Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The keys to happiness.

It's hard to admit it, but I spent most of this winter kinda unhappy. I hate saying that, because who wants to actually put that out there? I'd love to say I shoot rainbow happiness from my eyeballs on the daily with my family, but, ahem, it's more like, I shoot a mean death glare and I'm the queen of rolling my eyes. Also, everyone knows when momma isn't happy. Sorry fam.

This winter nearly killed me.

I know, I know, you shouldn't talk about the weather because no one cares. The thing is, I've seen myself come back to life a little bit in the last few weeks and it feels, well, it feels pretty great. But it can't just be the weather that's making life a little bit happier these days. I can't give it that much credit (or can I?)---so I made a list.

I'm using my camera again.

It's pretty sad, but my albums from november-march are pretty slim. The April album, though? Packed to the brim. There's no denying it--that creative outlet for me is needed. I got rusty and I hate that. I'm excited to embrace it again. It makes me happy to keep working on it. I have so much to learn and I'm happy to admit that. But practice makes progress, or so they say.

sweet cousins on Easter. The way Em & Jayden love each other is pretty freaking cute.

snapped about 3 minutes worth of photos on Easter for my sister and her hubby. Baby Boy is due May 9--so time is a tickin'!

I don't have to bundle my kids up like eskimos to go everywhere.

While the weather is still a little touch and go, generally, it's gotten a heck of a lot better. Me and all the other moms of the world are fist pumping due to the lack of bundling lately. It takes so much time and it's like wrangling a little hyena down. It's stupid and annoying and it's overrrrrrrrr (for a few months at least), hallelujah amen.

I'm challenging myself physically. 

There's no doubt I've been very active all winter long. I think getting out and going to the gym saved my sanity this season. If it hadn't been for that, my husband would have sent me to the nuthouse because I needed that outlet so very bad. However, in the last month I've even upped my game a little and it feels really good. Declan and I began T25 about 4 weeks ago and so I top most my evenings off with that (after doing my normal gym stuff), and while some days it sucks, mostly it's good! I think it was the perfect extra little butt-kicker before summertime.

The bad news is that I never, I mean, never get out of workout clothes. It makes no sense to! I'm a stinky, dirty mess all the time. Steer clear, folks.

Baths are a necessity and not just a time-wasting event.

This might seem silly, but this means we are outside ALL THE TIME. We are dirty and gross with a combination of sidewalk chalk, mixed with sticky bubbles, add in a side of splintered feet (oh yea, big ones, ouch), and strawberry juice oozed on our (their) faces. They're covered in park mud, and donning huge cuts and scrapes on their legs already. Hair full of mulch. They're the kids with dirty fingernails by the end (ok, middle) of every day. They earn their bath. I mean, baths can't be skipped on Spring/Summer nights--I mean, that is, unless they take a dip in a pool.

All parents know that swimming in a chlorine filled pool > bathtime.

But it's not quiiiiite pool season here yet. So baths become a necessity, and not just a time-wasting tactic on a long winter day indoors. I know you know what I mean.

I'm in a season of 'not busy' and I love it.

The other day my pastor asked how I was doing--what I was up to, etc. I had to think about it for a second, but the truth is, I didn't feel like I had a lot to say outside of the norm. Of course life with kids, work, husband's schedule/commitments can always 'feel' busy--but outside of that stuff? No, I'm good. I feel like I'm just at a somewhat peaceful phase. Nothing huge going on. No huge commitments have been made that are stressing me out or something. I'm just doing life and it feels good to take each day in stride.

There's no doubt there are busy seasons in our lives--but I'll take this more...restful phase (if I can even say that term with kids) and enjoy it a little bit. It's good to slow down.

***

Goodbye Winter blues. Bring on the Spring smiles.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boden Pretties, a little review, and money for you!

I have trouble denying that I am sometimes very...shall we say, cheap? I love a good deal and I'm not really ashamed to say that I shop at some of the, uh, cheaper stores fairly often all the time.

But the truth is I'd been on the hunt for an amazing one piece that I couldn't live without. If I'm being honest, I've been looking since swimsuits came out in stores at the end of February even though my husband thought I was slight crazy. I found nothing, absolutely nothing of quality and it was bumming me out. Anddddd insert the problem that happens when you only shop at cheap stores.

It just so happened the sweet Courtney over at Boden reached out to me at about the same time asking if I wanted to try out of some of their gorgeous, British inspired clothing--either for me or the girls. It took about 2.5 seconds to decide that, yes, please, the chance to try some quality clothing? You bet I would.

I was pleased from the second the adorable package arrived at my doorstep. I mean, when you open a package and find not only your products, but a bunch of fun, free extras for you and the kids to enjoy?Sign me up. It made me smile. The shopping-list notebook, stickers, and seed stick (that you can actually plant & grow!) will totally be put to use in this house. 

It's funny how finding a quality one piece was terribly difficult, but yet, I fell in love with the Hoop Detail Swimsuit immediately on Boden's site, and without trying it on, it was the perfect fit. The best part is, I have issues with one pieces since I have a longer torso, but not this one. It has an inner liner that keeps things sucked in and I feel so good and confident in it. It'll be perfect for chasing the crazies in at the pool this summer. It kinda has that fun vintagey feel--I am l.o.v.i.n.g. it. 

Couldn't get just a cute suit for me--the biggest girl needed a new one for the season and swim lessons start in a week. And HOLY CUTE, you guys. I love little girl one pieces. This one is such quality. I love the stripe/floral combo and the cross-back. She pranced around in her HotchPotch suit all morning.


Completely rocking this sweet, Summer Floaty Ruffle dress in Sunny Yellow. That awesome fabric flower daisy necklace is her favorite! Another Boden goodie found on their accessories page. So dainty and sweet. 

I found that for Em, getting her a size 3-4 would be best in the suit & dress. From what I read on reviews, clothing runs true to size or a tad on the bigger side. So, seeing as Emeline is still kinda petite, I went with the 3-4 and am so glad I did!

The adorable Pretty Gypsy Floral Top (shown below) is actually a size 2-3 and was meant to be for Lucy-girl! I didn't want to leave her out but turns out this top runs big and guess what? Lucy will get to grow into it for next year :) So Em gets it now---win all around!


To be honest. I get it now. I get why people spend a little bit of extra money on quality products. It's in the details with Boden. The neckline, for example, in the top above, and around the sleeves is lined with a pretty gold sparkle. The dress lace detail is perfection. The swimsuits are designed to make you feel GOOD and secure. I am officially a fan of BodenUSA. Boomshakalaka

So here's some awesome news. If you're a fairly cheap'ish shopper like me---Boden's clearance section is the bomb. And not only that, right now they are running an amazing sale which is 25% off daily favorites from today, Monday, April 21-Sunday, April 27. You can receive free shipping & free returns with keycode X6K7 or by following this URL over to shop :)

But wait, there's more. (had to. sorry :) ) Boden's also offering you guys a $25 gift card. All you have to do is leave one comment below and tell me something nice. (Just kidding. But bonus points. Kidding again.)

But seriously. Leave me a comment and I'll pick a winner within a few days so you can reap the benefits of this awesome sale.


*For the gift card giveaway, the only restriction for entrants is that they must have a US-based mailing address as the Boden gift card will only be valid on BodenUSA.com.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A cat goes WHAT?

I have a little bit of second child guilt over the fact that Lucy's life is a whole lot less documented than her sister's. I used to take video of Em alllllll the time and she still loves looking at them. One day, I will be better (I won't). I just like to lie to myself so I feel better in the moment.

I might miss important things. But I will document her animal sounds (and a few other things), dang-it. 



At not quite 21 months, she's got the cute-factor down pat.

But mom's are all supposed to say that. It's a rule.

***

happy friday. have a lovely Easter weekend, friends.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

They don't stop.

You know who are my favorite group of people on the planet?

Teachers. 

I sound like Oprah. And gosh, I wish I could be all you get a car, you get a car to every deserving teacher, because seriously, they deserve a car plus so much more. I'm not just saying this because I was a teacher. I mean, sometimes I even feel silly talking about those days because I only spent a measly 4 (was it 4? 3? gosh, I can't keep track) years in the trenches. It was pre-kids and honestly, I'm so different now as a person, the way that having kids shapes and changes you, you know? I can barely grasp onto those teacher days...barely. They seem so distant.

Last night I decided to ditch my evening workout with my husband and insisted on heading to those glorious, shiny white aisles with my red cart, alone. I had gift cards to burn and Easter baskets to fill. I was a woman on a (slow, relaxed, no-kids-throwing popcorn-out-of-the-cart) mission. It was the kind of evening I just needed and I knew it.

As I was, you know, hanging out in the clothing department--slowwwwly searching through every pretty article of clothing, I happened to notice a teen daughter and her momma. They were bickering a little bit, but in that way that moms & daughters do at that age.

          Ughhhh MOM, I cannot wear a blazer. What, do you think that I'm 80 or something?

Well, sweetie--I hate to break it to you, but a maxi skirt is NOT business casual. 

         (insert eyeroll from teen daughter and a huuuuge sigh/huff/what do you know, mom)

I immediately flashed back to my teen years. God, I'm sure that exact conversation happened at some point in my life. Now, I'd wear a cute blazer in a second. What has the world come to?

Suddenly, I saw another woman, maybe about the Mom's age, who seemed to come out of nowhere--she piped up and got right into their conversation.

        You know, your mom is right. A maxi skirt isn't business casual.

When the mom & daughter looked up it was obvious from their reaction and exchange of greetings that they knew this woman, and the woman was the girl's teacher from school. The exact teacher requiring said 'business casual' outfit for a special presentation due right after Easter.

The irony, huh?

The teacher? She just had that warm teacher vibe. You know the one. The kind of vibe that made you hope your own kid's have amazing teachers like her one day. She was kind. She engaged with the mom & daughter. She gave her tips on the kind of clothes that would be appropriate for business casual. And she told her to make sure she relaxed this weekend, enjoyed the holiday and tried not to stress about this presentation too much. Enjoy time with your family. That's the most important thing, anyway.

Then that teacher looked straight into the momma's eyes and told her that her daughter has been a gift to her this year in her classroom. She told her what a gem her daughter is, how much she enjoys her presence in her classroom, and that she sees how special and unique she is. You've got a good one, Ma.

I almost teared up, right there searching through the bathing suit cover-ups. It's the kind of thing that just gets every parent, right in the heart, in that warm and proud kinda way. The daughter's face lit up, but also got a little red from that semi-embarrassment thing that happens when you're in the awkward teen years. But you could see her pride beaming out of her eyeballs though, which were a little glassed over, because, doesn't hearing nice things like that make everyone just feel...good?

It was in those moments that I just felt so much overwhelming gratitude for teachers. They don't stop teaching, ever. She was on Spring Break. She ran into her student at Target. She could have easily ran and hid in the sunglasses section and avoided the encounter all together. But instead she engaged them. She took a moment and made it a teachable one. She helped the momma out by being the voice of reason that a maxi skirt isn't business casual. And most of all, she took a moment to brag on this girl--which I'm sure made both of their day.

I mean, heck, it touched me.

When your child's teacher sees that special thing that you do? There's nothing better.

Teachers don't ever stop teaching.

Monday, April 14, 2014

my deep version of 'let it go' (note: not frozen related at ALL)

I let my expectations ruin things for me all the time. That's a bruiser of a statement to start a blog post with, huh?

I know, it's horrible and it also can be so true. I sometimes daydream about the weekends, or the way our evenings should go, and I get set in my ways and then I try to pave it all out so it works out in that beautiful, fairytale way that I think it should. And yep. In true fashion of living life with two crazy little people? It goes to the crap house real fast and I'm left disappointed and sometimes all irritated and a little miserable.

I hate that aspect of myself. I've been working hard to let that go. To really just try to be in the moments and go with the flow, and not really care that much about what I think or feel will go the best way. But to just let it go the way the wind blows, kinda-thing. 

This weekend I did just that--I kinda let all my expectations go and to my surprise, we seriously had the most amazing weekend and we all commented on the peacefulness and the fun of it the whole time. I mean, a true-feel-good-warm-heart-I-love-my-family-so-stinkin-much weekend. Things just went. Plans were made kinda haphazardly. But they all turned out so fun and well. And it helps that the weather was beyond amazing. After The Worst Winter Ever nothing, I repeat Nothing makes us happier. My kids love the outside so much. We had gross, dirty-water baths every night and I loved it.

A breakfast date while the big girl was in preschool. Random stops at the park watching our girl's just really engage with each other and play. Picking wildflowers. Dinner at the mall. New sunglasses for some little ladies who've been begging for new "gasses!" to ease their eyes from the bright sun (a problem we love to have). 

A fun morning at an Easter candy scramble, with bounce houses and tickets and cotton candy. An easy-going afternoon on the deck, blowing bubbles and getting dirty with chalk. Grilling dinner. Meeting friends for frozen yogurt and hitting up another park. 

Then topping the whole weekend off with a very overdue, kinda-last-minute trip to the Philadelphia Zoo, car naps, and then a very spontaneous cookout at my parent's house with all my family. 



Basically. If I could roll up my perfect weekend into a tiny little ball and keep it in my pocket forever it would be this. 

So that's it?

I lower my expectations then get mind-blown with such a feel-good weekend it makes me kinda weepy to hold these memories with my sweet family?

Interesting how that works.

***

Sweet memories can come when you just let yourself be and let all that other stuff go. I'm working on it. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

The best twenty four in a looong time.

Our day away for my birthday was awesome. I'm sure that a day sounds like nothing, and you know what? While it is kinda short for a 'getaway', since I was in the mindset of it only being one day, oddly, it felt just right. I've also decided that anything longer may never be in the cards for us until our kids are, um, in college. So I won't even waste time wishing and I'm grateful, for real, for an overnight.

A day was great.

Heck. Even the drive there was like---let's talk about EVERYTHING! dreams! goals! Crap, you went the wrong way! ah, who cares, there's no kids to entertain! Let's drink more Starbucks!


In a days time we checked into a lovely, beachfront room at Caesars. We had a fancy, yet relaxed birthday dinner. I got a whirlwind little lesson in gambling, to which I decided I am so not interested, and would much rather burn my money away on, you know, new clothes. I miiiiight have side-eyed a few of those waitresses in those weird little outfits. We walked closely together, holding hands, down the streets and boardwalk, late at night, and decided to pop in for 'just dessert & drinks' at Melting Pot (something we've always wanted to do). We laughed a lot. We played around like teenagers in a crazy candy store. We slept in!!! (ok, it was 8:30am, but that's totally sleeping in, and bonus--I didn't wake up to crying/whiny/neediness of any kind) I got ready without someone tugging at my clothes or spilling my makeup bag for the 28th time. We ate breakfast at a little dive. I had a delicious & fresh Jersey bagel. My husband became my personal shopper & pretty much let me go into any store and shop to my heart's content. Then he paid and carried all my bags. 



A few times throughout the day I deemed it as THE BEST DAY EVER--because, well--isn't that obvious? It's pretty much my picture-perfect day. Actually, I would add a massage. But other than that? It was perfect.

We ate panini's outside in the sunshine for lunch until two dudes started throwing chairs at one another and the cops had to come, therefore we migrated inside for our safety. Sweet, Atlantic City :) We went wayyyyy out of the way so I could get a chick-fil-a unsweet tea for the ride home. We arrived to our two crazy and wild cuties and my wonderful parents--and then went out and had Mexican for dinner.

The rest of the night and weekend was normal as normal could be. Bath and bedtime and catching up on the DVR, and going to the Y, and breaking down on the side of the road for two hours (minor hiccup, ahem), and teaching the sunday school kiddies, and going through my new stuff. I know life isn't about stuff, I don't even really think I'm very materialistic, at all--but dude, sometimes a little shopping spree is nice.


It was good. Now, it's time for a detox.

And a massage.

Yes, a massage would be good. 

**

Thanks for all the birthday love. You guys are cool.

Friday, April 4, 2014

29. No, really---it's 29.


So 29 is the birthday I'm supposed to cling to, huh? I mean, I assume it's just because it's The One before the big 3-0, but let's be real. Is 30 really that bad after all? Everything I'm reading and hearing is that 30 is awesome. I actually find myself almost wishing to be on the other side like most of my friends--you know, in some 30-year-old-utopia. Doesn't the promise of better skin and utmost confidence come with that age nowadays? That's what I hear anyway.

So tomorrow's the day I turn infinitely 29 or something like that.

This morning my TimeHop app came up and showed me the post I wrote last year on my birthday and in it, had a few goals, per-se, for the year. Interesting, because I'm not a huge goal-kinda-lady. Also, this is the first time since last year I looked at this post--pretty sure that's not how goals work.

I said: So this year. Year 28 (hold me). I want to get stronger. Be healthier. Be nicer (yep, my husband will laugh at this and then nod). Be more intentional. Smile bigger and more often. Push myself further than I thought I was capable. Continue loving on these precious girls of mine. Spend more time with God. Not be pregnant. Be warm and embracing. Stretch myself in uncomfortable situations. Meet new friends. Challenge myself. Get more haircuts (a year between haircuts is absurd). Drink less diet coke. Clean my house more (just kidding). Read more (won't happen).

I can honestly say that in some areas I kicked total butt. Others? ehhh, notsomuch, oops.

So let's focus on the positive, k?

Stronger. Check.
Healthier. Check.
Pushed myself. Check.
Loving my girls. Check.
Not be pregnant. CHECK, CHECK!
Meet new friends. Check.
Challenge myself. Check.
Get more haircuts. Check. (dude! I got on an every 6 week schedule for cuts--who AM I?)
Drink less diet coke. Check. (COMPLETELY QUIT! Booyah!)

I mean. This year wasn't a total and complete waste. So high five for that.

Last year I was also whining about the boring nature of adult birthdays, especially as compared to your kid's awesome celebrations. But this year? This year I told Declan I just want to WAKE UP AND GET TO LAY THERE IN PEACE.  ie: I want no one NEEDING me. Nope. Not a peep. I want to not move a muscle if I don't have to.

So we are going to a hotel in Atlantic City. 

serious.

One night, that's it. I just want a 24 hour date with my husband where we don't have to sing Frozen songs or threaten this or that if you don't stop hitting your sister, for the love.

IT WILL BE COMPLETE BLISS.

I am convinced.

And my goals for 29? Well. I haven't gotten that far and that's cool. Because all I'm thinking about right now is a 2 hour long drive with my husband, getting to listen to the music of our choice, and--oh,  yea, TALKING TO EACH OTHER. That's right. It's a luxury 'round here getting a word in edgewise with the little ladies in our household. I have no idea where they get that.

alright 29. do your thang.
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