Hello there, and welcome to Magda Row....

Influence Conference, New blog, and Redesign. Whoa.

I am just home today after 4 solid days of being with other Christian bloggers in Indianapolis at the very first Influence Conference. 

I am tired. But energized.

I am overwhelmed. But also feeling more focused.

I have a lot to say about it.
Just not tonight.

But this I do want to say before I get some shut eye:

I wanted to make sure that everyone knows that my blog is soon changing. A LOT.

I will have a completely new redesign and if you are reading this on Magda Row (blogspot) then I will soon be redirecting you to an entirely new URL which is self-hosted on an entirely new platform. (www.ohamandaleigh.com)

If you are already reading this from my self-branded site that is under construction (you are here because we traded biz cards in Indy!), then you just have to wait and I'm sorry if you get tired of the silly pumpkin photo that I have up there. ;) I'll be perfectly honest and tell you that I'm tired of looking at it myself. Let's just call it "filler."

Big changes, people. Big changes.

I have a designer working on my site and it might have already been done, except I barely had a chance to call Chad these last 4 days, much less Danielle who still understandably has more questions as to the direction I want her to go for me.


Stay tuned. I'm hoping to have a launch date soon to share (this month) and then you will see what I've been up to and why I would drive 5 hours with 3 strangers to stay in a hotel room with 4 new strangers (including sharing a bed with 1 girl I had never spoken to) where there were 200 other women who have a passion for blogging and also sharing our faith while doing so.

These last 4 days completely rocked my world. In a very good way.

Influence: Pre-conference Meet & Greet!

Happy Friday!

I am excited to announce that I have won a free ticket to The Influence Conference in Indianapolis next month from The Tiny Twig (one of my favorite blogs of all-time) ! I am beyond excited, to be exact.

And am I a little freaked out? Yes?

I went to Blissdom this past January, but as you know, I live in the Nashville area already so I was able to go home whenever I wanted and sleep or whatever. Pretty much just come and go. Eeeeeasy.

This one is different.

I'm carpooling with two girls that I've never met before at this point (hi future local & blog friends from Life. Edited and Wild & Precious - thanks for adding me to your traveling adventure), and I'm still looking for a roommate who will definitely be a complete stranger. Ha! I feel brave already. ; )

*Edited to add: I was just contacted by Brittany from Live Laugh Studios (blog maintenance right now) to say that she and her other 2 roommates (Ashley and  Kimberly have space for one more. ME! Mission accomplished. Thanks to everyone who tweeted & retweeted that I was looking still.

So, in order to get out there and meet people and not feel so nervous, the girls who are running this thing have started an online Meet & Greet and I'm linking up over there with my answers to all of the questions.

3 Get To Know Me Questions

  1. I sing all the time without knowing I'm doing it. According to Chad it's a really bad habit, but some people think it's sweet and means I'm happy. I sometimes hum to a song in my head while someone's talking to me on the phone and they have to say "What are you singing, Amanda?" before I realize that I'm doing it. You can also catch me humming this exact version of this song on any given day (and that REALLY drives him nuts). Haha! I honestly don't know why it's in my head all the time. (In college, I woke up with Melissa Ethridge's song Come To My Window in my head every. single. morning. I've never even owned that song. 
  2. I'm a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian and if you want to know more about that part of my life you can just ask me. 
  3. I'm a let's-have-fun-where's-the-next-party-or-event type of girl who married a workaholic musician. It has taken many years for us to learn how to make that work, as you can only imagine. : )
2 Things I'm Looking Forward To About The Conference
  1. I honestly can't wait to meet all of the girls from Nashville finally! I would love to have more friends who are local in real life....not just on my laptop....and this would be a great place to see them all in a place that's geared toward us. I also want to meet the other girls that I follow who live all over the place, including my newfound roommates.
  2. I want to know my purpose and learn what my specific voice is and I think this conference and all of the women who are speaking and sharing will help me narrow down my swirling thoughts.
1 Thing I Can't Leave Home Without

One thing only? Hmmm....my inhaler. Haaaaaaaa! Okay, and my phone. October does seem to be the month that I drive myself to the ER at 3am the most due to asthma attacks, but whatever. ; ) 

So.....here I go! Linking up with all of the other fabulous ladies who will be joining me. 

Vintage Farm Fresh Breakfast Bridal Shower

I posted a sneak peek yesterday of this fun party we threw for Maddox's Kindergarten assistant from last year, Miss Sarah.

She's getting married in early 2013 and I had a really great time pulling this together with help from the other Kindergarten moms who made or brought food to the table.

This bridal shower had a different twist to it because all of the Kindergarten class was invited to celebrate Sarah!

That was a bit of a challenge to make the whole thing 6 year old friendly AND still feel like a sweet grown up party.

So....who doesn't like breakfast?! : )

I'm a girl who grew up in the country so all things vintage country or farm style are dear to me because they feel so natural and normal. It is truly not a "style" to me but things that I have always loved and/or seen since childhood.

Here enters the Vintage Farm Fresh Breakfast theme. I knew that Sarah's style was a different type of vintage, but I was pretty sure that she would like it.

I hardly had to buy anything extra because I had most of the decor already in my party planning/house decorating/food serving stash. That is always a bonus.

I also luckily have an old massively long wood table for children and chairs in our sunroom, so seating for the kids made it pretty simple. (I also keep a plethora of vinyl tablecloths on hand for these kid occasions. Usually $3 at Walmart in the summertime.)

She's so tiny she blends in at the kids' table. ;)
All of the kids did great and they were amazingly excited to see her after 6 weeks of being out of school.

Here are a lot of photos of the food we served and the decor I used on the serving tables! Thanks to my friend, Sandra, for sharing all of these iPhone pics she got because if she hadn't there would be NO pictures of this party. And that would be a sad thing. : / 

The quiches that were supposed to be made the night before couldn't be made due to power outages, so we were able to grab some quiche from Publix and they were YUM!

I always prefer to use real dishes, real glasses, and real silverware. Even with children! Less waste and cheaper in the long run. 

Butter, syrup, and sugar - served the old fashioned way. 

Fresh eggs purchased from a friend's daughter who raises chickens and sells their eggs as her job.

Maddox was happy to see his friends and Sarah and also glad that it was a grownup party that included his type of food. ; )

Our sweet set of juice glasses for the kids. I searched for a set of these for about a year before I found them locally. I think I paid $1 each. SCORE!

Milk bar with milk containers bought at World Market and milk bottles purchased from Shop Sweet Lulu. The little cow creamer was just for decor and was something I used for Magdalen's 2 year Vintage Cowgirl birthday party. I'm hanging onto that thing!

Soda box purchased at World Market (no! I couldn't find an authentic one in time, but this one served it's purpose).

I use mason jars for almost every party, unless it's formal. The mason jar drink dispenser seemed to fit the theme so I used that. (Purchased at Word Market also. I love that place!)

My vintage cart (purchased locally for a steal a couple of months ago), melamine dishes from Walmart and 2 STRAWBERRY PIES made by our dear baker friend, Sandra. Everything she makes tastes like heaven!

Mini peach preserves in a jar was the party favor I found and it was perfect for a breakfast/brunch party! The vintage rustic toolbox was something I already had that held them perfectly!

The food was scrumptious, the kids were well-behaved, the guest of honor felt loved, and there were lots of smiles all around.

Thanks to the ladies who helped me so much in the kitchen making the pancakes and all of the other last minute details that needed to be finished. Also, the cleanup! They were like little magicians in my kitchen because they had a lot of it cleaned up by the time I was done watching Sarah open her gifts. : )

Great friends equals a happy heart and I hope to show you some past parties on here that I have had the most fun scheming on and actually putting together and enjoying with dear friends!

{SNEAK PEEK} Vintage Farm Fresh Breakfast Bridal Shower

I'm not quite ready with my post on Maddox and what I wrote about yesterday. I want the words to come out just right, so in the mean time I thought I would post a few fun things while I work on it!

I had the honor in July to do a fun little bridal shower for the Kindergarten Assistant from Maddox's class last year, Miss Sarah. She's a sweetie and we loved her. : )

Here's a sneak peek of that little gathering and since I'm rushing off to a Summer Reading Rewards swim party for grades 1-4, I will just show one photo here and the rest later today or in the morning.

It really did turn out cute and I can't wait to share the rest of the photos. Thanks to my fellow Kindergarten mom and good friend, Sandra, for all of the pics from her iPhone. I was so busy hosting that I forgot to grab my camera or at least my phone! It was a crazy, fun morning though.

Happy Wednesday!

A Deliberate Life

Really bad photo I took with my phone of an excerpt out of a book called Alone Together by Sherry Turkle (page 275)

So this Facebook strike I'm on (I told you I would come back and talk about it)......today I'm almost at 5 weeks without Facebook access and this has certainly given me a lot of quiet time in my mind to think about some of the most important things in my life.

My life.
My marriage.
My parenting.
My friends.
My family.
My home.

Wow. Lots of things needing some thinking and attention. 

I had been floating. Mentally and emotionally and spiritually. And I didn't realize it because of all the noise that social media creates for me. 

Now, please understand that I am still very present online. We have lots of new things going on at the homefront/moving status that have happened in the past week and a half and I am pinning on Pinterest like a mad woman as I find ideas and room layouts and paint colors that I'm digging. 

I'm on Twitter but only check it out a couple of times a week to catch up with the latest buzz in the handmade & crafting & blog world. But honestly, Twitter is too fast and too detailed for me in small bursts for me to hang around for very long. It's a nice catch-up of the RIGHT NOW.

I'm also on Instagram, because seriously....who can't resist posting some pics of their kids once in awhile? Can I hear an Amen? ; )

My mom follows me on IG and a handful of real-life friends and a lot of blogger friends so it's nice to keep a smaller amount of people caught up that actually seek me out on there. IG being just photos  makes it easy for me to not get all crazy up in there with my time.

I'm learning, through this fast (of my biggest social media addiction), that I was crowding God out. Since I turned it off - literally deactivating my FB account - I have had such peace in my mind. And openness for thoughts. I have been speaking to God more often throughout my day and taking the time to speak to the kids more about Him on a regular unplanned basis and it has felt so nice. I'll write more about that tomorrow though. 

I briefly mentioned our trip to Destin in an earlier post and before we left I checked out a few books from the library. (I'm wondering how many posts I write that involve me talking about a book? hmmm.)

Anyway, I was perusing the books and came across this book called Alone Together by Sherry Turkle. It's premise is that we are sitting in our homes ALONE while having a false sense of being TOGETHER with others because of social media and the tricks it plays on your mind. I didn't get a chance to actually read it before it was due back at the library but I skimmed it and love the quote from it that I posted above. It just jumped out at me and I just kept nodding my head. Yes. YEEEEESSSSS. So completely right on with the thoughts I've been having and the feelings I've been experiencing lately. 

Here's another explanation for you of what this book is trying to convey. You've seen this commercial, right? 


Was I that girl? Seriously. I know I wasn't that bad because I do actually go out and do things and see people. (I promise.)

What I've found is that it can be a pretty severe trap for moms. Especially moms like me who are the only grown up at home during waking hours and into the child-sleeping hours that I like to call "Mama's Free Time." It is addicting to hop on FB at any time during the day as well, whether on the laptop while the kids are playing or on the phone while stopping at a stoplight or sitting in a parking lot just to have a quick brief contact with another grownup, no matter how insignificant & a waste of time it might be. I was the WORST at that type of thing. I have been cured already of the need for contact with others. My kids are enough for me now. They are amazing little creatures and I don't want to miss a thing.

The other trap I fell into was feeling like you're back in school trying to keep up with the "cool" kids when really they are no better than you. I can't even count anymore the times I felt completely left out and wondering what was wrong with me or my kids or my family when I realized that a lot of my "friends" were all hanging out without me. Repeatedly. How did I know? Oh. All the photos of them having a good time. On Facebook, that evil tool. While I knew I was sitting at home doing nothing at the exact same time. Mhmmmm.

Or when they thought they were being sneaky (which I think might be worse) but since I'm not a complete idiot I easily and quickly read between the lines when I wasn't even trying. *sigh* Sometimes being extremely perceptive is not a trait working in your favor, but I can't turn it off. : /

I can usually take an ego hit in stride because I don't let myself get upset about those types of things, but it got to be pretty blatant at times and I will admit right here that is is very hurtful. And really....why do I need that drama in my life? I don't.

And now? I don't see what anyone is doing. Ever. And I honestly love it. I found out who my true friends were. You know, the ones who actually call me or text me or email me or seek me out at church to say hello to me. : ) I am extremely grateful to these people.

I had one of the best summers ever while hanging out with just 2 key best friends. I was relaxed and not dragging the kids all over the place trying to keep up with too many activities and opportunities. It was perfect, really, and a precursor to my new way of life.

I quit looking at my kids as material for FB photo posts all day long. Yeah, they're cute and funny and sweet and endearing and oh my word, I want to eat them up! but I've started enjoying the moment more and have stopped looking at my phone all the time.


I have a feeling that if I hopped on Facebook right now this is what I would notice after being separated from it for so long:

  • people trying to be witty
  • people bragging about their kids 
  • people posting too much information about their kids and photos that said kids will kill them for later (you do realize that whatever you post online about your kids is on there FOREVER, right?)
  • people bragging about what they buy
  • people bragging about how natural they are
  • people bragging about how crafty they are
  • people trying to convince others of how __________ they or their kids are. 



I know that I would be rolling my eyes so much that they might get stuck up in my head.

Because here's what I've learned - I don't care about impressing anyone anymore. I did for a very long time and at what cost? Ignoring my precious children while I'm online? Ignoring my husband when he's actually at home because I wanted to know what mere acquaintances were doing with their time? Trying to keep up with everyone else?

Nah. Not for me.

(And I apologize for being so harsh with these thoughts of mine, but we all know it's true. The majority, at least. I do miss following a few people who were just completely genuine in what they posted....photos of family vacations and of their kids just being kids and not posed and just updates on babies, marriages, fun new life events, and new job or career announcements or advancements. That's fun for me to know about!)

I'm having what I've internally coined a "Mini-Mid-Life Intervention". I am almost at mid-life, right? I'm 34.

I'm rethinking all the areas in my life and trying to simplify as much as I can, while still enjoying simple joys.

Mainly my family. : )

Taking the advice of another blogger and starting to take timed shots of me WITH my kids. : ) I don't even care that I was wearing no makeup, because they will not care one day when they wish they had a photo of us all together. 
I have so much to say about everything that I've been thinking and will continue to elaborate in the coming days & weeks on here.

In just a few words after all I said above? I AM HAPPY AND AT PEACE. : )

Tomorrow I'll write more about what I mentioned above.....speaking of God more to my children.

Growing up.

I love this boy with all of my heart. 

And in just one short day, he'll be back in school, walking the halls as a first grader, and to be completely honest? 

I don't like it. 

I know parents are supposed to be happy for their kids as they grow and mature and move on in life, but it is a hard thing for me to do. I don't want to send him back. Not yet. Summer's not over for me and I want him here with me and his sister each day enjoying these beautiful moments with us. 

I always have heard of parents jumping for joy when the song and business of Back to School starts, but I will never be one of them. I can promise that.

Because really...this summer was epic. 

Maybe not in the sense of the word "epic" that most people would think about, but for me it surely was. 

This was the first summer that Magdalen was talking like a big girl.
The first summer that Maddox was reading.
The first summer that both of them could swim by themselves in the pool without me. 
The first summer that they really rode bicycles together.
The first summer that they slept in a bit and woke up excited to play together before coming to us.
The first summer that Maddox fearlessly started mountain biking with Chad. And was a natural!
The second summer of him playing ball.

(Even on the days when he would finally hit the ball after the 25th pitch, he never gave up. He never acted stressed. He just gave it his cheerful, happy all and always wore a smile. While my heart was silently breaking on the sidelines for him. )

I could go on about how amazing it was, but you get the idea. It was a Big Kid Summer.

So, this Maddox....my eldest....my boy.....
He has always had my heart and he always will. 
He truly is a joy to parent and love and watch mature.

He loves his sister with a fierceness and it was a beautiful thing to watch them become best friends again over the summer and truly enjoy so much time just the two of them. They made up so many games and ideas together and I wish I could bottle that up and live in it forever. 

But of course that is unrealistic. And on the other side of the being-sad-coin is the pride and thankfulness I feel in watching him grow. 

He is such a gentleman.
And creative.
And patient.
And persevering.
And an intelligent little guy.

He was my reading buddy all summer and he probably knocked out 25 real chapter books all by himself since Kindergarten ended. I was impressed at what a little bookworm he became in such a short amount of time. 

More proof that he's growing and it's never going to stop.

So......Thursday morning we'll wake up, do the first day of school rush, take the obligatory front porch photo with his baby sister and off we'll go to drop him off for another wonderful year at his school. (Where I force my tears behind my smile, because let's get real....what really kills me is watching him and Magdalen hug and say goodbye to each other. It's torture! )

And I'll embrace the school year once again, like a good mama letting her baby fly.....while secretly wishing for the next summer to hurry, hurry, hurry and get here. ; )

9 Things Before Nine{AM}

Happy Monday!

We had a short weekend it seemed, with Chad working yesterday on a Sunday. Yuck. But overall, it was nice and relaxing just being here at home with the four of us. I worked on some photo editing for fun and some research for myself. Other than that....

1. The biggest news around here is that Maddox is getting glasses today or tomorrow! Yes, friends, our boy can't see. I started noticing it about a month or two ago and then I started testing him because I truly couldn't believe it. We took him last Thursday and sure enough....his eyes are worse than mine already. Poor thing. He looks adorable in glasses and we'll learn to work around them with all of the sports he likes to play. He's excited and so are we!

2. I have now been off of Facebook for almost 3 weeks and it feels so good. Haha! I have enjoyed the quietness of it and not knowing exactly what everyone and their mother (literally) is doing. Only 5 different friends have actually called me on the phone in that time, but that's okay. They are the ones I hang out with anyway or talk to long distance normally. One friend actually had to contact me to tell me she was pregnant again! So happy for my old friends and their good news. : )

3. We are just coming off of a 5 day vacation to Destin, FL, with my Dad's side of the family and we really were able to relax. I'll share photos from that soon, but to be honest, I mainly only used my phone for photos because I was SO relaxed (read: lazy).

4. I'm thinking very hard these last few days about what direction I want this blog to take and where I want I ultimately want it to take me. Hopefully, I'll figure it all out soon enough.

5. School starts on Thursday and I am sad. I know I will mourn the loss of this summer we've had. Nothing special happened except that I had a blast with having both kids at home every day and am sad to see it end for the year.

6. Our house is still on the market with no offers. I'm not discouraged, but starting to wonder (only 4 weeks in) if this is the direction that God is wanting us to go at this point? The list of For Sale houses that we would want to move into is dwindling as they are being sold, etc. I'll keep updating on that.

7. There are some things I've been wanting to learn how to do on my new Mac and in the blog world and Photoshop world and I talked to a friend yesterday about setting up a day for her just to teach me a few basic things that I can later expound on by myself. It's nice knowing very sweet, creative local people!

8. Our summer bucket list is a sad thing. Maddox and I looked over it last week together and realized how many things on it we DIDN'T do. Oops. Play catch up over the next 3 days? We'll see.

9. Did I post about my new Diana camera that Chad bought me for my birthday? I think I only posted it on FB. Hmmm. Anyway, it shoots with film and I am so excited to go have that developed and see how they turned out! I miss film and the anticipation of waiting to see the photos and then going to pick them up. I am so old-fashioned about so many things. ; )