Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Karis Jane: 3 Months!

I gave you all a little update at one month, and here we are, two months later. Time is FLYING by and it's super bittersweet. While I can't wait to do certain things with KJ once she's older and more able, I also am going to, and already, MISS MY BABY! I swear she grows every night in her sleep.

I can guarantee you the Lord knew what He was doing when He made me her mama. He knew I had no idea what to do with a baby and gave me as low maintenance of a baby as possible.

Karis Jane is such a happy go-lucky baby. She is happy from the moment she wakes up and will just sit happily, kicking her fat little legs around, in her crib for a while before crying for someone to come get feed her. This may or may not happen in the middle of the night since, you know, I'm sleeping. Speaking of sleeping, Karis is still doing a lot of it!! While she is definitely awake more than she was, she still loves a nap! She get it from her mama! Since I returned to work, we tried to move the time we put her to bed from 10:30-11:00 to more like 9:00-9:30. Again, she's a super easy baby so we just put her pajamas on, nurse her, and she's out like a light 99% of the time. Thank goodness that cluster feeding has calmed way down! While she's nursing before bed, Alex reads her a Bible story & we pray over her. This is probably my favorite time of the day.  She'll sleep for about 5-6 hours before she wants to eat. Not bad! Since returning to work, Alex shares some nighttime duties with me, which is definitely helpful. I wake him up (do men not hear crying babies?!) and he goes and gets her out of the crib, changes her, and brings her to me in bed. I'll nurse her for about 20 minutes and she'll pass out again. Then she'll sleep for another 3-5 hours! I'm telling you, my baby loves her some sleep. Dear Lord, please let this last. 

I returned to work after 13 weeks of maternity leave. Going to work wasn't THAT bad. Knowing me and my love for my job and my work ethic, there's no way I wouldn't be making appearances at the end of the school year anyways, so I might as well be getting paid for it, amiright?! I had to return to work with two more school weeks left, then work the following workdays. Again, not bad. God DEFINITELY timed my pregnancy & subsequent maternity leave PERFECTLY. Alex's mom could watch Karis Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and my mom graciously took off work Mondays and Tuesdays while I am back at work a few weeks. Then I'll have my summer off with my baby girl!! I am super excited to spend the time with her. She's growing like a weed & is such a joy!

3 month stats:

  • Size 2 diapers
  • Wearing 0-3 or 3 month clothing
  • Probably 13ish lbs now... She was 12 lbs 1 oz at her 2 month appt. 
  • She has been sleeping in her crib full-time for a couple weeks now. 
  • She can ALMOST roll over. She sleeps on her side. :) 
  • Starting to use her hands for things.
  • Still sticks that tongue out for pics and smiles A LOT. :) She is starting to baby laugh too and it's THE MOST precious thing. 
  • She doesn't gag EVERY time we offer her a pacifier. She prefers her hands right now!
  • She loves bath time, watching the ceiling fan, to ride in the car or just basically always be moving, and her swing! Her swing is still her favorite thing. (That was the best investment.)
  • She still hasn't lost her hair & her eyes are still blue. We may end up with a blue-eyed baby after all! 
  • Still nursing! Getting better all the time... but still takes a bottle like a champ! Woo-hoo! 
  • Usually just cries when hungry, but starting to teethe and fight sleep a little... Nana purchased an amber necklace in hopes it helps!
I get it now. The overload of pictures. The missing your baby. The pure pride and joy. The bittersweetness. I get it. Motherhood is going to wreck me, but it's a pretty awesome job! Again, thanking God Karis is who she is. While I can, I also can't wait to see her grow into the little girl and later young woman God has created her to be. 

7 weeks old - first REAL smile caught on camera :) :)

8 weeks old

2 months old

11 weeks old

11 weeks old

12 weeks old - Mama's last day of maternity leave

Memorial Day 2016 - 12 weeks old

still loving that swing!!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

1 Month Into The Best & Hardest Job Ever

While I have the house to myself for a little while I wanted to go ahead & jot down some thoughts I have. As important as I think journaling is, I certainly don't take the time to do it enough. That, among a million other things.

But here I am. Today marks 1 MONTH! One month of my most important job ever. One month of long nights and days flying by. One month of the biggest emotional rollercoaster I think I've ever been on.

Side note: This blog takes me back to the year 2005. Almost 11 years ago! I was just starting college & I'm pretty sure some of those early blog posts were copy & pasted from my MySpace account to preserve them forever. Which was a good idea because after a little investigation, my MySpace account is restricted & the good Lord above only knows that old account information! BUT MY POINT IS... This blog & I go way back. I really need to keep cleaning it up, just to keep what's here relevant, but - over 38 THOUSAND people have viewed my blog over the years. And I just can't bring myself to start a new one. This is me. This is my life. Hence, the name of the blog. :) 

So, this blog's hopefully going to help me document this new job of mine: motherhood.

This has been the best and hardest month of my life. ... "The things they don't tell you..."

I mean, they let me bring a BABY home, y'all. A real-life CHILD. And trusted me with it!!! For years I always said, "I don't know what I'd DO with a baby." Not like, I don't know what I'd do if I got pregnant, but like LITERALLY- when *this* happens, what do you DO?! How do you know it's okay? How do you know you're doing a good job? How do you know what you're NOT supposed to do? I had no idea what to do with a baby.

If you're like me and currently pregnant, thinking of/worrying about getting pregnant, or just think you MIGHT be a mother someday, don't worry. Luckily they do teach you a couple things in the hospital. And offer you some reading material. And offer you some classes before you go into labor. And there's some WONDERFUL Facebook groups of moms who just let you post completely random questions & they will answer you in an attempt to help (Shout out to my 16 Clovers!). And for the love of the Internet! There's YouTube videos and websites (www.kellymom.com) and anything you want to know out there. MORE than you'd want to know! Oh and there's your people. Mamas all around you will offer you support & advice....whether you want it or not. Just take it ALL in & use what you want. Everyone has a different opinion but man, I'm glad I have the love, support, & advice from all that I do. I've learned so much & still have approximately two million questions, but that's okay. I'm learning. WE are learning!

I say we because I have come to learn that Karis is new at this too! For almost 10 months she was packed tight in a warm space & didn't have to worry about or work for a thing. Now we put her in this world with all these lights and people and noises and smells and sensations and expect her to just adapt. While babies are surprisingly resilient, and some things ARE natural, but she's on a learning curve too! She is learning, and improving, and surprising me every single day. She's pretty great. :) But also Alex. While he probably does a few Google searches a day himself, he knows I've done some research & listens when I suggest new things. He's learning. He's a new dad & I am in awe of how amazing he is at it. Not that I didn't think he would be, but, you know what I'm saying.

I ended up having an unplanned c-section & was out of commission for a while after the birth. I think 2 or 3 days went by in the beginning when I didn't change a diaper, or her, or anything actually other than hold and nurse my baby. Alex did EVERYthing. And didn't bat an eye. He gets all the awards for being so awesome then and now. God surely blessed me with a wonderful husband and father to Karis!

My people have also been the best. Shout out to Danae for coordinating meals for us while we came home & adjusted to life. I can't begin to tell you how extremely helpful that was. Shout out to our friends, family, and neighbors who have provided the meals and the company. And when I say Karis has some amazing grandparents, I mean it. They are there at the drop of a hat if needed & have supported us in ways I can't even begin to name. She is already spoiled rotten & so, so loved. My gal pals have been absolutely wonderful: Coming by to bring me sanity, monogramming Carolina onesies on demand (that was all Alex's doing, y'all), wishing me well, asking me how I'm doing, and offering me support when times got tough. I truly appreciate each & every one.

While it's been so awesome to see everyone come together to help us introduce this little lady to life, it HAS been an adjustment and honestly so hard at times. I am thankful for tough times because that's when I can just cry & pray & have faith that the Lord will provide. And how He has! He always does. And I have faith that He will continue to do so. The Lord knows just what you need, when you need it. The Lord has provided me with a child who loves to sleep as much as her mama, all the support mentioned above, improvements in our breastfeeding journey (LORD, GIVE ME STRENGTH), and countless other things I do and don't even realize. It's by the grace and mercy of God that I can CELEBRATE making it to this one month mark!!

Happy 1 Month Karis Jane!! You are loved!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015's Goals: Where are they now?

2015 has come & gone and man, what a year it was! Remember when I made some goals for myself for 2015? (Probably not.) Well, here they are with some updates... Just wanted to give MYSELF an update & also remind any readers that it's okay to not fulfill every promise to yourself. Did I set myself up for failure? Probably NOT, but, I definitely needed to be reminded more often of my goals in order to maintain them. I think I did okay! I'm not beating myself up at all and you shouldn't either.
Here's what I plan to do in 2015... Wish me luck!
  • I want to have technology-free evenings with my husband. At least one a week. Doesn't happen. Don't even know if I brought this up to him. Maybe I should? 
  • I want to stick with Weight Watchers and lose at least 25 pounds to start with. I worked my butt off with my gal pal Whitney & only lost 10 lbs. Then I lost another 5 lbs during my first trimester (gotta love morning sickness!) Either way, I did lose some weight, which I was thankful for when I started packing on the pregnancy pounds. 
  • I want to sew/hem all my clothes that need it, and get really good at doing it so that maybe I can hem for others in the future. Okay, I don't foresee me doing much for others, considering I currently have a growing stack of to-hem clothes. Seriously every pair of bottoms I buy (pajamas included) need hemming and it is so annoying! I promise I'm getting around to that. 
  • I want to get rid of all my clothes that are really too small. Some things I envision fitting back into in the near future, but some stuff I just need to kiss goodbye and donate to someone in need. Done and done. I am so not a packrat. 
  • I want to keep growing my hair out. This will be a challenge, as I get easily annoyed & tend to just chop it off on whims. I have not cut the front of my hair at all this year!! The back grows so much faster than the front. Am I the only one whose hair does this? I think it has to do with me wanting the front more perfect, and using heat, etc. more on the front. I did chop like 4" off the back to make it a longer angled bob. The back caught up to the front.... the cycle continues. 
  • Keep my new car clean. Inside & out. Not a chance. I am who I am. 
  • Find a way to organize all my jewelry laying around. I did but I'm not loving my system, and it has currently failed me at the moment. Or maybe I failed it? Either way, I need to find a better home for my jewelry. 
  • Create a 2014 photo book on Snapfish. Forget scrapbooking. I ultimately want to make photo books for every year and occasion I can. That'll have to be a summer project. Didn't happen. Still want to do this. 
  • 100% housetrain Chloe. She is good most of the time but if it ain't 100%, we need to work on it. Sometimes we take her out in the mornings & she won't go, but then she's stuck inside all day while we work, and of course she goes inside then. Ugh! Somebody just come take & train my dog & bring her back all obedient and well-mannered. Chloe's good 99% of the time. If she messes up, it's typically our fault. She's great, really. :) 
  • GO TO NEW YORK CITY. FOR THE LOVE! YES YES AND YES! I did it! FINALLY! I've only been talking about it for 10 years! I'd like to say I'll blog about it, but I think I know myself better by now. I'd still like to though! To sum it up: I had a wonderful time with my gal pal Elizabeth & her sister, Emily. It was 3 days of awesome. 

  • Go on a fun beach trip. HAHA!! So, I totally went to the beach. While I was about 7 weeks pregnant, and SO sick. Worst idea ever. Remind me to never do that again. Alex can leave my butt at home next time. Wait though.... we DID go on a cruise to the Bahamas this year for our anniversary!! That's a fun beach trip!!!! I totally didn't forget about that. I just hear "beach" and think of all the yuckiness from this summer. Sorry, Bahamas! 
Cruise to the Bahamas in April 2015
  • Do more couples devotions and praying with my husband. While we have improved in this area, we have a long way to go. 

You win some, you lose some. With a baby on the way, the amount of things I'm trying to improve is seriously so overwhelming. I am just trying to take life one day at a time and hope for the best!

Until next time, readers... here's a pic for the road!
Christmas 2015 & 30 weeks along with Baby Mullen

Wishing you all a very happy & healthy 2016!


Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Confident Heart: Chapter 1

Our church has recently started a Wednesday night series for women geared towards the book, A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. The cover says the book's about how to stop doubting yourself and how to live in the security of God's promises.

As I read I like to highlight things that stick out to me. I'd love to share those with you in case the words also resonate with you, and also share bits and pieces of my heart as I go along. If you like what you're reading, then I encourage you to read the book!

Some of my excerpts will just be quotes I like, Bible verses to read, or passages that really spoke to my heart. Some I'll elaborate on, some I just want to share for quick readings.

I think the whole point of reading a book like this, or being in a small group, is learning that you're not alone. So many of us feel the same exact way, for many different reasons, but feel as if we're alone or the only one going through a certain situation or emotion. Know you're not alone!! Whether you're willing to open up to a confidant or not, you're never alone. Jesus has seen it all, knows it all, has been there with you through it all, and has never left you and will never leave you. You aren't alone! But I know sometimes it makes it a lot easier to know you're not the only visible being feeling the same way... so hopefully that's what this book and/or blog post(s) will do for you: Let you know you're not the only one!

Now... here we go...

"Why do we look to things of this world to give us security, self confidence, and fulfillment? I think it's because the message that wordly things can fulfill us is all around us. It's on TV, it's the focus of countless songs, and it dominates advertisements. We can't even stand in the grocery store checkout lane without being bombarded by empty promises for a more fulfilling life. A better husband. A better body. A better career. A more beautifully decorated house. The magazines seem so slick, their promises so enticing. They sneak into our thought processes and make us think, 'If only I had _____, I'd be so secure and fulfilled.'  But the reality is, every single thing the world offers is temporary. No person, possession, profession, or position can ever fill the cup of a wounded, insecure heart -- not my heart, not your heart. It's an emptiness only God can fill. Only God can give true confidence." 
"[God's] truth waters us, sustains us, breathes new life into us and remakes us into the women He always intended us to be."
Those actually came from the foreward from Lysa TerKeurst but still... that really resonated with me. I don't know about you. I never thought of advertisements being advertisements of things to FULFILL you, but I guess they really are. They are marketed to show how your life will be better, more satisfying once you have this worldy thing, or that worldy thing. We buy, try, and feel so discouraged when the As Seen on TV item isn't what it seemed, or doesn't seem to work FOR US. We think it works on others, but not us, because we're just lucky like that. Or we think: If only I could get that promotion, or that new job, or that car, or those abs... life would simply be so much better! If this is our thought process then A) we aren't content with what God's blessed us with already and B) we are looking to things of this world to make us genuinely happy, which will never permanently work. Keyword there: permanently. I'm sure whatever it is you're willing to put time and money into will improve something for a short time, but it's never enough, is it? There's also more you want, more you need.

Chapter 1: Discovering the Shadow of My Doubts
"So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." (Hebrews 10:35-36)
 "You can only see the shadow because you have turned away from the light. Turn back towards the light."
Never have I ever thought about this. She spoke about how her shadow seemed so much bigger. Our problems (shadows) can often overwhelm us, because they often times look so much bigger than what they represent. Never would we even know this if we had not turned away from the light. I'm sure she meant this as a metaphor to Christ (the Light) but that's totally how I took it. If we continue to face the Light, we will not even see the large shadows behind us, ready to overwhelm and discourage us, keeping us from his Will and purpose for our lives.
"Have you ever agreed with the whispers of doubt and found yourself living with a sense of discouragement and defeat? Have you felt paralyzed by insecurity, and let it stop you from living confidently? If so, you are not alone."
I know I have often let doubt and overwhelming feelings keep me from doing things. Like sharing with you all, for example. Or completing a large task. If I can't convince myself that it's worth it, or that a large task can be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks, then I say "Forget it." Which usually turns around to bite me at some point -- whether it's physically, emotionally, or spiritually. So yeah, you're not alone.
"Perhaps you are good at hiding your doubts and no one but you knows the paralyzing power they have on your life." 
I am sure SO many of us hide what's REALLY going on in our minds and spirits for whatever reason. I hope that we can all grow to confide in at least one person. Not just any person, but someone who will not judge you, or shame you, or break your trust.
"Doubt keeps us from believing things can get better. Doubt convinces us that it's not worth the effort. Doubt shouts from the sidelines. 'It's too hard.' or 'You might as well quit.'"  
AMEN! Doubt stinks. It really is convincing at times. Doubt comes in all kinds of voices and can really deter you from living up to your full potential, or living in the blessings that Christ has planned for you. When you hear doubt in your mind, think about the potential that God has something great planned for you, and this may be the Devil trying to keep you from having that blessing.  
"Don't listen to those thoughts, my friend. God doesn't want us stuck in a cycle of defeat or living in the shadows of doubt." 
Again, because there's that chance He has something great planned for you, if you only listen to HIM and not that stupid doubt.
"Doubt and hope cannot live in our hearts at the same time. As God's girls, we need to know and believe that change is possible. We need to hope that life can be different. Otherwise, doubt will win every time and our hearts will be eroded by attitudes and emotions of defeat--but it is not supposed to be this way."  
We are never stuck in our ways. The great thing about Christ is that He makes us NEW. He renews our mercies every morning. He doesn't hold our past against us. He loves us NO. MATTER. WHAT. and that's just a hard thought to grasp sometimes. We cannot be held back by doubt and also hoping that Christ is making us new. He did not create us to live a life of self-loathing and discouragement. We are made to live joyful lives, serving and worshiping our Creator!!
"God has led me beyond believing IN HIM to really believing HIM by relying on the power of His words and living like they are true no matter what my feelings tell me. Some days I do better than others, and you will too. But I've found that when I choose to dwell in the assurance of Whose I am and who I am in Him, I have a confident heart."
This is a true task....not only believing IN GOD, but BELIEVING GOD. Believing what He says is true. About you. About Him. About others. Sometimes our feelings tell us one thing, but it's the opposite of what God tells us in his Word. We need to train our minds to recognize when we're thinking the opposite, and shake those thoughts and believe what God says is true.  
"We can be confident that we are praying God's will when we pray God's Word!" 
This is kind of a "DUH" statement but I can't say I have thought this thought one million times in my life. I'm sure I've heard it somewhere before, but it didn't really stick. But this is such a GOOD POINT. If we are praying for things that God promises us in His Word, or praying for us to transform into what He says we are meant for, then we can't go wrong! We aren't being selfish. We aren't cheating. We aren't praying the wrong prayer! We are asking for exactly what God wants for us in our lives, and He won't let us down.

I hope some of these things resonated with you like they did with me. I'm digging this book so far & can't wait to see what else it shares.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Think I'm Back

Every so often, I try to give this blog thing another go'round! Well, here I am again. It's not really that I haven't wanted to blog, but that I've really wanted to give my blog a major makeover, and just never did it. I spent some time this winter going through this blog. I really do a horrible job at consistently blogging but this blog is an interesting "journal," if you will, documenting my life since 2005, my senior year of high school. And for that, I am thankful. I am super into nostalgia and reminiscing, if you didn't know. :)

I don't know what all purposes this blog has served. It looks like in the beginning I just copied & pasted some blog posts from my MySpace since that was becoming a thing from the past. Then I used it as a place to store quotes I found online that I liked. Then I would update about life (procrastination and grad school mostly).

I ended up going through all my posts and cleaning up the tags, deleting pointless posts, and deleting posts of videos that you could no longer access. (Stupid, YouTube.)  It was all fun and games until I got to the year 2010, when I guess I really started blogging. I had 156 posts that year. So that took a(nother) backseat. I'm still not 100% done cleaning up the place, but I did give her a little plastic surgery. I am growing as a woman and sometimes just crave the simplicity. My blog was stimulus overload and it was time she looked her age.

Funny story: I think I attempted a blog post 1/31/2015 and it just never got published. Just found it in Drafts, actually so... just for kicks... this is what it said:

I literally have so many things I'd love to blog about. But-- I'll be realistic, and maybe skip all that I wanted to say I'd been thinking or up to, and say this:
2015 is here and  technically, at this point we're are 1/12th of the way done with it already! SERIOUSLY!
I saw a blog post that listed goals for the year & then at the end of the year, relisted those goals & stated where the blogger was in meeting those goals. Seems a bit far-fetched for me to think I'm going to remember to revisit this in a year, but why not try? Amiright?! 
Here's what I plan to do in 2015... Wish me luck! 
  • I want to have technology-free evenings with my husband. At least one a week.
  • I want to stick with Weight Watchers and lose at least 25 pounds to start with. 
  • I want to sew/hem all my clothes that need it, and get really good at doing it so that maybe I can hem for others in the future. 
  • I want to get rid of all my clothes that are really too small. Some things I envision fitting back into in the near future, but some stuff I just need to kiss goodbye and donate to someone in need. 
  • I want to keep growing my hair out. This will be a challenge, as I get easily annoyed & tend to just chop it off on whims. 
  • Keep my new car clean. Inside & out. 
  • Find a way to organize all my jewelry laying around. 
  • Create a 2014 photo book on Snapfish. Forget scrapbooking. I ultimately want to make photo books for every year and occasion I can. That'll have to be a summer project. 
  • 100% housetrain Chloe. She is good most of the time but if it ain't 100%, we need to work on it. Sometimes we take her out in the mornings & she won't go, but then she's stuck inside all day while we work, and of course she goes inside then. Ugh! Somebody just come take & train my dog & bring her back all obedient and well-mannered. 
  • Go on a fun beach trip.
  • Do more couples devotions and praying with my husband.
Maybe we'll talk more about that later? Again, not making any promises! Haha! But, life is taking a major turn and I have been having the urge to document again. I hope I stick with it. I find it stress-relieving and always love looking back at where I was mentally, physically, and spiritually during certain points in my past.

Stay tuned...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sharing & Reviewing My Premier Lay Flat Wedding Photo Book from Snapfish

FYI: this blog post is serving 2 purposes... 1) to share with you my wedding book, and 2) to kind of give a review of Snapfish's Premier Lay Flat photo books since there are ZERO online with pictures. {I know, I looked.} So, this might be a doozy...get ready!!

Last summer, one of my items on my Summer To-Do list was to make my our wedding photo album. For various reasons {#1 being I'm a slacker} it just didn't get done. Fast forward ten more months, and summer is fortunately here again! I've been out of work for about 6 weeks and finally I can say that our beaUTIFUL wedding pictures are displayed to my crazy OCD standards in a photo book that I made my very own self!!

I have previously used Snapfish to make our wedding guestbook. I used pictures of me & Alex  from the very beginning {2002!!} to our most recent engagement pictures. Instead of having all our wedding guests sign a book with just their names, they got to sign our photo book and leave a note if they wished! It turned out wonderful and I still look at it from time to time. It makes my heart smile. It's a great little treasure of mine.

Wedding pictures were SUPER important to me. I had a great photographer, Kerri Crutchfield, and from the moment I saw her sneak peek on Facebook I just knew I was going to love my wedding pictures!

This is what I knew:
-I wanted a {nice} photo book
-I couldn't dare pick out "just" 100ish pictures for my book
-I am too particular and would be super annoying to someone if they were trying to make a book for me
-Therefore, I wanted to design the book myself
-I hands down prefer Snapfish's photobook-making software over any other company's
-I needed to make this happen for as cheap as I could... {do y'all know my husband?!?!}

So obviously the thing to do was make another Snapfish book. I knew I wanted a 12"x12" book. I wanted it bigger than my 8"x11" guestbook and thought 11"x14" would be a bit "much." Luckily for me, Snapfish just came out with their new Premier Lay-flat Photo Books, which apparently is different from making a custom book and upgrading to have the pages lay flat. This new book is described with the statement, "New seamless lay-flat binding, extra-thick premium pages, and a deluxe matte cover make these books perfect for celebrating weddings, vacations, and life's sweetest moments." Sounds good to me!! I just wanted thick pages and lay-flat binding in a 12"x12" book so this worked perfect for me!!

Anyways, I worked on my book when I felt like it and got it all nice & finished. I had a question because I was being super particular, wanting to make sure the cover would be perfect. I used Snapfish's "Chat with us Live" online customer service option {which I always use with companies...way more efficient than calling a toll-free number!} and after chatting with the representative, they gave me a coupon code for 50% off my book!! A previous rep had told me you can only get 20% off the Premier Lay Flat books, and typically 50% off coupons I see do exclude those. I was SUPER happy to see that the new coupon code worked and I saved **$82**!!

Don't tell Snapfish, but I would have paid the full price for the book, I love it that much. ;) I was happy with the 20% off coupon. So yeah, ecstatic about the 50% off!

Anyways, I ordered my book July 28 and received it in the mail on August 2nd... that is a FAST turn-around time! My tracking showed an expected delivery date of August 8th, so my package was 6 days early! Just another reason I love Snapfish.

So far, in looking at my book, there are only two tiny issues. One Snapfish can work on in the future, and one I am currently chatting online with a customer service rep about.** My one beef is that there's nothing to keep it in. I know that's not included in the price and they never said it did. I just wish I had something to kind of wrap it up in or keep it from wearing with time. Y'all know what I'm saying?! I might have to make something. {HAHA! Just kidding!}

And my other beef is that my book preview showed that I filled all the pages up, but when I received my book there is a blank two-sided page in the back (shown below). It doesn't look too bad, just looks like I didn't put anything on 2 pages. And I would have, had I had known the page was added. Just sayin'! {SEE THE UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST REGARDING THIS ISSUE!}

Okay, so, now for the big reveal...
Happiness Within is right!!

the front cover

the back cover

A piece of tissue paper/vellum/whatever it's called in the front

Page 1 :)
One thing I will say is that I knew I was gonna be pushing it with fitting all my pics on 100 pages. {I am not crazy. I promise.} I didn't want to smoosh all my beloved pictures onto a small amount of pages. I wanted the photos enlarged so you could see all the smiling faces, little details, and the beautiful backgrounds. Surprisingly, I actually ended up fitting almost all my wedding photos on 85ish pages, which saved me a little bit of money! 

nice & thick :)

trying to get a good pic of the thickness of the pages

And here's just a couple snapshots of some of my favorite pages...
{excuse the blurriness of my photography!}

the details

the dress

"what might have been" / our "Plan A" ... thanks, rain! 

Pawpaw got a full-page spread!! 

me and my beautiful bridesmaids
love the pops of yellow all throughout the book!
special moment with my Dad

the kiss

Will cherish these pictures of my Pawpaw crying happy tears forever

"and they lived happily ever after..."

As you can tell, I ended up not going with any single picture full-page spreads. That's probably the purpose of the lay-flat books, but I did not necessarily have any picture I wished to enlarge to 1 ft by 2 ft. Haha! I did do several pages with just one picture, and that was big enough for me and my book. I personally just wanted the lay-flat pages to keep it clean and professional looking, as well as to be able to see all of any page that had pictures right up to the edge. 

**UPDATE: I chatted with "Yeshwanth" online, telling him/her about my issue. At first, they said it was "just the cover" or something like that. I was politely adamant that no, this was an error. I did not ask for anything specific, just wanted to make them aware of the issue and see if there was anything I could do about it. Yeshwanth had me upload pictures of my issue with the book {shown above} to confirm it. After confirmation, the conversation went a little something exactly like this...

Yeshwanth: Nicole , I have just now checked the snap shots and i see that the extra page has been added to the book . Please accept our sincere apologies for the extra page.
Yeshwanth: Shall i resubmit the order for you for free of cost?
nicole mullen: Would I need to send the 1st book back
nicole mullen: ?
Yeshwanth: No need of sending the book back to us.
nicole mullen: Oh my gosh, well then Yes, that would be marvelous!
Yeshwanth: Please give me a moment.
Yeshwanth: Just now I have re submitted your order with 2 day shipping to the above address at free of cost.. You will receive a confirmation e-mail from us within few minutes.
nicole mullen: I appreciate it so much
Yeshwanth: It was a pleasure assisting you. Is there anything else I can help with today?
Now how is THAT for customer service??? 100% customer satisfaction is what I am talking about!! That right there is what keeps customers coming BACK. Can I get an Amen?! 

So, as you can see, the photo books are definitely worth their price, especially to commemorate such a special occasion. I think the cost right now is $79.99 for the Premier Lay Flat photo books. However, that's just for their standard 20 pages! I think it's $2.79ish for a set of two extra pages {so 4 pages including front & back} after that. My book ended up being like $164 in the end, but remember, there's usually a 50% off coupon you can find/use! {Try retailmenot.com or chat online with a customer service rep ahead of time to get a code!}

Hopefully this post will give future photo book makers a better idea of what they're doing and investing in. If you have any questions, leave a comment! :) 

At the end of the day, I just loved the thing & wanted to share my great experience doing this! Now, onto the next thing on my summer to-do... only 2 weeks left of summer! {OMG!}


Oh, and in no way did Snapfish ask me to do this or pay me to say these things. But I'd so advertise their stuff {obviously} ;)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Recipe: Low-Carb Dark Chocolate Truffles

This is another recipe that I got from LowCarb4Life on YouTube. I just had to find  me a way to incorporate chocolate into my low-carb diet, so this was an easy way to do it. Her videos aren't too long and show you how to make the entire recipe, so I {being the non-foodie that I am} really appreciate that. However, she doesn't actually list out her recipes. So I have done you a favor, watched the video, written down the recipe, and counted the carbs for you!! {You're welcome!} Here you go...

Low-Carb Dark Chocolate Truffles 


  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar-free vanilla syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. almond {or vanilla...I chose vanilla} extract
  • 2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free chocolate chips


  1. Melt butter & chocolate chips together in microwave, stirring every 30-45 seconds.
  2. Add whipping cream, extract, and syrup to your buttery chocolate mixture & stir well.
  3. Spoon approx. 1 tbsp. of the mix into mini cupcake liners {I just used regular sized ones}. 
  4. Freeze cups for 30-45 minutes.

This makes about 10 truffles. I just stuffed the cupcake liners filled with mix anywhere I could sit them in my freezer. I also kind of rolled the liner around until the mix filled the entire bottom of the liner, if that makes any sense. Just make sure that you don't remove from freezer/fridge until you're about to serve them...they melt/soften fairly quickly!! 

They taste like fudge, give you your chocolate kick, and are only ONE net carb per truffle!! Amazing! The entire recipe was 10 net carbs, so divide that into however many truffles you want to make, if you want to make them larger or smaller than 1 tbsp. each. :)

And here's the video if you want to watch...



Monday, July 28, 2014

Progress Summary: Low Carb Round 2 - Week 2

Well, week 2 is over! As you can see, in week 1 of  "Low Carb Round 2" I lost five whole pounds. I really tried for a whole two days to continue tracking everything on here, but in pure Nicole fashion, that just did not work out. I have a few minor {and I mean minor} cheats throughout the week, and did not work out as much as I did during week #1. Last week I worked out {cardio & weight lifting each day} for five days. This week it was both for two days, cardio another day, and weight lifting another. I blame that totally on my gym partner leaving town! ;) It really does make a world of difference having someone meet you there & go through the motions with you. She also decided to "do low-carb" with me! What a pal!! 

So, since I didn't track everything like I did last week, let me just tell you what I've been eating and some of my to-go-to low-carb options for the week. 

Basically this week's dinner consisted of whatever concoction of hamburger meat we wanted to eat. It was either a burrito bowl or a low-carb pizza for lunch and/or dinner most nights. Salsarita's burrito bowls were definitely my inspiration and they are so easy and cheaper to make at home! 

I know that is definitely not Pinterest worthy, or appealing to the eye, but YUUUUUM!!!! It's lean hamburger meat with taco seasoning, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo. 

And here's a non-Pinterest-worthy pic of our low-carb pizzas....

We use large low-carb tortillas for the crust. Pizza sauce, Italian seasoning, lean hamburger meat (no taco seasoning this time), shredded cheese, onions, and red and green peppers for toppings! Cook for 6ish minutes at 350 degrees and voila!! You have a super yummy low-carb pizza option!! Alex asked for these two nights this week!! Warning when making these: We cut ours into four slices each, then you have to fold and hold each piece because the bottom's kind of flimsy. Either way, YUMMY! 

As always, my Premier Protein shakes came in handy when I was on my way to the gym and hadn't eaten since brunch. 
Premier Protein Shakes (2 net carbs)

EGGS!! Hard boiled, soft boiled, scrambled, you name it! At 0 carbs per egg, I definitely fill up on them about every morning!! 

And every morning I have to have a non-water drink! HAVE TO! My drugs of choice are...

Dr. Pepper really makes the only drink with "diet" in the name that I will drink!
DEFINITELY better than Diet Coke!! 

I have left these in my car since I always want a snack in the car... About 28 nuts is only 2 net carbs!! 

Nothing super special this week...just keepin' on keepin' on. 

I lost another 1.8 this week!! 

I know 1.8 isn't a lot, but five last week was, and was honestly surprising. I am okay with just going continuing to go down every week, even if it's in small increments. 

Today was my cheat day & by the end of the day I was ready to vomit. :( Eating low-carb has made me feel better for sure!! I also think I'm gaining energy while staying full, which is always a plus!! Maybe it's sleeping in a little, but I haven't wanted to nap at all this week, except today when I was in a carb coma. :/ 

So tomorrow starts week 3, kinda. Today should have started week 3, and I should have cheated yesterday, but that just means I waited even longer to really cheat. And it was really hard when my mother-in-law made this Oreo dessert for dinner on Sunday. She graciously gave me a piece to-go for my cheat day the next day though, don't you worry! ;) 

So "week 3" starts tomorrow. I guess my weeks will be 6 days long instead of seven and I plan to cheat a little one day per week, just to keep myself from feeling deprived. I definitely am going to try to avoid this carb-induced yuckiness feeling though...a feeling I think I am thankful for!! 

Have a great week!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Progress Summary: Low Carb Round 2 - Week 1

Okay, here's the deal. I thought I was going to totally going to track these carbs like a pro this week. I tried really hard and did alright. I am not eating a ton of times so it's kind of easy to remember what I had yesterday. The real kicker was recipes, which is totally normal, right? It wasn't until the week was over that I really counted the carbs in my three recipes I made, and, well, that was a no-no. Thank goodness my chocolate torte {pie} was only 3 carbs per piece, but my two others could get a little high in carbs if I didn't watch it. And I didn't watch it. Totally my fault. Lesson learned. Will do better next time!!

Now, here ya go! My week. My carb intake. As well as what I did for exercise. My goal was 15ish carbs per day. You can see that some days were spot on, some better than I expected, and some, well, went a little pretty overboard {by accident}.

Day 1: Total Net Carbs: 15 12
3 eggs (scrambled) - 3 carbs total* 0 carbs
1/4 cup of Kraft Three Cheese shredded cheese - 1 carb.
1 tbsp. of "Real Bacon Bits" - 0 carbs
1/2 a can of Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry - 0 carbs

**Depending on your resource, eggs vary in their number of carbs, anywhere from 0.4 to 1 each. I know that's not a HUGE difference, but it's the difference in 2 for 1! To be fair, I just said each egg was 1 carb and called it a day. 

Edit: I have no idea where I got 1 carb per egg for these eggs. The nutritional facts under the carton lid & My Fitness Pal both clearly say 0 carbs per egg. So... I guess I did better than I thought!! :)

Late Lunch/Pre-Workout Snack:
1 Chocolate Premier Protein Shake - 2 net carbs

30 minutes on the elliptical at levels 5 and 10
Biceps and Abs for another hour, rotating with my new gym buddy, Whitney :)

Small-sized Low Carb Wrap - 5 net carbs
with Ham, Mustard, & Mayo - 2 carbs
Salad: sliced almonds, bacon bits, shredded cheese, EVOO, & red wine vinegar - approx. 2 carbs?

Day 2: Total Net Carbs: 15 11
3 eggs (scrambled) - 3 carbs total* 0 carbs
1 Slice of American cheese {tasted better than the shredded cheese yesterday} - 2 carbs
1 tbsp. of "Real Bacon Bits" - 0 carbs
1/2 a can of Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry - 0 carbs

1 pack of Starkist single-serve Light tuna....add mayo - 0 carbs

Pre-Workout Snack:
1 Chocolate Premier Protein Shake - 2 net carbs

Texas Roadhouse's grilled chicken salad {chicken, cheese, eggs, & bacon**} - MAYBE 7 carbs {I would have said 4 before I added the ranch dressing but I do enjoy me some salad dressing!}

**I took off the tomatoes due to preference, and the onions and croutons to lessen the carbs. However, the amount of onions I would have had on there would have been "low carb," since 1 "medium slice" (1/8 inch thick) is 1.3 carbs and I don't douse my salad in onions. Nonetheless, the hubby was thankful! ;) 

Day 3: Total Net Carbs: 21 {higher than I'd wish}
1 Chocolate Premier Protein Shake - 2 net carbs

Salad: Lettuce, cheese, ham, turkey, chicken, tomatoes & ranch dressing. - Maybe 4 carbs?
Coke Zero- 0 carbs
1 single "Everything" flavored Pretzel Chip - 2 carbs... had to try just one, and I promised I would count it in my total....not worth it.

30 mins on the elliptical, at levels 5 and 1
30 mins on the treadmill at level 10 incline

Creamy Salsa Chicken Breast - 4 carbs guesstimate
Salad: cheese, bacon bits, almond slices, & leftover "cream" from the chicken recipe as my dressing - 6 carbs guesstimate
1 slice of my new Low Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte - 3 carbs

Day 4: Total Net Carbs: 28 25 {Oops!!}
3 fried eggs with bacon - 3 carbs 0 carbs
Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry - 0 carbs

I think I was full from my late breakfast, or forgot to eat lunch or something...

1 slice of my new Low Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte - 3 carbs

30 mins of elliptical, primarily on level 1... I was beat! 
30 mins of biceps


Shredded Buffalo Chicken w/ Mexican Cheese & sour cream - 14 carbs guesstimate {total low-carb mistake}
Brocolli & Cheese - approx. 5 net carbs
1 slice of my new Low Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte - 3 carbs

Day 5: Total Net Carbs: 21 {dang it!}
6 sausage with maple syrup links with mustard- 4 carbs
Coke Zero - 0 carbs

1 slice of my new Low Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte - 3 carbs

Exercise: 30 mins of cardio, then weight lifting {abs & legs}

Dinner: some more of that buffalo chicken from Thursday night... - Guessing another 14 carbs :(

Day 6: Total Net Carbs: 39 {toooo many!}
Leftover buffalo chicken {don't judge me...it was brunch!} - Guessing another 14 carbs :(

A burrito bowl from Salsarita's {beef, cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream} - approx. 5 carbs?


Dinner: Outback Steakhouse: 
A side salad with honey mustard dressing {no croutons} - probably 15 carbs? Honey Mustard dressing will get ya!!
9 oz. sirloin - 0 carbs
& the best broccoli & cheese I've EVER had. So sad that they quit selling green beans.. :'( Those were my favorite!! - 5 carbs?

Day 7: Total Net Carbs: 7
Breakfast: 1 Chocolate Premier Protein Shake - 2 net carbs
Lunch: Salmon & mayo mix {not my best idea} - 1 carb
Snack: Smokehouse flavored almonds - 2 net carbs
Exercise: NONE
Dinner: 2 bacon & cheddar-filled burgers {YUM!!} - 2 carbs

It will be a miracle if I can keep this up, the logging. I am not handing out false promises today, so, I will just try to do a summary of what I ate...and you trust that it's low carb. How's that sound? I'll try to guestimate the number of net carbs I eat in a day. Sometimes it's hard with recipes you're making with ingredients and serving sizes and blah blah. But I WILL TRY. But if I don't, don't judge me. But as you can see, I did not starve. And I'll be honest, I didn't really miss carbs that much. Until I passed Cold Stone Creamery, and a pizza restaurant. That is mostly thanks to my new love, Coke Zero. It makes me temporarily forget Mello Yello exists.

But, nonetheless, my low-carb diet was well worth week #1. I will definitely be keeping up the good work. Why, you ask? Because the scale was at onenumber on Monday when I was chatting with Whitney at the gym, and on the morning of day #8, the number of the scale was onenumber minus FIVE POUNDS!! Not even joking. I think it was a low-carb miracle.

So, wish me luck in week #2. At the end of week #2 I am having me a cheat day of all cheat days. Not that I think of it often or anything... :)

Have a great week!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Recipe: Low-Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte!

I posted a Facebook status and later an Instagram picture of my new favorite "low-carb chocolate pie" and afterwards had several people asking for the recipe. The recipe was found on LowCarb4Life. It's amateur videos of a normal person making yummy low-carb food in their home! So relatable! I haven't watched all her videos yet, but plan to watch more soon. She stopped making videos in 2008. I really wonder where she is now. The video is at the bottom of this blog post if you're interested in watching! This is my to-go-to this week as I begin my low-carb journey again. It's sugar-free, low-carb, and will most definitely give you your chocolate fix with just one piece. LowCarb4Life doesn't listen a ton of nutritional value in her videos, just uses low-carb ingredients, so I did the homework myself. Each piece of this yummy goodness is only 3 carbs! Try it for yourself!

6 oz. sugar-free chocolate chips {WalMart sells Hershey's brand...Harris Teeter doesn't have them}
1/2 cup butter
1 cup Splenda {I used the Walmart's Great Value brand....same ingredients, way cheaper}
3 eggs
1 tbsp. of cocoa powder {I used Hershey's brand}
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla {I think vanilla extract, but I didn't have any, so I used Torani sugar-free vanilla syrup}

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Put chocolate chips & butter in a bowl & melt in microwave, stirring every 45 seconds.
Whisk in the cream, vanilla, cocoa, Splenda, and eggs. {Make sure it's stirred up good!}
Grease "torte/truffle" pan. {I used a pie pan}
Pour mixture into pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. {It'll be jiggly on the inside when you take it out of the oven.}
Let chill in fridge for at least 30 mins.

Here is the video if you are interested in watching:

Entire recipe is sugar-free and each piece only has 3 carbs! ENJOY guilt-free!! :)


Monday, July 14, 2014

Here I go again...

personal thinspiration from our honeymoon
(April 2013) 
Last year, for a solid 5+ months, I "did low carb." Of course, getting married will kick any undisciplined person into high gear & the result of my dedication and sacrifice was a much needed 25 lb. weight loss. After the wedding & honeymoon, Alex and I kind of climbed off the carb crazy train, just tried to "eat better" and continued to exercise-- a.k.a. we introduced carbs back into our life. Please hear me when I say that introducing carbs back into our diet did NOT backfire. I often hear people say, "You can't go on a low carb diet successfully because when you stop you will gain all the weight back," and then some people finish that sentence with a, "Plus more." Yes, I kept exercising. No, I didn't gorge myself in sweets. I maintained a 20 lb. weight loss. But it wasn't until I went back to work, which was extremely stressful, and ate like straight up crap for weeks and did not exercise one time that I gained not only a few lbs. back, but every single pound that I had lost.


It's high time I get back some discipline. I did it before and I can do it again. I know the efforts will be worth it, I just need to get to work. And by get to work, I mean plan, and track, and avoid, and tell myself no. And pray for God to help me find the strength to not have Mello Yello or sugar. Sounds like a drag but I know I can still have foods I love, and I know I will see some results. I won't have to worry about calorie-counting, or SUPER restricting myself. So.... I am thinking positive thoughts! :)

In the mean time, I will be looking for new low-carb recipes. If you have any suggestions, or websites that give some *easy* (y'all know I'm no pro in the kitchen) options, please send them to me! And wish me luck!!

PS: I realize I said I was starting "Round 2" last August, but that's when I started my new position at work and started hating life SO- like I said... It's high time I get back some discipline. For real this time. I had an xL Mello Yello last night, and I am READY. Get ready for some #lowcarb all over the place.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Alyssa & Joe's Wedding Video

Before I say anything, I want to say scream THANK YOU to Alyssa for being super patient with me. Her and handsome Joe got married October 26th and here we are, eight months later, and she finally gets to watch her wedding video! I started this "venture" last summer, having absolutely NO EARTHLY idea what I was doing. I had a "great" idea, a camera, some awesome editing software, and some time (then). I didn't think that booking 3 weddings would consume my time and emotions the way it has for the past 10 months. Yeah, I said it... TEN months!! To try to make myself feel better, I have only been working on Alyssa & Joe's video for less than two months (43 days to be exact). And that's not bad, right? :/ Yeah... again, I am sorry for the delay y'all!! I hope the wait was worth it when you see your video!

Okay, to the main point of this blog... Alyssa & Joe's wedding video is here, and done, and so so sweet!! Can I just say... Alyssa might watch this video & be like, "Is this the Joe Show?!" and the answer is yes. It kind of is. I say that because Joe was working it on his wedding day!! That man was a big ball of emotion and who doesn't want to watch a groom wipe tears away and laugh with his beautiful bride?? I love how mommas and bridesmaids and, again, the groom cried happy tears about the whole time! Alyssa, way to keep it together, girl! At least for the camera. ;) When they weren't laughing, they were crying. It was absolutely precious. And oh how I loved how the bridal parties prayed over the bride & the groom before the wedding. It was truly precious. I know I just said "precious" twice, but that's just how darn precious it truly was!! I can't wait for Alyssa & Joe to watch their raw footage. There was 2+ hours of footage that had to be cropped and fit to music. So much awesome footage "didn't make the cut" and that kind of made me sad. There were sweet clips of Alyssa's late grandfather, full footage of fun dances, and, of course, audio. :)

This couple loves them some Jesus and I loved filming their big day for them. Their wedding day was perfect and they are a blessed couple!  It's been eight months, but I still have four months of well wishes to send you, Alyssa and Joe. I hope the first year of marriage is treating you well and you continue to fall more and more in love with each other and with Jesus every day. Y'all are an inspiration. Keep on keepin' on!!

Without further ado, here is Alyssa & Joe's wedding video**...

Joe & Alyssa Martinez {10.26.2013} from Nicole Mullen on Vimeo.

**As always, view in HD, if you can, to improve image quality. Enjoy!! :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Holly & Clint's Wedding Video

3 down, one more to go!

I know Clint and Holly are glad to finally hear me say, "Your video is ready!"  They have been sooo patiently waiting on me as I worked on videos to do before theirs and ya know, did life in the mean time. They have been SUPER understanding and, for that, I want to shout a big THANK YOU to them!!!! 

Clint and Holly were my first paid "clients" so I wanted to do 110% for them. I knew I could/should not rush through editing their video to get one more thing off my plate (which is another reason this has taken me so long). As I started watching and cropping their (then 2+ hour) video footage, I fell in love with their wedding day. I guess I couldn't "take it all in" the day of, just because I was "working" and stressed about doing a good job, especially since they paid me. I was there as the girls began to get ready and left mid-reception once my lighting ran out. (Don't forget, I'm an amateur!) Therefore, I got to see the roller coaster of emotions throughout the day and love love loved that I got to capture most of it on video. 

First of all, Clint and Holly had the good Lord above on their side on their special day. They got married at Vesuvius Vineyards in Lincolnton, NC ..... which translates to: they had their ceremony outside. Now, doing so in the late afternoon in July is 100% a risk. A risk I know all about, seeing as how I had just gotten married outside in April. It rained on my wedding day, resulting in us having the ceremony under the tent we planned to have our reception under. While my special day was imperfect, yet still beautiful and amazing, I didn't want Holly to have any regrets. About 45 minutes before the ceremony was to begin, the bottom fell out and it POURED rain!! As you will see in the video, Holly looked a little worried/stressed out/whatever you want to call it as she looked out the window, but like I said, the good Lord above was on their side and knew they were meant to have their ceremony as planned, because about 10 minutes before 6:00, the rain stopped and the sky cleared. The staff at Vesuvius Vineyards got to chair-wiping and we all reminded Holly to breathe, as her big moment was about to happen!! Holly, I want you to know just how blessed you are!! Clint, you too, but you could have probably cared less, haha! 

Second, Clint and Holly get the award for The Couple Who Kissed The Most On Their Wedding Day!! Have mercy!! :) You could tell they were madly in love and by gosh, that's what it's all about! 

And I love Holly's choice of music for the video. She picked music from their wedding for the video and I love her taste in music! While HelloGoodbye's "Here In Your Arms" is always fun, it made it a challenge to include her father-daughter dance as well as her stepsister's touching speech while it sang about lips touching and liking how you sleep next to me, but, my crazy perfectionist self made it work! (I told you...110%!) 

Without further ado, here's a link to Clint and Holly's wedding video... Enjoy! :)

Clint & Holly Hennessee {07.20.2013} from Nicole Mullen on Vimeo.

PS: I shot and uploaded the video in HD. The option was set to automatically view in HD, so you can see the video in its best quality. If you are viewing on a device that does not support HD, the video may appear a bit distorted- and that's why! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Year #1: A Reflection

Today, as I reflect on this past year, learning to be a wife and to do life with someone else, I realize how beautiful of a day it is. I know someone's getting married today, and probably outside because they were a risk-taker like myself.  Well lucky for them, there's a 0% chance of precipitation today in this part of North Carolina. {As much as I want to "get over it," it's still hard. BUT} somewhere someone is getting married outside today and it will rain. First of all, I hope you have a plan B. And second, I hope your plan B is as beautiful as mine was. My plan B wedding was beautiful, but what made it the most beautiful was the people there. I will never forget that day as the day spent with all my loved ones, supporting Alex and I as we began our life together. The efforts from those who had to move things around at the last minute, get wet in the rain, and stress for me did not go unnoticed and I will forever be grateful. I promise you that. 

But, today I am not really reflecting on our wedding day, but the crazy year following that wedding day. 

They say the first year of marriage is hard. I'm scared to say it's the worst, because you never know what the future holds, BUT-- I can see how some people say it's the worst. As you may or may not know/care, Alex and I did not live together before we were married. So it went a little something like this: You have the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, followed by one of you moving (for us, it was me...fun), and then all of a sudden you have a roommate, who is not only a boy, but is now your HUSBAND! That's a lot to do and a lot to figure out in a short amount of time. The good news is, we have the rest of our lives to figure it out.

This past year, a lot has happened:
  • I moved (like I said) for the 11th time in eight years. (No joke. I am not a fan.)
  • We spent a week honeymooning in paradise. (We highly recommend Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.) 
  • I finished my first and (little did I know) last full school year doing school-based therapy at Bessemer City Middle School. I really miss the staff there and most of my kids. ;) That had the potential to be an amazing job. 

  • I spent two months taking a break from life, work, and stress. I consistently worked out, slept well, ate carbs again, and didn't gain any weight back from my pre-wedding diet. I had lots of girl time with my gal pals and spent lots of time at my in-laws' pool. It was amazing.
  • I started a new position at work in August. I absolutely hated it and unfortunately, it showed in and affected every area of my life. 
  • In September, we had less than a week to decide if we were going to move. An opportunity arose for us to invest in another fixer-upper and we jumped on the chance. I say that lightly, but putting our house on the market, fixing a house up for a month, and then moving (for my now 12th time in 8 years) was taxing. Taxing, but worth it. 

  • "Before"
    • By November, I was looking for a plan B. I signed up to take the Praxis so I could obtain my school counseling licensure. Working in mental health was not what I thought it was going to be and I couldn't let the negatives of my job continue to affect the rest of my life. I wasn't even seeing clients anymore, so I didn't have much left to miss. 
    • I learned a great lesson. I learned that no matter how perfect something seems, if it's not God's will, you need to be able to walk away. I had the most amazing job interview. I nailed it, or so I thought. We laughed. I answered all their questions promptly and with ease. We discussed start dates and me having to put in a notice at my current job. They told me they valued my integrity. They complimented me often during the interview. And more importantly, I had connections. I was told I'd hear from them within 2 days as I was their last interview. I waited patiently to hear back. Christmas break came and went. I never heard another word. As perfect as it had seemed, I had to let it go. I was still miserable at my current job, but knew God had something better in mind. As perfect as I thought that job opportunity was, it obviously wasn't. (Note to employers: Don't say you'll notify an interviewee either way if you don't plan on doing so. That's just mean.) It's a perfect life lesson to take with me in all aspects of life: Just because something seems perfect, doesn't mean it's for your best. Let God do the working out; you'll thank Him later. 
    • We celebrated our first holidays as husband and wife. We've been together many-o-holidays in the past 10ish years together; however, we've never actually celebrated all holidays fully together. It was awesome and different and a learning experience. I am grateful we have so many loved ones to visit. Balancing how to see them all in a decent amount of time without going crazy will be something we hope to figure out in years to come. :)  

    Merry Christmas from the Mullens!
    • I started my new job at the end of January. Saying "see you later" to my life working in mental health, and to my amazing co-workers was tough, but I knew it was necessary. I didn't worry about seeing my co-workers again. Almost all of us have left now and we get together on a regular basis to have girl time. Real friends stay in touch. I value my time, experience, and relationships formed from working in mental health, but now it's time to start new experiences and form new relationships. 
    • I have yet to complain about my new job. It may come in the future, but it's 10x better than the day-to-day I previously faced, emotionally speaking. It is absolutely draining to hate your job. Once I started my new job, I had to figure out how to get my life back. I (of course) had gained back every pound I had previously lost. (Stress and depression will do that to ya.) I had to get back to eating better, getting rest, exercising again, and trying to be the wife and friend I knew I could be.  That's tough--knowing you need to do better in 10+ areas of life and trying to improve in them all at the same time, knowing it's what you and your husband deserve. That alone is stressful, but I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to try. I am super grateful for Alex being as supportive as he has been. He is so thankful for my new job as well, and he tells me he sees a difference in my mood, spirit, and energy since changing jobs. He was there on days I needed him to give me a lift. He was there for me on days I needed him to hand me chocolate and just let me wallow. And that's reason #261 why I love being married, and love being married to Alex. 
    • We just spent our last week of year #1 in Mexico, celebrating our one year anniversary.

    • ...and Alex started his new job the day we came back from vacation.

    • That's a lot of big changes. That's a lot of transition, which brings lots of emotion. Learning to juggle those emotions with learning how to live with a new person and BE MARRIED is tough stuff, which probably has something to do with the fact that people say the first year is the toughest. But man oh man, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am eternally grateful to say that I am married to my husband, to his family, and to our life together. I am no longer me, I am part of an us. A for-real, legit, committed, signed and sealed official, and ready-for-the-long-haul version of us. That's scary but so awesome at the same time. I am no longer responsible for just me (which I have always struggled with), but I am also responsible for half of us (and sometimes both of us, haha) and that's something I need. It's good and healthy for me to learn to live, grow, and be with my favorite husband. It's good to have someone you can be 100% vulnerable with, and I think it's even better that we chose to wait to figure life out together until we were married. This way, there's no exit option. ;) Haha.... but really, we chose and vowed to not only live life together, but to figure out how to do it in a way that's best for us and hopefully glorifies the Lord along the way. We have learned a lot about life, each other, and what it means to be married this year. But all in all, we know we have a LOT left to learn. We are newbies at this. We WILL mess up but we WILL figure out how to fix it, some how, some way, at some time. We are in this together and for that, I am pretty excited to see what year #2 holds. I'm sure it'll bring some sort of transition. Each year seems to do that. But togetherness is what it's about. I am so thankful for the other half of my us. I feel secure knowing he tries to make every decision with my and our best in mind.

      I always hoped I'd get to marry my high school sweetheart; he had a lot of great qualities. Thank God we're not who we were in high school, but as we grew up, still gravitated towards each other. I thought I liked him when I was in 10th grade...but high school Alex has nothing on adult Alex and I am so thankful I got to marry adult Alex!! Like I said above, "Just because something seems perfect, doesn't mean it's for your best. Let God do the working out; you'll thank Him later." 

      Staying tuned to see what favor we'll experience and lessons we'll learn together in year #2.....
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