A Selfless Man in a Selfish World

IMG_20170814_061957_246I’ll never forget the night we met, the way we fell into conversation seamlessly and became friends almost instantly. There was hardly a moment from that first meeting when it didn’t feel right having you at my side. It’s surprising then, how long it took me to decide for sure that I really loved you, that I really wanted to marry you. Looking back though, I’m glad I took my time. Not because you’ve disappointed, but because we were so, so young and because I realize better now than I ever could have then just how significant that choice of life partner really is. IMG_20170814_062137_610We’ve been married for nine years and together for twelve. I hear those numbers and think I must have done the math wrong—how are we old enough to have been together for twelve years? But then I look at the life we’ve lived in those years and it hardly seems time enough to contain it all. Moving across the country, a condo we could barely afford to heat, a tiny downtown apartment, our first house, and our ridiculous farmhouse remodel. We’ve traveled, made two babies, worked various jobs, and started a business of our own. In all of it, I’ve learned something significant about you, about the man you are and what a lucky girl I am to have you at my side. IMG_20170814_061844_794I’ve learned in a loud world preaching self-promotion and a me-first mentality, a man who is humble, who is self-sacrificing, who sets his own wants aside to better serve his family—that is a rare find, you are a rare find. If I had understood just how uncommon your character is when I was 19 and toying with who to marry, I would have made my decision much faster.IMG_20170815_074139_745You have always loved me well but never did I realize how well until we had children. These years with little little ones are intense. We don’t sleep through the night. Someone always needs us and the margin of time left for each other or anything else can be thin. But in a time when I’ve seen many men step away from the intensity of home and family, I’ve seen you step in and stand up. IMG_20170721_215341_888You work a high-stress job all day followed by a long commute each night. But still you walk through our door ready for the next job—the kids and house and wife still needing you, still wanting what’s left of your time and attention. You get on the floor and play with our son, sit and give a bottle to our daughter, show up with ice coffee and a warm hug for me because you remember not only yourself and your own hard day but think of me and what my day might have been like as well. You mow the yard with our son on your shoulders and help wrangle two children on different schedules into bed. You give from the moment you get up to work and provide for us until the moment you hit the bed again at night.IMG_20170721_215210_339We are old enough now to see the marriages of friends and family crumble. It stings, watching people you love fall out of love with each other. I realize when a marriage or family falls apart, there is likely some level of fault on both sides. But I’ve seen too that many of the marriages I’ve watched disintegrate have done so because a man who took on a wife and family and all that home life requires decided one day (or many days over and over) that he didn’t want that life after all. It’s not that he didn’t love his wife and kids, he simply loved himself more. So he left.

But you have stayed. You have been humble. You have been selfless. You have listened and served and worked on behalf of others when your time and talent could have easily been used to promote self or to earn more money or to have more hobbies and things. You could have bought that boat and spent your days on the lake like you’ve so often talked about—but you’ve chosen our family first instead a million times over. There’s nothing in the world wrong with a boat, but a man who can discern where his time, energy, and money are most needed and who is selfless enough to live accordingly is a rare find indeed. IMG_20170707_211648_100How incredibly humbled and thankful I am that you are mine. I hope I love and serve you half as well as you love and serve us ❤

Introducing…

Aletheia Rae born July 21st at 1:37am, 7lbs and 20” long.IMG_20170804_180121_330

Her name is pronounced uh-lee-thi-uh and is the Greek word for “truth.”

She came 10 very long days late after I was finally induced—we assume she used the extra time growing all that hair. IMG_20170723_132056_902IMG_20170804_161803_661She and her brother are doing a fabulous job tag teaming someone being awake at all times but I think we’re going to keep her regardless ;]IMG_20170721_190017_264IMG_20170721_215341_888IMG_20170721_215210_339

Starting Over

IMG_20170605_132750_502{He’s pretty sure he still fits in the infant car seat}

In a few weeks we welcome our daughter and transition from a family of three to four. A double stroller sits in the box waiting to be assembled and loaded into the SUV we bought to make room for two car seats instead of one.

Life already seems busy and full and I try to imagine what it will be like adding a newborn to the mix.

I’m excited. And I’m scared.

But I’m not scared about the right things —well, at least not the things I expected to be. I’m not afraid of labor —I know it will hurt and it will be a rough day but it’ll end with holding my baby on the other side.

I’m not afraid of sleepless nights —they’re still rather sleepless as it is and I know the bleary eyed haze of the first few months won’t last forever.

IMG_20170605_133102_598What I’m afraid of is being left behind.

I’m afraid of starting over with a newborn while most of my friends move forward with older kids.

This has been a consistent problem throughout my adult life —this being at a different stage at a different time than most of the people I’m closest to. Right now I stand in the middle with half my friends not having children and the other half with children already in school and decidedly out of the baby/toddler days.

Many of the women around me, even the ones who previously stayed at home, are going back to work as their children are more independent and spend their days at school or other activities rather than constantly at their side.

I like seeing these women find themselves again outside of their children and watching them pursue work and interests they’re excited about beyond the home.

IMG_20170605_132924_571But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it stings a little to watch everyone around me move onto the next step in life while I’m still years away from much beyond newborns and toddler tantrums.

Now I know this is a choice —I choose to stay home with my babies and even being able to make that choice is certainly a privilege. I could find someone to watch my kids while I go back to work but it’s important to me to be home with them for these first few years and we have the freedom to make that choice so that is what I do.

IMG_20170605_133234_951{Just the three of us a little longer}

But just because you believe something is right or best for your family doesn’t make it easy. Nor does it make it any easier to set aside your other hopes and dreams for a time while you focus on something else instead.

I know the day will come, and probably much sooner than it feels like right now, when my babies are taking off to school rather than crying at my ankles about something r.i.d.i.c.u.l.o.u.s. while I try to make dinner. This is but a chapter in the journey and a chapter I will probably often look back at and long for after it’s closed and done.

But today, today just weeks before I begin all over again with a brand new baby, I’m learning the importance of speaking truth to my heart and mind when the temptation is to dwell on fear or being left out while everyone around me moves on.

IMG_20170605_133412_231I need the truth that I’m doing what I’m doing for a reason —this whole making babies and staying home thing —it matters and it matters enough to put other opportunities on hold for a time.

I need the truth that God sees and cares about the life he’s given me and the work I do even if it feels silent and invisible.

I need the truth that babies and children are important —soulful and eternal —and it’s my privilege to influence and shape their tiny souls for a time on their journey back to God and all he desires for them.

I need the truth that life is made up of seasons and this chapter of babies and toddlers is just that —a chapter in the full story I will tell with this life I’ve been given.

I need the truth that God is walking beside me —when I’m tired, discouraged, feeling left out or left behind —God is there and will give me strength and love for each new day until all my days melt into his eternity.

I need the truth that my identity is found in Christ and who he says that I am —not what other people think of me, not what the world thinks of me and the work I do but in Christ and Christ alone. He is enough and I am enough in him.

I need the truth.

I need to daily strengthen my heart and mind with true thoughts to guard against the temptation to believe all the lies swirling around me that would pull me down and leave me defeated.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

The Good Stuff: Vol. 3

1496415057741{A weekly collection of the good things filling life with blessings and joy}

Holding On

  • To the things I love and dream about (writing, travel, dressing up) when I’m at a place in life where these could easily slip away and be forgotten about with all the other stuff demanding my attention right now.

Loving

  • Making my bed first thing each day lol. I know it’s silly, but I seriously can’t believe how much more organized and on-top of things I feel when I simply take two minutes to make the bed. For some reason, if the bed is left unmade, our whole room descends into chaos throughout the day with laundry landing everywhere and piles of “stuff” stacking up until I get to it later. But making the bed makes the whole room look more put together and apparently inspires me to keep the space cleaner. I feel like I should be giving a TedTalk on this or something :]

Letting Go

  • Of talking when words aren’t helpful or needed and learning to sit in the silence and listen to others when my own thoughts are better kept to myself for a time.

Looking Forward

  • To seeing my family soon and getting away on a family vacation ❤

What are you holding onto, letting go of, loving, or looking forward to this week?

Baby Girl’s Wildflower Nursery

1495046273730I’ve been horrible about sharing photos of our house remodel– mostly because there are still things throughout the house I would like to finish before sharing pictures. But we did finally 100% finish a room with baby girl on the way so I thought I’d share some photos of her sweet little wildflower nursery ❤

IMG_20170513_071931_233IMG_20170513_071903_940Prepping the room with fresh paint and clean carpet (this was Roman’s room before so it needed some love after him 😉 ).

IMG_20170513_071508_774Eight months pregnant and painting 🙂 I’ve felt very relaxed about this baby until recently but something about realizing she’ll be here in less than two months has me hustling and acting like a crazy person trying to get everything ready.

IMG_20170521_170933_614IMG_20170521_164557_037IMG_20170521_165211_326IMG_20170522_070619_198This has always been my favorite room in the house with all its natural light and views of the field across the way. It was the perfect spot to rock Roman asleep and now I look forward to sitting in that same sunny corner rocking my baby girl and introducing her to this lovely wildflower world.

IMG_20170521_164310_118IMG_20170521_170739_277Her first toy– Roman’s was a little white cat from the same company ❤20170519_073532A closet full of tiny, girly clothes ❤IMG_20170521_164911_130IMG_20170522_070835_055IMG_20170521_165034_047I pinned some of the art back when I was expecting Roman but before I knew if I was having a boy or a girl. It was fun going back and getting some of the stuff I’ve loved for years but had to wait for my baby girl to need ❤

The Good Stuff: Vol. 2

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{A weekly collection of the good things filling life with blessings and joy}

Holding On

  • To spring and all the little things we waited through winter to enjoy again– the sound of birds singing and peepers peeping, the warm breeze wrapping around me while I sit by the lake and watch my son play in the water, and all the lush, brand new green showing off like it’s been waiting all year to open up and let us see what it’s been working on. IMG_20170516_182621_982
  •  To naptime and having a few minutes to myself each day before 1) Roman grows out of napping or 2) I can’t get both Roman and the baby on the same schedule and someone is always awake (have mercy).

Loving

  • Maui Babe Browning Lotion. This stuff is legit. I picked a bottle up in Kauai last year and it’s seriously amazing. You add a little over top of some sun screen and you can have a nice tan quickly without spending tons of time in the sun– love it.
  • Watermelon. I’ve craved fruit, and watermelon in particular, like crazy with both pregnancies. Unfortunately, most of my pregnancy has been through the winter when watermelon is unavailable. Totally ate a whole watermelon by myself last week to make up for lost time; I regret nothing ;]

Letting Go

  • Of expectations. I’m trying to be more flexible and roll with life better instead of having everything planned out in my head and getting frustrated or disappointed when things don’t go as I imagined. There is a lot of joy to be found in taking life as it is rather than stewing over how you think it should have been.
  • Of the “stuff” that no longer serves us. It’s easy when you’ve invested time or money into something to feel guilty or wasteful about letting it go. But if something has become dead weight or clutter, I’m purging and leaving it behind. Stuff is just stuff and I’d rather have simplicity and peace of mind in the space we inhabit over holding onto material things that no longer meet our needs.

What are you holding onto, loving, or letting go of this week?

The Moments Unseen

Tiny fingers laced through mine in the dark. A warm little body snuggled against me. Some of the most magical parts of motherhood go unnoticed and undocumented.

When my son comes to me, arms lifted, asking to “hold me” (really, he means for me to hold him)—I don’t pull out my phone and snap pictures of the moment; I simply pick him up. His arms wrap around my neck, head rests on my shoulder, and I tell him I love him, that I’m so thankful he’s my boy. It’s a quiet, unseen moment we share a thousand times amid a world marching on around us. And it’s the part of motherhood that fills my heart with new energy and devotion for the often far more public tantrums and tears that might make me wonder why I decided to be a mom in the first place.

IMG_20141029_114548In a world so photographed, documented, and publicly shared via social media, these quiet moments can at times feel less than simply because they weren’t seen or shared. It’s tempting to try to keep up with the flood of gorgeous images I see each day by trying to snap and document each of my own magical moments.

I want enchanting images of my own to share on Instagram or to punctuate my blog posts. But…

But

Sometimes the act of trying to document a moment destroys the very magic itself. Like a bird perched delicately on a branch in the morning light— you can stand quietly and admire or go closer and chase the moment out of existence.

We have to choose when to pull out our phones and cameras to capture our days and hours— and when to simply sit in the moment and let it be. This is not always an easy choice. Photos carry our memories when our busy minds would forget. But cameras and selfies may equally rob a moment of the very beauty we’re trying to store up and hold onto.

So sometimes when my son climbs into my lap and pulls my arms around him or asks me to lay beside him holding his hand until he falls asleep at night, I leave my phone alone. I soak up the memory in my heart and consciousness rather than my social media and try to remember some of the most magical parts of life and motherhood are the moments most unseen.

The Good Stuff: Vol.1

1494589931467I’ve noticed in myself a tendency to see the one thing that went wrong before I see the ten things that went right. In an effort to be more positive, grateful, and conscious of all the good around me, I’ve started jotting down little lists of things I’m thankful for or enjoying.

I thought it would be fun to share a few of these things here each Friday. I hope you enjoy :]

Holding On

  • To Roman being little and the time we have together with just him before his sister arrives.
  • To being pregnant and feeling my daughter move and grow. This final trimester of pregnancy can be hard and I often think, “I just want to be done!” I find myself daydreaming about a post maternity body and clothes and feeling like myself again. But I don’t know if we’ll have more children and I’m trying to savor and enjoy the incredible experience of being pregnant rather than rushing through and just wanting to have the whole thing behind me.

Loving

  • All the green! Though it’s still cool outside here, I’m loving all the flowers, blooming trees, and baby leaves beginning to pop up. And we have grass in our yard this year! This is huge after having the yard torn apart remodeling our house and spending last year with a brown, weedy, muddy mess of a yard. Give me all the green 😀
  • The Freckled Fox. I stumbled across Emily Meyers’ beautiful blog about a month ago and I’ve been so inspired by her words and mindset. Check her out!

Letting Go

  • Of worrying about what other people think of me. While I don’t want to be a jerk who cares nothing about what other people think, I also don’t want to live constantly concerned about how people see me or what they’ll think of me. In the end, most people don’t really know me that well or understand why I say, do, or think the way I do so I’m letting go of trying to please everyone else and learning to do what’s best from a place of sincerity rather than a place of fear and expectation.
  • Of eating out. That probably sounds silly but we spend way too much money eating out and grabbing food in the car between errands. I’ve noticed lately that for how much you spend eating out, the food generally isn’t that great. I can buy better food and cook a better meal at home for less so I’m trying to plan our days where we land at home for meal times rather than in the car scarfing down fast food.

What are you holding onto, letting go of, or loving?

It’s Good to Be Home

Life has been a little cray around here lately—and by lately, I mean for months. I spent most of last fall and this winter either not feeling good or trying to catch naps whenever possible thanks to pregnancy. I’m excited to be expecting again so it’s fine and definitely worth it but it also feels like a chunk of my life is missing from those hazy months.

IMG_20170509_103347_440Spring rolled around and we got busy with travel, lots of company coming to visit, and all kinds of miscellaneous crazy. It’s been a fun couple of months packed full of people and places I love—but oh my word, I’m ready for some down time with my boys.

Sunday, my parents packed up and headed home after a two-week visit. We had a great time with them (and everyone else who’s come to visit over the last couple of months). But when Monday rolled around and I sat alone in my quiet house (as quiet and alone as things ever are with a two-year old running around 😉 ), I have to admit, it felt nice to watch the dust settle on my life for a bit. IMG_20170508_204442_403I sat down with my day planner to figure out what’s next and it was really nice to see that nothing major is on the agenda for the next few weeks. I even cancelled a couple things I had planned on doing just to free up the weekends and spend a little extra time enjoying my boys before the next wave of activity hits. IMG_20170509_094322_351These next three (hopefully) quiet weeks feel sacred and I’m doing my best not to add anything unnecessary to our days.

This week its felt nice just to catch up on laundry, go grocery shopping, cook a meal in my kitchen, and sit around the table with my little family. Sometimes I get tired of the routine that comes with being a wife and stay-at-home momma—the endless cycle of laundry, dishes, meals, errands, and diapers. IMG_20170508_204110_747He’s a cute little imp but trust me when I tell you, he’s a holy terror to grocery shop with 😀

But the exhaustion and busyness of the last few months have shown me how valuable and peaceful these little routines can be. When we’re frantically moving from one thing to the next, just trying to keep our heads above water, it’s easier to recognize and crave the value of quiet days at home with the people who matter most.

IMG_20170508_204252_318So for the next few weeks, I’m savoring the quiet and the routine. I’m enjoying the time with my boys and preparing for my baby girl. Life will change tremendously in a couple months when our daughter is born. So until then, I’m holding onto and enjoying life as it is—and not allowing guilt or the American obsession with busyness to distract and pull at me.

Our days are numbered and short. Our people are precious. These are the things I’m keeping in mind and wrapping my heart around today ❤

Exploring the City with Littles

1495044412744Because of where we live, most of our out-of-town visitors want to see the cities near us while they’re here. Daytrips to Boston and NYC used to require no more planning than how to get around on the train and where to eat. But adding a child to that equation changed things quite a bit and we’ve learned a few lessons along the way about tackling cities with a little one in tow.

IMG_20170507_104639_988So far, we’ve walked Kansas City, Boston, Quebec, and NYC with our little guy along for the ride (literally, he has no idea how lucky he is to be carried everywhere lol).

Because we love traveling and also think kids are all right (I’m 7 months into making another one so they must not be too bad) I’m always on the lookout for ways to make trips with children easier and more enjoyable.

img_20170207_091752236.jpgOur little guy has traveled with us by car, plane, train, boat, and in all kinds of carriers as we’ve explored on foot. Here’s what I’ve learned about city adventures with little ones so far; I hope this helps if/when you take on a family adventure of your own :]

Keep in mind that I’m speaking only from my own experience with one child who we’ve traveled with from 1 month up to 3 years. Every child is different so what works for us at a certain stage may just make your kid cranky or angry—hopefully not, but you know, every kid is different ;]

Newborn to One Year: {Baby sling/Carrier}

When our guy was a baby up to about a year old, the easiest, most comfortable way to go anywhere with him was holding him close in a baby sling (I prefer the Moby wrap) or a baby carrier (I prefer the Ergo, Darren the Baby Bjorn). He would snuggle in close and either watch the world contentedly or sleep. Carrying him also saved us the hassle of a bulky stroller in congested spaces like the subway or busy sidewalks.

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Toddlers Stage 1 to 4 Years: {Backpack Carrier}

Once Roman outgrew the baby carriers (sad day) we started looking for another way to carry him with us minus a stroller and without actually having to hold him in our arms all day (that ain’t going to work, trust me). We ended up trying a backpack carrier and fortunately both Darren and Roman love it most of the time (it’s too heavy for me to wear except for short periods). We use a Chicco carrier and it has worked great for us so far.

IMG_20170507_105900_904One lesson learned about this kind of carrier though—after a whole day on your feet in the city, these do still get heavy and uncomfortable. We spent the day in NYC this past weekend and were both regretting not bringing a small umbrella type stroller as a backup plan.

moose

While carrying Roman on our backs was perfect for navigating the train, busy streets, and ferry, it was totally exhausting. And Roman got tired of being in there after a while and ended up in our arms anyway. So if you’re planning a full day on your feet, I definitely recommend bringing a small stroller as well—something that folds up flat for trains and easily opens with one hand if possible. We use an Urbini and it’s fine (though I wouldn’t say great).

Diaper Bag and Supplies:

Figuring out how to carry your kid is one thing; figuring out how to carry all their stuff is another thing all together :]

I’ve tried all kinds of bags while out walking (sling, shoulder, backpack) and found the most comfortable is definitely a backpack because this distributes the weight across both shoulders instead of just one.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Carry as little with you as possible. While it’s nice to be prepared, it’s not so nice carrying an overly heavy load or jostling through an overstuffed bag when you need something. Bring what you think you’ll use as far as diapers, wipes, change of clothes, drinks, snacks, etc. but try to use travel size when possible and keep in mind that if you run out of something, you can almost certainly buy more where you are.
  • Only bring one bag: Along the same line of not carrying too much, don’t try bringing a separate purse for yourself. Grab your wallet and whatever bare necessities you need with you for the day and combine them into the bag you carry for baby.
  • Bring your own drinks and snacks: You and your littles are going to get thirsty and hungry and buying drinks and snacks in the city adds up fast. Save your money for activities or an actual meal and avoid the $5 bottles of water and bags of chips.
  • Wear comfortable shoes! City walking, especially when you’re carrying a child or backpack all day, is hard work. Your feet are going to hurt. So while it’s nice to be cute, try to be cute and as comfortable as possible. I’ve started throwing an extra pair of shoes/socks in the bag so I have the option to change if my feet really start to hurt.
  • Dress your child comfortably: Again, I know its fun to put your kids in cute outfits, especially when you’re out and about. But keep in mind that your child is going to be bundled into some kind of carrier all day and exposed to whatever weather you’re out in. The softer and more comfortable their clothes, the happier they’ll be. I put Roman in a button under onesie so his shirt doesn’t ride up and a soft pair of pants/shorts. If it’s cold, I put a pair of footie pajamas under his outfit so no skin is exposed where his pants ride up at the ankle. Keep in mind too that you’ll be changing diapers in all kinds of weird places if changing tables aren’t available so the easier the outfit is to get them in and out of, the better.

Anyway, I hope these ideas help and I hope you take lots of adventures with your families. While kids do complicate things, they also add a lot of joy and laughter and it’s so fun watching the world through their eyes. I’ll never forget Roman’s face when we stepped out of the subway and he saw all the lights in Time’s Square for the first time—totally made the craziness of bringing him with us worth it ❤

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