Friday, February 28, 2014

Mason: Week 17 {Photos}

Day 113: Ready for the car ride to Knoxville

Day 114: Lela Loved Mason

We tried out Mandy's Ergo, too! Big fan of that one! 

Day 115: Mason was unsure of the Baby Bjorn at first but he ended up loving it! 

Day 116: Happy Smiling guy!

Day 117: Showing his love for his PopPop

Day 117: Family walk :)

Day 118: Smiling guy!

Day 119: The Morgans are in it to end it #enditmovement

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Easy Canvas Prints {A Review}

I recently entered into a giveaway on Pursuit of Pink which is a super fun blog by the way! Lindsay has the cutest little baby girl! 

Anyway, I WON the giveaway!!!

The giveaway was for an 8 x 10 Canvas print from Easy Canvas Prints. I was so excited because I had been wanting to get a canvas with a picture of Mason but they were just out of budget at this time. 

Huge blessing to win one for sure!

The process of uploading the picture and choosing all of the options for the canvas were incredibly easy and their website was no problem to navigate. 

We were out of town when the canvas was delivered and I couldn't wait to get back to see it!! 
Here is how it turned out. I LOVE IT!!

The quality of the canvas is excellent and picture itself was transferred very well to canvas. 
Since I received it, we (read: Matt) have hung it in Mason's nursery and it looks perfect in there!
I will definitely be ordering from Easy Canvas Prints again. You should check it out. They are always offering excellent deals for orders too!

Thanks, Lindsay and Easy Canvas Prints!

P.S. I won this in a giveaway. The review is just to share with you how awesome I think the product is. No compensation provided! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Help The Gray Family Adopt!!

Ashley and I met at North Monroe Baptist Church when I was in graduate school and we become fast friends. Over the years, we have kept in touch as we've each gotten married and "grown up". Haha!

Ashley and her husband, David, are getting ready to adopt and they need our help! They are selling t-shirts to help raise funds for the adoption. Would you consider buying one?

Click this link to purchase:

And just so you can put a face with the names. Here are David and Ashley!

So proud of you, Ashley and David, and I can't wait to meet baby Gray!!!

Chat with Janette Oke and enter to win an iPad Mini!

Janette Oke Where Courage Calls
Where Courage Calls is an incredible book. This book follows a young girl, Beth, in her adventure of becoming a teacher in a small coal mining town. She was raised in an affluent family in Eastern Canada and she moves to Western Canada to teach. She enters into a whole new lifestyle that she never expected. The book follows along during her year of teaching showing her impact on the lives of the townspeople especially the children. It also shows how much the people of the small town, Coal Valley, have an impact on her life. 
This book is well written and easy to read. The best part to me is that it includes a bit of romance but it doesn't overtake the book. I loved every bit of this book! 
Janette Oke's newest book, Where Courage Calls (co-written with her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan), is receiving rave reviews. It is the companion story to Hallmark Channel's TV series When Calls the Heart, set in the Canadian west.

Janette and Laurel are celebrating with an iPad Mini giveaway and a Facebook author chat party on March 4th.
One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the Where Courage Calls Facebook Party on March 4th. Connect with Janette and Laurel for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more!

So grab your copy of Where Courage Calls and join Janette and Laurel on the evening of March 4th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!

**I received this book from Litfuse for free in exchange for my review post. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What Motherhood has Taught Me {So Far}

Before I even begin this post, let me give a disclaimer. I realize that I have only been a Mom for a little over 100 days but I have learned so much already. These are just a few of those things...

Enjoy Every Moment:
If there is anything I've learned it that's we should enjoy every single moment we are given. Obviously, that's true even without children but it's especially become real since we welcomed Mason into our lives. Just in the short 120-ish days of life, he has grown and changed so much. He has gone from a 7 pound, 10 ounce mini to a 16+ pound Chunka Munka with TONS of personality! Enjoy every

Boys Can Eat (Well, At least mine can):
Y'all, this kid of ours can EAT! I'm amazed at how he's grown in his eating habits. He went from eating just 15 mL (approximately 1/2 ounce) each feeding to eating 7-8 ounces 5 times a day! Pretty soon, he will start eating rice cereal and then real food. He is noisy little eater, too! haha! I can only imagine the high school years!

People Will Say Anything:
Oh my word! Since Mason was born and Matt and/or I would go out with him, people notice. This part doesn't surprise me because he's a baby and a darn cute one at that. However, I have been surprised by the things people will say. Strangers ask to hold Mason, touch him, etc. They ask if he is a girl because he is wearing red. What?! They ask about his delivery. And then they share, well, they overshare! Ha! I've been overwhelmed with the number of strangers who will say anything about their child experiences. Definitely makes me shake my head and laugh.

I Will Do ANYTHING to Protect My Child:
Boy, you don't realize how much you would do to protect another person until you have a child. Well, for our family, I feel like this goes for me especially. Matt has said that his protective nature became especially heightened when we were married and he wanted to protect me. But for me, it developed when Mason was born. I want to protect him from sickness, from harm, and from any/all bad things. He's my baby boy!

Life Will Never Be The Same:
Matt and I have talked about how crazy it is that life has already changed so much in just 4 short months. Matt and I can hardly remember life before Mason. Isn't that just the craziest thing and something you can't explain or really even fully believe until you have a child (at least in my opinion). Because Matt and I protect our time together, we are still able to steal time away to be "just us" even if it is at home after MMM goes to bed. However, we just love talking about him even when we are together. I like to say that he is the extra joy of our lives. And he truly is.

I obviously have so much to learn about motherhood and I know I will learn every day. These are just a few of the important lessons I've learned so far.

If you're a Mom, what have you learned.

Monday, February 24, 2014

FiberOne Meal Bars {BzzAgent}

This post is a review of FiberOne Meal Bars for their current BzzAgent campaign. 
I received these bars for free in exchange for my review. 

First, let me start off by saying that I was very, very, very nervous about trying these bars. About 4 years ago, I purchased some FiberOne bars (not this specific kind) to eat as snacks during busy work days. I ate one two days in a row and they upset my stomach a great deal. It was really a bummer because the bars were so good but nobody wants to eat something again once it has affected your stomach!

When I was contacted by BzzAgent about this campaign, I decided to give FiberOne another try. And I am here to say today that I was pleasantly surprised! I LOVE these bars. Matt is a big fan as well! 
These bars are meant to be a meal replacement and they definitely fulfill that need. 

The bars are hearty and healthy at the same time. The two flavors we tried were Chocolate Peanut Butter and Strawberry Greek Yogurt. Matt and I both decided that we prefer the Strawberry Greek Yogurt bars over the Chocolate Peanut Butter. They were both good but the Strawberry Greek Yogurt bars had a lighter flavor than the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars. 

As I said, both bars were good and I think the one I would pick could vary on a given day based on preference. They also have a Chocolate Almond version as well which sound delicious, too! 

These bars are great as a snack or meal replacement. They are filling and hearty and Matt and I will definitely be purchasing these in the future! 
I think you should try them too! Let me know if you do!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mason: Week 16 {Photos}

Day 106: Wishing some of his favorite ladies a "Happy Valentine's Day" 

Day 107: 

Day 108: 

Day 109: REAL life! 

Day 110: Mason got a new baseball cap; kid is styling! 

Day 111: Time outside, PRAISE THE LORD!! 

Day 112: Watching a little Sesame Street on YouTube. He was a big fan! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How to Be Rich {A Book Review}

I received this book, How To Be Rich,  to review from BookLook Bloggers


How to be Rich by Andy Stanley is a book focused on helping people to understand how to best take care of and steward their money. I have enjoyed listening to Andy Stanley's sermons in the past so I thought I would see how I liked his book. 

Since the beginning of the year, Matt and I have been reading a book together. We are just taking a few minutes a day to read. We might read at breakfast, during his lunch break or even just before bed. The focus is reading just a small amount to keep us connected. Some books will be about parenting, some devotions and some like this one will be about finances/giving etc. 

From our reading of this book, here is the main point I took away: 
Each of us is rich. We must realize that we are, in fact, rich and we must work hard and focus on how to best steward our money. If we are not good stewards of our money, no mater how much we make or earn, we will never be satisfied. The best way to be content with what you have monetarily is to make sure that your money doesn't control you. This can be done by giving well. 

Matt and I have been givers since before we were married and thankfully that has continued in our marriage as well. Sometimes, this is hard especially as life situations change and finances change. For us, what has helped the most is that we have been consistent with our giving, namely tithing and then we have given extra when able. 

How to Be Rich was a good guide for this focus on giving. One thing that I did not enjoy about this book is that I felt like it took Andy a long time to get to his point. The read along the way was good but for me, it was a little drawn out. 

I did like that Andy writes like he speaks so it was an easy read for us. There were many good principles throughout the book as well. 

If you need or are interested in a book to help you align yourself correctly with your money, this may just be the one! 

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Trial after Trial...Miracle after Miracle

This is a post I've been working on/contemplating for a while but I could just never get it fully written until now (no particular reason why).

Even before Matt and I decided to start adding children to our family, we discussed what the work situation would be and I know I've mentioned that before. I have always wanted to be able to stay at home once we had children. Matt was indifferent at first and as we prayed about it, we both felt the Lord telling us that it was absolutely something we needed to do.

We knew that this would be a HUGE blessing to us and to our child(ren) but that it would also take some tremendous sacrifices for all of us, mostly in the area of finances. Matt has a great job and is moving up in the ranks as often as he can but that takes time. My full time job as a Speech Language Pathologist provided us with great income which we would be "losing" if I quit working.

Our solution was for Matt to continue working full time, I would quit working full time and after we were settled in with the baby, I would go back to working PRN with the companies I had been working for.

Now, we weren't naive to think that this situation would just move about seamlessly. I mean, that's just not how big life situations seem to happen, right?! In an effort to prepare for the changes, we saved as much as we could. We had all of the money set aside to be able to pay off our hospital bill (so we thought) before Mason was even born. We also set aside money for various things that we knew would come up throughout the year. We felt as prepared as we could be at that point.

Then, Mason arrived and our whole world changed but I've already written a bit about that. ;-)

The day we got home from the hospital and checked our mail, there were two bills that had been basically the same amount for over a year and those bills had increased.

Within a few days, we received one more bill which had also gone up. This continued to be a trend for over a month. Not all increases were huge but unexpected nonetheless.

Then there were the hospital bills. We had planned for best case scenario and I ended up having to have a c-section with a three day stay which increased those bills significantly.

Then in January, the battery in Matt's truck went out and we needed a new one. We had one SUPER cold morning and Matt and I had failed to check the antifreeze in the truck (we thought it had been filled recently during an oil change) and while I was driving to work in 12 degree weather, the radiator blew. That same day, the battery died in the car and it had to be replaced. Earlier in this month, Matt went to have the oil changed in the truck and they determined that a gasket on the engine was leaking antifreeze.

Yeah, you're probably thinking what we were thinking. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!

Let me get to the good part!

Even in the midst of ALL of the above struggles and trials, there were some beautiful silver linings and blessings.

--Our oven in our rental house had been giving us trouble. We got a call from the landlady in early January saying they weren't going to repair it. They were REPLACING IT with a brand new oven!!
When they came to replace the oven, our landlady said that she had increased the rent for her properties for the first time in 10 years but she didn't increase ours. WOW, what a blessing!

--I was able to start back PRN the day after Christmas and was given more work than I expected. Therefore, meaning more extra income for us to help take care of extra issues that had arisen.

--We ended up getting some unexpected money at Christmastime as well and many gift cards for Mason which certainly helped.

--A lady that Matt got connected with through a co-worker gave us TONS of formula so we didn't have to worry about buying any. Then some friends sent some formula to us as Christmas presents. Talk about a blessing especially when it was already difficult enough that I couldn't produce enough milk for Mason.

--Around Christmas, Matt took some days off but he forgot to put in the vacation hours for the correct pay period. At first, I was bummed about this but it ended up being a blessing in disguise because he put the hours into the following pay period which was the one where so many of our "issues" happened so the larger check helped big time!

--About two years ago, we took out a hospital indemnity plan and we were able to keep it until the baby was born which resulted in an excellent insurance reimbursement. HUGE blessing!

--I mentioned earlier that Matt and I had worked really hard to set money aside before Mason arrived. This included an emergency fund which helped so much during this big transition period.

--Lastly, with all of this extra "stuff" even with insurance reimbursements, unexpected gifts etc, it was still tighter than we would like. Our most recent financial blessing has come in the form of our tax refund. HUGE HUGE blessing to us.

All of this to say, we have had a rough but beautiful few months. Matt and I have learned so much in this time and through it all we kept reminding each other that we had to rely on the Lord to provide for our needs even in the situations that seemed too big for even Him.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Husband is NOT a Babysitter

I mentioned in a recent post that once you have a baby and are out and about, it seems that people will say literally anything to you!

I would say that 99% of those statements from people easily roll off my back. However, one question that people have asked me has kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Don't get me wrong, I am not angry about this at all but I just feel like I want to say something about it.

The question is this:

"Is your husband babysitting Mason?"

Here's the thing...
My husband is NOT Mason's babysitter. My husband is Mason's father. It is not a "Job" for him to be at home with Mason while I'm out maybe at work or with friends etc. In fact, he LOVES spending time with him.

Babysitting, to me, insinuates that someone who didn't provide half of the child's DNA keeps the child for a short period of time and then is "done". Matt is soooo much more than that. He feeds Mason. He dresses him. He changes his diapers. He puts him down to rest. He bathes him. He plays with him. He loves him. He hugs him. He kisses him. He parents him.

Matt's role is so much more important than that of babysitter. (That is not to say that a babysitter's role is  not important. Trust me, when the time comes, I will love having a babysitter to care for our little guy when we are out.)

I realize that culture seems to think that if a man is with his children that it is something he must have been forced to do. I, however, have an awesome husband who happens to be an amazing Dad to our little guy.

And for us, part of being a parent means spending time with your children.

Now, let me just say this. I realize that most people (maybe even all?) who ask the above question mean absolutely no harm by it. That's why when I'm asked this question, my response is usually this: "Matt's spending the day with him while I'm working." I don't bring attention to the question or anything. 


Thank you, Lord, for giving me an awesome husband in Matt and for him being an AMAZING Dad to Mason. I do not take that blessing lightly.