I've never been one for New Years resolutions, per se. I've always been one to really make my goals on the fly and adapt as I go. This year will be different though, as I embark on my 9 month journey as a single mom while Ryan is deployed. I feel like this year will be a real test of me - my merit, my toughness and my resolve, and I'm determined to impress myself, as well as my husband.

1. Make running (and fitness, in general) a priority. I received an entry into the 2017 Chicago Marathon, and I'm so excited! This means that I have some serious training to do, and I need to overcome my fear of running with my boys. A little backstory...when Spence was about 7 months old, I went on a 5-mile run with him, and he literally screamed the entire time. The looks I got and the guilt I felt was enough to convince me I couldn't do it. Without Ryan around on weekends, I'm going to have to suck it up and do it. I'm thinking of investing in one of those double running shaded tent strollers so the boys can enjoy the long runs together. Thoughts?

2. Read more & watch less. I love my Netflix on a solo evening, but I think that it's time to sharpen my mind again. I have such amazing books on my reading pile, and I think it's time to start again. First up? Grace, Not Perfection by Emily Ley.

3. Lose the weight once and for all - and love myself. I am not massively overweight, but I am nowhere near where I want to be. I'm so looking forward to buckling down with training, losing these last 30 lbs, getting in real shape and loving myself again. A leaner, healthier, more productive life is my goal, and I can't wait to share this with my boys.

4. Build Black River Boutique. I have so many goals and wants for my little shop, not the least of which is adding newer products, more range and a lot of functionality. I need to figure out how to budget and better manage my shop finances, too, so I'm looking to incorporate in the new year, as well. Has anyone done this? Tips or tricks?

5. DIY home projects. Before we rent out our house and we PCS, there are some pretty big home projects we'd like to tackle, and it will be falling to me to do them while Ryan is deployed. The biggest ones are converting the space above our basement stairs into a pantry, painting our cupboards in the kitchen white to better contrast the dark granite and cherry floors and adding a backsplash. I'm both looking forward to and dreading these tasks.

6. Blog more. My goal this year was to match or better my posts from last year. This post will make me one shy of 2015. Can I make it? We'll see! I think I'll have more time - and more incentive - to blog next year, as Ryan can read this blog as a journal of life through our time apart. 

7. Get family pictures done. Le sigh. Seriously? We haven't had real family pictures since our wedding day. We tried last year in Canada, but a screaming baby made it next to impossible. Maybe, just maybe we can get some pictures before we leave Fort Drum for good?!''

I think seven goals is enough, especially because those are some big goals. I think I'll do my monthly goal-getter posts to keep myself on track, but I really think the overarching goals are important, too. Here's to an amazing (albeit very different) 2017!

christmas 2016

Can you believe that Christmas has already come and gone? It feels like the whole season was just rushed all the way through, but we had the most perfect day, so I can't complain. Spencer, at two years old, doesn't really comprehend Santa, but he has started to understand the magic of the day - the presents, the scripture reading, the family time - the lot of it. The magic has become so real again with a little boy in the house.

Ryan and I decided that we gifted each other enough things prior to Christmas, so we just did stockings for each other. We bought a new dining table, entry bench, and I got a phone for him last week, so those were the big items. We gifted little things like running shirts, nail gift cards(!!!), planners and more to keep going through the new year. 

We've been pretty awful at budgeting lately, too, so we really wanted to try and reign in the mindless expenses. Christmas is about the spirit of the season, and our kids, rather than those big ticket items we'd all love to have. My boys were so happy with their new toys, and they just loved unwrapping the presents with Daddy, spending time with friends and having dinner with Nana Jo and Grandpa Mike (the best neighbors ever).

I feel like I should also do a post about our Christmas cards because up until about 2 weeks ago, I was pretty sure we weren't going to do any. I wanted to have family pictures done, but our photographer flaked, and then we just ran out of time. We decided that the boys were the most important part of the card though, so I staged a little photoshoot, snagged a few gems, headed over to vistaprint and ordered some cards - expedited!

That last picture above is the winning shot, and I'm so glad I staged the little shoot. Spencer had a blast, Porter tolerated it, and we got our cards out - just in the nick of time! 

I truly hope all your Christmases were as blessed as ours. We're heading to NH this coming weekend to do our family Christmas, so we get to celebrate again, and I can't wait. It's like two Christmases rolled into one great year. Now it's onto resolutions....

a look back on 2016

I know there are still a few days left of the year, but I also know how crazy life gets around the holidays, as well as how little "free" time we mamas have when our kiddos are home. I really wanted to sit down and reflect on 2016 because it's been quite the year. It's been great, busy, hectic and one of constant change.

I think that might be the theme of motherhood and parenting, no matter what, but it's definitely been one for the record books. I know that when my kiddos are big and grown, I'm going to want to look back at these words and know that my children were little once, and that we took advantage of all the times we had together. So, without too much's a little look back on 2016.

Ryan and I celebrated our second anniversary on January 4, 2016. Marriage is a ride, friends. It's fun, it's chaotic, it's work (don't let anyone tell you otherwise), and it's the best thing ever. I'm so blessed to be married to this man.

I bit the bullet in February, braced my nerves and started an Etsy shop called Black River Boutique. It's grown bigger than I imagined, and I have high hopes for the future...fingers crossed!

We worked hard to explore the North country this past year, and we visited quite a few local attractions including Yancey's Sugarbush for maple syrup and the Burrville Cider Mill for local cider. We also visited Alexandria Bay and took a little boat ride around Boldt Castle.

In June, our second biscuit, Porter Dean, was born. He's made our family so much fuller and more fun (and busy!) We sure do love him.

In August, I made the crazy decision to swim a 2.5k open water race at Lake George. Despite the worst hotel stay known to man, no sleep, barely any training and a family trip that was nuts, I did really well!

In September, we traveled again to Pennsylvania for my little sister's wedding. It was (again) a chaotic trip, but it was wonderful to dress up, have some fun with adults and really spend some quality family time.

^^^ photo courtesy of Brianna Wilbur Photography

And, this month, our sweet Spencer Bruce turned two. It seems impossible that over two years ago, we welcomed this boy into our lives, and there's been no looking back. We love him to the moon and back.

Besides the obvious impending deployment, I'm really excited to see what 2017 might bring. I have so many goals and resolutions that I'll have to do a post on those alone. Thanks for following along for another crazy year, sweet friends!

what's happening wednesday: life lately

Is it just me, or are the weeks (and days) leading up to Christmas just utter chaos? We're not even really doing anything big for Christmas this year, but we're still in this maddening dash to get things done. I keep meaning to sit down and write a proper blog, but I rarely have a second to collect my thoughts!

// Porter is now sitting, scooting and rocking and feeding himself with his own bottle. He's also learned he has a lot more that he can do with his voice. I forgot about this fun, silly little phase, and I'm having a blast listening to him "talk."

// I was the best wife ever yesterday and bought Ryan a new phone for Christmas. He's been sucking it up with an old iPhone 5 to save money and be smart, but it's been so hit or miss lately. So, I went without his knowledge and got him a new one yesterday. #happyhusband

// Remember how I said I entered a lottery for a race? Well, I got in! I'll be running in the 2017 Chicago Marathon! Commence training...

// Ryan and I have been really committed to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle, so I spent a couple hours last weekend cleaning out our fridge and purging the crap. We joined the Holiday Hustle Kickstarter on Diet Bet and, along with Weight Watchers, we're losing weight and feeling hungry great!

// Spencer has been discovering all the words lately! He's putting things together, picking things up and declaring what they are and really just rocking the talking thing. Yesterday at daycare, he correctly named all his colors correctly! Such a big boy...he also managed to mostly potty train himself. It's like a unicorn!

// Pre-deployment crazy is in full swing. Ryan's OIC (in charge) over Christmas/block leave, so he's on call for all the soldiers in his unit. Keep your fingers crossed, please, that they don't do anything silly that makes him work over the holiday.

// My shop is now offering dresses and leggings! So many fun new products are coming, and I'm loving being able to sew some new stuff!

// I did 70 posts in 2015...can I beat that (barely) in 2017?! We'll see...

real life

Real life lately is a little bit crazy, a lot hectic and a whole lot of special. My normal has so vastly changed since having Spencer and Porter that sometimes it makes my head spin. I was sitting down to reflect on what life is like now vs. then, and I realized that real life isn't's just different. Life has always had its challenges. Now, they're just more pronounced.

// Real life is waking up at 5:30 to get some work done before getting the boys up for the day, sitting in bed with the dog and waiting for the wifi to reach the upstairs of our house. Truth.

// Real life is walking the dog in subzero temperatures with two little boys - one strapped to my chest, the other bundled in his snowsuit, driving his birthday convertible. 

// Real life is finding 30 minutes to squeeze in a proper workout and making eggs qualify as a breakfast and a lunch.

// Real life is wishing there were actually 30+ hours in a day, if only to get things done.

// Real life is losing your military ID. Twice. (Luckily the people are very understanding, and I needed a new ID for Ryan's new rank this time anyway).

// Real life is wondering if there's actually such a thing as peeing with the door closed. Or privacy. Or a bubble bath before 10 PM.

// Real life is discussing baby poo with everyone you meet and trying to figure out why your son hasn't pooped in 11 days.

// Real life is diapers, wipes, formula, goat's milk, bibs, messes, spitup, toys on the floor, fingerprints on the wall, skinned knees, tripping over stairs and toddler meltdowns.

// Real life is utter chaos, but it's perfect and fulfilling.

Challenge accepted. :)


It was a beautiful weekend here in northern NY! As always, it seems like our weekends are absurdly fast though, and we never really have a moment to spare. We got a lot done though, and that's what's most important right now. First things first, we savored the beautiful snow, and we remembered why we decided Drum was the right station for us, at least for now.

Then it was full-speed ahead. Ryan's unit ball was on Friday night, and we had so much fun! I was really worried about what to wear for a while, but I settled on a black ball skirt, and I sewed a lacy top on and made it a dress. It was a bit tighter than I'd anticipated, but I loved it, and I got a lot of compliments. I made the whole thing for less than $50, so I decided to get my hair done, and called it a night.

On Saturday, after enjoying the snow, I took the boys to the Sensory Nook in Watertown, and they had a blast. It's Montessori-based, so the kiddos can basically do whatever they want. They're allowed to play entirely hands-on, and there is everything from a water table, to a balance beam, guitar and beyond.

After nap time, we got our Christmas tree, decorated it once the boys went to bed and called it a night. It was a fun, very productive and busy day. 

It was basically a perfect weekend. Busy, hectic, crazy, maddening, hilarious - all of it - because I got to spend it with my favorite people. I also managed to do the boys' Christmas photos on Sunday, so I can't wait to show how that went. I'll be sharing those pictures, along with our finished Christmas cards, this week. I'm pretty proud.

I hope all your weekends were as wonderful and productive as ours! Here's to the last couple weeks before Christmas!

5 on friday: 15 days till christmas

But are there only 15 more days until Christmas?! I haven't even started my Christmas shopping. I should probably get on that. Life has been moving at warp speed the past couple weeks, and I feel like we don't really have a moment to breathe. I think part of it is the impending deployment, part is the holiday season, part is the fact that my little boys are all go, go go, 24/7, and I feel like a I can't catch up. So, here's a small piece of life lately for five on Friday. Today I'm linking up with A. Liz Adventures and Meet @ the Barre.

1 //  We had a proper snow squall yesterday, which afforded Ryan is first delayed report (and, perhaps, his last before his deployment). It was so fun to bundle up my boys and take Danny for a morning walk. Spencer loves the snow. He never wanted to go inside! His new thing is to just sit staring at the window chanting "outside! outside! outside!"

2 // Porter is 6 months old today! The little man is not so little at 16 lbs and 27 inches long. He's wearing 9 month clothing to fit his long legs, and he's learned to sit up and do a sort of bear crawl in the past week. He scoots backwards, too, so it's crazy to watch how fast he's learning.

3 // Ryan's unit's dining out is tonight at the Hilton in Watertown. These things were a lot more fun before I was the FRG leader and actually had to work with the soldiers to plan them. I'm sure it will be a blast, but right now, all I can think of is the hassle it took to get it in the books...and the cost...and the number of times the quotes were messed up! But I made my dress, so here's hoping I can do a fun recap of that (and it will turn out well) on Monday!

4 // We're finally getting our Christmas tree this weekend! I can't wait to decorate it and finally have my house look like the season is upon us. Because life has been moving so fast lately, all I can do is catch my breath and hope things find some balance soon. A look back at last year's tree...our first together since we're always moving...

5 // I'm making a tree skirt for our Christmas tree today, too! I'm pretty excited to put my stamp on this tree and decorating because I've learned a lot about design and how things are made through my shop, I'll be sure to share some details and a how-to once it's done, in case people want to make their own!

I hope you all are ready for lovely weekends, too!

goal-getter: december

I wanted to put my goals down again because they actually lingered in my mind in November, so I guess that's progress! I also want to take a look back at those November goals, see how did, and see how I can get better going forward. In November, I committed to do the following:

1. Lose 3 lbs - I did this - healthily! :)
2. Finish the DIY shoe rack - fail
3. Run 14 times - fail - but I did run 10 times, which was better than October
4. Get Ryan to do a blog again - I asked him...does that count?
5. Plan Spencer's 2nd birthday party - I did this! We celebrated yesterday, and I'll recap soon.
6. Schedule our temple sealing - We did this! We were sealed on Saturday, December 3rd in the Palmyra NY temple. 

^^^ image via

So, looking back, I think I accomplished the big things last month! Now it's onto the December goals:

1. Lose 4 lbs - I'm doing weight watchers weekly, and it feels great to have the accountability! I'm by no means fat, but I'm doing this for fitness, to show my boys the value of really taking care of oneself. No more junk food...preparation is key.

2. Finish the DIY shoe rack - Maybe December is the month?! I really want it done before the real snow comes because it will be such a lifesaver when we're putting wet, soggy shoes away.

3. Run 14 times and make 1.5 miles my short run - I think it's time I retired the "one for time" bit that I've been resting on lately. I can make time for a 1.5 mile run, and I did it today in the freezing cold. It's time to get my act together and start loving running again! I did enter a lottery for a race, so I'll know soon if I got in...if I did, I'll share!

4. DIY Christmas presents - I really want to do some DIY gifts this year. I've done a few before like this glitter state for my brother-in-law's sister, and I'd love to have some on hand for friends and neighbors.

5. Get our family photos - Le sigh. We have them scheduled for Saturday, so we'll see if they actually happen?! If they do, we'll finally have pictures for very last minute Christmas cards!

6. Create a deployment wall - Spencer is just old enough to understand that Daddy is leaving for a long time, and I want to make something that offers both of us a visual reminder of his return. I think it will help!

Do you guys write goals down on or off the blog? Do you think that it helps you?

today you are two

Dear Spencer, 

I'm writing this on the eve of your second birthday, and though I promised myself I wouldn't get at all teary when I wrote this out, I find that I'm tearing up. Two years ago, you blessed both me and your daddy by coming into this world screaming and making your presence known.

Since that day, it's been an adventure with you...a whirlwind that I look back on both in awe and amazement, love and happiness. You, my sweet boy, are my world. You're my firstborn; my baby boy. You made me a mama, and for that I am forever grateful. 

At two years old, you're strong-willed and fiercely independent. You have a fiery ambitious streak that I both love and envy because I am certain you will go places with that spirit. You know what you want, and you're determined to get it. You're goofy, funny, sweet, silly, kind and absolutely ridiculous. You indulge your mama's every whim, and you are a charming little man - destined to be a heartbreaker. You always kiss your mama goodnight, you meow at the kitties, and you dutifully hold the bottle for your bother.

Baby boy, on your second birthday, I want you to know that my wish for you is everything. I want you to have it all - love, happiness, friendship, family, adventure. I want you to experience the good and the bad because it's through the hard times that we learn just how strong we are, and you, my little man, are a warrior. No matter what curveballs life may throw you, know that Mama and Daddy are always here, standing right beside you - your strongest advocates.

Today is all for you, Spencer Bruce, and I hope it's the perfect day.

All the love in the world, my baby boy,


welcome december

I can hardly believe that November (and Thanksgiving, for that matter) have come and gone! November was a whirlwind month, and I don't doubt that December is going to be much the same. We're less than two months from Ryan's deployment now, and there's so much happening that I'm afraid I'm going to miss something! 

I meant to blog over Thanksgiving, then I meant to blog the last few days, but I just couldn't seem to find the right words to accurately describe the holidays. So, I'd like to share a few things that have wrapped up in November and what's to come.

1. We did the Turkey Trot trail race in NH, and it was cold this year! Poor Auntie Nini couldn't run because she hurt her knees during the Marine Corps Marathon, so she held Porter while we did the race.

^^^ both images courtesy of Joe Viger Photography

2. I got a new sewing machine! Mine was slipping every 10th stitch, and I was losing my mind with trying to do orders well. So, we bit the bullet and bought a Husqvarna Viking Emerald 116. I love it.

3. We switched the boys into the same room yesterday. Well, I did, actually! I had a burst of determination and got it done. I'll take some pictures to show you soon. I wanted to do a nautical room, but I decided to go simpler with black and white & Wild West. 

4. Black River Boutique had a record month last night, and I had a blast fulfilling all the fabulous orders that came in. I have some exciting plans for the New Year...can't wait till they come to fruition!

5. Spencer turns two on Sunday, and I can't believe it. Time has flown by so fast. I can't believe my little ginger boy is going to be two. We had our first celebration in NH last week, and seeing the wonder in his eyes was one of the greatest mama moments ever. We're having a birthday party for him, and I can't wait to share how things go!

6. Ryan's parents arrive late tonight to visit with us before Ryan deploys. We're also finally having our temple sealing (we're Mormon, if I haven't shared that before). It should be a beautiful time, as I've never actually been to the temple.