Picture Perfect

 

We were at the playground, enjoying a warm afternoon just before dinner, when another mom came up to me and gushed, “Your children are so beautiful!  And I can’t believe how well-behaved your little boy is.  What’s your secret?”

As rude as it may sound, I had to struggle to keep from bursting into laughter.  But then I realized how it must look…  We were having a really good day!  Brady was intently listening to my every word, making sure to sit carefully on the slide or to walk correctly up the slide’s ladder.  Sometimes he’d run up to me just to give me a hug and to yell, “I luv you, Mama!”   Kaitlyn was giggling with glee at my smiling face.  And we were this image of happiness and perfection.

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Of a calmness that moms crave.  And for a moment, I considered admitting to the young mom that this scene before her wasn’t true.  This beautiful moment wasn’t my life.  Normally, I’m covered in spit-up, wiping poop off my hands, and running around the house like a chicken without a head.

But instead I experienced the moment through her eyes and realized that this sweet afternoon wasn’t a unicorn.  It was real.  But amidst the loud and the dirty and the chaotic, it was so easily overlooked or passed by.  In fact, had she not pointed it out to me, I would have missed it!

Moments like this?  They’re wildflowers growing through the cracks of a busy, city sidewalk.  They’re beautiful and strong, but we have to choose to pause and acknowledge them.  Because they are missed in the blink of an eye.

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The hard moments?  They’re so big sometimes that it can be easy to forget that mom life can be fun too.  And funny!  And too precious for words.

Most times, it’s about focus.  Toddlers will push and test and run circles around you until you’re dizzy.  Babies will make you miss sleep in ways you couldn’t imagine possible.  But when you adjust that focus a bit and let yourself see mom life for what it is?  Priorities shift just a bit.

Fifteen more minutes at the playground is worth it.  You’ll realize that dinner might just be scrambled eggs, but that’ s okay.  Families were surviving on simple meals long before Pinterest arrived to guilt us all into thinking that we need to cook gourmet food every day.

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You might not get a hot shower before you start your day, but those cuddles first thing in the morning won’t last forever.  So they’re to be treasured more than gold.  Who cares about that shower, in fact.  Your heart is overflowing with happiness right now.

Yeahhhh, you’d love to make it to the store alone.  But you’re not ‘stuck’ home watching Curious George again.  You have the amazing opportunity to snuggle and laugh with a little boy whose whole world revolves around you.

You might not know how you’re going to get everything accomplished this week, but you can take care of your littles right now.    Right now, that’s what matters.  Them.  And only them.

Not the house.  Not the job.  Not the other requirements and responsibilities.  Those little versions of you are what matter most.

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So play.  And laugh.  And snuggle.  Dance, sing, and make memories.  Have fun!

And although there are hard moments that make you question your ability to parent, like that wildflower in the city, push through.  And focus.  Focus on the beauty.  Because you ARE doing an amazing job.  And I can guarantee that there are beautiful moments all around you if you just look.

 

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Mommy Tips Monday

Unlike last week, hopefully I’ll manage to get more than one blog post published this week…  Ha, ha!  I didn’t have one ounce of free time over the past few days.  But I have high hopes that babies will nap and toddlers will fall asleep on time starting tomorrow.  🙂  Hey, a girl can dream!!


 

Buy More Hampers – I literally have one hamper for every person living in this house AND two additional hampers (so that means we’re up to six hampers now).  And no, it’s not because I’m expecting a hamper shortage at Target in the near future.  Ha!  Here’s why I have such a collection…

I use 2-3 hampers for dirty clothes.  Basically, any spot that became a catch-all-corner for dirty socks, spit-on onesies, or peed on sheets now has a hamper.  For me, that means having a hamper by the downstairs changing table, having one in my bedroom, AND having one in Brady’s bedroom.  This eliminates dirty clothes piles, which – quite frankly – are just eye-sores.

Then I use the remaining hampers for clean laundry.  When I pull laundry out of the drier, I sort everything immediately.  Kaitlyn and Brady’s clothes go in one hamper, and Nate and I share a hamper.  On the good days, I carry the hampers upstairs and put the clothes neatly in their designated places. On most days, those hampers remain in my walk-in closet, and I pull out clean clothes as needed.  BUT the clothes are sorted, so I’m not going through a huge tower of mixed laundry (which used to happen more than I’d like to admit).  So yes, having additional hampers was a life-saver!

Need some parenting humor to help you laugh about the hardest job on earth? I round up all the funny parenting memes full of quotes from real parents to help you laugh and find the humor in raising our kids.



 

Give Yourself Enough Time – There was a time period where I dreaded going out, because it was a major battle to get Brady and Kaitlyn ready on time. Seriously, my toddler has impeccable timing.  His poop schedule perfectly coincides with whenever I’m ready to rush us out the door.  More often than I’d like to admit, my voice would get slightly elevated and patience would run thin, because Brady wouldn’t sit still in order for me to brush his teeth… or get on his shoes… or button his shirt. The faster I needed to get us out the door, the more he wanted me to chase him around (which just made us that much later.  Every…single…time!).

Finally, after several weeks of running late for church, I decided to pack everyone into the Jeep to visit an apple farm before church.  That way, we’d already be out and about!  There was no way we’d be late for church then.  Long story short, we were late to making it to the apple farm… and actually never even made it there.  BUT we were on time for church.  Ha, ha.

I now give us 30-45 extra minutes to get ready.  If Brady wants to wrestle a bit before sliding socks onto his feet?  I have the time.  If we have to do a monster dance in the bathroom before brushing our teeth?  We have time.  When Brady decides that he needs to poop, I tell him to take his time.   If Kaitlyn spits up, or a precious Lovey is missing, or Brady wants to try buckling his shoes himself, I have time!

Rushing kids is just not a good idea for anyone… ever!

Reason #184,238 You Never Leave on Time | More LOLs & Funny Stuff for Moms | NickMom


 

See the world through your child’s eyes – Curiosity killed the cat…  But it also frustrated the parent.  😉  My little guy gets into everything alllll the time.  And oftentimes, his innocent experiments result in giant messes for mommy and daddy to clean up.  But the key word here is ‘innocent’.  Obviously those messes need to be addressed and are learning opportunities for him to realize that crayons are not for drawing on the wall…  Or bathroom soap shouldn’t be pumped onto the bathroom counter…  Or a single bite shouldn’t be taken out of each piece of fruit in the fruit bowl.  Or scissors are not meant to cut cat hair.  (More on that one later this week).

Patience…patience…patience…  It’s a virtue.  And it’s also the best way to handle a little child who is learning as he goes.

Oh and love… lots of love.  You can’t always look at the act itself.  Most times, you need to view the world through their eyes and realize that they had no idea they were doing something wrong.  And so your reaction should be one of gentle guidance, not condemnation.

Don't overreact


 

Happy Monday, my friends!!  I hope it’s a GREAT one!!!

Mommy Tips Monday!

Here are a few more of my favorite, mommy tips!!  🙂


 

Meal Plan and Prepare Ahead –  I am JUST jumping on this bandwagon now, but I can already tell that it’s going to help.  Up until this point, I’ve prepped and cooked meals right before every lunch and dinner; and – trust me – it made for all kinds of craziness.  I am now taking WAY more advantage of leftovers!  If I’m making a soup, chili, stir-fry, or pasta dish that can easily be frozen, I’ll double (or even triple) the batch.  This makes for delicious (and oh-so-easy) lunches and even dinners.

Also meals such as chili can be doubled and slightly adjusted to make lunches throughout the week.  For example, a batch of chili can be creatively turned into baked potato toppings, taco salad, and even chili macaroni.  (My favorite is taco salad though, because I’ve been on a salad-for-lunch kick)!  🙂  And leftover chicken can be used to top salads, make sandwiches, or to even add protein to pasta.

I know that this tip isn’t anything new or creative, and that I’m probably the last mom on the planet to begin doing this.  Ha!  BUT in case there’s someone else out there who needs to start doing this too, I thought I’d include it.  🙂  It really does work!

Every time. #imgur



 

Do Laundry Every Day – Before kids, I could get away with doing laundry just a couple of times a week, but not anymore.  Sure, the washer and dryer does all the cleaning and drying work.  But the problem is that clean clothes need to come out of the dryer.  😉  And if I wait for clothes to pile up, I just don’t have time (or energy) at the end of the day to fold, sort, and put away all those clothes.  When I tried doing just a few loads a week, those loads ended up in piles on the couch or in our bedroom, and it was just a stressful mess.

Smaller, more manageable loads get done much more quickly and efficiently.  So trust me on this one…  It works.  If you don’t want to fall slave to laundry, do it every day!

might as well make it cute laundry right? #momlife #truth



 

Do A Little Thing For Yourself Every…Single…Day – I get teased a LOT for being a new mom and doing my hair and makeup almost every day.  (Although for the record, I actually never do my hair.  These crazy curls are natural and happening on their own.  Ha, ha.  If my hair is straight, THEN that means I did it).  But yes, I pretty much do my makeup every day.

Now it’s not an I’m-going-out-for-an-evening-in-the-city kind of makeup…  😉  I have a 3 – 4 minute routine that just requires a touch of this and that.  It’s super quick and can be done right before Brady wakes up or when he’s eating his snack.

BUT it’s what I do to feel human.  My house might be a mess, I maybe didn’t have time to shower, and the kiddos are probably bouncing off the walls.  But if you knock on the door or if I have to run out to do errands, I won’t entirely look like a mombie.  (Dark under-eyes are hereditary, but – man – lack of sleep doesn’t help anything).  Somehow having brighter eyes and a bit of mascara gives me a touch of confidence going into a busy day!

It’s just what I do for ME.

I also enjoy an iced coffee every afternoon when the kiddo’s are napping.  🙂  I soooooo look forward to that iced coffee…  Like maybe too much. Ha, ha!!!

But there are so many possibilities for a mom to add one, ‘just for me’ moment or action into the day.  (I have a friend who snaps a picture every day and participates in a Project 365 challenge.  The simple act of taking out her camera and capturing a moment each day is JUST for her, and I love that!  Someday, when she has more time, she plants to turn it all into a scrapbook.  But for now, she gets to play with her camera for five minutes every day, and it’s something she looks forward to and loves).

It’s sooooooo easy to get caught up in mom life that you forget, “Hey, I matter too!”  Taking that five minutes to sit down with your coffee, or to snap a picture, or to do your makeup, OR even to browse Pinterest and look at cute shoes…  Try to make time for a just-for-me moment every day if you can!

** Haha yes--except mine doesn't nap anymore


 

Don’t Start What You Can’t Finish – I read this on a mom blog not too long ago, and the concept has proven true.  For awhile, I was trying to get WAY too much stuff done in the morning or when Brady napped.  It was to the point that I’d stress out when he woke up, because now I’d be halfway done a project.  So now my rule is that if the project needs to be completed before a toddler or baby wakes up, I probably shouldn’t do it at that point.  I want to be happy to see him when he calls my name after naptime; not stressed out.  The bigger projects can be spread out throughout the day OR can wait for Daddy to come home and help out with the kiddo’s.

Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work. - C.S. Lewis


 

Don’t forget, if you have any mommy tips that I should include in an upcoming blog post, leave it in the comments!  🙂  

To Touch the Moon

I was supposed to enjoy a mom’s night out tonight, but – long story short – that didn’t happen…   I think that maybe something better did.  Although in the moment, I found myself wondering why-in-the-world I had insisted on bringing my almost three-year-old shoe shopping with me.

Mom guilt!  Mom guilt, that’s why.  Nate has been working so many hours lately, and Kaitlyn has been fussy and needing attention.  So I decided, last minute, that bringing Brady along for the ride would be good for both of us.  Bonding time over shoes.  I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that.  (Don’t worry, the shoe store is located directly next to a department store that sells toys.  I’m all for equal opportunity and happiness).  

“Hmmm, are you sure you want to bring him,” Nate asked one last time, trying to convince me that maybe I should take him up on his offer to watch both kids.

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I nodded.  I know how baby Kaitlyn gets after dinnertime.  Watching both of them is a lot, and so for each of us to have to only watch one child?  It would be like a mini, parental vacation.

 

HA!  Oh, Nicole, you’re so funny.

Shoes.  I really just wanted to buy a pair of shoes that don’t have heels on them.  I used to live for cowgirl boots in the fall, and I still adore them.  But they’re just not practical for every-day anymore, so I have decided to step into the world of canvas sneakers.  To be honest, I love them on other people but have never really been a fan of them on myself.  But desperate times call for desperate measures and all that…

Image result for Maurices Kara Canvas sneakers

This girl needs to keep up with her very-fast young man and cowgirl boots just don’t cut it anymore!

Five minutes into my shopping endeavor, however, I realized that I need shoes which will make me run faster.  Like maybe sneakers with super-sonic bounce…  If little boys see bright lights, or tall mirrors, or ‘cool’ window displays?  They will take off and head for them like a moth to the flame.  And I’m not entirely sure that – in their excitement – they can process their mother’s frantic (and slightly embarrassed) calls.

Picture me running, nearly full speed, around and around a woman’s clothing store, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how our night went.

“We’re having a learning experience today,” I told the cashier as she rang up my shoes.

Maybe if I act calm and as though I have a plan, she won’t judge me so much.

Let’s just say that the department store was a learning experience too.  As was the grocery store.

I get embarrassed sometimes when my little guy doesn’t walk meekly beside me and listen to my every command.  Brady is a strong-willed little dude with curiosity that would have killed a cat long ago.  And finding the balance of teaching him to obey without stifling his originality and desire to explore?  It’s not easy!

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I’m reminded often by more seasoned parents that the strong-willed, confident children usually become leaders.  That I’m blessed to have been given this opportunity to help guide him.  And I know that I’m blessed to have this front row seat to the life that God has planned for him.

Although there are times that I want to calm him down a bit and contain some of that explosive energy, I’m also amazed at his confident, loving personality.  If we walk up the street, he waves at every neighbor or car we pass. If we’re pulling up to a drive-through for coffee, he begs us to lower his backseat window; so that he can exclaim, “hello” to the barista.  If a child he has never met walks into the playground, he exclaims “my friends are here” and rushes over to play with them.

He is defiant, but he is also sensitive.  And he can be angry, but he is also in need of such love.  He adores hugs, and kisses, and never-ending snuggles.  He loves adventures and exploring outside and learning how things work.

And I was reminded of that tonight.

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Brady’s personality (and especially the curiosity) oftentimes gets him into trouble.  And sometimes it can feel impossible to remain calm and to realize that destruction and disaster wasn’t his intent.  In the middle of the chaos, it’s easy to instantly shout out boundaries instead of to calmly guide him to a better choice.

As easy it as it may be, I definitely don’t want to be shouting “no” at him all day long.

Tonight as I was reading books to him before lights out, it really struck me that he’s in a big boy bed now.  He’s growing up.  And the words that I speak to him are going to greatly impact how he views himself.  I can speak words of edification, or I can plant a tiny seed of doubt.  I can remind him that the sky is the limit or tell him that he needs to keep his feet on the ground.

So as we cuddled in bed and stared out his window, I asked, “Do you see that big, bright moon?”

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“Yes!” Brady replied in awe.  “Can I touch it?”

“One day you can if you decide to be an astronaut, “I replied.  “Is that what you want to be when you grow up?”

“Yep,” he replied with a confident nod.

“Then one day, you will touch the moon,”I said, planting a kiss on his head.

And if that’s what he wants to do one day, then touch the moon he will!

It’s going to take patience, guidance, and a whole lot of prayer to get us from here to there.  He still has to learn discipline, and respect, and self-control.  But that’s what parents are for, isn’t it?  🙂

It might not be easy…  But it sure is worth it, especially when your son is going to land on the moon one day.  😉

Mommy-Monday Survival Tips

I have too many tips to fit into one blog post, so I’m breaking them up over the next few Mondays!  If you have a Mom Tip that I absolutely have to include in an upcoming post, leave it in the comments!!


 

Make Time to Feed Back Into Your Own Life –   I’m talking about doing something that feeds your soul.  Something that you enjoy doing as an individual…  Something that pours back into you after you’ve spent so much time pouring out into the lives of others.

For me, that includes writing when I can…  the occasional shopping trip to update my wardrobe a bit…  playing with my camera…  reading…  and decorating cupcakes. Those are all things that I loved doing before I had kids, and they’re activities that leave me feeling happy.  Although I do them much less these days, I love that I can still do them once in awhile when I need a mom-break.

They remind me that as much as I enjoy spending time with my beautiful family, I also love doing things just for myself!


Don't compare yourself with others. We're all a hot mess, some just hide it better than others.


 

Clean Out the Diaper Bag Right Away – Always empty out your diaper bag/backpack every time you return from a trip. That way, yucky diapers, banana peels, wet clothes, etc. are all taken care of; and when you need to leave again, you have a fresh bag ready to go.  (Thank you, Sarah, for this awesome tip!!!  I don’t always do this, but I ALWAYS regret it when I don’t.  It’s a smart rule to live by).  

Oh my god yes.. exactly... the crumbs ahhhh


 

Speed Clean – So many people used to tell me that, because I have little kids, I shouldn’t care that my house was a mess.  And in many ways, that’s true!  Stressing about a clean house will only make a mom sick.  That being said, if you’re not keeping up with anything and your house is completely trashed, it can make for an uncomfortable living space.  Our cluttered and messy home was giving me and Nate major anxiety, so something had to give…

I now speed clean a bit when I first wake up, when the kids are taking their afternoon nap, and for about 15 minutes after they’ve gone to bed.  This doesn’t happen every day obviously (since toddlers like to shake up their routine quite often), but I do it whenever I can.  I literally run around at breakneck speed, putting things in their proper place and wiping down surfaces.  And those fast-paced cleaning sessions work and add up.

Our house isn’t spotless by any means, but it’s been much cozier as of late!

10+ Parenting Memes That Will Make You Laugh So Hard It Will Wake Up Your Kids


 

Complete One Big Chore Every Day –   You all know how much I love lists!  I totally have a chore list for myself that basically serves as an adult, sticker chart.  Ha, ha!  Every day, I write down a big chore that I accomplished.  Things like “cleaned the bathroom”, or “dusted”  or even “prepped food for the week.”  Writing it down and seeing it on paper gives me proper satisfaction… but it also fights off the mom guilt when I get absolutely nothing else accomplished during the day.  As long as I did that one big chore, the day is a success!

The only other thing that matters is caring for my kiddo’s and giving them the love and time they need.

(And, yes, fun colored pens are a MUST for this one)!!  🙂

Keeping your house clean while kids are still living in it is next to impossible. These 13 hilarious parenting memes will help you realize you're not alone in trying to keep up with a cleaning schedule, and keep your house organized, too.

 

September Ipsy Bag review

As of this month, I’ve officially received Ipsy for a year, and I have to say that it was worth every penny.  There was only one month that I wasn’t a huge fan of…  Every other time, I loved the bag and the majority of the products inside.  I’ve renewed my subscription and hopefully I’ll do a better job of posting review this year.  🙂  It’s been such a fun surprise to look forward to each month!

And hopefully my reviews will be better than this month’s…  Ha, ha!  I have about ten free minutes before I go to bed, so this is going to be the quickest Ipsy review post ever!  🙂

 

THE BAG – 

September’s bag was soooooo cute!  The spiked, faux leather bag could totally double as a date-night clutch.  Or as a pretty cool bag for a toddler to slip his lego’s into. Either one works…  😉

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LUXIE ROSE GOLD MEDIUM ANGLED SHADING EYE BRUSH 207

 This brush ($12 value) was perfectly angled for eye shadow and was a great addition to my brush collection!

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tarte
deluxe lights, camera, lashes™ 4-in-1 mascara –

You guys, this is definitely my new-favorite mascara!  The stiff brush kept spider lashes at bay and definitely added some plump and length to my lashes.  At $23 for a full-sized bottle, it’s definitely more expensive than any other mascara I’ve purchased in the past.  (Yeah, I’m usually a drug-store mascara kind of girl and rarely spend more than $9 for it).  But I would totally buy this for holidays or special occasions.  It’s worth the splurge! Love, love, LOVE!

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SKINFOOD
Egg White Perfect Pore Cleansing Foam –

I honestly haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m excited to!  Who doesn’t want to try a cleansing foam made out of egg whites?!?  (Has anyone tried it before??).

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Elizabeth Mott
Pop! Goes The Shadow in Toasted or Gunmetal –

Loved this eyeshadow and the shade.  It’s beautiful for a night out and for the upcoming holidays.  I just used it on my eyelids, and it almost had an instant smokey-eye affect.  Would definitely buy this!

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Adesse New York
Organic Infused Gel Effect Nail Lacquer in Deception –

I was sooooooo excited to receive this nail polish!!  The shade looks gorgeous, and it lacks many of those toxins that polishes these days contain.  But I just haven’t had a free moment yet to try it out.  Once I apply a coat, I’ll definitely post a pic onto Instagram!!  🙂


 

Have you tried any of these products before??  🙂

Mom Tips!

Don`t worry,I haven`t forgotten about putting together a day-in-the-life post.  🙂 I`m excited to whip one together soon and was thrilled that so many of you requested one!!  Those are my favorites to do.   But in the meantime,I`ve also been putting together a post about mom-survival tips,encouragement,and advice.

  Do you have any advice (or favorite organizational / survival tips) that I should include in my post?  Add a comment,and maybe I`ll include it in my upcoming post!   🙂