Friday, December 8, 2017

I'm Published In A Book!

Something you may or may not know about me is that my big-scary-dream in this life is to be a published author.

Not because I have anything wildly profound to say, or because I think of myself as particularly talented, but because I enjoy the process of writing, the intricate nature and beauty of words, and the enduring qualities of a book. The lasting legacy of a name in print.

Through the years, I have gone back and forth with my feelings on writing - what form it should take, what genre I want to play with, my ability to sell myself and be personable, and a million other insecurities and doubts. And I still don't really understand what it will ever amount to, if anything.

But a really cool thing has happened.

God Listens

In May of last year, a friend put out a call for people that had stories of religious miracles or faith-in-action to tell. I raised my hand (figuratively speaking), and shortly after, her mother in law (Lorene) emailed me to chat about it. I told her my two stories and we discussed them for a bit, and that in itself was a rewarding experience. It was fun to share those stories with someone and to have them appreciated in return. Shortly after, she let me know that she would be including the stories in a book she was writing, and as a thank you for contributing, the publisher would send me a copy when it was finished.

Here's where it gets a little crazy.

One of the stories was about using a St. Joseph statue to help sell our Charlotte house. This particular practice is done by many Catholics - it's one of those "things" that we just heard we should do growing up and that St. Joseph was the patron saint of real estate, and what was the harm in trying? The same week I submitted this story to Lorene, my husband was working hard on a big landscaping project in our front yard. While tilling the dirt, he unearthed a St. Joseph statue! It must have been used and left behind by one of the previous owners. The timing was wild and fitting (considering we'd already lived here for 6 years and didn't find it until the very week I told my story!) and I rushed to email Lorene and let her know of this extra confirmation of faith. She told me that it made her day, and it capped off the whole experience with a sense of rightness.

For MY actual St. Joseph story (which had its own set of interesting shows of confirmation), you'll have to read the book. Because what kind of author would I be to give away the plot? Kidding....I have no claim or rights or even royalties from my stories, but I certainly want to help share this book with the world!

A week or so ago, around the time when black friday packages were rolling in, there was an interesting envelope addressed to me with a return address from a publisher. I was so confused (just not having this book on my mind at the time), but as soon as I pulled the book out, I knew exactly what it was. I opened it randomly to just page through it quickly - and it opened directly to one of MY stories! How crazy is that?? I stood in my kitchen, looking down at my own name and my own words, printed on the page of a book. An actual BOOK - with pages and a cover and a search result on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. MY NAME! IN A BOOK!

I hurried to tell my mom and my grandma, feeling as though they'd appreciate it the most (mostly because of the content of my stories.) I snapped a picture of my name on the page and I posted it to Instagram and Facebook, squealing about what that moment felt like.

And in the middle of making dinner and the evening rush, I found myself with a quiet moment alone in the kitchen with nothing but the book....and despite it not being MY book, I hugged it and thanked the universe for that moment. It inspired me to go in search of many more (and even bigger) moments like it, but also in wild appreciation for that moment itself. If I never get another one like it, I got to taste my dream - just a little bit.

I have yet to read the book...I can't even bring myself to read my own stories. I haven't gotten passed reading my own name, haha. But maybe the most rewarding part of it all? When Luke asked me if he could read my stories, and watching the smile of pride and awe in seeing his mom's name printed in a book. I sat next to him while he read through my story, and when he was finished, he was amazed by it. He asked me questions about patron saints and what it was like to have a prayer answered like that. It makes me want to write 100 books so I can see that look on his face over and over again. Books that are full of MY words, instead of just 4 or 5 pages of them.

This experience - the whole thing - start to finish - has felt like intense guidance and reminders of myself. The process over the last year and a half was so quiet, and so in the background and simple, that I hardly noticed how important it was to me. But all of it, every step, was dripping with rightness and faith and purpose.

And before I come off sounding overly religious or devout, I feel like it would be dishonest to let you go on believing that I am an intensely practicing Catholic. Yes, I made all of my sacraments to date, I went to a Catholic private school growing up, and I had my children baptized. But over the years, my spirituality has grown and evolved, and I put less stock in dogma, and much more in love, kindness, forgiveness, equality, and intention. And so now, to me, God/Jesus/Infinite Spirit/The Universe/Spirit Guides/Light/Prana/Chi are all words and ingredients of the same thing. It's okay if you disagree, but to me it is all a part of an overall sameness.

To me, whether you ask a patron saint or the universe to bring you your heart's desires, if you have good intentions and blind faith in whoever or whatever you're asking, you'll receive them. I know that there have been many micro-miracles in my life that have happened by tapping into this source of life and love, and having two of them immortalized in print is something I will treasure for as long as I live.

Here's to chasing dreams, being true to yourself, and being thankful for every minuscule miracle.


If you'd like to purchase the book, I'd adore it if you'd grab your copy from Amazon (HERE) using my affiliate link. Though my return on this book has already arrived, in the form of inspiration and purpose, it would mean the world to me to see it landing in the hands of interested readers!

As stated, this post contains affiliate links! Thank you to the ends of the earth for supporting my blog! xo

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

North Pole Breakfast 2017

One of my favorite yearly traditions with the boys is our North Pole Breakfast, which happens (thanks to the boys' elf) on the first weekend of December.

Snowflake Little Bear (the name Luke gave our elf years ago) brings decorations and candy and hot chocolate, and we spend the morning making pancakes and listening to Christmas music while we all sit down together.

Rych Fam North Pole Breakfast

It's such a sweet morning of celebrating and getting into the Christmas spirit as a family! The first year we did this was 2011 - I can't believe this is our 7th year! Time is flying by with these littles of mine. (sniff) I wonder how many years I have left of them enjoying this so much!

Before I start sobbing about my kids childhoods blowing by, here's how our breakfast went this year ;)

It was Sunday morning, and I stepped out of the bathroom to see my littlest standing and staring at the table in awe. He looked up at me, confused, and said, "Is this for breakfast, mom?"  Being the youngest of the bunch, I'm sure he has the least memory of this tradition and what we call it, and he was genuinely confused that our table did not look like this when he went to bed! haha

When I explained it to him he didn't believe me at first - then I read him the letter Snowflake left for them, and he was sold. You could see it register on his face that this was legit - so funny. He rushed off to tell his brothers, who were slowly emerging from their beds, and soon they were each taking their turns being excited and looking at everything Snowflake had brought them.

I LOVE this particular smile of Luke's...I don't know how to describe it other than to say there's a lot more than just happiness behind this smile of his. At this moment, he was telling me that he had prayed the night before that Snowflake would bring the North Pole Breakfast in the morning and he was in awe that it came true. How sweet is that?! I hadn't even mentioned to them when we'd be doing it...he just sort of remembers the timing of it each year, and decided to put a little faith in a prayer! So, so sweet!

Henry also took a minute to adjust the countdown for the day! (Don't worry, he's standing on a chair...not climbing the bookshelf! lol)

Our elf only really does two big things (other than moving around the house at night)...the North Pole Breakfast, and then a Christmas Eve box, which he delivers on the morning of Christmas Eve. He's not a wildly creative or mischievous elf, and we like him that way. ;)

So our breakfast is pretty simple - themed place setting stuff from the dollar store, candy canes, red and green candies, fruit, and he always brings along a box of pancake mix for us to use!

You guys, lol....I try to keep my blog pretty PG/family friendly, but I am DYING over this picture! I totally didn't realize how suggestive it looked until I was writing this post. Snowflake was holding the evidence of writing his letter in a very immature boy humor sort of And honestly, in real life...I share that sense of humor lol.

Our breakfast had gluten free chocolate chip pancakes, sausage (a favorite of the boys but a special occasion only food in our house), fruit arranged in a candy cane (apple and banana slices), hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows, candy canes, and some red and green hershey kisses and m&ms.

We had a couple of special guests at our breakfast this year, too, and of course Henry was a gracious host and shared with them!

There were smiles and silliness all around the table, and a few pancakes topped with candies. A few may have made it into the hot cocoas, too.

Plz ignore the hair from outer space. ;)

I LOVE how Jake's eyes look green in that photo against his jammies! Matt's eyes are green (not like slightly green, but green-green) and we don't have any green eyed kids. This picture is the closest I've ever seen!!

We had another great year with Snowflake and his treats! We're totally in the Christmas spirit now, and ready for some more family celebrations!

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Our Christmas Bucket List '17

Matt and I are always talking about how we want to slow down and really enjoy the holidays, but our busy schedule sometimes makes it so difficult to fit in all the ways we'd like to celebrate. I've learned that making a bigger deal out of the things we already naturally plan to do is better than coming up with new or different ideas that require planning or preparation. So today I'm sharing our sweet & simple list of holiday things we'd like to do as a family this year (and maybe one or two for myself!)

A Christmas Bucket List | 15 Ways to Celebrate

Keep Up With Our Countdowns
Every year, we try to carry on the advent book tradition, and usually forget after a week or two. We start on Black Friday, and we've been going strong for over a week now so hopefully we can keep it up! I also grabbed a chocolate advent calendar from Trader Joe's for $1, and the kids have been loving that.

Take Our Yearly Christmas Jammies Picture
My Mom gets the boys matching or coordinating Christmas Pj's for Thanksgiving each year, and I take our Christmas card picture in them in front of our tree. This years was tough, but it turned out really cute - I can't wait to share it! Yay for already having one done!

Have a North Pole Breakfast
The boys' elf brings them a North Pole breakfast on the first weekend of December each year. Sometimes it's Saturday, sometimes it's Sunday - it just depends what we have going on. We've been doing this one since 2011, and it's a favorite kick off to the Christmas season!

So, my tree went up weeks ago already (like...more than 3!) but decorating the rest of the house has been slow and happening in random chunks as I also declutter, clean, and get through our busy schedule. I feel like I'll be decorating all the way until the big day! lol

Have a Christmas Shopping Date (or two)
One of my favorite things in December is when Matt saves a vacation day up and cashes it in when the boys are at school. We set out to do some Mom & Dad only shopping with Starbucks and sometimes some lunch. It always feels so fun and exciting to have a day date with Christmas music and shopping excitement. This one is in the books, and I can't wait for it! If we're lucky, we'll get a night away to do this, too.

Polar Express Night
Some years we just watch the movie with hot chocolate in our pj's, but we've also started the evening with a drive around the area to look at Christmas lights. Last time we did this, it was hard to find well-decorated neighbors and there was a lot of driving between actual things to look at, so I'm not sure if we'll attempt that part again or not.

Send Christmas Cards
This is usually a no-brainer...for years I either handmade cards or printed them with the boys pj picture, but for whatever reason, I just could not get my act together last year. This year, it's happening, and I've already ordered them!

Pick Out Grandma's Tree Night
This is a yearly tradition that we do as a favor to Matt's parents but is also a fun evening for us. We go to the Christmas tree lot to pick out the tree for my in-laws, bring it to their house and set it up, and then we have a fire in their fireplace, watch a Christmas movie, and have some takeout for dinner. They are snow bunnies and don't usually make it home until a few days before Christmas, so having a tree waiting for them is nice. Plus, we have a fake tree, so it's cool to get the real tree experience, too.

Bake Christmas Cookies
I mean, of course. The kids have already started asking me when cookie day is, and reminding me what kinds to make. I tried out a new recipe Friday that seems to have been a hit, so I'm getting my list together and my pantry ready!

Host or Plan a Gathering With Friends
I've been trying to come up with a time when I can get some friends together for something fun, but man is December busy!! I would love to either do a healthy potluck and recipe exchange, or an ornament exchange, or something fun like that...but we will see if I can find the opening on the calendar that works for everyone!

Play In The Snow
This one is banking on the sky to do its part, but I've got my fingers crossed! We have a winter storm headed our way this week, so if it delivers, I will be sure to cross this one off the list!

Find a Charitable Cause to Donate to With The Kids
I think we are going to work on one that their school is supporting that involves donating new hats, gloves and scarves to kids in needs. I'm hoping to take them to the store as a group, let them pick out a hat/glove/scarf set each, and then package them up for school with a little holiday note attached.

Christmas Game Night
We have a lot of board games that the kids are always asking to play, so I thought it would be a lot of fun to get in pj's, put on Christmas music, make some hot chocolate, and have a little family game night tournatment!

Try a Christmas Simmer Pot
I've always been intrigued by these, but have never tried them. There are some great sounding Christmasy ones on Pinterest that I'd love to give a shot! Maybe I can nab some evergreen branches when we go pick out my in-laws' tree!

Do A Countdown To Christmas Outfits Challenge
I haven't decided if I'll do a 12 days of Christmas Outfits thing, or just a One Week Countdown, but I have some festive stuff I need to put into action!!

I might regret this when I fail later (haha), but I'm going to try and chronical these things on Instagram with the hashtag #RychFamChristmasList if you want to follow along!

What are you hoping to do this holiday season??

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Cozy Town Jane Parade!

Heyyyy it's release day! Cozy Town has arrived to cap off the Make Believe season (geez that was fast, wasn't it?)

It's as cozy as the name suggests. And though there are only a few pieces for women this time around, they fit in perfectly with the collections that came before them and promise lots of cuddly days this winter. Before I dive in, I sometimes get asked what my stats are so people can tell how each of these fit me, so here's that: I'm 5'5" and typically wear a 4/6 or a small. Hopefully that helps you determine what to order!

SO! My favorite-favorite piece from this release is the Be Present Hoodie!

Matilda Jane Be Present Hoodie       MJC Women's Blue Hoodie

This beauty has a simple design, but with a little built in girly flair. It's not a super-heavy hoodie, but it's lined with a silky faux fur that makes it ridiculously cozy and warm! It's a gorgeous darker blue with pink & yellow stitching and accents that tie into other pieces from this collection, as well as previous releases. I LOVE it!! I'm wearing the Medium above and I'm happy with it...I'd probably be fine with the small as well, but this one has a little bit more length and cuddle to it!

Next on my list of faves is the Starstruck Tee.

Matilda Jane Starstruck Tee

It's a simple top, but it is wildly comfortable and flattering! It's got that silky, smooth softness of MJ's best tops, with just a little bounce in the material. The pattern has various shades of grey, and has a button on the lower arm that allows the sleeves to cuff with a yellow strap sewn inside the sleeve. It matches the yellow around the collar of the shirt perfectly. The one above is a small, and it fits TTS!

How about a cozy dress??

Matilda Jane New Resolution Dress        MJ Women's Near Years Dress

The New Resolution Dress is super comfortable and soft, and has a simple but flattering cut that will work on just about anyone! I love it on its own with boots, and with pants. The size I had to try on was at least 2 sizes too big (it's a Large), so I think it's longer on me than it would be in my size (I pinned it to fit more accurately width-wise for the pictures.)

The last new women's piece is another top, called the Weekend Vibes Top.

Matilda Jane Weekend Vibes Top        MJ Women's ruffle top

I love the yellow fabric on this one - it's a thicker, quality material that feels so great on! There's a really nice zipper on the back of this one, too. My sample was a size too big (Medium), so the ruffles don't lie on me quite as well as I think they would in my own size, but the colors and patterns are so pretty!

And believe it or not....that's it!!

It's a small collection, but it's a cute one!

Before I go, here's a couple of previous release matches that I'm a big fan of! The Starstruck Tee looks GREAT with our sparkle leggings (Skating Away Sandys), and I love the hoodie with our blue leggings (A New Idea Sandys).

MJ Starstruck Tee with Sparkle Leggings Skating Away Sandys       MJ blue be present hoodie with blue new idea sandys

Be sure to check out the girls, baby, and other fun pieces that come along with this release on my Facebook page! It's also the place to keep up to date on upcoming sales, deals, promos, and more!!

Happy Shopping!! xo

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My Hearth & Hand Haul!

Raise your hand if you've got a serious thing going with Hearth & Hand at Target!

I am a shameless addict, however - most of the Hearth & Hand addicts out there put me to shame! I joined a couple of groups on FB the night it was released so I could tell when things would be live, and WHOA. I don't have the kind of money to throw around that they do, but I soooo would if I did!

I've gotten everything that I felt like I had to-had to-had to have, and the rest I will probably visit 20 more times and maybe grab eventually. Well, ya know, not the rest...but some things. ;)

Here's what I got!

I grabbed this guy on a total whim! This is one of the popular coveted pieces that is now discontinued, and I was on the Target website looking for something else and noticed that it was in stock, so I grabbed one! It's, cup of tea small (my cup of coffee is like 4x this big), but it's adorable and I love it for my evening tea!

Ugh, you guys DON'T. EVEN. KNOW. I really wanted this butter dish to replace the one I've had, which broke about 2.5 years ago and has been surviving with super glue alone. It arrived broken, so I asked for a replacement. That one arrived broken, too. The site said my Target had them in stock, and I had people search for it for me TWICE. I finally had to leave my name and number and have them call me when they found one, which the finally did! And then? The third in-the-mail replacement showed up the day after Thanksgiving, lol. So ridiculous. But I HAVE IT and I adoooore it!

To match the butter dish, my sister bought me the cream & sugar set for Christmas. She let me have it early, though, so I could use it on Thanksgiving. Love them!

Wanting to round out my little set, I grabbed a spoon rest when it was showing in stock online. I'm not happy with the way the word looks...sort of off centered and smeared, so I've been watching to see when it's back in stock again to replace this one.

There were a bunch of candles to choose from, that all smelled delicious, but Sugared Birch was by far the most "Christmas" to me. I love it!!

This is the dog scarf from the family pajama line that sold out the first day! I was so lucky to grab one!! I wanted Galli to match the boys in their pj's, both for our Christmas card picture this year, and on Christmas morning!

I shared a picture of the boys in their Hearth & Hand pajamas at the lake, but I didn't take a picture of these on their own, so here's my cuties again!

So, what did you have to have from Hearth & Hand??? What do you still want? How much are you loving it?! I can't wait to see what they come out with in the Spring!

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