Friday, April 21, 2017

Thoughts on 30: Who Was that Woman in the Pictures?

Eight years ago I was in full-on wedding preparation mode. With just a couple weeks left until our wedding, I got my first professional makeover. I walked out of Sephora with products I absolutely loved, new techniques I’d never heard of, and a lot less money in my bank account. As years went by, I finished grad school, started a new job, then eventually had two babies and became a stay at home mom. With so much going on, makeup (and hair and clothes) became a much lower priority and I stopped putting much thought into what I was buying and instead just grabbed whatever was quickest and cheapest. 

But then a weird thing started to happen. When I saw photos of myself, I would have this moment of surprise and disorientation almost every time because the image didn’t look like how I felt. Anyone ever had this moment? At the time, my kids were 3 and 1 and I hadn't taken much time for myself since starting our family. And the thing was, it wasn't that I was having a pity party over the way I looked. It was just that I would look at the photo of that moment, and I would remember exactly how I felt and what I was saying and doing, and those feelings were never frumpy or lost or forgotten like the way I often felt I looked. Inside I felt young and bright eyed and like my life was full of wonderful surprises and joys, and it was bizarre to feel like I didn't seen that in myself in a still shot.

So I decided to make a change. And hear me say this: I truly believe your physical body is not what defines you. Even at my most out of shape or least trendy, I was always witty and smart and kind and no amount of exterior change could take that away from me. But I also decided there was nothing wrong with enjoying the fun things that come along with being a girl. I was confident in who I was because I was confident in who made me, but now I was ready to look in the mirror and see the girl I felt like I was inside, the girl who had been lost while focusing on everyone else but herself.

So I got more serious about having a healthier diet and regular exercise. I went and got a new haircut and started researching makeup. I had no idea what contouring was or a beauty blender sponge or even what shade I should pick in anything. And it bears repeating, the hair and makeup were not what made me me, but I was having SO much fun learning and playing around with the options and doing something that was just for me.

I went back to the basics, and in this case, that meant a lot of Google research and Youtube videos (which is so fun, but you will get sucked in for DAYS watching those makeup tutorials). I wrote all about the products that were a part of my beauty evolution here, you can read it to see all the ones I love the very most. But most importantly, I realized this journey was only a little about the products and a lot about taking the time to invest in myself and the things I enjoyed. My makeup looks better now, but more importantly, when I see pictures of myself I see the joy and energy that I am experiencing at the time. The photos feel like me, like how I see myself.

So take heart, my friends! It's never too late to start over and it's never selfish to spend a little time on yourself.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Compliment Worthy Crockpot Meals

Hey friends! I've started a new adventure writing some fun blogs for Aisle9, a website with tons of quick tips and fun articles, with some especially good stuff for women! I was writing down some of my compliment winning crockpot meals to give to a friend as a wedding gift, and decided that enough people asked me for the recipes it just made sense for it to be my first blog. So if you'd like to check it out, the link is below! I'll be posting more articles in the future on all kinds of topics, like hair and beauty, cooking, workouts, gift guides, decorating and crafts, parenting... the list goes on!

Stay tuned and take a peek!

Five Compliment Worthy Crockpot Recipes for Busy Moms

Photo via Damn Delicious

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Season for Everything

Do you ever feel like you just have so much on your plate you don't even know where to begin? As a mom of toddlers, I feel like I'm constantly forgetting things and dropping the ball. But every parent who's a life stage ahead of me says you shouldn't expect for it to slow down; kids grow bigger and they get busier. The big picture can be overwhelming, I don't even always know what to tackle first on my to-do list. The questions start swarming in my head and I feel like I need 50 hours in a day instead of 24. 

Am I teaching my kids good character?  Do I participate enough in my husband's ministry job? Should I play a more active role in our church? Am I exercising enough? Am I eating healthy enough? Will God allow us to have another baby? If we can even get pregnant, how tight will our budget be with three kids while I'm staying home? Should I go back to work? Should we sign the kids up for sports already? Should I lead a small group? Am I teaching my kids about volunteering and serving others? Should I continue pursuing a career in graphic design after the kids are in school? Or do something with more of a steady income? When will I have time to finish all these house projects? Am I modeling how deal with hard things to my kids? What am I doing with the specific gifts God has given me? What are we going to do about the broken dishwasher? Should I be discipling more young women? How are we going to pay this bill? Am I meeting my husband's needs? Have I even seen him much this week or have things been too crazy? What even are my needs right now? When will I have time to do all this laundry and clean the house? HOW WILL I FIND TIME FOR ALL THESE THINGS??

Spinning, spinning, spinning.

So many questions, so many directions. And then it hits me, I'll never be able to solve all those questions and problems in a given week/month/year. But here's a question I can focus on:

What is my God-given purpose in THIS season? 
For each of us, this is different. For all of us, it's important. 

Some of you may have read that and known IMMEDIATELY what your God-given purpose is in this season. Some of you may have had a lightbulb moment that this is exactly why you feel so lost, you're unsure of what task you should be focusing on. Both of those are ok. Now is when you allow yourself time to think it over.
For me, once I posed the question and cleared out the clutter in my mind, it was pretty clear. I feel very peaceful about being home with my kids, that is a very specific role and list of duties that I can nail down. For this season, I need to focus on helping Titus learn to express his emotions in a healthy way and how to problem solve instead of exploding. He's having way fewer of his out-of-control tantrums, and I really believe that is happening because I've been home with him and his life is consistent. This is my purpose.

God gave me that little boy and knew I would make a great mommy for him, that I could handle the outbursts and love him through it; that I could calm him down and bring him comfort like no one else. This is my purpose. 

That when he wants to start screaming because he's unable to put into words how he feels, he needs me to look him in the eyes and explain things to him in an adult manner that most people don't use for kids, because he's unique and it works for him. This is my purpose. 

To tie shoes and brush hair and cut up apples because sometimes, you're too small to do things on your own. This is my purpose. 

To sit down with my kids and tickle them and teach them that joy can trump all other emotions if you let it. This is my purpose. 

To empower my little girl to be more than pretty by showering her with compliments about how she's smart and funny and silly and sweet and brave. This is my purpose. 

To teach them that sometimes, life isn't all about you. They don't know how much I serve them now, but one day they will look back and realize the sacrifices I have made (just like I did with my mom) and that sometimes loving someone means putting their needs first. This is my purpose. 

That's mine. Yours is yours. None is better, none is worse. There are so many things I could be doing or focusing on. But when you try to juggle them all, no one person or thing gets your full ability. I feel so much clearer when I let the other things fall away and lean into my purpose in this stage.

There will come a time for all the rest, because there is a season for everything. A season for laughter and dancing, a season for mourning and tears. A season for hard work and a season for respite. A season for speaking many words and a season for speaking few while we hear others instead. A season for health and a season where your body doesn't act or look how you want. A season for serving others and a season for recognizing your own needs. A season for your anger and a season for offering forgiveness. A season for pushing through trials and a season for relishing the good days. A season of recognition and a season of humble selflessness. A season for independence and a season for vulnerability. A season to celebrate new life and a season to let go in death. A season to cry out in anguish and a season to cry out in praise.

But not all of those have to be accomplished all at once.

For me, this is a season of service, sacrifice, and nurturing. Realizing my God-given purpose for this season doesn't make all of those other questions magically disappear. And it definitely doesn't mean there won't be a season in the future where my God-given purpose is directed at one of them. But it does make me feel washed over in grace to know I can focus on the task at hand and set a more realistic bar for what is expected of me.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Titus: Fall 2016 update

Dear Titus,
  • You have started wearing some 4T clothes, although the waist is still a little big and your 3T clothes still fit just fine.
  • You don't nap anymore unless you are sick, but you are really good at having "rest time" where you get to play with your marble tower, writing board, or ipad.
  • You said your favorite friend to play with is Brooks.
  • The best part about you no longer napping is that you go to bed around 7:45 (AND ALL THE PARENTS SAID AMEN). 
  • You wake up around 6:45 no matter what time you go to sleep, whether it's 7:30 or 10:30.
  • You think it's funny to laugh in this really obnoxious way that you know your sister hates
  • You and Haddie are both really into Paw Patrol right now and you spend a good portion of the day arguing about who gets to play with which pup. You say your favorite toys are your Rescue Bots.
  • You still don't really like many artistic things, you never want to sing songs with us and drawing can frustrate you because you don't feel like you're doing it "right." You much prefer doing mazes (you even draw your own mazes and have Daddy finish them!) or something more concrete in thinking.
  • Your favorite special activities are going bowling and playing putt-putt.
  • You still love school very much!
  • When you and Haddie play well together you are BEST friends
  • You love watching YouTube videos about hamsters, marble tracks, and surprise eggs
  • We started a zero tolerance policy to you yelling "NO!!!" anytime we give you a specific instruction (you would yell it even to something like, "lets put your shoes on"). It took a couple of days, but I'm glad we got over that!
  • You got really into exploring bugs in the backyard this summer
  • Cold weather is not your jam. You hate being cold AND you have too much energy to be inside
  • You are a GREAT eater! You actually like a lot of vegetables, including salad. And when I make you try a bite of everything on your plate you usually end up liking it.
  • Your favorite thing to eat is nutella. Nutella on waffles, nutella sandwiches, nutella to dip with strawberries... You are also really into hot dogs and always request "the kind on the bread!" (bun) with mustard only.
  • You fell off a stool and got your first stitches this month. It was much more traumatizing for me than for you! I almost passed out after they finished stitching you up...
  • We stayed Grandmother's for a few weeks while the new house was renovated and you kept asking, "are we going to live in the old house or the new house? Or Grandmother's house forever?" It was a little confusing for you and threw off your nightime sleep a little after we moved into the new house, but you eventually got used to it. Now when people come over you greet them at the door and say, "come up to my new play room, it's SO huge and fun!"
  • You are always the first person to be willing to give a hug and you aren't afraid to talk to almost anyone (especially if they come over to our house)
  • Speaking of hugs, you are incredibly empathetic. If you sense that any of us are upset you immediately climb in our laps and cuddle.
  • You have become obsessed with Lucy, like follow her around the house all day even after she is done playing with you, kind of obsessed. She is very sweet and patient with your crazy antics, but we have to tell you to leave her alone sometimes.
You are a very unique kid, Titus James! You can still be incredibly short-tempered and have loud, tearful, angry meltdowns, but you can also be very gentle and thoughtful and kind. You get very upset if we don't leave the house every day, saying once it is dark outside, "but we didn't even go any places today!" Your favorite places to go are McDonald's Play Place, the gym, school and to Brooks' house (where you build legos and car tracks in his room for hours). I think you are ready to be in kindergarten full-time (you definitely get bored with us at the house), but I'm not sure how I feel about you being gone every day! We love you so much, every sassy, dramatic, aggressive, silly part of you.

Haddie: Fall 2016 update

Dear Haddie,
  • You wear 2T clothes and are about to be 3T in some things
  • You are only an inch or two shy of Titus' four year old height mark, even at 2.5. You're not necessarily tall for your age, but you're definitely growing faster than Titus has!
  • You say your best friends are Conner and Rynn.
  • You are still a very picky eater. Right now the only guarantees are french fries, pickles, cereal and peanut butter. Your favorites are probably "pinana" (banana) and "see-yull" (cereal), and you are mostly living on milk.
  • You have started making up songs and when you're done singing you'll say, "dat's a good song." You love singing in general, we hear you singing in your crib ALL the time. Your favorite songs are Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Let It Go & Itsy Bitsy Spider.
  • You hated being dropped off at school when we first went back in September (even though you enjoyed being there once I left). But the last few weeks you haven't cried at drop off and marched right in like a big girl!
  • You go to bed around 7:30/8 and wake up around 7/7:30 with a 2 hour nap around 1pm.
  • About that nap... You have really been fighting it lately, and bedtime for that matter. It is not unusual for you to throw a fit for 15-30 minutes after being put down.
  • Everyone is saying "I can't believe how much she has started talking since I saw her last!"
  • Your favorite toys are barbies, your Elsa doll and anything that comes in a Happy Meal.
  • You almost always take something wherever we go (a Paw Patrol dog, a tiny pig, your pull-along puppy) and then INSIST on taking it inside wherever we go.
  • You wear a princess dress almost every single day.
  • You. Are. Stubborn. If you aren't getting what you want you will throw things and yell "no!" while sobbing BIG angry tears.
  • You have started handing me your pacis in the car or after naps, sometimes without me even asking! I think we're getting close to retiring the pacis...
  • You love sitting in your crib or high chair alone with your favorite toys and just playing. I secretly think it's because it's the only place Titus can't get to you and mess up your toys :)
  • Your favorite shows are Paw Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines, and Team Umi-Zoomi. Which are also Titus' favorite shows, so I think you mostly like them because he does.
  • Everything needs to kiss and hug, followed by, "awwww!" Pacis, animals, shoes...
  • The thing you say most is, "what dat?" about every noise you hear or unidentified object you see.
  • You get SO excited when friends come over, like cheering and jumping and hugging when they walk in the door.
  • You are incredibly loving, you give hugs to almost everyone and ask Daddy and I if we can snuggle all the time.
Haddie girl, you are so much fun. You and Titus look different and definitely act different, and I am loving getting to know your little personality. You are definitely passionate about having fun, animals, cartoons and being able to do everything Brother can do. You are pretty fearless and adventurous and can get equally as dirty as you can girly and princessy. At school you love to do crafts and socialize and your teacher says you love music time and sing and dance along to every song. We think you are so sweet, spunky and fun, Baby Love!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Haddie: Summer 2016

  • You have hit a growth spurt and are catching up in height to Titus. People mistake you for twins pretty often
  • Your favorite foods are... no food. You don't want to eat much of anything. Most of your meals consist of the same rotation of a few things: pickles, turkey, yogurt, goldfish, strawberries. You sometimes scarf down pizza, spaghetti, or french fries, and then other times you don't care for them at all. You will eat a little ice cream or other desserts, but not a lot.
  • You really like to dance and you especially like it if we're dancing with you because you imitate our moves (it's hilarious)
  • Most of this summer you spent in just a diaper or even naked. By noon you are usually wet, muddy or a combination of both
  • You don't seem to miss school at all, but you do ask about "Si Si?" which is what you call Zion, your best friend in your class
  • One of our friends said you have the highest, sweetest voice of any toddler she's met. It's so true, everything about your voice is ultra feminine!
  • You have started going to bed later, like 8/8:30 and wake up around 7/7:30. You still take a great afternoon nap, usually 2 hours and sometimes as long as 3.5 hours.
  • You are obsessed with other babies, although sometimes your affection is still too rough
  • Your favorite toy right now is an old hand-me-down Finding Nemo or the stuffed cat you got from Grandmother
  • You have started throwing a lot more fits. There are a lot of tears accompanied by melodramatic sobbing. These can go on for a looooonnnnng time and I am starting to get a picture of how 13 may look for you ;)
  • You love playing in the stream at Gulley Park, your favorite part is throwing rocks in the water
  • I have been trying to not give you the paci in the car (only in the crib) and you will wail from the backseat, "PAAAAA-CCCEEEEEEYYY" LIKE YOU ARE DYING. This is also hilarious to me
  • Your play really well independently, but you also like to play with Titus a lot (when he's being nice to you)
  • You love making animal noises and when we ask you what sound a Haddie makes you say, "Ah Hah-eeeee!" and pat your chest
  • Your favorite shows are Little Einsteins, Rescue Bots (thank to Brother you're obsessed too) and Horton Hears a Who
  • I hear you say frequently to your dolls/animals/pacis, "no ma'am!" which is clearly something you have been hearing a lot lately
  • You have recently discovered Princess outfits/jewelry/shoes and walk around with a wand saying, "Princess time!"
  • You say, "no ma'am!" all the time to Titus (you don't know "no sir!" is a thing). This is mostly because a) you hear that from me, and b) Titus says it to you A LOT
  • When you wake up in the morning Titus usually brings you books and toys in your crib. This is one of your favorite things!
  • You have recently started to not like bedtime very much (kicking and screaming when you are getting your jammies put on). Once we put you in the crib and leave the room you start to cry, but you always calm down almost immediately when we sing to you through the baby monitor.
  • Titus recently developed a fear of thunder and after one particularly scary freak out, you became scared too. Now when I ask you if you want to go outside, you frequently say, "no tanks. It waining." (even though it never is)
You have started talking so much and I'm loving hearing you put 2-3 word sentences together. When you are throwing a fit I will ask you to use your words and you usually say, "that." Which isn't super helpful but eventually you usually explain what I need to know. When we went to the beach this summer you were a little nervous about the water, but it didn't take much to convince you it would be a good time. You liked to go out past the waves with me and just lay back with your floaties, cross your ankles, and close your eyes while you floated in the sun. This pretty much sums you up: laid back, fun loving, adventurous, a big time momma's girl, and a casual lounger. We love you, sweet girl!

Titus: Summer 2016 update

Dear Titus,
 At 4 years old...
    • You must be going through a growth spurt because you are eating all the time. You are wearing 3T things and have outgrown everything 2T (which is a big deal for you!)
    • You rarely take naps anymore (maybe once or twice a week) so we try to get you to sleep by 8/8:30. If you take a nap, it may be more like 9/9:30 before you fall asleep. 
      • When you don't nap, I lay you down for 30-45 minutes of "rest" and you usually make up Rescue Bot stories with your stuffed animals the whole time
      • You try the same excuses to get out of bed every night. 
        1. I need to go potty
        2. I'm still hungry (no matter how much you've eaten)
        3. Wait wait wait, I NEED TO TELL YOU SOMETHING! (it's never important)
    • You like to sing, "Hangin tough!" because Daddy sang it to you once and you thought it was funny. You also sing the Nationwide Car Insurance jingle with Nanay ("Nationwide is on your siiiiide!")
    • Your L's still sound like W's
    • You refer to all kids and babies younger than you as "her" or "she" even if it's a boy
    • Out of nowhere you developed this really thick southern accent. A lot of one syllable words have become two syllables for you 
    • When you are getting in trouble you will start fake giggling and cover your mouth, I can't tell if you are doing it to be defiant or if you are trying to make me laugh so you don't get in trouble. Either way, it can be pretty infuriating.
    • You talk about, pretend, watch, tell stories about Rescue Bots ALL THE TIME. As much as I get tired of watching the same show, I am glad you've found something you like to pretend when you play by yourself.
      • When you pretend to be a Rescue Bot you call yourself "Hokeekeewah" and then transform into objects (car, boat, vacuum, drill...)
    • You are really missing school and keep asking when we get to go back
    • I overhear you trying to explain things to Haddie a lot and it's really funny ("No Haddie, we don't put the blocks on the kitchen set! The blocks go in the toy box, silly.")
    • You love watching YouTube videos about tornados
    • When you have to go to timeout or I get you in trouble you like to growl because you know you're not allowed to talk back. You are learning the hard way that is also considered disrespectful.
    • Your favorite activity with Daddy is building our large USA map
    • Your infatuation with getting under Haddie's skin has only gotten worse. You spend a lot of time playing in your room alone because you can't keep your hands to yourself. Or worse, you like to steal her toys and run away, teasing her because she can't catch you
    • You LOVE swimming. Like, obsessively love it. Last year it still kind of scared you, but this year you've been so happy to wear the floaties and even jump off the diving board all alone
    • You have learned to buckle yourself into your carseat and are so incredibly proud
    • Your favorite foods are raspberries, PB&J, pickles, pepperoni, ice cream and applesauce
    • Most of your stories include "My best friends, Brooks, Garrison, Maddox and Rozy"
    • We are really working on "obeying the first time." I will tell you, "go back to bed please" and I'll have to repeat myself. Then when I get off the couch and you know  you're in trouble, you say, "I'm doing it now!!!" and hope that will keep you out of trouble. 
    • I hear you tell Haddie a lot, "no ma'am!" because you love making her reinforce the rules
    • You frequently pretend to be a Transformer named "Hokekewah" who transforms into a vacuum cleaner, car, drill, and many other things.
    • You LOVED the beach so much! Your favorite activity was to put on your floaties and go with Daddy to where the waves were breaking and take them in the chest. Sometimes they would splash you in the face or even knock you over, but you loved every second of it!
    • Your love to draw robots on your magnet board, along with lots of spelling and some "Spanish words" (which are mostly just scribbly lines
    • You have developed a fear of thunder so now anytime you think it's going to storm you panic and run inside

    I can't believe at this time next year we will be preparing to send you off to kindergarten! I'm still in denial. I don't know what Haddie and I will do without you around! The other night you spent the night at Mimmy and Nanay's house and Haddie kept walking around and checking all of our rooms, saying, "Bubba? Ty-tis?" Even though you don't always get along, she can't imagine a day without you and neither can I. I love seeing you use your imagination to set up pretend situations with your Rescue Bots, the way you draw marble machines and mazes on your drawing board, and hearing you suggest a plan for the day, followed by, "Does that sound like a good idea?" We love you so much, I am so thankful for this final year at home with you!