5 Favorite Beauty Finds from 2018

I love makeup and I love trying new makeup and beauty products to see what’s out there. Over the last several years I’ve noticed that my skin is really starting to change thanks to age and the hormonal changes that come with having babies. 

My skincare concerns this year were: Fine lines around my eyes, dry skin, and dark spots. I get melasma during pregnancy (dark, freckly patches on the face that never completely go away) so one of my biggest concerns was finding something that could conceal dark spots without being too heavy or sinking into fine lines. A surprisingly difficult thing to find! I want my makeup to look fairly natural and be as good for my skin as possible.

So all that being said, I thought I’d share five of the products I really ended up loving this year.

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting  Treatment and Cicapair Tiger Grass Re.Pair Serum

I got little samples of these products when I purchased something else from Sephora and I ended up loving them right away. I had tried all kinds of foundations and concealers trying to cover those dark spots and everything ended up being too thick and very made-up looking or not heavy enough to actually cover anything. The thing I love about the Tiger Grass is it goes on green (which works wonders for concealing) and dries beige. It has the texture of a moisturizer and goes on smooth and natural. The serum adds an extra layer of moisture and gives a really nice glow.

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer

I love Tarte overall so when I was trying all those foundations and concealers Tarte was where I started (and ended lol). I like this BB cream because it does the work of several products all in one (moisturizer, SPF and color) while still feeling light and looking natural. I apply the Tiger Grass products first and then a few dots of this over top (followed by a loose finishing powder, blush, and highlighting powder on the cheek bones). My only complaint (and the reason I kept trying other products for a while) — this doesn’t offer full coverage so I do need something else in addition to help with the dark spots. 

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

I’m a total mascara junkie. For years during high school and college I was obsessed with Max Factor 1000 Calorie mascara and then they stopped selling it in the US and crushed my little soul 😉 It literally took me until this year to find something I like just as well. This mascara is awesome because it’s super buildable without being cakey. The only thing I don’t like about it is it does flake off some throughout the day. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade

Eyebrows are hard…at least mine are. I like this pomade because it fills really well and using it with the brush designed for it makes it really easy to shape your brows without looking like Groucho Marx. The thing I don’t like about it is it doesn’t really set your brows so if anyone has a setting gel or whatever you love, let me know! Oh, and unrelated fun fact, my son calls eyebrows “eye-brellas” because they’re umbrellas for your eyes 🙂

Tarte Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner

I just started using this this week and absolutely love it. I’ve always used a crayon liner on my eyelid and a separate liquid liner on the bottom. But this has both in one — a crayon on one end and liquid on the other. Both go on beautifully too. Again, Tarte is good stuff. 

Anyway, I hope if you are trying to weed through the plethora of products out there or just want to try something new that these will give you some helpful ideas. And I’m always open to suggestions and trying something new myself so let me know what your favorite products are in the comments!

All the Lives We Live

I turn 33 this week. Lately, I’ve thought a lot about how life, and we, change over time. Darren and I have said many times how we feel like completely different people from the ones we were before our children were born. I can think of many breaks in life where it feels, though I didn’t recognize it at the time, like I moved from being one person to another during a time of change.

From the scrappy, resourceful, dreaming tomboy I was growing up, to the still dreaming but much more girly teenager I grew into. I was outgoing and adventurous when I started college but much quieter and reserved by the time I finished. I was one girl before I fell in love with Darren, left my parent’s home and moved across the country to begin a new life married and working. And certainly the greatest break and change in person came when my son was born and I became not just myself, but a mother also.

So, looking back, it feels as though I’ve been many different people in my life. As though different seasons and circumstances have revealed many different facets of the same complicated soul. A line I’ve always loved from the movie Little Women comes to mind. Jo March is told she should have been a lawyer and she responds with:

I should have been a great many things.

Indeed, Ms. March, we all should and could have been a great many things were the circumstances and timing of our lives different. But as Jane Austen once said:

It could have turned out differently, I suppose. But it didn’t.

It seems much of my growing up and becoming happened quite young — in hard circumstances, in soil that allowed only for survival and not for petty or silly things to grow. I was scrappy because I needed to be. I was a dreamer because sometimes those dreams of something else were the only thing holding my head above water until the tide changed and landed my feet on more solid ground.

When life became more comfortable, I became more petty. Sometimes, I walk though the house I live in now, my house, filled with comfort and nice things, and I have to ask what the twelve-year-old version of myself might think. Why? Because at 12 I knew well what life was and was not about. I could separate the wheat from the chaff with a discerning eye because I had lived with only what I needed to survive and knew exactly how much I could do without. It’s a lesson I need to be reminded of often now that I have so much more and can easily get carried away in the currents of comfort and convenience.

Though we grow through many selves in our lives, sometimes our younger selves knew more and lived wiser than the older selves we’ve grown into. Age does not guarantee wisdom.

I believe now that our souls are ageless. The bodies in which our souls are housed grow, change, decay, pass away. But the soul is born with a certain depth beyond years and maintains a certain childishness it never grows out of. That is why children sometimes say and understand such profound things beyond their years. And why, I at 33, would gladly climb a tree or build a treehouse to play in if being an adult didn’t keep me too busy and proud to do such things. The soul is as it was — outside the restraint of years. The mind and heart grow and change as does the body but our soul remains the same — ageless, eternal.

So I reflect and wonder today about who I’ve been, become, and who I am yet to be. There is a thread of the soul, of my truest self, that has remained throughout each change. The dreamer. The romantic. The adventurer. The writer. The tender-hearted. The short-tempered. The restless. For all that has changed, these have remained. 

Each season, a different apparition of the soul. Spritely, fleeting visions of ourselves hidden and unearthed as we move and change through life. Our true self only to be fully known and understood on the other side of heaven. For now, we are each of us, sojourners in a strange land. Sojourners at times even in our own hearts and minds. Traveling ever onward until we find our way back Home. 


The Second Time Around

I found out I was expecting each of my children on the 9th of November… two years apart. This wasn’t on purpose — I had taken several false negative pregnancy tests with my daughter before finally confirming what I had expected all along — that I really was pregnant again.

Their due dates were three years and two days apart on — July 9th and July 11th. And they were born three years and one week apart on July 14th and July 21st. Both of them decided to come after their due dates — Roman five days “late” and Aletheia had to be willfully ushered into the world by induction a full ten days after we had expected her. If I have any more children I’m going to add like a month to their expected due date 😉
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On this day, the day I found out each of them was coming, I have been thinking over the last 15 months of life with two. Having babies is one of those odd situations where you know your life is about to change profoundly but because you’ve never done it before, you don’t exactly know how. Life seemed busy and full before we had our son so it was hard to imagine adding a baby to the mix. But then we did and it was hard to remember what life was like before we were a family of three.
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Then, when we knew we wanted another baby, it was hard to imagine how we’d love and care for two. Again, life seemed brimming and it felt impossible to split our affection between two babies instead of one. I’m not going to say that has always been easy; the second time around has felt much harder to give enough time and attention to every relationship individually. But in other ways, it’s hard to imagine it was ever any other way and we wouldn’t want it to be either.

Here are some of the things I have learned or enjoyed along the way about having two kiddos:

Grace Upon Grace and More Grace //

Once the dust settled after bringing my daughter home, I wanted to get right to it and tackle all the things. I remember trying to carry heavy baskets of laundry across the house and needing to sit down half-way across a room because my body was too fragile to be doing such a thing. But at the time, it all felt so urgent. I can’t not do the laundry — we need clean clothes! I can’t not sweep and mop — the house is a mess!

I remember looking at my post baby body (which is a whole other thing the second time around) and thinking I’d never have my body back again. This was days and weeks after delivering. I remember crying into Darren’s arms, thinking he would never find me attractive again. I went to the ocean with friends a mere six weeks after my daughter was born, saw all the girls in swimsuits, and thought I’d never wear a swimsuit again.

I was way too hard on myself. Too hard on myself in all I thought I needed to accomplish. Too hard on my body in what I demanded it do and how I thought it should look. I think back to those weeks and months and wish I would have given myself and my family more grace. I wish I would have sat on the couch, turned Netflix on, and enjoyed slow, lazy days with my kids. I realize now that no matter how much laundry or sweeping you do when you have a young family, there will always be more dirty clothes and the floor will never not be sticky — and that’s ok for a while.IMG_20171107_090720_562.jpg

I look at my body now, and realize (as I did after my first pregnancy too) that though things are different, there was no need to worry or be so hard on myself. I lost the weight and feel like myself again — howbeit with stretchmarks, but myself all the same. There is nothing (including a swimsuit) that I can’t wear now that I wore before my babies.

Having a child, and then having another child — these are huge, life-altering changes. And if I could do it all again, I’d do my best to relax and enjoy as much of it as possible. And the parts you really can’t enjoy (because there’s plenty of that too), I’d give myself grace to not have it all together for a while. I’d let my body heal slowly and well rather than trying to push it hard after having done such a hard thing already. And I’d have grace on my family rather than trying to keep everything under control and make everything perfect right away. IMG_20180408_192924_294.jpg

Trusting and Letting Go //

Maybe you’ve noticed — I like to control things. But a funny thing happens when you have two kids: you can’t control everyone or everything all the time anymore. I’ve had to learn to let go and trust other people — including my four-year-old son. When I need to lay his sister down for a nap, I have to leave him with instructions not to do anything crazy until I get back and trust that he will listen. For the most part, he does 😉

I suppose one of the hardest things about motherhood is the letting go part. Essentially, if we’re doing a good job with our kids, we’re raising them to leave us. We’re teaching them how to do life well on their own. As my son gets older and my hands get fuller with his sister and other responsibilities, I have to learn to let him grow more and more independent. And I’m learning this with my daughter too. She’s not a baby anymore — she walks and climbs and is learning to talk. I have to fight the urge everyday to bubble wrap my kids and keep them inside so nothing bad can happen. Instead I have to let them go outside to climb and explore and test their own limitations and abilities. It’s hard to watch and it’s hard to let go but I must. 20181001_193529.jpg

They Are Good For Each Other //

We want to give our kids everything and don’t want to see them struggle or do without. This is good to a point but beyond that point, it’s easy to raise kids who are spoiled and entitled. As I watch my kids play together and get into scrapes with each other, I’m realizing just how good that friction is for both of them. They’re learning to share, to work together, to say “I’m sorry.” They’re learning how to navigate life and relationships as they do life together day by day. IMG_20180903_125919_996.jpg

I worried about how hard it would be on our son to share us and everything else in his world with someone else — and it has been hard. But I’m glad he’s learning these lessons as a preschooler instead of a grownup trying to navigate life and relationships. Not to mention, they really do love each other and have a lot of fun together. We always joke that Aletheia will do anything — so long as Roman is the one asking and not us. The sun rises and sets around her big brother. And when they’re not together for some reason, Roman worries about his sister and is always asking where she is ❤

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Its been a wild fifteen months, for sure. But the only thing I’d change about any of it is learning to relax, love, and let go more. Life with two is good and I’m so thankful for each of them ❤

The Years the Locusts Ate

There’s a passage tucked away in the book of Joel that goes like this:

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,

The crawling locust,

The consuming locust,

And the chewing locust,

My great army which I sent among you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame.

Joel 2:25-26 NKJV

These verses weren’t written for me; they were written for the Israelites. But like so many passages of Scripture that were contextually intended for a different time, place, and people — I find comfort none the less in the heart of God portrayed to all people regardless of time or place — including me.

I often find myself looking around at other women, some a few years ahead, some a few years behind. I see women with more children than me or children who are older than mine. I see women deeply rooted in their faith and living out well what they believe. I see women growing businesses and ministries and impacting people for good. I see a lot of things I’m not doing or if I am doing them, I feel years and miles behind the women I’m watching.
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I tend to puzzle things out. If something gets in my head, I don’t stop thinking about it until I’ve reached a satisfying end. So this whole thing about why some people seem to be so much further ahead in life — well, it’s really bothered me for a while now.

Are some people just naturally better at life than others? Were they born into better circumstances and opportunity or did they simply do more with what they were given? Does it matter how hard I work or will I always fall short of what I see?

I believe the answer to any of these questions could be yes — yes, some people are better at life than others, some are more talented and gifted, some are born into better circumstances and with that have more opportunity readily available to them. Though it’s hard to swallow, life really is not fair.

But still, there are plenty of examples of people who had nothing going for them and managed to make something of their life anyway. Sometimes the most successful people are those who’ve had to fight the hardest for what they want. So why do I flounder in comparison to those around me? Why are some women so capable and I always feel like I’m drowning in half the water they manage to swim in? 20181019_131947.jpg

Sometimes I don’t like the conclusions my puzzling reaches. But sometimes, when you’ve thought something out to all its various ends, you have to accept hard answers you might not like and one part of that for me is accepting this:

You’re not where you want to be because you’ve wasted a lot of time. 

You quit as quickly as you start. 

You’d rather plan and dream and begin than work and continue and finish. 

I was hoping for a different answer — like maybe one that didn’t lay the responsibility so squarely on my drooping shoulders. But here we are, puzzle solved and I’m the missing link to much of my own happiness and success.

Now don’t get me wrong — I don’t intend to leave God out of the equation and I don’t mean to say that my happiness and success are completely in my hands or the highest aim in my life regardless. Sometimes, you can be doing everything God is asking you to do by his grace and help and the road is still hard and the answer is still no. We grow by this and we get to find out if our relationship with God is actually with a genie who grants our wishes or a sovereign, loving God who has our best interest and his own glory at heart.

What I am saying is this: sometimes we are responsible for our own failures. We reap what we sow and sometimes that means a lean harvest. That’s kind of where I’m at right now and it’s a sobering reality to look in the eyes.

When you plant something, you don’t get to harvest fruit right away. Nothing blossoms or blooms and you are asked to trust that that seemingly dead seed splitting apart in the soil — hidden and unsure — is actually putting down lively roots that will bring forth life and beauty we can taste and see above ground.

I’m the kind of person who likes to go to the store and look at all the colorful images on the seed packets and dream about how they might look in my garden. I buy the seeds and draw up a plan for where the garden will be and probably post something on social media about this inspiring little endeavor.

And then I get bored with the work and the waiting and the process that goes into actually watching those seeds blossom into life. I fail to plant them all-together or neglect the work required to keep them alive once they’re in the ground. And here lies the analogy of so many of my hopes and dreams — seedlings, shallow roots, boredom that leads to neglect, a life perpetually distracted by the next shiniest thing.

And then I wonder why some women around me seem to have so much bounty and so much visible fruit for their labor. Are they just luckier than me or did they daily tend to deep roots even when no harvest could be seen?
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Here’s where the locusts come in. I see all the time I’ve wasted and it feels like the years the locusts ate. The years I gave away to distraction and laziness and quitting half way. Sometimes it feels like I’m so far behind now that no matter what I plant or how faithfully I tend, I’ll never get my roots deep enough to make up for the lost time. I’m almost 33, ten years into my marriage and two children at my side.

But that passage doesn’t end with all the Israelites lost; it ends with a faithful God redeeming broken things as he does best. So when I’m discouraged and feel a failure, I speak this truth to myself:

God will meet with me today, where I am, through prayer and his word //

I wish I had dug deeply into God’s word years ago. I wish I had prayed and drawn close to the heart of God. But a failure to do these things in the past does not doom me to continued failure in the future. I can start right where I am today and God will meet me here.

God is the one who makes all things new // 

Yes, you reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7-9). We are responsible for our actions and God requires that we be faithful stewards of what he entrusts (Matt. 25:14-30). But it is God — good, loving, sovereign God — who gives the harvest (1 Cor. 3:6-8). All my striving is not what propels me forward so much as the grace of God that takes my weak and failed attempts and offers all I can not create or deserve in return.

To be defeated is to doubt God; we must always be doing the next right thing and trust him with the results (Job 1:21). So yes, it’s disheartening to think about the years I’ve wasted. I see the fruit being harvested in other people’s lives and wish I had tended my own garden better over the years. But I’m thankful that “the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is his faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).

The familiar chapter of Proverbs 31 ends with this verse:

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates (Prov. 31:31).

But this conclusion comes only after the thirty verses prior describing all the diligent and disciplined work she does each day throughout her life. So today I learn to keep my eye on the prize but first to dig deep and plant seeds. To tend and wait for fruit I cannot see. To be faithful in all the moments in between the exciting beginnings and slow ends.

May the Lord find me faithful.

 

A Weekend in Maine

We celebrated the Labor Day weekend up in Maine with Darren’s family. It’s fun watching all the cousins playing together and letting them run a little wild outside at Grammie and Papa’s house in the woods. We live off a busy road here so even though I let my kids play outside a lot, it’s just a different feel up in Maine among the woods and pastures, mountains and lakes. Everything feels slower and quieter (helped I’m sure, by the fact that my phone doesn’t even really work up there).
IMG_20180903_125357_582.jpgNow we are home and I was tempted not to post anything about our trip at all. We have spent most of the day in post-travel meltdowns and tears. I have a mound of dirty laundry to unpack and wash. Everyone is just a bit tired and out of sorts and it didn’t feel genuine at first to share a bunch of photos of smiling faces when that is not at all how things look today.IMG_20180903_131137_453.jpg

IMG_20180903_130132_273.jpgBut that is life—this mixture of happy memories photographed and cherished combined with all the headache and frustration that comes with leaving and trying to come back into your routine (especially with little kids). IMG_20180903_125919_996.jpgSo here are some of my favorite photos from our weekend, mostly of my kids’ faces while they watched the Labor Day parade 🙂IMG_20180903_130237_763.jpg

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Life with Littles and Other Misadventures

Already we are to the last week of August and in some ways, it feels like the last week of summer too. Though we are still in the middle of 90+ degree days, kids are heading back to school and here and there I notice leaves beginning to change. On Monday we will celebrate Labor Day here in the States and with that, summer’s last hurrah will officially be over.

We decided last-minute, middle of the week to take one final trip to the ocean. I ran around the house tossing everything in bags and as soon as Darren walked in the door from work on Monday, we threw the kids in the car and took off for a hotel. Darren and I are both fairly spontaneous, adventurous people and if there is a trip to be had, we will gladly be taking it. But life with kids is certainly a lesson in patience and flexibility when you are used to going where the wind blows.

This was our first time staying in a hotel with both kids. Roman had a wonderful time and was especially excited about going downstairs for a hotel breakfast in the morning 🙂 Aletheia saw no real point in sleeping at all.IMG_20180828_174710_111.jpgThe more I do life with kids the more I believe two things: 1) Kids make everything more magical and 2) Kids make everything harder. As grownups, we don’t typically leap from one hotel bed to the other in excitement. Nor do we race downstairs first thing in the morning for a continental breakfast. We’re mostly just tired and grumpy. So watching the world unfold through a child’s eyes is a lot of fun and a good reminder to chill out and enjoy life a little more.

However, children are also the most difficult, infuriating creatures alive.IMG_20180828_174506_267.jpgWe wanted to walk around Portsmouth for a couple of hours before heading to the beach. We hadn’t been in years and never with our kids. Portsmouth never seems to change. All our favorite shops are just as they’ve always been. I walked through my favorite letterpress store that still sells all my favorite Rifle Paper products, got my favorite dirty chai latte at the same little German café, and had sandwiches at our favorite sandwich shop.IMG_20180828_174343_657.jpgWe walked the same loop down through Main street, by the water, and back up. Everything was just as I remembered it from previous visits. Only this time we pushed a stroller over the uneven cobblestone streets and listened to a toddler file many a complaint in the background. He did not want to go in the stores. He did not want to walk. He did not want to eat the fancy grilled cheese we bought him for lunch though it was made with his three favorite food groups (bread, butter, cheese).IMG_20180828_174242_172.jpgHe wanted to go to the ocean and that was all. So after we finished lunch, got the stroller back in the car and both kids back in their car seats, we left for the water. Once there, we figured out how to the load the beach tent, umbrella, chairs, and beach mat along with snacks, sippy cups, changes of clothes and diapers into our trusty red wagon. Everyone changed into swimwear and off we trekked to the sand.

It was approximately 2,000 degrees out and as soon as Roman touched the sand he began to come unhinged. He didn’t want sand on his hands and he didn’t want sand on his feet. His legs most certainly did not work and he desperately wanted to be carried. I was already carrying his sister and his dad was carrying everything else we own in the little red wagon.

So Mr. Roman plopped himself down in that horribly offensive sand and threw a royal temper tantrum. It wasn’t a horrible day, really, it was just another day with kids. All winter my friends talk about how they can’t wait to go to the beach, sit by the water, and read a book. And I chuckle inside a bit because that is not at all how I picture a day at the beach…and that is why I only go once or twice a year.IMG_20180828_174824_398.jpgI know this season of littles will change. Someday when we want to take a trip to the ocean all we will have to do is throw a couple boogie boards at our kids and they will be happy all day—and I will finally get to read that book. But for now, traveling with kids feels a bit more like an obstacle course and a lot less like a vacation.

But we’re not quitters, Darren and I—we spent last night on Google and Amazon trying to figure out how to get ourselves, our children, two car seats, a stroller, and two suitcases through the airport next month. We will travel, watch the world unfold before our children’s eyes, and deal with plenty more tears along the way—both theirs and ours.

Here’s to life with littles and all the misadventures along the way ❤IMG_20180828_170121_273.jpg

Let’s Make Blogging Fun Again

I started blogging seven years ago in 2011. A lot about blogging has changed since then. Honestly, some of those changes have started to suck the life out of my interest in this space and the online spaces of others. When I first starting sharing online, I did so after being inspired by what I saw from a handful of creative people. I loved the stories I came across and all the interesting photos accompanying them. I loved having a peek into someone else’s life and marveling at both how similar and different we all are.IMG_20180826_142648_734.jpgBlogging has made me a better writer and photographer and given me courage and inspiration to share when I previously would not have done so.

But then, as with all things it seems, someone figured out you can make money with these spaces — be it through ads, an online shop, affiliate links or however you choose. You can brand, build a platform, attract a huge audience and following, and in the process, create an image completely your own. You can (and are encouraged to) curate and color coordinate your image feed, your home, yourself, and your whole messy life into a visually attractive color scheme. We document and share both everything and nothing at all.IMG_20180826_142758_185.jpgWe try to be “real” and “raw” while also being positive and uplifting. We want people to know our lives are not perfect or easy, that they’re messy and complicated, but also magical and sprinkled with beauty throughout. So we do our best to share the hard stuff but also to balance it out with all the good. We take in mountains of beauty through the images and stories of others and struggle not to compare our own lives and stories with all the many bits and pieces we see each day.IMG_20180822_165935_270.jpgWe admire the house remodels and exotic trips, the stylish clothes and curated lifestyles, the gourmet food and fruffy coffees, the love stories and darling families, the book launches and success stories — it’s all good — we know that. But there’s just so much of it and sometimes we wonder where we even fit in anymore. What do I have to offer in a world already so full of both beauty and heartache? Hasn’t everything already been shared and said?IMG_20180823_222036_004.jpgIt’s like those rare times when you stumble across something truly interesting and unique and it seems at first that no one else even knows about it — a sweet little coffee shop, a book or song, a little store that sells the coolest stuff. You like it because it’s different and you like it because it’s yours. But then other people start to realize how good the coffee is there or that book you loved is adapted into a movie for the masses and some of the magic is lost.

The little shop you loved gets bought by a big corporation and though they can now mass produce the same results at a fraction of the cost, the unique quality of it is lost. It’s not yours anymore; it’s everyone’s.IMG_20180823_222352_445.jpgThat’s how blogging, and social media in general feel to me now. Where once I read every single post featured on “Freshly Pressed” and truly enjoyed so many of them, I hardly open any of the ones featured now. Why? Because they feel like “big business” now. Political. Corporate. How To — grow, build, expand. I miss reading normal people’s normal little stories. I miss the days when Facebook really was for staying in touch with friends and family rather than selling something or growing a following. I miss photography that was good but didn’t feel quite so professional and curated. I miss the good old days of blogging.IMG_20180823_221837_900.jpgAm I alone in this? I’m genuinely curious how others feel on the matter. Do you like the changes or wish we could go back to the way things were ten years ago?

Obviously I can’t change what anyone else does or how social media operates at large, but I have decided for myself at least to do just that — to go back to the “good old days.”

I would like this space to be my own and not driven by the stats. I want to get back to sharing the stories from my heart and the normal, every day photos that accompany them.IMG_20180823_221713_403.jpgThis week I made a conscious effort to pull my camera out more often and document what was going on around me. Not just for the sake of having something to share online but for the sake of creating and remembering. I want to notice and remember what our life was like, every day, in between — and not just the big trips or special occasions. So the photos in this post are just that — our week. The evening at the park, our Sunday best, snuggling after long days and temper tantrums — all the normal moments of all our normal days. Next week I hope to do the same and the week after that too.

I hope in a year when I look back over this space to have a week-by-week documentation of our lives and all the ways we loved, grew, and changed. Memory and reflection of how our lives and family and story were written and built one normal day on top of another.IMG_20180822_165713_064.jpgMaybe you will join me in taking our blogs back to the inspiration from which they once sprung. Here’s to recapturing some magic and rolling our eyes at the corporation. Fist bump 😉

You Were Always the One

Ten years ago today, I married the man I love. That number catches in my throat. Ten years — it sounds like a long time.

I woke this morning to our baby crying. At first I was annoyed, but then I realized those cries are just one piece of what we’ve built together over these years. We will spend the day changing diapers, taking our son to swim lessons, and doing some much needed laundry. Tonight, we’ll drop the kids off with my brother and get dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant. And if you read my recent London posts, you know we really celebrated a few weeks ago with a big trip and some treasured time away together.

Life turns out to be an odd, and sometimes unpredictable, mixture of all these varied moments. Romantic moments and exciting ones but also many, many mundane and frustrating moments too.

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If I have learned anything about marriage over the last ten years, it’s that life is all these moments and not the highlights or big trips in between. Love and marriage are built day by day, choice by choice — by a man who got up with our crying baby to let me rest on the weekend. By small moment of flirtation and teasing and notice and delight right in the middle of washing dishes and mowing grass. Big trips and nice dinners refresh and punctuate the ordinary with an extra dose of magic, but life and marriage cannot be built on those moments alone.

We stay and grow together through compromise, mutual respect for varied thoughts and opinions, grace for our faults, forgiveness and letting go when we get it wrong. We fall down but get back up. We stumble but try again. We argue and wound but find our way back to work it out and fight not against each other but for — each other, our family, our home.

These are the middle years — of our lives, marriage, work, and family. We are in the middle of everything — building homes and careers and raising young children. The responsibilities we wake up to each day are both mundane and intense. And so much of making these middle years work and still finding ourselves together and in love on the other side requires, if nothing else, just showing up.

Just choosing to get out of bed early to go to that same job and instruct once more our children in all the same lessons as the day before. We show up around the table at the end of the day and choose to share  a meal together as a family. We fall into the same bed at night and choose to talk later than we probably should so we might not lose each other in the shuffle of all the other showing up we must do to survive.

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We choose, one day at a time, one ordinary moment at a time, to do the next right thing. And on the especially exhausting or frustrating days, when all the fun and romance seem to be memories from another time and place, that showing up and trying again is the very glue that binds us together.

When we were walking around London a few weeks ago, miles and ocean and time zones away from our ordinary and routine, I dreaded coming back to it all. Not because I don’t love our life together (I do) but because it’s easy to get lost in all of it — the dishes and diapers and bills and groceries. There are so many needs to be met and things to be done and I just wanted more time — more time to walk slowly and talk deeply, more time to gaze and see and hear and enjoy the heart and mind of this man I so love but sometimes can’t seem to grasp in the speed and intensity of our normal lives.

We are home now of course and I wasn’t wrong — it has been really hard. We talk more about the logistics of the day than our big dreams for the future. We are constantly interrupted by crying and whining and a hundred billion questions from a certain four year old.

But here’s what I know we’re doing right — we still want to be together, more than anyone, more than anything — I want him. I struggle with the responsibilities that sometimes pull us apart because I want more time with him. I am frustrated we don’t have more time to talk because there’s no one I enjoy talking to more. Even after ten years, ten years of change and growth and plenty of challenges, he’s still the one — he was always the one.

I’m not looking for a way out after all these years but a way in — a way to find more time together, a way to see and hear and enjoy each other more no matter how crazy life gets. And that, I think, says a lot. We may not know how to make life and marriage work sometimes, but we at least want to make it work together — and that if nothing else, means we’re doing something right.

Happy ten years to my love. I hope we have a hundred more ❤

London Day Six: Shakespeare Play at The Globe

On our last night in London, we went to see As You Like It at Shakespeare’s Globe.

It amazes me how words written hundreds of years ago can still fill a building and get an audience laughing out loud, cheering, and dancing. And it reminded me too how powerful and lasting words can be.

We’ve always wanted to see Shakespeare in London and it was the perfect way to end our trip.

Now we’re home — recovering from jetlag, babies in our arms. Time alone with Darren is magic and I’m so thankful we got away and got to explore such a beautiful city together. And though I’m a little sad the adventure is over, I can’t tell you how good it is to be home with my littles again. Now we just need to seek out the love and adventures to be had right here.

Thanks for reading along; I had fun sharing our trip with you. If you missed any of the posts in this London series you can read them all by clicking the links below 😊

London Day One: Kensington Gardens // Hyde Park // Buckingham Palace // The Strand

London Day Two: The British Museum // Westminster

London Day Three: Piccadilly // Trafalgar Square // The Phantom of the Opera

London Days Four and Five: Windsor Castle // Stonehenge // Oxford

London Days Four and Five: Windsor Castle // Stonehenge // Oxford

WINDSOR CASTLE //

I wanted to see at least one castle here; we decided on Windsor because it’s still in use by the royal family today. The royal standard was flying meaning the Queen was present that day but sadly, she did not come out to have tea with me 😉

Living our best tourist life 😆

STONEHENGE //

Before Stonehenge, we drove through the English countryside taking in the landscape. The tall grass, thistle, and clover moving and bowing in the wind reminded me so much of my childhood home in Missouri. My favorite flowers, poppies, dotted the landscape and the open rolling hills are probably the prettiest thing we’ve seen this trip. I was enchanted before we ever got to the monument.

But still, Stonehenge itself did not disappoint. It’s difficult to comprehend how old these stones really are and the lives that once touched and lived around them. Magic.

OXFORD //

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien are forever two of my favorite writers. The brilliance, creativity, and hope with which they wrote always brings me back to their familiar words. And for that reason I have always hoped to see the pub where they once met as the Inklings to share their yet unfinished works.

We had dinner at The Eagle and Child yesterday and not only did we get to try some English food but I also got to be in the place where their wonderful minds once met and worked. Such a privilege.

Also in Oxford, we found the pottery shop, Illyria, owned and operated by my former college teacher, Katie. I was miserable at pottery but Katie was always a gracious teacher and such a talented artist.

How fun it was to see where her artistry has taken her over the years, to buy some of her handiwork, visit with her and she was even kind enough to show us around her studio where the pottery is made.

Shop kitty 😊

Around Oxford.

We road the train for hours yesterday getting to and from Stonehenge and Oxford but the views made the ride half the fun. Now if I can find myself an English cottage in the countryside I’ll be all set 😊

If you’d like to read the previous posts in this London series, check out the links below:

London Day One: Kensington Gardens // Hyde Park // Buckingham Palace // The Strand

London Day Two: The British Museum // Westminster

London Day Three: Piccadilly // Trafalgar Square // The Phantom of the Opera