Instagram Killed The Blog Super Star

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Hellooooo? Anybody out there?  Have you missed me?  I took an unplanned blogging/social media hiatus because I was feeling overwhelmed with life. We had 2 ER visits, a 911 call, full body hives, raging fevers, and a nasty virus that has taken down each member of our household.  It’s not how I would’ve imagined we’d be spending our 5 year anniversary…but this is real life. Even before all the sickness,   I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog…and why I blog, and blogging in general.  So much has changed over the last 5 years.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging consistently for over 5 years.  For me, blogging has always been a fun, creative outlet–I’ve developed really awesome friendships via the blogging community and have had some awesome opportunities come my way and have made a little extra cash too. Most importantly I’ve been able to document some of the most precious memories of my life which I look back on often.

But my motivation is waning…I’m knee deep in diapers, growth spurts, tantrums, and entirely too sleep deprived. For the first time in 5 years I’m kinda over blogging…so much of blogging for me is documenting, and now with Instagram, I can document with photos and write a snippet about that photo and not have to spend an extra hour editing photos, resizing them, making sure my grammar is correct and wondering if anyone is going to even read it. Plus I get instant gratification of likes and comments; blog commenting has declined dramatically over the years even though my readership is significantly higher than it was when I started.  Not that comments are what it’s all about…but it’s validating knowing that the time and effort you put into your post is reaching someone.

I’ve seen lots of bloggers come and go over the years.  I’m not sure how I feel about it anymore…Initially when I started blogging it was kind of an online journal; I think I want to head back in that direction. If I wax poetic about mommyhood I want it to be because I don’t want to forget the little things about my precious family as we grow.  I believe I’ll be blogging more sporadically these days.  I’ve enjoyed spending more “offline” time with my family and not looking at every single thing I do as a possible blog topic.  And my husband has enjoyed being able to eat a meal without me taking 700 pictures of it first.

At least that’s where I’m at today with this whole blogging thing.  Thoughts?

Pippa Grace :: 6 Months Old

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

6 months old6 months oldI’m a couple weeks behind on an update, but I didn’t want to miss documenting how much this sweet little girl has grown and developed!  I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to leave her with her grandparents very much when they were visiting us in San Diego, but her anxiety issues have calmed down quite a bit.  I’m so thrilled because now I can finally leave her with a sitter without her screaming bloody murder for 2 straight hours!  Hooray!

We ventured into solids this month; so far she likes avocado, bananas and mum mums. I’m looking forward to her eating more food as I’m hoping it will help her sleep a bit better at night.  She still wakes up every couple of hours…I’m surprisingly used to it but I cannot wait to get a full night’s sleep.

She also sits up now!  I love the stage when babies can sit but can’t quite crawl yet…I’m hoping she doesn’t crawl for awhile because the moment she does is the moment I have to start regularly cleaning my floors.  When she’s sitting she loves grabbing her toys and slamming them into the ground.  Little board books are her favorite toys to play with.

It’s hard to believe 6 months has come and gone so quickly.  Reading through Parker’s 6 month update makes me realize how similar these girls are! (Minus the sleeping through the night and cuddliness).

Kidsme Welcome Baby Gift Set :: Review

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Kidsme Welcome BabyIt’s hard to believe that Pippa is eating solids now.  For the past month she’s been eyeing my food intensely and has attempted grabbing at it, but I wanted to wait until she was at least 6 months old before starting solids.  I’m not a fan of pureed baby food or starting with rice cereal…I used the Kidsme Feeder 2 years ago to transition right into Baby Led Weaning.  When we were on vacation in San Diego we decided it was time for Pippa to try food! We successfully transitioned Parker to solids using the Kidsme Feeder, so it was a no brainer that we would use it again for Pippa.  (I seriously LOVE this product and highly recommend it!).

kidsme welcome baby gift setkidsme welcome baby gift setI was excited to try out the Kidsme Welcome Baby Gift Set; it comes with a few items that grow along with your baby. I was sent this to try out when Pippa was just a few months old and we still use all of the items daily.  The Kidsme Feeder has been stuffed with banana, avocado, and squash so far. It’s so fun to have Pippa sit with us at dinner time and eating along side us…baby girl loves to eat.  kidsme welcome baby gift set

This is a picture from when Pippa was about 4 months old…she loves chewing on her Moo Moo Soother! The best part is that it comes with a lid so you can freeze liquids and use it as a cold teether too…I plan on doing that this summer! kidsme welcome baby gift setThe bath toys aren’t enjoyed yet by Pippa, but Parker absolutely loves them.  Sheepie is her favorite and they are her most played with toys during bath time.  I love how this gift set grows with your child (or can be used by both if you have them close in age).

You can purchase all of the items individually, or packaged together in the set which makes a fantastic baby shower gift.  I love innovative baby products…what are some of your favorite baby items?

Vacation Part 3

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

san diego vacationsan diego vacation san diego vacation
san diego vacationOur San Diego vacation was pretty much perfect.  It was exactly what our family needed at just the right time.  Our final week was spent pretty much like the first two weeks with the exception of making a quick trip to Coronado Island and the Birch Aquarium.  It was kind of strange to be back “home” and have my friends stop by for coffee during the week.  There was a kind of closure that happened in my heart also…ever since leaving San Diego I’ve felt a longing to go back…but there was a deep conviction from the Lord that Tacoma is where we’re supposed to be…at least for now.  Both my husband and I felt it and we were both shocked by it as I’ve been rallying to move to San Diego ever since we got married.  Although I desperately  miss the sun, some of my closest girlfriends, and the laid back lifestyle, it feels right to be back in Tacoma…to be back home.

Read part 1 and 2 here.


Vacation Part 2

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

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If it’s possible, week 2 of vacation has been even more fun than week 1.  The weather has been unbelievable for January–hitting 80 a couple of days!  My inlaws were here a couple of days out of the week and we decided to try and take some family pics with my tripod and remote.  We took a zillion and got a couple of decent ones…it’s hard to not to get shadows on your face because the sun is always out!!  san diego vacation san diego vacationsan diego vacationsan diego vacation

We’ve spent a ton of time at the beach and the bay, have gone on walks almost daily with the girls, have had a couple of dates, and I’ve gotten to hang out with a bunch of my old girlfriends who still live in the area (which has been such a treat)!  san diego vacation san diego vacationI love that San Diego has year round farmers markets…and they are huge.  Parker wasn’t as into the market as her mama…fortunately there was an amazing park down the street from the market and that helped her burn off extra energy.  san diego vacationsan diego vacationsan diego vacationsan diego vacationA lot of vacationing with a toddler is keeping them busy.  What I’m really loving is that Parker can run around all day because it’s beautiful outside and the sand keeps this child occupied for hours. And there are parks within walking distance when she wants a change of pace.  
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(This child has a thing about her hair.  She REFUSES to let me pull it out of her face).san diego vacation san diego vacation

And sweet Pippa turned 6 months old while on vacation. She’s enjoying getting her tan on.
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It’s been such a treat to watch the sun set on the water every night.  The sun, warmth, views, friends, family…all of it has been so good for my soul.

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Blogging?  What’s that again?  I cannot tell you how fabulous it has been to truly get away from real life and enjoy lounging around with the family.  The great thing about vacationing in an area that you lived (I literally lived blocks from the vacation home we’re renting in San Diego) is you don’t feel like you’re missing out on exploring and doing all the things.  Andy and I figured out early in our relationship that we are what we call “loungers.”  We don’t feel the need to do and see everything…we just like to hang out in warm, sunny places.  Plus vacationing with kids is really all about keeping the kids entertained and tiring them out…much less about us.

My sister in law happens to live in LA so she’s been able to come down quite a bit to hang out with us, and my mother and father in law drove down to spend some time with us too…so we’ve been able to get away on a couple of dates which has been awesome.

I’ve taken a gazillion pictures…so I’ll space those out in a few different posts.  Here are a few from our first week in San Diego.  family vacationfamily vacation

Road Tripping With Kids

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

My husband and I went back and forth about whether to fly or drive to San Diego for vacation.  Because my husband can do a lot of his job remotely, and our 5 year anniversary is coming up, and the winters in the Pacific Northwest are pretty depressing, we planned on a nice, long, 3 week vacation.  Nobody in their right mind would want to road trip 20+ hours with a 2 year old and a 5 month old…but at the same time, if we flew we’d have to buy or rent all the kid crap that you need with a 2 year old and a 5 month old. And we’d need to rent a car…Plus you might as well be packing for a year long vacation…because 3 weeks in the middle of a San Diego January means you need to pack for 2 seasons.  San Diego can sometimes surprise you with cold weather.

Once we knew we were going to drive, we debated on the best time to leave.  After much back and forth, we decided to set our alarm to 5am, eat some breakfast and transfer sleepy girls from their beds to their car seats and pray they would continue to slumber for at least another hour or so.  Andy and I woke up excited, almost giddy.  Obviously we must have had some romantic notion of how the days would play out. Our plan failed before it began. We imagined Andy picking up Parker from her crib with her head slumped over Andy’s shoulder and zonking out once we buckled her up in the car seat.  Instead Andy opened Parker’s bedroom door and Parker literally jumped from bed exclaiming “I’m AWAKE!!!” Her enthusiasm roused her little sister enough that when we pulled out of the driveway at 5:45 am we had two very awake children in the back seat.  Road Tripping with KidsPippa fell back asleep fortunately, but we had a very antsy toddler.  We waited for Pippa to wake up before we stopped at our first rest stop and let Parker run around to “get the wiggles out.”  Surprisingly, we had a fairly decent first day on the road and were actually making really good time.  We were looking for hotels on the Hotel Tonight App (use my invite code: ATAYLOR268 for $25 off your first booking) and also looking through options via the Airbnb App.  Fortunately we found a perfect place on Airbnb and ended the day in Redding around 5:30 pm.  Road Tripping with Kids

We were pretty impressed with how the first day went, so we were hoping day two would be similar to day one.  On day 2 we made a little detour to Fairfax California to visit Andy’s grandmother.  We are both very lucky that these girls have now met both of their great grandmothers.  It was such a treat to spend the afternoon with Grandma Simpson and have her meet Pippa for the first time and Parker for the second.  Road Tripping with kids

We didn’t know how far we would get on day two….the afternoon in the car with the girls was proving to be very challenging.  Tantrums, tears, and screaming.  We couldn’t find any last minute Airbnb options and the hotel options were slim pickings.  So we continued to drive and by about 6:30 PM my head was between my knees from pure mental exhaustion of dealing with the kids.  We just happened to pass a shopping plaza with some kid friendly restaurants and there happened to be a really nice looking hotel next to the plaza.  I googled the hotel, it had great reviews, and was reasonably priced.  AND it happened to have a jetted jacuzzi tub…just what these exhausted parents needed to wind down from a long day.  (Plus it was great toddler entertainment). Road Tripping with kidsWe only had about a 6 hour drive left so the next morning we took our time and prayed for a less dramatic drive.  It went pretty well…Parker actually had a decent car nap (which didn’t happen the two prior days).

Road Tripping with kidsWe pulled into our destination just in time to watch the sunset just a few steps from the beach bungalow we rented through Airbnb.  We were so excited to finally be able to get out of the dang car and put our toes in the sand. Ahhhh…vacation!Road Tripping with kids

Easy Whole30 :: Simple Tips + Recipes

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Easy Whole30 RecipesWe finished the Whole30! (See our before and after results here).  I’ve gotten so many questions about what we ate so I thought I’d share how I managed awesome meals with minimal effort.  Meal prepping is not my jam.  I’ve got a 5 month old and a 2 year old, so trying to find a two hour window to chop and prep is simply impossible.  The way I survived the Whole30 while also having unique and delicious meals was cooking a large amount of a protein every few days and making different meals from that protein.  I would chop veggies just before cooking, and I would microwave chopped potatoes and broil them in the oven if I was running short on time or if I simply forgot to stick them in the oven an hour before we were supposed to eat.

I actually really started to enjoy cooking again while on the whole30; I was inspired to get creative and surprisingly everything tasted amazing…like really amazing; it was some of the tastiest food I’ve ever prepared!

Everyone keeps asking about recipes, but I didn’t follow too many recipes on the Whole30.  I mostly made large portions of meat and created different meals with them by adding different veggies and/or potatoes as sides, putting it over a salad, or tossing into lettuce leaves or eggs…the possibilities are endless. These meats below create various combinations of meals:

whole30 recipesThe pictures above show you multiple ways I used shredded protein…interchange chicken, pork or beef.

  • Breakfast Sausage Compliant bacon is tough to find, and complaint breakfast sausage is pretty impossible.  But breakfast sausage patties are SO easy to make. Just find ground pork in your meat section (only ingredients should be pork and salt) and add any variations of the spices in this recipe. (They don’t have to be fresh).
  • Another super easy protein to make is ground beef/turkey/pork with taco seasoning (use about 3 Tbsp of this recipe per pound of ground meat and adjust spices to taste), and use it just like you would with a any shredded protein.
  • If you have a grill, throw some spices on chicken, pork chops, steaks, or burgers and you have a super tasty protein made in minutes.

There are pre-packaged items like compliant turkey burgers, chicken burgers and sausages that are great when you have zero time to prep…but I found they really lacked a lot flavor.  Sometimes though, we just have those days when life is crazy and you just gotta pan fry a chicken burger and call it a day.

These recipes were really tasty and help change up the ‘shredded meat’ menu a bit.

Chocolate Chiliwhole30 chocolate chili

‘Spaghetti’ and meatballs whole30 spaghetti and meatballs

Butter Chicken (I just omitted the flour from this recipe and placed over cauliflower rice)whole30 butter chicken

Seafood Boil My husband is known among friends for his famous seafood boils.  This recipe is not compliant, but it’s super easy to make it compliant.  Obviously leave out the french bread, use compliant chicken stock, skip the sausage, and use ghee instead of butter.  This is such a fun meal to eat with friends! seafood boil

Thai Chicken Soup This recipe does require some extra prep time…but it’s really tasty!  If you make it I suggest adding an extra squeeze of lemon or lime just before serving.

For condiments I used compliant mustard and made my own mayo. (I used mayo to make chicken salad and tuna salad). I also made my own horseradish sauce by grating horseradish root and adding a splash of white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt (we used horseradish to go with the roast we made for Christmas and had a ton of tasty leftovers).  And this is an easy recipe for cocktail sauce if you’re craving shrimp. I bought a couple of bottles of Tessemae’s salad dressing and it was good, but it’s also really easy to mix up balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dressing, plus it’s a lot cheaper.  Hot sauce is another condiment I use daily, fortunately there are compliant ones out there; you can see 3 of my favorites  here, along with some of my other staples.

Because we started our Whole30 in the winter, I always had a variety of winter vegetables, squash, and potatoes on hand.  Roasted squash (any variety) with sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper was one of my favorite side dishes.  Bacon wrapped brussel sprouts was also a hit and a great party food.  No recipe needed…just wrap the brussel sprout with half a piece of bacon and bake for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

 Below are some pics of some other things I ate while on the Whole30. It was really quite simple to add variety!whole30 ideas

1. Shrimp cocktail with homemade cocktail sauce (recipe for sauce above)

2. Grilled steak with langostino shrimp. (Shrimp just sauteed in ghee) And sauteed onions and mushrooms.

3. Tuna salad made with homemade mayo (recipe above for mayo).  Topped with sundried tomatoes and red chili pepper flakes.

4. Salad made with romaine, shredded broccoli and carrots, sliced mushrooms, chopped sweet red peppers, bacon, hard boiled egg and cucumbers topped with langostino shrimp.  Switch shrimp with any protein and drizzle balsamic vinegar and oil on top.

5. Hard boiled eggs and black or kalamata olives make for a great snack. Sprinkled with Trader Joes 21 Seasoning salute

6. Chicken stir fry made with coconut aminos and topped over cauliflower rice.

7. Bunless burger with a fried egg, tomatoes and avocado

8. Spatchcock chicken (google how to make it…it can be grilled or baked) with bacon wrapped brussel sprouts

9. Roasted winter veggies.  Squash, gold and sweet potatoes and cauliflower tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and Italian seasoning.

Have you done the Whole30 or are you currently doing it? What are some of your favorite, unique meals?

Whole30 Results and Q&A

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Whole30 ResultsIf you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed my enthusiasm for the Whole30 by all the pictures of food I was posting.  30 days have come and gone and I wholeheartedly have to tell you that my relationship with food has completely changed and I feel amazing.

I remember starting my first diet at 9 years old.  I was a chubby kid and have early memories of being called fat.  I had a tumultuous relationship with food through my adolescence and was obsessed with learning about nutrition in high school, so much so that I pursued a degree in nutrition in college.

Even after getting the degree I obsessed about body image and weight until I turned 30. Saying goodbye to the single life and meeting an incredibly affirming husband were probably big factors of me letting go of my body issues. My pregnancy, surprisingly was what helped me really abandon my self loathing.  Seeing what my body created and grew was transformational in every way; I looked at my body (even in all of its postpartum-ness) with a new found respect. It took me close to a year after my first pregnancy to get back to my postpartum weight (I didn’t diet or go crazy with exercise) and I started the Whole30 around 4 months postpartum this time around.  I discussed in this post why I was starting the Whole30; just to clarify, I wasn’t in a hurry to drop weight (but in all honesty, any weight loss at all is a plus) I just wanted to feel better.  I was feeling pretty crappy most days.  Weight loss was my husband’s goal, for me, any weight loss was just an added bonus as I am nursing and didn’t want to affect my supply.

Before I share our results I want to answer a few questions that people have asked about the most:

Was my nursing supply affected:

  • I noticed on day 3 my supply dipped a bit and I’m convinced it was because I wasn’t eating enough.  I was so satiated at meals that I didn’t snack at all.  I also hadn’t eaten any fruit or potatoes, so I made sure to add potatoes, fruit, at least 1 whole avocado and lots of nuts into my daily regime.  That seemed to do the trick and my supply has been great ever since.  This is just my opinion, but I strongly feel that if you’re nursing you should not be too concerned about how much weight you lose, your job is to nourish your child.  You will lose weight, but probably not as much as you would if you weren’t nursing.

Were you compliant the entire 30 days?

  • We did the Whole30 over the holidays which is awesome and awful at the same time.  In hindsight I’m SO glad we held strong and skipped all the cookies, eggnog, candy, and booze.  Andy and I are both over-indulgers and I know we would’ve put on a few extra pounds over Christmas.  Parties and social engagements were HARD. But we mentally prepared ourselves and would eat before attending parties and would bring a kombucha to sip on.  When eating out I reviewed menus online before hand (and actually spoke with the chef at one place) to make sure what I was ordering was compliant.  The only item we ate that I wasn’t positive about was bacon.  I buy a lot of my meat in bulk through Zaycon Foods.  The bacon is cured and sugar is listed as an ingredient but the nutritional facts show zero grams of sugar.  Because I had 40 pounds of bacon sitting in my freezer, that was the bacon we used. Other than that, to my knowledge we were compliant the whole time!

Did you notice any other changes besides weight loss?

  • YES!!  The best result for me personally was how I felt.  I never really realized what a fog I was in until I was out of it. I just became so clear headed and had so much more energy after just a few days!  Before Whole30,  most days by 2pm I would feel like crap and would be exhausted.  I’m up every single night with a 5 month old at least 2-3 times a night.  (She’s a terrible sleeper). I haven’t had more than 3 hours of consecutive sleep in months, but I still feel great since starting the whole30.  The sleep I do get is deeper and more restful now.  I also know I have a wheat sensitivity (I’ve been allergy tested) which affects my joints. I’ve been pain free this entire month.  I was hoping to see an improvement in my skin, but that seems to be the same…I’m chalking it up to postpartum hormones. (That has to be the reason I’m still getting acne at 36 right?).

Did your kids eat the same way?

  • No.  I have a 2 year old and her diet pretty much consists of cereal, quesadillas, and macaroni and cheese.  I did cut out all of her sugary snacks though.  No more granola bars, cereal bars, fruit snacks or candy.  I also tossed out her cereal (that was loaded with sugar…you guys, seemingly healthy cereal is LOADED with sugar) and replaced it with plain cheerios.  We are attempting to feed her the same foods we eat.  She’ll usually try it but spit it out.  She did however eat some kale chips we made last week….so I’d call that progress at least?  Once my 5 month old reaches the toddler stage, it will be interesting to see if her food habits are different. If anyone can point me in the direction to a mom who has toddlers that eat this way, please let me know! I’d love some tips.

Did you spend hours meal prepping?

  • Nope.  If you call hard boiling a bunch of eggs and throwing meat in a crock pot “meal prep” then yes.  But I didn’t pre-chop veggies, make mason jar salads, or write out menu plans for breakfast lunch and dinner each day of the week.  You can read about the Whole30 staples I had on hand and how I planned meals.  Ironically, I felt less frazzled about meals, and truly inspired to cook again while doing the Whole30.

Was it hard?

  • I found it hard in social situations.  And I struggled with sugar cravings at night.  Other than that, I felt like saying, “Are you kidding me?  I can eat eggs and bacon and sausage and avocados, and yummy delicious tasting food, and I can eat till I’m full, AND I’m gonna lose weight?!!”  I can imagine if you eat mostly processed foods and/or fast food, you don’t really like vegetables, and you’re a daily drinker that it would initially be much more difficult. But it’s just 30 days.  I realized I don’t really miss dairy, wheat or legumes and feel like I can easily continue without those items. I do miss rice (I’m asian) and very much look forward to eating sushi again, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss chocolate.  I’m definitely eating chocolate again.

So here are the results!

  • Start Weight: 156.5  End Weight 149.5
  • Waist: 34 1/2   Now: 33
  • Belly: 37 1/2  Now: 35 1/4
  • Hips: 41 1/4  Now 40

    Whole30 Results whole30dAndy didn’t take measurements, but his start weight was 217 and his end weight was 200.  Whole30 ResultsWhole30 ResultsSo there you have it.  30 days of clean eating, no exercise and pretty amazing results.  I’m working on a recipe post of some of my favorites, in the mean time, if you’re just getting started, here is a post on my Whole30 staples!

Dreams, Goals & Marriage

Monday, January 5th, 2015

marriageWe got engaged in this VW bus and had lots of dreams of what life had in store for us.marriage1

This VW Vanagon toured the West Coast as we dreamed of where we would settle…we thought it would be Northern California, but instead it was the Pacific Northwest.

I’m not a huge resolution person, but Andy and I do talk about our dreams and goals often. Whenever we go on long drives we tend to goal set and talk about where we were 1 year, 2 years, and 3+ years ago and how different our life has turned out from what we expected.  Our very first year of marriage I distinctly remember us laying in bed with a sheet of paper and writing out our one year goals.  We broke them into two categories.  Goals and Dreams. Surprisingly, in that first year we actually reached many of our dreams.  We are good at talking about goals and accomplishing them; at the same time we are pretty impulsive and tend to make decisions that have derailed some of our long term goals.

2014 felt crazy.  Andy was growing his business, I was growing our family and our schedules just felt like they were all over the place.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a fabulous year, but it felt like we were often running on adrenaline and coffee.  I know that is pretty common for young families and business owners and there are seasons of life that are just nuts, and I’m pretty sure life isn’t going to slow down in 2015. I just want to be more intentional about how my time is spent and who I spend it with.  I naturally want to say “Yes!” to all the things, and be at all the parties, and experience all the experiences and feel all the feels, but this year I feel the need to say “No” more to others and “Yes” more to my family, and especially my husband.  Within the last few years many of our close friends’ marriages have fallen apart. I see how easy it can be to prioritize work and kids above marriage…I want to protect my marriage with everything in me. Marriages don’t crumble in a day, it’s the day after day after day of making everything else a priority above your spouse.

Andy suggested we look into finding a marriage retreat this year.  I love that idea and that he proactively thinks about what we can do to strengthen our marriage.  It’s so easy to fall into the comfortableness of one another and stop working at building your relationship.

I expect big things for 2015.  This year Andy and I celebrate 5 beautiful years of marriage.  We’re taking a family vacation to San Diego to celebrate and we’ll be road tripping (please pray for our 20+ hour road trip with two littles…I’m hella nervous), which means we’ve got ample time to plan out our dreams and goals for this year.  (This year we’ll be driving a minivan).

I’m curious if any of you have attended marriage retreats?  If so I’d love to hear about it!


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