2017

We find ourselves here again, at the end of one year, with anticipation to the start of the next. And while the entire internet seems to have really hated 2016, I found it to be a year like every other, with peaks and valleys.

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. I think they’re generally pretty vague and that’s why they’re often unattainable. But, I do think it’s good to set goals for the coming year. So here is what I have in mind for 2017, call it what you will.

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If this is you, you should probably stop reading now. I respect that.

 

I’ve decided to go with a few overall 2017 challenges, and then something for each month. I wanted to make it a mix of things good for the heart, body and mind, but that are also a combination of inward and outwardly focused.

2017
No soda for the entire year : a habit that has snuck up on me recently that I want to break
Actually use a planner for the whole 12 months : I always buy one and then quit quickly
52 week photo project: best of the week, using only my real camera, posted on Facebook

January: No Fast Food
For the purposes of this challenge, I define fast food as any eating establishment with a drive thru. Chick-fil-a and Del Taco have become my go-to places for a quick bite between errands and when I get them, I also tend to get a soda (Dr. Pepper at CFA and Cherry Coke at DT). This will help start the year off right for my yearly goal as well.

February: No Social Media Saturdays
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter… it’s so easy to get sucked in. For the month of February I will be unplugging from social media entirely every Saturday. I’m hopeful to spend that time really enjoying my time with my boys and being extra productive.

March: No Starbucks
A delicious, but no doubt costly habit, my love of the Cinnamon Dolce Latte shall be put on hold for the month of March. My sugar intake and wallet will be all the better for it.

April: Read 3 Books
I used to read. A lot. In 2012, I read 30 books. Since Jonathan was born, I’ve not read many at all. I definitely want to get back into the habit, but need to be intentional with how I spend my time. In April, I want to read 3 books. No particular genre, just reading for enjoyment.

May: Walk/Jog/Run/Hike 100 Miles
100 sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? It sort of is. According to the latest information coming from my Fitbit, I average about 2 miles a day, give or take, in incidental steps. 100 miles in 31 days averages out to 3.23 miles per day. This will be a challenge that encourages me to go that extra mile (almost literally) each day.

June: Take a Class
Learning something new is always exciting, but taking the time to do it is always the hard part. In June, I want to take a class that will further my knowledge of the world. I’ll probably take something free through Coursera or EdX. I’ve done a Coursera class before, but I saw a couple archived courses on EdX that are self-paced that I’m interested in!

July: Try a New Recipe Each Week
Those of you who have read my blog for a while (Hi Mom!) may remember my 30 Before 30 item to try 30 new recipes. That was a lot of fun and delicious, so I’m bringing it back for a month.

August: Read 4 Books
It appears that my reading commitments only occur in months that begin with A – just like April, but with one more book!

September: Handwrite One Letter per Week
I just finished watching Pride and Prejudice for the first time and I’m gonna bring back the art of the handwritten letter. If it’s good enough for Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, it’s good enough for me.

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Hopefully I look less intense while I write.


October: Participate in The Justice Run

The Justice Run is a local 5k and 10k that benefits various non-profit organizations that fight human trafficking. You can either walk or run the 5k, so that’s probably what I’ll do. One of the organizations that benefits is Free The Girls, which you may remember from a previous post.

November: Compliment Someone Once a Day
November is the start of the holiday craziness, and it’s really easy to get focused on everything that’s going on and less on personal connections. I hope to be able to bring a little joy to people’s days in November by spreading some love via compliment. Strangers, friends, family, whomever.

December: Thankfulness Journal 
Speaking of getting caught up in the busyness of the season, December can so often be about getting things done that we fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day. I want to spend the month remembering things that I am thankful for each day so that I can be mindful of my blessings and end the year with a thankful heart.

So there’s my game plan for 2017! I’ll probably check in at the end of each month with a progress report and let you guys know how it goes. Anyone who wants to join me for a month or who has any recommendations for the books I read, the recipes I try or the class I take, I welcome any and all.

 

Five Things Friday

It appears that Five Things Friday is now my primary method of blogging, so here we go with a nice little mini-update on life!

House Hunting Update


As of Tuesday, we are currently under contract on a home in Castle Rock. I’m going to keep details to a minimum for the time being as there are still a number of variables between now and our closing date, but we’re pretty excited. Our inspection is on Sunday, so that’s one step closer. If things go well with the inspection and the appraisal, we’ll be moving into our first home in mid-January. Just in time for a certain tiny person’s 3rd birthday (WHAT). There are some awesome coincidences with the house address that I totally love, so hopefully I’ll be able to tell you all about it soon!

 

Paranoid
We have just started a new Netflix show: Paranoid. It’s a crime/mystery show that Netflix recommended because we watched Broadchurch. If you haven’t watched Broadchurch yet, do it. We watched two seasons in a shockingly short amount of time in July/August. I hope that this one will be just as good – we’ve only watched the first episode of the mini-series so far.

Speaking of TV shows…
Who watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life? What are your thoughts? I was lucky enough to be in California when it premiered, so I got to watch “Winter” with my sisters, one of whom is the most Gilmore-loving person I know. I’ve since finished the revival and have read some really great thoughts on the internet about it, but I’d love to know what people I know think about how it all went down!

Pinterest & Craigslist & Sales, Oh my!
Since we are potentially buying a house soon, I’m on the lookout for decorating ideas and cheap, but awesome, furniture. We own so little furniture because we haven’t had to (Mike & Marcie left a lot of stuff in the house when we moved in), so it’ll be pretty bare for a while. We don’t even own a kitchen table! I’m super excited to decorate our own home and I already have some ideas for the house formulating in my head. Stephen will soon rue the day that I was given the wifi password.

Today is my birthday
And I’m 32. If you would have told me in high school, or even in college,  that this is what my life would look like at 32, I wouldn’t have believed it. But lucky for me, God always has a better plan than my own.

I am so blessed to get to spend my birthday with these two handsome men that God has given to me. Stephen took the day off, so I’ll get to spend the whole day with my two favorites.

Five Things Friday

House Hunting

It’s a long process. We’ve been actively looking with our realtor for a few months now and we’ve seen a number of houses we’ve liked, some we did not, and some that we liked enough to put offers in on. We’ve been under contract once, but it didn’t work out. We’ve put in two other offers that got outbid. And we definitely have one that we consider “the one that got away.” I was hopeful to be in our own home by Christmas, mainly because I have a sickness and love to decorate and can you imagine how much fun it will be to decorate our OWN HOME? I’m not sure that Stephen is prepared for the eventuality that I go completely insane when we do end up having our first Christmas in our first home.  But, I’m trying to maintain the attitude that God has the perfect house already picked out for us and that our time will come. Patience is hard.

Photography & Learning Lightroom

img_5332Things have been picking up over at Amanda Rabon Photography lately, which has been fun. Family sessions, maternity, and even wedding getting ready shots have been taken in just the last few months. As part of my own professional growth, I’ve decided to learn Lightroom for editing. I’ve used Aperture thus far, which I like and find to be extremely user friendly, but Apple is no longer going to make improvements to Aperture going forward. So, since Lightroom will be continually upgraded in the future, it is wise for me to be able to work in that platform. Any photographer friends who have tips or presets they love — please share!

Christmas Advent Activities

The time is almost upon us for planning the December calendar of fun leading up to Christmas! Last year we did a number of super fun things and I’m hoping to keep some classics and add some new ideas this year.

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Last year’s Christmas Cookies with Uncles and Aunt 🙂

I would love any fun suggestions that you may have for things to do leading up to Christmas!

Thanksgiving!

Thanks to the extremely generous donation of about a billion Southwest points by Matt, this year Stephen, Jonathan and I will be spending Thanksgiving in Vacaville with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and grandparents. To say that I am excited is a huge understatement. It’s been 3 years since the last holiday I had with my family (see: super pregnant with Jonathan) so I’m really looking forward to this!1486815_10102293476007523_1047337450_n

This seems like a lifetime ago.

Biden/Obama Memes

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These Joe Biden memes that have come out on the internet since the election are so funny. I can’t get enough of them. In the days following the election and with the amount of hate out there, these make me laugh almost every time.

Five Things Friday

Ahhhh, another week is behind us and this is already the last weekend of September. This month has felt really full, and here are a few things that have been going on this week:

Free The Girls
Ever since I had Jonathan, I have had a bunch of old bras that no longer fit sitting around. They’re in great condition and really pretty, but unfortunately I can’t wear them. I had held on to them for way longer than necessary and finally decided it was time to do something with them. I wasn’t sure if it was considered kosher to donate bras, so I googled it. And this led me to a really cool organization called Free The Girls. “Free The Girls is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to provide jobs to survivors of sex trafficking in developing countries by helping them set up micro enterprises selling bras.  And, through the collection of bras in Western countries, we strive to educate people and organizations about the scourge of human trafficking worldwide.”
img_1504I looked up my closest drop-off location, which happened to be the Runners Roost in Lone Tree, and dropped them off today. I don’t know what rock I’ve been under that I haven’t heard of them, but I’m so happy to have been able to help an organization that is doing such good work!

 

Fall
Can we talk about Fall for a second? Cause the leaves they are a-changin’ and the weather is getting cooler so it’s definitely feeling like the season of boots and scarves is upon us! Jonathan and I spent most of the day outside today, enjoying a park play date with friends this morning and the dirt in our own yard this afternoon. I’m looking forward to enjoying more of the same in the coming months!


Kev & Britt’s Wedding
There are two things in life that always bring me joy: babies and weddings. I love them. And last weekend we got to attend our friends Kevin & Brittany’s wedding. It was beautiful, both in venue and in the words spoken. Stephen was a groomsman, and a mighty fine one at that, and I was asked to take photos of the getting ready process. What an honor to be invited into such a personal, once in a lifetime event.
img_1471More photos can be found at my photography site: Amanda Rabon Photography – I may have gotten emotional on more than one occasion!

Fitz & The Tantrums
This song makes me smile whenever it comes on the radio. img_1499
It’s definitely not my usual type of music, but it’s good for car dance parties with my boy. Jonathan claps along, though he hasn’t quite mastered the rhythm of the song. It’s REALLY cute.

BSF
I did my first Bible Story as a Children’s Leader at Bible Study Fellowship this week. And I wasn’t terrible at it! That’s a big relief. I feel a lot more confident having taught Hymn Time and Bible Story/Scripture each once and I’m hopeful to gain confidence each week. My co-leader is awesome, the kids are great and I’m looking forward to growing through this year as we study the Gospel of John.

Life Lately

Life is really starting feel full around the Rabon household, so I wanted to pause for a moment and document this time in our lives. Though there are moments that I find all of this overwhelming, I’m also searching for joy in the hardships and growth in stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Herniated Discs, Doctors and Chiropractors Galore
Back in May, Stephen hurt his back. After a few weeks of trying to rehab it himself and then making it feel even worse while volunteering at the Crossfit Regionals in Dallas, he went to a doctor in June. Followed by a chiropractor, physical therapist, acupuncturist, doctor again, specialist, different chiropractor, another chiropractor, an imaging facility, the last chiropractor again, his doctor again, a spinal specialist, and a partridge in a pear tree. After being misdiagnosed/assessed with a sacro-illiac joint issue, torn labrum, piriformis syndrome,  and hip dysplasia, an MRI finally confirmed what Stephen thought all along: a herniated disc.

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What a jerk.

So, we are on the journey of working with his spinal specialist (by we I mean that I drive the getaway car on occasion) to determine the next course of action. He’s attempted steroid injections most recently but surgery is definitely still on the table. 4.5 months of constant pain has been rough, so we are praying for an answer and treatment that will finally provide some relief!

House Hunters: Douglas County
As I mentioned in a previous blog, Mike and Marcie are moving back to Colorado. We expect them to arrive the weekend of October 1st, so we are just a few weeks out now. Though we will have room to stay here in the house for a period of time, we have begun the search for a house of our own. Which is both exciting, slightly stressful, and entirely too adulty sometimes. You know what really makes you feel like a grown up? Discussing debt-to-income ratios with a lender. That said, I’ve been doing some looking online and we’ve met with our realtor (while camping, in her pop-up-trailer, ha!) so hopefully once we have more information on where Stephen’s treatment is headed we can begin looking with more focus.

Bible Study Fellowship
Another year of BSF is upon us and I’m really excited that we will be studying the Gospel of John this year. This year I was invited to join the leadership team and will be co-leading in the children’s ministry with the 5-year-old class! Tomorrow is our first day with the kiddos after a few meetings for training and I’m both excited and anxious. I can’t wait to see how much I learn this year both from the adult study and from preparing lessons for the children. While I really appreciated Jonathan’s teachers last year, I appreciate them so much more now that I know how much individual planning goes into each week’s teaching time. This is a big step out of my comfort zone, but I know God will bless it in ways I haven’t even thought of yet. I’ve always loved kids and have worked in schools for years but doing the planning and teaching is a whole new level for me and I pray that God will give me the words to reach the children effectively.

Time Management
My plate has gotten rather full all of a sudden and I’m hoping that I can settle into a groove quickly. I’m trying to work out with Fitness Blender 5 days a week, work part-time for Engrain, having BSF leaders meetings on Tuesdays and BSF class on Wednesdays, doing lesson planning for BSF during the time between classes as well as my adult lesson, feeding my family, packing to move, having upcoming photo shoots, and trying to be somewhat social. All really good things, so I’m happy to be doing them, but finding balance will be a continuous process. Starting with getting up at 5am on weekdays to fit in work outs and Bible study before Jonathan wakes up. Wish me luck.

Upcoming Excitement
In the midst of all of the above, we have these things to look forward to as well:

♦   Kevin & Brittany’s wedding this weekend, which includes one extremely good-looking groomsman that I happen to be married to and me taking getting ready pictures before the ceremony. Jonathan will be spending the day with his favorite person, our neighbor Gina, so he will be having way more fun than any 2-year-old should. All the neighbor boys are already planning to invade Gina’s house to play with him. We are blessed with a great community here.

♦   Halloween – I’ve never really been a huge fan, but now that Jonathan is in the picture and we’ve got a solid group of friends to trick or treat with who have kids, too, things are looking up. And I hear there may be another themed party this year so that ups the ante too.

♦   Thanksgiving & Christmas, aka the best holidays ever. Meghan and I have already started planning Advent activities for Jonathan and Camden, so things are already rolling in the direction of holiday joy. I may or may not have recently updated my address book in anticipation of Christmas cards. Oh what fun!

♦   Jonathan’s Third Birthday. I can’t even handle the idea of having a three-year old, when I look at him and still see my sweet baby. But, he’s also growing like crazy and learning something every day. He’s so smart, athletic, funny and wonderful.

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Jonathan’s First Camping Trip

Over Labor Day weekend, we took Jonathan for his first camping trip. This was also the first time in the almost ten years that Stephen and I have been together that we have been camping. Considering that Stephen’s family is very outdoorsy, it’s pretty incredible that we’ve made it this long without having camped. I went camping a bit as a kid, but it’s probably been since my freshman or sophomore year of high school since I last went. We headed up Friday afternoon and came home Sunday afternoon.

Our friends invited us to join them this weekend at Mueller State Park down by Woodland Park/Divide. Brandon, Meghan and Camden have a pop-up trailer, so we pitched a tent at their campsite and enjoyed going between their site and Brandon’s parents’ site right next door. Our biggest concern with taking Jonathan was the sleeping arrangement. He’s great at sleeping in his own bed at night, but he’s still in a crib because he needs to be contained. We weren’t sure how this would translate to a tent. He actually slept much better than I thought he would. The first night, he fell asleep in Rae’s arms – leave it to a kiddo to find the Nana in the group and cuddle in. Grandmas have magical powers of making little people sleep, even if they’re not technically related to the little ones. The second night he was starting to fall asleep on my lap watching the fire, so we got him to the tent before he was out so that we wouldn’t have to wake him transferring him. He wasn’t great at staying in his sleeping bag (he’d somehow migrate out the top during the night) but we had extra blankets that we kept him well insulated with. He also was quite the pillow thief. On the rare occasion that he ends up in bed with us, he and I usually share a pillow. But because he kept coming out the top of his sleeping bag, he’d end up above my head, making sharing the pillow rather difficult.

Overall, Jonathan did great. He LOVED that he could play with endless amounts of dirt and rocks. I brought him two tractors to play with and he spent some time both days loading rocks into his dump truck and transporting them to another place. He saw bugs, birds and dogs. He got to help Uncle Brandon start the fires and play with his bestie, Camden. He loved getting to wait out a little rainstorm in Rae & Larry’s trailer. He did end up clotheslining himself on the cord that runs from the trailer awning to the ground, but got back up and back to running around really quickly.

 

Jonathan playing with tractors/rocks

 

Jonathan helping Uncle Brandon start the fire aka Fire Mountain

 

We had a lot of fun getting to spend time together and with the Atherton side of our family.  We even got to play some cards while both little men slept with Meghan while simultaneously polishing off a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Actually, all camping food is good in my book. Rae and Larry made these crazy good pies on the campfire – I was most definitely a fan.

We started our camping adventures pretty late in the season, so I don’t know that we would camp again this year due to weather, but would do it again next year. Maybe by then we’ll invest in some of our own equipment, instead of mooching a tent and sleeping pads/bags off of others. This level of camping — at a campsite that has toilets — is about my speed. I’m not sure I’m down to do the whole hike in and cop a squat under a tree type of camping. That sounds like some father-son adventures that Jonathan and Stephen can look forward to later.

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I have big plans to visit some national parks, so knowing we could handle camping was a good test because that’ll be the cheapest way to experience some really beautiful places. I want to visit: Grand Teton National Park, Glacier National Park and Banff National Park (especially Moraine Lake) because I’ve seen some amazing photos lately and I want to see/photograph that beauty for myself. And we could hit all three of those on an epic road trip.

 

 

Things I Love Lately

Here are a few things that have been making me happy lately:

Results!
I’m not one of those people who loves to work out just for the sake of working out. I really wish that I was, but I’m not. If I’m putting in the work, I want to see and/or feel something  happening. With that said, my current routine of Fitness Blender’s 4-Week Booty Boot Camp and their 4-Week Upper Body Program is not only challenging me but also making me feel stronger and notice some increased muscle definition. I saw this great thing on Instagram that I loved and am trying to embrace:

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I had some great talks with my sister-in-law while she was here about how great it is to see athletes in the spotlight, most recently in the CrossFit Games and Olympic gymnastics team, who show an alternative female body type than mainstream media promotes but  that is beautiful, capable and strong. And I’m all for that. After all, thick thighs save lives.

If you’re looking for a great lower body workout, this one is my favorite. If you really push yourself, you’ll be good and sore for a few days.

 

Instagram: elisabethontheroad
I am so in love with this instagram account.

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The photography is top-notch, the locations are beautiful and it’s really making me want to go out and adventure. I first encountered this account when looking up information about going to Iceland (someday, maybe!) and her photos were amazing. Most recently she’s given me the desire to go to Glacier National Park and Banff.

 

Doing Nerdy Things
Sometimes I feel like I don’t spend enough time doing things that challenge my brain. I haven’t read nearly as much as I used to since I became a mom and sometimes it just takes a small thing to make me feel like my brain isn’t atrophying.
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Rebekah made Dan and Joanna this really cool world map, and to do so, she needed a full-sized map to base it on. When she was done, I grabbed it and tried to name as many countries as I could. I was loving every minute of it. I’m pretty proud that I could correctly place 33 countries in Africa as well as most of Europe and Asia, from memory.

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My sister Nikki introduced me to this game and it’s kind of embarrassing how much I enjoy getting to use my random trivia knowledge and problem solving skills. Monkey Wrench is my new jam.

 

This Dry Rub Recipe
IMG_1100The Country Basket nailed this dry rub. I randomly found it online and it’s become part of our regular rotation. I’ve both grilled chicken and baked it using this rub and it’s been so good both times. Try it – you won’t regret it.

 

Christmas Shopping
Yes, you read that right. No, I’m not crazy. Well, maybe I am. Thanks to my handy-dandy countdown app (another Nikki recommendation), I know that there are 125 days until Christmas.
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And while that is still a lot of time, the next few months are about to be crazy with Stephen’s annual guys trip, a wedding, football, packing & moving, potentially buying a house, etc. So, in an effort to save myself a little stress, I’m compiling a list now and purchasing items as we go. Which just means I get to enjoy the process a little longer and spread out the layout of cash.

I’d love to hear some things you love lately!