Mar 29, 2016

For Sale...

Our home is for sale. Not our house, mind you, because we don't own our current dwelling. But the place where we live is on the market.

As in... we keep our house clean at all times, and realtors and potential buyers walk through our home several times a week, and we won't see a penny of the sale. It's inconvenient, for sure, but it's what we signed up for. {And if you happen to be looking for a 1600 square foot home in South Orange County, let me know!}

We moved to Southern California in a flurry, and God blessed us with a six month lease. We didn't really know where we wanted to live and we were staying with friends nearly two hours away {in rush hour} from Micah's work, and we needed a dwelling stat. We stumbled upon a gorgeous condo that should have been out of our price range, but because the owners needed short-term renters who were willing to show the property when they put it on the market in the spring, we got cheap-for-the area rent and settled into our little two-story abode in America's most family friendly neighborhood. I kid you not. I can see the pool, splash pad, park, middle school, soccer/baseball fields, and public library from my front door.

It's been a great place to kick off our SoCal life, but now it must come to an end. We are trying to figure out where we want to move and how much we should pay and if we should rent or buy. A zillion logistics are up in the air because we are still, essentially, in the middle of the longest move ever. But that's okay. God knows where we are now and where we will be in a few weeks, months, and years.

The bonus to having your house listed is that a professional photographer comes and takes fancy pictures of your place, so here is a glimpse of our first Cali home. We hardly hung anything on the walls, since we knew we were moving again so soon, and our garage is filled with boxes, some empty, some full. This house has been a temporary dwelling in every way. Growing up, a picture hung in our guest bathroom that read "Wherever we are together, that is our home, for a home is where people love." That's the truth about this little condo. It was never our house, but, for six months, it was our home. In it, Talitha learned to crawl, Zianne learned her first ballet moves, Micah started bringing a laptop and Blackberry home from his new job, and I hammered out those final words of my dissertation. Thanks, Lord, for this home and the memories we made here.

Mar 26, 2016

Saturday Snippets

Interesting to-do list method {and a variation}

Love this home makeover...

An interesting view on "redshirting" kindergarten...

I spent spring break exploring Southern California, and this Orange County brunch guide came in handy...

Love these funky shoes...

When mama doesn't want to enjoy the moment...

I don't even really watch Fixer Upper, but enjoyed this post about Joanna Gaines...

Mar 24, 2016

Dear Talitha {nine months}

Dear Talitha,

You still sleep in your Pack N Play.

It started as a necessity. We moved when you were not yet four months old, and we didn't know if you would sleep well in the same room as your sister. Your Pack N Play served as your bed in those weeks we were traveling back and forth between Arizona and California. You've slept in it at grandma's house, friends' houses, here and there. You've slept in the guest room, the laundry room, the downstairs bathroom. I tried to move you into your crib a few months ago, but the east-facing windows in the nursery were causing you to wake up too early. I surrendered. I decided you would continue to sleep in the Pack N Play until my dissertation was finished. I couldn't deal with any baby sleep transitions during such an intense season of work.

Finally, last night I decided it was time. I jimmy-rigged the world's best black out shade to mostly cover the two windows above your crib. I told Zianne that you were spending the night in her room. She was thrilled. You are an excellent sleeper, and I didn't predict any problems.

And then you cried. And cried. And cried. I went in to settle you the first time. Your pacifier had fallen through the slats and onto the floor. I re-positioned you and walked out again, apologizing to Z, who didn't really seem to mind. Within minutes you were screaming again. Not the little whimpers I sometimes hear for a few moments before you fall asleep. You were bawling, screeching almost. I walked back in to find you standing up in your crib. I think I confused you. Up until now, your crib has been your play place. I set you in there once or twice a day with some toys while I change your sister or put laundry away. To you, the crib is for standing, rolling, playing. Not sleeping.

I gave up again and transferred you back to your beloved Pack N Play, where you sleep at the foot of the guest bed. Your dad has taped up a picture of the alphabet to the outside of the mesh, so you can practice reading if you wake up early. You sleep in your tiny 3x2 foot bed like a champ, curled up in a ball in the corner, with little more than foam-covered cardboard as your mattress. You like it this way.

And I have to laugh. Zianne slept in her crib at exactly 10 weeks of age and has hardly slept anywhere since, unless we are travelling. She loves to be in her crib with her lovey and her doll and her blanket spread just so. I changed her pillowcase the other day, and she got upset that it was a different color than usual. Thankfully, her white case had already made it through the dryer, so we were able to switch it back and avoid a toddler sleeping crisis.

Even I am particular about where I sleep. I prefer my mattress firm. My sheets must be cotton, not synthetic. I like a fan on in the bathroom to serve as subtle white noise. And I do not, for any reason, want kids in my room, which is why you sleep in various other places around the house, but not near me except as a last resort.

But you... I suppose we could say you are picky because you prefer a portable bed to your beautiful gray crib. But it's more that you are are so flexible and easy-going that you wouldn't have it any other way. You are okay with driving six hours across the desert. You are okay with taking naps in the downstairs bathroom. You are okay with eating random scraps from our dinner because I never seem to have healthy baby food ready for you when you need it. You are my second-born. My slightly shy, very active, go-with-the-flow baby. And, therefore, you love your pack n play.

I'm sure you will sleep in your beautiful crib someday. You might even have a preference about your pillowcase or the way I wrap the blanket around you just so. But for now, you will sleep in your pack n play. You will curl up in the corner, mesh against your face, and sleep the night away on your cardboard mattress. You have a thing or two to teach me about contentment, and I can't wait to learn from you my whole life through.


Mar 22, 2016

I Declare

I trudge out to the car to pick up the final load. First load: barefoot toddler walking at my feet, causing me to trip on the steps, purse and heavy book bag slung over my shoulder while I fumble to unlock the door on our dark porch. Second load: wake the sleeping baby, carry her inside, stir the overcooked dinner in the crock pot. Thankfully, Micah arrives home just then, so he can keep our two children from terrorizing each other while I go out to the car one last time. Third load: grab ALL the other bags. The gym bag, the lunch bag, the breast pump bag, the giraffe backpack. Grab a stray shoe out of the backseat.

And that’s when the thoughts start… I am tired. It’s 6:30pm, and we haven’t even had dinner. The girls haven’t had a bath in three days, but I don’t know if I have the energy tonight. Why in the world do I have all these bags? Pumping sucks. Also, don’t forget to put the breast milk in the fridge before it gets ruined.

And do you know how I justify these thoughts? How I make myself feel better about the whole tiring ordeal that is motherhood? I tell myself every other mom is going through the same thing.

Because you know all those “real mom” posts on Instagram? They console me. You know how we always tell each other to keep it real and post our no-filter life online? Those pictures of your messy living room and that tweet about how your kids didn’t nap today and that big glass of wine you are treating yourself to after bedtime… all those narratives run through my head as I trudge back in the house with ten bags on my arms and a hundred burdens on my heart. I feel united with all the other moms in the world who are struggling by 6pm.

And sometimes that’s a good thing. I’m not against posting “real” motherhood online. I do it too. I share the bad days and the bits of hope I find in the midst of chaos. I try to encourage other women by showing them that sometimes my days are absolutely nuts… that we have marker scribbles on our walls and our floors are never clean. I’ll share mine if you share yours.

But then you know what happens? Every evening this anxiety creep into my heart. Maybe we actually had a pretty good day. I was home with the girls. They behaved pretty well, took long naps, and I got our bathrooms cleaned. Micah is on his way home from work. Dinner is in the oven and we might even have time for the park and a bath before bed.  But it doesn’t matter. Because I know it’s the “witching hour” and other moms out there are struggling. Their dinner is burnt in the crock pot and their kids are hitting each other and they are eyeing that tub of ice cream and counting the minutes until bedtime.

Suddenly my day isn’t so good after all… because “real” motherhood says it’s not. I may have cleaned my bathrooms, but there is still that nagging pile of laundry to be folded. And I cleaned my house at the cost of work time and now I’m behind on my job. The girls are eating too many snacks before dinner and getting crumbs everywhere. The struggle is real.

In my solidarity with other moms, I begin to imagine my perfectly good day is not so good after all. I’m a mom of young kids. I’m supposed to feel frazzled and spent by 6pm, so I believe that I am.

In all my striving to be real about motherhood, sometimes I lose sight of the truth that motherhood is good. I get grumpy at dinnertime because I’d rather dwell on the few inconveniences of my day than reflect on the laughter, learning, and love that have transpired from sun up to sun down.

It’s okay to say that motherhood is hard. It’s okay to say that we are tired. It’s okay to be real about the chaos.

But sometimes it’s okay to say that motherhood is good. Like really, really good.

So today, I declare it. I declare that motherhood is good. I declare it for myself, and I hope I can declare it for you, too.

I’m not going to talk about the state of my house or the behavior of my kids. I’m just going to say that I have two little people in my life. They are delightful and hilarious and precious to me. And I am precious to them. And that’s a really beautiful thing.

I declare that motherhood is, in fact, my favorite thing I’ve ever done.

It’s exhilarating and adventurous and fun and so very sweet.

That’s real motherhood, too.

Mar 17, 2016

Talitha Joy {eight + nine months}

It's official. I forgot to write up Talitha's eight month stats last month! It was bound to happen eventually. I am tempted to try to remember everything and get it recorded, but let's be honest... the past few months have been a blur, so it makes sense that her 8 and 9 month update should be blurred together too. Here it goes...

Growing // We had Talitha's well check last week. She is 21 pounds, 8 ounces and 28 2/4 inches long. 90-95th percentile in every category.

Eating // T dropped a mid-day feeding in the past few weeks, so she is down to nursing four times a day - around 8am, 12pm, 4pm, and 8pm. She is getting tired of purees (even when I let her feed herself a pouch) and just wants to eat table food like the rest of the family. I started giving her meat a few weeks ago, so she pretty much eats anything except honey, peanut butter, etc.!

Wearing // Talitha is wearing 18 month footie pajamas and we are starting to rotate in the rest of her 18 month clothes. I have tons of cute stuff in storage in this size, and I'm excited to see her wear it all.

Doing // Crawling quickly, almost always up on all fours now... she's over the army crawl. Climbing the top three stairs... eek! Pulling up on everything. Saying "mamama," "dadada," and "bababa." And she just started clapping this past weekend. Adorable!

Loving // Eating solids, drinking from a straw, wrestling, daycare {she's gotten used to it... praise!}

Loathing // Having her diaper or clothing changed. She cry/whines every single time.

Nicknames // Talitha Bean, T-Bean, Bean, The Bean, Beanie Baby (see a trend?), T-Monster, Sissy.

**Read other monthly updates here.

Mar 15, 2016

A Wild Adventure Baby Shower

One of my greatest joys in life is throwing showers for my friends. Brides and mamas... I love celebrating with you. And when a baby shower is for a friend who had a long journey to pregnancy the party is that much merrier. My friend, Holly, is expecting a "little mister" in May. (This is the phrase she used to reveal the gender to me via a hangman game... because I force people to surprise me instead of just telling me information outright!) She is busy planning a wilderness-themed nursery filled with wood-lawn animals, trees, teepees, and pops of navy and orange. We used Holly's nursery Pinterest board and the beautiful quilt she is sewing for her son as our inspiration for her "wild adventure" baby shower.

We hosted the shower at my mom's house because we were expecting a large crowd. There were over fifty women invited and nearly forty of them showed up. Holly is very loved, and for good reason. She is one of the sweetest souls I know.

On the invitations, we asked people to bring their favorite "adventure book" or "tall tale" to fill the baby's library. One of the hostesses made some adorable book plates, and we asked people to fill them out at the party and attach them to their books. For an activity/favor, we had a "build your own trail mix" station. Zianne has been munching on the leftover almonds, pretzels, craisins, and M&Ms for the past two weeks. Another hostess has this beautiful teepee, and we used it to hold the gifts as people arrived. We did a spread of food (veggie cups, mini quiche, muffins) in the midst of greenery and animal figurines, and a baker friend made amazing cupcakes in two different flavors: cookies 'n' cream and carrot cake.

The whole event went perfectly. It was so fun to celebrate Holly's greatest adventure yet. Thank you to my mom for letting us use her large, lovely home, to everyone who helped decorate and make food for the party, and to the Hobby Lobby clearance section for allowing me to indulge in my shower-hosting addiction while sticking to a budget!

Mar 12, 2016

Saturday Snippets

This peach sangria needs to happen at our house...

Saw this new journaling Bible in person and it's gorgeous!

Fun digital freebies each week...

Loving the bucket bag trend because I think it's secretly classic... which one should I buy?
J.Crew // Dooney + Bourke // Nordstrom Rack

Tempted to put this necklace in Z's Easter basket...

Interesting interview about women in the church...

Some articles on Trump, because I cannot resist... Time to Fire Trump // The Decency Test // Hey, "Evangelicals!"

An intriguing series about how different people work...

Is it too much to have a bucket bag and this gorgeous leather backpack???

Mar 7, 2016

Dear Talitha {eight months}

Dear Talitha,

The other night, after we put you girls to bed, your dad looked at me as we cleaned up the toy eruption and said, "I never thought having two girls could be this much fun." My heart swelled with joy. For some reason, I've always been {wrongfully} worried that your dad would get bored in a house full of girls. Like he wouldn't be fulfilled if he didn't have a son to wrestle and play football with.

You came along last summer and the girliness around our house multiplied. More bows, more flowers, matching dresses for you and your sister. My entire Instagram feed is now pink. I was afraid your dad would be disappointed by this, but instead he has embraced it whole-heartedly. He helps your sister learn ballet, and he doesn't like you to wear blue in case someone mistakes you for a boy when he takes you out and about. He loves having "his girls..." all three of us.

I should have known your dad would love having a bunch of girls to play with and dote on and cherish with his whole heart. But you can't always know these things in advance. Thank you for being our second daughter, the little sister, and the smiling baby who dresses like "twins" with Zianne when we go to church or parties. We didn't know two girls could be so much fun, but it's been the best surprise of our lives.

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