November 26, 2014

On being so darned Thankful.

I realize that I use *almost* swear words quite a bit here. Perhaps that's because I have a mouth of a sailor in real life. Eeeek. I can't hit the boxing bag whenever I'm mad (although I do sometimes….) so I drop an eff-bomb here and there to get out the regression. I know I know, eff-bombs are not kosher around toddlers and I'm TRYING MY DARNDEST to overcome this stupid habit. Michael never swears and *hates* it when I do. But the past couple nights I've heard even him let out a couple choice words and now I know why he hates it so much - swear words, when said, feel awesome good. But swear words, when HEARD, suck. They sound so horrible and I cringed every time one of those things came out of my husband's mouth. Anyway, it was kind of the motivation I needed to kick this bad habit o' mine. Just cut me some slack when Levi chooses to roll round in his own diaper full of poop.





Anyway, this post is actually on something other than swearing so I should just get to it……

Thankfulness.

Unless you're under a rock (or are Canadian) you know Thanksgiving is this week - a time to stop and be thankful and count your blessings and blah blah blah. When reserved for one day, one week, a year, this whole thankfulness stuff (see I used stuff instead of shiz. I'm turing a corner!!) can get annoying. That is, unless we choose thankfulness every single day of our (ever short) lives.

I used to never really be a thankful person. I actually didn't think about gratitude all that much - not really something on my radar. I had all the jealousies that every normal young woman has - especially as my friends started to get married and I had no boy who even asked me out on a date (seriously - never got asked to a high school dance people.) I was envious of their place in life - not just in regards to relationships but to everything else that a girl can be jealous of. But then I heard a phrase from someone (can't remember who, shout out if it's you) that totally changed my perspective. They said:

"Just because God chooses to bless someone else doesn't mean he won't bless you."

Yes, it's still kind of a "what about me?" phrase, but it really got me thinking. It snapped me out of my jealous tendencies because I realized that I should be REJOICING for the good fortune and blessings and plain luck of other people. That God doesn't have some sort of blessings bucket and when it runs out it runs out - no He wants to shower His people with all they need in life (and mooooore).

This whole new way of thinking set me on a course to embrace one of the secrets (I argue THE secret) to happiness:

GRATITUDE.

That words deserves it's own line all caps and bold and shiz. (Dang it, I did it again.) When we live lives of contentment and joy - no matter the awesome or downright horrible situations we are going through - thankfulness breeds HAPPINESS. And I will argue that we all just want to be happy.





I've been through a lot in my life. I won't go in depth and bring y'all down before Thxgiving but in reflecting on some of the things I've been through I came up with my own not-so-little list: rejection, anorexia, an addictive personality I have to reign in over and over (but still gets the best of me at times), a decade of undiagnosed celiac disease and other major health issues still going on, infertility, financial distress, postpartum depression and, at times, thoughts of suicide. Plus many many other trials and crossed too numerous to list. Heavy stuff I know...but I bring it up for a couple of reasons. First of all, to show that, no matter who we are (Christian or not. Good family or not. Everything else or not.) we are not immune from the horribly crappy life situations that can happen to us at any moment. We are all going to be brought through the fire and brought to our knees and it's up to us whether these situations will turn us bitter or strengthen our resolve to be ever more thankful.

Of course it's not all that easy. It's not easy to rejoice when your depressed. It's not easy to say "thank you God" when you don't know where your next dollar will come from. It's not easy to be happy when you're physically suffering and thinking "am I ever going to get all my stupid health issues figured out." AND THEN, add on the Facebook/Instagram/Social Media worlds where everyone else (seems) perfect and you have a recipe for disaster - no, even worse: HOPELESSNESS.

But there is a cure for that: GRATITUDE. (seeeee, bold caps again.)

*In the midst of a financial crisis? "Thank you Lord for what I do have and for carrying me thus far."

*Have a baby waking up every 2 hours at night? "Thank you Lord for her good naps."

*Got kids going crazy, off the deep end? "Thank you Lord for the gift of wisdom and patience."

*And on the flip side: seeing others have more than us? "Thank you Lord for providing for them."

*Seeing others perhaps bearing "less crosses" (although I argue this doesn't happen): "Thank you Lord for sparing them what I am going through."

And on and on and on...again it's soooooo not easy to be thankful amidst strife but, when cultivated, it becomes a saving grace and the path towards happiness no matter our situation. Gratitude and thankfulness allow us to become like St. Paul - content, at peace, HAPPY even while facing death:


"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:4-7

(and my favorite verse prolly in the whole Bible):

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phil 4:11-13


So there, we have it. Thankfulness. The secret to happiness and contentment and simplicity and all the other warm fuzzy stuff that kicks hopelessness in the teeth and breeds the peace we're all looking for. 

As Thanksgiving approaches may we all flip the switch and look at life through eyes of gratitude and not grumbling. Even when the baby pukes all over your face.





















November 24, 2014

4 months young

I was gonna write something about the big kids but all the pictures I have are of Lola so scrap that. She better enjoy the spotlight now because when she really turns into the 4th wheel I'll probably start forgetting about her or something. But with a face like this, maybe not.......





From the time I found out I was pregnant I knew that when baby maniac becomes around 5 months old the golden age of awesomeness begins - that all the super hard work of being pregnant and having a newborn starts to pay off. At or about 5 months they sit up on their own, are super entertained by all those around them, they smile, laugh, giggle, play, roll over and can usually sit up by themselves WITHOUT GOING ANYWHERE. They are easily put on a schedule at this age and life becomes a bit more predictable.





Well, people, we are inching closer every dang day. Not that I'm wishing these moments away or anything  - in fact I'm taking them in and enjoying them more than with any other baby - but rather I am getting closer to the stage (5 months-18 months) that makes me keep having babies over and over (and over and over) again. For me, this chunk of time is just magical and beautiful and seriously once it's over I get the baby itch again because well, it's over. (It prob doesn't help that around 18-20 months they turn into crazy toddlers and I have to put away the cooing and bust out the mean mama voice.....) But now I'm just on the brink of the beginning of this stage and my heart is racing with excitement.

During church yesterday it hit me that life is often like this - we go through a really (sometimes really really really) hard patch but there is always (always always always) glory and peace on the other side if we just stick it out, embrace the crap, and keep the hope. Coming out of the hard time and entering into the joy and fruitfulness of it all is like a new springtime and, yes, the cycle just happens over and over in life. Easy, hard, easy, hard. Hard Hard Hard Hard, then maybe a little easy, then sometimes a lot easy. We never know the twists and turns or how long the hard time will last but it never lasts forever. And even if it does we are still guaranteed peace and fruit from it all if we approach it with joy, acceptance, and a willingness to bear through it.

Whoa, just got deep there when my only intention of this post was to bore you with baby pictures and list her height and weight (just under 14lbs and 24 inches - our little PEANUT still in 3-6 month clothes). I guess there's nothing like a baby to keep me on my toes, reflecting the shiz outta life.






Yes, even if stuff hits the fan and this next stage isn't all I dream about with lilies and butterfly kisses, I am still excited. I am excited for the adventure and the twists and turns and to experience the fruits of all the hard stuff of the past year. A new stage is coming, a new year (2015? what the what?!) is coming, and new chance to renew and reflect and move forward with intentionality. So Bring It. Mama's ready.

But just let me get over the 4 month sleep regression first..............























November 23, 2014

Weekend Reads

Rain, sun, rain, rain, sun, rain, rain, sun. Crazy weird weather that can't decide what it's gonna do. But right now is glorious sun which means the kids are outside (who am I kidding, I kick them out when it's raining, too) and I'm curled up on the couch in SWEATS (yes they have a place), lounging in front of the fire. Seahawks are (kind of) winning, baby and crazy toddler man are napping, lesson plans are done for the week (well, only Monday-Tuesday because we're breaking it for Thxgiving), husband is next to me on the couch yelling at the (kind of) winning Seahawks and the only thing that's annoying about this current moment is the bouncing laptop on my lap. Should totally rename it NON-laptop.

Since I have a lot of nursing time with cute Lola baby I dink around on the internet and stumble across lots of things to read. Here are some of my favorites (and a dumb one I have opinions on) from this past week.

Happy Sunday!


*Storyline Blog: The Emptiness of Accolades (love this. True contentment is not found in what others think of us. "If you are hoping to find your self-worth and fulfillment in other people's opinion...you will never find it.")

*Small Things: Preparing For Advent and Christmas (can you believe ADVENT starts NEXT SUNDAY??!!!)

*Salon: Home-schooled and Illiterate (I don't have enough words to say how dumb this article is. Of course there are extremes for everything but I saw this floating around Facebook (Huffington Post-ish) and nicely put is a silly little piece...of work)

*Super Healthy Kids: Thick and Creamy Chocolate Mousse (gluten and dairy free - I would probably reduce the honey to 2TB because we don't like things super sweet)

*Mom Life Now: Crazy Hot Sex (don't let the title make you all riled up. This is an awesome letter from a mom to her daughter about TRUE freaking love.)



PS: Seahawks are REALLY winning now. Go Hawks!












November 21, 2014

The Great Debate.

I'm just going to keep trucking along with the fashion/style/clothes stuff because I'm getting a lot of awesome questions and plus it's on my brain or something. Oh, and don't worry...I'll throw in a 4 month update of this peanut butter squishy face and shout from the rooftops that SHE'S ALMOST 5 MONTHS OLD. Because at 5 months bomb stuff happens in my book. But more on that later.


Little Miss helping me blog. Kind of.


Some things I hope to cover here: the quality vs. quantity debate; how to shop for season/state in life; best budget friendly stores that boast great quality AND the best consignment shops I've found (most of them are online and others will ship); how to discover your own personal style; and how to find your "uniform" - that one outfit you could wear over and over and feel just plain awesome.

Since this isn't a real fashion blog (don't worry, it won't turn into one) all this won't be super comprehensive - just hopefully helpful to hopefully help all us mamas get out of the blahs and feel good about ourselves no matter our body type, our budget, our state in life.

I have always loved shopping. Having two not-so-much-younger-than-me sisters and a mother who could totally pass for my older sister (got that one before, love you mom) we spent a lot of our time together growing up hanging out, perusing the racks. A lot of it was thrift store shopping (so many memories of rockin' out in the Value Village shopping cart, looking through the coveted "tags still attached" sections) and my mom could put together the most amazing outfits with her finds. Every evening gown was found amongst these racks and, despite the for dollars price tag, she was till always one of the best dressed.

My love for all things style continued when I got my first job at Nordstrom at just shy of 16. I was hired to be a stock girl for the annual Anniversary Sale however they were short a sales person and I was bumped up to sales for a couple days. I must've done good or something because I was kept on for the rest of the sale and subsequently 8 years after that - putting my way through college. (And lucky for me my sisters both joined the team for a few years too! Only downside? All the cattiness of the teenage somethings working in our department because man oh man I DO NOT DO DRAMA.)

So after all that it brings me to the great debate: Quality VS. Quantity.

Which is better? To have less - less "options," less items and pay more per item but have better quality OR to have more - more choices, more opportunities to buy things (because things are less expensive) but have these items last "less long" because the materials aren't as great.

For lots of reasons (many discovered through stupid trial and error and lots of wasted time) I conclude that quality trumps quantity every time.

First there's the argument that having less stuff overall (clothes, toys, household items, etc etc etc) is just better. There is less to take care of, therefore very little gets wasted and it all gets used up for it's purpose. There is no clutter to distract from the "real thing" and there is more contentment with having less.

Second, better quality items not only last longer but they hold up better through the rigors of day to day life. They can withstand the washings and the wearings over and over and, in a lot of cases, get better with time.

Third, better quality clothes fit better. They don't stretch out or pill up or (in the case of jeans) fall down. Because falling down jeans in the middle of Costco (while trying to load items in the bottom of the cart while wearing a baby) just sucks.

I first discovered this type of shopping while pregnant. I learned how to style the same black tank top 5,000 different ways and, while I was SO DONE with that tank top after I had Lola, it served it's purpose above and beyond. It lasted tons of washes, never faded or stretched out, and (best of all) I didn't have to think about it. I could change it up and still feel pulled together. Plus, not having as big a "wardrobe" while pregnant taught me how much less I can live with - that my style will change based on my season in life and I can't - I shouldn't - stockpile anything for "down the road" because who the heck knows what's down that road.



Yes, this is THE tank I wore 4 times a week. I had two of them and rotated. Believe it or not: TARGET.


Aaaaalllll that being said, I'll give a good example of what quality looks like in the day-to-day of being a mom. Let's take a common piece of clothing we all have for this time of the year:

The Sweater.

They come in all shapes, size, types, colors, and in every store in the universe. A sweater is a sweater right? That's what I thought, too. I was so confused as to why some sweaters cost $25 and others $250. $250 for a sweater?! What the eff. Or so I used to think.

You see, the $25 sweater seems like a better choice because, well, it's 25 bucks. PLUS I can buy TEN of them for the same price as that $250 one. A green one, a red one, a pink one. a striped one...you get the idea. But the problem with those $25 sweaters is the second the baby rubs their face again it, it's pills up into little balls. Run it through the wash a few times? Faded. After two months, I'm better off wearing worn in sweats to the grocery store than a sweater that looks worse.

I remember the first sweater I actually invested in. It was 2 years ago (a Vince cashmere turtleneck on sale at Nordstrom) and I wore it all the time. I never wanted to take it off. I swear it even made me feel less nauseous when I wore it during my first trimester, pregnant with Lola. It is still going strong as a workhorse in my closet and it was a turning point in realizing that I pick quality over quantity.

Before I go on I will say that I'm not talking about PRICE here. I'm talking about QUALITY. I've seen many crappy sweaters for $100 and many awesome quality ones for $50. Budget and price point are super important (especially when you're ahem saving for four kids for college...yikes) but in the end the better quality item is not only going to wear better but also save money because it lasts longer.

OK OK, now I'm rambling and this post is getting long and I have crap to do and the kids are going nuts. So let me cut to the chase and give some bullet point to sum it up:

-check the material: natural fibers breathe better, last longer and won't make you stink

-know your brands. Even if you don't plan to buy, go to Nordstrom and try stuff on and look at the materials label and do the squat test (for pants) and then, once you know what to look for, check out consignment shops and the sales when then happen

-embrace the "less is more." Invest in one or two beautiful, good quality things that make you feel good and wear them 3, 4 (5?) times a week! No one cares if you wear the same thing over and over (actually no one will notice, I bet). Throw it in the laundry at night; wake up to fresh goodness.


I'll be posting some of my favorite brands to look out for/places to find them but since I'm apparently stuck on the sweater thing here is one that's on sale and has lasted me for a couple years now. It comes in regular and petite, a thousand colors, and is on sale baby.




Deets:

Sweater - Halogen. Also available in V-neck here. (size reference, I'm wearing a petite small)

Pants - Citizens of Humanity (posted about last week)

Shoes - Dansko, super old. Tons of colors on sale. These are my favs.


Cashmere. Honestly I think it's the best (winter) mom material. The sweater above has been spit up on, snuggled against, and POOPED ON. You think I'd freak given what it is but I simply threw it in the wash (hand wash cycle on cold) and laid it flat to dry and I swear it was softer than before. I don't worry about needing to wash it a thousand times because I know that it'll only get better with time.

Plus, I think Lola just likes snuggling with me a wee bit better when I wear it...






And now, a shameless disclaimer. This is in no way a comprehensive post so.....Quality VS Quantity. What are your thoughts?















November 18, 2014

I didn't mean to be rude....

So, yesterday, when I posted about my mornings I mentioned that I get dressed. Not that this is revolutionary (we, um, all do it...I hope) but I did say *no sweats* in passing. I didn't get lambasted from the SAHM's out there so either it was overlooked or people agree or something, but here is my take on why I don't wear sweats (everyday - I do SOMEDAYS, c'mon they're awesome).

I used to wear sweats/leggings/pajama pants all the time. They are cozy, comfortable, I didn't care if they got gross with spit up or stuff all over them. But over time I began to feel worse and worse about myself. Not like in a vain, I don't like the way I look, sort of way - more like an "I feel blah and I don't know why" sort of way. Sweats would feel awesome the first couple of hours I wore them but by the end of the day I was dragging, the blah-ness only getting worse. And since I was in them, I never bothered to change going to the grocery store or park or whatever else we were doing because, well, I am a stay-at-home-mom and who really cares.

But I did care. Deep down I felt off and I realized that my nice little WWU sweats (go Vikes!) were to blame.

You see, when I realized that being a mom is one of the most important things I will ever do in my life I also realized that I should probably start dressing the part. I had all these other nice things I would save for "special occasions." But special occasions don't happen all that much and sometimes the extent of me getting out is to Costco, Church, random errands, the park, etc and those clothes would sit and sit and my sweats would get all the lovin' (except to church - I drew the line there). But if, just if, being a mom is so amazing and valuable and so damn important, why was I reflecting the fact that it was just BLAH? Because that is what my sweats were saying.

I began to understand that going to the grocery store in sweats with 2 or 3 and now 4 kids portrayed something waaay different than going to the grocery store in a sweater and jeans and a pair of shoes I loved (not flip flops). In the later I would have more of a pep in my step and I never worried about running into someone I knew (because literally this happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I GO SOMEWHERE). And even if I stayed home all day and saw no one, I still need to dress the part of me doing the most important job I'll ever do - be a mom.





So, what does this mean? It has taken me a looooooooooong time to figure out what kind of clothes work for me in being a SAHM. I have, as a result, become extremely picky about what I wear because it has to fit ALL of the criteria below:

-be comfortable
-not stretch out (so long Target/GAP/other crappy jeans that sag way too low for PG eyes)
-not be too hot or too cold
-something I just wear and don't think about (because thinking about it makes me want to change into sweats)
-be appropriate enough to be able to head out the door in 5 minutes should something arise
-be good enough quality to handle aforementioned spit up, food stains, random diaper explosion

I did promise a closet post at some point (that won't be today because it's 6:56am and I will be hearing the little pitter patter of feet in approximately 4 minutes) but I am currently working on my "uniform" - THE outfit I could wear over and over and love it and feel awesome. I have it just about pinpointed but in the meantime I do challenge all us moms/women/whoever the heck is reading this to think about the awesomeness of our vocation and know that we are valuable enough to, ahem, get dressed in the morning. Because it just might give us that extra oomph to make it through the seemingly endless drudgery of bodily functions and never ending timeouts.

Just don't take Max's fashion advice.





















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