2013 Is…

2013isThere’s something I find so refreshing when you have an entire new year in your path. Yes, actions from the previous year will bleed into 2013. But a new year brings hope that you can start to do right in the world. Make the changes you wish you had done last year. Do things you wish you did the year before…or the year before that.

Another year to breath in and smile at life’s pleasures. Another year to spend with family and friends. Another year to get out of your own way and just live.

I’ve always been my biggest roadblock. Constantly creating excuse after excuse from keeping me from doing something. Ugh I’m sooo tired. My house is such a mess. Lily is having a crazy toddler meltdown. Poor Lily is in so much pain from teething. Having a bad allergy day. Mother nature is visiting. Awe Lily wants to read books with me, now I can’t leave and go to the gym. I’m telling you I’m the queen of excuses. Well 2013 is the best excuse ever to do whatever you want to do, dream of doing or need to do.

2013 is the year to do more.

More sharing/donating/giving/helping.
More enjoying what you have.
More learning/teaching.
More focusing on the present.
More trying.
More risk taking.
More yes.
More love.
More of what matters.

Have you made your resolutions for your fresh start (read mine here)? Do it. No one will create them for you….just like no one will resolve them for you. Write them down. If you’re reading this post a week from now or in February, May or September you still have time to start.

2013 is a new year. 2013 is a fresh start.  2013 is a clean slate. Take it.

Talk to you next year (I just had to say it!)…

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  1. Jen commented:
    December 31, 2012 Reply

    Happy New Year to you all! You are amazing on all that you do! We love you! Jack, Jen and Jayden

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In 2013…

2013titlesLose weight. Spend less. Save more. Those have always been my typical new year’s resolutions. Last year I vowed that I would continue to lose the massive weight I gained while pregnant. Have I lost it all…no…but I did lose 25 pounds and kept it off {YAY!}. I vowed last year that I would strive to be a better wife and great mommy to Lily. Not to toot my horn, but I think I’m doing great as a first time mom. Do I know everything there is to being a great mom…no, but I’m learning. I do know how to love her with every part of my being. Have I been the best wife? I think Mike and I have a great relationship. Is it a perfect marriage…nope(I mean is any marriage perfect?), but I love him with every part of my being too. If I keep going this post will be all about marriage and motherhood…that’s a post or series on it’s own!

The problem with my past resolutions is typically I’ve given up, life got too busy or I focused on something new in my life that I obviously didn’t anticipate the previous year. This year I want it to be different. This year I will have more than just one or two main resolutions. Being committed to more than one huge goal will keep me from feeling glum if I don’t attain it!

2013 is going to be the year I focus on what matters and the most important to me is my faith, family and my health.

2013opraquoteIn 2013 I want to get Lily more involved with the church and learn more about Him. I would like to build on my own personal relationship with God. To make your resolutions more attainable you have to be specific. So for my resolutions I vow to find a church with a strong child’s program and friendly women’s group. To build on my personal relationship I vow to start reading a daily/weekly devotional. Even though I pray everyday I need a little Grace.

In 2013 I will continue to love and spend as much time as I can with my family. I want to continue to work on being a better wife to Mike and a better mommy to Lily. Getting specific, I want to devote more time to just Mike and me. More date nights. We recently went out for dinner and a movie (he let me pick Breaking Dawn!) and while we were enjoying a beer waiting for our food we both agreed how nice it was to have some alone time. As parents when we go out with Lily one of us eats quickly while the other cuts up Lily’s food, helps feed her and slips in a bite or two. Then we switch duties so the other can finish eating. It always seems that we are asking for the check before the second person can finish because Lily is full and tired of being locked in an uncomfortable wood highchair (I don’t blame her!). More date nights for 2013!

When it comes to Lily in 2013 I want to focus on being more in the moment with her. Most days it feels like there aren’t enough hours. Make breakfast, clean dishes, clean up around the house, laundry (does the laundry ever end?), snack time, running some errands, back for lunch, naptime, some play time, cooking dinner, I work on my blog while Lily and Mike play and he puts her to bed. I want to find a better way to organize my home and life so I feel like I have more time devoted to teaching her funny dance moves, learning new animal sounds and taking her to new places. In 2013 I want to take Lily on more adventures and continue making more special memories with her. Mike and I plan on taking Lily to Disney World for the first time and that will be a blast. The first time we took her to the zoo she screamed at every animal exhibit while frantically pointing in every direction taking in her surroundings. Disney with rides, princesses and a chance to meet Mickey….oh that is going to be epic. I’m also vowing to watch my potty mouth. Lily is a sponge soaking in every word and action. I don’t want one of her first words to rhyme with duck. Never been one who enjoyed the soap in the mouth so I’m still thinking of ways to curb the cursing!

In 2013 I want to keep working on losing weight to reach my pre-baby waistline. But in 2013 I want to concentrate on just being a healthier person. I did a 30-day eat clean challenge not to long ago and I lost weight, but more importantly I felt great. Will I give up sweets, alcohol and fatty foods…nope. BUT I want to choose healthier food options more often then the unhealthy ones. To do so I vow to step up my workouts from twice a week to three. I think this is totally attainable. Part of my health is taking some time and devoting it to myself. I’ve been pretty open with my post-partum depression and I finally went off my medication in attempts to see if I’m “okay” without them. Plus we would like to try for baby number two in 2013 and I don’t want the medication in my system while pregnant. Taking some time for myself will recharge my battery so I can be a better person, wife and mother. Case in point- I have a certificate to the spa Mike and Lily gave me for mother’s day that I still have not used. I think it’s about time this momma unwinds and gets pampered at the spa.

2013bradpaisleySo I’m ready 2013. I’m ready for another wonderful year with family and friends. I’m ready to put more focus on what matters…faith, family and my health. As I started writing this I opened my journal and more resolutions started forming and I’m full of love and inspiration for 2013…expect another post 😉

Have ya’ll started to create your resolutions??

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  1. kelsey commented:
    December 28, 2012 Reply

    I have been so uber inspired by you, Emily and McKay. I have a good friend back in Indiana who also started her own photography business while being a Momma. I love, love, LOVE working with the kiddos and don’t want to stop doing that necessarily but my creative self doesn’t feel fulfilled at all. I see women like you and long for that ability. I don’t think ‘I can’t do it’; it’s more a matter of finding what fits for me.

    I feel good in saying that I am a supportive wife, ever-learning mommy and truly dedicated at my job. I miss family but can truly say that I am complete having Rob and G nearby, location isn’t important. (This is significant because I was slightly devastated when we decided to move so far away from the familiar and what I thought was support; it turns out support doesn’t necessarily come from proximity.)

    I had someone tell me when I was 14 that ’27’ is the year.; it’s the year you stop searching for meaning and finally have some concrete idea of who you are, where you’re going (or want to go) and what truly matters to you. I didn’t believe it a week after my birthday but I believe it now. I have ZERO doubts in my mind about who I am and what matters to me. I am just going to work on finding that ‘thing’ that completes my core creativity… or at least an avenue to get me there!

    Thank you again Amy for being the strong, amazing Momma and woman that you are!! Best wishes to you in the New Year!! Cheers!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      December 28, 2012 Reply

      Kelsey you made me blush. YOU ARE AMAZING with Lily, Brady & Beckett…and G is one lucky little guy to have you as a momma! There is no doubt that you were meant to be in children’s lives! I heard the same saying about being 27 and finally having an “ah ha” moment…knowing your place in the world. I have to say that I didn’t have that feeling until Lily was born. Do a little soul searching and you will figure it out! I’m so here if you want to bounce ideas around or need a sounding board. Tossing out two ideas…you are really knowledgeable about keeping kids active and using their imaginations…mommas are always looking for ideas on how to keep their little ones busy! And allergies….holy smokes I thought being allergic to soy was difficult, and I’m sure that there are tons of people out there looking for allergy-free recipes, restaurants and safe foods for adults and kids. I’m a pretty good ear over a beer…wink wink!

  2. mckay commented:
    December 29, 2012 Reply

    this has totally inspired me to sit down TONIGHT and write out my goals for 2013 : family, work & personal. I keep pushing it off but holy smokes- the new year is only 3 days away! (procrastinating less is going to be one of those resolutions…) 2013 is going to be a great year and I can’t wait to see what it brings for all of us. 🙂

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Lily & Bliss | 2013 Is… on December 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    […] you made your resolutions for your fresh start (read mine here)? Do it. No one will create them for you….just like no one will resolve them for you. Write them […]

  2. By Lily & Bliss | A Week In Already? on January 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    […] With a week into this New Year, how have you been with your resolutions? I stayed true to my goals and it feels great. My resolution for 2013 was to focus on what matters to me…my faith, family and health. […]

  3. By Lily & Bliss | 2014 Is All About Living… on January 16, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    […] Then there are the New Year’s resolutions that have people planning. Planning on hitting new or old goals. Looking back last year I entered 2013 with the perspective of focusing on what matters. To me I planned on focusing on my faith, family and my health. I planned on building my relationship with God. I planned to devote more time to my relationship with Mike. I wanted to focus on being a better mom to Lily and concentrate on being more in the moment with her. And of course I had planned on continuing on my road to losing my baby weight (read more in depth HERE). […]

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DIY: Family Growth Ruler

In 18 months my little Bean has sprouted too quickly. It goes by so fast folks. Lily is so tall she’s in the 98% for height and typically when people find out her age I get a big WOW combined with bugged eyes. Maybe she has a future in basketball or as a model…

As parents we try and savor each and every precious moment, and with time flying at warped speeds I feel that at each blink she is sprouting another half inch. My family used the inside of our pantry door as a growth ruler for my brother and me. At that house I was already in middle school, but my brother, Alex, was still in elementary school. Over nine years that door jam filled with so many pencil/pen marks from my brother, me and many of our friends. Our family eventually moved to Nashville leaving that sweet memento behind.

There are many items out on the web that keep track of your child’s growth and I grew smitten with the oversize rulers. Mike and I know that this home will not be the one we grow old in (still crossing fingers for a better housing market) and when we do move we can bring the keepsake ruler with us!

This is a pretty simple project but it takes time to complete. You will need the following materials:

Wood (Lowe’s or Home Depot sell pre cut wood)
Wood stain and sealant (I purchased a stain with sealant, 2 steps in 1!)
Paint brush
Paint mixing stick (you can get these for free, just ask the store!)
Sand paper (I used my mom’s sanding machine to make it easier)
Painter’s tarp (I just used 2 large plastic trash bags to paint on)
Ruler or yard stick
Ball point pen
Black Sharpie or black paint pen
Painter’s tape
Number stencil (you can buy one at Joann Fabric, free hand it or print your own)
Hanging materials (hammer, 2 large d-ring hangers w/ screws, picture hanging wire and 1 safety hanger)

Step 1:  Prepping the wood.
We purchased our wood from Lowe’s for only $8.97. To get the gigantic ruler look I went with a piece that was 72 inches long and 9 inches wide. One day we hope to have another child and if that child is a boy we made sure the ruler was tall enough for him! Counting our baseboards our ruler is a little over 6’3’’.  Now if you have no wall space in your house you can purchase a skinner piece of wood and attach it to the inside of a pantry or closet. To prep the wood for the stain you must sand down the surface. This will help the stain adhere to the wood and prevent your child (and you) from getting splinters! I borrowed my mom’s sanding machine to make this step easier. Make sure you wear protective eyewear if you are using a machine. Make sure you sand all sides (except the one that will be against the wall). To make the ruler have a realistic look I sanded the edges and corners a bit harder giving them a bit of a rounded edge.  Take the towel and wipe the wood down to clean off all of the dust.

Step 2: Apply the stain.
To make it easier I purchased a stain with sealant. Before you start applying it make sure you mix the stain well with the mixing stick. Lay the wood down on a painter’s tarp or you can use two plastic trash bags like I did. Apply a thin even coat of the stain, making sure you follow the direction of the grain.  Allow the wood to dry for six hours until you apply the next coat….I told you it takes some time! The stain has a strong smell so I suggest you do this outside. Keep applying coats until you reach your desired color.

I purchased Minwax Polyshades in Pecan Satin. After two coats I thought it was too red so I decided to start over. So I re-sanded the wood and used Olympic Maximum in Canyon Brown. The second time I only used one coat because even after sanding the wood had color from the first staining. Even after 8 hours the stain wasn’t fully dry so I used two old rags and rubbed off the wet areas. I LOVED the way it turned out using the rags. Some areas have a darker hint giving the wood a realistic/vintage look.

Step 3: Mounting this to the wall.
If you have baseboards it’s important to mount the ruler first so you can figure out where to start your ruler’s markings. If your ruler will be touching the ground you can skip this step until the ruler is complete. To hang our ruler we attached 2 large d-ring hangers to the back of the ruler and then fastened picture hanging wire to them. Just to be safe with used a three pronged safety hanger that could hold 75lbs for the wall. Our ruler hangs in our laundry room and the wall doesn’t have a stud and the three pronged safety hangers are great for walls with no studs. If your piece of wood is really heavy (ours isn’t) I highly suggest you find a stud to hang your ruler on.

Step 4: Making ruler lines.
Once your ruler is mounted on the wall take a ruler or yard stick and measure from the ground up to 1 foot and make a mark with a pen. Take your ruler off the wall and lay it on a table or kitchen counter. Using the mark you left go ahead and measure out the remaining feet and inches making small marks all the way up one side of the ruler. Once those marks are made you are ready to make the ruler lines. I made 3 inch lines for the foot marker, 2 inch marks for half a foot and 1 inch lines for each inch. I used a ball point pin to make the lines first and followed over it later with a black Sharpie.

Step 5: Stenciling the numbers.
You can purchase number stencils at a craft store, but I didn’t like any of the ones at my Joann or Michael’s. You can also free hand it, but I have horrible handwriting. So I opted to make my own. To do this I opened Illustrator (or you can use Word) and created numbers 1 to 6 to a font and size I liked and printed them. Cut each number and attach them to the ruler using painter’s tape. Carefully trace over each number using a ballpoint pen. Go back with a black Sharpie or black paint pen to fill in each number.

Step 6: Hang your ruler on the wall and measure out your child’s height!
Lily is currently an only child, but we placed her initials next to her marker to distinguish it from any future siblings. Make sure you write the date too! I haven’t done it yet but I plan to mark all the heights from each of her doctor’s visits including the marker of her birth height!

And there you go…a simple but lengthy DIY project that you will use for years. We will be able to take this ruler whenever we move in the future and one day I hope to add the marks of my grand children!

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  1. Jenn commented:
    August 25, 2014 Reply

    Is it necessary to seal the numbers or lines at all with anything? They won’t fade over time?

    • Amy Romano commented:
      September 6, 2014 Reply

      Hey Jen! I use a pencil and press it into the wood to make a small grove to mark the kid’s height. I then take a marker and go over the indention for it to show up. So not only can you see all the different height you can feel all the marks if you rub your hand over the ruler!

  2. Shannon commented:
    January 7, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for the tutorial! How did you end up handing it so that its flush with the wall? Thanks!

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Ho Ho Ho….

photo cred: Kimberly Photography

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Friday Link Love: Vol. 2

TGIF y’all!! This has been a pretty crazy week for us at the Romano household.

First we found out Lily has molluscum contagiosum (a skin virus read more about it here) and so she and I have been banished to the island of misfit toys until this clears up.

Then I scorched my hand in a complete airhead move. I took a pan out of the oven, removed the pot holder while I checked to see if the pork was cooked. Then without thinking I gripped the handle of the pan scorching my hand. Oh the pain…I cried…hard. I’m talking ugly cry folks. Luckily Mike was home and took over parenting duties because this was the first time Lily had seen me cry this hard. I sat on a chair with my hand submerged in luke warm water for 45 minutes until the sting went down. I have a few spots that still hurt, but I am surprised I didn’t blister after sizzling my hand!

Yesterday I rushed Bentley, our 7 year old Maltipoo, to the doggie vet because he was yelping in pain. Turns out our pup has some disc issues in his back. Poor fella is on strict doctor order for relaxation. This is a tall order with a toddler hanging around!

But even with the craziness my heart is so full from all of the loving comments from this post on what matters to you. All of your words are so inspiring and encourage me to continue to focus on what matters to me and my family!

So again I bring you some links of things that make me smile and could possibly brighten your Friday!

I’m a huge Twilight & Hunger Games fan so of course when the famous books made it to the big screen I was a giddy schoolgirl.  But those feelings don’t even compare to the ones I have in anticipation for the release of Les Misérables on Christmas day. I became a fan as a child when my parents took me to see the legendary musical in San Francisco. Les Mis is my all time favorite musical. My father was friends with Rich Hebert who was currently cast as the lead Jean Valjean. We were able to get tickets to see the show again, but this time we were granted back stage to meet the cast. Here I was a little girl who would belt out “Castle On A Cloud” and I was meeting Cosette!! I was in musical heaven. Once the crowd cleared we even got a tour on stage. Fact: I belt out songs from this musical at least a couple times a week. Fact: I sing “On My Own” in the shower all the time and the other day as I sang it in the car I turned and saw my daughter with her fingers in her ears. Wow.

Anyways when I saw this video I about died. A flash mob broke out at a wedding and the bride and groom were serenaded by their guests. Of course many people would think that the song choice is a little gloomy for the occasion….but for someone like myself who is such a fan I watched the video like three times. Maybe even more. And I may or may not have joined in by the second viewing! Enjoy this awesome video here.

Oh the movie Elf makes me laugh so hard I feel like I get an ab workout! “I like to smile…smiling is my favorite.” “SAAAANTTTTAAAAAA…I know him…I know him!!”  So here is the hilarious north pole debate

Speaking of elves, usually this time of year you get emails sent where family or friends have attached your face to a dancing elf for some silly entertainment. This year forget the elves….it’s all about getting gangnam style!!! How can you not laugh at this (and yes that is little Lily!).

Oh Awkward Family Photos you make me giggle. This poor child can you blame her? Sometimes it’s the caption that completes it! If you want some more ridiculous family photos check out these!

Enjoy your weekend xoxo

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Pottery Barn’s Noel Remake

80% of my home furnishings, bedding and kitchenware hail from Pottery Barn….the other 20% comes from other stores but have a Pottery Barn look or feel to it. I’m might be a huge fan, but sometimes I cringe at the steep prices. I have had my eye on their holiday Noel wall sign (btw it’s no longer available), but at $149 I wasn’t buyin! So I took a swing at making my own version! The Craftily Ever After blog did a great remake using large cardboard letters and bronze spray paint to mimic Pottery Barn’s iron original.

Since I use reds, browns and gold in my living room and holiday décor that’s what I opted for. First step was spray painting the cardboard letters (found them at Joann and with coupons they came to $2 a piece). Being that this was wall décor I didn’t bothered painting the back.

After letting it dry I took a fine grit sand paper and started to wear buff away at each letter to give it a vintage look. I could have left the letters along after this step…they looked so awesome…..but I had an itch to paint it gold (if you couldn’t tell from yesterday’s post I’m on a gold kick!).

The gold paint of choice was Martha Stewart’s Metalic acrylic craft paint in gold (found also at Joann for $2.99). This paint is pretty sweet. Yes it’s three bucks for only 2 oz…but you don’t need much to complete this craft leaving you plenty for future projects! You can use this paint on wood, fabric, glass, metal and it can be for indoor and outdoor use! I foresee lots of pretty projects using this paint.

So back to the project. Dab just a little of the gold paint on a paper plate and using a paint brush start to apply it to the letters. This dries pretty quickly so if you apply too much have some paper towels on hand to rub the excess off.

Once dry, line up the letters how you want and apply hot glue to attach them. I kept the “O” tilted like Pottery Barn’s. For the cheap cost and simple steps I am pretty happy at how this turned out. Depending on where my Noel sign is placed the gold reflects the afternoon sunlight and it’s gorgeous! These steps could be taken to create other words for birthdays and/or parties (Cheers or 2013 would be cute for a NYE party!).

For more inspiration on what to do with cardboard letters take a look at this post from a project from Lily’s first birthday!

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DIY: Gold Dipped Spoons

Sitting next to my stove is a ceramic pot filled with wooden spoons and spatulas waiting to be used. There’s something about a collection of used wooden utensils (especially spoons) that make me grin. Baskets too…I’m obsessed with baskets…but that’s another post!

Today I’m taking about spoons and how much pettier they are dipped in gold….

For under 4 bucks you can score a bag of wooden spoons at Bed Bath & Beyond…and that’s not including using their coupons! As for the paint I used Krylon Metallic spray paint that I had on hand. Figure out how far down you would like the gold paint to go and wrap painters tape around the spoon. Make sure you rub the edges of the tape to seal it so you get a nice crisp line all the way around. Shake your spray paint really good and lightly coat the spoon(s). Don’t forget the tip! Allow the spoons to dry before adding a second coat. For good measure I sprayed a final coat of Krylon Clear Gloss.

Viola! Charming gold dipped spoons that add a little shimmer to your kitchen! Wrap a few spoons with ribbon, stuff them in an oven mitt, add a gift certificate to a local restaurant and you have a lovely gift for a hostess. Attach a note telling them to give their kitchen tools a break and enjoy a night out on you!

These spoons are almost too pretty to use! Make sure you wash them just like you would a regular spoon, in warm water with soap. If you put them in the dishwasher you will run the risk of drying out the spoon.

I love my wooden spoons and now that they are dipped in gold I love them even more!

Don’t forget about entering our sweet Emily Ley giveaway  that ends tomorrow!

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  1. Courtney commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    What a great idea! I love finding ways to make ordinary things we use every day a little more pretty!

  2. Courtney commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    What a great idea! I love finding ways to make ordinary things we use every day a little prettier!

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Giveaway: Emily Ley Simplified Planner Starter Kit

Hooray for a fabulous giveaway!!

I had been struggling with what would be the right post since the Newtown tragedy…and in truth there really isn’t one. My dear friend Emily Ley shot me an email last night offering a giveaway of my favorite products, her Simplified Planner! I believe a giveaway is the perfect way to return to posting.

List making is an obsession and I’m crazy over keeping my little family’s activities and appointments well organized. I’m in LOVE with my Simplified Planner because I have just one place where I can squirrel away all my lists. Emily has done a stellar job at creating a resource to keep your life organized so you can focus your precious time on what matters. To me…my family and friends are what matter.

Sometimes I pile too much on my plate. I try and juggle multiple projects for the blog in an attempt to free up my time in the future. What happens is that I undertake all the projects at once…writing the content for all of them, taking pictures for them and then creating specific images for each post in Illustrator. I found myself snapping these pictures while Lily was coloring. Applying hot glue while she biked around our kitchen island. I was making life more chaotic and not being in the moment with Lily. Last week I opened my planner and moved around some to do’s (even erased a few) and freed up more time to focus more on the coloring and bike moments….because those moments are what matter.

So today a marvelous giveaway my friends!! One lucky reader will be an owner of an Emily Ley Simplified Planner! With this tool you will be able to plan out your family’s meals in advance, make sure that dates for Brady’s baseball game and Lily’s ballet recital are listed, note scheduled doctor appointments, reminders for playgroup and small notes to inspire you or just make you smile. This will help keep your life streamlined so you can dedicate your life to what matters.

What is in the giveaway???? A Simplified Starter Kit including: 1 signature binder in warm pink, 1 journal set, 1 monthly calendar set (18 undated months) and 1 set of 6 dividers!  That’s right folks you get her gorgeous warm pink signature binder with a few of her essentials to fill it. If you’re already an owner of this awesome product I’m sure you know someone who would go bananas if they had one! This would be the best gift ever 😉

So how do you win it? Hop on over to Facebook and “like” Lily & Bliss or follow me on Twitter (@lilyandbliss), Instagram (@lilyandbliss) or Pinterest. Then come back and tell Emily and me what matters most to you. Sometimes in times full of sorrow reading about what matters to others can be inspiring and encouraging.

So follow via the avenues listed above and come back and leave a comment (if you don’t leave a comment I can’t pick you as a winner!). On Friday at 10 am a lucky winner will be announced! Good Luck!

(A winner will be picked using random.org) 

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  1. Susan commented:
    December 19, 2012 Reply

    That is a super cute planner! I love Emily’s site. Adorable stuff!

    I think at this time of the year and in light of the recent events what matters most to me is family. Things come and go in life but we begin and end with family.

    Wish you and your family the best this holiday!

  2. Kristin commented:
    December 19, 2012 Reply

    My faith and family are most important and staying organized helps me have more time for what really matters.

  3. Sarah Lindsay commented:
    December 19, 2012 Reply

    I liked on Facebook & follow on Pinterest (Sarah Margaret), and follow on twitter (@SarahPeara). What matters most to me are all those people that I care about; my loved ones. My friends and my family. I cherish each day and moment I have with them. My dad passed away a few years ago, but I remember the good times and hold on to them. I care about the memories I have and making new ones with the people I love.

  4. Samantha commented:
    December 19, 2012 Reply

    I follow you on Facebook and Pinterest. What matters most to me is my faith in Jesus Christ and the blessings he has given me in my family and friends!

  5. Victoria commented:
    December 19, 2012 Reply

    I liked your facebook page and follow you on instagram.

    Whats most important to me…my family. I’m so thankful for the amazing husband God has blessed me with and the adorable little boy he gave me the opportunity to call my son.

  6. Caitlin commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    I follow you on FB and Pinterest and loove your blog. Family is the most important and next in line would be my job…I adore working with the kiddos and feel beyond blessed that I get to do what I love everyday!

  7. Carissta commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    With everything that has happened over the last few weeks, family and friends are what matter the most to me. I just want to do my best to make everyone feel like they have a place here and are happy!

  8. Ashley Wright commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    I follow you on FB and Pinterest 🙂 This question keeps popping up in my life, starting with my MTH journey with Emily herself! I am trying so hard to focus on what makes me tick and what, at the core of who I am, really matters to me and how I can use that to fuel my passion to uplift others and make an authentic brand and business in the future.

    Family is definitely a large part of what matters to me. And that encompasses so many people outside of blood relatives. I have such an amazing support base that I sometimes loose sight of. I am also learning that what really fires me up and matters to me is building communities that intentionally listen and engage with the ‘other’. I want to build friendships and relationships between people that have different viewpoints or haven’t experienced the others point of view. I want to find a way to make these authentic and engaging so there is less misunderstanding and fear!

    All that to say… I would loveeeeeee this planner to be able to focus on decluttering my life so I can make these big dreams a reality!

  9. Courtney commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    The most important thing to me is spending time with the Lord each morning. I am crazy about my husband and my family but spending time in God’s word has to come first so I can love them well.

  10. Jennifer Rolin commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    Love this idea, and the simplified planner! I think like most people have said, in light of everything going on plus tomorrow being “the end of the world” (lol), the thing most important to me is my family and friends! My life is complete with the people I love! 😀 Merry Christmas!

  11. kristina commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for the chance to win Emily’s beautiful planner! I’ve been wanting one!

    The most important things to me are most definitely my faith and my family. ♥

  12. Amy Paulson commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    What’s most important? That I made time for those I love. For my kids to know and feel that I have time for them. That my husband would experience it. That God would know it. And that the individuals I met along the way – whether in line at Starbucks, other moms at the elementary school or the homeless person I met on the street – that they would walk away feeling like I had time for them and they mattered.

    • Amy Romano commented:
      December 21, 2012 Reply

      CONGRATS Amy on winning an Emily Ley Simplified Planner Starter Kit! I will be sending you an email shortly to get some information so we can send it to you!!!!

  13. Keryn commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    Oh I’ve loved Emily’s work for so long now – I took her “Making Brands Happen” course awhile back, and it was just so inspiring. I’ve been eyeing the planner for awhile, but just didn’t have the money to put towards it.

    I think people matter most. It’s easy to get caught up with work, house, plans, things… but what matters are making sure that the people in my life get the attention and love they deserve.

    (followed on Facebook!)

  14. December 20, 2012 Reply

    What matters to me more than anything right now is family. It has always been important to me, but since having a baby, I REALLY can’t imagine my world without my family. Family, and being a kind person who helps others are the most important things. I do my best to spread kindness and I hope that Graham will eventually learn from example and grows up to do the same. There is a lot of scary hate in this world, but for everyone who hates, I bet there are 10,000 people who do good. I want to be one of the good ones.

  15. Laura Brooks commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    What matters most to me is appreciating the little and the big things, being grateful for everything that comes my way.

    I went and liked your facebook page! 🙂

  16. Laura Brooks commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    I am also following you on twitter! @ellebea

  17. Laura Brooks commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    I am also now following you on printrest too! Have a good day!

  18. Alana commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this planner, I follow Emily on instragram and found you that way (I hope your hand is ok!!!). I have enjoyed reading your recent posts this morning.

    What matters most to me is both our family and our friends. My husband and I have been blessed with awesome families AND awesome life-long friends. We aren’t big gift givers (though I imagine that will change when children come along) but prefer to do things with the people we love. Whether it’s heading out to the piano bar with friends or weekend trips with our families, these experiences stay in our minds forever. So, for me, what matters most are our family and friends and the memories we create with these people that mean so much to us.

    I follow you on instagram and twitter (hazel lens)

  19. Jessica Chavez commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    I’m in LOVE with Emily’s stuff!! I gave myself a Christmas gift by getting her ‘Grace not perfection’ & ‘Hustle less, Love more’ prints! BEST gift ever!!!!
    Followed in Pinterest, Twitter and FB 🙂
    My faith and family matter the most to me <3 Merry Christmas!!

  20. Nicki commented:
    December 21, 2012 Reply

    I have liked your FB page as well as Pinterest. My family (and my pups) matter the most to me. I am grateful to be born into a close knit family and married into a family that loves to spend time together.

    Merry Christmas & Happy 2013!

  21. Meg Miller commented:
    December 21, 2012 Reply

    The most important thing is how I treat others. Thank you, Meg

  22. March 29, 2016 Reply

    That’s a well-thought-out answer to a challenging question

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  1. By Lily & Bliss | DIY: Gold Dipped Spoons on December 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    […] forget about entering our sweet Emily Ley giveaway  that ends […]

  2. By Lily & Bliss | Friday Link Love: Vol. 2 on December 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    […] even with the craziness my heart is so full from all of the loving comments from this post on what matters to you. All of your words are so inspiring and encourage me to continue to focus on […]

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Taking Time For What Matters

As more heartbreaking stories from Newtown emerge I have held my sweet baby a little tighter and showered her with extra kisses.

The time I would spend working on a post has been devoted to spending more time on what matters….my family and friends. I’ve watched Lily squish playdough in her tiny fingers, squeal over Emma the Elf’s daily hiding spots, twirl to music, freak over a third attempt of meeting Santa and flip over meeting ELMO….yes her favorite furry friend made an appearance at a holiday party. Watching the children light up as he shook their tiny hands or gave them a fuzzy high five filled my heart full of joy.

I hope you all continue to shower your family and friends with hugs and kisses. Stop by tomorrow for an amazing giveaway from my dear friend Emily Ley!

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A Day I’ll Never Forget

“Gimme your money!” I turn my head and two inches from my face is the nozzle of a 9mm pistol.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of that night. The night my friend and I were held at gunpoint and then taken for over an hour on a ride through the streets of Nashville. It’s been seven years yet feels like yesterday.

The night started like any other fun night out. We started with a bite to eat and drinks on Demonbreun followed by singing our hearts out at a small karaoke joint. I volunteered to leave early to take Charlee, my co-worker & friend, home. Only one block away from her house I pulled over because she was about to get sick and wouldn’t make it. After helping her out of the car and holding her hair back, I started making my way around the car when I saw him. . He was on the other side of the street walking in the opposite direction. I remember thinking it was pretty late for a casual stroll. I didn’t even have both feet in the car before I heard his demand.

“Gimme your money.”

I softly whispered okay and slowly reached for my purse. I knew I had no cash. I never carried it on me. I opened my wallet to show him it was empty. He shook his gun demanding I search through my friend’s purse. Charlee was out cold with her head between her knees. Thrashing through her things my lungs tightened as I realized that she too had no cash.

“We only have debit cards. I’ll give you my pin number. Better yet I’ll give you the keys to my car” I pleaded.

He paused for a few seconds that felt like an eternity to me. Was he deciding to just shoot me? Will he just take the car? My mind was racing.

Him: “You said debit card right?”
Me: “Yes. Bank of America. I just got paid and I have money in the account.”
Him: “Okay, but we’re going to go now. Get in the passenger seat.”

He followed me around the car telling me to open the back seat. He reached in over Charlee’s back and started to pull her out of the car. My heart started pounding. As he started to push her into the backseat she finally came to and freaked out at the strange man handling her. She yelped and pushed him away. In seconds he removed the gun from his waistline and held it to her head directing her to shut up and get inside. I thought I was about to witness my friend being murdered. Then out of nowhere I said calmly “Char, honey just get in. We are going to drive to a bank really quickly and get him some cash…cool?” By some miracle she agreed and got in the back seat. He held tight to the gun for the rest of the time.

He had an oversized white shirt that he used as a glove. He pulled the shirt tightly over his hand to turn the key, move the gear shift and hold the wheel. He was concealing his fingerprints. He had done this before. Oh and the stench. He reeked as if he was coming off a week long drug bender. I can still smell it.

For the next hour he took us on the longest car ride of my life. The entire time I some how managed to stay cool and calm on the outside while shear panic and fear ripped me open inside. I don’t know where it came from, but I decided to treat him as a friend. To buffer the current nightmare I started a conversation about our boyfriends and jerky moves they had both pulled lately. I just wanted to keep Charlee talking…talking about something other than this nightmare we were living. Keeping the chitchat going I reached my hand slowly behind me and asked Charlee to give me her hand. I gave it a tight squeeze and she gripped me back just as hard. We held hands like that for most of the car ride. I’m still surprised he allowed us to do that.

He told me he was just going to take me to a gas station so I could use the ATM. We slowly started to pull into a corner station when we all noticed a police cruiser parked against the curb. He started to speed up and I casually mentioned that he should take it easy because of the cops. I said it like I was looking out for him. But even with my friendly demeanor he still shoved the gun into my ribs warning me.

Fear struck when I realized that my doors weren’t locked and Charlee could jump out of the car to safety. If she did that, surely my life would be over. She stayed and I continued gripping her hand while continuing the phony boyfriend gossip.

A second time we pulled into a gas station and again a police cruiser was at a gas pump. I gripped Charlee’s hand in hopes that she would stay again. She did and we continued on the search. He knew the streets well and took many side roads. I had only lived in Nashville for a short time and was completely lost. He took us down a tiny side street and slowed down. My mind started racing at what he was thinking. Was this it? I broke the friendly chatter and started to plead with him to just let us get out. I told him that he could pawn the car and get more than what was in my bank account. He just kept repeating, “drop off where you pick up.” This phrase gave me the tiniest bit of hope. Did he really have plans to abandon us after he gets what he wants? He slowly stepped on the gas and we exited the alley and found ourselves perched on top of a small hill looking down on a bank.

He told me not to do anything stupid and to hurry. I sprinted down the hill to the ATM. My eyes started to swell with tears when I realized I was free but I had to go back because he still had Charlee. She later told me that when I left my car he told her he would blow her head off if I tried anything. My hands were shaking as I fumbled through the ATM prompts. I pulled out $200 and panicked. During my friendly conversations he had asked how much money was in my account and for some reason I told him $500. Not wanting to find out what he would do I raced through the prompts a second time to pull out the remaining money.

The entire time we were with him I only looked at him once when I gave him my money. In my head I thought that if he was a drug addict that looking at him would make him nervous. I kept my eyes on the road the whole time. He started to slow down and finally stopped on the side of the road. My heart pounded. Then he said he had to go to the bathroom. He used his shirt to open the car door and got out. As soon as he got out I swung my left leg over the gearshift pressing down on the break as I threw the car in drive. I pressed down on the gas so hard I thought I would break the pedal.  When I turned the corner and realized we were truly free I screamed. I slowed a bit to get fully behind the wheel and grabbed both of our bags. I tossed Charlee my cell phone and told her to call my mom as I dialed 911 on hers. I was screaming so hard. As soon as we got far enough away I pulled into a brightly lit bank. I just kept screaming to the man on the other line. I tried to calm down but I had suppressed all my feelings and emotions while I pretended to make friends with him in the car. With in minutes there were squad cars and a white crime scene van. They dusted for fingerprints and wrote down our statements. News vans appeared across the street and I hid behind the crime scene van. I just wanted to crawl in a ball and disappear. My brother drove my car home while Charlee and I got went with my mom. As soon as I got into her car I started to feel sick. A car was the last place I wanted to be.

The next few days I spent time in bed and curled up on the couch. I couldn’t watch tv because every hour the news would flash with video of Charlee and me crying. I went back to work trying to create some kind of normalcy. Charlee and I both went to the police station and separately searched photos. We later found out through the hundreds of faces we both picked the same guy. Unfortunately, he was currently serving time and couldn’t be him. He was never found and no fingerprints were found because he used his shirt as a glove.

For the longest time I blamed God. I couldn’t understand why this happened. Why did he get away? Why would he get the chance to do this to someone else? I struggled with this for the longest time until I finally started to thank God….because I lived. My life didn’t end that night. I was given the chance to live. To get married and have a child. I sought treatment for a bit but eventually I moved to Florida a few months after to get a fresh start.

Not one day goes by without a flash from that night. I know this event played part to driving me further into my post partum depression. After giving birth I was plagued with thoughts of my daughter being put in horrible situations and living in a world filled with crazy people. If only she could forever live in her happy little toddler bubble.

It has taken me months to gather my words for this post and as I was attempting to finish CNN started reporting the Connecticut shooting where 20 children lay victims. My stomach has been in knots and my heart aches for those parents, families and children who fell witness to this crime. I couldn’t continue typing when I saw the breaking news. Lily woke up and I rushed in and held her tight. I just started crying and asked Mike (who was working from home) to take her so I could go to our room and compose myself.

By sharing my story I just hope you squeeze your loved ones a little tighter because tonight families in Connecticut won’t get that opportunity. Problems over money, a flat tire, fights with a friend or spilled milk don’t matter. Each day is a gift. No matter what faces me each day I thank God I have a second chance and I try to choose happiness. It’s not easy…and after today’s tragedy I go back to that night and again ask God why. But with such senseless acts you will never get the answers you want. The world isn’t perfect. But with each waking day I push that night back and look forward to the future. A future that I almost never got to have.

I’ll be back to post some time soon. I’m going to take some time and love on my family…God bless you and those in Newtown.

View Comments
  1. Emily Ley commented:
    December 15, 2012 Reply

    I LOVE YOU so much. This is so incredible. I’ll never forget the first time you told me this story. You are remarkable and I’m so glad you shared it. There’s lots of healing in those words. xoxo

    • Amy Romano commented:
      December 15, 2012 Reply

      I remember that day, gosh I was a sweaty mess telling you. Thanks for being such a strong friend for me to lean on! love you xoxo.

  2. Melody commented:
    December 15, 2012 Reply

    You are so strong. Thank you for sharing. I needed to read this, and so do so many others. Thank you for being brave and telling your story.

    • Amy Romano commented:
      December 15, 2012 Reply

      Thank you Melody! It was hard one to write. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make people come together….really focus on what matters. Life is so precious…just continue to love on your loved ones and your sweet pup!

  3. Kelsey commented:
    December 15, 2012 Reply

    Extraordinary. Amy, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am touched by the bravery and strength you had for your friend. I am grateful to have met you and learn more to admire about you all the time. Lily is beautiful, inside and out. Just like her Mama.

    • Amy Romano commented:
      December 15, 2012 Reply

      Kelsey that was so sweet- thank you. I share the same sentiments about you and I know Lily adores you!

  4. Megan commented:
    December 15, 2012 Reply

    What an amazing story. You truly were saved by the grace of God. I don’t know how you were able to put those words down, but I am glad you did. One day you will be able to share this story with Lily when she needs an uplifting moment in her life and knows she can be as brave as her mother! Have a Merry Christmas… Loved the card. xo

  5. Kimberly Romano commented:
    December 15, 2012 Reply

    I’m so proud of you Amy, for sharing this and for being the strong, beautiful woman, wife and mother you are. Lily is one lucky girl to have such an amazing role model. Much love…xoxo

  6. Charlee commented:
    December 15, 2012 Reply

    Definitely a day I will NEVER forget. You are and always be dear to me and a hero to me for coming back when you easily could have run and saved yourself. No way I was going to jump out of the car and leave you behind. We are so blessed to be here at all. Love you, friend. May God watch over those who don’t and didn’t make it in Connecticut.
    Forever grateful,

    • Amy Romano commented:
      December 17, 2012 Reply

      Oh Char AMEN. You’re my hero and forever friend. Blessed is right my friend….so very blessed. Love you….

  7. Elizabeth commented:
    December 16, 2012 Reply

    What an incredible story. I’m so glad you and your friend are safe!!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      December 17, 2012 Reply

      Thank you Elizabeth! Give your sweet Ella a hug for me! xo

  8. December 20, 2012 Reply

    I read this a few days ago on my phone and didn’t respond at the time, but when I read it, it really gave me the chills. You were so smart and fast-thinking, I don’t know that I could have done the same thing! I’m so glad you were both okay. This world needs less guns and more love.

  9. Alana commented:
    December 20, 2012 Reply

    Wow. I can’t imagine how scared you both were. You both were very smart to act the way you did.

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