Wednesday, October 26, 2016

30 Before 30 | 1 Year Check-In

Exactly a year ago today, I was 30 months away from my 30th birthday and I posted a "30 Before 30" bucket list of the things I hoped to accomplish before I turned the big 3-0. With 18 months to go, here's what I've managed to check off my list:

1. Take an international trip 

2. Read fifty books in a year | I did it, I did it! 2016 was my year. With some help from audiobooks listened to over long car rides, I completed my goal to read 50 books in one year and I still have two months to go! (September 10, 2016)

3. Submit a grant proposal 

4. Get my third (and fourth?) tattoo | My sister came to visit the weekend before her 25th birthday, so we finally got the matching sister tattoos we've been plotting forever! After years (literally) of deliberation, we settled on Madeline- a sweet childhood memory that we share. (October 8, 2016)

A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

5. Take a kayak trip

6. Pay off a student loan

7. Live with my sister | After she graduated from grad school this past May, Kelly lived with us for about two months and served as our live-in nanny when our childcare arrangements fell through. Charlie grew so attached to her and our house felt so empty once she left for her first big girl job. We miss her like crazy! (June-July 2016)

8. Visit a new state

9. Grow my blog | I suppose that technically my blog has grown since last year, but not much. I'm not crossing this one off yet!

10. Volunteer more

11. Attend regular yoga classes 

12. Finish designing and decorating one room in our house | Most all of our rooms are close, but not quite to my liking just yet. This one stays uncrossed, as well!

13. Learn a new skill 

14. Baby Pep 2.0 | Woohoo! I made another human! (September 5, 2016)

15. Do something BIG for our 5th anniversary

16. Open up a college savings account for Charlie | #MommyFail

17. Have a girls' weekend | After several visits to Ohio, I decided to return the favor and drive to Philly to reunite with my college besties. I pizza-ed, Wawa-ed and Jersey shore-d to my heart's delight. As much as I love my husband's Ohio hometown, I miss the East Coast like crazy. (June 17, 2016)

A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

18. Invest in a DSLR

19. Run a half marathon

20. Finish Charlie's baby book

21. Do a Wine & Canvas night 

22. Attend a game

23. Visit Frankie's grave

24. Plant a backyard garden

25. Dye my hair a fun color

26. Go to King's Island 

27. Wear my wedding dress again | I specifically bought my wedding dress so that I could wear it again and this past year, I finally got to. Two of our friends throw an annual themed birthday party right before Christmas and this past year's theme was "Masquerade." My sister happened to be in town, so she painted a sugar skull on my face and I rocked my dress for round 2! (December 19, 2015)

28. Get promoted

29. Attend a book signing 

30. Give my husband 3,000 kisses | Working on this one every day! ;)

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6/30 isn't bad progress. I've got 18 months left- let's see what I can do!

Do you have a 30 before 30 bucket list?

Monday, October 24, 2016

5 Shows I'm Watching this Fall

There's been a lot of heaviness around this blog lately, so I thought today, I would lighten things up a bit.

If you've hung around this blog for any length of time you've probably gathered that I am what you might call, a full-fledged bookworm. I love books and prefer them any day over TV and movies. I know this makes me weird, but I just really don't enjoy watching movies very much. Unless it's a comedy, I have no interest. TV I can stand because it's perfect for times like now when I have zero brain power to devote to anything for more than 20 minutes. With my brain in permanent, sleep-deprived Mommy-mode, I've pushed the books aside for the time being, and have been watching way more TV than usual lately.

Here are the shows I'm binge-watching while on maternity leave:

Okay, so this is kind of a lie. I haven't been watching this show while on maternity leave, because I finished watching Season 1 months ago and still can't stop talking about it. Loosely based on Aziz Ansari's own life, the writing is phenomenal and freaking hilarious. And seeing as it recently won an Emmy, I'm clearly not the only one who thinks so.

Watch if you like: Louie and Inside Amy Schumer

It takes a lot for me to religiously follow a current TV show. I'm someone who likes to stick with re-watching the classics (in my case, Friends, Parks and Recreation and The Office). New Girl is the exception. The cast is so, so good and the humor is constantly fresh and totally relatable as a millennial. 

Watch if you like: Friends and How I Met Your Mother

Admittedly, I don't really do superheroes. I'm not a huge fan of action movies and typically, I could care less about the Marvel universe. But I watched an interview with Krysten Ritter and she totally sold me on her badass female character. This show is crazy suspenseful, a tiny bit creepy, and so in line with today's culture. Bonus: her love interest is crazy hot. 

Watch if you like: Heroes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This show is in its first season and I've loved it so much. It's kind of adorkable, just like it's leading lady, Kristen Bell. It's the perfect lighthearted and silly plot to balance out the darkness of some of the other shows I've been watching. 

Watch if you like: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Parks and Recreation

Because who else, but Trevor Noah can keep us sane throughout this election season. I have the hugest crush on him and become more impressed every time I tune in with how Noah has continued Jon Stewart's legacy, but has also infused his own personality and humor into the show. He nails it every time.

Watch if you like: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers

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Are you a TV addict? What else should I be watching this season?

p/c: IMDb

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This Stops with Us: A's Sexual Assault Story

A few days ago, motivated by the rhetoric and scandal surrounding Donald Trump's Presidential campaign, I decided to come forward with my sexual assault story in the hope that I could put a face to sexual assault and enforce that Trump's comments are not just "locker room talk."

I shared what I was doing with some close friends of mine and invited them to use my little corner of the internet to share their own stories. A handful of these women shared that while they had stories of their own and appreciated the opportunity, the feelings were still too raw. A couple women took me up on my offer. Yesterday, my younger sister allowed me the privilege of publishing her story, and today, I will be sharing the sexual assault story of my friend, A (for Anonymous). 

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I have been sexually assaulted five times in my young life. This doesn’t include the countless times that my partners have pushed me into having sex when I did not want to. What shocks me the most about preparing myself to write this, was how hard it was to dig these memories up. Not that I’ve forgotten, but that I’ve done such a good job of storing them away. Women are conditioned to forget. Women are conditioned to stay quiet for fear of not being taken seriously or for the blame to come back on them. Women are conditioned to expect these things to happen to them at some point in their life. Everyone has a story. I guarantee you that every woman, if you asked, would have a story.

Of my five stories, I will only share four. One is still too fresh for me to stir up the dust, when all I want to do is let it settle. I also want to say that these stories are all different. One was at a dark park, one was at work, one was at a good friend’s home, and one was by a woman.

I was first assaulted at the age of 15. I had been dated a good friend’s family member during the summer before my freshmen year of high school. He was a sophomore, I felt special. Our summer romance ended, and I began dating a wonderful guy at the very beginning of the school year. On Thanksgiving day, I went to visit my above mentioned friend’s family that evening. I didn’t know that K, let’s just call him K, would be there, but sure enough, there he was. He was a very tall and broad kid for 16, a jock. He was then 16 and has just received a brand new car for his birthday. He asked my friend and I if we wanted to go along for a ride to check it out. We obliged. Somehow, we ended up at a local park, about 5 miles from our parents’ house. He pulled into a random area and parked. The details after this are fuzzy, mostly because of the lack of trying to forget. We were all sitting on a park bench, talking. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground, on my back, pinned. My friend jumped up, unsure of what she was supposed to do. K takes the keys out of his car and throws them at my friend and says, “Get in the car.” She looks at me, and I look back. And she gets in the car. He turns his attention to me and promises me everything is okay. That he’s not going to hurt me, that I just needed to relax, everything was okay. I repeatedly asked him to stop, that I had a boyfriend, and that I didn’t want to do this. He proceeded to pick me up and forcefully hold me on his lap. My hands were crossed on my lap, with his arms wrapped completely around me, holding me in place. I kept asking him to stop. “Will you just RELAX? This is fine! You’re fine. This is fun!” He started groping me, kissing my neck and face while I struggled to get lose. But when I struggled harder, he would stand up with me in his arms and slam me back down into his lap, like I was some dog he was trying to keep still. I don’t remember how long this went on. But I do remember my friend finally turning the headlights of the car on, getting out and yelling, “We’re going home!” He argued, she stood in front of the car. We went home. After years of talking about this with my friend, apologies have been thrown around, but I do not blame her. It’s not her fault for what happened. And in the end, she stopped it all.

He drove us home, and I went straight back to my house. Terrified and not sure what to do next. So I called my boyfriend, who I thought would understand, who I thought would help me. Instead, it was all my fault. I was a slut. I shouldn’t have gotten in his car. I should have screamed for help. I should have fought harder. I must have wanted it. It was my fault. And I believed that. For years.

At 16, I was sexually harassed at work. It was my fourth day on the job, and they had me on dishwashing duty at the end of the night. Our uniforms were khaki pants and button up tees. I was about an hour into dishwashing when the bakers came in for the night. At this point, despite my waterproof apron, I was soaked. The bakers, three men in their 40s, came in to start making the pastries for the following day. They noticed the new girl and went about their business. It started with whistling. Then was one was brazen enough to say “Maybe just come to work in a bikini next time.” And they all thought that was hilarious. Then another one jumped in, “Or just nothing at all!” And they all laughed harder. I kept my head down and kept cleaning. “Aw, honey. We’re just joking with you! Take a joke!” And they all laughed again. Then they all mumbled about how I couldn’t take a joke and I needed to lighten up.

I was 16. And needless to say, did not return to work the next day.

I was assaulted again when I was 19. I was in a long term relationship with a boy I had known for year, I’ll call him B. It was our freshmen year of college, and he was away at college. We shared a solid group of friends for all of high school, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to hang out with his guy friends often. This one particular friend, who I’ll call A, I had been especially close with. A dated my best friend in high school.  And He had treated all of my friends like shit. He cheated on them with our other friends, emotionally abused them, and had me so warped that I stayed friends with him despite all his abuse of my very close girlfriends. In college, he and I worked for the same company, but at different locations. From time to time, I would pick up shifts at his store, and we began hanging out with our work friends as well. The comments started with “When are we going to have sex?” I would laugh and say never, and he would laugh. I would talk about a cute guy that would come in to our store and he would say “Oh! So you would fuck him and not me?!” We would laugh. Then one day he said “You know you’re going to cheat on B, so it might as well be with me.” I didn’t take him seriously. One night, he invited me over to hang out before going to meet some friends from work. I didn’t drink at the age of 19, but he was 21 and offered me a drink. I said no, a few times, but he insisted. I tried to see what it was and he kept scooting behind his refrigerator. “Don’t worry! It’ll be good.” He gave me a drink in a little metal tumbler. I can still remember the way it tasted, but I can’t tell you what it was. Because I asked him and he wouldn’t tell me. I took two drinks. Because I didn’t drink, I told him it tasted gross and that I was finished. He told me I was a pussy and to keep drinking. I held it and pretended like I was still drinking. Ten minutes later, he started to move on me. Like a bitch, one might say. “Let’s go into my room. It’s so comfortable in there. Let’s just go lay down and take a nap for a minute.” I looked at him like he was insane. “Come on, you know you want to.” And that’s when my legs started tingling. I told him I should probably go. He then started physically forcing me to stay seated. I told him I need to go home, that I didn’t feel well. He kept telling me to just hang out for a bit. And that I had a drink, I should probably not drive. Then he said “Let’s just go have a quick fuck in the bedroom. No one needs to know! I won’t tell B…” I finally pulled myself away and rushed out the door. He laughed as I ran down the stairs. When I got into my car, I could barely feel my legs or my arms. Something was very wrong. I was new to drinking, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to cause numbness in your limbs. I managed to get home and I was stunned. I called my best friend and she told me what I was thinking but didn’t want to admit because I was so afraid someone would think I was lying. “Did you see him make your drink? It sounds like he drugged you. He put something in your drink. Did you see him make your drink?” I didn’t see him make my drink, because he hid behind his refrigerator while he made it. He didn’t tell me what was in the drink when I asked. He wouldn’t tell me how he made it when I asked. I laid in my bed and just waited for myself to fall asleep. I didn’t tell my boyfriend for fear of being blamed for going to A’s apartment, for taking the drink when I could tell he was being suspicious. I never spoke of it, or to him, again.

The last assault is something that you don’t hear of a lot. But I thought it was important to share because it’s real, and it does happen. I was assaulted by a woman I was dating. It was our third date, and she, we’ll call her F, had become increasingly belligerent as the night went on. We were out with friends and I said to one of them, “If I text you in a little bit, call me and tell me what you’re stuck here at the bar and need a ride. I have a feeling I’m going to need an excuse to get away from her.” My friend agreed, and said she would come by my house to make sure I was okay, since she lived around the corner. I took her back to her car that was parked at my place, and I told her to sit on the porch while she waited for a cab. She asked if she could come in and just have a glass of water, so said sure. I was sitting on the floor, she was sitting on the couch. I texted my friend to call me. She did, and I told F that I had to leave to go get my friend, and she was welcome to sit on my porch and wait for her cab. All of a sudden, she jumped off the couch and I was pinned, on my back, her knees on my shoulders. She was trying to kiss me while shoving her hands in my pants. I yelled at her to stop while she yelled “I just want to fuck you! Just let me fuck you!” She kept yelling at me to just let her do this, and I yelled back. I eventually got my foot lodged into her lower belly and pushed her off of me. I grabbed my keys and ran to my car. She walked outside as I drove off. I parked around the corner, and for fear of her finding me, just turned off my headlights and watched for her cab. I called my friend and the words that came out of my mouth were, “If she had been a man, I would have called the cops. That’s how bad that just was.” My friend said, “Well lucky for you she was a girl! I don’t know if you would have been able to get a dude off of you like that.” Another thing we need to educate women on, it can be men, and it can be women. Assault is assault, and those crimes don’t have a gender.

I don’t want to raise my daughter in a world where this is okay. Where if something happened to her, she would tuck it away in the back corner of her mind and move on. Where if someone attacked her, she would think it was her fault, and not speak up. Where if she is made uncomfortable, she does not say so. Women are the strongest humans I know. They have to endure so much more than majority of men, or even women, are willing to give them credit for, or even know that credit is due. They’re strong because we all have to endure a patriarchal society in which judging women on looks becomes social commentary and measures a woman’s worth. They have to endure inequalities in the workplace, and are punished for being women and mothers. And they have to endure sexual assault at the hands of people they trust, co-workers, even partners. This stops with us. This stops with you. And this stops with Hillary. Let women rise, and let them shine. Fuck the patriarchy.

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A's words, "Women are conditioned to expect these things to happen to them at some point in their life. Everyone has a story. I guarantee you that every woman, if you asked, would have a story" could not be more true. If you are someone who has experienced sexual assault and would like to share your story, please email me. I would be honored to share your story on my blog, or keep it to myself if you just want an empathetic ear.

To anyone who has experienced sexual violence, I say this- it is never your fault. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It was NEVER my Fault: Kelly's Sexual Assault Story

Yesterday, I shared my story of being sexually assaulted in hopes that people (namely, men) who cannot relate and/or do not understand why Donald Trump's rhetoric is so harmful can put a face to sexual violence.

Today, I am so proud to share the story of another strong, beautiful woman who overcame the trauma of sexual violence- my sister. 

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This past May, I graduated from my Master’s program, which I had largely dedicated to Sexual Assault prevention on college campuses. Upon my graduation, it was my goal to continue prevention education with my first big girl job. Any one who knows me for even a day knows that I am very open about fighting the Sexual Assault epidemic and trying to change the culture. Devoting my life to personally combating sexual violence has been a successful way for me to deal with my own trauma. Yet until now I have been very hesitant to share my own experiences with sexual violence. With the work that I have done in the past, I have seen first-hand how some people respond to conversations relating to gender violence. Negative personal interactions with those I love have also steered me away from sharing my stories. It is incredibly disheartening to be dismissed and victim blamed and I did not want to have to defend or qualify the trauma that I have experienced.

However, when my sister asked me if I would like to share a story on her blog I did not hesitate to agree. Given the current political climate, I believe it is necessary and I know that this blog is a safe outlet. I have been the victim of sexual assault on multiple occasions. It got to the point where it seemed like every man in my life was going to harm me. I remember once hearing someone say ‘It’s hard to believe that one person could be sexually assaulted that many times’ in reference to another woman’s story. It made me wonder, “Why do I keep letting this happen to myself, what am I doing wrong?” The answer: nothing. I have advocated over and over to others that it is NEVER the victim’s fault. I just needed to apply that to my own life. Below are a just a couple of my stories.

When I was a senior in college I had a friend (who we’ll call Joe) who I was never super close with, but who was always around because of mutual friends. On my 21st birthday I did the typical 21st birthday thing and got completely black out drunk. This is one occasion that I can comfortably say I was incapacitated. The next morning I woke up with Joe in my bed and my neck completely black and blue -apparently from hickeys. At the time I was alarmed but didn’t think much of it and continued to talk to Joe.  The following week Joe came over to my apartment again to ‘hookup’.  He began fingering me aggressively on my bed, which was painful and resulted in blood all over the walls and bed. He then asked if I wanted to 69, which admittedly creeps me out, but I agreed. After we began, I felt my head being slammed down by his hand behind me. A pain shot through my throat and I instantly vomited. I got up and ran to the garbage to spit out my mouthful of puke, and Joe got annoyed. ‘What are you doing?’ he asked, to which I responded ‘I just threw up.’ Joe was mad at me for stopping, and we fought for the rest of the night after I refused to have sex with him. Joe and I never hooked up again.

Having a history of violence extending even beyond that experience, I had trouble with trust and commitment. Simply: I didn’t want to be abused anymore and it seemed like I just couldn’t trust any men. But the year after I graduated from college I finally began a relationship with a long time friend. We became incredibly close and he was my best friend. I knew he cared a lot about me so I truly believed I could trust him. Then one day I came over to this boyfriend’s house after a long day at work. It was clear that he had been drinking, but that was not out of character for him. We went down to the basement and began having sex. He bent me over the back of the couch and we continued in that position. Out of nowhere I felt him attempt to insert his penis in my butt. He missed so I assumed it was an accident. Then he didn’t miss. I screamed in pain and began crying. I fell to the ground and continued crying while my butt bled on the floor. He told me to stop crying and asked if I wanted him to finish. When I didn’t answer and continued to cry he just went ahead and finished in my vagina. He said it was an accident but showed no remorse – it wasn’t an accident. My boyfriend had raped me. We continued to date for months after the incident, but I was never the same. I would love to say that this was the only time that this boyfriend sexually abused me, but it wasn’t. He made a habit out of continuing after I told him to stop, and the accompanying verbal abuse did not help.

I am in a good place now and have moved forward with my life, but I believe that these stories are important to share. We often have this image in our heads of sexual assault: a stranger attacks a woman while she is walking alone at night. While these assaults happen, more often than not those we know inflict the abuse. Even those we love. I cannot remain quiet when people continue to dismiss gender violence as a non-important issue. It is important to note that sexual assault can happen to anyone of any gender. However, when 98% of perpetrators are men, there is a larger cultural issue that needs to be addressed. I hope others take my stories and realize (as I had to) that no matter the circumstances, no one asks to be sexually assaulted. It is NEVER the victim’s fault.

Monday, October 17, 2016

He Grabbed Me By the Pussy: My Sexual Assault Story

For the past week, my Facebook feed has essentially been nothing but articles about Donald Trump and the sexual assault scandal surrounding his campaign. As a woman, I have been horrified by The Donald's "locker room banter" (GAG!), but I've had the sense that even the most compassionate and sympathetic men in my life  just couldn't grasp the gravity of the "boys will be boys" exchange that the Republican candidate took part in because it didn't affect them in a personal way.

I want to make it personal.

Because sexual assault can and has happened to a woman in your life. It's happened to your friends, your sisters, your mothers, your wives, and your daughters. 

Today, I'm sharing my sexual assault story. But I'm not the only one coming forward. This week I am also sharing stories written by my real life family and friends. My hope is that these stories will put a face to sexual assault and help in driving home why Donald Trump and men like him, are a danger to this country.

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I attended a relatively small Christian university located in the suburbs of Philadelphia. It was a dry campus which meant that the only keggers I attended at college were centered around kegs of birch beer. (Yes, this actually happened). My roommate and I weren't complete wet blankets, however, so Halloween weekend of our sophomore year, we decided we would get dolled up and head into downtown Philly to dance the night away at a popular nightclub. It was 2007 and The E! reality TV show, The Girls' Next Door was at the height of its popularity. I was infatuated with the three leading ladies and consequentially, all things pin-up girl-related. So it was only natural that I donned my best 1940's-esque pin-up girl costume for the holiday.

My roommate, her high school best friend, and I primped in our dorm room before leaving for the big city. Upon our arrival at The Roxxy, we were greeted by sensory overload. The music was blasting, the strobe lights were flashing. It was all but impossible to see or hear anything. We stuck close together, completely intimidated by our surroundings and it wasn't long before a group of well-meaning, cute, goofy guys joined our party and we each paired off. The Ninja Turtle I found myself dancing with was a sweet, attractive guy with terrible dance moves. We spent an hour or so dancing awkwardly and trying to yell over the ear-shattering bass to get to know one another. After awhile the group of boys and my own posse of girls split up for reasons I don't recall. We girls continued to shake our rear ends to the sounds of Usher, T-Pain, and Timbaland (am I dating myself?) when from out of nowhere a random guy sidled up from behind and began to grind up on me.

At the time, I was not opposed to dancing more than a little close with a gentleman I was attracted to. But this was not the case. The stranger, who never introduced himself and whose face I don't think I ever actually saw, jabbed me in the rear end with his erection and then proceeded to shove his hand up my dress, inside my underwear, and then I was completely shocked and felt instantly sick. In the course of about three seconds, a strange man who I had never even talked to before had "gotten further" than any boy I had ever been remotely interested in. With my mouth agape, I quickly grabbed his wrists, wrenched them away from me and caught my Ninja Turtle out of the corner of my eye. I ran straight to him, hoping that the presence of another male would scare off the predator who had just completely and utterly violated me.

I don't have much memory of what happened after the incident. I know that Ninja Turtle and I exchanged phone numbers at some point. I know that I informed my girls what had happened on the car ride home. But no other details stick out in my mind because my memory of the entire night is tainted by this one resounding fact- I WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. 

A strange man who I had never met and would never see again, forced himself inside of me, in a public place no less, without my consent. At this point in my life, I had never even had a boyfriend and somehow this predator thought it was okay to quite literally grab me "by the pussy." So when I hear a Presidential candidate uttering these same words in a "braggadocious" way, it sickens me.

The saddest part about this particular story is that it was not an isolated incident. I have been fondled by a father figure, groped by classmates, co-workers, and friends, and pushed to do things I wasn't comfortable with by a man I was dating.

Sexual assault is not a joke. A woman's body is not intended for the consumption and objectification of men. It is hers, and hers alone. The fact that any man would find allusions to sexual assault harmless is unacceptable. The fact that our potential Commander-in-Chief has behaved similarly to that creep in The Roxxy is not only unacceptable, but completely offensive to me. As a nation, we should be outraged.

I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother and I was sexually assaulted. And today, I'm sharing my story to say- Donald Trump, you are a sexual predator and unfit to be my country's President. But more than that, on behalf of women everywhere, you should be ashamed of yourself. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Our First Home [One Year Later]

It's crazy to think that we've been homeowners for an entire year. It was a dream that I honestly thought would never become a reality for us because of my insanely high student loan debt (and consequently terrible credit). But we made it work, and here we are a year later in a house that we love just as much as the day we signed on the dotted line. 

We've had big goals for the house, most of which have not been tackled because we haven't had the money for any big projects. Now that we're a family of four, I will be on maternity leave for 12 weeks, and we'll be paying for childcare for two little ones, we likely won't see our bigger projects to completion in year two either. However, I'm content with the small progress that we have made over the last 12 months, and will more than happy to see our house slowly come together over time as we get older and more stable.

I thought it would be fun to see the progress that we've made in the last year, as well as check-in to see what remaining items I have on my to-do list to look back on in the years to come. If you'd like to see the "full tour" of our house from when we first bought it, go here


All three pictures above were taken by a realtor before we moved in, but with the exception of adding our house number to our mailbox, we've done absolutely nothing to the exterior of the house. The one thing we do really need to address, however, is the front porch. There is no handrail or railing around the entire front porch which is a big safety hazard for little ones. Thankfully, it's not too high off the ground, but Charlie did fall off the stairs once so it's something we obviously want to do sooner rather than later.

Exterior To-Do's:
1. Add handrail and railing around front porch.
2. Build a raised bed in our backyard.


I thought about closing the pantry door, but let's be real- it looks like that 99.9% of the time, so why hide it? Obviously, we bought a refrigerator- our first big appliance purchase of our adult lives! I love that I have that space above the cabinets to display my German beer stein collection that my Mom passed down to me. We did buy curtains for both the windows, but the walls are so thick that we've had a difficult time trying to install the brackets and continue to push this project to the backburner. We did recently (finally!) put a baby gate up in the doorway which has been amazing. God love our rambunctious child, but I definitely prefer cooking without a toddler underfoot.

Kitchen To-Do's:
1. Hang curtains and valances!
2. Figure out a better, or at least more aesthetically pleasing, trash and recycling situation.
3. Mount a paper towel holder.


Since this photo was taken, I've since put a potted aloe vera plant in the macrame holder, so it doesn't look like a random rope hanging from our ceiling. Just out of frame on the left side, there's also a gallery wall that I want to continue to grow because all the pictures are wedding, our first anniversary, or Charlie's newborn pictures. We get anniversary pictures taken every year, so I want to figure out a cute way to display each year. Other than that though, this is pretty much it!

Dining Room To-Do's:

1. Work on updating gallery wall.
2. Add more decor to right wall.
3. Find some kind of table for the right wall to house our purses/bags and mail. 
4. Replace chandelier.


We hung blinds (sorry, neighbors) and our own shower curtain. They were in our basement being washed when I took this, but we do have black bath mats that would usually be found in front of the sink and toilet. This room really doesn't need many improvements in my opinion, except for some hardware- we still have no towel racks!

Bathroom To-Do's:
1. Hang towel and hand towel racks.
2. Look into framing the mirror to make it less plain. 
3. Install a valance over the mini-blinds. (I didn't think about this until seeing how plain the window looks in this picture!)

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Originally, I was going to include all our rooms in one post, but because I can't get it together to do a write-up on our living room and bedrooms, stay tuned for Part Two!

Monday, October 10, 2016

SEPTEMBER | Summer Book Challenge Check-In

In terms of reading, I really wasn't sure how September would look for me. I figured either, I would completely overwhelmed with keeping two little humans alive and have zero time for books, or I would be bored out of my mind during those late-night nursing sessions and get some use out of my iPhone Kindle app. The result was somewhere in between. And although I didn't read a ton of books, September was a BIG milestone month for me. I successfully completed my GoodReads 2016 Reading Challenge- 50 books read in 2016!!! 

Here are the books I did manage to check off my list!

35 points: Read a book originally published over 100 years ago. | Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (296 pages, ★★★)
It took me weeks, but I finally finished! 

3 stars for the story, but an added 1/2 star for illustrating how far the English language has come (or hasn't...) in contemporary literature.

10 points: Read a book with five words in the title. | The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang (368 pages, ★)
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 
I did not find this book described as "hilarious" to be the least bit funny. The story was disjointed and lacking in substance. Character development could have been better. The ending was bizarre and abrupt. I never give one-star reviews, but I struggled to think of anything I liked about this book at all.


Extra credit reads:

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close (310 pages, ★★★★)
There were parts that felt like they dragged a little bit, but as a Poli Sci nerd who is fascinated by DC I loved stepping into this world for a little bit and bearing witness to the impact politics had on this fictional relationship.
Healthy, Happy Pregnancy Cookbook (224 pages, ★★★★)
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 
I set myself up to not like this since I'm more of a Google/Pinterest cook then a cookbook person, but I was really pleasantly surprised. The beginning was chock full of some really useful nutrition information for pregnant women that wasn't a chore to wade through. The author's tone throughout was lighthearted and personable which made for a fun read with some really yummy sounding recipes mixed in. As a nursing mama, I was particularly appreciative of the last chapter on recipes to boost lactation. 
My only criticisms were regarding 1. I thought the times for some recipes were a little unrealistic for busy, pregnant moms (though there was a 30 minutes or less chapter) and 2. Since this was an e-book I was somewhat annoyed by the formatting and lack of pictures. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne (343 pages, ★★)
I read this expecting "Harry Potter #8" which it most definitely was not. The writing was noticeably not Rowling's. The dialogue for all the characters seemed so wrong and not authentic to their personalities and the premise of the entire story was really weak.

The script format bothered me at first, but I did get used to it. Given the chance, I would still see the play, but I would enter it knowing that it was not an extension of the Harry Potter universe, but a completely stand-alone story.

One book left and I will have completed my second book challenge. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 7, 2016

CROSBY | 1 Month

If I had time or energy, I might write about how this transition from one to two kiddos has been for me. It's a subject that definitely garners its own post, but since I can't trust myself to actually commit to it, I will say this- the transition from 1 to 2, is infinitely easier than from 0 to 1.

I read a couple blogger Moms say that and I honestly didn't believe it. How could that possibly be true? But it has been for me. Now that I've had motherhood under my belt for just about two years, I'm confident in my ability to keep a newborn alive. This in and of itself has made all the difference. Your first baby is so stressful because they seem so fragile and vulnerable, and WHY OH WHY WILL THEY NOT STOP CRYING?! By Baby #2, you realize that these little people are much more durable than you thought and taking care of them isn't as scary as it was the first time around. Not to mention, once Baby #2 comes, you've gotten a handle on the not sleeping thing and having your life completely revolve around another little person. You're really just adding another person to your existing routine, rather than creating a whole new life for yourself.

All this being said, month one with my sweet Crosby Loren has been wonderful. He's an easy-going, little snuggle monster and though it sounds corny to say, he really does complete our family. It feels like we've been waiting for him to come along for ages.

Here's where we're at Month One:

Is flying by! I want to return to work- I want to have an income that will enable us to pay off our debts and give our children opportunities that they wouldn't have if we were living paycheck to paycheck. However, I know it won't be easy when the time comes next month to say goodbye to these days spent with my little ones. Two kiddos is tiring for sure, but so much more enjoyable than I anticipated.

A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

Crosby is a nursing champ! Dare I say, even better than his brother? I am so fortunate that my experiences breastfeeding my babies has been for the most part, pretty easy. I did have a brief episode of mastitis a couple weeks ago, which I never had with Charlie, but I massaged, heat padded, and breast-pumped that sucker until it let up so I wasn't in pain for too long.

Was not a hoot, but it seemed to be easier this time around than with Charlie. Maybe just because I knew what to expect? Just after two weeks, I felt well enough to start walking the boys around our neighborhood and we've pretty much been at it ever since.

I dropped nearly all my baby weight within the first two weeks, but it seems the last 3-4 pounds are here to stay. I'm excited to get back into running. My Mom bought us a Baby Jogger double stroller, so I really want to put it to use and get back into shape. I realize my body has now made and delivered two humans into the world and will never be the same as it was pre-children and I'm okay with that. For me, the numbers on the scale don't matter much. It's more about feeling and looking comfortable in my skin. Right now, I'm probably the most out of shape I've been in my life, so I'm really itching to tie on my running shoes and hit the trails again.

As for Crosby...

Thank goodness that he is such an easygoing little guy, because his big brother dominates most of my attention. As the second born, he probably spends a lot more time in his swing and less in Mama's arms than Charlie ever did, simply because I'm constantly chasing after my crazy toddler. As I mentioned, he's a great eater, though not yet a great sleeper. We're still waking up about every 2-3 hours to nurse, so I'm hoping that a change is in the wind because I'm a full-blown Mombie (Mom + zombie)!

As of Crosby's 1-month appointment, he's up to 10 lbs, 22 oz and 22 inches. This leaves him in the 50-75th percentile for height and weight. Just to put that in perspective, Charlie was 7 lbs 12 oz at his first appointment. This kid is a CHUNK! He's on track to outweigh his pipsqueak of an older brother any day now! Haha He is already in 3-month clothing and Size 1 diapers. I totally see what all the fuss is about with chunky babies- he is so adorably squishy!

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Crosby Loren, thank you for being our missing puzzle piece. You are the best addition to our family and our love for you grows more and more every single day. We love you, baby boy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why We Chose Not to Share Our Baby's Name

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I really didn't like the idea of settling on his name before he was born. Mostly, because I couldn't picture assigning a name to a person whom I didn't even know yet. My husband and I had a long list of baby names assembled that combined my desire for an offbeat, unique name with his desire to hold onto some of his family's traditional, heirloom names. Whenever I was asked what we were considering, I would spout off some of my personal favorites: Atticus (this was before the minor controversy that accompanied the publishing of Go Set a Watchman), Patrick ("Oh, that's my brother's name!"), and Phineas ("Like Phineas Gage?; the guy who survived having an iron rod driven through his skull?"). 

To read more, head over to Dayton Moms Blog

Monday, September 26, 2016

5 Lessons I've Learned as a New Mom of Two

Well, hello again. It's nap time and I'm coming up for air from the whirlpool that is life with two little ones. It's been pretty difficult to commit any amount of time to the things I enjoy in my spare time- blogging, reading, oh, and you know, sleeping. *Insert laugh-crying emoji face*

Crosby is three weeks old today (say what?!) and I've spent the last week being a SAHM to a newborn and a 20-month old toddler. Guys, I wish there was a way to put into words the insanity that is taking care of two little people, but for now, pretty much all I can manage is a list. These are the five lessons I've learned as a new mom of two:

1. The pregnancy weight will come off. Charlie is the sweetest toddler you ever did meet, but damn, this kid has energy for days. As soon as I could get out the door without feeling like my vagina was going to fall out of my body, I started taking both boys for daily walks- Charlie in the stroller and Crosby in the Ergo carrier. Getting out of the house with the most energetic little boy around has been my saving grace. If I didn't, I'm fairly certain both of us would go crazy. 

Also, the whole eating thing? It pretty much comes down to 1. I eat when I can, and 2. I eat whatever I can feasibly chow down using only one hand. Mornings are especially rough because both boys wake up starving so I run around the house like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get both of them fed, dressed, and ready for the day. There have been several days where with the exception of my mandatory cup of coffee, I haven't actually eaten breakfast until I get them both down for a nap around 11 or 12. 

A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

2. Your house will be a mess. I hate this particular lesson. While I'm not obsessively clean by any means, I try to keep the house relatively orderly because a chaotic environment means a chaotic mind. This is virtually impossible. I have practically no time between kiddos to get anything accomplished around the house and I'm trying to be okay with that. I was articulating to Chuck the other night that I hate feeling like my days aren't productive. I know that keeping two humans alive is no small feat, but there's no feeling of accomplishment tied to changing diapers and nursing an infant all day so the fact that I can't check things off my to-do list is driving me a little bit bonkers.

3. It won't get easier, but it will get less terrifying. I've only been at this solo parenting gig for a week, so I realize that I don't have much experience to draw from, but I can say that for the last couple months I have been utterly terrified at the prospect of handling two kids by myself. Day One was hard, but I survived. Then Day Two came, and it was a smidge easier. Day Three was manageable and by Day Four, I felt like I actually might have the ability to do this, after all.

A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

4. It takes a village. My mom, Chuck's mom, Chuck's aunt and the Daddy bear, himself, were all able to take a couple days to get Charlie off my hands those first two weeks so I could focus on healing and nursing my smallest little bear cub. I am so thankful for each of them because I don't know how I possibly would have survived those first two weeks without their help. I've also had several friends provide us with meals which is not only incredibly thoughtful, but a huge lifesaver when 100% of your energy is going into feeding, diapering, and snuggling a newborn.

5. Your attention will be split, but the depth of your love will not. I can confirm that all the cliches are true- my love for Charlie hasn't changed in the least and my love for Crosby continues to grow exponentially each day. And seeing how sweet Charlie is with Crosby makes me fall deeper in love with both of them!

A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

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