Cardboard Boxes and Cowgirls

I’m sitting here, wide awake, a little after 2 am. Most nights, I’m fast asleep but tonight I find myself just trying to catch my breathe after the whirlwind couple of weeks we’ve had. I don’t know if I can fit this all into one blog, but let’s try.

A few weeks ago, as I fell asleep, I prayed and asked God to help us find a way into a more family-friendly neighborhood. Well, immediately after I asked, God delivered on that prayer big time. The very next day, we’d stumbled across a beautiful home to rent in an amazing neighborhood. It’s funny, because Dustin and I had talked about doing something like this many times but it never felt like it made sense until now. As the opportunities started unfolding, we realized we’d be foolish not to.

I spent the next few days interviewing contractors to complete the last few projects on our current home so that we could get it on the market. We scheduled movers, packed boxes, and signed the lease. But of course, no big plans come without a couple curve balls…

  1. My sisters and I had planned a trip to NYC that fell over the weekend right before we were going to move. I know, I know, this doesn’t really count as a curve-ball because it was planned ahead and it was so much fun but it did cause some extra stress because…
  2. We had an emergency with an out-of-state family member . Naturally, we were overcome with stress and worry about their well being but it also meant some of the helpers we thought we’d have while I was gone weren’t available.

Dustin stepped up to the plate and delivered big time. I returned home from NYC on Sunday to find he’d completed most of the packing whilst entertaining our {sick} kiddo.

We moved into our new home on Tuesday and have been working hard to get settled in. We have contractors working on our old house to get it ready to sell and are hoping to get it on the market at the end of next week.

We are loving our new neighborhood and are having so much fun exploring. Funny enough, we live pretty close to where my grandparents used to live. I spent a ton of time at their house growing up so many of my childhood memories are around this part of town but a lot has changed since then!

Today, Ava and I had our first mommy-daughter day in over a week and it was much needed. We spent the majority of our day playing and cuddling (neither of us are feeling very good). Around 5:00 seems to be the time we always get antsy so we went to Home Goods for a few supplies we needed to get the new house partially in order.

She was mostly a terror in the store; apparently leaving the house was not on her agenda for the day. But she did think the almost life-size stuffed horse they had was pretty amazing. She hopped on and hollered “yeehaw!”

One of our finds at Home Goods was this little bathroom stool. I was so close to passing on it because I wasn’t that impressed with the price but seeing her excitement tonight when she could stand on it in HER bathroom and watch herself in the mirror as she brushed her teeth was too cute!

I plan on posting some more pictures of our new house as we get more unpacking done and continue to fill it out with furniture. Stay tuned…

1.5

I just sat down for the evening and realized this little chicky officially turned 18 months old this week! I’ve been wanting to be better about documenting all the cute things she’s been up to lately so I think there’s no better time than today to start.

I know I’m biased but I have to say, there is something just so extremely magnetic about her personality these days. She’s never really been the show-off type but when she catches eye contact with a stranger this girl will ham.it.up! She’s about 3/4 sassy with 1/4 sweet; just enough to melt your heart when you’re about ready to lose your marbles.

She is quite the independent thing these days. This makes many daily tasks quite difficult but I try my hardest to embrace her strong will, remembering it will benefit her some day if fostered appropriately.

​One of the tasks that’s become extremely tedious lately is shopping. She prefers to push the cart; She’s been known to climb out of moving shopping carts if contained. 


On the bright side, she’s become quite the good cleaner these days. Give the girl a rag and she will clean just about anything. Her toy broom is one of her favorites in the rotation currently and she will gladly pick up trash (any time, anywhere) and throw it away. We are currently working on putting our toys away after we are finished them, but she does not enjoy this task.

In addition to keeping up the house, she’s very interested in maintaining her appearance as well. I am not allowed to do my hair or makeup without sharing my products with her. She frequently sneaks into my makeup drawer and I find her in her room doing her “makeup.” I have to keep a spray bottle of water and spray it into her hands or hair while I get ready to satisfy her involvement.

The last two weeks have been super busy and fun. Ava went on her first camping trip and was a total champ. We spent lots of time on the boat fishing and she even caught her first fish, although she couldn’t have cared less because she was completely passed out in my arms.

My sister also came in town with her two daughters and we had lots of Auntie and Cousin time. We spent time at the park, went to a trampoline park and even had Ava’s first sleepover (although she fell asleep right after dinner).

Most importantly, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that she is head over heels obsessed with her Dada right now. All day long, she talks about him when he’s at work. Her fact lights up when he comes home from work. I’m quite certain she tries to wake up in the middle of the night just so she can come to our bed and snuggle.

Can’t wait to see what the next 6 months have in store for this little lady!

Four Years in the Making

One of my first memories of Dustin is from back when we worked together at Sunglass Hut. He’d just come back from his family’s annual camping trip to Turquoise Lake and could not stop talking about how cute his nieces were. In fact, that love for his family was one of the first things I admired about him.

Little did I know, Turquoise Lake would soon become one of the places I hold dearest to my hearts as well. On our third annual summer camping trip, Dustin took me to Downtown Leadville, CO for a delicious birthday dinner and then brought me to the beach at the Baby Doe camp grounds and asked me to marry him. The trip was the best we’d had yet, with family traveling from near and far on both sides of our family for such a special occasion.


The following three summers were busy with for us with wedding plans, pregnancy, and caring for a newborn so we hadn’t been back since that special trip in 2013. When talks of the annual trip came up this year, I can’t deny that I was equal parts excited and anxious. Of course I was excited to get back to that beautiful and special place but keeping my toddler out of harms way is difficult enough at home; I couldn’t wrap my head around how we’d survive a camping trip.


Luckily, Ava did fantastic. She loves hanging with her older cousins. In fact, we often joke that she always thinks she’s at least 6 months older than she really is.


She loved throwing rocks into the lake and watching the water splash back up.


She went out on the boat a couple times and found it very relaxing. Not gonna lie, I totally soaked up all the passed out baby snuggles I could.


Today, we went out right before we headed back home and she caught a fish when she was sleeping. I couldn’t let her miss her first fish so we woke her up to see the excitement. She was amazed and has been talking about “ish” ever since.

As we left to go home today, we stopped at the spot where Dustin proposed. In that moment, I felt a wave of something so surreal sweep over me. Life gets so busy; day in and day out I stress about the little things. Having a successful career while not neglecting Ava, putting healthy food on the table, money, keeping a clean house, etc. But as quickly as the last four years have passed us by, the next 4 will pass faster. Before we know it we will be watching our kids go through the same season of life we are in.


The joy in life is bigger than all the problems just like the beauty of this world we live in is bigger than ourselves. To have lived a successful life is to have enjoyed this life in all its’ glory.

This little firecracker

She’s a hoot these days and that’s the best way I can describe it. I think this stage has been my favorite so far because her excitement for life is so contagious.

I’m loving having a great balance between work and mom lately. I feel like I’m fully engaged with her during our days together rather than constantly thinking about what else I could/should be doing.


We made some play dough this week which was a blast. I wasn’t sure how she’d do with it but she played with it for a good 45 minutes which is a record. We haven’t made any other recipes but I would highly recommend this one for littles. No dairy, soy, salt, and I think it’s gluten free too. Also, even though it is edible, Ava didn’t love the taste, which I was totally ok with.


I tried my hand at meal prepping last week too. I’d say it was successful for the most part, although it didn’t really happen until Tuesday. That might just have to be my meal prep day going forward because weekend days, as are Mondays as these are one of my work days.

Ava has been doing great with yogurt and cheese which is amazing! We let her go crazy with some pizza this week which was hilarious. Do not mess with this girl’s food.

Speaking of food though, I’m desperate for her to wean off formula. We are kind of in this super expensive in between stage where she explores a lot of foods but the only ones she really consumes are the pre packaged baby foods so I try to buy those organic/ no sugar added but she still gets most of her calories from formula. In total, we are spending about $150/week on her foods alone which is just not reasonable for us. Any tips for weaning off formula?

Friday night, Dustin and I had a date night. We wanted to go to Panzano, our favorite Italian restaurant but as soon as we got there, we realized they changed their whole menu and they didn’t have anything that sounded good anymore. Since we hadn’t ordered anything, we just up and left and ran to Ocean Prime haha! Ocean Prime was delicious as always. I love that we still make time for date nights, it’s crazy how easy it is to forget to flirt with your husband when you get so busy with jobs and babies and such.

Saturday, we hung out with my sister and my nieces. We tried to go to the aquarium but when we got there, there were 200 people waiting to buy tickets (apparently it was sloth weekend). Then we tried to go to the Children’s museum but that was packed too (I’m assuming all the families headed there since the hipsters clogged the aquarium?). We finally landed across town at the Museum of Nature and Science. I hadn’t been there forever. It’s changed a lot but they have an amazing area for the littles to play.

Ava LOVED the water room. She played in that for about 30 minutes and would have stayed in there longer if we let her.

She’s obsessed with little boys, to a level that’s kind of embarrassing. She calls them all “kid” since that’s what she calls her cousin Maddox.

We also checked out the rotating exhibits upstairs. It was in the Mummy exhibit where Ava realized that a room full of people will look at her if she yells. Needless to say, the outing went downhill quickly after that.

We kept Sunday pretty low key after a few really busy days but went out to dinner with my side of the family for my sister’s 30th. It was a bitter sweet outing as it’ll probably be our last for a while.

Everything & Nothing

Ever feel like there’s nothing going on in your life and everything all at once? That’s where I’ve been these last few weeks; busy and bored, just kind of in a state of numbness.

A few weeks ago, I watched a Ted Talk on vulnerability. I didn’t realize how close to home the message would hit, but as a first time mom going back to work and starting a new career in a totally different field, I don’t think I could be in a more vulnerable place in my life. One thing she mentions is our tendency to find a state of numbness rather than embrace vulnerability. I realized that’s what I’ve been doing, especially in terms of blogging.

So in order to clear my mind and rid the numbness, today’s post is going to be sort of random, kind of a recap of these last few weeks; the good the bad and the  ugly. (including the part where I’m writing this at 12:40 am.)

One of my first posts was about minimalism and how we had made a decision this year to cut back on “stuff” and learn to prioritize what brings us value and focus on those areas. I think we’ve been doing pretty well with this. We haven’t kept our house as completely decluttered and clean as I’d like but picking up and cleaning has been MUCH easier. I honestly can’t say I’m disappointed that it has gotten messy. I mean with me starting to have three dedicated work days per week and trying to eat at home more, it was bound to happen. However, tonight, Dustin and I each put about 45 minutes into cleaning and our house is in great shape. Before we decluttered, it would have taken us all day to get our house put back together.


Speaking of work, Real Estate is going great. I have so much I want to get done soon and it seems like there’s never enough hours in the day. I’ve really been enjoying my home office. I feel like I get more work done there because there are fewer distractions, but that’s also where the importance of minimalism and decluttering comes into play. I’ve noticed that on days where our house feels messy, my mind is messy and it’s hard to focus with my To Do list staring me in the face. I’m excited to have a clean slate this week.


These last couple weeks I’ve also been starting over with my BBG workouts. I’d taken some time off to focus on healing my diastasis recti with the mutu program but I constantly struggled with staying committed because I was bored. I’ve been modifying the BBG workouts though and replacing ab exercises with mutu core exercises and will probably get back to doing the core exercises daily. I wish I had known about mutu right after I had Ava because it would have been such a better gradual start for me. I remember trying to lunges right after my 6 week postpartum check up and falling over side to side because of my lack of core strength. But now I realize that I love my physical and mental challenge of a more intense exercise program so mutu just doesn’t feel fulfilling.


Ever since starting back in with work, I’ve been struggling to get in a good routine for meal planning and cooking. Actually, if we are being honest, I’ve never been good at this, but lately, I’ve really been feeling the difference in healthy foods vs junk foods on my body and am realizing I can’t afford to eat junk anymore. When I eat fast foods, or processed foods, I find that it affects my mood, my patience with Ava, my energy level, etc. I went through a phase for a while where I was obsessed with sheet pan dinners. I still think they are amazing, but it started feeling monotonous. Then I tried emeals and it was super convenient but we just didn’t like any of the recipes we ate. Finally, this week, I just decided to go the old fashioned way and find individual recipes and make a plan. It kills me, how long it takes me to do it each time, but if we actually eat all the food I buy this way, I’ll continue to oblige.

I do plan to do a little bit of food prep this time around. I don’t mind cooking nice meals on week nights but it kills me, how much prep time some things make. I bought  food chopper at Bed Bath and Beyond last week so I want to chop all my veggies before had this time around. I also am going to prep us some lunch bowls. I’m doing Greek Chicken lunch bowls and Turkey Taco bowls this week. Another thing we really struggle with is healthy snacks, I always intend for us to eat fruits and veggies or nuts for snacks but then when they aren’t easily available and ready to go, we lean towards chips and fruit snacks so this week, I also plan to pre cut some fruit and steam or roast some veggies and make some energy bites.

Miss Yay-va has been a hoot lately. I think I always feel that way about her though. She’s obsessed with all the words we say and is forever copying what we way. One of her favorite things to do right now is throw her hands up in the air and exclaim “Yay!!!” for no reason. She’s also just cut her top few teeth and keeps grinding her top and bottom teeth together. It’s driving me crazy and the only solution I can come up with is the paci. Before this, we were really only allowing it at bedtime and in the car so hopefully she doesn’t become super addicted to it now.


We took her to Cherry Creek mall Friday night to play on the indoor play ground there. She had a blast chasing the other kids, crawling under tunnels, and saying “hi” to everyone. We timed it perfectly too because we got there just as they were finishing their 6:00pm sanitation. I think this will probably become a frequent activity for us. She loves being around other kids and finding things to do in winter that don’t cost money can be hard but this worked perfectly.

Congrats if you stuck around to the end haha! This turned out to be quite a bit longer than I anticipated but I’ve had a lot on my mind (and somehow nothing important) all at once.

Ava’s First Year

This last week, our little baby turned one!

I’m still in denial but slowly coming around to the idea. When she was really little, I struggled with feeling overwhelmed by how much she needed me but these last couple months I’ve struggled with feeling like she doesn’t need me enough anymore. I swear, motherhood makes me crazy haha!

I’ve been reminiscing a lot on how wildly hectic her first few months were. Seriously, this girl did not ease us into parenthood. During the first 6 months, I truly learned that comparison is the thief of joy.  Although her medical challenges were difficult at the time, I’m so grateful God gave us the strength and determination to fight through them and has blessed us with such a sweet, happy, and smart girl in return.

These days, Ava is thriving and such a little character. She is definitely a strong willed little lady and while that makes parenting feel difficult sometimes, I try to remind myself that her strong convictions will benefit her in the future. She is extremely friendly and loves other kids. She also loves music. We can dance and sing for hours on end every day. She says so many words; mom, dad, nana, papa, dog dog, kitty, meow, hiss, baba, hi, bye. She went through quite a strong Frozen kick but lately has taken a liking to Trolls. She’s not much for reading books with me, she prefers to do it independently. She’s been walking with assistance since 7 months but just can’t find the courage to let go and take independent steps. But on the bright side she’s become quite the assisted runner!

I’ve been really struggling with her food intolerances lately. At this age, she’s no longer satisfied with baby foods, or even with table foods that I make for her. She wants to eat exactly what Dustin and I eat all the time. At her one year appointment, we got the green light to start trying some fermented dairy products. So far, she’s done great with baked dairy and cheese, now we are starting to try cheese. I will be so happy when we can be done with her $90/week formula!

I think there’s no better way to end this post than with a gallery of some of my favorite pictures of her first year!

 

Fresh Starts

Giving birth to Ava last year was such an exciting, beautiful, and terrifying moment of my life. Of course, I had 9 months to prepare for life’s changes that were coming my way, but I think most moms would agree that there is truly no way to prepare for the complete life overhaul that comes along with being welcomed into motherhood.

In one moment I transformed from Melissa to Mama. I went from a person capable of taking care of her own basic needs to a milk machine obsessing over my little creatures basic needs. I went from spending 50+ hours a week working and commuting to unemployed. I went from a social person to an isolated stay at home mom. I went from having a sense of independence to the heartbeat of my little family, everyone depended on me.

Throughout 2016 I struggled with trying to balance caring for my fragile baby and finding personal fulfillment in this new role. If I’m being frank, I spent most of the year feeling lost. I’ve always been a person who associated who I am with the work I do and my professional development has always been a big part of my identity. To suddenly find myself isolated at home everyday and knowing I couldn’t just pick my career back up where I left it, even if I wanted to, was unnerving. As a result, I tried a lot of different things, wore many different hats. Most weren’t a good fit, but I’m thankful for the support from my family, friends, and most of all my husband for supporting me as I rediscover who I am.


“You will never have to force anything that’s truly meant to be.” This is a lesson I’ve really focused on through my self discovery. I’m not typically the kind of person who has an easy time throwing in the towel and accepting a venture or goal as a lost cause, however, learning to take a step back when something begins to feel forced has helped me to realize I was off track from the path God has planned for me. I truly believe the opposite is true as well, that when you are on the right track, things will fall into place right before your eyes.

As fate would have it, this is what began to happen right as the new year came and has set me up for some big goals for 2017. I’ve finished my classes, passed my exam and am ready to start a new career in Real Estate. We’ve completely decluttered our house and are determined to maintain a more minimalistic lifestyle. The joy that I get out of our house being clean is enormous; I had no idea how much stress this was causing me. I’m also trying to cook more meals and get our lives on a healthier track. But more than anything, I want to focus on figuring out who I am as a person, mom, wife, and professionally. So here’s to 2017 and the excitement a fresh start has to offer!