Adoption | Ashlyn | everly | The Story of Our Girls

The Story of Our Girls: Finding Our We are Having GIRLS

By on September 29, 2015
If you are just reading The Story of Our Girls you might want to go HERE to catch up. 

When we got the ball rolling on our adoption we couldn’t wait to find out what our newest little one would be. Since our friend was so far along she decided to find out what she was having so we could start naming our two little ones. 
When I found out I was pregnant I didn’t have a strong feeling I was having a girl but for some reason when we decided to adopt I knew they would both be girls. It was a huge feeling I had. With Ace I never once doubted he was a boy. I just knew from the day I found out so I felt strongly we were having two girls this time around.
The day of Ashlyn’s ultrasound I was on pins and needles all day. We don’t live in the same state as our friend and it’s a 3 hour time difference so the day of the ultrasound felt like the longest day ever. She wasn’t even out of her appointment when she text me “Are you ready to find out what the baby is?” 
I text back “YES!!!” And it felt like those minutes between texts were hours. “It’s a…”
GIRL!” 
I started crying and told Branden “We are having a girl!!!” 
I can’t really remember anything after that because I was so excited to know what this little one was. It made me feel even closer to her. We still wanted to wait to name her because I had two girl names I wanted to use but if only one baby was a girl she would get both names. 
Everly Ashlyn was my original girl name from when I was pregnant with Ace. By the way I screamed when Channing Tatum named his daughter Everly because I knew it would become popular haha. 
Anyway we were going in for our NT scan and I had made sure to schedule it closer to 14 weeks just in case our friend who does my ultrasounds could tell what we were having. She was able to tell with Ace but wouldn’t give us a definite answer for our gender reveal party because it was too early but she was right so I figured it was worth a shot this time. 
We asked her if she could give us an idea of what she thought. I was looking at the ultrasound and thought I knew but she was nervous in telling me. “I don’t want to tell you if your heart is set on one or the other.” She knew we had a son and that we were probably hoping for a girl. So I told her “I promise we won’t be upset because we are actually already expecting a girl!” We told her about our adoption plan and she said ok and told us she will not say 100% but that she is 80% sure this baby looked like a girl but for us not to tell anyone or get our hopes up. She told me to come in in two weeks for a follow up one to confirm and we did just that. We had my sister, sister-in-law, cousins, Branden and Ace there to find out we were going to be having another girl! This meant that our first little girl would be Ashlyn and our second would be Everly! 
There is another reason each girl got the name they got. I wanted Ashlyn to have the middle name Lauren because it is from her biological family and since my sisters name is Ashley Lauren I really wanted Ashlyn for her. I also wanted her to not have the only E name and none family-ish first name. I also wanted Everly for our last baby because it reminded me of my name. It wasn’t a popular name, it was a bit more uncommon and she would get my middle name since she would also be born in March. Both girls got another middle name after each of mine and Branden’s Moms. 
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life | sunday morning | Sunday Morning Link Up

Sunday Morning Link Up #2

By on September 27, 2015

This past weekend my best friend and her family stayed with us for a night. It was so fun for the kids to get together, for us to have some girl time and the guys to be able to go watch sports together.  The only rough part was Ace was overly emotional. It was not like him. I think he might be acting this way because I am back at work. Last week was really busy for me and I am betting he needs some Mommy time. 
That is the struggle with going back to work. You have to find a way to work and make time for each of your child and your husband. I can definitely seeing it affecting Ashlyn and Ace. Ashlyn is hysterical if I put her to bed because she doesn’t want me to leave her. Everly, even though she is the most dramatic with most things, is also the most laid back. 
But I will say I do not regret going back to work. I really love my job. I have only had one little crisis and it wasn’t anything to make me not like it. In fact in that moment I saw how great everyone was to help me out. 
I also love that I get to work with one of my closest friends, Erin. I took over her old job so she has been my largest support at work. It’s funny how you can see so many sides to a person when you are around them in different areas of their life. She is such a hard worker and always willing to help me. She has never made me feel bad if I am totally lost and can not figure something out. She seriously is a rock star. 
I also love everyone else I work with. We work in guidance so everyone there is really sweet and funny. Shout out to DeeDee, Barbara, Joann, Anna and Daphne who are totally the Moms looking out for everyone and always so sweet and encouraging. I am so fortunate, I really am. 
Another cool perk is I get to work with two other ladies I have know forever. My best friend Josh’s Mom and a family friend Tina. She has been a part of my family since before I was born because her and my oldest cousin grew up together so she is like a cousin to me. I never get to see her though because we work on opposite sides of the building but I do love that I get to talk to her if I take a little walk around. Julie, Josh’s Mom is a comedian. She cracks me up. It’s like having a little piece of him there too because they are both so sarcastic and funny. 

People always ask me what it’s like working with highschoolers’ and honestly I love it. The kids who come to see me want information on college and scholarships so they aren’t coming into my office with a negative tone. They genuinely want the help and I love being able to be there for them. There has definitely been a couple of students that have made my job even better by coming back to me and telling me they applied to college or ask me to proof read a scholarship essay. I love that they feel they can come back to me and ask for help or tell me what they are doing. It’s very rewarding. 
So even though two of my little ones are still adjusting to me going back to work I don’t plan on changing that. I just have to work harder at finding one on one time with them and hopefully they will get used to it and be ok. I think being a working Mom is important just like I think being a stay at home Mom was important. They each hold their own pluses and minuses but overall I am glad I am working and Branden is able to be home with the kids. 
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life | wrapping up

Wrapping Up the Week

By on September 25, 2015
This week has been a busy one. I am definitely ready for the weekend so I can hang out with my kids and not have to get up super early. I am still loving my job but it definitely makes me appreciate the weekends more now. I mean prior to working weekends weren’t much different than my week days. 
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen our pictures from the Luke Bryan concert. Branden and I splurged and got VIP tickets. It was amazing. We went to a private show before the concert and I was 3 people back from the stage. Some teenagers took mercy on me and let me stand in front of them because I am so short. Such sweethearts. We danced and sweated our butts off! It was so humid. We usually get lawn seats and it’s so much cooler on the hill. It was worth it to be so close though. 
I also was chosen for the second year in a row to be part of the Chick-fil-A Mom’s panel! 
Wednesday we worked on the yard since I had off. I can not wait to have it all done! I have a lot of ideas of what I want and I really want our Palm trees to stand out so I think it will end up looking really nice. 
If you haven’t already entered make sure to get your entries into the three giveaways I have going on this month! There are some super easy entries so head over and enter now. 
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life

Just a little yard work…

By on September 23, 2015

It’s Wednesday which means we are getting closer to Friday which means I get to see my bestie!! We typically see each other about every month or every other month and it’s like getting a breath of fresh air when I see her. 

Today I had the day off of work and Branden and I decided we had to clean up the front yard. We actually got a notice from our HOA because one of the plants was too high. We were kind of in limbo with what we wanted to do with the front so this was the perfect time to get things started. 

The previous owners had kept everything up so nicely and there was a lot of trees and plants but having three little ones meant less time to spend on the lawn. We knew we needed to do something to make it more manageable for us. We got the kids ready in some scrubby clothes and we all headed outside to work on the front. The kids mostly play with sidewalk chalk but they got really excited when we let them put gloves on and help. 


After we were done the kids and I went in the pool to cool off. It was so perfect out today. I loved having a little mini break in the middle of the week since the day before I barely saw anyone since I had to go back to work at night for an event and the girls were going to bed when I got home. 
I will post an after shot of the yard once we finish it but for now you can see everything cut down and it looks so bare! We have really nice palm trees in the front so they will really stand out now!

On another exciting note we have a winner for the Excel Skincare $30 Gift Card! Joan K. you are the winner! Please check your email for details on how to claim your prize. 
Here is a special note for the awesome people at Excel Skincare…

Thank you to everybody who entered the giveaway. Even though there was only one winner we previously mentioned believing everyone should be a winner and that we would be back following the giveaway. Here we are, you previously entered the giveaway, now here is your opportunity to get those products at a discount price with this limited time sale with free shipping included as well. Enter discount codes of 30% off for the entire order and free shipping appropriately for Amazon and Etsy orders. Thank you kindly once again.   
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Free shipping enter KOWRTZLT
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life | Sunday Morning Link Up

Sunday Morning Link Up!

By on September 20, 2015

Good Morning! It’s another beautiful Sunday morning here. It’s starting to feel like “Fall”. If you are wondering why I typed it like that it’s because Florida doesn’t really have a real Fall. And by real I mean the Fall you experience where you are from where the leaves change or you can wear cute coats and beanies. Our Fall is beautiful clear blue skies, low humidity and maybe, if we are lucky, a slight breeze. Yesterday was that day. 

I was walking out of the store and told Branden it felt like Fall. He still laughs at me when I say it. He was raised in Michigan where they have “real” seasons. But I still love Florida seasons. I get it, we don’t get to see the leaves change and that was actually something I used to want more when I was younger but now I don’t mind it. I don’t mind it because that usually means snow is just around the corner. It seems like everyone has been getting hit with intense winters and it makes me appreciate the Florida weather even more. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to experience a Christmas with snow but I also love that I can look at my windows any day of the year and see palm trees. I don’t think I would do well where everything dies in the winter. 

And I know one day we will eventually move out of South Florida and head north. Branden wants to live where seasons change and I totally understand that. It is what he grew up with and I think it will be nice to experience living in a different state. It won’t be for a long time but one day when the time does come I am sure I will be in for a big shock. As will my Ace who says anytime there is a hint of cold that he likes to be hot. 

So for now I am embracing and appreciating this beautiful weather even when the humidity makes it impossible to have a nice hair day or the fact that Summer means play dates in doors. 
We are lucky to live in paradise and I don’t forget that for a minute. 
This post is dedicated to my Florida sun loving friend Christel. She sadly has to experience winter and she was not made for the cold. 
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4. Enjoy others’ Blogs!
 


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Giveaway | movie trailers | movies

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials $30 Gift Card GIVEAWAY!

By on September 19, 2015
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
20th Century Fox
Now Playing

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and Quiznos Partnership 
Quiznos and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials are rolling out the red carpet for fans through a new sweepstakes launched this month. Fans can enter at toasty.tv/scorchtrials/ for a chance to win a VIP trip to Hollywood, home theater, and much more! Sweepstakes ends October 12.
Quiznos, home of the hot toasted sub, is also putting guests’ tolerance for spice to the test! Their newest culinary creation, the SatisFIRE, incorporates two varieties of hot peppers and draws inspiration from the brand’s new partnership with 20th Century Fox’s film Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, in theaters now.

The SatisFIRE features Quiznos signature slow-roasted pulled pork, honey ham, smoky bacon and melted cheddar cheese, topped with sautéed onions, fresh jalapeños, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes. A house-made Serrano pepper aioli finishes it off, all piled between two slices of fresh Ciabatta bread. For a limited time only.
Follow Quiznos on Twitter and Like them on Facebook.
Visit all Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials websites – #ScorchTrials
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The Maze was just the beginning! Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is in theaters now
In this next chapter of the epic “Maze Runner” saga, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers face their greatest challenge yet: searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization known as WCKD. Their journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces and uncover its shocking plans for them all.
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, and Patricia Clarkson
Screenplay By: T.S. Nowlin, based upon the novel “The Scorch Trials” by James Dashner
Directed By: Wes Ball

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Prizing courtesy of 20th Century Fox and Quiznos


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Disney | life | Travel

Disney Trip Day Two: Magic Kingdom

By on September 18, 2015

On day two of our last Disney Trip we headed over to the most Magical place on Earth. If you want to read more about our first day go HERE.

Magic Kingdom is a park I really feel you need to plan to get the most out of it. Since we go to the parks a lot we knew what rides we were willing to miss out on and what rides we wanted to focus on. My kids had never been on Jungle Cruise so I wanted to make sure we got on that one. We originally got Fast Passes for Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tales with Belle and Barnstormer (Me) and Thunder Mountain (Branden). My plan was to go over to Adventure Land first and ride Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride then use our Fast Pass on Jungle Cruise. When we got there both rides were empty so I moved out Jungle Cruise Fast Pass to Winnie the Pooh a little later on. We rode both of those then headed over to the Haunted Mansion. It was about a 15 minute wait and moved pretty quickly. 

We then headed over to It’s a Small World and that is another ride I haven’t appreciated in a long time. It’s a ride I loved as a child but obviously grew out of and now that I have children who love it I have to make sure we get on it. It’s also never a long wait. We walked right on. We then went over to Mickey’s PhilharMagic which is a really cute 3D show. My kids love this one. Also, it’s a good place to take a break from the heat. We got lucky and walked up right when they were letting people into the theater. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. 
We had lunch at 11:15am. We wanted to get in early before the crowds. I can not tell you how much nicer this is. When lunch time hits the lines and crowds just become too much. Everyone (mainly kids) are cranky and hot and it’s just no fun. Our kids were all in awesome moods so we figured lets do this now! We had brought lunch for the kids and Bran and I ordered a caesar salad, pizza and then Branden also got sides and a drink for Ace. It was probably one of the cheapest meals we ever had at Disney, ha! I highly suggest bringing your own food in if you can for even some of what you eat throughout he day. Not having to wait in lines for snacks or even food for your kids is so nice. We were able to get them seated and fed right away. 
After lunch we headed over to Winnie the Pooh to use our Fast Passes. We also picked up a Baby Swap at Mine Train for later. If you have babies, use the Baby Swap! We then did the teacups, which is one of my favorites. It’s never a long wait and all the kids love it. 
Our Fast Passes for Enchanted Tales with Belle wasn’t for another hour but we wanted to leave that area so we decided to swap out that Fast Pass for Buzz Lightyear for when we came back at night. After that we headed over to Barnstormer, got a Baby Swap for later and let Ace play at the Casey Jr. Splash N’ Soak Station. We had a total parent fail and didn’t bring bathing suits like I originally wanted to. We then went to the Train and took it to the front of the park so we could leave and have a break for naps. 
We originally had a plan for the night to get on the train and head over to Thunder Mountain. We decided against that since the babies would have to be waiting around in the stroller so we switched out that Fast Pass for Tomorrow Land Speedway. Ace loves this ride and Branden likes taking him on it so I figured that would be a good one for just the two of them to ride. It’s also a fun one to ride in the dark.
When we got back to the park we headed over to Barnstormer to use our Fast Pass and Baby Swap so Branden and I could each ride with Ace. It was really hot at this point and looked like it might rain so we then headed over to Dumbo, another family favorite. The wait was about 30 minutes but they have the play area inside and we used the option to go in there and wait for the line to go down a bit. We actually ended up letting the kids play for probably a half hour or so because they were having so much fun and it was so cool in there. We also worried about the rain so we took full advantage of that play area. The Speedway Fast Passes were coming up so we finally hopped in line and waited maybe 10 minutes and it was nice and dark out by this point. I love riding Dumbo when it’s dark. Branden said Everly got nervous on this one. I rode with Ashlyn and Ace and they always love it. 
Bran and Ace used their Fast Passes on Speedway and I took the girls over to the #IncrediblessSuperDanceParty. They were both dancing in their stroller so I took them out for a bit and Mr. Incredible freaked them out, poor girls. 
Once Branden and Ace got back they danced for a bit then we went over to the People Mover and rode that. Ashlyn and Ace loved it but poor Everly got really nervous on it. She moved close to Ace when it got dark and he had his arm around her. I can’t even handle how sweet he is with his sisters. 
We then used our Fast Passes on Buzz Lightyear. I rode with Everly and Branden took Ashlyn and Ace. Branden is such a big kid, he always tries to score the highest and is super competitive. It cracks me up. Everly and I just relaxed. 
The kids, especially the girls, were getting tired so we decided to use our Baby Swaps to ride Mine Train. I really love this ride. Again, another ride we love to ride in the dark. Ace hates seeing the old witch at the end and closes his eyes but everything else he loves. 
After that we headed out of the park while everyone else was watching the fireworks. We got to our bus which was already pretty busy and got on the second one that came up since we wouldn’t have been able to stand with the kids.

I must say there was some really sweet people who saw us struggling bit to get the kids off the bus and helped us off. It’s always a bit of a struggle with the double stroller and the girls still needing to be carried off. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the generosity of people who offer to help. 
The next day we headed to Hollywood Studios!

Make sure to check out all the GIVEAWAYS going on now! 


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beauty | Giveaway | skincare

Excellent Skincare Products + Giveaway

By on September 14, 2015

I am so excited for this guest post today! Excel Skincare has not only offered to take over the blog today but is also hosting a GiVEAWAY! Who doesn’t love free skincare?! After you enter the giveaway don’t forget to come back daily to get more entries in. I will be announcing the winner Tuesday, September 22nd and extra savings for everyone who follows my blog!

Calling all moms, answer our call in attempting to perfect imperfection in your skincare routines.  Our current line of four select products is scientifically formulated using patented ingredients.  From Matrixyl 3000 and Darutoside in our stretch mark and scar cream to Eyeliss and Beautifeye in the dark circles under eye serum.  Patented, pure ingredients, advanced proprietary blends?  Results: Specifically targeted boosted collagen and elastin.  Smoothed fine lines and diminished wrinkles.  Additionally, hyaluronic acid is added to gels and serums giving these products their unique distinguished look and feel.  
Fade and lighten those stretch marks and scars with our cream. Lighten and depuff those periorbital dark circles with our serum.  Smooth fine lines and wrinkles with our peptide serum.  Hydrate your skin with our hydrating gel.  Do we have to mention that this is a giveaway again?  Enter now for your chance to win our gift card to begin using the products of your choice.  After this giveaway keep your eyes out for us as we will be back.  Yes, because we believe everybody should be a winner when it comes to excelling in skincare.  
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**This is a sponsored post by Excel Skincare.**
    

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gratitude | life | sunday morning

Sunday Morning…

By on September 13, 2015

It’s Sunday morning and I can’t help but feel incredibly blessed. I have three wonderful children, a really amazing husband, a job I love and friends that I couldn’t live without. Sure, times get hard, my kids can drive me nuts and my husband can totally do something to annoy me but overall life is good. Like really good.


I think about the hard times. The times when life felt unfair and hopeless. We all go through ups and downs and those times were tough. 

But I look at those times and realize why I went through the struggles to have babies, losing my parents and all the other hard times that have come our way and think this is why. This is why I had to go through all of that. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t appreciate all I have as much as I do. 
Losing my parents makes me appreciate my time with my kids so much more. I want them to have special memories with Branden and myself like I had with my parents because one day we will be gone and that’s all they will have. I want them to say “I am so lucky because of all we got to do together”. I want them to love each other and lean on each other in hard times and be ok without us because they can call on the other one. I want them to appreciate each other because your siblings are the ones who will get you through. 
I also think about how hard marriage is. It’s ever changing and evolving. And I think that is the point. We go through the rough patches to get to the really amazing times. I recently have been thinking about how hard things were when we had Ace. It was such a change for us. We were all about each other and now had to focus on this little baby. We had no clue how much it would change our relationship and we struggled. We struggled so much we knew we had to do something to make our marriage work or it just wouldn’t. We went to counseling and realized we both were just not listening to each other. We wanted to be heard but were not willing to hear the other person. It took time and we worked on other challenges in our marriage and came out stronger. 

Now with three kids I see how much easier it is to handle certain things because we went through all of that. We now know we can make it through the challenges that come our way and we have to work on it. We have to work together and listen. We have to be each others partner and confidant. 
So thank you to the hard times for making these times even more precious. 


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Family | life

Valentina is ONE!

By on September 12, 2015

I didn’t have a chance to post on Valentina’s actual birthday because work has been crazy but today is my baby nieces FIRST birthday party!


I am so excited to get to celebrate this beautiful little girl. She is such a funny baby. She is very tiny for her age so I often forget she is as old as she is but then you see her running around trying to talk and it’s like oh yeah, you are tiny but mighty. 

I still remember the day this beautiful angel came into the world. My poor sister was in and out of the hospital the week prior and her blood pressure kept spiking. They admitted her I think twice? Then she finally was induced. After awhile they finally broke her water, gave her pitocin and that saving grace the epidural. She slept but kept getting sick (not abnormal) and then her heart rate spiked and I ran to get a nurse. The nurse didn’t take it seriously yet Ashley’s face was bright red and she just looked awful. Her doctor came in and said she had been watching her contractions and saw the spike and wanted to check on her and the baby. I believe Valentina’s heart rate also went up. Ashley wasn’t to 10 but they checked her temperature and she had a fever and by Valentina’s heart rate the same could be said for her. 
Her doctor talked to her about a c-section and told her she had to do it at this point. Her water had been broken and she wasn’t progressing (Valentina was early so this could have been why). I think at this point we were all just worried about the baby and they got her prepped to go in. 
I went in to the waiting room so anxious to meet my little niece. She was born at 1:17am. After they got my sister out of surgery I got to go in and sit with her and finally hold Valentina. She was all puffy from fluids and we joked she looked like a little asian man because her eyes were so squinty and tiny. She had hair everywhere, even on her ears. We couldn’t get over. 
Now a year later she has changed so much. She was born an average sized baby but she can still fit into 6 months clothes, ha! She might be taking after her Aunt Brenna in the short department. She has the biggest smile and prefers to just hang out in a diaper. She is obsessed with dogs like I have never seen before. She will literally lay with them in their beds or play with them over anyone else. She knows what she wants and is determined. She is such a sweet, happy girl! 

She is my daughters’ best friend and my son’s baby to protect and take care of. She has a special place in our hearts. 
We love you so much Valentina!!!!!


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