Monday, February 24, 2014

on being on time

Being on time? Who writes a blog post on that? Sounds kind of lame... But hey hear me out :) 

I am a procrastinator by nature. I believe in the inspiration of the moment. And I have more free-spirited tendencies in me than some it seems... I was the girl who was up painting the huge project for school that was due the next day and didn't finished til 3:00 a.m. and it was not even quite dry yet when I turned it in... (true story) I'd get all inspired and go all out and be a last minute perfectionist and it would come out amazing but it would cost me. I was perpetually late. It was a regular occurrence to be taking out my hot rollers and doing my make up on the drive to my highschool. Fast forward to college.... I was always sleeping til the last minute and would end up not having enough time to drive to the designated parking lot and wait for the shuttle, so I'd find street parking somewhere and have to run out between classes to move to another parallel parking spot down the road to avoid the ticket. (But... sometimes I got tickets anyway.) I was the girl who my friends bet on would be the last one to their wedding. I was late to church. I did the bare-minimum-of-makeup-to-look-awake while sitting at the red lights on my drive to work in the mornings. I was always swiping my badge at the time clock with just seconds to spare. I think I planned on being at least 15 minutes late to non-work related things and thought that was excusable. But if you plan on 15 minutes late, you're usually 30... or more... I told myself this was who I was, and I didn't even try to change. But something inside me just didn't feel right when every time I showed up somewhere I had to start with an apology.

Probably about two or three years ago I finally realized this is not ok. And I didn't have to be that person forever.

The more kids I had, the more it became SUPER obvious that life required more planning than I had done in the past. I couldn't count on things always going smoothly and taking the bare minimum of time anymore. I needed to give myself some cushion. I started making it to things just barely on time, instead of being late, but it still felt stressful. (My goal these days is to remove as much stress from life as I can.) It was at a Bible study called the Christian Home Study that I really got the kick in the pants I needed. 

I don't remember what context it was in, but somewhere in one of our lessons it talked about how being late shows a disrespect for other people's time. When you are late to an event, it is like you are saying "My time is more important than yours, therefore it is ok to make you wait for me." And it all clicked for me... OF COURSE! That's why it doesn't feel good to be late. That's why I even felt guilty at times. And that should be my motive when planning how much time I need to get ready to leave my house, not that I am some impressive mom that can get my kids all out the door in record time, or even that my reputation is someone who is on time, but to show others that I respect their time. Lightbulb Moment for sure. 

So here are some things that help me to make sure I am on time: 

1. Allow myself extra time. 
I can't accentuate this enough. If I know it takes me an hour to shower, dry my hair and do my make-up, I leave an hour and a half. Especially in this season of breastfeeding on demand. I know I need to allow time to feed Mr. Jaden. In this season of life, I know that if I need to be somewhere by ten then I need to be up and starting the "getting ready" routine at 7:30 at the latest in order to have enough time to get everyone dressed, fed, bags packed and in the car by our target time. Know how long things take you on a regular basis, and then add some extra time for a cushion. I never plan to do my makeup in the car. That is only a last ditch effort in case something really crazy happens that morning and I have to sacrifice my "make up time." (I also don't ever do my makeup in the car if I'm driving anymore..... maybe cause it's dangerous.... don't know what I was thinking back in my younger years... ahem. )

2. Try to combine tasks for maximum time management. 
To make my "getting ready" routine more streamlined, I will often do my make up in a little hand mirror while sitting on our bed and nursing Jaden at the same time. I also don't dry my hair until after this, because it can start to air dry while I nurse him and won't take as long then when I'm done. That's just one example.

3. Prepare for the next day the night before. 
My mom always told me my whole life to lay out my clothes for the next day before I went to bed. It took me til now to finally take her advice. I don't do this every day, but definitely on Saturday nights it helps a ton. I lay out outfits for all three boys and myself so that when getting ready for church the next morning if Shaun has time to help me dress them the clothes are already there and ready for him, and so that Drew knows where his clothes are to dress himself. I can also make sure everything I need is clean ahead of time then too. Other ways to do this would be packing a lunch the night before, having the diaper bag packed and ready to go, getting the meat for the next night's dinner out of the freezer, etc. 

4. Put clocks in the places you need them most. 
I know it's not really traditional to have a clock in the bathroom, but if that's where you spend most of your time getting ready in the morning it would be awfully helpful to be able to make sure you're on track. Get yourself one of those cute little Pottery Barn clocks pictured above if that helps :) If you have a regular routine in the morning and need to be at work at the same time each day you could even set alarms on your cell phone that let you know when you should be getting to the next task while getting ready. 

5. Aim to be five minutes early. 
If you set your goal ahead of time it is so much less stressful. A nice relaxing drive where red lights and stop signs aren't cause for anxiety is so nice!!! You have control of your time then rather than feeling like you are racing the clock to see who will win. 

Now, there are still times when I run late to things. But it is very infrequent and usually because something completely out of my control happened. In all this I'm not talking about not giving yourself grace or making things more stressful for yourself. I'm just talking about having a plan, a strategy, and ultimately, showing other people that you respect their time. I've found that doing things this way I am now early to church without even trying, even on the mornings when Shaun goes ahead of time for worship team and I get all three boys ready and there by myself. (It helps that my husband has become a time management fanatic.) I also feel really good when I show up to meet someone somewhere and I am on time or early. It's a really fun thing to greet someone with a smile instead of an apology :) 

Hope maybe these little things it took me so long to learn can help someone else too!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter Outfit Inspiration

So once upon a time I was going to write a whole series on winter outfit inspiration, complete with a list of pieces I think are "essentials", how to dress in neutrals, how to accessorize simply, and inspirational outfit photos. I have three of these posts already started and saved on my blog. But when Drew had his febrile seizure and then two weeks later had an afebrile seizure that resulted in his hospital stay, writing a series that might take a bit of time for my blog totally went to the back burner. My family has been my complete priority. And now February is almost over and nobody wants to think about dressing for winter anymore, we're all so ready for spring! 
And yet this passion lingers.... 
What's a girl to do??
I've got to get it out of my system somehow, and before the season is totally gone. Now posts like these are much more fun with pictures and I don't have that many... so I apologize ahead of time.

What I decided to do is just share the most basic of basics of what that whole series was going to encompass. 
Basically, this past season, I learned how to use pinterest to inspire outfits from pieces I already had, and also how to identify my style a little bit further so that I had an actual written down list of pieces I was looking for to add to what I already have, instead of just buying random things. I learned that I love a mix of neutral colors and patterns with an occasional pop of color. I learned that olive is a neutral (Thank you Stephanie!!) as well as blue in all shades. 

Here's an example of using pinterest for inspiration. I added an extra necklace, a hat, and wore my hair down but I used the basic idea and things I had that were similar to create an outfit I loved. :) 
(pinterest photo on left, my interpretation on right)

As for olive being a neutral, I have paired this amazing pair of pants that I found at H&M in the fall for $10 with a cream sweater, white t-shirt, black and white striped baseball shirt, chambray button down, and oversized gray cardigan to name a few. Olive goes with an other neutral quite happily :) 

And lastly, wine colored leggings/skinny pants were on my list (along with a slouchy, short sleeved white t shirt, preferably with a pocket) and on Friday night I got to go shopping with my sister in law and found both!! The wine colored jeggings have this lovely velvet like texture to them, and they were only $4.98!!!! The slouchy white t shirt was $9.95... and I might have gotten more then one ;) 
Here are the wine colored jeggings: 

 Oh, and that adorable little gold cross-body is an antique, was only $8, and my mom bought it for me on our last girls outing before my sister moved the next day. Super special to me. 

And if you would like to view the rest of my "winter outfit inspiration photos" you can see my pinterest board here

Hopefully we won't be dressing for winter too much longer now! 

Friday, February 21, 2014


Before I wrote a blog, before I dreamed of being a photographer one day, before I was a mother, a wife, before I graduated college or fell in love or made it through highschool, before I learned to drive or cried over my first boy or liked to go shopping, before I played my first sport or learned to ride a bike or made my first friend, before I had my first day of school, or knew my favorite color or favorite food, before I have many memories at all, I had a sister. 

That chubby little blonde haired blue eyed baby girl was my real live baby doll, who first gave me a taste of what it would one day be like to be a mommy. We learned to play, we learned to fight, we learned to make up, we figured out how to navigate jealousy and sharing attention and working out arguments, we shared a bedroom and clothes and late night giggles. We vented, we contemplated, we solved, we rested... I'm pretty sure there's no one in the world quite like a sister. They not only know the woman you became, but they know why you became that woman too. Those sweet memories of childhood and life shaping moments and first impressions are only shared with a few. And your sister is one of them. 

Today my sister set out on the next part of the amazing story of her life. She has left before, for college, but she graduated in three years and came back, and she lived with my parents again for the last year and a half. Somehow the fact that she was still there made it feel like our childhood sister chapter wasn't quite over yet. This morning I hugged her goodbye, drove down the road and parked my van. Then I watched her climb into a packed car and back out of my parent's driveway for the last time of it being "her house." I'm so proud of her and so excited for her. And I'll miss her so much.

Digital photos didn't enter our world very big until 2005. But the following are some of my favorites from the past nine years. 

So many adventures: 

One of her homecomings. I was always the hairdresser. 

My graduation from college:

Fellow Hopskotchy:

More adventures:

My bachelorette party. 
My Rehearsal Dinner: 

Being sisters:

Morning of my wedding day:

In our major Colbie Caillat era: 

Hopskotches Forever. 

Posing like you can only with a sister. :) 

The night of my baby shower for Drew. And other stories. Like going to the er and stories about long walks in the woods... 

The night before I had my first baby. 

The kinds of things that went back and forth in the mail while Nan was at Liberty. 

More adventures. 
Always with our tea and coffee... This time in an RV. 

Girls weekend in Connecticut. Pregnant with my second baby... 

Formal Hospskotches.

Baby sister graduates college. 



Pregnant with my third baby:

Still little girls at heart... Just grown up now. 

Last girls outing before she left today. Again with coffee and tea. 

 Saying goodbye:

Watching her drive away. Funny how foggy it was this morning... I know this is probably just sentimental me making metaphors out of anything, but I was crying and watching her leave and as she pulled out and drove into the fog it felt like how I feel. I know that she's going to be within driving distance away (5 hrs). I know that we will still call and talk and stay in touch. I know that I will see her on our beach vacation this summer. But there's just lots of unknowns this time too. I don't know when/if we will live within "drop-in" distance of each other again. Spontaneity has always been such a fun part of our relationship and we will have to be better at planning things out ahead of time to see each other now. I know it will work, and it will be fine, and we will figure out how to make the distance seem small. But it was still hard watching her drive into the fog. 

"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost."  
-Marion C. Garretty

"What's the good of news if you haven't a sister to share it with?"  
-Jenny DeVries

"If your sister is in a tearing hurry to go out and cannot catch your eye, she's wearing your best sweater."  
-Pam Brown

"The mildest, drowsiest sister has been known to turn tiger if her sibling is in trouble."  
-Clara Ortega

And my favorite:

"To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other's hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time."  
-Clara Ortega

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Valentines Party 2014

This is the third year now that I've had a valentines lunch party for my little guys. This was the most fun year yet because Drew is getting so much more into crafts and helping and even likes to help decorate for special things. I want to raise my boys to know how to be romantic, to enjoy setting aside time to make someone else feel special, and to have great memories of Valentines Day. But most of all I want them to know how much I love them, and how much Jesus loves them. 

Now I'd like to say a little something just for honesty's sake here... Lots of times I see posts or pictures of other moms and their fun crafty day with their kids and I wonder if the pictures are showing how it really went. Because, although we have some wonderful memories from our lunch party and the preparation for it, I'd be lying to say that we were all just floating around on red and pink clouds and acting totally lovey to each other all morning. There was one point where I wondered if this was even worth it. Jaden was really fussy that morning and if I set him down to help the boys he would cry. If I picked him up and couldn't help them Drew would start bossing Isaiah and Isaiah would cry. At one point I thought I might cry. I mean, this was supposed to be special, why were there tears??? 

But here's what I learned. While we were making cupcakes Isaiah was trying to sprinkle the red sugar on his and his sprinkle was a little aggressive and came out more like an avalanche. Drew was quick to tell him that wasn't how he was supposed to do it, and Isaiah started crying like his world was falling apart. I tried to set Jaden down to comfort Isaiah, and Jaden started crying. Shaun had been outside shoveling and came to the front door wanting car keys right at that moment and I thought I might have a meltdown. But a few minutes later when Shaun came back in from getting the truck completely dug out, Isaiah ran to the door, tears still in his eyes, but a big smile on his face, and said "Daddy! tum ook at tuptakes I make!!!" It was like he had completely forgotten about his meltdown mere minutes earlier and all he remembered was the fun. And then Drew. It didn't matter if chaos of all chaos was ensuing around him, he was so focused on decorating his cupcakes it was like he didn't mind it at all. He seriously had a blast. If you ask them about their Valentines morning neither one will tell you that they fought or cried or spilled sugar all over the place. Neither will talk about Jaden crying or mommy feeling like she just didn't have what it takes to be taking care of everyone at once. They will tell you they made cupcakes, cut out paper hearts, helped make their own sandwiches and took pictures with mustaches. And they will tell you it was so much fun. 

So maybe perfectly managed emotions aren't the goal during a "fun" time with your kids? Maybe just being together, persevering through the difficulties, giving as many hugs as needed, not caring how long it takes or how messy it gets is the goal. Because they seem to only remember the good stuff. And that's what counts. So my answer to my own question: It was totally worth it. 

Mixing cupcake batter above. 

Drew's perfectly sprinkled cupcake. Isaiah's avalanched cupcake. 
Kind of their personalities in dessert form. 
Cause after all, if Drew's going to dump sugar on his cupcake he's going to do it as neatly and perfectly as he can. And if Isaiah is going to dump sugar on his cupcake, he's going to dump sugar on his cupcake. 

Every year we try to be creative and have mostly all red and pink foods. So our menu this year was: 
Heart shaped sweet bologna sandwiches
Strawberry & Raspberry yogurt parfaits
Pretzel Sticks with strawberry cream cheese
Chai Latte cupcakes with red sprinkles
And Pink lemonade

After we made the cupcakes in the morning Drew helped me make the sandwiches, cut out the heart shapes, fill the glasses with yogurt, arrange everything on the tray and decorate their bedroom for our party. It was his idea to hang paper hearts on the wall. I'd cut them out and stick tape to them and him and Isaiah took turns hanging them all over the wall. They had so much fun and still don't want to take them down. 

Before we ate we prayed and sang Jesus loves me, we talked about how Jesus died for us because he loves us so much and I told them how much I love them.

It was hard for them to help make all that goodness and then wait to eat it, so once it was time they couldn't wait to dig in!! 

Jaden was happy by lunch time and laid on their bed giving us smiles while we ate. 

A few days before our party Drew and I made paper mustaches glued to striped paper straws and we put them in a vase on the table as decoration. They had so much fun pulling them out and playing with them at different times. I was pretty amazed how big of a hit that craft was, especially with Drew. 

By the time all the preparation was done and we were all sitting down for our party you would have never known that there were tears or roller coaster emotions that morning. I think this was about the time that I had decided it was totally worth it. We had such a good time together and they didn't want Valentines Day to end. Shaun got to be with us since it was a snow day this year too, which made it extra special :) 

The tiny paper hearts at each place were Drew's idea too... After hanging some on the wall he said he wanted "a tiny heart to hold" too... 

That night Shaun and I got to go out just the two of us since Jaden was born. We didn't go far but it really didn't matter where we went, it was just so good to get to have long, deep conversation without any interruptions and be together just us for two hours. (Thanks again mom and dad for babysitting!!)

So that was our Valentines Day... I love this tradition of making it extra special and having a party just for my boys... It was definitely worth it. :)