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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

full.

In the midst of sleep last night, I heard it coming loud and clear. The dreaded middle of the night cry. Hoping it would resolve itself, I rolled over and held my breath.

But it came again. And again. Lucy needed me.

My insides groaned a little. My body, almost paralyzed from deep sleep, became to move again, albeit slowly. I used to be used to getting interrupted sleep. I mean, I'm not even sure my body used to really sleep for the first year of her life. But now-the middle of the night cries are so rare, it almost makes it that much harder for my body to accept that fact that, yes, you have to get up.

I scooped my crying 21 month-old up, rubbing oragel on her tender gums, and plopped down into the nursery chair I so rarely even sit in anymore. She laid her head on my shoulder and her cries stopped. She fell asleep. A few minutes later, she popped her head up and pointed to her crib, saying "bed, now". I kissed her, laid her down, and covered her little hodge-podged-pj'ed body up with a blanket.

I laid back into my bed and normally I have zero thoughts except--Get Back To Sleep, Right Now. But as I covered myself up, bringing my comfortable blankets up around my neck, and curling onto my side--I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude for exactly where I'm at right now. So much so that I just began to thank God for taking care of my family, for giving us these babies to love and take care of, for the safety of our house, for our warm beds.

My chalkboard in my kitchen has read, "Gratitude turns what we have into Enough" since last September, no lie.


I stare at it everyday. Yet sometimes those lessons don't really seep in deep for a long time.

I am content and grateful now--not just wasting my life waiting for The Next Big Thing. It's so easy to fall into that trap.

***

Yesterday Em took an unexpected nap...the first one in months, actually. When Lucy and I went in to wake her up, we were greeted with smiles & hugs. We all crawled into that tiny toddler bed and for a whole hour we watched videos on my YouTube channel of their little lives.

We laughed and ooh'ed and ahh'ed at baby Emeline and the cute way she pronounced her words at 2. We watched the vacation recap videos and remembered what the beach and warm sand felt like, we saw the first time Lucy crawled, and when my girl's met for the first time, and belly laughed at the hilarious christmas performance at church. We watched them all and my heart felt just so full and content.

There are challenges and hardships and gut wrenching things we all deal with and have questions about, and why, why, why....but I cannot be anything but grateful for this life.

It is more than enough.


Monday, April 28, 2014

You need some HighPantsBaby in your life.

It's almost embarrassing to admit how many bags I own, and I'm not talking expensive, but-just look in my hall closet if you want to know (or don't. no. pretty please, actually don't.) It's just--when I became a mom, I felt like I had to find The Perfect Bag for stuffing all the random stuff that comes along with those little creatures. They sure are needy.

 But as they grow a bit older & change, so does the stuff you need to carry around. It gets less, in a way. But then I have those days when I carry around water bottles and snacks and my camera, my wallet, my agenda--and I'm back to square one again. Momma needs a big bag with many pockets. I like big bags and I cannot lie.

So then the super cool Etsy shop, HighPantsBaby asked to send me a bag, saying they (hand)made some amazing bags that momma's like me would enjoy and love and, uhhh, well ok. Feed my bag addiction, why don't ya. I'm in. 

I've been in love with their dark grey Aster Bag for years (no, really). Now I own one anddddd it rocks.


So, here's what I like. I'm a quick bag-grabber. Therefore I love that this bag has a short handle I can use to grab quickly out of the backseat of my car, or fling on my shoulder. But I super love-love that there's the shoulder strap that can be clicked on if that's your cup-o-tea because I am still a big fan of a crossover bag. I feel like with a bag like this I get the best of both world's, and well-that's a big win in my book.


This is not just a diaper bag. Actually-they even call it an Everyday Bag on their site. But the side pockets that fit water bottles & sippy cups, and 13 pockets in total for all those random things you carry with kids (sunscreen, oragel, diaper cream, chapstick, the list goes on) are awesome. I love space in my bag. Give me lots of space to carry everything. I like to be prepared.

And it's extremely well made and um, it's cute.


HighPants has a gorgeous shop featuring tons and tons of beautifully handcrafted, canvas bags in an array of fun colors, and unique designs for crazy affordable prices. They're currently rocking some great sales, and not only that, they're giving those who read this post an extra 10% off if you use code lovesoflife.

***

If you wanna stay up to date on their fun products and happenings, check them out on Facebook.

Shop their Etsy shop // code lovesoflife for 10% off *good till May 12*

Thanks, HighPants, you've got a fan.

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.

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.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

only one. a pep talk of sorts.


Last night after dinner somehow my whole clan ended up on the kitchen floor. Hundreds of fresh crayons strewn about, coloring books galore. We were all full blown laying on your belly-style-coloring. I have to say, my husband is an impressive colorer. I had no idea.

Anyway. As we were laying there and going to town on coloring books, Declan says something about wanting to make a Spring/Summer bucket list to make sure we're intentional about places we want to go and things we want to do.

Perfect. Sounds good to me.

So I grab a poop brown crayon and start jotting things down. It quickly became a family discussion and Emeline grabbed her pen and began 'writing', too and asking everyone in the family the same question,  "did you 'fink about it? where do YOU wanna go?"

We thought and we pondered. We threw out fun ideas like going fishing, and to the local railroad--trips to the lake and to the zoo. All of these things sound so fun to me. I wrote down my idea for last minute, spontaneous weekend trips. I wanna hit up some cool restaurants, you know, think Diners-Drive-in's and Dive's style. I wanna DO fun stuff. I wanna just go with my family and hike and find little hidden corners of the world I didn't know existed. 

I have this deep urge to explore.

The problem is--when it comes down to it, nothing I ever think in my head that sounds so amazing ever turns out to be, well, that amazing

Am I the only one with this problem?

The actual act of getting there, doing it, the planning, the prep---it's all so exhausting. And gosh, with kids--things actually going as planned? Forget about it. I can't even get a 30 minute Target trip to go my way, let alone some whirlwind, last minute, weekend trip, I'm sure-----so why bother

Sometimes that's how I feel. And I haaate it.

I don't know if we're just in a rough patch as far as the kids ages go or what. But sometimes I feel like we'll never get to live that fancy free life I picture in my head.

The truth is--when I really dig deep and I think about it? The problem lies within me and me alone. It's how I react to the stressful situations, the way the kid's act like, well--kids. I can get out of my fairy tale mindset and just know that new situations, new places we visit, new things we explore, while they'll be fun, we will still have those hurdles to get over, and gasp, life isn't over in the midst of it. 

I know. It all sounds so trivial. And I guess it really is. But sometimes it holds me back, and dang it-I don't want it to.

I want to have a fun summer filled with making memories. And yes, some of those memories are gonna come with messes.  

It's gotta be about the journey. I only have this one life, right?