Favorites From The Week

Happy Friday, friends! I hope everyone had a great week and your new year is kicking off to a good start. It looks like this year isn't going to change much with feeling like time is just flying by. The boys were back to a full week of school and it was nice to have a bit of a routine back. I was able to cross some things off my to-do list and get the house back in some sort of order. Let's jump into some favorites, shall we...

Family Game Nights: 

I think we do a good job of doing a lot as a family but something we're also working on this year is trying to have our week nights feel more relaxed and engaged with each other. Sometimes after school, work, getting dinner together and cleaned up, lunches made, baths, you know all those necessity things—there isn't much room to play with the kids. Over the summer it feels different because we can do a lot more outside and the days feel longer and less rushed, so for now, a nice little focus has been game nights. The boys got UNO Flip for Christmas and it has become almost a nightly thing for us. They love regular UNO so it's been nice to learn and play the game with a little twist. I also love that they enjoy playing some of the classics that Eric and I grew up with like, Sorry, Candy Land, Trouble, Guess Who, and Twister.

Organization:

I shared more in my stories about trying to get some things organized in the house, in particular, our playroom. We have a really good sized playroom that I feel like the boys don't take enough advantage of. When we would go in there, I realized it felt more like a dumping ground for toys than really a functional playroom. So what better way to kick off the new year than hitting up those storage and organization sales (retailers are smart) and tackling all the things. We sorted through tons of toys and made piles to donate, keep, and take some things over to grandmom's.

This 6 cube organizer shelf (currently 15% off with code HOME) helped out a ton with getting things up and off the floor and into specific bins. We picked up these cubes (also currently on sale) and a few decorative baskets. I mentioned that I wanted to do a wallpaper accent wall (thank you to everyone who voted on my poll), it was a really close call. Since I loved both wallpaper designs (we narrowed it to down to this one or this one) for different reasons, I decided to let the boys decide since it is their playroom and I want them to feel involved as well. My mom is coming over this afternoon to help me put it up so stay tuned to my stories to see which one we picked.

I think the playroom is going to be my work-in-progress-project since we also have two little coves in their that I have some ideas with how I want to utilize them better. This will be a bit of an on going project for the next few weeks, but I'll try to share more as we move along. 

Holiday Rewind:

It's hard to believe that we have to wait almost a whole year to experience the Christmas magic and joy of the season again. It was sad packing things away yet nice to have the house back in order. Funny how you can experience sadness and joy all at the same time. It was fun looking back on all of the things we did and the moments we shared together. You can read more about how we spent our winter break.

Thoughts For The New Year: 

I also shared more about my thoughts and 2020 vision ;) I really struggled with trying to narrow down one word to focus on for the year, and making resolutions hasn't really been my thing. I decided not to stress over achieving the perfect mantra for the year and instead focused on what would be best for us as a family. You can also see and read more of our 12pm kids down and the fun we had with the boys.

First Date Night: 

It can be hard to find time to sneak away as a couple for a few hours when you have a house full of little ones. Anyone else struggle with working in date nights? It's something Eric and I are going to try to make more of a priority this year. We were able to have a sitter and enjoy a sixers game by ourselves. We were invited to a coaches meet and greet before the game so it was nice to be there early and also grab something to eat. We weren't able to record anything while we were there but we did get a picture at their table. It's always nice when it's a night that they win, too.

Here's to enjoying the weekend and focusing on our goals for the new year! Linking up with Friday Favorites

Holiday Flashback

Ok, we're going to rewind a bit over here because it seems like I'm working a little backwards with how I shared our holiday season. I know this time of year can be so busy for many of us with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, winter break for most of our kids, getting back into a routine after they headed back to school, and focusing on our priorities and initiatives for the new year. 

I shared recently about some of my favorites from the past decade and what my thoughts are for the new year. I thought it would be fun to look back on our time together as a family and share more about what our Christmas and New Year's celebrations looked like. 

I think starting right before Christmas is a good beginning point since the fun kicked off when A went on winter break that Friday before and my brother in-law came in from Cali. My boys have the best time with Uncle Chris and can't wait to see him again. We have a trip set for next month to go visit him and escape one of the harshest months of winter on the northeast. It's so cute because the boys have a little countdown going on on their calendar. Eric and I were able to meet him and his girlfriend and one of our other good friends in NYC for the night. As much as I would have loved to see the tree and do all of the touristy things, I think everyone else had other plans in mind and wanted to head to Brooklyn to get more of an urban experience. I was onboard with that because it's never a dull moment with this crew. We hit up this really cool Korean restaurant, stopped off at a tiki bar for some mai tias, and then headed to a rooftop spot (which unfortunately the rooftop was closed). We got an Airbnb for the night and then made our way back home the next day. It was so nice to enjoy our time together and I didn't bother taking any pictures. Sometimes you don't need to #documentallthethings.

I had every intention of keeping it low-key when we got home, but my sister called me and asked me if we sold our Sixers tickets for the night. She twisted my arm to go (it really didn't take any effort for that) and before I knew it I was getting changed and on my way to Philly. What I love about where we live is that I can be in either NYC or Philly within an hour. It ended up being such a good game! They won, which is always a plus, and we got on the jumbotron.

The next day we headed back to Philly (I know what happened to keeping it low-key?) with some friends for the Christmas market. We didn't get a chance to go last year since C was so tiny, but we made it a point to check it out this year, and I'm so glad we did. They added a lot more and there were so many parts that felt magical. The boys got to ride the carousel, enjoy hot chocolate, and admired the light show.

The next day we all relaxed for awhile before heading back into Philly (I know, we sound nuts) for the Flyers game. This was my first time at a professional hockey game and it was great to see them win. It was a lot of fun and I would definitely go again.

The next day was Christmas eve and my brother in-law was heading back to Cali to spend Christmas with his girlfriend's family. Eric, the boys and I, headed out to walk around our neighborhood and deliver our Christmas card and some baked goodies to our neighbors. I don't want to jinx anything, but it has been a mild winter here and it was almost 60 degrees on Christmas eve and Christmas. If you caught my stories you might have seen A riding around on his skateboard with his santa hat playing his guitar. He was seriously adorable! He even sung some Christmas songs when we got to the neighbors houses.

That night we headed to our candlelight service at church, which in my opinion, taking time out from all of the busy things around us to reflect and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas is what its all about. My mom and Dad both met us for service so it was nice to have all of us together. We packed the boys pjs with us and got them changed for the car ride home so we could also drive around and look at all the Christmas lights. It was the perfect way to end the night before setting out milk, cookies, and carrots for santa and his reindeers. The funny part with that was, we usually sneak over after they go to bed to take some bites and drink the milk, but wouldn't you know, Coaty (our dog) got to the cookies and carrots before we could. He of course left the milk untouched so we helped out with that. Unfortunately Eric started to come down with something and wasn't feeling the best. We got all of our gifts down from the attic (our hiding spot) and placed them under the tree. Then it was, Mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter's nap. Ha! Not exactly. More like some nyquil, a box of tissues, and Christmas pjs in hopes that the kids wouldn't wake up too early. 


The next morning was of course, Christmas! The boys let us sleep in until 8am and then everyone was up with excitement. The baby started coughing over night and didn't seem himself so that was a little bit of a bummer. He was still adorable and got into the presents that interested him. We have kept with a family tradition that my parents did with us, which is reading Luke chapter 2 around the Christmas tree before any of the gifts are open. After that, we say a family prayer and then let the fun begin. We hosted dinner and decided to have it a little later this year. Since my sister and other family members have multiple houses to visit it was easier if we started dinner around 6pm. It ended up working out really well so we might stick to that in the years to come. We had a lot of fun catching up with family and getting to celebrate together. My brother and cousin hung around after telling stories and getting caught up with each other. I unfortunately started to not feel well and ended up falling asleep on the couch as we were all talking. Both Eric and I were down for the count after that. We had nasty head colds, congestion, fevers, yeah it wasn't fun. Both little nugget and C weren't feeling well either, so it was a mess in our home. A was the only one that didn't get sick. I think since it got a lot warmer the germs just went haywire and there was no stopping it.

The next day we had the baby's post-op appointment and were so happy to hear his surgeon is so pleased with results. We got the ok to take his no-nos off and he could go back to eating regular food. Hopefully if all goes well we should be in the clear with not needing any surgeries for another few years. The next few days consisted of us hanging out on the couch, watching a ton of movies, and trying to make it by. Lysol was our bff and since it was so nice we also opened some windows to try and get the germs out. The boys started to feel better and were anxious to get out of the house. Eric and I were still struggling a bit. Ugh, nothing feels worse then when you don't feel well and you still have to parent. #nodaysoff. I finally started to feel more like myself after a few days, minus the congestion (you might have seen my stories and the shenanigans with the baby nosefrida). We were a mess.

The boys had been asking to see Frozen2 for the longest time so I decided we needed to do something fun and ventured out. When we got to the movies they told us there was only one seat left (go figure). That wasn't going to work because we needed three. The next showing wasn't scheduled until 2 hours later which would have been past the price of the early showings (yes, I'm all about a deal). I asked the ticket guy if there was any way the seat was big enough to have the boys sit on my lap, and he told me to hang tight for a minute and that he was going to talk with his manager. He came back and said a 10:45am showing had just opened up and that he could get us into that. I was confused for a minute because I know there was no showing time originally listed for that and then it finally kicked in what he did for us. You guys, they opened a whole theater up just for us! It was amazing and seriously one of the nicest things, ever. The boys were sooo excited! We got to pick whatever seats we wanted and pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. They even made an extra sale because another family did come in right when the movie started and got to enjoy it as well.

Thankfully by new year's eve we were all feeling a lot better. We were able to do our 12pm kids countdown which we've been doing for the past few years now. It's always fun to celebrate with the boys when they aren't tired and cranky. We have a little milk and cookies toast to celebrate and enjoy lots of confetti and noise makers.

My older boys went to my mom's house for the night and we put the baby to bed as some of our close friends came over for a little dinner party. It was 20s themed and we all had fun dressing up and getting fancy for the night. I had fun with the decorations and putting together the tablescape. You all know me and my love for parties. It was so nice to relax at home, enjoy good company, light some sparklers, play some games, and get into comfy clothes and enjoy a fresh pizza for a little extra late night fun. I think this is something we want to try and keep up with for the years to come.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that your new year is already off to a good start!

Happy New Year & 2020 Vision (Get It ;)

Happy New Year, friends! I know I already made that grand statement when I shared more about my favorites from the decade, but it didn't feel right not to have a dedicated post to welcome in the new year and share my thoughts, word(s) for the year, and 2020 vision. Ha! I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself. 20/20 vision—get it?!? 

If you've been a reader of mine for awhile (always a huge thank you) then you might remember we do a 12pm kids countdown every year with our little guys to celebrate with them. It works out great because they aren't half falling asleep, cranky or tired, and still full of energy to celebrate. Confetti has been our thing for years now, followed by a milk and cookies toast, which always creates some fun moments. After we saw some glistening specks of confetti still floating around in our flowerbeds during the summer, we learned that putting a sheet down to collect all the remnants is the best idea. Total cleanup saver.

I've never really been one to go all out with trying to narrow down new year's resolutions. Mainly because they can be a lot to remember and I usually lose focus after the first few weeks. The past few years I jumped on the trend of picking a word for the year, which I love, because it's easy to remember and something you can strive for throughout the year. But this year, when I was thinking about my word, I really had some struggles with it.

If I'm being completely honest, my word for last year was fearless, and if I truly look back on the year and all that it entailed, I think that was an ambitious word to choose. I remember in that moment it felt so right to focus on that word, and I felt really hopeful. I also stand firm in knowing that the scripture tells us not to be fearful and to cast our cares upon Him. I think we did an ok job of that throughout the year, but there definitely were times where fearful moments would make their way back in. I'm not going to beat myself up over not being completely fearless (because in reality is that actually possible?), but it did put things in perspective when I reflected on how I want to approach this year. 
I had a moment where I got so caught up on trying to narrow down this one word for the year that I started to frustrate myself. So many things that felt typical popped into my head, being intentional, healthier, more self-care, but for me that felt forced and not relatable at the moment. That wasn't what this was supposed to be about. It's supposed to be a time of reflection and really thinking about what I want to strive for in the start of this new decade, not to try and impress everyone with this perfect word to live up to. So you know what? I'm not picking a word this year. Instead, I'm picking word(s) and areas that I would like to focus on that feel relevant in the moment, to help me to better myself as a person, and for the people around me. Maybe if I did a mid-year look-back this all might be different, but for now, this is where I'm at. 
At first I contemplated on having my word be organization. Plain and simple. But, there are a few other things I want to focus on this year aside from just that. Organization is already kicking off to be a huge part and focus for us this year, which I'm proud of. If you've been keeping up with my insta stories then you've seen that we already started tackling some projects, like revamping our playroom. I like to think I'm an organized person, but when it comes down to it, there are so many areas I can improve on with this. I want my house to have purpose, order, and feel at peace. A lot of that comes with having organization.

Another area I want to concentration on this year is prioritizing my time. It's been a bit of a struggle for me having my days feel structured and productive since I've been home now with C. One would think that you can get a lot done while your kids are off at school, but when you try to fit in so much that sometimes it's too much, before you know it it's dinner time and everyone is hungry. There are days where I have high hopes for getting a lot done but then the baby will be extra needy, or not cooperate for his naps, and everything I thought I would get done gets pushed down my list. I know these things will only be temporary, but I do feel like there are little things I can adjust to help prioritize my days better. I also want to focus on prioritizing my relation with God even more. I want to be more diligent about my devotionals, making time for prayer, and continuing to seek and draw closer to Him. I want others around me to feel God's love shinning through me and make it more of a priority to lift others up in need.

I also want to prioritize this little space of mine a bit better. While I love sharing our family adventures and using this as a way to look back on our memories (which I will still do), I also see those moments where I post about what's on my heart are where we can connect even further as a community. Those posts where you like getting party ideas, hearing more about blogging resources, or our home renovation projects, are what open up conversations that allow us to learn even more about each other. I also truly appreciate any feedback you send my way that helps me to have a better understanding of what draws you to want to visit and read more on Beautifully Candid.

Something else that has been heavy on my heart is responding more in love. What do I mean by that? Well, there are moments when my sweet little boy crew isn't exactly the sweetest and can certainly get under my skin. I've fallen victim to raising my voice, chasing after them when they don't listen, respond with open ended threats (if you don't knock it off there's no tv for the week). I don't want to be that person. I don't. I think my kids have learned that they can push the limits and now we need to curb that. I also know that if I want them to respond to me in a loving manner, I also need to be the example of that. Now, before you think I run around my house all day screaming, that's certainly not the case. But there are moments where if I took a deep breath and focused more on wanting God's love to shine through me, I know that I could respond differently.

So while this might not be a ground breaking revelation of how to tackle 2020, it's what I'd like to do for me. What I feel would help to make my focus attainable and areas where I can continue to strive for improvements. Here's to organization, prioritizing, and responding in love. 

I'd love to hear more about some areas you want to focus on in 2020! 

Favorites From The Decade

Happy Friday, friends! And Happy New Year! I hope you had a great time celebrating the new decade that's upon us and that your year is already off to a good start. I plan on sharing more about our family time over the winter break in the next few days to come, but first, I want to take a look back on some of my favorite memories from the past decade. 

We all know how quickly things can change in a year, but man oh man, what does 10 years do for someone. Marriage, kids, a hedgehog, rabbit, and a partridge in a pear tree. It would of course be impossible for me to list everything here, and some of these are probably really obvious if you've been a loyal reader of mine. There have also been some hard times, challenging times, and extremely sad moments mixed in as well, but I want to focus on the good things and look at the years to come with a grateful heart. It's always nice to look back on things and relive some moments. I feel incredibly blessed and I'm so thankful for God's hand upon our lives. The crazy part is, when I think about the last decade, I realize I've been blogging for more than half of it. Say what?! Seriously. That's how quickly time flies. 

Hey Baby, I Think I want To Marry You: 

where else to start these memories than what kicked off the last decade for us. Eric and I were married in 2010 and we'll be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year. That in itself is just mind blowing. I mean that in the best way possible. It's just crazy to think how it doesn't feel like it's been 10 years, and knowing where our life has taken us in those 10 years has been amazing. I'm not sure what we'll be doing for our big milestone anniversary just yet. We were thinking of a big trip, but I'm not sure what we will end up doing. Either way, it really doesn't matter what we do to celebrate, it matters that we're together. I still remember so much from our big day and how much fun we had celebrating. I shared more about our wedding before if you'd like to get caught up here.

Building Our Little Family: 

if we follow the old saying, first comes love, then comes marriage, then you know what's next. A few years later that is. The funny thing is, when we got married the next question we got bombarded with was, when are we going to have kids? At first I didn't think much of it, but when it seems like that's the next step you have to do, it gets old after awhile. Eric and I wanted to enjoy being married, creating our own memories, building our finances, and not having any regrets. We really just wanted to continue our time as Eric and Sierra before creating little extensions of us. When the time felt right, we were more than excited to start our growing family. In 2013 we welcomed our first son, 2015 our second son, 2017 we said goodbye to our sweet angel in heaven, and 2018 we had our 3rd son. The even crazier part to think is, at the end of this decade I'll have a 16, 14, and 11 year old. Time, please slow down. My children are one of my greatest blessings, and traveling on this journey of motherhood over the last decade has been one of the hardest, most amazing, wonderful, and precious opportunities I have ever been given. We aren't sure what this new decade will hold for us, and if we're officially comfortable saying we are done having kids, but we trust God has a plan for us and we also know that we'd be 100% ok if this is what our family looks like from here on out.

Take Me Away:

i realized in the last decade that traveling to new places, enjoying culture and new experiences became a huge passion of mine. I never really had the chance to go many places when I was younger since travel was never really a priority for my parents. I've been on over 25 different trips in the past decade with 17 of them being to different countries. I say that not to brag in any way, shape, or form, it's just something we enjoy doing together as a family. Most people think we are nuts for packing our kids up and taking them to Europe, but I've learned more than anything in the past decade, and in motherhood, that you know your children best and every family has different goals, priorities, and parenting styles. We have two trips booked for this year coming up in February and April, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the year, and new decade will bring.

You Bought A What? Oh, An Airstream:

it only seemed fitting that with our love for traveling, family adventures, and exploring, came the next steps in making that happen more often. Not really. If I'm being honest, I never thought about owning an Airstream. It's not that I didn't want one, I just never really saw us toting around in one. I mean, now it makes complete sense, but before that they were just cool to see every now and then. Anyway, I've also learning in marriage that you are a supporter of your significant other's passions, hopes, and dreams. For me, that comes easy with Eric. He has always had an entrepreneurial mindset, ever since I met him back in little old 2001 (yup, we old). I mean, the guy sold things he would find on the side of road on ebay and craigslist before many people even knew what either of those were. Ok, I get off on tangents pretty easily, so let's get back to the Airstream. If anyone wants to know some more Eric stories we can table that for another day. Ok, ok, one more. We did own an ice cream truck but that was so last, last decade (2000s). Well, here we are. Now the proud owners for our 1978 Airstream that has been on over 10 trips and created some great times for us. I still have yet to reveal the whole completed inside project (such a bad blogger), but I promise, guys, it's coming this decade ;)

I Tear Things Down And Build Them Back Up: 

some of you might remember that I've tossed around on here or shared more on my insta stories that we also have a passion for real estate. Over the past decade we've had the opportunity to own 8 homes (not all at the same time. Maybe one day. That would be pretty awesome) and are also landlords. We did our first flip this year that recently sold in November and went for over the asking price. I'm not so sure I loved flipping in general, and I'll never, say never, but I have a feeling that won't be the last one we do. Here are some before and after pics of our most recent work. This is more of a hobby for us right now but you never know what the next decade holds or where this will take us. For now, I have a lot of fun using a sledgehammer, finding deals, picking out paint colors, and pushing any type of creativity that we might have. We also bought our long-term home and did a major full home renovation on it, and are still working on some things. It's been a huge blessing and we love the land we have.

Family Time And Starting New Traditions: 

we can put all the big monumental moments aside, all the travel, all the things, and what it comes down to is spending time with my people. Those moments where we are just us, fully present, fully engaged, and enjoying life's little moments. Just last night we let the boys stay up a little later, put on their pjs, and run around outside with them with sparklers. No cameras, no phones, just us and a bunch of laughter. It really doesn't get much better than that. I made the decision this year (or really last year. I still need to get used to what year we're in) to put my professional career on hold. It's not easy stepping away from a career of over 10 years, but I also don't have regrets. My family is everything. I'm not sure what the future holds for me in that area, but I am extremely thankful for the opportunities that do come my way and the time I get to soak up with my boys as they grow.

Growing As A Blogger And An Influencer: 

and speaking of opportunities, this is where the candid side of me comes out. I never want to come off sounding ungrateful, trying to sound like a know-it-all, or putting others down, I still have a ton to learn about this whole blogging world, but I've also learned a few things along the way. This is where I like to speak freely and openly about things because I think a lot of us sugarcoat it at times, and I also believe knowledge is power. I've also come across some pretty misleading get rich quick blog posts that are floating around out there, so I like to share my two cents every now then. This could probably be a post in itself (which I might do. If it's something you'd like me to expand more on let me know in the comments), but in general I am one of those people that thinks being a blogger and an influencer are two separate things. I have a very different community here in my blogging network and a very different community over on my social media platforms. I'm not exactly sure why that is. It could be different content shared, tastes, who's actively reading both, or who knows what. For me, if you're on instagram that doesn't make you a blogger, and if you're a great blogger that doesn't make you good at capturing an audience on instagram. That's just how it is. But what I am extremely thankful for this decade is having the opportunity to grow both platforms over the past few years. Of course there are still goals that I'd like to have and room to improve even more, but the progress I have made I am happy with. I've had the chance to work with some pretty high profile brands and land over four figure deals consistently. I've used my professional background to stand firm in negotiations and not be afraid to walk away from low paying deals and standing up for my worth. I'm not sure where these next few years will take me with this crazy world of blogging and social media, but for now, I'm enjoying the opportunities I've had to share my stories and real life experiences with others, the connections I've made, and the friendships I've formed along the way. Most importantly, I'm thankful for you. For navigating this journey with me, supporting me, challenging me to be better, and genuinely enjoying what I share. We're only as good as our last post, so let's make them all count.

Here's to making 2020 a great one and I hope you have a wonderful first weekend of the decade!
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