Update From Us Mountaineers


I'm writing this update from a coffee shop in historic downtown Charles Town. It's quaint and charming; not so different from the historic districts back home. But as people walk in to grab their morning fix, they catch up with people they know- which is everyone. Everyone knows everyone here.

I'm riding solo for most of the day today. It's Michael's first day at his new job and Ry started back at school. I got lost on the way to drop him off this morning. His new school has it's own garden and is surrounded by nature trails for the kids. The schools here are good, which is a relief. We'd worked so hard this past year to get Ry set up in a good school in Jacksonville and get him back on track, and I feared moving would undo all that hard work. I felt anxious walking him to the front office this morning. I worry if he'll make new friends and if he'll enjoy his new school as much as the last. I hope the kids are kind to him during this big transition. 

The weather is beautiful here, though the next few days it will reach the eighties. I believe we may have brought the Florida weather with us. The days are warm but the evenings are cool. My poor cactus has become a little limp from the night chill, and I think I may have to bring it indoors. Lesson learned. Our neighborhood is beautiful. It overlooks the mountains and wide corn fields. There are kids everywhere riding bikes and playing manhunt. Ry walks with me in the evening around our streets, embarrassed when I try to introduce him to the neighborhood kids. They're friendly though and ask if he can play. They leer at Kona with amazement. "She is the biggest dog they've ever seen." 

The cable company has scheduled three imaginary technicians to come set up my cable and internet (you know which company I'm talking about.) No show, after no show. Which is exactly why I'm sitting in this coffee shop. We've been watching the same several DVDs on repeat the last several days. No technology for us. I'm beginning to get a little stir crazy, but I also can't complain too much. My family has been stuck without power for a day now, back in Florida after Irma's pass through. So, at least I have running water to flush my toilets, and cold food in my fridge. 

I'm adjusting. Yesterday I felt a bit melancholy. I miss my friends, my family, and all the relationships I've built back in Jacksonville over the years. But, today's a new day. I think I'll fill my days visiting new places, hitting a few trails, and fitting my house with the many antiques that fill the shops in the area; take a few days off and just connect with this little town. Who knows what joy it could bring me. 


Another Summer Bites the Dust

Another summer has come and gone in our crazy home. After a week of non-stop back-to-school preparation, I woke early this morning to pack Ry's lunch. We got him dressed, fed, photographed him against his will (can't you tell by his smart-ass grin), and we were out the door. I sat teary-eyed in the carpool line to drop him off on his first day of school.  I felt so proud of his bravery and excitement for the new year despite being at a totally new school, where he essentially knew no one but his teacher.  And I felt sentimental as I reflected on how much he's grown and changed since his first year of primary school. I didn't even birth him and apparently, I'm that 'mom!'

His face reddened; full of embarrassment as we yelled out the window, "I love you! Have a great day!" And he was off.

I laughed aloud to myself during my drive home, remembering the very first time I took him to school. It was just weeks into his start of kindergarten and he bawled the whole ride, screaming, "I wanted my dad to take me!" Nothing breaks you into step-parenthood quite like a tantrum directed at you! Ha! But this morning he sang a different tune, as he instructed dad matter-of-factly, "No, Courtney always makes me oatmeal on school mornings." 

Summer ended more abruptly than I anticipated, and I couldn't help but feel guilty that we hadn't done more. The time seems to pass so quickly and by the time I get grounded- it's time for the next chapter. How on earth has two-thirds of 2017 come to pass?!  

The beginning of this new school year marks a whole lot of new changes, occurring now and still to come. I'm proud of Ry for being so immensely resilient, and I'm so happy he still holds such excitement for learning. I hope that never changes.

Now that I'm done being sappy, I'm off to celebrate my kid-free home (Hallelujah!)

Cheers to the 2017-2018 school year!

xoxo, Courtney.png




Preparing for Baby, Before Baby: How We're Pre-Pregnancy Planning

When I think about our family and our life together, all I can think about is the little girl in that AT&T Commercial chanting, "We want more, we want more!" The cat's out of the bag, we want a baby! We want to grow our family, and give Riley the sibling he's been requesting for like two years now. Insert nervous sweat emoji. But we're trying to get our ducks in a row before we do so. 

There's a lot that changes when you have kids. Michael knows even better than I do, but I've quickly adapted to the realities of parenting and all the ways that life becomes different. I want to be completely prepared before we take the next big plunge, so we're doing a few little things to help pave the way:

We're Budgeting... 

Insert huffing and puffing emoji. I'm like the world's worst at this and Michael can attest, but we don't have much of a choice. My shopping is slowly coming to a halt, the Starbucks trips are fewer and further in between, and we're eating in a whole lot more! Babies cost money and so do the many other things approaching in our lives such as career changes and moving dates. We sat down together, committed to a number we're setting aside every month, and shelling it away safely. The future us' will be happy.

We're Decluttering...

I'm like especially embarrassed to say that our third bedroom which started out as our home office- has now become more like the 'catch all crap' room. I can't stand clutter for many reasons, but the number one being it gives me serious anxiety.

.... So I may have a bit of a shoving problem. Out of sight out of mind, right? Not exactly. The thing that scares me the most about our upcoming family expansion is the amount of crap that's about to be added to the piles of crap we already have. So we're getting rid of it all. We're one step at a time, going through everything and if it isn't a priority want or need- its gone. We're also coming up with some better organization systems throughout the house to make it easier for us to avoid clutter. My mom always said, "Everything needs to have a place." Challenge accepted.

I'm Taking Better Care of my Body...

I've been a little too lackadaisical when it comes to my workout routine and just my overall fitness. While most times I do my best to eat as healthy as possible, there's a lot more I could be doing to make sure that my body is in it's healthiest possible state before having a baby. I want to be sure that I not only protect my body and baby from any risks that are associated with weight gain, poor health, and eating irresponsibly during pregnancy- but also that I don't make it even more difficult for myself to shed weight post-baby. I'm getting back on the bandwagon and making an attempt to be more careful about what foods I'm eating, I'm working out more frequently, and I'm supplementing with the vitamins my body needs (like folic acid!)

And Mind...

Making sure my mental health is better than ever is equally as important to me as making sure I'm physically fit. As someone who suffer's from depression, I'm far more likely to develop harsher symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum. By developing and keeping myself on a steady routine I can continue throughout pregnancy and beyond, I'll have a much better chance at a happy & healthy life. 

We're Talking...

Like A LOT. We're covering all the hardest baby topics, checking, and double checking that we're on the same page. Are we vaccinating? Co-Sleeping? How will we share parenting duties? If we have a boy, will we circumcise? How will we discipline? There's so many things to discuss and so many changes that will be coming our way. If we tackle the hard questions prior to baby, there will be no surprises and we'll be a stronger parenting duo.

I'm Giving Myself Some Me-Time...

I'm spending some serious time by myself, doing the things I want to do, when I want to do them. It's sometimes hard to get away, but one of the benefits of blended family and Ry spending a quarter of the time with his mom, is that we do get a bit more time to ourselves than the average parent. And I'm taking advantage of it! I'm reading more, learning new recipes, bettering myself, and just spending some good ole quality time with my number one BFF- me! Soon enough it will be hard to come by, so I'm taking advantage of the time while I have it!

We're Working on Us...

We're making sure our relationship is the biggest priority right now. I'm a firm believer that a strong relationship acts as an anchor for the family. We're spending more time together, doing the things together we know we won't be able to once another child is in the picture, and working on our relationship. We want to always model for our children what a happy and healthy relationship looks like, and we know that there's no better time than now to triple check our foundation.


Making all of these changes and working on ourselves will only benefit our family through our next life change! Things are going to be seriously different soon, and we seriously couldn't be more happy. But we've got some things to do! I'm so excited for all that's to come and I can't wait to share our next journey with you. I'd love to hear what you're doing/ have done to prepare for pregnancy! I love hearing from you! Drop a comment in the box below!




25 Confidence Boosting Affirmations For Your Child

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I read a quote last week from the late Haim Ginott.  He was a renowned child psychologist, author, psychotherapist, and parent educator. He said, “Children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression.” His words seemed to perforate my soul, as my immediate thought’s went to Riley. And it made me wonder, how much of our energy is reflected by our sons and daughters? How much of our negativity is absorbed? How do we break down the walls that we build up unintentionally? Walls that are built with the objective to enforce boundaries, respect, and instill discipline- but may inadvertently act as blockades preventing our love and positive intentions from shining through. How does one become a positive parent?

I often find myself guilty of focusing too much on shaping Riley into the person he’s to become one day. I worry so much about where he’s at intellectually, socially, and behaviorally, and I forget to focus on his self-esteem and what he needs from me emotionally. Sometimes I hear him say things like, “I’m not good at this” or “I just can’t do it.” And that breaks my heart! It’s phrases like these that make me realize that as parents, we have such a  great influence on not only our child’s success, but also the way they feel about themselves.

So let’s influence it correctly!

The truth is, we as parents mold our children’s self esteem. Kids who know that their parents believe in them are more likely to believe in themselves too. And kids who believe in themselves, are kids who succeed. Don’t our kids deserve that? To feel our love and support around them and then in turn have the ability to reflect that onto themselves as well? It starts with us. It start’s with words of encouragement and high fives. It starts with smiles, loud cheers, and compliments. As adults, we have the ability to self-motivate and self-encourage. But children don’t have those abilities until they are taught and modeled.

I want to put more of an emphasis on building Riley up, promoting positivity, and empowering him, so I’ve compiled a list of twenty-five positive affirmations . These affirmations are wide in variety and can be used in a multitude of situations. It’s my goal to start incorporating these affirmations into our everyday life, in hopes of really making a difference in the kind of ‘impressions’ being made by our little ‘wet cement.’ After all, studies show that the warmth, proactive teaching, inductive discipline, and positive involvement reflected in supportive parenting techniques, drastically mitigates the chances of family adversity later on.  And I more than anything want to raise our children to be happy, self-aware, and confident human beings.



























You can give them a try too! Let me know how you notice the effects in the comments below! Here’s to positive parenting!


Five Reasons to Date the Dad

I met my fair share of men while dating. I met good men, and bad men, and every kind of man in between. I spent a long time looking for love in the wrong places. Hell I spent too much time looking for love period. It’s true what they say though. When you stop looking, that’s when it will find you. And man was it unexpected.

You see, I’d made it pretty clear to myself what I was looking for in a relationship. I set expectations early on. I didn’t have any desire to fool around or waste my time on anyone who wasn’t serious. But no one I met could seem to get it together. And then Michael came around.

It wasn’t all at once that I fell for him like you sometimes hear about. I fell in love with him a little at a time. We met and I was charmed. He was handsome and had the most genuine kindness about him. He was incredibly intelligent. He enriched and challenged me with his bright conversation. He had short term goals and long term dreams. He was something else. But…he had a child.

I never set out dating with a specific ban on dating anyone with children, (although I know people who do) I just kind of avoided it inadvertently. It’s not that I was some kind of child-hater, because I wasn’t. But at such a young age I wasn’t sure if I was ready to fill that kind of role in someones life. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the potential responsibility. There I was, faced with a decision I couldn’t avoid. Turns out it was the best decision I could have made.

Once I let my fear of the unknown fizzle out and got used to some of the big life changes associated with being with someone who is a parent, I realized that being with a dad is actually kind of rad! So if you’re on the fence about giving that guy with kids a chance, here’s a few things I love the most about dating a dad:

1 He’s a nurturer. He’s taking care of a tiny human. Dad’s do it all. They calm the tears, heal the boo-boos, and teach. The reason I was so torn about being with someone turned out to be the very same reason I sealed the deal. There’s nothing quite like seeing the love a man has for his child (And hello, its pretty hot too!)

2. He’s got his priorities in check. He now knows that the world doesn’t revolve around him. He’s got more important things to do than be out with the boys every single night. He has someone to take care of. He’ll make this clear to you too. He doesn’t want to mess around. He has an example to set in his child’s life and he also wants someone who can do the same.

3. He knows what he wants. The guessing games are over. Most men who have children don’t have time for the games. And while he probably isn’t looking to jump into anything too quickly for the sake of his children, the commitment fear isn’t there. Chances are you probably don’t have to worry about whether or not he’s looking for something serious.

4. You know what you’re getting. One of the things I love the most about being with Michael is that I know without a doubt in my mind that he is a good father. And I know that he will continue to be a good father to any children we may have in the future. That’s something that most people can’t know for sure until they’re already there.

5. Your relationship with him will add value to your life. This is the biggest thing by far. Being with a man with children will put some things into perspective for you-especially if you don’t have any children of your own. My relationship with Michael has changed my life in all of the best kinds of ways. It’s shown me that I am not the center of the universe. It’s shown me that there’s more important things in life than what you have or what you’re doing on a Friday night. Above all its shown me what it means to really love. I didn’t just fall in love with Michael. I fell in love with his son too. There’s been no time in my life where I’ve learned more than I’m learning right now.

Now don’t get me wrong, dating a father is not without it’s challenges. There’s ex’s and last minute visitation changes. We can’t run off on last minute weekend trips or decide that we DO want to want to go out to join our friends at ten o’clock on a Saturday night. But I realized quickly that all of the things I thought would bother me about being in a relationship with someone with a child, became the exact things that solidified the meaning of my relationship. Suddenly all of the superficial was gone and I was left with a relationship with true meaning.

So don’t be so quick to dismiss the dad! You might be missing out on the possibility for a pretty meaningful relationship, and a pretty incredible man. Not all men are great fathers, but many fathers are great men.

I had the privilege of falling in love with a father. What’s your story?