderful set of girlfriends who are willing to listen, pray and encourage at a moments notice.

What are you up to currently?

Thanks to Danielle for the idea of a 'Currently' post.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Florida

We went to Florida's gulf coast almost a month ago and I'm just now getting around to posting about it. If you follow me or Matt on Instagram a lot of these photos will be familiar (sorry). We spent the week with our best friends/family Garrett and Crystal and their daughters (my nieces) Greenlee and Leland. Garrett's parents own a beautiful home in Santa Rosa Beach and we were lucky enough to spend a few days with them there, plus time with Garrett's younger sister Haley and her two precious boys Clayton and Grant.

It was sunny, and hot and humid of course, but the sand was soft and white and the ocean was the clearest blue I have ever seen. It was a little slice of heaven - days upon days of playing, swimming, sleeping in and eating yummy food with our favorite people.

Our home for the week
And our view for the week!
Our little diva. 

Matt spent the week paddle boarding and took a bunch of shots like this with his Go Pro camera
Napping on the beach is the best!

Leland, B-Love and Greenlee
The daily afternoon ritual - big kids swim in the pool, the adults make an afternoon cocktail and the little kids napped inside!
So beautiful!


Haley's youngest son Grant and Brighton. These two were so cute together. 
The house had its own saltwater pool
My best friend and sister Crystal. I love this girl so much! 

Brighton had a serious love for her Uncle Garrett. She insisted he carry her - a lot!
These girls have my heart!
My little family



My family. Love these people. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Birthday Parties

We had three celebrations for Brighton this year - cupcakes at the beach with her cousin Greenlee who turned 7 in August, pizza, ice cream and presents with her grandparents and aunts/uncles on her actual birthday and a Sunday afternoon with her friends jumping on the trampoline, swimming in the baby pool and taking a run on the Nemo slip-n-slide her grandmother got for her. 

Here are a bunch of photos of it all: 

Brighton and Greenlee with their birthday cupcakes
Pizza party with our family - her favorite!
SO many presents from her grandparents!
Matt made Brighton a dollhouse for her birthday! 

Her grandparents and aunt and uncle bought her Calico Critters to fill up the new little house. 


For the party with her friends, we made cupcakes and had popsicles and juice boxes. Easy! 
And used decorations we bought for last year's party plus some balloons!
My backyard full of friends and their babies = heaven!

 
I had the distinct pleasure of teaching B what "taking a turn" meant so others could use the slip-n-slide. Not fun!





Freeze-e-pops make for some happy kiddos!
Happy Birthday little one!

What a fun week!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday!


Darling Girl,

Happy 2 years! This letter to you is two weeks late - we had a very busy birthday week followed by another busy week for our family. We had the best time celebrating you, starting the Sunday before your special day with a trip to the party supply store - we picked out pink plates and purple napkins and lavender sugar sprinkles for your cupcakes and ordered 12 pink and purple balloons, one of which we brought home early to tie to your chair in the dining room. All week we practiced singing the happy birthday song, and kept asking you "How old will you be Brighton? Two!"

On your special day, I woke up early and watched you sleep. I couldn't help myself. When you sleep you still look so small and so much like my baby. I love that your cheeks still have a tiny ounce of baby fat and your toes and hands are still so small.

(I think) you are about 25 pounds and 35 inches long - your 2 year appointment is in a few weeks so we'll make sure to record those stats in your baby book. You wear 2T shorts, shirts and dresses, but can fit into 3T pants - you are still so tall for your age. Your hair is now a light sandy brown with blonde streaks in the front and you are so, so, so tan! All that sun has turned you into a little "Coppertone" baby. We can put your hair in a cute little top knot or long pigtails or even in a tiny braid. You look so grown up with your hair pulled back. Your eyes are still a green hazel with blue specks. Your "eye" teeth have finally made an appearance which was a rough two weeks for all of us!

We eat dinner together every night at the dining room table, saying our prayers first, with music in the background. We try to feed you whatever we cook for the night, unless it's something really spicy. Sometimes you eat as much as a teenage boy, other days you act like you're not hungry at all. We just try to make it work and get some good calories into you! You still sleep like a teenager too - you love to stay up late and sleep in every morning if we let you. You have also started to sleep longer stretches in the afternoon which makes us all very happy! You love to sleep with your two favorite blankies, a few stuffed animals and a large knitted blanket to cover up your legs.

You can now jump, run fast, skip and balance better than I can! Your vocabulary has skyrocketed! You have full conversations with us, telling us what you see, what you want to do and what you like. You know a ton of songs like "Ba-Ba Black Sheep", "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Twinkle, Twinkle", "Jesus Loves Me", "C is for Cookie" plus every single song from the movie Frozen. Your version of "Let It Go" is the most entertaining thing ever. You even do the arm motions Elsa does in the movie. You can count up to 20 and backwards from 10. My new favorite phrases you say is, "right there" but it sounds like "ight dare" with a little "w" sound thrown in and "change diaper" but it sounds like "change diapurr". Listening to you talk is my favorite thing. Potty training hasn't begun yet but you at least tell us when you need a clean diaper.

Your cuddles, hugs and kisses are amazing - you freely give affection out to your family and friends. My favorite is your greetings when you have not seen us for a few hours - you run, calling our name, arms open wide and leap into our arms. For all the affection you give, you still have your moments of frustration and tantrums are becoming more common. That comes with the age and we are working hard to help you manage your frustration, sadness and big emotions. Some days are easier than others and your daddy and I hope to make you proud with the way we are teaching you manners, respect and kindness. Raising you is the best work I have ever done, the hardest, but the best.

This past year was a learning year for us both - your newfound independence was really tough on your parents. There were days that you were so frustrated with the restrictions and rules around you. Other days you shined. I have a phase that I say to you whenever you're mad or sad, "Being little is hard." It is - you want freedom and you want to explore and experience everything and we try hard to find the balance between letting you be young and curious and keeping your environment safe and helping you understand what behaviors we expect. But it was also a good year - one where we watched you flourish at your new pre-school under the love and care of two wonderful women and 10 other toddlers, where we watched your personality emerge and you turned into a silly, smart and quite funny little girl, where we witnessed you become a friend to others, a caregiver to others who were sad or small, and a protector when needed. We are so proud of the child you are and we know there is so much good ahead of you.

Brighton Love, your little life is a testament to the goodness of God, the love and light that is meant to be in the world. You're our miracle girl, the apple of our eye. Happy 2nd Birthday precious one, may this next year of your life be the best yet!

We love you!