On carrying twins, Part II

Instagram_Printable-01Today is January 13. I am 34 weeks pregnant with Caroline and Tyler. Today is the day I marked and circled and starred in my planner months ago. My doctor told me, based on my ultrasounds, that if we can make it to 34 weeks – we will have made it to a GREAT milestone. I’ve been in and out of the hospital four times now for a total of 17 days so we weren’t sure just how far we’d make it.

It’s funny. I woke up ready to celebrate today – ready to bust out the confetti and take a silly picture with Brady in front of my mirror like I’ve done with my other bump photos along the way. But my heart feels steady and joyful and full in a different way today. The joy we feel – having come through three years of infertility, multiple failed rounds of terrible fertility drugs, 12 scars on my belly from procedure after procedure, multiple failed IUIs and finally – making the difficult decision to give IVF one chance – is real. The joy is big and intense and I feel like it just seeps from every pore of my body, every word I speak or type. But I’ll never forget the path it took to get here. It changed me. Not every journey leads to this place – that’s not lost on me at all. For years, even before Brady was conceived, I was scared I’d never become a mama. But here’s what I know…

God allows this baby shaped hole to form in our hearts when He fully intends to fill and use it somehow.

I was going to write about all I’ve learned from this pregnancy and this journey (like where to buy the best maternity clothes and what stretches have helped my back carry these two big babies) but this morning I woke up to this thought… what really matters are those words up there . And that’s it. I’ve learned that God loves us unfailingly. Sitting here in this chair continuing my bed rest until these babies are ready to be born, these four verses were on my heart. I made them into a printable (surprise, surprise). Get yours here under “Verse Cards”. I would suggest printing them on card stock, then cutting on the crop marks. Tape them to your mirror. Put them on your desk. Stick them on your fridge. They’re 3 x 5 when cut to size. And they’re meant for anyone, anywhere, in any journey.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for supporting me (and all five of us) along this incredible journey full of incredible highs and painful lows. It’s hard to be open about something so deeply personal, but I hope our story gives hope to one of you. God’s love is never ceasing. Ever, ever.

xo,

Emily

To ready more about our journey:

Announcing our twins

In the middle of our infertility journey

The pain of yearning for a little one

Brady’s Birth Story

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Simple Favorites for your Free Printables

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m 1) on modified bed rest until the twins come (yay) and 2) I’ve been having so much fun designing free printables and downloads while glued to this chair! :) Many of you have had questions about at-home printers, pens, binders, etc – so I thought I’d gather them all here to help you organize your free printables! Granted, you don’t really need any of these things to make your free printables work BUT if you’re looking to get fancy, here you go (affiliate links below): FreePrintables-01-01-01
1:  Le Pens Multi Colored Set - I love these pens. I have a bajillion of them in a cup on my desk. They’re thin, crisp and they don’t bleed. Plus the colors are just so fun!

2:  Le Pens Black Only - A while back I bought about 25 of these pens. I have another cup only desk with black pens only for filling out forms, writing letters to people, etc.

3:  EL Home Base Binder - I love our Home Base Binder for holding our free printables! It comes with a bunch of awesome pages but has room for more.

4:  HP Color LaserJet Pro Printer - If you want to get fancy, this is a great (pricey) printer. Roughly $300. Ink is pricey but you can find deals on it on Amazon. The quality of a color laser jet can’t be beat. I owned this printer for a long time before switching to the one below.

5:  Canon InkJet Printer - This is a GREAT printer (especially at $99!). It’s the one I have now. I love that it has a scanner on top. And, well, it’s pretty. :) Color quality isn’t as great as my old laser jet, but its still great.

Visit our FREE PRINTABLE LIBRARY HERE (at the bottom you’ll also find a complete set of gorgeous desktop wallpapers for download) and our FREE IPHONE WALLPAPERS & LOCKSCREENS HERE. Follow me on Instagram for new printables as long as these babies keep baking! :)

xo,

Emily

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Get Organized in 2015!

Now that I’m on bed rest with these babies (33 weeks tomorrow!!!!) I’ve been keeping my mind distracted from wanting to get up and “nest” everything in site by creating Free Printables for our Free Printable Library. I haven’t had the time to sit down and just play for years, so this has been so much fun! On Instagram today, I asked for suggestions for printables that you’d like – and I realized many of you didn’t know of the ones we already have! So here’s a little run down for you – including links to help you get it together in the New Year. Read all the way down and you might just find a little coupon code :)

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My Simplified Day || 2015 at a Glance || 2016 at a Glance - Visit the Free Printable Library to find and download these. Print at home and enjoy!

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Monthly Calendar || Daily Devotional || Sunday Prep Checklist - Visit the Free Printable Library to find and download these. Print at home and enjoy!

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Blog Planner || Gratitude Journal || My Go-To Meals - Visit the Free Printable Library to find and download these. Print at home and enjoy!

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Health & Fitness Tracker || Meeting Details || Kitchen Measurements - Visit the Free Printable Library to find and download these. Print at home and enjoy!

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More Meeting Details || Packing Checklist || Family New Years Meeting - Visit the Free Printable Library to find and download these. Print at home and enjoy!

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Another Packing Checklist || Passwords & Logins || Party Planning Checklist - Visit the Free Printable Library to find and download these. Print at home and enjoy!

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Prayer List || Recipe || Kids: Bedtime Routine - Visit the Free Printable Library to find and download these. Print at home and enjoy!

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Valentine: Crayons ||  Valentine: S’mores || Kids: Chore Chart - Visit the Free Printable Library to find and download these. Print at home and enjoy!

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Love Coupons: Babysitting || Afternoon Off || Coffee or Ice Cream Date || Date Night Out || Date Night In || Full House Cleaning - Visit the Free Printable Library to find and download these. Print at home and enjoy!

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The Home Base Binder can be purchased two different ways: as a KIT (with our beautiful binder!) or just the pages and dividers (called a Refill Pack) for use with your own binder. Each includes: Perpetual Calendar for remembering birthdays / anniversaries / etc every year, Emergency Info, Home & Repair page for business cards, Friends & Family page for contacts, Monthly Projects pages (12 – one for each month), Grocery Shopping / Meal Planning pages (52 – one for each week of the year), Monthly Budget / Spending pages (12 – one for each month) and a Family Bucket List. (Save 10% with code YAY2015!

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Our Simplified Notepads have bright colors and gold foil (who could ask for more) and come in eight formats: To Do, Groceries, Thank You’s to Send, Weekly Meal Calendar, Info for Babysitter, A Note from Mom, My Little Ones Day, Have a Great Day (a general notepad for leaving love notes).

Instagram got a little overwhelming with suggestions, so I thought we’d collect them here. Leave a comment with your ideas for free printables NOT mentioned above and I’ll choose a few to work on! Also, save 10% on our Home Base Binder, Refill Kit and Simplified Notepads through the end of this week with code YAY2015!

xo,

Emily

PS: Some of you mentioned wallpapers and iPhone lock screens (works for Android too) – those are all found here.

PPS: If you have questions about our Simplified Planners, you can find all the details on those here.

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Ley Babies: Pregnancy Essentials

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I got asked a lot in the beginning what my favorite pregnancy “essentials” were – and I laughed overtime. I was just trying to survive OHSS and severe morning (all day) sickness. My answers then would have been sleep, water and croissants from Starbucks to settle my queasiness (?). Ha! Now that we’re into the third trimester, there are a few things that have really helped me get to 29 weeks with twins. Since I’ve experienced a singleton pregnancy with Brady I can also vouch that any of these are great for pregnant women NOT carrying multiples also.

1) A super cute dress that makes you feel beautiful: Obviously good maternity clothes are a staple. I shop at Target, Old Navy and my friends’ closets. :) I prefer to buy inexpensive staples (leggings, jeans, tees, etc) that are really fitted and make me feel more “all belly” and less “ginormous all over.” BUT, this pregnancy it has been SO GREAT to have one really nice awesome dress that makes me feel pretty and can last my whole pregnancy. This one is from Belly Dance Maternity. It’s incredibly well made and fitted all over (with room for a GROWING bump). I wore it early in my pregnancy as I was just starting to show and continue to wear it 35 pounds and a WHOLE LOTTA belly later. I’ve worn it with flip flops, with heels, with boots – it works with anything really. So cute and so comfy. Best part is – it just makes me feel pretty… which is hard when you’re pregnant sometimes! My friends at Belly Dance Maternity told me the other day that they are closing their NYC store (their Chicago store and online shop will remain open) BUT they are offering 30-90% off everything online!! Run, go! 

2) Craving staples: With Brady I craved ketchup and clementines. No, not together – but I must have eaten a million clementines and I wanted ketchup (maybe it was the salt?) on EVERYthing. With these two, I’ve craved SOUR candy and clementines again… and crushed ice (weird, we’ve been working to bring my iron levels up though – so that may explain it). I keep a little bit of sour candy in my house (not a lot or I’d eat it ALL) to satisfy cravings. Pink Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids and Skittles. Yes, please.

3) Prenatal Massages: Ok. These are an indulgence, but I am a BIG believer in the power of massage. About a year and a half ago I went through a rough patch of anxiety and started going for regular massages. (If anyone in Tampa wants my massage therapist’s name – send me a note! I’ll happily pass it along. She’s incredible. Just don’t take my spot! Ha!) :) But they REALLY helped me. A lot. So when I started to get sore and uncomfortable carrying the twins, I started going once a month again. Now I’m up to once every two weeks because I’ve had some lower back pain but it is THE BEST. So totally worth it. I count down the days until I get to go again. All in all, treat yo’self when you’re pregnant. You’re doing a TON of work and you deserve it.

4) Comfy Shoes: I’m always amazed when I see pregnant women in heels. I gave those up long ago. Not to mention my belly is so big I think I’d fall over if I attempted it. I wear flip flops during the day (the joys of living in South Florida) or I’ll wear my Tieks. I am DYING over their new Hollywood Collection. These are rose gold. So gorgeous. They’re so comfortable and have a good supportive sole on them.

5) Mommy Measuring Tape: So, I did this with Brady and I’m SO glad I did. I used the Mommy Measure to measure and mark my belly progress throughout all nine months. It’s been so fun (and slightly hysterical) to compare this time. I’m measuring 10 weeks ahead. Ha! We’re past where my belly was at 40 weeks at this point.

6) Coconut Oil: One of the hardest pregnancy “symptoms” is the ITCH. My belly is so itchy right now I just want to scratch it with a FORK. I’ve tried EVERYthing. Coconut oil just feels the most “non-greasy” and seems to help a little bit. I used it pre-pregnancy also. I love that its natural and smells heavenly.

7) A Super Cute Cup for LOTS of Water: I’ve been mega thirsty this go-round because the babies need so much water from me. I was really excited when my amazing friend, Ashlee Proffitt launched her new mugs and tumblers including this super cute tumbler. It comes with a hot pink straw, lid and the cup. The cup doesn’t sweat, which I love. And it says “JOY comes in the morning.” Wont that be a nice reminder during those sleepless nights. Well, it already is during THESE sleepless nights. I try to drink a few of these a day to stay hydrated (which helps a bit with the itchiness). You can find Ashlee’s tumbler here.

8) Boppy Sleep Wedge: Ok. This took me a few tries to get right. I am having a horrible time sleeping because my belly is so heavy. I’ve resigned to sleeping in our recliner now BUT when I am able to sleep on my side (the entire first and second trimesters) I needed a lot of support. Typically I put two squishy pillows under my head, one firm pillow between my knees and SOMETHING under my belly to hold it up in line with my spine. I tried a Snuggle and hated it. It’s huge. I just couldn’t get comfortable and rolling around with that thing at night was like wrestling with a bear. Plus my belly is so big and the pillow is so big, it just didn’t work. A friend recommended this itty bitty wedge and I gave it a try. IT’S PERFECT! It’s not too big and not too small. It holds my belly up to be in line with my spine and takes pressure off my back. Brady calls it “Mommy’s little pillow.”

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I’ve got 9 weeks or so to go, so I’d LOVE some more of your suggestions! Honestly, a few things I didn’t include here that are DEFINITELY pregnancy essentials: good friends who can help in a pinch, a husband who will help you even when football is on, lots of sleep and heaps upon heaps of grace with yourself.

xo,

Emily

(Pic above by Laura of Captured in His Image Photography in Tampa)

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SIMPLICITY : Rachel Green

Simplicity_Rachel Green-01I am a city girl turned small town farmer’s wife. I live in Leitchfield, Kentucky (near Louisville) and I have grown to love the slow pace and close knit feeling of small town living. I am married to my best friend, Jonathan, and we are have a 8 month old baby boy named Logan. Motherhood has been one of the greatest blessings I have been able to experience, next to being a wife, and I consider myself very lucky to be living those roles daily. Just this year, I was able to quit my job and focus on running Printed Ink full time so that I could be home to take care of our son.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

Most importantly, I pray. I ask God to give me the strength I need (and sometimes patience) to get through the day and to be the best wife, mother, and business owner that I can. That prayer time puts my mind in the right place and gets me off on the right foot each day. I also try to eat healthy, drink lots of water, and get plenty of sleep. It may be the cliche answer, but it really is what works best for me.


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In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

I take care of most of the mundane tasks myself since my husband works outside of the home, and I work in the home so I can take care of our son. I am admittedly OCD about being organized, and it is essential that I have a routine in order to get it all done. My weekly routine makes it so easy because I know that there is time to get it all done and I don’t have to stress out about trying to figure out when to do something. Running a business while taking care of a baby can be tough some days, so things don’t always get done when they need to. But I try my best to take care of business things during my set office hours and chores during my set housework time and it really does make it less stressful. One thing that I try to do to help make it easier is monthly meal planning. It rarely stays the way I planned at the beginning of the month, but I at least know there is a plan for something if I need it. Things change and you have to be flexible with it, but it makes a difference knowing that there is one less decision to make each day when I have a meal already planned. It also helps with the grocery shopping too because I can stock up on things once a month and then just run for the essentials the rest of the month.

What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

With a new little one around the house now, we are starting to create traditions as a family. One of the most important things we do every week is going to church on Sunday mornings. We want to make sure our little boy is raised in church and grows to love God at an early age.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Simplicity_Green-011. Bible/Devotional:  It always brings me peace and inspiration to read the words of God. I am currently reading the Busy Mom’s Devotional by Lisa Bergren and each week, the study hits me exactly where I need it.
2. iPhone: Unfortunately, I take this thing with me everywhere – even just around the house. I mostly use it for the camera and I am always snapping photos of my sweet baby. But I also use it to keep track of my to-do list, check emails, and social media when I am away from the computer.

3. Diaper Bag: The only time I leave the house without it is when I leave the house without my son (which rarely happens). I am currently using a JJ Cole diaper bag and it has been great for us so far. It is easy to carry and can fit all of the baby essentials with tons of pockets to keep it organized (and this organization-loving mom loves that!).

4. Baby Monitor: Every time the little one naps or when he is sleeping at night, the monitor is on and next to me. I have a Summer video monitor and I absolutely love it. Logan is a good sleeper, but it is a comfort knowing I can check on him anytime I need to. And sometimes this provides entertainment because he likes to look up at the camera and smile when he wakes up!

5. Project Life App: I just started using this more and more and I love it. I love being able to instantly use all of those many photos I take of the little one and put them into scrapbook pages. It is so easy to use and makes me feel better about taking so many pictures!

6. Computer: This is how I run my business and I would have no way of doing what I do without it. I had to live without it while it was being fixed a couple of months ago and it was tough! It is hard to run and online graphic design based business when you have no computer to operate on!

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

Setting office hours for my business was the best thing I could have done this year. It makes a huge difference in my stress level and gives me more time to enjoy my little one and my husband. It allows me to fully enjoy the time I am with my family and gives me time away from my business to relax and rest my mind. Plus, most times when I come back to work the next day I feel ready to tackle my to-do list and full of inspiration. On that same note, setting a routine for yourself can help you to make more time for the things you enjoy. Especially with a little one to take care of, things can get hectic easily, so it is a lifesaver to be able to have extra time to spend with him knowing that those chores will get done later.

One other thing I am still in the process of learning each day (and probably will always need to be reminded of it) is that no matter how stressful, or sad, or crazy things get, this too shall pass. Every season of life has its ups and downs, and it is important to enjoy it while it is here. Time goes by so fast and before you know it, this season of life will be gone. Don’t get lost in the next step or planning for the future and miss out on what is in front of you now.

 

Follow along with Rachel:

Instagram: @printedinkdesigns

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler. Submit your story here.

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Simplicity : Amanda Opferman

 

Simplicity_Graphic Template-01My name is Amanda Opferman, I am 19 years of age. I have three younger sisters and a little brother who is four. I started my company, Wallflower Design Co. when I was 16 when I couldn’t find a phone case that I liked. Three years later, my business has grown and changed way more than I expected or dreamed (like your pants on thanksgiving, kinda.) I went to college for a month and dropped out to pursue growing my company. (Heck, I could go back later.)

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

My home studio is in my basement (finished for my studio space). I deliberately planned out a little ‘nook’ filled with antiques, good books and a big American flag. This is where I do my devotions – I pray for good business decisions and strength for the day. This definitely keeps me sane. I bring the walls down and just relax in this time. More recently, I have been doing nightly devotions due to chaotic mornings.

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In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

I am always so buried in my work. Since I work at home, it is tough to escape it. If my car is in the driveway, I am probably working. (I’m excited to maybe/finally get my own commercial space soon!) I try and do laundry on Sunday, my room on Monday, the studio on Wednesday and then whatever needs done the rest of the week. I am still living with my parents if you couldn’t tell already. ;) I try and get my sisters to help with whatever needs cleaned. Not a specific day of the week.

What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

Almost every night, we will all sit in the living room and talk about our days, the news and play with our dachshunds – Lucy & Rudy. Let me tell you, they are both balls of energy after dinner, which we also have together. I am so thankful that my parents make us all stick together when we could all be hurrying off to do other things.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Oh wow! This is tough. I love:

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1. My iPad: I love how I can have everything on it. Editing software for Instagram posts for @madebywallflower, books for the down time and of course, music.

2. Micron pens with sketchbook: Micron pens are my favorite medium – I have used them on almost every project I’ve created! I always carry a small sketchbook to dump my brain of design ideas and quotes to use for my current 365 project.

3. My Home-Base Binder: I love the printables. Cant wait to try out the weekly planner this year!

4. My Bible: I have learned as a small business owner that the only constant thing is God. As I take more risks and carry on day-to-day I lean into him to give me guidance on everything. 

5. Mod by This Is Ground: I love how it can carry everything I need.

6. My favorite chapstick or lipstick: I am a fan of Stila ‘Vivienne‘ shade lately along with the shimmery chapsticks from Burts Bees. I can’t decide!

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

I think that especially in this time, it is easy to lose ourselves in social media. It is so easy to put a front on for our followers. It is so much more important to post something showing your real true self than posting something for likes or attention for the moment. Let your true style show off. Be authentic!

 

Follow along with Amanda:

Instagram: @madebyamandaliz

 

 

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler. Submit your story here.

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Ley Babies: On carrying twins

leybabies Isn’t it funny how sometimes our biggest blessings are also our biggest challenges. That could be said for motherhood in general, I suppose. :) I prayed for these babies – in fact, many of you did too, for years. Carrying them inside my belly has been the biggest physical challenge I’ve ever encountered. I don’t know if its because I’m only 5’5″ and started this adventure 35 pounds lighter than I am now or if its because I had OHSS in the beginning or if its because there are TWO HUMANS in my belly, but it is so HARD.

I just wanted to post a little encouragement to anyone feeling challenged during a time of joy. This road hasn’t been easy. I know its worth it. But God is pushing me in a big way. He’s pushing me to let go of finding my identity in numbers on a scale or the way my skinny jeans fit. He’s pushing me to learn to love my body and what its MADE to do – especially as I will be a mama to a little girl soon. He’s pushing me to think beyond myself again – beyond my own sleep needs, beyond my own comforts and beyond my own wants. He’s pushing me to be grateful in the messiness that life is right now. He’s pushing me to share this part of my story even though its embarrassing to say how badly I want my old body back. He’s pushing me to embrace the changes coming for our family and help my soon-to-be oldest child learn how to ebb and flow with life’s curveballs.

Brady’s best friend will be moving away, he’ll be gaining two younger siblings and he’ll be moving into a new house – all in a six month span. That’s a lot for a little guy. But God hasn’t lost the “big changes” on me. He’s simply preparing my heart to be sympathetic to Brady’s. I’m grateful that He’s given me this insight and allowed me to understand why this pregnancy has been difficult. Though Brady’s pregnancy was much different, He worked a great deal in my heart to prepare me to become a Mama then too.

I can’t believe we have eight weeks left. I’m sitting in the recliner I’ve lived in for the past few months in my living room feeling little hands and feet (Caroline is on top – transverse – and Tyler is on the bottom – transverse) graze and sometimes bump the inside of my belly over and over. Becoming a mama is beautiful and hard and messy and the greatest thing ever. Ever.

xo,

Emily

Pics above by Gina Zeidler

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Simplicity: Emily Thomas

Simplicity_Thomas-01Hi friends! My name is Emily Thomas and I live in the Triangle of North Carolina. I am the very lucky lady who gets to be the Creative Director at Southern Weddings magazine (going on five years now). I also have a personal blog where I write about everything I find marvelous (including but not limited to personal finance, house projects, weddings, donuts, and living an adventurous life). My husband and I are high school sweethearts; he is my absolute best friend and the love of my life and I could not be more grateful that our good God brought us together. I love traveling, growing things, browsing at flea markets, generosity, hiking, going to outdoor movies, and spending time in my native New England.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

Our family of two has recently undergone some lifestyle modifications, including eating more cleanly and being more intentional about exercise. Setting up a schedule has worked well for us over the last few months, so now we play tennis on Tuesdays, ride our bikes on Thursdays, and run trails on Sundays. The two best things I do for my mental head space are take walks with John (great time for uninterrupted conversation) and sit on our front porch rockers eating cherries late at night (also good for conversation – and yes, I understand that makes us sound like we are 80. We embrace it.).

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In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

I actually wrote an entire post about how we meal plan and how it fits into my Home Base Binder, but the short version is that John and I choose meals and shop together. He does the cooking while I sit at the bar and respond to email or write blog posts (which frees me up to spend more quality time together later in the evening). I am always on dish duty!

What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

This is kind of a funny one, but no matter what happened during the day or how I’m feeling toward John at the moment, every night, right before going to sleep, I always say to him, “I love you” and then, “You’re my best friend.” The reminder never hurts.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

I have been brainstorming my “pick six” since you started this series!! First, though, it has to be said: God is my rock and my redeemer, and I could do nothing without him. It also has to be said that John is my other rock and my trustworthy friend, and I could do little without him. Now, on to the goodies!
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1. Doodle: My friends are the best, but they’re also ridiculously busy. There’s no “just putting a date on the calendar” with these people. If I’m trying to plan something with more than one couple, I send out a quick Doodle poll to gauge availability, which saves tons of back and forth emails.

2. My phone’s Notes app: This incredibly simple and incredibly handy app helps me seem more together than I am and be a more thoughtful person than I would be otherwise. I keep so many lists on here, including gift ideas for my husband, restaurants I want to try, books I want to read, things I’m looking for at the flea market, measurements of crucial areas in my house, and the food preferences of my friends and family members (which makes buying treats for them easier!).

3. EBates: Good golly, if you shop online, you MUST sign up for eBates!! It’s a simple way to earn cash back on most purchases, and though it sounds too good to be true, it’s the real deal – we’ve gotten over $750 back in about two years. Yes.

4. Sermons: For my Etsy shop, I spend a lot of time with my hands busy and my mind wandering. To put that time to good use, I listen to sermons while I work. My favorites are from Church of the Resurrection and Church of the City . There’s no way I’d be able to keep my head on straight if I didn’t intentionally fill it with the good news day after day.

5. Bare Minerals Ready Foundation: I am not much of a makeup person, but I do make an attempt. This powder foundation takes about two seconds to apply, is foolproof, and provides light but even coverage. Jackpot!

6. Frozen cookie dough: I’m one of those people that needs just a little something sweet after dinner. To avoid indulging beyond that, I’ll make a batch of cookie dough, roll it into balls, and freeze it – then voila! After dinner, I pop two onto a cookie sheet and they’re ready in minutes. The Immaculate refrigerated dough is also great in a pinch.

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

I suppose I could also add that personal finance is something near and dear to my heart. If it’s something you struggle with or that you feel like you’re not interested in, I’d encourage you to check out my Marvelous Money series . I’d also love to hear if anyone has a personal finance topic they’d like for me to tackle in a future post!

 

Follow along with Emily:

Blog: http://www.emformarvelous.com

Instagram: @emilyayerthomas

 

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler. Submit your story here.

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GIVEAWAY & GIFT IDEAS!

EmilyLey_MudPie_HolidayGiftGuide_2014-01 I’ve spent the last few weeks going through Brady’s old clothes getting ready for Tyler to wear them. With every sweet monogrammed onesie or special holiday outfit I unpack I have to take at least a few minutes and hug it and hold it and stare at it. Bryan thinks I’m hysterical. But they are each so sentimental! I’m so excited to have little ones at home again to dress and spoil. A lot of my friends are also having second children (or second AND third, if you’re us) so its been so much fun shopping for their little ones as well. I’m so excited to partner with Mud Pie to share some of my favorite holiday gift ideas for mamas of little ones (along with a few other things down the road!) Brady wears a lot of mud pie clothes (their Christmas jimmies are super cute!) so I was tickled pink when they reached out to me. AND, they’re so generously giving one reader a $200 credit to purchase your favorites as well!

1. CROCHET REINDEER BOOTIES | $19.50 – I mean. Stop it. These and the Santa ones? You better believe C and T will be sporting these next Christmas. They are so cute!!

2. CROCHET SANTA BOOTIES | $19.50 – Again. Ridiculous. So cute. And so well made. My littles will be wearing these in 2015.

3. CHUNKY FOOTBALL KNIT HAT | $18 – Seriously, I love a baby in a hat. My husband is a huge (!!!) football fan, so I had to get this. Can you imagine Tyler’s little head in that thing!? I can’t even handle it.

4. RED JUMBOW HAT | $15 - I can’t even tell you how excited I am to have BOWS in my house. ME!? BOWS!? You know what they say… “the bigger the bow, the better the mama.” Just saying’. ;)

5. GOLD GLITTER BOW CLIPS SET | $15 – Brady didn’t have any hair until he was two. Seriously. So hopefully sweet Caroline will be born with a little more :) BUT, if not – these can wait. They’re dainty and sweet – the perfect size – and come on alligator clips.

6 + 7. LIL GULP BOTTLE CARRIER | $22.50 - I love the preppy patterns and gold details on these bottle carriers. They come in pink, navy and grey. They’ll keep bottles cold for four hours and are wipeable inside. Super cute!! (And they have personalized diaper bags to match!)

Without further ado… here is the Mud Pie giveaway! Follow along with Mud Pie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

xo, Emily

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Christmas Traditions

I absolutely can’t believe Christmas is upon us. Yes, I’m one of those people that *loves* Thanksgiving, but prefers a red and green Thanksgiving :) As December sneaks up on us, I’ve started gathering a few ideas to share about our Christmas traditions. And this year, in particular, will be a special one for us. Not only is it our last Christmas as a family of three – it’s also going to be a little different than years past. Typically we spend Christmas with my family in Pensacola – LOTS of traditions there. It’s the same every year and I love it so much. This year, I’ll be a billion weeks pregnant at Christmas-time and unable to make the trip. We’ll be having our own little Christmas at home and creating our own Christmas traditions (while incorporating our favorites from back home). Don’t worry, we’ll have our “family” Christmas when my parents come to visit after the holiday. ChristmasTraditions-01   I adore this Christmas tradition. We started it when Brady was just a baby, but he LOVES his two elves (Yes, he has two – one visits him at his house and the other visits him at Nana’s house in Pensacola). Scooter and Chippy report to Santa on his good choices every evening and show up in a new place when Brady wakes. I didn’t realize it, but Elf on a Shelf also makes some REALLY cute products outside of just the Elf and his book. They even have a Birthday Tradition that we’ll be doing with Brady in February (to help make that CRAZY month a little more special / that’s when the twins are due). Elf on a Shelf is a super fun thing to do with your kids – but more than anything, I just love the heart of this company. It was created by a mama for her girls and has spread around the world as a tradition millions of families incorporate into their holidays. Read their whole story – “From Family Tradition to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” here on Fast Company. ChristmasTraditions-02 This is near and dear to my heart. Last year, we hosted this fundraiser for the Cystinosis Research Foundation. My sweet friend, Christi, has a precious little boy affected by this disease. You can read their entire story here. Last year all of you came together to purchase our downloadable RAK Advent Calendar (something Christi does with her family) and helped us raise $10,000 for the foundation. Incredible. We’re so excited to host this fundraiser again this year. Purchase your RAK Advent Calendar (including 25 cards with random acts of kindness on them + “you’ve been RAK’d” cards) here for $20 – your gift will go to the CRF to support kiddos like little Braden. Simply print on your home printer, cut out and viola! You’re ready to go! Brady and I had the best time doing these last year. Our most memorable RAK was when we visited the veterinarian / oncologist who took care of our sweet Bull Mastiff, Briggs, during his chemotherapy for lymphoma before we lost him last summer. We took them doughnuts and Brady still remembers it and talks about how we did that every time we pass by their office (middle pic above). PURCHASE YOURS HERE.

adventTell me about your family’s Christmas traditions! I’m excited to create our own this year but also a little sad this year will be “different.” Creating new memories with Bryan and Brady will be so special before the twins arrive, though. And… don’t forget to swing over to our shop and help support our Random Acts of Kindness fundraiser.

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