Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sick Babies and Our New Normal


Johnny's school sends out an email every time a kid contracts some sort of contagious illness. In the first three weeks of school we've gotten two alerts for strep throat, as well as an alert for pink eye and pneumonia. Every one of these emails makes me wonder if we're doing the right thing sending Johnny to school and maybe he's too little and just needs to be at home and maybe we'd all be better off if he just stayed at home. I have to remind myself that with weekly trips to usually three different groceries stores (Trader Joe's, Aldi, and Target, in order of favorite to least favorite) and with 20 piano students coming into our house every week, there is no way we could avoid germ exposure, and I should just settle down. I also shouldn't be surprised that both of my kids got sick this week.

Johnny stayed home from school on Monday as a result. And even though he's only been in school for three weeks I've gotten pretty used to having just Trixie around during the days. We miss Johnny when he's gone, we talk about him all the time and look forward to picking him up at 3:00, but I was a little terrified about having both of them at home all day Monday. It's only been three weeks! Have I really forgotten how to be a mom of two already?

It ended up being fine. They both hate the Nose Frida now. We played lots of trains and Johnny only made Trixie cry about 26 times.  But it just amazed me at how quickly I got used to having him in school, when I was so anxious about it at the beginning of the year.

It's been three weeks and Johnny in school has become our new normal. We get up at 6:45 everyday (except Friday) so that Alex and Johnny are ready to leave the house at 7:30. Alex drops Johnny off on his way to class, and I pick up Johnny when he's done at 3:00. I teach piano lessons after school three days a week.  We have dinner together. We hang out for a while, then we get the kids ready for bed. That's our routine and we're pretty used to it.

Johnny learned how to say "tomorrow" this week. At night when we're putting on pajamas he will say "bedtime, school, morrow." And sometimes he'll add on "papa's car." The fact that he's putting three words together on his own is amazing, and not something he could do even a month ago. But he also seems to understand what's going on. He can tell us a little about what he did that day, and he can talk about what he's going to do tomorrow. I love being able to hear what he's thinking about. This is only one example, but things like this happen everyday that make us feel so good about our decision to put him in school. Even if our germ exposure this year has gone up by about 500%.


Friday, September 23, 2016

7 quick takes vol. 27: things I'm pumped about.

linking up with Kelly for some quick takes. 

//1//

You guys, it's been a good week. I think it's because I'm still riding the waves of the amazing retreat I got to go on last weekend. You guys know that I have been writing for Blessed is She for about 2 years now. Well, last weekend, for the first time ever, we had a Blessed is She Team Retreat.  Almost all the writers, plus creatives, plus our beautiful founder Jenna all gathered in the woods of Wisconsin for some In-Real-Life togetherness.  And it was amazing, for so many reasons:

1.  Meeting people in real life who I have stalked online for the last 2 years, or longer.

2. Having lots of meaningful conversations, prayer time, and the like.

3. Talking more about what it means to do women's ministry.

4. Being totally spoiled and pampered by Nell and her family at their amazing lodge in the woods.
If you're on Instagram and look up the hashtag #BISteamretreat you can get a pretty good idea of what the weekend was like.

It was such a blessing to be there and I'm still not quite sure how I got so lucky as to fall in with such an amazing and holy crowd.


This was the "Dance Party" playlist for the weekend.  If any dancing actually happened it was after I went to bed.  But it's a super fun playlist so I wanted to share it with all of you!



//2//

Sunday after the retreat I got to go to a calligraphy class taught by Erica, who designs the logos for Blessed is She, as well as the amazing planner that everyone, including myself, is now in love with.  I have always wanted to learn calligraphy but never thought I would be able to because I am left-handed.  But I totally learned! And it's awesome!


//3//

So, this one is kind of random, but I'm just so excited about it.  We have been having trouble getting the fitted sheet to stay on our bed. Every day the elastic corners creep up the sides of the mattress and everyday I pull them back down. We have a memory foam topper on our bed that makes it quite a bit taller, and so regular sheets don't stay on that well. Alex found sheets with "deep pockets." And all I could think of was making a decorative plaque says, "I like my men like I like my sheets, with deep pockets."

But the deep pocketed sheets still wouldn't stay on the mattress.  So then Alex, (who is very determined) thought, "if only there was something like suspenders that you could put on the underside of your mattress to hold the sheets in place." 

Guess what? There is! And guess what? They really work! No more having to pull the fitted sheet down over the mattress every morning.

It's the little things.

//4//

I got a pair of Crocs. Yes, I know they're ugly. But my feet hurt! I got them as indoor shoes to wear, mostly while I'm standing in the kitchen making dinner. I usually do this barefoot, and my feet have been really sore lately. So I got some Crocs. I got the flats and they're actually kind of cute. And they're really comfortable. So I don't care!


//5//

We decided to check out the first episode of This Is Us last night. I don't want to give away any spoilers to folks who haven't watched it yet. All I will say is I cried my way through it, of course. There's a very interesting twist in the plot and I still get goosebumps when I think about it. We will definitely come back next week for more.

But I think I confused some of my Instagram friends when I posted a picture of one of the main characters and said I was watching my brother on TV. To clear up any confusion, Milo Ventimiglia is not my brother.  BUT he looks exactly like my brother. And they have all the same mannerism. I've thought this since I first started watching Gilmore Girls many moons ago. And now that Milo has a beard the likeness is even more pronounced.  It's actually kind of freaky.


See what I mean?

//6//

I think I've mentioned before that my little sister is a professional hair stylist and she is always one step ahead when it comes to all things fashion. When we were little she was always trying to steal my makeup and borrow my clothes. But now, oh how the tables have turned.  One of my favorite things to do when she comes over to babysit my kids is dig through her giant makeup bag and play with all the super high-end goodies in there. 

Well, knowing me as she does, she got me an Ipsy subscription for my birthday and I got my first delivery last week. It's always fun to get mail, but when it's makeup, it's like a party! I loved all my products, but the best by far was the Bombshell nail polish they sent me. I normally don't even bother painting my fingernails because they just chip within a day or two, But I am going on one week and my nails still look great! 


The rest of my bag included a mascara, a contour brush, a conditioning hair mask, and a BB cream that is perfect for my skin. It's only $10 a month and the quality of everything is amazing. I think I just might keep it up even after my gifted months are over. If you want to use my referral link to check it out you will score me some points. Thanks! 

//7//

I have been so fascinated by the Describe Yourself In Three Fictional Characters thing that's been going around all the social media. I've been thinking about this long and hard for the last couple of days and here's what I came up with for myself.


Tami Taylor, responsible and sticks to her principles. Molly Weasely, nurturing and worries about her family a lot and will stick up for them no matter what.  And Anne Shirley, wildly imaginative, and short tempered.  And all of these great ladies have red hair. So there you have it!

Have a great weekend, y'all! 

disclaimer: some links may be affiliate.  when you follow a link a make a purchase I get a small percentage of that sale at no additional cost to you. 





Thursday, September 22, 2016

This Is A Job


I've got a new approach to this whole Stay-At-Home Mom thing this year. Just for a point of reference, my old approach was to try to relax as much as possible, stay in my pajamas as long as possible, and try to do as much knitting as possible. But this kind of parenting was actually causing some problems. Like, when I actually needed to be getting ready my kids were always really crabby. Leaving me putting on my makeup to the tune of two screaming babies, which is not a peaceful experience.  Or when I was doing my enjoyable hobby I had this constant lurking feeling that I should be doing something else (probably because I was ignoring piles of unfolded laundry and saving dinner prep for the witching hour), making it hard to enjoy my enjoyable hobby.

So here's my new approach. I'm treating being a Stay-At-Home Mom like it's a job.  Because it actually is a job.

I've never felt embarrassed by the fact that I'm a stay-at-home mom. I've known for some time that this is what I want to be doing. I also feel no judgment toward moms who want to or need to work outside the home. But I do often feel frustrated that I "got nothing done" all day. That is, I got nothing done beside cooking three meals, keeping my family in clean clothes, cleaning the kitchen, twice, changing a host of diapers, grocery shopping, staying on top of appointments, bills, and budgets and, oh yeah, teaching about ten hours of piano lessons out of my home each week which I don't really talk that much about on here, but that's a job, too. And at the of the day when I crawl into bed my body is tired and my feet are sore from the full day of work I put in. So why do I feel like I got nothing done? Why does my life feel insignificant?

It feels insignificant because I've been treating it as insignificant.

I don't know if it was some subliminal messaging from the society I live in, or my own misconceptions, but somewhere along the road I started feeling like the things I do all day don't matter as much as the things other people do all day. And because I wasn't valuing the things I was doing, they started to seem tedious to me.


But when I really stop and think about it, there's isn't anything else I'd rather be doing. Well, except for maybe professional wine tasting. Or unless you could pay me a lot of money to knit while I watch The Newsroom. But in all seriousness, I'm really happy as a Stay-At-Home Mom. And even though my work is hidden from world and I don't receive a paycheck for it, it is real work that contributes to the well being of my family. So I'm going to treat it that way.

And this is how:

Get up. I'm setting an alarm and getting up when it goes off even if the kids are still sleeping.

Get ready. I'm getting myself ready for the day before Alex leaves the house, and then I don't need to worry about doing it later when kids are melting down for their naps.

Eat breakfast. A cup of coffee and a cookie doesn't count. Everyone does better when mama has some protein in the morning.

Make hay while the sun shines. Or rather, when the babies are happy. I'm using the morning hours when everyone is happiest to get my most pressing chores done. This is usually making sure I have dinner planned and maybe even getting it into the crock pot or oven, and doing one or two cleaning chores, like vacuuming, or a load of laundry, or emptying the dishwasher.

When I'm on, I'm on. If I were at a "real job" I wouldn't be trying to sneak in an episode of 30 Rock, or knit under my desk. (At least I don't think so. . . .) Instead of escaping to my hobbies whenever I can, I am present with my children, building train tracks, stacking blocks, and lots of nursing.

Nap time is me time. That sacred hour, that respite for the weary. When the babies are sleeping I bust out the chocolate and my knitting, or blogging, or whatever else I want to do. And because I've been on top of my chores earlier in the day, I can enjoy my break 100% guilt free.

Get out of the house. Alone. And grocery shopping doesn't count. Being a mom is 24/7 job. I'm always on the clock. But if I can get out of the house by myself once or twice a week, it's enough of a break to refresh and energize me. We're not very good at implementing this one yet. Ideally we'd have a set day and time each week that I would leave, but the craziness of Alex's school makes that a little difficult right now. But I'm trying to get out, and when I do, I really notice the difference it makes.

We're three weeks in and so far my new approach has been working really well. I feel good about the amount of stuff I get done each day. I feel like I am getting some breaks. I'm losing my temper less with my children. Some days are still hard, I don't always wake up as early as I should, or people don't always nap as long as I'd like. But at the end of the day when my body is tired and my feet are sore I take it as a sign that I put in a good day of sanctifying work. Because this is a job, a calling, a vocation. And it's making me a holier person.



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

listening, eating, making, reading. vol. 3


I feel like if I tell you these four things I'm giving you the perfect snapshot of what I've been up to. Plus, they're all things I love to do and love to tall about. So here goes! 

//listening//


25 by Adele. I'm always a little behind the times, so I'm only just now going crazy for Adele.  But seriously! I can't get enough.  If you were to catch a glimpse of me driving in the car you would surely see me belting out the Adele at the top of my lungs.  Also, Adele has been my choice of music when I make my feeble attempts at running. Not you're typical workout jams, but I am so mesmerized by her voice, it's the only thing I can listen to that will truly distract me from how much I hate running. 

//eating//

It's finally cool enough to use the oven again! We've been cooking up lots of bacon to use for BTL's with garden fresh T's. I also made this tasty coffee cake the other day.  Even Johnny liked it!(Also, Hatch Prints mug.) 



//making//

So many things. Or should I say, sew many things. I made some bloomers for Trixie.



And some little drawstring bags for storing knitting projects in. 


And over the weekend Alex and I made a headboard, so now I can lean my head on something while I'm nursing Trixie in the wee small hours. Our room used to look like this.


 Now it looks like this! Yay!!


//reading//


Gilead. Recommended to me by so many people. It took me a while to get into it, but now I understand why everyone loves it.  It's truly beautiful writing that speaks so tenderly on the mysteries of the Christian life, and love, and parenthood. I really need to hustle and finish it though, because this one is next on my list and I want to get it read before Fountains of Carrots does their book podcast on it! 

What have you been up to? Link up to share!

disclaimer: amazon links are affiliate. That means if you make a purchase after following a link, I get a small percentage of that purchase at no extra cost to you! 



Friday, September 9, 2016

7 quick takes vol. 26

linking up with Kelly for some Quick Takes! 

//1//

It's Friday! YAY! We survived our first week of what will be our normal for the next 9 months, Alex in school, Johnny in school, and me teaching piano lessons. I was a little anxious about starting everything up again after having such a nice, long summer break.  But the week actually went pretty smoothly, and, not surprising, I get a lot more done and feel better when my days have some structure and schedule to them.

//2// 

Johnny's first day of school was a little rockier than I was anticipating.  When he started at his DHH school last spring, and was away from us for the first time ever, it was a very hard transition.  But after a couple weeks, he really started to love school, even asking for "shool" first thing every morning. I thought he would be so happy to back this fall, but he actually was very sad. There were lots of tears and hugs and kisses, and I felt like this all over again. Thankfully by day 3 he was fine at drop-off. I think this year is going to be really good for him.



//3//

If you follow me on Instagram you've probably noticed an increase in postings since Alex has been back in school.  I guess I'm a little lonely without him.  Thanks for keeping me company over there during the day.

Can we talk about the Stories feature on Instagram? When it was introduced I dismissed it with an eye roll and an indignant come on, Kevin. But guess who's hooked now? This moi!


I guess maybe this means I should be on snap chat? One thing at a time.

//4//

Over the summer one of Alex's sisters made me aware of the fact that my iPhone counts my steps! Who knew? Probably everyone else. Since I made this discovery I have been obsessed with counting my steps. It's been a really great addiction.  Instead of putting off going upstairs to get something until I need to go up to put someone down for a nap, I just run right up, because, more steps!! And I've been going for a walk with the kids almost every day because, more steps!


(It was SO humid this week )

I have run into a little bit of a problem though.  Most of the things I wear don't have pockets. Especially in the summer when  I'm wearing a lot of dresses and skirts. If only there was some sort of clothing accessory that would allow me to carry stuff around with me when my outfits don't have pockets...

Also, I feel like if you're carrying 20 lbs, or 30 lbs, or sometimes 50 lbs of children you should get double credit for your steps.  Maybe someone can work on that?

//5//


Did you see that the 2017 Blessed is She Planner is available for pre-order? When the first planner was released it sold out in a week. You can enter the giveaway I'm doing! But if you really want one you'd better scoot on over to Blessed is She Shop. It's a beautiful planner and it helps support this beautiful ministry. So, thanks!

//6//

Grace posted a couple weeks ago about high-waisted jeans.  It helped me realize some thoughts I had already been forming about pants and postpartum bodies and muffin tops. So I used a birthday gift card to try these from the Gap. I'm sold!! It's mom jeans for me from here on out.

//7//

Thank you to my friend Shea for telling me to watch Newsroom! I love it! So much dialogue, so good for knitting. I guess I'm just an Aaron Sorkin girl.

Happy Friday, Friends!

disclaimer: some links are affiliate. That means if you follow the link and make a purchase I get a small percentage of that sale at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting this blog! 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

planner LOVE! {giveaway}


Being the slightly type-A personality that I am, I love planners. I love putting all of my to-do's and commitments into nice organized rows and boxes and seeing my life spread out before me weeks or months in advance. It fills me with delight.

I have always been a Moleskine planner girl, ever since I was in high school. I've never even bothered with any other type of planner, not unless you count the year I tried to use the calendar on my phone. That lasted all of one month. So when I heard that Blessed is She was putting out a planner designed around the liturgical calendar I thought, "that's nice, but I'll just stick with my Moleskine." 

Well, through the generosity of another individual the Blessed is She planner was made available to me, so I thought I'd try it out. And oh my friends. This. Planner.

I have never loved a planner so much. It has everything I need: monthly views, weekly views, places for lists, goals, feast days, prayers, and my very favorite is the meal planning space.  I always make a meal plan for the week, but it's usually on a little scrap of paper that I've found lying around, and I almost always lose it. The result being I can't remember what I bought certain grocery items for and I'm still scrambling to figure out dinner.


Practicality and organization aside, this planner is also very very beautiful. It feels like a mini vacation just to sit and write in it.  At least it does for me. I even managed to escape to a coffee shop by myself when mine arrived so that I could dive into it and start filling things in without being interrupted. Luxury! When I'm at home I have been very careful to hide it when not using it, because I think if Johnny got his hands on it I would probably cry.

Anyway.  I'm totally sold. I hope Jenna and Erica keep making them forever because I don't see how I could ever go back.


Because I love it so, and because someone was so nice as to bestow one upon me, I'd like to pay it forward and bestow one on one of you, my dear readers. Visit the Blessed is She Shop and then comment here with your favorite item to enter.  It doesn't have to be the planner, as there are many other lovely things. But the planner is pretty great. You may just want to snag one for yourself. This is the second time a pre-order has been made available and the first time they went like hot cakes. So, you know. Hop to it!

UPDATE: Congrats to Jill on winning! I just sent you an email.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 5, 2016

Deep Water

Lately I've been tired. Not just sleep deprived, but a burned-out kind of tired. I feel like I'm doing the same things day after day. Cleaning up the same messes, cooking the same meals, getting up with the baby at the same times during the night, giving the toddler the same instructions over and over again. Sometimes it feels like a thankless job with no visible results. Sometimes I get discouraged, and I get tired, and I get worn out. When I stop and think about it, I know that what I'm doing is important, I really do. But sometimes I just with I could see some fruit for all of my labor.

 Then I read a gospel passage like this:
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.” (Luke 5:1-5)
I know I've read these verses before, but this time the words are jumping off the page at me. I understand exactly how Simon Peter felt. He was tired and discouraged, he'd been up all night long, he'd just finishing cleaning those nets for crying out loud! And Jesus wants him to go out there again?

Clearly Peter's obedience was rewarded, and Christ revealed His divinity through it. But there's another reason this story stands out to me as so amazing; it's because I know how it ends. I know what Simon Peter goes on to do- cast out demons, heal the lame, stand in the empty tomb, hear the rushing wind of the Spirit and speak in tongues at Pentecost. And it blows my mind to think that when Jesus found him he was tired and discouraged from being up all night- just like me.

Just when I think I've finished my work, when I've gotten both kids down, and the kitchen is cleaned up, and the laundry pile is taken care of, when I've made my cup of tea and am about to settle into a comfy spot on the couch with my book, (who am I kidding? with my Netflix) invariably someone wakes up to be fed, or to be tucked in again. I exhale with a sigh of exasperation, can't I just catch a break? But I should pay attention, because Jesus is passing by, and He is calling me into the deep water of my vocation.

"Lord, I've been up all night, and I haven't caught anything!"  "I know," he says, "but do it again, so I can show you my abundance." 

There's an abundance in my life whether I like it or not.  Every day an abundance of opportunities to show love to my family.  And not just the kind of love that looks good on Instagram. Service, love in action. The kind of love that gives of itself and lays down its life. It's hard to love like that. But there's also an abundance of grace that helps me to love, imperfect and selfish though I be. Maybe right now I can't see the fruit of my love in action, the catch that is sinking my boat, but I have to believe it's being made, and stored up in eternity.

For the time being I am in deep water, and it's right where Jesus has called me to be. It's not easy, but there is so much more here than if I had just stayed on the shore.



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