Oh, two year olds…

Anyone have a two year old? Who am I kidding…most two year old moms do not have time to read blog posts…lol, but if you’re lucky enough to sit down for.just.one.second., I’m honored to have you here for your precious moments without the monkeys.

I am a mother to a rambunctious, LOUD, stubborn, passionate, hilarious, cuddly, loving, little two-year-old boy named Elijah. He will not be three until April, so we are in the trenches of two-year-old-ness …many of you who’ve experienced this age know exactly what I am talking about. And while they are fun…oh so very fun…they are exhausting.

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Elijah has been getting progressively “worse” in his twos…and by worse, I mean just more stubborn, LOUD, and passionate. The dude loves to climb, jump, crash, yell, scream at the top of his ever-loving lungs, and RUN. Boy, does the kid love to run. And in the midst of all that, I find myself completely turned around lost in how to parent a two year old. My daughter, who will be five in a few weeks, didn’t really have a rough second year. She was stubborn, passionate, and all the “I wanna do it mysewwwwfffff!!” that a two year old can be, but she didn’t have the emotional outburts like Elijah does.

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She didn’t cry at the drop of a hat over the wrong cereal or scream bloody murder for 15 straight seconds when someone took something from her. She was stubborn and passionate, but would reason. She would listen. She was a different species of two year old. Like the My Little Pony species. Elijah is of the Incredible Hulk species.

He does things that make me think I am going to literally lose my mind one second. [Like jump off the arm of the couch or sing at the top of his lungs in his crib when he’s supposed to be napping or push the button on his LOUD-AS-ALL-HECK ambulance toy over and overandoverandover…] And then the next second I am texting my husband through cry-laugh tears because he is killing me with how freaking hilarious he is. [Like today, when, during an eerily quiet moment in the house, I found him with a pile of candy wrappers, three Hershey kisses lined up on the coffee table, a big, chocolate covered smirk, and no idea how much Christmas candy he just devoured.]

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So, I have no special advice or epiphany to share today. Not-a-one. But what I do have is a heart to pray for all you mommas with two year olds. My heart is with you. God speed.

Gardening & Parenting

This year, I decided that I wanted to start a garden. I’ve always admired those who grow their food and have big, overflowing vegetable gardens. I wanted one so bad! But here in Arizona, I was afraid that the hot sun would scorch anything I planted. After doing a lot of research and attending a local class about starting your garden, I felt more confused than I began! So I decided I would just jump in! I had a couple gift cards that I hadn’t used yet, so one evening, I went and got a bunch of supplies to start my garden.

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I was amazed at how much I got for only about $80, and after the kiddos went to bed, I got to work. There’s just something about warm, wet soil under your nails and planting little sprouts that was so good for my soul. I had always had a “black” thumb and killed everything I tried to nurture, but this time I was determined to not only keep these little plants alive but also to grow something that I could eat and be proud of.

Sorry for the grainy picture! But this is everything all planted the night I did it. From left to right, I planted red bell pepper, heirloom tomato, jalapeno and cilantro (blue pot center), cherry tomato, and sage. I imagined all the bowls of salsa, crispy sage in a pan with chicken, salads with tomatoes, and more. I was so excited! The heirloom tomato on the left is only as tall as the first rung on the tomato cage and the cherry tomato on the right barely reached the second rung.

gardeningStarting from the left is the sage, center is the bell pepper plant, and right is the jalapeno with the cilantro in the background. Did you know that if you don’t pick the cilantro, it grows really tall and sprouts little white flowers?

I watered, pruned, watered some more. I learned which was the best way to position the plants for sunlight. I learned that cilantro is finicky, and that tomato plants have LOTS of pests. I would wake in the morning to find the tender leaves of sage full of wormy holes. I would find branches on my tomato plants missing blooms and leaves leaving them resembling barren tree branches. I learned that even though they were sprouted, it takes time to produce fruit. And that even though I saw growth, the best was yet to come.

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I found this mirrored my parenting. Some days are pruning days, some are watering. Some topics are finicky and don’t have set answers, and that parenting comes with LOTS of pests trying to ruin what you’re doing. I found that I would get frustrated from not seeing anything…wondering when I was going to get to reap the harvest of my work and diligence with this little garden. Isn’t this so much like motherhood? The stretch of days that feel like all you do is discipline and one bottom is constantly occupying the time-out chair. Days upon days where you wonder, “Am I doing anything? What difference am I making on this little person?”

But I kept watering…partially out of stubbornness (I will not let this investment go to waste!) but also because I knew, something had to be coming. And this is how I have to live with my kids. Partially out of stubbornness ;) but also in knowing that something has to be happening. Underneath all the tears, punishments, molding, shaping, cuddles, lessons…I had to be making a difference somehow. When I tell them not to slam doors today and they forget the lesson tomorrow. When we teach not to hit and 5 minutes later you hear another smack! Underneath the soil, there just had to be growth. I had to have faith in Jesus that he was helping me mold their little hearts and even though I couldn’t see it, He could.

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Finally, one morning I woke to find little tiny sprouts from the buds. And what was once just a little plant was now a taller, much stronger plant that was beginning to produce fruit. And some days, I wake up and my kids are kind, loving, and listen. Some days they aren’t. But when I remember that something is happening underneath that I can’t see, that one day I’ll wake up and that little bud of kindness, obedience, etc. has sprouted, that each day the fruit of my labor as a mom to little people will grow bigger and bigger…it makes all the days of tilling the soil worth it. ♥ xo

5 Things Every Mom NEEDS On Hand

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As most parents learn, I’ve learned through trial-and-error [and mostly error] the things that make my life easier. Many times, I am simply too scatter brained to even think of new ideas to help myself be less stressed and the household a happier place. [Can I get an amen??] But as my babies get older and I become more aware of the hardest parts of my day, I’ve decided to sit down and write out the top 5 things I think every mom needs to have on hand at all times. I mean, we’re here for each other…solidarity, mamas…and I think we have to share our tips and secrets to a less chaotic day! Yeah?

1. Dry Shampoo

I mean, I could probably just say that and be done with it, but you guys. For reals. I used to not use dry shampoo because I had really greasy hair every morning and was not convinced that it would work. BUT. IT. WORKS. And for cheap too. I use Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo [and you can buy a 2-pack at Target!]. It smells good, works really well, and I always have it on hand. I mean, as I write this post, I’m wearing day-old hair [with curls!] and it looks great!

One thing I love about dry shampoo is that you can also use it on days that your hair is clean for that extra volume you need, extra grip for a pony tail, or in my case, to hold curls in my otherwise thin and limp hair. Its a win-win-win-win…you get the idea…

2. A Good Tumbler

31uMsT26GyL._SY355_Its a commonality amongst moms that we joke about how many times a day we have to reheat our coffee. For me, it was like 4-5 times before lunch time and then I would end up tossing it and starting over because it just didn’t taste right. Now that I live in a home that does not have a microwave, this makes things a bit more complicated since I have to reheat my coffee in a sauce pan. [I know…] So, one day, I had a Gru moment [lightbulb…] and realized that my coffee would probably last a bit longer if I used one of my coffee tumblers. And, surprise surprise, it worked!

Of course, I have several really cute coffee mugs that I love to use, so if I am anticipating being able to drink all my coffee in one sitting, I still use mugs. :) But tumblers like this one or this one [or make one you own really pretty with this tutorial] are really cute and will keep your life-giving mommy-juice warm for the duration of your morning. :)

3. Jeans that make you feel amazing

I don’t know about you, but I could probably live in my yoga pants and/or pajamas all the livelong day. But because I have to sometimes venture out into the world of the living, I need to look at least like I didn’t come off the set of The Walking Dead.

I’ve always loved Old Navy’s jeans…they always fit me just right. And right now, I am in LOVE with their Diva Skinny Jeans. I own a couple pairs in a few different colors and washes. The reason I think every mom needs a good pair of jeans is because when you feel good in your clothes, you really do feel better. I don’t know why. Maybe its just that you feel like a human again when you’re dressed and your hair looks good, but it changes something inside. Like a reverse Hulk situation.

4. A good mascara

I’m not really sure what could possibly distract from dark circles under tired eyes, but a good mascara is always a great idea. I have hopped around to different mascaras, trying different ones for fun. But I always come back to Maybelline New York The Colossal Volum’ Express Mascara. I have thin hair and eyelashes and need that extra volume and this mascara does the trick. Its pretty cheap and yet I love it!

On mornings that I am running my daughter to school, tossing on a couple coats of this mascara changes my face. I also have dropped a few drops of Lavender oil into the bottle [I use Young Living] to promote lash growth and to keep yucky germs out of my mascara tube. I really have noticed longer lashes! Holla!

5. Self-care

Okay, I know you can’t buy this one on Amazon [if you could, I’d buy all the stock!], but as I get older and my kids get older, self-care becomes more and more an obvious need. I always felt guilty going and doing something by myself. I hated leaving my husband and kids behind just to do something that I thought was selfish [which is not]. But in the past year, I have learned that when I am not caring for myself, I am unable to fully be present with my family.

I started with just going out for an hour or so. Then, when school started in Fall 2013, I started going to coffee shops to study before class. Then, a couple months ago, I started attending Holy Yoga. For me, going to yoga was the tipping point. I had found my jam. Now, I go weekly and find it to be exactly what my soul needs to reset and refresh.

There’s nothing worse than a worn-out, grumpy mama. These five things are game changers for me. What are the things that you just cannot live without as a mama? Comment below!

Mommy Diary // The Tears of the Beloved

I have to write this down while the memory is still fresh. The wound is still open. The pain is still throbbing deep in my chest and the knot at the back of my throat.

Tonight we decided that we were going to go for a walk after dinner to an ice cream shop at the end of our street. The deal was that the kids would each eat their bites of dinner and if they did, they would get an ice cream. We usually do bites in number of how many years each child is. So for Jael, four bites of each food; for Elijah, two bites of each food. Jael ate all her bites [with a tiny little fight at the end], but Elijah refused. He cried, he acted stubborn, he punched bites of food of the fork, he simply would not budge. We tried compromising to one bite of each food…and to be completely transparent, at the end, we even tried getting him to eat just one bite of carrot and one bite of mashed potatoes and then he could have an ice cream. He could forego the two bite rule and could even skip the chicken. We simply just wanted him to eat.

He ate one bite of mashed potatoes and spit out a pile of chewed up carrot.

So we stuck to our guns. No ice cream for Elijah.

On our walk, he and Jael chit chatted about the trees, the airplanes, and we strolled nicely through the neighborhood. We got to the ice cream shop and ordered ice cream. Jael got double chocolate, Joseph got peanut butter and oreo, and I got the tastiest float I’ve ever had in my life: Oh My! Affogato, a delicious combination of Vietnamese Coffee ice cream, espresso, and Mexican Coke. When Elijah asked for ice cream, we calmy and gently told him he could not have dessert because he didn’t finish his dinner. He said, “Awww!” but we had no further fight.

It was when we took our treats outside that Elijah suddenly came to the realization that he did not have a cup.

“Where’s my strawberry?!?! WHERE’S MY STRAWBERRY?!?!”

He sobbed big, giant crocodile tears. He didn’t understand. He didn’t like the consequence. So I put my float in the stroller cup holder and he and I left Joseph and Jael at the shop. We walked a little ways down the road, and I stopped and crouched down by his stroller so we were eye to eye. He sobbed and sobbed. He made the most heart breaking, chin quivering faces I’ve ever seen. He was quite literally heart broken.

I tried to calm him. I shushed gently. I stroked his sweet face. I pet his sweaty hair. “I know, bud. I’m so sorry. This is the consequence.” And then I began to cry. I couldn’t hold it in. My heart was breaking at the genuine pain of my son. I know, it was just ice cream. But if you could have seen his face.

Oh his face.

And I just sat with him. In his hurt and lack of understanding. While he cried. And I attempted to bear the crushing feeling of witnessing my son in pain. He eventually calmed down. He started talking about the airplanes. Joseph and Jael met with us and we started the walk home. And I prayed, asking the Lord what I could have done better during dinner. How I could have better handled the situation. I begged the Lord to show me how to be a better parent.

And I heard him gently whisper, “This is how I feel when you are in pain from the consequences of sin.” And I realized there wasn’t anything better I could have done. Nothing I should have done. That sometimes as parents we simply have to witness our children bear the pain of the consequences of sin.

And that is what the Lord did for us. He sent Jesus and had to bear the pain of his son dying on a cross. Every day, he has to witness his children bearing the pain of sin. Bearing the pain of consequences. Bearing the pain of others’ sin. I witnessed tonight a small fraction of what pain he experiences when we go through the same thing.

I don’t have a take away from this. Just a mama pouring out her heart for her boy. Before Joseph and Jael joined us, in the quiet while Elijah and I stared up at the airplanes in the sky, I heard his little voice, “I sorry, mama. I sorry for screaming and yelling.” And those few words made me also realize the joy of repentance.

FREE Essential Oils Webinar!

This year, I embarked on an essential oils journey that I was skeptical of. I wasn’t sure if they would work. Well, I was in for a big surprise because they have not only worked, but they have changed our lives tremendously. From pain relief, coping with lactose intolerance/gluten intolerance, allergies, eczema, and more, we’ve seen them work countless times. Its amazing.

FREE Essential Oils Webinar

So with back-to-school in full swing, colds and germs are unfortunately just right around the corner too. [We’ve already dealt with our own cold already!]I am teaching a FREE webinar that will show you how you can use essential oils in your home during this back-to-school season. Learn tips on keeping germs away, stopping a runny nose, halting a stomach bug in its tracks, and more! There will be a few GIVEAWAYS too! I am so excited!

The webinar is next Friday, August 29 at 6:30 pm (MST/AZ), all you have to do is register to get the webinar link and show up! Please share with your friends!

GO REGISTER!! Register HERE.

When Your Babies Start Growing Up

It wasn’t that long ago. The tired, no-shower, baby-talk, endless diapers, “is that poop?” phase. Don’t get me wrong, most days even now, I am so tired I can’t remember if I took a shower or not [sorry husband]. But those bouncy chair days, those Baby Einstein days, those carry-baby-until-your-arms-resemble-a-body-builder days…those days are starting to be a bend in the road behind me that will soon be unseen.

I have a four year old girl and a two year old boy. I am in the thick of it. Probably the hardest season I’ve been through in my whole life. I even said to my husband the other day that I would trade the now for sleepless newborn nights in a heart beat. I know, I’m crazy. No sleep still, y’all.

First Day of School

Jael, my daughter, started school this week. As a matter of fact, she is in school right now as I type this. And I am sitting here, knot in my throat, trying to push the grief and sadness aside. I mean, I was praising the Lord that she could go to school, and I could have some time at home with only one child and maybe 50% of my sanity would return. [Still waiting…] But when I dropped her off on her first day, the tears started to fall. And they weren’t from her.

Growing Up Is Hard

I remember several moments in my adult life that I mourned the passing of my live-at-home, carefree days of youth. Those times at home, protected, safe, naive, unaware of the pain and violence of the world…those times felt like a safe haven when I felt threatened with adulthood. With reality. I grieved the passing of those years. Didn’t appreciate the gift of the no-bills life. Or my parents for doing all the things for me.

So as my children get older and those little baby rolls started to fade to muscles and steady feet, I started to feel that feeling again. I am losing something, and I can’t stop it. As my kids grow, I gain sweet kids who can talk and walk and come up to me and randomly say, “I wuv you, mama.” But I was also losing the carefree baby days…my kids crashed their way into “kid-hood” with their wobbly first steps of toddler-hood. The discovery of a new world, and I was a part of it. A glorious season of seeing my babies uncover the beautiful mysteries of this world.

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Just like my growth from naive teenager into the life of an adult, my kids are leaving those days of safety at home and venturing like little turtles into a big, new world. And that scares me. There are days that I want these years to be over. You know those days…the ones where you can’t cut the crust off the right way and the apple slices look funny and everyone wants the same toy and no one wants to nap. Those are the days I pray silently, “Jesus, your second coming would be nice right about now.”

But then there are moments like this. Moments that I wish I could freeze time. Freeze those little cheeks and baby eye lashes and stompy legs and pudgy toddler belly and words said funny and hugs and kisses and all.the.things. The baby teeth and soft hair and sweet stories and lessons finally learned and heartfelt apologies and discovery. All of it. I wish I could wrap it all up gently and fold them into a box to be taken out and felt and seen again.

But in my heart, my grief whispers, “These days are short. Those soft baby cheeks are but a moment.” And my tears fall. And my heart breaks. And I hold my babies tight and remember the scene in The Family Man where Nicolas Cage is trying not to fall asleep because he knows when he wakes up, his life as he knows it will be gone.

Its just my mama heart today. I’m grieving and celebrating, mourning and dancing. I’m grasping at these little years that are slipping by while also waving my flag and banner for the days to come. One foot on each side. Not ready to move an inch.

A Fresh Start

Have you ever had a zoom-in-on-the-main-character movie moment where you suddenly realize you are unhappy with the way things are? You know, those moments were the pretend rain is falling on the window of a red bricked New York apartment and the main character is sitting on the couch, may or may not be crying, and is pondering the meaning of life?

Okay, so my zoom-in moment wasn’t so dramatic [or trendy], but it came at the beginning of this year when I chose my word for 2014: #simplify.

I felt like there was so much want of more and things in my life that I started to feel icky inside. So I decided that I wanted to simplify. I wanted to take things out of my life that weren’t needed and cultivate an attitude of gratefulness and content.

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I was starting to feel like there was so much going on, so many thoughts about what I wanted to do with everything. Add this. Add that. Ooh, what if I tried this?! I came to the point that I wanted to quit it all. Quit school. Quit Facebook. Quit blogging. Get rid of everything and move into a tent. lol, seriously! I was so grossed out by the “need” for things and my dreams of a bigger and better life. Everywhere I turned I saw blog posts and articles on increasing your blog following, making a life out of your dreams, and more along that theme.

I totally shout, “YES!” and wave my arms in the air for doing what you love and loving your life. But for so long, I had tried this path and pushed for what was next in my dreams that I was forgetting the now. Enjoying my day. Not having a list of a million things to do. I was trying so desperately to create a life that mattered that I was missing out on what already mattered.

Downsizing

In small ways, I started. Earlier this year, I stopped web designing. And back in March, I stopped blogging for an open ended amount of time. Around that time, I felt the tug on my heart to move into the city and out of the suburbs. My husband felt it too. We felt called to be closer to our church and to move into a home that would be a place of community.

Through a series of events, we were brought to our current home. We reduced the size of our living space by moving into a 1300 sq.ft. home. This house doesn’t have a dishwasher or garbage disposal. I haven’t used our clothes dryer since moving in because I’ve been hanging our clothes out on the line outside. We cancelled cable. Sold toys and extra household stuff at a yard sale. We donated TONS of clothes. And I began to pray and ask the Lord how we could further simplify our lives.

Our new home has a room built onto the back of the house that is what we would call an Arizona room [but since I live in Arizona, wouldn’t it just be called a room?]. We turned this room into an office/play room and the kids rush in every morning to play. We watch less TV. We started juicing again. Eating simpler. Clean. Healthy.

And in many ways, we started downsizing our lives. Taking out little things here and there to make room for the things we love. And I let go of the idea of a new car, bigger house, new furniture, etc., and traded it for the idea of enjoying my surroundings. For me, this meant so much more than decluttering, it meant clearing out my heart and making room for joy. Peace. Love. And consequently, it made room for passion and dreaming.

What next?

When I look at our journey so far to simplifying our lives, I know there is so much more we can cut out. But right now, I am enjoying the fact that the Lord has answered so many prayers for downsizing for us. He has shown us what is GOOD for us right now. He has washed over our frantic scribbles in the sand and made for a fresh and simple start.

I do have some plans for the next few months which includes starting a vegetable garden, blogging more, and transitioning our lives to a more Paleo diet. But now, before I decide to put anything on the to-do list, I try and discern if this is bringing simplicity to my life or excess. If adding something is adding more than I need right now, then it gets on the “someday” list. Because, as cliche as it sounds, less really is more.

#simplify // where have I been?

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You may have wondered why I post in fits and starts. I get inspired. I write. I get busy. I don’t write.

Its the natural ebb and flow of life, really. We have busy times and slow times. And right now for me, its a busy one. As you know, I am in seminary and this term has been a doosy. It has been the heaviest load of schoolwork thus far: 15 papers in 12 weeks, hundreds of pages of reading, a presentation, and more intense subjects. I have two weeks left of this term.

But to #simplify sometimes means giving yourself breathing room. So I am still here. Promise. Hope to create more of an editorial calendar soon so that I don’t have to come up with interesting topics to write about on the fly. I really want to share more of life with you!

Here is a little list of things that have happened recently or is happening soon:

  • Jael turned FOUR in early February. Gosh, time sure flies!
  • Speaking of which, Elijah turns TWO in about 6 weeks. Pinch me.
  • Like I said before, I am two weeks away from finishing my second term of grad school. Thuper ek-thited.
  • The Lord has surely blessed me this term with endurance. I have managed to stay up-to-date with all my assignments and reading. Which is nothing short of a miracle with the amount we’re working with.
  • We’re moving in a little less than four weeks. Still searching for that perfect-for-us house that will further allow us to #simplify our lives by: starting a raised-bed vegetable garden and bringing community into our home.
  • We also hope to adopt a dog. Maybe that isn’t simplifying…I’m not sure yet. ;)

Here is to a happy and healthy and LOVELY March! xo

#simplify // food

One of the ways I am excited to #simplify my life [and the lives of my people :) ] is to put healthier and good for you foods on the table. I’m not simply talking clean gluten free eating, but I am also talking about whats in those foods and how they are grown. For example, the other night, I surfed the web for two hours researching locally pastured beef. Its important to me to start eating free-range and grass-fed meat because they are SO much better for you than the packaged stuff at the grocer.

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In researching, I began a fall down the rabbit hole, so to speak, because I got pumped about building a raised vegetable garden, maybe having a couple dairy goats, raising chickens for their eggs and maybe someday their meat [although, I don’t know if I could kill a chicken] and more “urban homesteading” things.

I realize this doesn’t embrace simplify if I am adding livestock to my yard, heehee, but it does simplify my diet. It brings our family back to eating real food with good fats and vitamins and minerals. I want that for my family. So I want to know, do you do any sort of homesteading, wherever you are? DO you garden? Raise chickens or goats? Purchase locally pastured meat every year?

I want to chat about this, so please comment below. What do you do and how do you do it? :)

 

Holiday Health

Every year, without fail, it seems my kids are super sick for the months of December and January. Last year, they got sick every other week for three months. This year, praise GOD, they have yet to get sick. We’ve implemented some changes like drinking a probiotic drink, taking a daily multi-vitamin, being more diligent with hand washing, and staying home when we hear of friends who are sick or if one of us is feeling run down.

One specific thing I have been really excited about is my new Braun Thermometer. I have those flimsy $5 electric thermometers that you can stick in the kids’ mouth, under their arm, or in their bum. But quite honestly, I couldn’t keep track of where each one had been, if you know what I mean, so even though I cleaned them after using them, I was hesitant to accidentally put one in a child’s mouth that had been to…erm…the dark side. ;)

When I received my Braun forehead thermometer, I was super excited. The kids immediately asked if I could take their temp over and over! It is great quality, very easy to use, and kind of fun for the kids!

I highly recommend this thermometer, especially if you have kiddos. It remembers the last temperature you took so its easy to keep track of your child’s progress in getting better! It retails for $51.99, but right now you can get a $10 online rebate that makes it super affordable.

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