In 2017 Flourish learning link up monthly learning

First Borns, France, and Photography [July Learning]

1.) My high school group of friends are all first children.

While having lunch together we noticed something that we'd never noticed before: all of us are the first born children.We all have at least one younger sibling between 2-6 years younger than we are. Maybe that's why we get along so well (and keep in touch, since first born's tend to be planners).

2.) France is the blog's second largest audience. 

Obviously, the most popular place this blog is read is the United States. However, I was surprised to see that the second most views are in France. And then Russia.

3.) Walmart Grocery Pickup is the bee's knees.

The last couple weekends have been SUPER busy. And despite having a thorough list, going to the grocery store always takes at least an hour. So I decided it was worth a shot to try grocery pickup, and it was so worth it. I online shop my list, make sure I stay under budget, pull into the store, check in on the app, and someone loads the groceries into the trunk for me. Best time saver ever.

If you want to try it and want $10 off, here's my referral link (full disclosure, I'll get $10 off my next grocery trip too).

4.) Shutter Speed and Aperture

If I'm going to have a nice camera, it's crucial I know how to properly use it. So I spent a lunch break actually reading the manual that came with the camera, got on Pinterest for some tips, and started playing around. I haven't really figured out the whole shutter speed thing yet, but I'm improving!

2017 Goals Update:

I laid out goals for myself this year, and what better time to check in with them then my monthly learning post? Here's where things stand currently.

1.) Read 50 books!

Current Status:

2.) Meditate daily

Current Status: Not so great... but I did so well with my other goals that I can forgive this one!

3.) Maintain Blog

Current Status:Not only did I do a TON of writing this month (hello 7th post), but I also did a complete revamp of the layout and images.

4.) Write!

Current Status: I wrote and submitted one piece for a writing contest, continued working on my short story, and looked at some other upcoming submission deadlines to keep writing.

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In Cleveland Cleveland Metroparks nature Nikon photography summertime

Bradley Woods Reservation (Learning Aperture)

I've loved photography forever. I won't say I've always been good at it, or even decent really, but I love it. 

So my husband decided to get my the gift I've wanted forever: a real camera instead of using my phone or a little point and shoot. 

Of course, to justify owning this piece of equipment, I want to learn how to use it, and so today I woke up at five (in the morning) and decided to start trying shooting in Manual and adjusting aperture. 

Aperture is defined at the size of the hole that lets light travel. 

Basically, it's perfect for the little details in nature, like flowers and leaves. 

Also, Cleveland Metroparks are so fun to explore. I went to Bradley Woods Reserve in Westlake, a little over 10 minutes from work. Last week when I took pictures at sunrise I went to Huntington Beach in Bay Village, 5 minutes from work. There are so many parks to explore, which means so many more opportunities to get creative with my camera. 

So blog followers? Be prepared for more pictures in my posts, and hopefully as time goes on the quality of those photographs will improve! 

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In dance fitness fitness

Breaking the Norm

Two years ago, I looked like this:

I hovered within 7 pounds of my goal weight, ran a couple miles every morning, and was in the best physical shape I had ever been in.

Now, well let's add about 60 pounds to that weight, definitely not in the best shape, but still able to work out and move.

When word got out that I was going to start teaching a dance fitness class every week at church, someone came up to me and asked, "Are you leading the dance class?"


She glanced up and down my overweight frame before saying, "Well are you like doing a video and opening the church?"

"No, I'm teaching it. I'll be up there doing all the moves and showing the variations from high to low impact."


We tend to think of people at my size as unhealthy and out of shape. It's easier to think they're just lazy than think that there are different body sizes and versions of healthy.

But I think that, right now, this size is good. Why? Because it encourages others. If I can do it, at over 200 pounds, it's that much easier to believe that someone else not in good shape can come to the class. I'm not going to be standing in front showing off how skinny and perfect I look, I'm being real. I'm a real woman, struggling with my weight and body issues, and still showing up every Tuesday night to do a 40 minute dance fitness workout. I'm red faced, out of breath, and embracing that it's hard.

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In animal advocate pit bull awareness Pit bulls Rescuing animals

We Have Your Dog

We adopted him from the local shelter last month, picking him up from the vet's office on a Thursday night after he was neutered. Apparently you either didn't have means or the desire to get him fixed.

Did you know that he was found as a stray in Elyria? Maybe he escaped from your backyard (he's done that to us a couple times). Maybe you looked for him, maybe you never did. Maybe you weren't even his first home, but the way he bounded onto my bed that Thursday night, it's pretty clear he lived in someones house at some point in time.

Did you know that he has bad dental disease? On a scale of 1-4, his teeth are at a 3 and he's going to need to go see the vet again for a thorough dental cleaning and hopefully won't need any teeth extracted. But don't worry, he's on a healthy diet now, and has dental chewing bones, so they're already starting to look better.

We've named him Maverick, and it took him less than three days to begin to respond to it. We call him Mavi for short, and he's just now starting to realized after a month that this is his new home and he's allowed to get attached to us. He's really a good dog, you must have worked with him and loved him at some point. He came to our house already knowing how to sit, give paw, lay down, and even stay. He's such a people-pleaser too, he looks to us for approval with almost everything he does.

He's a beautiful, five year old, brindle baby.

And here's the most important thing for you to know about your dog: he's not your dog anymore.
He's our dog. He's part of our family now.

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In link up things I'm loving

Things I'm Loving {July '17}

What am I loving in July?

1.) Bubble tea smoothies

Much better than just regular bubble tea, and extremely refreshing after a spicy Thai meal.

2.) Killing my step goal 

Two big contributers to this: Maverick (new pupper) needs to be walked, and walking two dogs means more steps. And the second is regularly teaching dance fitness, meaning practicing so I don't look too silly when I'm trying to teach. My average week steps lately are about 90,000 steps (approx. 12K steps per day).

3.) Having the answers 

Four months into my job, I no longer have to pester Annette with questions constantly. People at Hyland are starting to reach out directly to me with the travel and expense questions, and I'm able to help them!

4.) Caesar Milan 

Maverick is about 5 years old, has had no accidents in the house, and overall is a very good dog. However, having two dogs, and introducing them to be friends, is a lot of work. And because I don't like to do things blindly, I've been watching Caesar on YouTube trying to learn how to create a dog pack and be a good pack leader.

5.) Upcoming Summer Festivals/Events/Fun! 

One of my favorite parts of summer is all the fun things to do. Just to do still in July includes an outdoor screening of Moana at work, the Night Market, a trip to the zoo with friends, a trip to the splash pad with other kiddos, and Potterfest (and yes, all three of us have Harry Potter T-shirts to wear)!

What are you loving this July? What is bringing a grin to your face and joy to your heart? Link up below and share the good things!

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In Birth c-section miscarriage pregnancy

My C-Section Doesn't Require Pity

Scrolling through social media tonight I saw an article posted and some comments posted under it reading:

So sorry for her situation

This makes my heart hurt for her. 

I'm sad for her.

My heart was heavy when I heard the news. 

I read them to Nathan and asked, "What does it sound like they're commenting on?"

He responded that it sounded like they were commenting on a death.

In my mind other appropriate guesses included:
- Getting a divorce.
- A major medical diagnosis.
- Loss of a job.

But was it about any of the above? No. It was about Jill Dillard (Duggar) giving birth to her second child via cesarean section instead of the VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) that she wanted.

And my blood was starting to boil.

My son was born via c-section in April 2012, a routine surgery that healed up well and gave me that absolute love and joy of my life. I've spent years since then listening to women put down c-sections and c-section mamas. I've spent Jace's whole life hearing vaginal birth put on a pedestal.

But this was new, this genuine mourning because a perfectly valid form of birth is how a baby entered the world.

To those anti cesarean advocates, I no longer care if I offend you. Stop lamenting for a "birth gone wrong" and let me tell you little something about a real birth gone wrong.

A real birth gone wrong, is when you walk out of the hospital without a baby. When you didn't get the option for a cesarean section or home birth or any other kind of birth because your baby died before it was ever able to breathe outside of the womb. When your "birth" experience is a D&C (dilation and curettage) because you miscarried.

Stop pushing forward the notion that a surgical birth is in any way less than what it is: a successful entrance of a sweet alive tiny human.

Every woman is entitled to picture the type of birth she wants, and allowed to feel however she wants after it happens. But for the love of those of us who have seen the positive pregnancy test and never held their baby, stop treating a C-section like the most awful thing that can happen.  Because I've lived both, and I can assure you they are in no way comparable.

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In Jace quotes kids say tiny human humor

Mom Moments (Part 12)

Me: Hey dad, we're heading to the 5K, the dog is coming with us so you'll have the house to yourself for a couple hours.
Jace: Yeah, so you can do anything you want to, except break the windows!

Me scrolling Facebook: Aww, cute puppers!
Jace: Aww, puppers! I love both puppers and catters.
Me: Did you just say catters?
Jace: Yep, that's what I call cats.

Playing Sorry
Jace: Tough life said the kitty!
Elise: What??
Jace: That's what mom said!
Everyone turns to look at me.
Me: Tough titty said the kitty. It's what my mom used to say to us sometimes when we were kids.
Jace: Oh, then tough titty said the kitty!

Jace: You're not the boss of the whole world dad. Cops are the boss of the whole world.

After church, where they learned about God creating the world.
Jace: I just can't believe God had all the ingredients to make the world!!

We give Finding Nemo style high fives (Give me some fin. Noggin. Duuuude.) 
Me: I bet Miss Jess would know how to do a Finding Nemo high five!
Jace: Yeah! Let's go find my grown up friend!

Nathan and Jace sitting on the couch a week after Nathan burned his hand on the grill and Jace just burned his finger on a sparkler. 
Jace: Dad. I know my burn is littler than yours, but I promise you it hurts worser.

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