In Christmas local shopping

My Christmas Challenge & Traditions

Thanksgiving is over, and it is officially permissible for me to move into Christmas mode! This year for Christmas I have given myself and my family a challenge.

Each year we all think about what another person wants, what they would enjoy, and what we can afford to get them. Personally, I love Christmas shopping for my friends and family.
I adore wrapping and boxing up the items purchased, and personalizing them as best I can.

But this year I have decided to take it a step further.
This year I want to do all (or almost all) of my Christmas shopping LOCALLY.

We spend more money at the holiday's than we normally would, and I want to see that money go to my local businesses and economy. So instead of ordering everything from Amazon, this year I want to shop at the locally owned businesses that help make Berea the wonderful small town that it is.

Nathan and I are going to spend some time in Old Town (the Artisan village in town), and perusing shops we haven't spent much (or any) time in. We're going to browse the local winery's and distillery's for some friends and family, take advantage of my working time at the Artisan Center, and support our state.

 We want to be able to give gifts that have a story, that have personality, or that we may even make ourselves (Make It, Take It Give It). And, since we hope to stay in Berea awhile, we want to make some family Christmas traditions that are local. Jace is still too little to really remember or appreciate the memories, but I have my own family Christmas traditions that I remember from young childhood on, and I want my children to have the same.

Here are the Traditions the Kouris Family will be starting (or continuing) this season.

1.) Take Jace to see Santa and get a picture with him and Christmas puppy.

2.) Go to Baldwin Farms (even if we can't get a live tree this year)

3.) See Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park

4.) Bake Christmas cookies together

5.) Decorate the Christmas Tree together

6.) Send out Christmas Cards (including one to a solider)

7.) Do Five Random Acts of Kindness

8.) Watch Christmas movies (Rudolph, Charlie Brown, It's a Wonderful Life)

9.) Christmas Eve Box: New pj's, Christmas movie, book and snacks

10.) Leave out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer

11.) Listen to Christmas music as much as possible

12.) Remember the real meaning for Christmas, and read the biblical story

I hope as you head into Christmastime you enjoy your traditions, and maybe make some new ones!


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In being a mom toddler transitions


I write about my kid a lot.
I realize that, but that's not going to stop me at all from continuing to blog about him because I kind of love motherhood and seeing him grow.
Plus, I learn so much from him.

Last night we transitioned from the crib that he's been in since birth, to the toddler bed. It was the same mattress, the same bedding and stuffed animals, and in the same spot, but it was something brand new (to him. It was a hand me down to us). So it was super exciting to play on, climb on and off of, play with the doggy on, and explore.

It was not, however, nearly so awesome when he realized that he wasn't sleeping in his crib anymore: he was sleeping in the new thing.

Normally Jace goes to sleep without issue: we lay him down, turn the music on a timer, shut out the lights and close the door. Last night it took about an hour of rocking, reading, screaming (on his part) and tears to get him to sleep. It was a scary new experience for him, even with mommy and daddy right there.

But this morning (after sleeping through the whole night till 8am!), he woke up, crawled out of bed, and walked over to the baby gate at the door. He was no longer confined to his crib: he can get up when he wants to and go. That made it so much more awesome. So today at naptime, Nathan was prepared for another long (but shorter than last night) ordeal.

Nope. Jace laid down with his sippy cup and went right to sleep.

Tonight might be different, but it seems as though he's so excited about the freedom his big boy bed gives him that he's no longer worried about missing his crib.

I think there's really a lesson to be learned here, because I am bad for dragging my feet when it comes to something new. I don't adjust well to change and I do a bit of screaming and crying. But I hold on to that feeling a lot longer than my toddler did. He seems to have moved on to the awesome perks of the bed, and I think I need to have that attitude a bit more when I'm looking for the good parts of the changes I'm dealing with.


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In thankfulness Thanksgiving

Thankful Thanksgiving

During November a large number of my friends post daily statuses with something they are thankful for. It's a very nice change of pace from the usual melancholy, dramatic, "woe is me" type of posts that tend to clutter my Facebook feed.
But I didn't take part in that challenge because, honestly, I don't post on Facebook daily.
However, I still have 30 things to be thankful for to celebrate the appreciative month of November.

1.) Jace Alexander.

2.) A loving, patient, and spontaneous husband that I've been married to nearly two years.

3.) Understanding and caring friends.

4.) A spiritual home at River of Life.

5.) Good health and a strong body.

6.) The ability to help provide for my family.

7.) A warm and safe home.

8.) Family: both biological and chosen.

9.) Date nights with my husband.

10.) All four seasons and the unique weather that comes with them.

11.) Good conversations.

12.) Tea with honey.

13.) Books.

14.) Jesus.

15.) Old friendships that weather time and distance.

16.) The freedom to speak my mind.

17.) Pinterest.

18.) Forgiveness.

19.) Playdates for rambunctious toddlers.

20.) Girl time.

21.) A unique small town to call home.

22.) Hot bubble baths.

23.) Quiet, rainy days.

24.) New experiences.

25.) Honesty.

26.) Thrifty living and DIY projects.

27.) New friendships.

28.) Motherhood.

29.) Nourishing food.

30.) Life.

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In friends Friendship INFJ introvert


Something on Facebook got me thinking.
A friend posted a link about friendships, and how they change.
Add that to an ongoing theme of blog posts from friends, and a couple issues with feeling left out with friends, and, of course, I felt compelled to write about it.

See, I'm a living contradiction. Really, I can't even make sense of myself.

 I want to be friends with everyone. I see the groups of women hanging out together all the time, and I desperately want to be part of it. I want to be invited, I want to be included, I want to be the company that is desired. I want to be asked out for coffee (even though I don't actually drink coffee, I do enjoy tea and hot chocolate!), included in a spur of the moment trip to Richmond, and not have to be the one that asks to hang out. I want to be everyone's close friend, and I want to be the person that posts a picture on Facebook and gets 200 likes.

But, in the same breath, that's never who I've been. I can't see myself from the outside, but I have some suspicions why I am not, and will never be, that girl with the super active social life.

1.) I am introverted.
Which means, I'm not outspoken in a large group, I have a tough time opening up to people I don't really know, and social interaction exhausts me. See the image below for a little oversight on dealing with an introverted individual.

2.) I say no to going out sometimes.
 And, to someone who isn't one of my intimate friends, that may be seen as me not liking the person asking. But the truth is, since any social engagement takes a vast amount of energy, I need more time at home by myself than the average person.

3.) I over think everything.
If I see someone at Wal*Mart and they don't say "hi" as they walk past, instead of thinking that they just didn't see me, I immediately dissect our most recent interaction determined to discover what I must have done to anger them.
If I wasn't asked to bring food to an event at work when everyone else was, then clearly they must not have wanted to include me in their festivities because I'm not really one of them, and etc.
It drives my poor husband nuts when I analyze him, even though sometimes I'm right (sometimes before he realizes that an event and an emotion are connected).

4.) I have strong opinions. But no idea how to say them without offending someone.
 If you're reading this, it means you are somewhat familiar with my blog. My extremely opinionated blog that doesn't even begin to show how strongly and passionately I feel about the world. The only two people in the world who have really seen and experienced the full depth of my passionate convictions? My husband and my best friend Lindsay. I don't filter myself at all with them, because I know that they take my opinions and ideas the way I mean them, and I don't have to deconstruct everything that I said later to see how I may have offended them. But with other people, I honestly regret half of what I say about an hour after I say it.

5.) I do honestly deconstruct everything I say later.
We had a girls night a few weeks back. It was great: the first time I'd gotten together in a large group in ages, and I really enjoyed myself. I was more quiet and observant the more people were there, but as it dwindled down I got to be more myself. Even then, I still went home that night and spent the next two days analyzing everything I had said, how I had said it, if it could have offended anyone, and if I shouldn't have said it to begin with. And, once you consider that, it seems pretty obvious why I limit my time out, right?

It's just been frustrating to me lately because of the way I participate in friendship. Basically, because of my aforementioned traits, I do friendship one of two ways.

Either I have an acquaintance friendship where I spend time with someone, talk about mostly light things, and hang out on occasion with (and greatly enjoy their company).
Or, I have someone that I pull deeply into my circle and trust so completely that I can be myself and not have to sensor myself, while holding them to certain standards to allow myself to trust them (I like to think there are some perks in this too, and it's not just me being crazy and having high expectations).

Most people don't have friendships like that. I know that, and understand it, but I know that's the manner in which I function. See, if I start to feel someone is heading in that second option, where I could really trust them and be myself, I start holding them to that higher standard. And when they don't live up to that generally unattainable standard? I start to pull back from them because I'm terrified of being hurt.

Yes, after writing and editing this, I'm kind of amazed I have any friends too. But it's much easier to have those light friendships when you're in college, and now that I'm past that stage, I'm at the point where I have very few friends still near me geographically. And I suck at making new friends.

But the friends that I do have, I am grateful for. And I'm hoping that, the more I spend time understanding myself and my friendships, the more fulfilling relationships I will be able to have.


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In being a mom confidence Motherhood social media

According to society, I'm a bad mom.

Every day on social media I see how I should and shouldn't parent. And it's made me actually feel terrible about myself of late. Because now I'm not a stay at home mom. And sometimes I just feel like I'm a bad mom. But I know that I am doing the best I can, and I know that my kid is healthy and usually happy.

So you know what, I'm just going to own up to it all. Starting from the very beginning.

I was too young (21) and not yet married when I saw the two pink lines.
I didn't always take my prenatal vitamins during pregnancy.
I had a C-section instead of a natural birth.
Even if I hadn't had the C-section, I was totally planning to get an epidural.
I breast fed and gave him formula.
I only made it to 9 months nursing instead of a full year.
I went back to work part time when he was two months old, instead of finding a way to make staying home work.
I didn't sterilize his paci every time it fell to the floor.
Even worse, I let him eat food that he's dropped on the floor.
Oh, and I didn't make my own baby food, I bought jars of it from Wal*Mart.
I let him carry a sippy cup around the house.
I still put him down for naps and bed with a sippy.
As soon as he turned 12 months, I switched him to front facing.
I let him watch tv (for more than an hour a day).
I let him cry himself to sleep on occasion.
I now work basically full-time hours away from the home.
And I let him eat Mcdonald's french fries.
I spank him when he throws his tantrums.
I have no intention of homeschooling him or any of my future children.
I let him fall and get (mildly!) hurt sometimes so he can learn
I lose my patience and have to walk away from him sometimes

I'm not a perfect mom, but I'm tired of feeling guilty for every "mistake" society deems I've made. So I'm going to start owning up to my concept of parenting. I'm going to say with confidence that yes, I work outside the home. And yes, I drop my child off with someone else a few days a week. Yes, I will be sending him to public school when the time comes.

And yes, I am still a damn good mother.

P.S. This is totally not directed at any of my mom friends (especially the awesome ones that do choose to stay home and help watch mine!). I'd like to support everyone in whatever choices are best for them and their little ones! This post was just to say that I am coming to terms with my own decisions and I'm not feeling guilty anymore :)

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In accountability Charity Miles fitness healthy workout

Check In #1

It's been almost four weeks since I decided to hold myself accountable for my fitness and health.
So I thought I'd write a quick post to update (and add that I actually have stuck with it!).

I am still diligently tracking my calories and exercise with Lose It, which is seriously the best app for me. I know how many calories I consume, and I can even plan out my day to see if I have room for a little treat.

I have become so mindful about what I eat (and the money I am saving!) Seriously, by not stopping for breakfast at McDonald's on my way to work, and not grabbing a Sonic Nerds Slush a couple times a week I am noticing that my bank account is much happier with me.

I wake up and work out 5 days a week. Some workouts are much more intense than others (I discovered Jillian Michael's workout videos on YouTube. They, without fail, kick my butt), but I do them. And, no matter how hard it is to start, at the end I'm convinced that it was well worth the time.

I still have my glass jars in the kitchen, and moving the marbles works well for me. So far I've only had to move one back because I gained instead of lost, and it hasn't happened again.

All those motivational quotes I pinned to my Pinterest board? I took them a step further by printing them out and putting them up around my house. I'm a visual person, so when I see those quotes, they help me stay motivated.

Here's my tracking from my starting weight to now:

Pounds Down: 7.2

Longest Plank Time:  1min 6sec. (originally 47 seconds)

Future Goal!
So, my initial goal was for my 24th Birthday and a 5K, which is good, but now I've found an additional goal to keep me going. Did you know that Disney has a Princess Half Marathon Weekend?

I didn't until very recently. and now I must do it.
I must dress like Princess Belle (Yellow running shorts, yellow top, and a red rose in my hair perhaps?) and I must run 13.1 miles through Disney.

It seems to be held in February, so my goal is to run it February 2015. Anybody wanna come with??

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