Happy Things

This has not been the most relaxing season for me… returning to work, Nick traveling, excessive rain.

It is easy to articulate the things that are stressing me out or making life difficult. It’s often less reflexive for me to share & meditate on everything I’m grateful for. As a practice in gratitude, I’ll be focusing on the good… the happy things!

Here’s my list of simple, sometimes silly, things that are bringing me joy right now 🙂

  • Painting Sun-catchers
    I am grateful for anything that keeps my little guy glued to a chair for 30+ minutes that isn’t a screen or some form of technology 🙂 I’ve gotten these for Josh twice this past week. He seriously loves these random little painting kits we found in the dollar section at Target (YES literally $1 per kit). They have different Disney characters and he is mesmerized and hyper-focused on it every time he does it.
  • Gratitude Lists
    I’ve begun making gratitude lists once a week (usually on Sundays) in my bullet journal. I’ll sit and write about 20-30 things I’m thankful for. This has been an amazing discipline to keep over the past couple months that has really allowed me to take notice of what brings me joy (rather than what tears me down).
  • French Press Coffee
    Somehow soooo therapeutic using my french press in the morning… not to mention, it ups the deliciousness of my brew. We have switched from Keurig to French Press and it’s a game-changer.
  • Successful night 1 of sleep training
    Hallelujah! Kai had an amazing night 1 of sleep training… do second babies tend to be easier than first babies? I know it was just one night and he is bound to have some difficulty! But I’m still riding the high of last night… let’s pray it stays this way!
  • Getting storage for all the toys in our living room
    Sometimes, when you’re living in a 2-bedroom apartment with two young children, it feels like toys take up every square inch of your space. For a while there, we had toys spilling out of literally every single room. But at last… we have found these beautiful toy chests that not only keep our living room floor clean, but ALSO totally match our beige colored furniture.

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  • The Crown
    Anyone else watching this? I just finished season 1 and am in loveeeee. Not to mention, learning a ton about European (namely British) history. I have a renewed admiration for the Queen and a newfound curiosity about the royal family. This show is brilliantly done– and not to mention, thus far, Claire Foy has deservedly won best actress at every award show this year for her role as a young Queen Elizabeth.
  • Kindle Deals
    My favorite book blogger frequently posts Amazon Kindle deals, and I must say that today’s list is absolutely amazing… the best I’ve seen so far. Four of these books, I’ve been dying to read for a long time.
  • An Amazing Valentine’s Gift
    Shout out to my husband for totally upping my bath experience by getting me a bath tray for Valentine’s day. Now I can read my kindle or watch my show or have a glass of wine during my bath… this feels really over-the-top as I’m typing… but taking a bath is my go-to for R&R amidst a crazy week. No judging… thanks, hubs 🙂
  • Skirball Cultural Center
    Sometimes, I love LA. This museum is close to us, free on Thursdays, AND has a Noah’s Ark exhibit for children… we went last week and Joshua absolutely LOVED it! Even though it took him 15 minutes to calm down, stop crying and actually enter the exhibit (not sure what he was afraid of), he ended up really enjoying it. Definitely plan on going again.
  • Chubby Cheeks & Rolls
    Because my first boy didn’t have any… we are experiencing them for the first time. What a treat 🙂

What happy things are on your list this week?

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Happy Things ( June 2016)

It’s been over a year since I’ve made a ‘Happy Things’ post. And now felt like an appropriate time, because this pregnancy has been exhausting

**I will lay out the disclaimer that I am VERY excited to have another baby, grow our family and I feel incredibly blessed to be pregnant.**

However, this all does not change the fact that I constantly feel like I’m going to topple over from sheer exhaustion. I am actually quite amazed at how different two pregnancies can be. I’m getting bigger much more quickly. I have a job and a toddler (unlike last time). And my hormones are all over the place (actually, much like last time).

The good news is, there have been plenty of little things that have kept me going (besides wonderful family & friends). Little “twinkles of joy”, I’ll call them. Happy things. And here they are 🙂

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  • “Bread & Wine” by Shauna Niequist
    A book I had been meaning to read for a long time… it contains everything I love: God, mommy stories & food. Shauna Niequist essentially writes about her life and how most of her relationships are made ‘around the table’ where people gather for food & drinks… you eat with those you love. And she’s added in a recipe at the end of every chapter. I’ve already made 3 of them (Chocolate Mousse, Enchiladas, & Gaia Cookies). All have been amazing (although the Chocolate mousse is certainly the best AND easiest… will be posting that recipe soon).

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Our 4th of July Feast… Guess Niequist is right about food being a gathering place 🙂

  • Babyganics mineral-based sunscreen
    I’ve been lathering up Joshua’s face with this stuff.
    Confession: My bad mommy habit is that for the past couple years, I’ve done a pretty poor job at using sunscreen on Josh. It’s mostly b/c Nick & I never wear it (people with medium to dark skin tones don’t typically burn easy). So I always forget to put some on Josh & then feel awful. But I finally bought a big tube of Babyganics sunscreen and feel really great about this purchase 🙂
  • I got a Kindle!
    For my birthday! From my hubby! He was just asking me why I haven’t blogged about my Kindle yet… well here it is 🙂 I’ve only read one book on it so far (“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell… so so good). I tend to read way faster on the kindle for some reason. And I love the I can hold josh in the rocking chair and read at the same time. This is going to be PERFECT for when baby #2 comes and I’ll need something light to hold & keep me entertained while I’m nursing. Definitely a top notch birthday gift.
  • My 27th Birthday
    Something I love about my birthday is that my husband loves my birthday… he doesn’t necessarily care about his own birthday… but he certainly loves mine. And I feel very blessed by this 🙂 It may be because he knows I feel super loved when I’m celebrated. But in any case, he went out of his way to make my birthday extra special. I am certainly looking forward to year 27.
  • Korean BBQ for Father’s Day
    We’ve come to the realization that celebrating Nick means going out to KBBQ. It’s definitely one of our favorite foods to eat & something we consider a treat. We had AYCE at “Road to Seoul” in Koreatown and it was amazing ($20 per person and kids under 3 eat for free!) Can’t wait for another reason to celebrate my hubby and go again 🙂
  • Saturday morning at the Grove
    My favorite time to go is bright and early Saturday morning: it’s mostly empty and Barnes & Noble opens before all the other stores. I took Josh on Saturday morning and we both had a blast. Maybe we’ll make this routine.
  • Small Group leading
    My husband and I began hosting a summer ‘small group’ through church that I lead with a friend. We’ve absolutely loved having people over & studying scripture together with a group. It’s been so life-giving in many different ways.
  • Mendocino Farms
    Nick & I tried this for the FIRST TIME this weekend with his family and our minds were absolutely blown. We all got something different & tried a little bit of each. Our favorites were certainly the “Proscuitto & Free Range Chicken” & the “Kurobuta Pork Belly Bahn Mi”. The Proscuitto one (which I ordered of course) tasted exactly like Italy. It took me straight back to when I was living in Florence six summers ago. After I took my first bite, I looked at Nick and said, “This is literally everything I want in a sandwich.” And it’s true. Nick agreed it was amazing. The Bahn Mi was also ridiculous. I couldn’t get enough of either. Go get ’em.

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My ‘tastes like Italy’ sandwich. heaven.

Everything I Love Right Now (May 2015)

ON SCREEN:

  • The Bachelorette
    I know I said I was going to boycott it after this new ‘two bachelorettes’ idea… and although I still don’t approve of it, I can’t help but be so into this show. And I am dying to find out who it’s gonna be. Mondays at 8 on ABC.

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  • Cinderella
    Nick & I (yes… both of us) were absolutely blown away by this movie. I think I thought to myself at one point, “this has everything I want in a movie.” Go see it. I’m convinced it has something for everyone.

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AT HOME:

  • Capsule Wardrobe
    It has only been a few weeks but I cannot believe I did not do this sooner. I love having only 32 wardrobe items in my closet and I am determined to keep it this way from here on out (& probably adjusting the items every 3-4 months). If you’re interested in starting “project 333” or the capsule wardrobe, look it up! (or read my blog post on it)

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  • ‘Tiny Prints’- Personalized Notepads
    I have two (as you can see) and I am obsessed. It adds a little touch of happy to my desk 🙂 And a side note, I actually ended up not paying for either of these because Tiny Prints gives out amazing coupons!

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  • Date Night In
    The BEST (because we’re lazy sometimes). We order dominoes pizza (we each get our own medium sized pizza & make it just the way we like) and then we put josh down, open a bottle of wine & watch either a movie we’re dying to see or the latest episode of ‘Shark Tank’.

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  • Scrubs (the clothing item, not the TV show)
    I cannot believe how lucky I am to go to work in PJ’s. Because that’s what scrubs are (essentially). And better yet… I don’t even have to think about how to dress when I wake up in the morning. I just throw them on and go. I am actually amazed at what a ‘game changer’ this is, in terms of getting a good start to the day.

OUT & ABOUT

  • Rodeo Drive
    I realized recently how much I love strolling down rodeo drive (specifically that little portion that was featured on ‘Pretty Woman’). It’s not because I’m into fancy things (I’m really really not), but because it reminds me so much of Europe. And it’s beautiful.

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  • Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration
    It’s happening this weekend! They will be blingin’ out the whole park & creating new versions of all the shows just for this event. I cannot wait to experience it.

FOOD & DRINK

  • Korean BBQ
    We had this for the first time when family came into town. It was a part of the celebratory graduation weekend. And now… we. are. obsessed.

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  • Nutella Toast & London Fog Latte
    At ‘La Boulange’ in Northern California, they serve nutella FOR FREE. So when we were up last weekend for mother’s day, I got everything I love in a breakfast: nutella toast and a London Fog Latte (earl grey tea steeped in milk with vanilla).

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Music

  • Boyce Avenue
    “I’m Not the Only One”
    “Thinking Out Loud”
    “Thousand Years”
  • Hilary Duff- “sparks”
    Not gonna lie, you guys, I’m really into her new music video…

West L.A. Finds- Coffee & Breakfast

1. Urth Cafe (Beverly Hills)
Stars: 5/5
Cost: $$
Review: This was, in complete honesty, one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. There’s a reason why the line is so long. I ordered the Poach Di Parma, which tasted exactly like a dish I had in Florence, Italy. And the red tea latte was both beautiful and delicious. I could not rave enough about this place. The atmosphere was cozy and there are so many options for food, that they are bound to have something for everyone.

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2. Nespresso (Beverly Hills)
Stars: 4/5
Cost: $$$
Review: There are three reasons why I’m encouraging you to check out Nespresso. 1. The coffee was delicious and it is (apparently) in the top 2% of gourmet coffees in the world. 2. There are only six Nespresso places in the US (NY, SF, Chicago, LA… I can’t remember the other two). 3. If you go to the back, they gladly offer you free coffee ‘samples’ which are actually real-sized cups of coffee. It is so tasty and you can pick your roast or even your flavor. And then you can go sit and enjoy it at the counter. It was fun and delicious and, in this case, very inexpensive… despite how high class this place is.

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3. Copenhagen Pastries (Culver City)
Stars: 5/5
Cost: $
Review: Nick and I were blown away by this hidden gem right by our apartment. We decided to check it out because of the exceedingly high reviews on yelp. It did NOT disappoint. Be sure to order the “Copenhagen” and the “Kringle”. Top notch.

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4. C & M Cafe (Palms)
Stars: 4/5
Cost: $
Review: We walked here because it’s so close by. It is hidden and small, but the food is truly bursting with flavor. Everything is made fresh to order, and I mean everything. When you walk in there is a sign up that says, “Quality food takes time, so please be patient for your order”, which I appreciated. And when you taste the food, there’s no doubt about it that it’s fresh. I got the “Wake Up Call”, which I gobbled up in about a minute and I also tasted my friends Chai Tea Latte, which may have been one of the best ones I’ve ever had. Oh and a side note, C & M stands for Chicken & Monkey… pretty adorable.

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5. Intelligensia (Venice)
Stars: 5/5
Cost: $$$ (for coffee)
Review: Well… $5.50 for a cup of coffee is pretty steep. So I decided to get the $4.50 latte (because who wouldn’t get a latte when it’s cheaper than the coffee). It was actually so good that I didn’t want to do anything other than sit and enjoy it. My dad and I were both in awe as we were drinking our lattes (& please note the fabulous latte art). This is known to be one of the best coffee places in LA and is a ‘hipster joint’.

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Happy Things

Today felt like a “Happy Things” post kind of day. I have a crazy week coming up and may need a tiny break from thinking about the hard things to think about the happy things 🙂

1. Tea Party at Minnie’s House
I discovered this for the first time at Disneyland (it’s in Toon Town) and I thought it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I think all I really want is to have a tea party at Minnie’s house (this is literally what this is supposed to be). Maybe for my next birthday.

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2. Urth Cafe & Pretty Latte’s
The cutest little breakfast place I’ve ever seen and also the tastiest red tea latte I’ve ever had (nay, the only red tea latte i’ve ever had). This place made me so joyful for several reasons. It was delicious (my breakfast tasted like Italy). It was beautiful (a quaint little spot in Beverly Hills). And I can definitely do my reading there.

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3. Cooking shows
I grew up watching these so maybe that’s why it brings me such joy. Nick’s been watching a lot of Gordon Ramsay videos AND we can’t get enough of master chef junior (cutest show ever, by the way).

4. My coffee place
You know when you finally find a coffee place that you love? One that is super close to where you live, has great service and has a beautiful view when you look outside? Yup. I found mine 🙂

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5. Foggy mornings
Like today. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

6. Family Time
We had a ton of family visit us this month and it made me unbelievably grateful for ours. There’s nothing quite like being  with family.

Everything I Love Right Now (April 2015)

Reading:
  • The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
    I am blown away by how captivating and well written this YA novel is. I’m sure some of you are surprised that I’m reading this (my husband certainly was) because it’s not my typical novel of leisure. I will admit that I highly prefer reading uplifting, happy-ending type novels (as childish as that may sound), but I had to get my hands on this, given how many good things I’ve heard AND how interested I’ve been recently by WWII. It’s set in Germany during WWII and follows a little girl growing up in the foster care system, as her mother was taken away to a concentration camp.

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Watching:
  • Shark Tank (as per usual)
  • Fresh off the Boat (as per usual)
  • The Imitation Game
    Well… another WWII themed item. You MUST see this film! I was telling a friend that, as far as films about WWII go, this one is ‘ideal’ in that it’s not bloody, gory, or unbearably heart-wrenching. It’s just… really really good. It follows the story of Alan Turing… don’t know who he is? WATCH IT. (PS Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly are AMAZING.)

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Loving:
  • Comfy workout clothes (from Old Navy)
    Did I just go to the gym? Or roll out of bed? The world will never know… Old Navy has unbelievably cute and inexpensive workout clothes. And I LOVE wearing them because 1. It pushes me to exercise and 2. It’s the comfiest of all clothes.
  • Neutrogena facial sunscreen (spf 55+)
    I’ve been wearing this every. single. day. Keeps my skin clear and cancer-free (let’s hope).
  • Beignet’s (at Disneyland)
    Bought these for the first time 🙂 They are little French donuts covered in powdered sugar and pretty much the best dessert you can get at Disneyland.

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  • My Mornings
    It’s really and truly worth it to wake up a little earlier every morning, while Nick and Josh are still asleep so that I can get some ‘me’ time to pray, read and workout. I’ll lose a little sleep for it if need be.
  • My Journal
    Pretty journal makes for happy writing 🙂 PS: Moleskin journals are the best. Here’s my pink one 🙂

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Celebrating:

  • Easter
    Well… we should probably always be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. But Easter was particularly awesome this year. Our church plant launched, which we’ve been prepping for since January. And then our little family went out for sushi and boba. The best.

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  • Nick’s Birthday
    My hubs is TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD! We were blessed to celebrate with friends, cake and champagne (ALSO he LOVED my gift: Gordon Ramsay’s Cookbook.)

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  • National Occupational Therapy Month
    Did you know April is National OT Month?? I have never been more excited and blessed to do what I do. Only a few more weeks until graduation! Finally time to start changing the world 😉 haha a tad over-ambitious, I know 😉
Listening to:
  • “Forever” by bethel music 

Everything I Love Right Now (March 2015)

What I’m Reading:

  • The Thousand Dollar Tan-line by Rob Thomas
    A mystery novel that is part of the new “Veronica Mars” series in books. This is the first installment and I have absolutely loved it so far. It’s definitely my kind of mystery. Not overly intense or violent, but certainly intriguing and a page-turner.

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  • Biblical Healing and Deliverance by Chester Kylstra & Betsy Kylstra
    Just started this book with my church and so excited to learn more about God’s power in healing people.

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What I’m Listening to:

  • (500) Days of Summer Soundtrack
    I recently re-watched the film and almost forgot about how incredible the music is. I dug up the soundtrack I bought years ago and began listening to it again.

What Brought Me Joy:

  • Pi Day
    Yay for Pi Day (March 14th!) and for celebrating anything and EVERYTHING with friends. We had a Pi potluck and will definitely be doing this again in the future. (PS I of course made the whipped cream sprinkles one on the bottom left)

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  • Bubble Baths
    Our resort in Orlando, Florida (where we went for my spring break) had a whirlpool bubble bath. I spent every day in it relaxing and reading. I need one in my future home.
  • World of Color
    Nick and I saw this again after it’s 3-month hiatus! The show is still the same, but (as usual) still worth the 2 hour wait. We always leave in awe.

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  • Matcha Green Tea Latte (at Starbucks)
    It’s amazing.

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What I’m Watching:

  • Fresh off the Boat
    My husband and I are obsessed. It’s so funny. He can relate a lot. And I LOVE that it’s set in the 90’s!
  • Lizzie McGuire
    Um… sometimes I need a break from the real world. So yes, I watch Lizzie Mcguire episodes because it makes me happy 🙂 (and yes, all the episodes are free online)
  • TED Talk: “The Price of Shame”- Monica Lewinski
    Everyone go watch this. It’s kind of like the gospel (but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post)

New Discoveries:

  • Amazon Prime Pantry
    Sort of like grocery shopping online, but better. You pay for the box (huge) and then just stuff as much as you can in it. The box is $5.99, but the stuff is generally cheaper than at the store. We got stuff like toilet paper, diapers, wipes, etc. It turns out a bit cheaper than going to Target. Have only done it once so far, so we’ll probably give it another go to see if that always holds true.

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  • Jamberry Nail Wraps
    Ok, so I actually haven’t tried it yet, but saw it on a bunch of girls and thought it was SO pretty and fun. It’s nail polish (sort of) that stays on for a long time and doesn’t chip (kind of like Shelac) except it’s way better for your nails. Want to try it with me?
    http://jamberrynails.net

Everything I Love Right Now (February 2015)

1. My Friends- Not the TV show, but the real deal. I love my friends… all of them. And I feel incredibly grateful to have so many wonderful people in my life. God has made it abundantly clear that he has blessed me with a powerful community.

2. One Night- Speaking of friends, this is pretty much the only game me and some of my friends have been playing. It’s a lot like Mafia and Resistance. But requires more strategy and has way more variation. I love love love this game and really wonder when (if ever) we’ll get tired of it.

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3. My Library Card- I’ve had this for a little over a month now and have already read and rented out three books. It’s been amazing. There are so many LA libraries, four of which are within a 5-mile radius of my apartment! One of them is always bound to have the book I’m looking for. This card has been my saving grace (financially & emotionally).

4. My New Coffee Mugs– Thanks to two of my incredible girlfriends, I now have these limited edition BEAUTIFUL Starbucks Disneyland mugs that they picked up for me and nick at Disneyland (and now Disneyland is sold out, might I add)!

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5. Snail Mail- I’ve happened to get a lot of snail mail over the past few weeks, primarily due to Joshua’s birthday and Valentine’s Day. I absolutely love getting notes and boxes in the mail for the sheer surprise element of it (or maybe that’s just the little girl in me).

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6. My books

“The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness” by Kris & Jason Vallotton
This was recommended to me by a good friend who is reading it through a church group. I didn’t think I would love this, but I absolutely do. It is changing my perspective on so many of my relationships. It’s super powerful and I would recommend it to anyone… absolutely anyone.

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“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty
Literary Fiction and so awesome… pick it up if you enjoy a good story for pleasure.

10 Things I learned in January

1. Anthropologie candles are the best. My dad noticed me oo-ing and awe-ing over these candles at the store, so he bought me one for Christmas. I can’t rave enough about how good it smells and about how quickly it makes our apartment smell like a dream.

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2. I am officially a red wine person. Over the past couple months, I’ve been having a glass of red wine several times a week in the evening, in hopes of bettering my health (it’s a real thing) and learning about the different types of red wine. I decided my favorite is cabernet sauvignon. And I officially prefer it over white wine 🙂

3. I need my alone time. Before I had a baby, I was a huge extravert. Now, when my baby goes to sleep at night, I really only have snippets of time to myself and to relax. Like tonight, for example… I am sitting on my couch (alone), in my PJs, with a glass of red wine, laptop in hand, AND “Made of Honor” (chick flick) is playing in the background… I couldn’t be happier.

4. Nick & I are really great together. It’s no secret that our first year of marriage was full of ups & downs. Getting pregnant, learning how to communicate & adjusting to living together in a new city took up a lot of our time and energy. But now that we’ve figured most of our stuff out, life together has been nothing short of incredible. I feel unbelievably lucky to have found someone I mesh so well with and who I truly feel is my perfect match.

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5. I can’t do Disneyland after a long day. We tried. We ended up forcing ourselves to go on one ride, then got tired and went home.

6. I want to work in a hospital. I always thought I was set on pediatric therapy, but after spending a few weeks in an acute care class and interning at the hospital with older adults, I absolutely love it. Actually, it may be my favorite internship yet… I may have found my occupational therapy nitch 🙂

7. Amazon Trade-in is awesome. I just discovered this! They take all my old textbooks in exchange for an amazon gift card. How great is that?!

8. I don’t like Chris Soules as ‘the bachelor’. I might get in trouble for saying this, but I think I prefer Juan Pablo over him. At least Juan Pablo was entertaining. Chris Soules is kind of boring… and doesn’t seem to have any real conversations with the women.

9. Stylebook keeps me trendy. I can’t go into too much detail about this app right now because it will take forever, but it is amazing if you’re into fashion and coordinating your outfits. I have had so much fun with this… Even Nick thought it was awesome!

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10. I hope I always live in community. Nick and I are talking about potentially moving at the end of this school year to a bigger place… but that would also mean leaving an apartment complex where four of our other friends are also living. I’m not quite sure how we’ll adjust to living without community… but it would be great if we didn’t have to 🙂 We love being around friends.

On Repeat

 The past few weeks have been quite exhausting (to say the least). I’m back in school as a full time graduate student, while also juggling being a (sort of) stay-at-home mom… How do I manage this? I’m not quite sure.

I do know a couple things…
One is that I love being back in school DESPITE the excessive amount of work. I love my line of work and if there’s anything that could keep me going while I’m not at home with my son, it’s being able to practice occupational therapy.
Two is that I’ve gotten into a bit of groove. A good groove. It’s not that I’ve found a routine (because I absolutely haven’t), but I have found a few things to do on my snippets of free time (i.e. during Joshua’s nap). Since I made it a point to continue partaking in hobbies I love, here’s a few stuff that’s kept me going:

What I’m listening to: “You Make Me Brave” – Bethel Music (Live)
I have about a 30 minute commute to school every morning and this album is the perfect way to kill the car ride. Although most people would hate a traffic-y 30 minute commute to work, I haven’t minded it too much this semester. It’s my time to unwind, to pray and to sing songs of worship (which is what this album is). If you’re looking for a new worship and/or Christian contemporary album, definitely look into this one.

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What I’m reading:

“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” – Mindy Kaling
You guys, I am in love with Mindy Kaling. I know that’s dramatic, but she is unbelievably clever and witty. No wonder she writes for the office. This book isn’t anything too intriguing, but if you love the office, girl talk, and witty humor, this book will definitely hit all those on the mark.

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Radical”- David Platt
So this one is way different than the book above, but it is absolutely rocking my world. I’m only a few chapters in and my mind is already blown. David Platt writes about Jesus and how Christian culture in America has molded him into someone he is not. To put it simply… he says,
“We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” 

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What I’m watching: The Bachelor

Every week. With a glass of wine and some girlfriends. Oh and we made a bracket. You should join in on the fun too and check out this hilarious clip from Jimmy Kimmel: