let me get you all caught up.

Back to life, back to reality.....

Anyone remember that song? After two weeks of staycation and having Alex home ALL DAY these are the words now running through my head.

We sent Alex off to PA school this morning. It was a little sad to see him go when we had gotten used to him being around during the day, but I am excited for him, too. Alex is one of those people who really loves learning and truly finds things other people may find boring, interesting.  I know he is going to enjoy school, even though it will be hard. And I know when he's done he'll have a career that he enjoys and finds rewarding.

But we had great little staycation.  We got a ton of little house projects done that we normally don't have time to do, including hanging a bunch of shelves, cleaning out the garage, and totally reorganizing our closet. We got to go on a date to our favorite little Vietnamese place. And we started watching Revolution on Netflix. It's from the same creators of Lost (such a love/hate relationship) and it feels very Lost-y. But it's exciting and not too scary for me.  Now that Alex has to study in the evenings I guess I'll have to watch it on my own. 

Johnny turned two! We had a nice "little"gathering of family to celebrate, (our immediate families alone total over 20). Johnny had a juice pouch for the first time and thought it was the bees knees. And I'm realizing that I always stand like this because whenever I do Johnny copies me. I don't usually lean on the wall like that, but I do cross my ankles.


Johnny got a kiddy kitchen. He loves it.  It's happily installed in our kitchen and I'm hoping, hoping, hoping it makes getting things done in the kitchen easier. 

Johnny doesn't like cake (weirdo) so I made him an ice cream cake inspired by something I saw on Pinterest. 

Here's the orignal.

found at kinfolk.com
And mine was not worthy of a photo of it's own, but you can see a little of it in the photo below. Let's just say it rivaled the failed Pinterest attempts you see on buzzfeeds and things of that nature. At least it tasted real good.

Oh, and Johnny can't really blow out candles.

This is what was happening. But he tried so hard.

Last weekend we took a trip to WI with my family for my cousins wedding. In an attempt to be frugal we got two rooms; one for the the boys, my dad, two brothers, Alex and Johnny, and one for the girls, my mom, sister, future sister-in-law, and myself. This meant that I didn't have to worry about Johnny during the night at. all. And my future sister-in-law got to fulfill her dreams of rooming with her fiance's female relatives. Sorry Faith! Actually, she was pretty cool with it. 

Vacationing with family when you have babies/toddlers is the way to go.  There was always someone to watch Johnny or play with him or keep him from flushing the toilet over and over. My dad even took charge of putting Johnny to bed. Major plus. I'd definitely do it again.

It's been a couple years since Alex and I have been to a wedding. And they're not as fun with a toddler as I remember them being without one. Oh well. My dad was there again to do some chasing. And my husband looks slammin in a bow tie. So all in all it was a positive experience. 


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2015!


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// 7 Q U I C K T A K E S vol 1 3 //

linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum - NEW HOME of quick takes!
 because I need to get you all caught up on the happenings over here.


Thanksgiving was last week, and on the one hand, it was good.  We got to see lots of family. We got to eat lots of pie. But on the other hand it was really hard. Alex is the operations manager for a small chain of bakeries here in the Twin Cities.  You think "bakery, that sounds fun and yummy!" And it is fun and yummy, but it's also a lot of work. He has long hours, he's on call basically 24/7, he's been having to work Saturdays lately too. Not. Fun. And the holidays are super busy. When most people are looking forward to a long weekend of family and relaxation Alex is gearing up for super early mornings and 12 hour work days. The only day he had off last week was Thanksgiving it's self, which was spent frantically making pies and then hopping back and forth between our families. This is what every major holiday of our marriage has been like. I'm super thankful for a good job, but it gets hard. But thankfully, there is an end in sight, because.....


 Alex got into PA School! For the last two years Alex has been taking prerequisites to apply for physician assistant programs.  His undergrad was in Spanish and linguistics, so nothing transferred and he's basically been working on a whole other bachelor's degree. So for the the last two years he has been working a demanding full time job, taking classes, doing home work almost every night, whilst being a husband to my pregnant and then postpartum self and a father to our little boy. It's been a little crazy.

This summer Alex submitted his applications to the three PA programs in Minnesota. He interviewed at two and found out just a few weeks ago that he was excepted to both! He has been working so hard and we've both sacrificed a lot in our relationship and home life with trust that this is what he is supposed to be doing. It's so good to get this confirmation and it's such a relief to know that the next three years of our life is all set. Of course I knew that he'd get in, but it's still a relief to know for sure!


It's advent! How is your advent going?  Ours is going....not bad, not great.  It's just going, I guess.  We got the tree set up, Johnny hasn't tried to pull it down yet, so that's a win. We've got the advent wreath out, but we didn't have it out in time for dinner last Sunday, so we actually haven't lit it yet. I've been using my Blessed is She advent journal and it has been really nice to change up my prayer routine a little bit with it. I've read a few good blog posts about things to do during advent, and advent traditions, and this great post about phones and daily prayer that have given me some ideas for things I'd like to try.

My own personal goal for advent has been to just do more listening and waiting for the Lord, even if I don't hear anything, even it feels like He's not near me. I'm trying to quiet my thoughts, my anxieties, my temper, my heart, and really wait for Him.

Come, Lord Jesus, even now, even to me.


Alex and I got out for a much needed date yesterday. I've always liked going on dates with my husband but I've never really felt like we needed dates until we had Johnny. (People who have had children longer than I have are rolling their eyes and saying "ya think?") Having a baby, or rather a toddler, is so consuming. When we are home together literally every second of time and ounce of energy is spent keeping Mr. Seek-and-Destroy out of trouble. Today he dumped an entire box of Cheese-Itz out onto the the floor, I dropped one of his poops on the bathroom floor, he pulled beer bottles out of the recycling bin, and emptied sock draws, kitchen cabinets, book shelves, and laundry baskets left and right.  Basically everything we own is always on the floor. 

He does a lot of sweet things too, he plays peek-a-boo, and he spins in circles til he's dizzy, he just started giving kisses and I love it! But even when he's being sweet our thoughts are completely on him and Alex and I forget to take care of each other.  So getting out and spending a couple hours focused on us was so needed. 


I had a couple hours to my self this morning.  Unfortunately they were spent at the dentist. I mean no disrespect to dentists, and I'm very grateful for good oral health, but going to the dentist is just so soul crushing.  We don't have dental insurance, so I go pay a whole bunch of money to have someone scrape my gums and blast my teeth with freezing cold water for 40 minutes all the while telling me that I shouldn't drink red wine and coffee because my teeth are becoming stained. Um....I'm sorry, but there is no amount of stained teeth that could keep me from my red wine and coffee. It is simply not an option at this stage in life. Quit making me feel guilty for keeping my sanity at a decent level!

Anyway, I had a cavity, so I have to go back in January.



Last weekend we celebrated my Granddad's 90th birthday. My Granddad was raised on a Minnesota farm, he was a tail gunner in WWII. He got married, had five kids,  and owned a business. I've known him as the man who taught us to fish, who smokes a pipe, who likes to eat venison, and loves to tell a good story. Now he's 90. He has 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. He and my Grandma are still in their own house. I've been going their as long as I can remember. This last year my little brother started mowing the lawn for him, but he still takes a walk every day and plants a garden every summer. 

At 90 years old he has 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Family has always been important and it still is.  My grandparents still come to all my concerts and my student recitals. They come hear us sing at church. They come to Sunday night dinners. They still call me every year on my birthday. When I look at my Granddad I see a life well lived and a legacy that neither moth or rust can destroy. I see family, and I see love.

My dad and my grandparents

The Whole Shepperd Clan. This was seriously the best photo I got.
You try getting 40 people to smile all together.


Lastly, Nell of Whole Parenting, who is one of the most generous and gracious bloggers I know, was so kind as to interview me about my Etsy shoppe and is giving away one of my baby hats. So head on over there and enter.  And I hope you all have a great weekend!

for more quick takes visit This Ain't The Lyceum


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What I Learned From 31 Days of Blogging

It's been one week since I posted my last 31 days post.  While it's been really nice to take a breather and have time away from my blog and from the computer screen, I couldn't stay away as a long as I originally planned (2 weeks).  I've been thinking about what I learned from the October blogging challenge and how it will influence my blog in the future and I wanted to get it all out there in a post before I lose my momentum.

So Here goes.

I really really like blogging! 31 days was hard at times, but over all I had a lot of fun. I liked having a theme. I liked planning out my posts in advance. I liked working on multiple posts at a time. I really like writing and I really love sharing stories.  Blogging is a nice hobby to have along side the stay-at-home-mom gig because it's something separate from being a SAHM. I love being a mom! But I have other interests and abilities and blogging is a way to make sure those things don't get rusty during this season of my life

I don't like blogging EVERY day. If I didn't have a baby, and if I wasn't married, and if I didn't have a house to keep clean, and if I didn't have 20 piano/violin students to teach every week, then I might like blogging everyday. But I have a lot going on in my life and blogging everyday meant that those other things didn't get as much attention as they need and deserve (Sorry Johnny and Alex!) I had a goal before 31 days to post once a week.  Now that I have pushed myself to the max on getting posts up I think I would like to aim for two posts a week. Which brings me to my next point:

I perform well when under pressure. I didn't need a 31 day blogging challenge to learn that about myself.  I've known that for years. When I was in college and had 2 piano lessons a week and was preparing recitals I practiced for HOURS everyday. Now I don't practice at all.  I really really wish that I did and every once in a while I put Johnny in his exersaucer with some crackers and try to play for 15 minutes while he snacks. But the sad reality is that unless I have some pressure- playing for mass or a wedding or something, I just don't practice. I need the pressure, not so much that it becomes stifling, but just enough to keep me from getting lazy.

While I may need a little pressure to keep me writing, I don't need or want any pressure when it comes to content.  I write first and foremost for myself. That may sound a little selfish, but it's my blog, and my blog is a place for me to share my heart, and to catalog my memories. I love the idea of making connections with people over the things I share. Maybe there's another mom out there with a kid with hearing loss, or a husband who's going back to school and we can relate. That's great. But I'm not going to tailor what I write to what I think might get me the most hits. I write first for my own cathartic experience, and if you follow along and feel that we are kindred spirits that just makes it all the better!

31 things I Learned from my parents didn't get as many reads as most of my other other posts. Maybe that's because I didn't share every single post to Facebook and Instagram like I usually do.  Or maybe a post every single day was just a little too much for my readers to keep up with. Maybe people found it boring. Whatever the reason, it's OK! I loved writing and reliving all those memories. I know a lot of my family loved reading them too. So to me, it was a success.

As I began publishing my 31 Things, some discrepancies in some of our memories. I had to fess up to my mom that I may have used a little poetic license when retelling our family history. Not because I was trying to make things sound better or worse than they really were, but to better convey to you how something felt or appeared to me when I was 6, or 16. Sometimes it's hard to keep blog posts from turning into tall tales. But don't all stories change a little bit each time we tell them? That's just a natural part of the art of story telling.

That being said, I do feel frustrated that life tends to look more perfect through the lens of a blog than it does in real life. After reading 31 Thing I Learned From My Parents, you may have this image in your head of my family all holding hands and skipping through a field of flowers, or sitting around the breakfast table together in our bathrobes, smiling and eating cinnamon rolls (ok, that one could happen, but just on Christmas). The reality is we get grumpy and angry and have arguments just like any other family. But when I share stories and memories that belong to other people, and not just myself, I have to think about what they may or may not want out there on the world wide web. I don't have a problem telling you about the time I had a meltdown and was a hot mess, but my mom or sister may not want me to tell you about the time they had a meltdown and were hot messes. You may find a blog post here about when I was being a terrible person, but you won't find any about Alex and I having a fight.

Sometimes it's hard to strike a balance between trying to present life with honesty and respecting the privacy of those I do life with. I hope my life doesn't come across as perfect and idyllic, because it's not. Sometimes things are great, and sometimes things are really hard. But all of the little imperfect moments of my life come together to make something that is real and beautiful.  It's a life I really love living.

And in case you thought all our pictures turn out great, I give you: Family Outtakes!

Not perfect. But we love each other anyway!

// 24. laughing around the table //


My family has a tradition of Sunday night dinner. It's not quite the set-in-stone-institution that Friday Night Dinners are. (Because I know you are watching Gilmore Girls) (Thanks Netflix!)

yeah, that's basically what our dinners look like.
But most Sundays we go to my parents house for dinner.  And sitting around the table, eating, telling stories, and laughing is one of my very favorite things that my family does.  We do a lot of laughing when we're together for a meal, and I know it runs in the family because I've seen my mom and her sister around the table laughing until they are all in tears. And I've seen my dad with his parents and siblings laughing until everyone's sides ache and they're out of breathe. The family that laughs together, stays together. 

It makes me happy that my siblings and I are still relatively young and still have years of laughing around the table together ahead of us. 

What do we laugh about?  Well, I could tell you about the time my little brother was really emphatic about potatoes.  Or the time my sister didn't get a good look at a bumper sticker that read "make your next stop the library!" and thought it said "make your neck stop. The library!" But I'm afraid that if I tried to tell you these things here it wouldn't make any sense. I will tell you, though, it always starts with a story. Story telling, it's as old as time and it makes me so happy that despite all the technology that fills almost all of our moments we can still sit down, have dinner, and tell stories together. 


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//16. how to love pride and prejudice //


My mom reads Pride and Prejudice literally every year. I'm not kidding. She has read that book more than anyone I know and, I dare say, more than anyone you know, too! Each time she reads it she enjoys it more and more.  She still laughs at the funny parts. She still stays up late reading, just dying to find out what happens next. She still cries when she gets to the end. 

A love for P&P isn't just something she's passed on to me, it' something she has taught our entire family. My older brother, sister, and I have all read the book multiple times. And my little brother and dad, if they haven't read it, at least love the movie version

Not this movie version. 

Keira Knightley just needs to go away.

Ah...that's better. 

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, the perfect Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. But I digress....

The first time we watched this 6 part A&E mini series I was probably around 12 years old. My cousin brought the movies with her when she came to stay with us that summer. We watched one episode one day, the second episode the next day, and then episodes 3-6 the third day! Because when it gets good, you just can't stop. I thought it was pretty cool that my mom let us watch that many episodes in a row. Now it's a family tradition to bring the P&P movies to the summer trip to the cabin. Everyone, even my 19-year-old kid brother, looks forward to watching them. 

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// 5.& 6. pray together & read the word aloud //

How does a family stay together? You could coin any number of phrases.

The family that plays together, stays together.

The family that laughs together, stays together.

The family that wears plaid together, stays together.

that's a thing, right?
But I firmly believe that the family that prays together, stays together.

I mentioned before that I grew up being home-schooled. People always ask me, "what kind of home-school did you guys have? Were we disciplined? Did we work ahead like crazy? Was I doing 11 grade math when I was 12? Well, I'll just say our home-school was a little more on the relaxed side. Some days were more productive than others. But the one thing that we did everyday, without fail (besides lattes) was have family prayer time, and read from the bible together.

When we were little it looked something like my mom reading from a comic book styled picture bible and me and my siblings snuggled up to her to get a good view.  And then we would pray for any of our friends and family who were sick or otherwise in need.

As we got older the picture Bible turned into an actual Bible. And the prayers became more personal and directed. Wisdom for where to apply to college, where to look for a summer job, asking that the Lord's will be done in difficult situations.

On the weekends, if we were all at home my dad would suggest that we read from the word, and have some prayer time. It wouldn't be honest of me to say that it was something I always looked forward to. As a fidgety and angsty teen-ager sometimes I just wanted to be left alone, to watch tv, or to go talk to a friend on the phone. But my dad would insist and so we'd all gather around and listen, and then pray. And no matter how much I didn't want to be doing that, by the time we were finished I was always so glad I did. There is sometime about praying with other people that softens rough edges and brings about reconciliation.

my dad, reading the word.
Now my siblings and I are all grown up. But we still pray together as a family. We often have dinner at my parents house on Sundays, and after dinner, when we're sitting around drinking our decaf, my mom or dad will suggest that we have some prayer time. Now, without hesitation, we all gather and willing share the things on our hearts that need lifting up. I'm glad we still do this, I'm gla
d that Alex and Johnny get to be apart of it. And I'm thankful that my parents set this great example for us to follow.

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// P I T T S B U R G H //

The second part of our vacation was spent in Pittsburgh with Alex's sister, brother-in-law, and their 3 boys, taking in the sights, eating the eats, and having lots of fun family time. We went to a Pirates game; I'm not much a sports person, but I think outdoor baseball is something that I could do. We spent time walking around the downtown area of Pittsburgh, taking in the sights and enjoying the excitement of being in a new and different city.  I got a pedicure in, Alex and I sneaked out for a date one night and Johnny had so much fun with his cousins he didn't even notice we were gone.  He's going to miss them.  So are we!

// P I R A T E S G A M E //

// P O I N T S T A T E P A R K //

// C A R N E G I E M U S E U M O F N A T U R A L H I S T O R Y //

// P H I P P S C O N S E R V A T O R Y //