My thoughts

March 26, 2012: Mama thoughts

This past week has certainly been an interesting one. Well, perhaps I should say these past few days since Wednesday, because I honestly can’t remember much farther back than that.

Wednesday a friend and I took our babies to D.C. to see the cherry blossoms and encountered horrific traffic and fussiness from the back seat on the way. By the time we arrived we couldn’t find parking and the kiddos were snoozing anyway. So we decided to take the auto-tour and left the city to pursue lunch at a local pizza place (The Italian Store) and grab some Starbucks for the traffic-y ride home. Even though it didn’t turn out as planned, it was still fun. Here are a few photos I snapped from the car:

The blossoms were lovely.

Thursday morning I woke up with a stomach virus. It was brutal, and I was in bed (and let’s face it, the bathroom) all morning until John had to go work at 1:30. I can honestly say that Thursday was the first day I have ever been apprehensive of staying home alone with Rafe. I was unable to see how I could possibly manage to care for him for the next 5.5 hours all by myself. Thank the Lord he is a fantastic self-entertainer. I spent much of the afternoon on the couch, and Rafe even took an extra long nap (what a blessing!) so I was able to get in a nap that I sorely needed. I was exhausted. Thankfully, it was only a 24 hour bug.

John was away at a staycation with some of his guy friends for the weekend, so I filled my time with running a few errands, going to a lovely bridal shower, going on a long run, painting the master bathroom, and having a friend over Saturday night to catch up on life and watch The Biggest Loser. It was a productive weekend!

All this to say, we’ve been exceptionally busy and I have been having more difficulty getting my thoughts together. There are a thousand things I want to do, and there are a million things I need to do. I am ambitious, and I am organized but my mind has been chaos lately. My brain spins to try to analyze and compartmentalize my innumerable lists, my emotions, my physical needs and capacities and my future dreams for our family. And how to do it all and feel it all and to focus on the big picture and everything. Everything. And I have only one kid! How do you mamas of multiples keep up?

How do you know when you just need to grit your teeth and keep up the pace because the reward will be worth it, and when you need to take a break and start saying no and slowing down? Sometimes I am so sure that I am my biggest hindrance. I think I want to do too much, and I judge the success of my day on my productivity. I think I sometimes obsess over using my time wisely and to the max. I don’t want to get so strung out that I become obsessive. I want to be okay with things not going as planned. No, I want to so flexible that I even enjoy rolling with the punches and just taking it in stride. I want to be composed, I want to be light. How do I do that?

This may just be a guess, but I think simply remembering what I am about (God, my family and making a happy home) will be my guide. Is this item on my to-do list essential to loving God, serving my family, or making my home more beautiful, comfortable, and functional? And ladies, I believe that vacuuming can be all those things. So can  showering. And relaxing. And writing my thoughts down on my little blog. Right? Some things maybe more so than others, I think.

Either way, it’s Monday, and I tried to keep my list to only essentials…and ended up with seven doable tasks.

Ladies, what are your thoughts? How do you keep your brain organized? How do you know when to take a break? How do you know when you need to stop and play with your kids or just get them out of the house instead of finishing those dishes or folding that laundry? What tells you it’s time to relax? How do you prioritize your day?

I know I’m not the only one who tries to be superwoman/mom/wife. I’d love to hear any and all thoughts, advice, or whatever!

February 18, 2012: Some of the best marriage advice I ever received

Dress like a wife, not a mom.

This isn’t where I tell you “no more mom jeans.” I think most women get that they aren’t supposed to wear those at this point (well, most women in their 20’s and 30’s at the very least).

When Johnny and I were engaged, we met a few times with our (then) pastor and his wife, Aaron and Sara, for some premarital counseling. We were given lots of great advice, and were able to gain some insight from them on how that advice could look practically in our future marriage.

Out of all the wisdom we were given, the one thing that stuck with me the most was when Sara said to me: It’s important to me that I am a wife first and a mother second. I want to dress like a wife, not a mom. Even though I wasn’t a wife yet and certainly wasn’t a mother, that resonated with me and I resolved I would hold on to what she told me. She has four adorable kiddos, and I would definitely consider her a hip and easy going mother. If she can do it with her four children, surely those of us who have less children can do it, right?

I have so many thoughts about this subject that I’ll try to empty my brain in an organized manner for you. Before I do that, however, I am putting out a disclaimer: I am not a fashionista. I am not a hipster, though Johnny kinda is (he won’t admit it). I am not a trend-setter. But you know what? Most of us aren’t. And for those of us that aren’t, we can still look clean, put together, pretty, and not screaming I AM A MOM AND I HAVE BEEN SPIT UP ON 3 TIMES ALREADY AND AM RUNNING ON ONLY 4 HOURS OF SLEEP.

So then, how exactly does this relate to marriage? I truly think that dressing like a wife, or at least making it a priority (we all have those days when we barely have time to shower, much less think about a cute outfit) reminds our husbands that we care. To Johnny, it says that I still care about being attractive, that I still want him to think I am the most beautiful woman in the room. I always want him to know that I value our relationship more than I value my relationship with our kids. That may sound strange to some, but I firmly believe that if my marriage suffers, my kids will suffer. So I try to dress like a wife and not the worn out, busy woman I sometimes feel I am.

Without further ado, here are the things that I remind myself, often:

1. Dressing like a wife instead of a mom doesn’t have to be hard. Really.

Okay, I am sure this gets more difficult with the more kids you have. And I know I only have one. But I firmly believe that if you make a little effort to be aware of popular fashions, key in on popular items that are easy (i.e. oversized sweater and leggings, jersey dresses) and require little care (cotton knit sweater vs. cashmere), then you are okay. Notice what women are wearing at the store, go on Pintrest, or have some of your favorite clothing stores send you their catalog. It doesn’t take long to flip through it and tear out the pages with the outfits you like and think are easily doable. Put it in a “style box” or “style binder” in your closet so that when you need inspiration its right there to flip through.

2. Dress for your husband…not always the practicality of your kids.

Sometimes I pull on leggings and one of my husband’s oversized t-shirts (well, oversized on ME) and call it a day. To some people, that might be mommy-wear. But my husband appreciates that look, and he likes that look. So to me, that IS dressing like a wife because my husband likes it.

3. There is a lot of relativity here.

Note above. My husband likes the knot on top of the head, leggings, knee socks, boots, huge t-shirt and cardigan with a thrown on scarf look. Sounds complicated, but it only takes minutes to put together, not to mention it’s comfortable, easy, and realistic.

4. Just go for it.

When in doubt about whether your outfit is too “out there”…just do it. Don’t question, just do, as my super hip cool friends told me on Sunday:

Them: Jenevieve. Just wear shorts with tights!

Me: Yeah, but I think…

Them: Don’t think! Don’t question! Just do! You totally can pull it off. Just do it!

So. Here is me doing. Or rather, me telling you to do ;) [Update: I did it on Friday. I’m still a little wary of the look, but John loved it and thought I was so cool. So it was a win for me, I suppose]

5. Imitate looks you like with clothes you already have.

It isn’t always possible to imitate a look exactly, but it is possible to imitate the general feel of an outfit with similar items you may have in your closet. Also, I have found that when I look at my closet with “new eyes” I am able to see my garments in a new way, which does wonders for my imagination and creativity. Pintrest always has lots of cute outfits put together (see below), and it is fantastic for giving me a starting place. Just take an idea and run with it.

6. Accessories are your little helpers.

Accessories are fairly cheap. They go with more outfits than a new shirt can. The mix and match possibilities are endless. Jazz it up with some nice earrings, a scarf, and cute flats. You’re good to go. My favorite accessory is a scarf. It’s baby friendly. If it gets drooled on, tugged on, manhandled, what have you, you can always just throw it in the wash and wear it again tomorrow.

I leave you with some inspiration, thanks to Pintrest:

Still a cool-weather look, but most should be able to do something similar for another month or so.

Two pieces, lots of pop (high neckline perfect for the mamas).

Non-bulky scarf, easy and comfy.

Perfect for a play date at the park.

Easy accessories, neutral items that can go with almost anything (though not a fan of the shoes).

One last thing: ladies, what are some of your favorite “go to looks”? I would love your thoughts and further inspiration! The main reason I posted this was to challenge myself first, and share my thoughts with others second. So…give me your thoughts!

February 14, 2012: My lovies

Today I am remembering last year’s Valentine’s day. It was early in the morning, and I was rocking Rafe right after he ate. I was thinking about how blessed I was to have two valentines instead of one. I told him I loved him, and then he smiled. I had my phone nearby and was able to catch his sweet little face. He was only 9 days old, and though I knew he didn’t know he was smiling, it warmed my heart. This year, that little boy is now one and smiles at me all the time…and I know he knows it. He even says my name now.

My other valentine, Johnny, tells me often that he loves me and loves our son. He also writes me notes every morning. That goes a long way. He also shows me he loves me by working hard at his career so I can stay home with Rafe. I love how he is goofy and silly with our son, and he is pretty funny when we hang out with our friends, too. He loves music, and loves writing about it. He’c complex, but I like that. I’m glad I have forever with him.

Here are Johnny’s presents. Aren’t they cute? What did you get your valentine?

February 9, 2012: A must read: Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider

I have started reading through Tsh Oxenreider’s book Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living (you can get it on Amazon here). I have never been a fan of reading practical books in the past, however this book is truly fantastic and has helped me organize my thoughts in regards to the way I approach home management and the lifestyle of my family.

I have always been a fairly organized person, but I have become so inspired by the message of this book. I think what I like most is Tsh’s emphasis on what really matters: people and relationships. Live your life in such a way that gives you more freedom to build friendships, take care of other people and always have time for your family and those who matter most. I won’t say any more because I want you to read it yourself! I highly recommend this book if you can get your hands on it! (I also recommend visiting her website here)

Do any of you have favorite home organizing/simplifying resources? Please share!

February 1, 2012: Pure joy swinging

I love watching the pure joy on my son’s face when I push him in the swing. When we swing (well, when he swings), it’s a moment for this mama that is hard to describe, though I’ll try.

When I was a little girl I loved to swing, and I would stay on those swings until it grew dark. I didn’t care much for monkey bars or slides. I wanted to feel the breeze through my hair, I wanted to fly. I would day dream on those swings. I would pretend I was Wendy, sometimes I was Tinker Bell, soaring through the London and Neverland skies with Peter Pan. I was free, and light and happy. I loved the feeling of my legs pumping to make myself go faster and higher. I liked the work that felt so effortless. Once I had reached as high as I could go and the chains would start to double back on themselves, I would jump. Just float through the air and land on my own two feet. In those moments, when I was in the air, I caught my breath and time just slowed. Just for that moment. And then I would laugh, boast about how I landed on my feet, and do it all over again.

When I see the joy on Rafe’s face as I push him and giggle with him, I remember those times. I remember my love for swings. I can’t wait until he is old enough to learn to pump his legs himself and dream the dreams I had on those swings. I certainly hope he doesn’t aspire to be Wendy or Tinker Bell, but I think being Peter Pan would be pretty awesome too. I can’t wait until I can swing next to him for a few minutes, before I have to jump off to chase after my other children I hope to have one day.

I know as my son grows older, I will have more and more of these moments. Remembering moments, happy moments. I’m sure I’ll have some wistful moments. But for now, these moments are at the swings.

January 21, 2012: The pink night sky

Tonight it is snowing. It hasn’t snowed much this year at all, and I absolutely love it. It’s beautiful, soft, quiet. It gives me a good excuse to sit and read a book, work on a project, or simply catch up on housecleaning or some tv. Tonight, tonight is a memory night, when I looked out the window and saw the pink night sky.

I just recalled to my husband one of my favorite snow memories. When I was 5 my parents took the four of us children (well, it may have just been my dad and the three of us girls, my mom might have stayed home with my baby brother…either way, I know it was at least my dad and us three girls) to see the Rescuers Down Under at a local theater that was walking distance from our townhouse. I remember coming out of the theater, and first seeing the snow on the ground and then the pink sky filled with falling snow and the street light glow. I remember my younger sister, who I think must have been in the 3-year-old phase of obstinately dressing herself, because she was wearing her jelly sandals with socks. I remember being jealous because she got a piggyback ride from my dad the whole way home because her feet were so inappropriately clad for the weather.

But I also remember skipping in the snow, twirling in the snow and looking up at the sky. As pink was my favorite color at the time, and still is one of my favorites to this day, I thought it was the most beautiful thing. It was night. But the sky was pink. And I still think it’s beautiful.

What are your thoughts?

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