Wednesday, December 31, 2014

//1 2 i n 2 0 1 4//

Another end-of-the-year link-up.  This one hosted by Dwija at House Unseen
12 photos, one from each month, so sum up the year we had over here. 
If you are new to The Hearts Overflow, I hope this will bring you up to speed.
If you've been reading for a while, I hope you will enjoy reviewing these memories with me!


We spent 16 days in the hospital with Johnny while he had his 3rd and 4th surgeries to take down his colostomy and then clear up a bowel obstruction.  It was by far our most difficult hospital stay, full of many set backs and much discouragement. But we made it through and got to take home our little man fully recovered.

Cloth diapering took on a whole new dimension as Johnny began having poopy diapers for the first time ever! So much excitement, and so many poopy diapers.  It was also the WORST winter of all time. I may have had one or two melt downs. 

Winter continued to be awful. And I got bangs.  After vowing 5 years earlier that I would never ever get bangs again. I guess I learned that I shouldn't keep my promises to myself? I also hosted a series called NICU diaries, a special salute to babies who have had a rough start.

We were finally able to go outside. (Though you can still see traces of snow.) Here is Johnny swinging for the first time.  

I celebrated mothers day as a mom for the first time. And Johnny turned 1! He has been such a blessing and answer to prayer, so we made 3 cakes and had all our friends over to celebrate.

Summer brought Alex's hardest semester of classes yet. He literally spent every night studying. That and the all the summer humidity made for a sometimes crabby mama.  I taught summer lessons and Johnny and I tried to be outside as much as possible. 

I finally fell into a good prayer routine over the summer. Johnny got hand foot and mouth, I enjoyed summer cooking, and Alex kept studying.  

Alex was between semester, and we took a family vacation to visit Alex's family at The Farm and in Pittsburgh.  It was so nice to get to spend two whole weeks together as a family with no homework or other concerns. Johnny loved being with his cousins.  Also, I turned 28. 

Harvest time. We so many tomatoes from the garden. I love September because we eat tomatoes basically everyday.  Also, Johnny finally started to walk on his own!

I did the October blogging challenge.  I though it might make me hate blogging, but no.  Turns out I really like blogging. Alex and I celebrated 5 years of marriage. I know it seems obvious to say they have been the best 5 years of my life.  But they really have been, and there's just no other way to say it. 

Winter arrived way too early! Silver lining: Johnny looks cute all bundled up. Alex was accepted to PA school. YAY! And we continued to fail at getting Johnny to sleep through the night. Boo. 

This month has been full of family and celebrating and love. I had to remind myself to chill out on the to-do lists and just enjoy advent and Christmas, and when I did that things went way better. Johnny loves being with family.  And his favorite game is peek-a-boo. 

All in all, 2014 has been a great year. Life may not always be easy, but it is always good. We are blessed beyond measure. We are ready to welcome a new year and all the new things it will bring.

Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2015!


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Monday, December 29, 2014

//14 things i learned in 2014//

Thanks to Gina, from Someday Saints, for hosting this fun linkup. I always get so nostalgic at the end of the year and love thinking back and remembering things. The good and the bad, the Fun and the difficult, it's all these things together that shape us and make us who we are.

Here's some of what I learned this year.

1. If I stay up late, Johnny will ALWAYS get up early. Always. End of story.

good thing he's so cute.
2. Poopy diapers are a good thing. We have changed SO MANY POOPY DIAPERS in 2014. I kind of wish I had kept a running tally so that I could give you an exact figure. I can't, but I'm guessing it was something like 2,400. BUT I am so thankful we had all those poopy diapers to change instead of a colostomy bag to deal with. 

3. How to knit cables. I've been wanting to do this for years, but always thought it was too advanced for my knitting know-how.  Turns out, cables are really easy. And I love them.

like what you see? check out my etsy shop!
thanks to my friend, Caila, for being my stellar model!
4. I like setting and achieving goals. I haven't done a lot of goal setting since graduating from college. I'm glad I don't have the stress of deadlines and performances anymore. But I think a little bit of pressure is good. Without it I would stay in my pajamas all day and watch BBC period dramas. Two of my personal highlights from this past year were getting my Etsy shop up and running, and participating in the October blogging challenge. Those may not be the most prestigious goals that were set in 2014, but it felt good to say that I was going to do them, and then see them get done!

5. Sleep deprivation is something I can get used to.  This summer we drove to eastern Ohio to visit Alex family. On the way there we drove through the night because we thought that would be the easiest was to take a 15 hour road trip with a one year old. The thing that surprised me though, was that I did most of the over night driving. And I didn't even feel that crappy the next day. I guess nursing four times a night for over a year is good for something!

6. I am a control freak. This not a good thing. I think having a baby has helped me see myself for what I really am: someone who likes to have things done HER WAY.

7. And closely related: There is more than one right way to (fill in the blank) a baby. Feed a baby, Change a baby. Bathe a baby. Hold a baby. Dress a baby. Play with a baby. I do it one way, my husband may do it a completely different way, and they are both. fine.

8. How to say no. We used to help with music at our church every week and lead bible study and host lots of parties and go see lots of people, and we just can't do all of it any more. It's hard for me to say no because I like to be involved in lots of things, and I don't like disappointing people, but I'm learning I am happier when we have less going on.

9. Why people stay home so babies can sleep. I never understood why people had to cut social engagements short, or decline them all together, because their babies had to sleep. Can't they sleep at our house? Or later? Is it really that big of a deal if they miss a nap? Johnny was a portable sleeper for a long time, but not anymore. And I now I understand. If the baby does't sleep, the baby ain't happy. And if the baby ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

10. 20 students is enough. I have more students this year than I have ever had! YAY! I'm so thankful that I get to use my musical training regularly, and that I can generate some income while staying home with Johnny. But 20 students is my limit. I don't know how some people keep 40 or 50 students. 20 students means that on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays the only things I get done are Johnny's nap and teaching. 20 is enough.

11. It's ok if everything is not fun. I like to have fun. This last year, however, has not been so fun.  Alex has been in class the entire year, some of his classes were really hard, and except for a few weeks of breaks, he's had homework to do pretty much every night. We want to hang out and have fun as a family, but after dinner Alex would go in one room, and Johnny and I in another. I just had to except that sometimes things might be lonely and not so much fun, but that we are working towards a goal and in the end it will be worth it.

12. I'm addicted to sugar. I love sugar and am always looking forward to the next time I can have a sweet. It's gotten so bad that I'm going sugar free for the month of January.  Pray for me.

13. I love family time. When Alex doesn't have homework and we can just hang out and play with Johnny, and watch him do new things, that's the best.

14. Patience is the hardest. I pray almost everyday that God would make me a patient mother and wife and almost everyday I have to ask forgiveness for my bad temper and lack of patience. Why is it so hard? I'm almost afraid to pray for it, because sometimes it seems like when I do, that's when all hell breaks loose in our house! Once again, pray for me.

How bout you? What have you learned this year? I hope you have some time to reflect on what has happened and how it has shaped you.


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Monday, December 22, 2014

//embrace the ordinary vol. 3: christmas dreams and christmas realities//


"There's so much I have to get done before Christmas!"

I've said it. And you probably have too.  I really do not like that the weeks, especially the days, leading up to Christmas are so busy. But I get stuck in the muck every year. I want to get ALL THE THINGS done before Christmas. I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to do all the baking/gift wrapping/decorating/party planning, but why? Is it going to help me more fully celebrate the season? Or is it just that my own ego wants to have the pinterest-perfect Christmas I see splattered all over every social media platform? Breaking my back to have the "perfect Christmas" isn't worth it if it means I turn into a Grinch making myself and my family miserable. So these last couple of days before Christmas I'm just going to let the to-do list slide. If it happens, great! If not, Christmas will still happen. 

Here's all the things I wanted to do, and what will actually get done. 

Christmas Baking.  The goal was to have enough home made goods to bring a giant cookie platter to each family gathering and a few smaller ones to some friends' homes. So far I have made a couple batches of some no-bake type cookies, (my mama-self loves those!!) and I'm in the process of making rolled sugar cookies.  It's been going on for over a week.  Last week I made the dough and it sat in fridge for 5 days. On Saturday I rolled them out and baked them. And now they are waiting to be decorated. This is the part I used to love and now can't stand. Would someone like to come decorate my cookies for me? There are two other cookies I wanted to make. Maybe for New Years?

Christmas Shopping. I *think* I'm done! But that only happened  a few days ago.  I really admire people who get their Christmas shopping done before advent even starts. I'm going to try to do that next year. 

Gift Wrapping. I love to have presents wrapped and under the tree early, like a couple weeks before Christmas. It looks pretty and I love the anticipation. As of two hours ago I hadn't done any wrapping.  Then Johnny and I did a few before he went down for a nap and I'm hoping between Alex and me we can get it all done tonight. 

The first Christmas Alex and I were married I saved ALL the gift wrapping until Christmas Eve.  We both worked until 3 then had to get home, get showered, and wrap gifts for not just each other but all of our family and get to church by 4:30.  There were words and tears and it was the worst. I vowed on that day that I would never again procrastinate on gift wrapping. And I haven't. But I'm cutting it a little close this year.

Christmas Cards. I started off so on top of cards this year.  I had them ordered and stamps purchased by the end of November. The cards arrived, and then they sat in their box for three weeks. Alex and I started to address them a couple nights ago. I took one batch to the PO this morning. If we finish the gift wrapping tonight we may get to the cards.  Or you may be getting your card from us in the new year.

Handmade Gifts. Because I'm crazy and love bringing stress into my life I decided it would be a good idea to make a gift for every member of my family. Once I got the idea in my head I was obsessed with it and couldn't get it out. I have 3 gifts done. And two days to make four more.

So much yarn, so little time. 

Advent Reflecting. I try to read a book or do some extra reflective thing each advent to try to combat the exact kind of planning-and-doing frenzy that I have worked myself into this year. My goal was to do the scripture readings and spend some time writing in my Blessed Is She journal every day during Advent, and oh, there are so many empty pages in that journal. 

This is where I feel my deficiencies and frustrations the most. Advent is such a holy time of year with all its waiting and mystery and darkness, and I squander it on the flashy, the transitory, and the materialistic.  I don't mean to poo-poo our Christmas traditions, they are fun and if done right can be a means for spreading so much love. But this year they were kind of becoming an end in and of themselves.  

Thankfully the Lord extends His mercy at all times to all people. I still have time to contemplate the Incarnation. Christmas will still come with all it's joy and glory regardless of how many cookies I baked or cards I sent out. Jesus will still come into my heart again, and so I'm just going to sit back and enjoy that fact. 

Have a Merry Christmas! 

linking up with Gina at Someday Saints for Embrace the Ordinary


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

// 5 Christmas Albums That Don't Stink (not even a little bit) //

linking up with Call Her Happy for 5 Favorites


I know that the stores and radio stations have been playing Christmas music for a while now. I even heard a report from someone that they heard Christmas music playing in some big store the day after Halloween! Way too early, people. And to make a bad thing even worse, the kind of Christmas music we're hearing for all of November is the most insipid, watered-down, and mind-numbing Christmas music that exists.  Why are we still listening to Johnny Mathis sing "It's Beginning To Look  A Lot Like Christmas?" Haven't we had enough?

We are just beginning to listen to Christmas Music in our home. When it comes to Christmas music not just any radio or Pandora station will do. I am picky. So when I say I like a Christmas album you know it had passed a great deal of scrutiny. Here are my very favorite Christmas albums. Hopefully they will help you out of any musical ruts you may have  fallen into. These never get old. Put them all together for a truly diverse and interesting Christmas playlist.


Harry Connick Jr.: When My Heart Finds Christmas

Do you know who Harry Connick Jr is? If you don't, prepare to swoon. This guy is the Frank Sinatra of our day, a true and dreamy crooner, who also is an incredible jazz pianist and writes a lot of his own music too! This album has been a favorite in my family for at least 10 year. It's full of fun big band arrangements, swinging beats, squealing trumpets, impressive piano solos, and there's a few tender moments tucked in there as well. 


I first heard this album a couple years ago when I was working at our local trendy gift shop over Christmas, and it is delightful.  Tons of familiar carols done with 1940's style harmonies that will remind you of the Andrew Sisters. Put this one on for you holiday cocktail parties and you will instantly feel retro and classy. 


Because, who doesn't love Zoey Deschanel? Well, Alex is not too keen on her, but this is my blog, not his. Zoey Deschanel, of being quirky and having great bangs fame, teams up with M. Ward to create a duo that is equal parts hipster, folksie, and indie, with a dash of class and nostalgia. This album makes a great accompaniment to your dinner party, or your quiet evening curled up writing Chirstmas cards. 


Christmas: the only time of the year that a capella music is acceptable.  Alex and I have been fans of Pantatonix ever since they were hailed The Sing Off champions of 2011. We were a little sore that Afro Blue didn't win (they should really put out a Christmas album) but we have definitely made room in our hearts for Pentatonix as well. I know a capella can be a little cheesy and it's not for everyone. But I encourage you to give these guys a chance.  Every single member of this group has got some mad vocal skillz. Even the beat boxer. And OMG. I just saw that they are coming to Minneapolis in March.  Date night, honey?


The Dale Warland Singers (now just called The Singers) are my favorite choral group ever. Hands down. They are from the Twin Cities, but have been acclaimed on a national level. Lux Arumque is not specifically a Christmas album, though many of these sacred choral works are very fitting for the Advent and Christmas seasons. I love choral music at Christmas time. I don't think there is anything more reverent or divine than the sound of voices. It's the perfect way to quiet your heart and prepare it to receive Jesus. 

And so I will leave you with this song, my favorite off of that album: O Magnum Mysterium 

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

(are you crying yet?)

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Monday, December 8, 2014

// Mama Needs a Manicure // Sponsor Spotlight and Jamberry Giveaway //

Last giveaway before Christmas. I hope you enter. It's a good one!


I got invited to a Jamberry Facebook party in September and had no intention of actually buying any, but after hearing all about them and seeing all the cool designs I decided to give them a shot.  I love to paint my nails but I never even attempt it anymore.  Between diaper changes, washing dishes, and playing musical instruments, any manicure would be chipped within 2 hours. And when would I actually have time to paint my nails and let them dry? That's right. Never.

Enter Jamberry Nail Wraps! Ta-da!

There are so many reasons I love Jamberries.  

1. I don't have to wait for them to dry.  It's ok if you get interrupted while putting them on. (essential for me because interuptions are bound to happen). You don't have to wait for them to dry so I could get three fingers done, go change a diaper, then come back and finish. No smearing wet nail polish.

2. They stay on really well! Unlike my nail polish which literally would chip the same day, I've had my Jams last for 2 weeks! Amazing!

My own Jamicure. I love me some florals.

3. They come in super fun designs! I personally love the florals. Just give me all the florals. But there are so many designs, there's really something for everyone. And it's fun to have fancy fingers!

Being able to do your nails is such a great way to administer a little self care. It's always been sort of relaxing and therapeutic, so finding out about Jamberry Nails was such a pleasant surprise. I really wanted to share the Jamberry love with you guys and was so excited when Jenn said she wanted to team up with me to give away a full sheet of wraps (enough for 2 manis and 2 pedis!).

Jenn's going to give you the low down on the Jams, and then the giveaway's at the end!

Describe for us what exactly Jamberries are and how they work?

Jamberries are heat-activated vinyl nail wraps.  They are made with non-toxic materials and are safe for all ages!  A full sheet of wraps includes 18 wraps and is enough to do at least two manicures and two pedicures.  They work simply by selecting the correct size wrap, applying heat to the wrap, pressing it to the nail bed, heating to seal, and filing away the excess wrap from the edge of the nail.  The heat (from a blow dryer or Jamberry mini heater) activates the adhesive and creates a seal tight enough to hold up against almost anything.  The wraps will last up to two weeks on fingers and up to six weeks on toes!

Why do you like Jamberries better than regular nail polish?

 I am a stay-at-home mom to an 18 month old and nail polish would NEVER last!  Also, it was a lot of effort to paint my nails (at least an hour in which I could do nothing else) when the results would only last a few days.  Then it seemed I never had time to take the ugly, chipped polish off and I was completely embarassed of how my nails would look, yuck!  With Jamberries, I can put in little effort to have nails that look good and last.  As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like my looks get put on the back burner quite often so even if I'm still in my sweatpants at 2 in the afternoon and my hair and make-up have not been done, at least my Jams look great!  I also do not like the smell of nail polish and/or the fact that it could chip off anywhere (like in food) and is probably not a safe thing to be ingested and with Jamberries, I don't have to worry about smell or losing any part of them in my food to be eaten!

How did you first hear about/try Jamberries?

In June of this year, a friend of mine added me to a Jamberry Facebook party that she was hosting!  The party was so much fun that I just HAD to try the product.  The consultant sent me samples and I fell in love because I put the sample on while my son was crawling all over me AND it lasted for more than two weeks!!  I hosted my own party and earned a bunch of freebies so I have been absolutely hooked ever since!

What inspired you to become a Jamberry consultant?

I LOVED the product so much and loved the flexibility to do completely online parties!  When I had my son, we took a huge loss in income since we decided for me to stay home with him.  We had been surviving every month but without much extra to save or use for fun money.  The possibility of earning a little cash while still being able to stay home with my son was incredibly appealing.  The consultant kit was reasonably priced and my husband and I decided it was worth a shot.  It has definitely proven to be worth it!

Can you tell us a little about Jamberry Nails as a company?

Jamberry was founded by three sisters who were determined, after an expensive trip to the nail salon, to find a more cost-efficient way of keeping nails looking polished!  They launched the first Jamberry nails wraps in late 2010 and the company has soared since then.  The Jamberry goal is to arm its customers with style and confidence without requiring too much of their time or money.  The company is continuing to grow and is continually looking to reach out to charities in the communities in which it sells.  One of the charities they work with is the Autism Society of America.  For every sale of the wrap "Autism Awareness," Jamberry donates $2 of the sale to this charity.  Jamberry consultants also have the opportunity to do fundraisers for different charities, instead of hostess rewards, Jamberry will donate 10% of sales to the charity.  Jamberry also be donated to the Salvation Army this holiday season with sales during the Black Friday weekend!  The company is very generous and, from my experience, is very concerned with its customers and their families/communities.

Which is your favorite Jamberry?

 I have a REALLY hard time with this question.  One of the reasons I joined Jamberry was because I could not decide which wraps were my favorites, I wanted them ALL!  If I had to choose just one, I would probably go with Star Performer because I am obsessed with stars and this wrap has so many different colors, I can mix and match it with lots of other wraps!

Jenn is giving one FULL SHEET of wraps- that's enough for 2 manis and 2 pedis. You can enter using the rafflecopter below. And if you feel like shopping (fabulous Christmas gifts for just about anybody) visit Jenn's Jamberry website, choose "Anna's Blog Giveaway Party" when you check out and you will get extra entries into the giveaway! 
Jam away my lovelies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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