Valentine’s Day Books for Your Little One

Ever since I was little, I remember having access to as many books as I wanted! My parents instilled the importance and a love of reading, and my husband and I are hoping to pass this on to Kaz.

At any given time, we probably have at least fifteen books out and on rotation; everything from silly ones that rhyme to touch and feel.

When Kaz was born, we didn’t set out saying we were going to buy tons of seasonal and holiday themed books, but here we are!

New Year, Best You Giveaway

Happy Monday and Happy New Year, y’all!

2020 was the year of figuring out how to do it all from home; work, school, Zoom, home workouts, etc.

It was a year that really showed just how strong we are and revealed exactly what we’re made of. It wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but then again, no year ever is.

It was filled with new trials and obstacles to overcome that we never even thought would be in our path, but if you’re reading this, you made it to the other side of 2020!

That deserves to be celebrated for the accomplishment it truly is!

To kick of and celebrate the start of a new year, I put together this giveaway with some of my favorite things that I’m bringing into 2021 from 2020!

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: (1) three month subscription to Beachbody on Demand, (1) 32 oz water bottle, (1) daily gratitude/joy journal, and (1) $25 Target gift card!

Head in over to my Instagram (@alongftride) to see how you can enter!

XOXO,
Leah

United Monogram Pieces to Put You in the Holiday Spirit

Happy Wednesday, ya’ll! We are officially halfway through the week, and another day closer to the weekend!

If you’re like me, you love being comfy and cozy during the holiday season but also want to look good and put together.

I’ve been buying pieces from United Monogram for about a year now, and let me just tell you I did a little happy dance when they dropped their Holiday Collection!

It’s full of the things we know and associate with the holidays; snow, snowmen, candy canes, cute little red trucks, and all the stops! Did I mention they added glitter designs this year too?? *insert heart eye emoji here*

Today, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite pieces from this collection that are giving me all the merry and bright and festive vibes! These are great “treat your self” pieces or great gifts to give to someone else! Did I mention that they’re all on sale too?!

What piece(s) will you be rocking this holiday season?

XOXO,
Leah

Your Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate

These cooler temps and all things holiday season have really been getting me in a festive mood!

Growing up, my mom’s homemade hot chocolate mix was always something I looked forward to. Now that I have a home of my own, I love finding ways to incorporate that tradition into my little family!

This year, we opted to add out hot chocolate to our coffee bar! From now until the end of winter, if you stop by we’ll have all the options for your hot chocolate drinking pleasure!

Every good hot chocolate bar starts with good hot chocolate! Three of my favorites from Target are the Swiss Miss packets, Good & Gather Double Hot Chocolate, and since I’m slightly lactose intolerant, I always like to have a dairy free option on hand like this Swiss Miss Non-Dairy mix!

In my mind, the perfect cup of hot chocolate has lots of marshmallows. The more the better! I found these vanilla star and Christmas tree shaped ones along with the peppermint flavored ones on the Holiday section at my local Target. Both are by Wondershop and so yummy! I may have eaten a few of the peppermint ones just by themselves…

Before I found the peppermint marshmallows, I used to sometimes stir my hot chocolate with a candy cane to get that pepperminty flavor. Something about the chocolate and mint combination just gets me! This crushed peppermint shaker is perfect and so cute to sprinkle on top of a peak of whipped cream.

If you’re looking to have single serve and individually wrapped options on hand, these Hot Cocoa Stir Spoons from Wondershop are perfect for you! I picked up a few for my hot chocolate bar as well as to give along with gifts at Christmas!

What are you hot chocolate must haves?

XOXO,
Leah

Holiday Giveaway

Happy Monday, y’all!

2020 sure has been a year for the history books, and I’m pretty sure none of us could have even dreamed that this year would turn out like it has.

With all of the chaos and uncertainty, I’ve been trying to focus more on the moments of joy in my everyday life and on actively choosing joy! It can be found in something as small as a hot cup of coffee or something as big as a new home. The ways joy can show up are endless!

In honor of the holiday season and hoping to spread a little joy to someone, I’m hosting my first ever giveaway over on my Instagram (https://instagram.com/alongftride?r=nametag)!

Entering is super simple too!! All you have to do is give me a follow over on Instagram and like and comment on all of my posts until this Saturday (11/21). You also get a bonus entry if you subscribe to my blog!

The winner will be announced on my Instagram in stories and on the original post with the winner getting a gift card to my favorite monogram store (United Monograms) a Rae Dunn mug, and a Target gift card to buy something to fill your new mug with!

XOXO,
Leah

Military Life: Reintegration

When most people think of a solider coming back from a deployment, they think of the videos and pictures they’ve seen on social media or talked about on the news. A person in uniform, kids to be surprised, and lots of tears.

Don’t get me wrong, those always bring a smile to my face and the waterworks of pure happiness that those families are finally reunited after being apart, but what you rarely see is what happens after that initial high.

When it was getting close to my husband coming home from his deployment I did all of the things I thought I was supposed to do; decorate, make ‘Welcome Home’ signs, clean the house from top to bottom, stock the fridge and cupboards with all his favorite foods and drinks, buy a new outfit, etc.

Needless to say, I did all the things. In the end though, while they were nice, they didn’t really help prepare us for reintegrating my husband back into our family after being gone for so long and during a global pandemic.

For starters, our almost seven month old was now almost fourteen months old and getting into all of the things. Kaz and I had gotten into our groove of living life just us and Ailey. We had certain ways of doing things and a schedule (or as much as you can have with a toddler).

When my husband got back, we had a few weeks of him not going to work and being home with us. The first few days I think we were all riding on clouds of adrenaline and pure bliss from being reunited. When the dust settled (like it always does), we found ourselves stumbling. If you know me you know that I get set in my ways, I like routine, and knowing what to expect.

With all of the trainings, schools, deployments, etc., over the years, I’ve had to learn how to be pretty self reliant. This deployment was no different, and I had gotten so used to doing everything by myself. If I didn’t do something, it wasn’t getting done. With my husband being home, it was harder than I thought it’d be to let some of those go and fully accept that I didn’t have to be a one woman show anymore.

Now almost two months post deployment, I’d be lying if i said we weren’t still trying to figure it out. Here we are, just doing the best we can for ourselves and our little family.

It’s one heck of a crazy ride, but I wouldn’t want it any other way!

XOXO,
Leah

Photography by: Allison Vrhovac

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy

Happy Thursday, ya’ll!

If you’re reading this, you can already guess from the title, what today is; It’s our sweet baby boy’s first birthday! One whole year ago on July 9th, this sweet boy made his debut and has stolen our hearts a little more each day!

This first year, we decided to not share a ton about our little babe just out of wanting to be overly cautious while we got the hang of this whole parenting thing along with navigating this Army life of ours.

While this is certainly not the way I had always imagined a first birthday would be (global pandemic, hundreds of miles away from family, deployment…) I wouldn’t change a thing.

As crazy as that sounds, this last year has stretched and challenged both me and my husband in ways we never thought possible. I didn’t even know growth in the ways we have was real. Don’t get me wrong though , we’re still just winging this whole parenting thing and doing the best we can. We are by no means experts nor will we ever be!

There is something so incredibly beautiful in all of this though.

Our sweet baby has had his daddy gone more than he’s been home. He’s lived (and still living) through a global pandemic. We stayed with Grandma and Pa for several months. 

He is silly and so expressive! He loves his Ailey girl and giving her pats. Reading stories and singing songs are his favorite things to do. He has ten teeth and knows how to sign and say different words. He crawls around the house like nobody’s business, and walking isn’t too far off! He has been so incredibly sweet and patient with his mama while she’s navigated this (temporary) single parenting gig. We really did luck out!

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet boy! If you remember nothing else I say to you, I hope you’ll always remember this; You are kind. You are smart. You are strong. Mama and daddy (and Ailey) love you!

Hi world, I’m Kaz!

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XOXO,
Leah

Military Life: Month of the Military Child

Happy Monday, y’all!

Did you know that April is the official Month of the Military Child? This is the month we recognize and celebrate the strength, bravery, flexibility, resiliency, and sacrifice that the littlest members of military families make everyday.

When my husband and I decided we wanted to try to expand our family, we knew that our little one would have a wildly different life than either of us did growing up.

In Baby K’s first year of life, his daddy will have been gone more than he’s been home. Heck, my husband was even gone for training over my due date!

While he doesn’t know life any other way, my husband and I do. We often wonder if this path we’ve picked is the right one or not.

We may not regret a second of this life we live and how far we’ve come, but that little bit of guilt is always there.

For our sweet baby it means a lot of confusion as to why we sometimes only talk to and see daddy through a screen. It means crying out for him in the middle of the night and him never coming. It means seeing a whole lot of mama and always looking for daddy.

As he gets older, it will mean having to say goodbye to friends more often than if we weren’t part of the military world. It will mean his daddy will have missed being there in person for major milestones like crawling, first words, and maybe even walking and first days of schools.

We are not the first family to face a deployment, and we certainly are not the last. There will be many more times where duty will take daddy away.

Our little boy is so kind and loving. He is made of tough stuff. He is resilient and flexible beyond belief. He is sacrificing more than he even knows while his daddy is away.

Today and every day, I am in awe of this military child of mine!

XOXO,
Leah

Finding Joy During Chaos

Happy Monday, y’all!

Gosh, have these last few weeks been a wild ride! i hope that this post finds you healthy and safe during these crazy times!

When 2020 started, I never would have guessed that this is where we would be at now. Then again, I don’t think anyone really would have!

I definitely believe that it’s important to stay informed and up to date on the happenings, but these days, I try not to focus too much on all of the nitty gritty details. I think if I did, I just very well might lose my mind in it all.

10 Things That Are Bringing Me Joy

1. My sweet baby boy and his endless giggles.

2. Being able to keep in touch with my husband via FaceTime while he’s deployed.

3. Being in a place that we’re able to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine during the day.

4. Such great friends that check in on us not only during these crazy times, but just in general.

5. Good health; both mine and those I care about.

6. Having the best parents ever that have let Baby K, Ailey, and I stay with them throughout this all.

7. Taking this time and #socialdistancing to give my skin a break from makeup and just breathe.

8. The best pup ever that snuggles in bed with me every night.

9. Being fortunate enough to get the things we need, both my husband and Baby K and I, without having to worry about money.

10. Having this space to connect with y’all.

What’s something that’s bringing you joy right now?

XOXO,
Leah

Military Life: Find Your Tribe

I’ve always been the kind of girl that had lots of friends, but it was more so because we were in classes or sports together. Most weren’t the kind that I felt I could reach out to whenever for anything at all.

It’s never been something that bothered me too much, but then marrying my husband happened. Now here we are living hundreds of miles from our home state and me realizing just how valuable a close group of friends truly is!

There have been quite a few times over the course of our marriage when it’s just been me and Ailey (now Baby K too) at the house while my husband is gone for a school or another training. Within the first two months of being married and living on base, he was gone a total of six weeks.

This lifestyle adjustment really forced me out of my comfort zone.

Suddenly I found myself reaching out to the other wives around me, even though the introvert in me was terrified. I found myself texting and messaging to make plans. I found myself working hard to consistently make the effort to check in to see how they’re doing.

When our washer died the night before my husband left for deployment, I found myself reaching out to a sweet friend to see if Baby K and I could come hang out and use their’s.

Side Note: Murphy’s Law is real, and if something bad can happen during a deployment, it probable will!

Looking back on the last three years of my husband’s service, everywhere I look I see another sweet friend that I was lucky enough to get to meet.

I was never the girl that had a tribe of friends, that is until I became a military wife.

XOXO,
Leah