November 23, 2014

Weekend Reads

Rain, sun, rain, rain, sun, rain, rain, sun. Crazy weird weather that can't decide what it's gonna do. But right now is glorious sun which means the kids are outside (who am I kidding, I kick them out when it's raining, too) and I'm curled up on the couch in SWEATS (yes they have a place), lounging in front of the fire. Seahawks are (kind of) winning, baby and crazy toddler man are napping, lesson plans are done for the week (well, only Monday-Tuesday because we're breaking it for Thxgiving), husband is next to me on the couch yelling at the (kind of) winning Seahawks and the only thing that's annoying about this current moment is the bouncing laptop on my lap. Should totally rename it NON-laptop.

Since I have a lot of nursing time with cute Lola baby I dink around on the internet and stumble across lots of things to read. Here are some of my favorites (and a dumb one I have opinions on) from this past week.

Happy Sunday!


*Storyline Blog: The Emptiness of Accolades (love this. True contentment is not found in what others think of us. "If you are hoping to find your self-worth and fulfillment in other people's opinion...you will never find it.")

*Small Things: Preparing For Advent and Christmas (can you believe ADVENT starts NEXT SUNDAY??!!!)

*Salon: Home-schooled and Illiterate (I don't have enough words to say how dumb this article is. Of course there are extremes for everything but I saw this floating around Facebook (Huffington Post-ish) and nicely put is a silly little piece...of work)

*Super Healthy Kids: Thick and Creamy Chocolate Mousse (gluten and dairy free - I would probably reduce the honey to 2TB because we don't like things super sweet)

*Mom Life Now: Crazy Hot Sex (don't let the title make you all riled up. This is an awesome letter from a mom to her daughter about TRUE freaking love.)



PS: Seahawks are REALLY winning now. Go Hawks!












November 21, 2014

The Great Debate.

I'm just going to keep trucking along with the fashion/style/clothes stuff because I'm getting a lot of awesome questions and plus it's on my brain or something. Oh, and don't worry...I'll throw in a 4 month update of this peanut butter squishy face and shout from the rooftops that SHE'S ALMOST 5 MONTHS OLD. Because at 5 months bomb stuff happens in my book. But more on that later.


Little Miss helping me blog. Kind of.


Some things I hope to cover here: the quality vs. quantity debate; how to shop for season/state in life; best budget friendly stores that boast great quality AND the best consignment shops I've found (most of them are online and others will ship); how to discover your own personal style; and how to find your "uniform" - that one outfit you could wear over and over and feel just plain awesome.

Since this isn't a real fashion blog (don't worry, it won't turn into one) all this won't be super comprehensive - just hopefully helpful to hopefully help all us mamas get out of the blahs and feel good about ourselves no matter our body type, our budget, our state in life.

I have always loved shopping. Having two not-so-much-younger-than-me sisters and a mother who could totally pass for my older sister (got that one before, love you mom) we spent a lot of our time together growing up hanging out, perusing the racks. A lot of it was thrift store shopping (so many memories of rockin' out in the Value Village shopping cart, looking through the coveted "tags still attached" sections) and my mom could put together the most amazing outfits with her finds. Every evening gown was found amongst these racks and, despite the for dollars price tag, she was till always one of the best dressed.

My love for all things style continued when I got my first job at Nordstrom at just shy of 16. I was hired to be a stock girl for the annual Anniversary Sale however they were short a sales person and I was bumped up to sales for a couple days. I must've done good or something because I was kept on for the rest of the sale and subsequently 8 years after that - putting my way through college. (And lucky for me my sisters both joined the team for a few years too! Only downside? All the cattiness of the teenage somethings working in our department because man oh man I DO NOT DO DRAMA.)

So after all that it brings me to the great debate: Quality VS. Quantity.

Which is better? To have less - less "options," less items and pay more per item but have better quality OR to have more - more choices, more opportunities to buy things (because things are less expensive) but have these items last "less long" because the materials aren't as great.

For lots of reasons (many discovered through stupid trial and error and lots of wasted time) I conclude that quality trumps quantity every time.

First there's the argument that having less stuff overall (clothes, toys, household items, etc etc etc) is just better. There is less to take care of, therefore very little gets wasted and it all gets used up for it's purpose. There is no clutter to distract from the "real thing" and there is more contentment with having less.

Second, better quality items not only last longer but they hold up better through the rigors of day to day life. They can withstand the washings and the wearings over and over and, in a lot of cases, get better with time.

Third, better quality clothes fit better. They don't stretch out or pill up or (in the case of jeans) fall down. Because falling down jeans in the middle of Costco (while trying to load items in the bottom of the cart while wearing a baby) just sucks.

I first discovered this type of shopping while pregnant. I learned how to style the same black tank top 5,000 different ways and, while I was SO DONE with that tank top after I had Lola, it served it's purpose above and beyond. It lasted tons of washes, never faded or stretched out, and (best of all) I didn't have to think about it. I could change it up and still feel pulled together. Plus, not having as big a "wardrobe" while pregnant taught me how much less I can live with - that my style will change based on my season in life and I can't - I shouldn't - stockpile anything for "down the road" because who the heck knows what's down that road.



Yes, this is THE tank I wore 4 times a week. I had two of them and rotated. Believe it or not: TARGET.


Aaaaalllll that being said, I'll give a good example of what quality looks like in the day-to-day of being a mom. Let's take a common piece of clothing we all have for this time of the year:

The Sweater.

They come in all shapes, size, types, colors, and in every store in the universe. A sweater is a sweater right? That's what I thought, too. I was so confused as to why some sweaters cost $25 and others $250. $250 for a sweater?! What the eff. Or so I used to think.

You see, the $25 sweater seems like a better choice because, well, it's 25 bucks. PLUS I can buy TEN of them for the same price as that $250 one. A green one, a red one, a pink one. a striped one...you get the idea. But the problem with those $25 sweaters is the second the baby rubs their face again it, it's pills up into little balls. Run it through the wash a few times? Faded. After two months, I'm better off wearing worn in sweats to the grocery store than a sweater that looks worse.

I remember the first sweater I actually invested in. It was 2 years ago (a Vince cashmere turtleneck on sale at Nordstrom) and I wore it all the time. I never wanted to take it off. I swear it even made me feel less nauseous when I wore it during my first trimester, pregnant with Lola. It is still going strong as a workhorse in my closet and it was a turning point in realizing that I pick quality over quantity.

Before I go on I will say that I'm not talking about PRICE here. I'm talking about QUALITY. I've seen many crappy sweaters for $100 and many awesome quality ones for $50. Budget and price point are super important (especially when you're ahem saving for four kids for college...yikes) but in the end the better quality item is not only going to wear better but also save money because it lasts longer.

OK OK, now I'm rambling and this post is getting long and I have crap to do and the kids are going nuts. So let me cut to the chase and give some bullet point to sum it up:

-check the material: natural fibers breathe better, last longer and won't make you stink

-know your brands. Even if you don't plan to buy, go to Nordstrom and try stuff on and look at the materials label and do the squat test (for pants) and then, once you know what to look for, check out consignment shops and the sales when then happen

-embrace the "less is more." Invest in one or two beautiful, good quality things that make you feel good and wear them 3, 4 (5?) times a week! No one cares if you wear the same thing over and over (actually no one will notice, I bet). Throw it in the laundry at night; wake up to fresh goodness.


I'll be posting some of my favorite brands to look out for/places to find them but since I'm apparently stuck on the sweater thing here is one that's on sale and has lasted me for a couple years now. It comes in regular and petite, a thousand colors, and is on sale baby.




Deets:

Sweater - Halogen. Also available in V-neck here. (size reference, I'm wearing a petite small)

Pants - Citizens of Humanity (posted about last week)

Shoes - Dansko, super old. Tons of colors on sale. These are my favs.


Cashmere. Honestly I think it's the best (winter) mom material. The sweater above has been spit up on, snuggled against, and POOPED ON. You think I'd freak given what it is but I simply threw it in the wash (hand wash cycle on cold) and laid it flat to dry and I swear it was softer than before. I don't worry about needing to wash it a thousand times because I know that it'll only get better with time.

Plus, I think Lola just likes snuggling with me a wee bit better when I wear it...






And now, a shameless disclaimer. This is in no way a comprehensive post so.....Quality VS Quantity. What are your thoughts?















November 18, 2014

I didn't mean to be rude....

So, yesterday, when I posted about my mornings I mentioned that I get dressed. Not that this is revolutionary (we, um, all do it...I hope) but I did say *no sweats* in passing. I didn't get lambasted from the SAHM's out there so either it was overlooked or people agree or something, but here is my take on why I don't wear sweats (everyday - I do SOMEDAYS, c'mon they're awesome).

I used to wear sweats/leggings/pajama pants all the time. They are cozy, comfortable, I didn't care if they got gross with spit up or stuff all over them. But over time I began to feel worse and worse about myself. Not like in a vain, I don't like the way I look, sort of way - more like an "I feel blah and I don't know why" sort of way. Sweats would feel awesome the first couple of hours I wore them but by the end of the day I was dragging, the blah-ness only getting worse. And since I was in them, I never bothered to change going to the grocery store or park or whatever else we were doing because, well, I am a stay-at-home-mom and who really cares.

But I did care. Deep down I felt off and I realized that my nice little WWU sweats (go Vikes!) were to blame.

You see, when I realized that being a mom is one of the most important things I will ever do in my life I also realized that I should probably start dressing the part. I had all these other nice things I would save for "special occasions." But special occasions don't happen all that much and sometimes the extent of me getting out is to Costco, Church, random errands, the park, etc and those clothes would sit and sit and my sweats would get all the lovin' (except to church - I drew the line there). But if, just if, being a mom is so amazing and valuable and so damn important, why was I reflecting the fact that it was just BLAH? Because that is what my sweats were saying.

I began to understand that going to the grocery store in sweats with 2 or 3 and now 4 kids portrayed something waaay different than going to the grocery store in a sweater and jeans and a pair of shoes I loved (not flip flops). In the later I would have more of a pep in my step and I never worried about running into someone I knew (because literally this happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I GO SOMEWHERE). And even if I stayed home all day and saw no one, I still need to dress the part of me doing the most important job I'll ever do - be a mom.





So, what does this mean? It has taken me a looooooooooong time to figure out what kind of clothes work for me in being a SAHM. I have, as a result, become extremely picky about what I wear because it has to fit ALL of the criteria below:

-be comfortable
-not stretch out (so long Target/GAP/other crappy jeans that sag way too low for PG eyes)
-not be too hot or too cold
-something I just wear and don't think about (because thinking about it makes me want to change into sweats)
-be appropriate enough to be able to head out the door in 5 minutes should something arise
-be good enough quality to handle aforementioned spit up, food stains, random diaper explosion

I did promise a closet post at some point (that won't be today because it's 6:56am and I will be hearing the little pitter patter of feet in approximately 4 minutes) but I am currently working on my "uniform" - THE outfit I could wear over and over and love it and feel awesome. I have it just about pinpointed but in the meantime I do challenge all us moms/women/whoever the heck is reading this to think about the awesomeness of our vocation and know that we are valuable enough to, ahem, get dressed in the morning. Because it just might give us that extra oomph to make it through the seemingly endless drudgery of bodily functions and never ending timeouts.

Just don't take Max's fashion advice.





















November 17, 2014

I wuv Mondays.

Mondays are kind of awesome in my book. They are a chance to start again, to start a new week with fresh vigor and enthusiasm. OK OK, sometimes they suck and I wish for the weekend when I don't have to unload the dishwasher in the morning (shout out awesome husband XO muwah) but Mondays really are the bomb.

I try make Mondays count by having my planning (school, life, menu, calendar) done on Sunday so that way we can jump right in without having to scramble. Because there is nothing worse than scrambling at the start of something. I'm not perfect at it and sometimes I'm doing it all at 6:30am before the kids get up.

Speaking of, I have also found a morning routine that has rocked my world. In a freaking awesome way. By nature of having a newborn, I wake up early to feed her. I set my alarm for 5:30am, and she's usually done nursing and back to bed by 5:45/6am. Then I have a WHOLE HOUR all to myself to start the day. (Even if the kids wake up early they know they will experience the wrath of a mama with no coffee if they get outta bed before SEVEN AM on the dot.)

So what do I do to start the day? Pretty much this, in this order.

1. Drink two glasses of cold water with 2 probiotics
2. Pour a big huge cup of coffee
3. Fire up the computer and open the Gospel reading of the day
DRINK COFFEE
4. Read the Gospel/read Jesus Calling for the day/ pray for husband, kids, PATIENCE, and wisdom and anything else on my heart.
DRINK COFFEE
5. Emails (and Facebook, duh - although I take care of that during the nursing sesh)
6. Throw a load of laundry in
7. Get ready: make-up, hair, get dressed (no sweats) and make bed
DRINK MORE COFFEE
8. Start breakfast

I can pretty much get all this done in an hour. The kids usually come down around 7:00 and watch a show until breakfast is ready. By 8am we've eaten, gotten dressed (if they didn't before they came down - sometimes we set out clothes the night before), and I have the dishwasher unloaded and kitchen cleaned up. Lola is usually up by 8/8:30 and the kids play until 9:00 when we start the day with school/chores/other stuff.

I went a little longer than my morning hour here, but by being super efficient and recognizing the must-do things I need to get done in order to have a great day I can start off the day in a way that sets everything else up for success. I used to sleep in until the last possible second and then I would be so grumpy when the kids got up because I had no coffee, no prayers, I was in my PJs (and felt gross), and then everything listed above would take me until 10-11am when the day is half over. Not anymore, wahooo. Sometimes life gets in the way and I don't get the laundry in or something but all in all this had been HUGE in my daily living.

Aaaannnnyyyywaaayyy....I hope you love Mondays. And if you don't just think of them as a major pre-funk to Friday. Because we all love Fridays (aka: movie night and I don't have to cook dinner).


TGIM.









November 15, 2014

7 Quick Takes - the only had one kid for a week edition

1. Ever since Lola was born there was one thing I wanted: to have just one whole day with only me and her. A day where we could throw out the schedule and snuggle for naps and hang out and just be together, me and my baby. By nature of having less kids, this was easier with the other babies (oh, and because Levi and Avila sucked as babies and I had to be with them all the time) but with Lola life has just kind of continued on as normal - which is both lovely and not lovely. Lovely because it shows that babies can come into a family and not necessarily throw everything out of whack. That we can have another life and huge sliver of joy and, for the most part, continue to thrive. But not lovely because it takes a lot more intentionality to not let the baby stage fly by without taking it all in. This time is so special and I'll ever get it back and I want to fill my baby cup to the brim before she turns into a big kid. Sooooo, anyway, after all that it was just *so nice* to be with *just her.*









2. Some of my favorite highlights of the week: palm trees and sun (well, that's a given but I just had to say it); rockin' hotel; getting to eat at a restaurant and NOT GET SICK; cable TV (we don't have it at home); reading a whole book; getting to experience the magic of Disney (and figuring out everything we would do differently if we brought the kids); a big fluffy bed; naps in the sun; snuggly, chit chatty pool time with Lola; time to reconnect with Michael (even though I didn't get to see him a ton); a nice sloooow pace. AND NOT HAVING TO CHANGE TODDLER DIAPERS. Boo shaka. Except I did not sleep in. 5:30am alarm to nurse and workout (2 freaking 30 back home time). Oh well, sleeping in is overrated. (That was a big fat lie.)












3. So, I mentioned above about the getting to eat somewhere other than home and not get sick. I had no idea what the food sitch would be like so I majorly planned ahead. I brought along enough (pre cooked at home) halibut and chicken to last me for a few days (ended up lasting the whole time), two big tupperwares full of green beans and steamed zucchini, three big bags of cut up veggies, my protein muffins (recipe coming soon. they're the bomb.com), some protein bars, and, ahem, my blender. If we're going somewhere longer than a few days we always bring it. In Maui it was for smoothies (to which we added lots of alcohol. gotta keep it honest) and this week I used it for my morning protein smoothie and as a back up in case I couldn't grab a meal anywhere. Since I can't even request lemon in my water in a restaurant (for fear of it being cut near something with wheat) I have to be super careful. Usually I find a grocery store right away and stock up on a few things (more veggies and fruit for the week) which we did right after we landed. Is it annoying? Kind of. But I've learned to deal and, with a little planning, it's not that bad. But apparently this hotel and its restaurants really got their gluten free crap down because they were so knowledgeable and completely reassuring that everything gluten free would be cooked/prepared in a separate section of the kitchen with special equipment and the lady who oversees the operation is a super gluten free stud. Soooo, I took a chance. We ordered breakfast and I nervously took my first bite (it's always that first bite that's nerve-wracking because it can make or break the next three weeks) of eggs and fruit and guess what, AWESOME SAUCE. I can tell immediately if it has gluten (sudden migraine and blurred vision within minutes) but no such bad luck. Happy happy joy joy.








4. What did the big kids do? Well, this. Bike rides, lots of Legos, lots of TV, playing with grandma and homeschool with grandpa.











5. So, how is traveling with a newborn? Not that bad actually. Here are some of my best tips:

-stick to their schedule as best you can. I knew Lola could only handle about 1 1/2 hours of wake time so I made sure to put her down for a nap "on time." Whether the nap was in the stroller or backpack (which she hated) or on the lap or in the arms or whether it lasted 1/2 hour or 2 hours, I always put her down before she had the chance to get overtired. It wasn't perfect science and sometimes by nature of what was going on she stayed up later, but this totally prevented her from going psycho.

-find out what makes them tick. Lola likes the vibration of her bouncer and, since I couldn't pack that thing in my suitcase (trust me I tried), I had to find a way to make her car seat vibrate if I could - because the car seat is what she slept in for a week, lol. Hence, this freaking awesome baby contraption that, when you clip it onto something, MAKES IT VIBRATE. $13 of baby sleeping sweetness.




-keep it simple stupid. I figured all Lola needed was sleep, nursing, and a few changes of clothes. I made sure to pack light (but I packed three extra outfits on my carry on for her and one for me *just in case*) because there is no worse feeling than having a screaming baby and having to dig through a bag full-o-shiz to find the nursing cover.

-WEAR PINK (or red or purple) LIPSTICK. Seriously, it makes people think you have your stuff together (when really you're just praying that she won't scream). But in all seriousness it totally helps. It lifts the mood, makes me feel less tired, and I swear Lola was into it (c'mon she is a girl). Plus the stuff I have doesn't come off when I kiss her a ba-gillion times.





-know that most people love babies and think they are a blessing. I think we assume people hate seeing a baby walk onto a plane and while that may be the case, if *I* smile and am happy and greet people with joy and sing and coo to her then they pretty much respond the same way.

-and my biggest tip: BE HAPPY and shake it off, shake it off (sing it Taylor Swift). Crap is going to happen and babies are going to cry and things might suck but by staying happy and grateful it turns a bad situation into (to quote my husband) an adventure.





6. Now that we're back home it's back to the grind and I feel at home again with my threats and time-outs. No, actually I'm happy we got them something from Disney World because now I have something to hang over their heads when I want things done. Bahahaha. Love love love these crazy kids.






7. And, now, drumroll please............to announce the theme Michael and I chose for 2015. We are starting a new thing by picking a theme for the next year - something we really want (NEED) to focus on as a family. So what's it going to be???

THE YEAR OF THE FAMILY ADVENTURE

We have always had something big going on: remodeling, babies, football, running, work, life, etc etc etc etc but we are putting on the brakes and are going to focus on making awesome memories with the kids. Little or big, simple or crazy it don't matter. We have some ideas up our sleeve and I'm convinced it'll be just what we need, for the six of us. (Oh my word I just realized that we are two kids shy of the Brady Bunch...)

So, bring it on 2015. We're ready for you!!!

























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