{faith . family . friendship . fashion . fitness . food . fun . fabulosity}

a



Thursday, June 7, 2012

{two feet running}

I have a little problem. For the better part of eight years, I haven't really slept. And it tends to make me a little grumpy. I used to daydream about being a stay at home mom and not needing an alarm clock because I wouldn't have any job to have to run off to. My time would be all my own and life would be like a permanent vacation. (In case you didn't know this by now, I tend to lean more towards the lazy side than the driven side...I prefer to think I'm just more fun than serious:)). What I didn't realize was that my need for no alarm clock would not be because I would be sleeping in until my heart desires and then drinking a lazy cup of coffee while my little angels played quietly in a sunlit room. Exactly the opposite in fact. The reason one does not need an alarm clock when living with young children is because they wake up EARLY. And if they are my children, they wake up more on the crack of dawn/borderline insane side of early. Oh, and there is no lazy cup of coffee but rather a cup that gets reheated ten times a morning before finally throwing the towel in on the idea all together. And have I mentioned that they don't wake up and play quietly in a sunlit room because 1. it is still dark when they wake up during most months of the year and 2. they are hungry and they want breakfast and they want it like NOW. For years, I have tried my hardest to deny this problem. Although my girls are up early, I set them up in front of the TV and crawl back into my bed and fool myself into thinking I can squeeze in an hour more sleep. What really happens is that someone is hungry or thirsty or fighting over what show they will watch or turning the volume up so loudly that sleeping isn't an option even for our neighbors. And so my day starts...with me being tired, annoyed, and disappointed that my best efforts have failed. Lately, I've decided to attack the problem head on and it has worked wonders. The new me bounces out of bed after the first girl (who am I kidding, it's always Claire) rises and jumps in the shower. We are talking full hair and makeup before 7am. Sometimes waaaaay before 7am. It's kind of amazing how a good hair day can change one's mood and outlook on the day. I am much nicer these mornings with a good blowout than with a bad case of bed head. I'm pretty sure the bus driver and everyone else I come across on the walk to the bus stop appreciates my lack of pajamas and bed head too. I've learned to just embrace the fact that while my girls are precious, adorable, great sleepers, just not great sleeper-inners I need to roll with the punches and sacrifice that extra hour of sleep so that I can give the best of myself to them. And on the days when I'm scatterbrained and forget that I have a parent teacher conference until ten minutes before it's set to start it kind of helps to be all dressed and ready to too. Oh...and my hubby gets to kiss a normal looking wife goodbye in the mornings rather than a sleep induced zombie. It's a win all around:) xoxo, ali

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

{for the love of COFFEE}


Today, all I want is a cup of coffee. A warm cup in my hands; a chance to wake myself up, clear my head and start my day. Preferably in peace. Not. Gonna. Happen. It's one of those days (ok, with three small children in the house everyday is one of those days) where it takes me two hours in to morning before I even have a moment to myself to actually make the coffee. Then it's a matter of finding the time to actually drink it. Typically, I have the first sip or two before I go off helping someone with this or cleaning that and the next thing I know another two hours has passed and I'm reheating the coffee over and over again before I finally give up. Or, like today, I sit down and actually try to down a few sips when Claire comes and kicks the mug over and spills the said coffee all over the living room floor. Agh!!!! One day my house will be empty and I'll have hour upon hour to drink my coffee in peace and quiet. I'm sure it won't be nearly as great as it sounds. Until then, I'm embracing the busyness and remembering the ones who are keeping me so busy are far greater than a cup of coffee ever will be. Happy caffeinating....hopefully you're coffee fix today goes better than mine did!


xoxo,
ali

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

{forever reign}

It's Easter week and this year I'm focusing on quieting my heart, slowing down my life a little and taking the time to reflect on what the death, burial and resurrection really and truly mean in my life. This is my favorite song of the moment and it perfectly depicts just why the work done on the cross is so essential to all aspects of my life.


Forever Reign by Hillsong United

You are good, you are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love, you are love
On display for all to see
You are light, you are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, you are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, you are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, you are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, you are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life, you are life
In you death has lost its sting

You are more, you are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, you are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here, you are here
In your presence I'm made whole
You are God, you are God
Of all else I'm letting go

This is Jesus. He is good, loving, my light and my hope. He is peace, he is true...he is my joy and my life. I can't think of a day that goes by when I don't need the Lord to show up and take over because I've got it all wrong and he's sufficient to meet my every need and shortcoming. If it weren't for Easter Sunday.....if he really didn't conquer death.....then he would've just been a mere man and I wouldn't have this indescribable gift. But He IS risen. And I will never be the same because of it.

xoxo,
ali

Monday, April 2, 2012

{egg hunt}

This morning I took Claire and Madeline to the MOPS Easter egg hunt. SO. MUCH. FUN! There is a sweet couple that has a gorgeous property that they graciously lend out each year to put on this event for the kiddos. It was absolutely adorable. The girls decorated their bags for the hunt and then had the best time scouring the beautiful grounds to find their eggs. Once they collected their eggs, they got to crack them open, collect their candy and turn the empty eggs in for a prize! Next, they took a tractor ride around the yard and then we played games on the lawn (three legged races and spoon&egg races)....this was their favorite part. The mommies all had to race as well and it melted my heart to see the kids all cheering their moms on from the sidelines. PRECIOUS. I'm pretty sure Madeline wanted nothing in the world more than for me to win and I'm pretty sure a big gust of wind knocked my egg off the spoon and I lost at the last minute. Oh well! The very best part of the morning was when the sweet hostess gathered all of the kids inside her living room to share the Easter story with them and to give them a sticker craft on the resurrection to bring home. Such a precious morning celebrating our risen savior with my precious little girls. I am so thankful for the generosity of the Rementov family and for all the effort they put into making such a special time for our kids. I can only hope that when I'm older and my kids are grown I will make an effort to bless other the way they bless us. Lots of pics to follow!


xoxo,
ali

Sunday, April 1, 2012

{day trip}


Today, Ryan constructed a playhouse for the girls (yay!!). We wanted it to be a surprise, so the deal was that he would spend the day assembling it and I would take off with the girls. How do I kill 8 hours on a cold, rainy day? The Pottery Barn outlet, of course! The girls were less than thrilled to be taking the long ride to "horse and buggy town", but we decided to make the most of it. We spoke in English accents for a good part of the ride, looked out the window at the beautiful farmlands while girls dreamed up what their farm would be like if they had one, browsed around our favorite antique store to scope out treasures "older than grandma mimi", we stopped to play at the playground and then it was kid's choice for the restaurant for dinner. It was a fabulous day filled with so many adorable memories with my gang. And the shrieks of joy when they saw their new playhouse was so, so worth it!


Oh, and one of my very favorite parts of the day was this: As we were heading out to leave for the day, I pulled up to the drive through to grab lunch for the girls. Emma informed me that she had already packed everyone's lunch. Sure enough, I looked in the back seat and there were three little lunch boxes complete with pb&j sandwiches, juice boxes, bottled water, a snack and a piece of candy for dessert. Ha! I love that girl. I better watch out or before I know it I'll be out of a job!

xoxo,
ali

p.s. I'm not a huge fan of the "orangey cedar look" so I'm really pushing to have the playhouse painted pale yellow to match our real house. Wish me luck!;-)


{almost that time again}


I just came across this picture of my two littles at their 3 & 5 year old check ups. Yesterday I ordered the invitations for their birthday party which means that party planning has officially begun....which also means that before I know it we will be sitting in Dr. Dorn's office again in those adorable little gowns and my adorable (and silly!) little girls will be a whole year older. Boooooo:( Dear time, please. stand. STILL. Or at the very least...slow down just a little?


xoxo,
ali

Saturday, March 31, 2012

{future style star}



I have jokingly been referring to Madeline as my little fashionista for awhile now. She gives me a run for my money every day when it comes to her wardrobe....changing her outfit at least five times each morning (leaving a trail of clothes in her dust). There is usually a small, if not large, amount of drama that we go through each day over what she is or isn't allowed to wear, what her sister is wearing that she wants, what's appropriate for the weather or the occasion, etc. Clothing drama. All. The. Time. Tonight, I put her and Claire to bed but Emma was out with Ryan. About a half hour later, they got home and I went upstairs to put Em to bed and Claire was sound asleep but Madeline was still lying there awake. She quietly called me over to her bed and asked me this...with all of the seriousness in the world: "Mommy, in the spring is it ok to wear like a short sleeve top with something long on the bottom?". I couldn't help but burst out laughing. First, I told her that yes...that is a totally acceptable outfit option for spring weather and then I asked her if that's always what she thinks about while she's lying in bed at night. The bashful grin on her face let me know that yup, it is. Oh dear! At least I know that girl has the world's biggest heart and sweetest soul.....otherwise I'd be in even bigger trouble.


xoxo,
ali

{birthday dinner}

just a snapshot from our night out...celebrating my hubby and his mom. love these peeps!

{happy birthday to daddy}



Today is Ryan's birthday....it's still early but we're already off to a fun start. He woke up to a trail of balloons, a coldstone cake, some gifts, lots of cards and pictures made by the girls and this poem from Emma:

A seed is me
The sun is Claire
Maddy is the space
Mom is the water
You are like the flower
Together the flower grows.

We are heading into the city soon to go to Reading Terminal Market to continue the fun (and the fat fest). I love birthdays and I love him!

xoxo,
ali


Friday, March 30, 2012

{easter inspiration}




{another fave!}

I need to take a minute to add to my list of favorites because it's still Friday and this is topping my list right now....


5. Jenny: She is the best babysitter. EVER. Here's a little glimpse into why....tonight she showed up a half hour early (allowing me to debate over my wardrobe in peace), with a basketful of eggs fresh from her family's chickens (of course) and asks if it's ok if she cooks the kids "breakfast for dinner" (then excitedly proceeds to fill me in on the whole dinner menu she had in mind)...then she doesn't just crack the eggs open, but hollows them out because she has planned a little egg painting craft for them to do. Oh wait, and then we get home before bedtime and she takes it upon herself to put the kids to bed anyway, even though Ryan and I are sitting right there. Then I go upstairs to say goodnight and she's holding a large book that I've never seen before. I ask her what it is and she informs me that she brings it with her every times she comes and reads the girls their bedtime story out of it...a little each time. Of course she does. Oh, sweet Jenny. My girls couldn't love her more and I don't know if I could either. She's an enormous blessing and a dream come true!

{friday favorites}

Friday? Again? Already?? As the girls get bigger and our days get busier, time flies by at warped speed. The past few weeks have been filled with those types of days where every time slot in my day is accounted for. I have been crashing early each night and sleeping like a rock recovering and gearing up for each new day. Alas, here we are....another week has bitten the dust. Here's a few of my faves from this week (or at least what my fried brain can remember):


1. My hubs: Tomorrow is his birthday!!!! In the midst of my busy week, there have been a handful of times where I have just stopped and realized what a huge blessing he is to me. Every now and then I find myself in awe of how he loves me (like cleaning the house from top to bottom because he knows I'm hosting a playdate the next day). I can only hope that I can learn to love so unselfishly the way that he loves me. I'm looking forward to (ice cream!) cake for breakfast and a whole day for all of his girls to spoil him:)

2. Easter, Easter, Easter: I love holidays. Like love them, love them. There is such a nostalgic sweetness to diving head first into each holiday and season that approaches. When I was studying Elementary Ed in school, I remember being so excited when working on units on seasons or holidays....the thought of exposing kids to the sweet side of life struck a chord with me. Weird, I know. But here I am as a mom, and I can't get enough of it. I can't, for example, let my kids have their snacks in a plain zip lock bag during the month of March when I know that Easter bunny zip lock bags are an option. To me, going the extra mile is always worth it. It's those little details that make childhood so much fun:) I often find the internal struggle to balance all of the cuteness with the realness of why we celebrate. This draws me to the word to keep my mind and heart seeking the truth and looking for ways to best share it with my girls. Ahhh, thank goodness we get breaks between holidays cause they sure do wear me out by the time they are said and done.

3. The Cheesecake Factory: Going there for dinner tonight. Without kids. I'm starving and I have birthdays to celebrate (and I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas). Need I say more?

4. My mom: I don't think I say it or show it enough. I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a neighbor, I am a friend. Sometimes I forget that before I was any of those things, I was and still am...a daughter. My mom holds a great amount of wisdom and discernment and is a huge blessing in my life. She's typically the first person I go to when I need a problem solved whether big or small because I completely trust her judgement and I know she'll have the answer. Sometimes I need a reminder that no matter how busy or hectic my days get, she's my mom and she won't be around forever and I need to carve out the time to show her what she means to me. Oh, and she's coming here next week. Can't WAIT!

xoxo,
ali

Thursday, March 29, 2012

{inspired}

I have a confession. Sometimes (ok, a lot of the time), I have no idea what to write about or why anyone is actually reading this blog. I check in, I see the numbers and I automatically freak out thinking "Who are these people and why are they are coming here. What is it they are expecting from me?!". I don't know if you are here out of habit, hoping to get a funny self-degrading story, looking for pics of what's being going on with my family, checking out my latest party planning finds or hoping that I've come up with some profound thought for the day (yeah...prob not that). There are times when I find myself with nothing to write and times when my soul is overflowing with new things that the Lord is teaching me and I can't help but share. No matter how intimidating it is to be so completely raw about what goes on in my heart, I am led to share it with you in the hope that even one person will be touched and make it all worthwhile. Still, I often struggle with putting it all out there. I'll often write a post, hit publish and then ask myself what in the world I was thinking exposing my heart to the masses.

I know a girl who is a major fashionista, a former boutique owner and a style blogger. This week she shared that she's been hesitant to post on her "style" blog because God has been working so much in her life that writing about fashion just seems trivial at this point. Since then, she's been writing these amazing, encouraging, uplifting posts about things that really matter. Kourtney has seen the love of her savior transform her life and she can't not share it. She has inspired me this week to keep on keeping on....because when all is said and done, He really is too good to not share. Check her out and add her to your blog roll: kourtneypulitzerstyle@blogspot.com

Oh, and if you want to leave a comment telling me who you are and why you read, I really wouldn't mind. Just sayin..... ;-)

xoxo,
ali

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

{almost a sister}

Since moving to New Jersey, the most difficult thing for me hands down has been forming new friendships. It has been a lonely year and a half to say the least. This is an area of my life that I am constantly trusting God to show up in....and he Has and I know He will continue to.


"A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." proverbs 18:24

Tonight I'm thankful for a friend who was like a sister to me as a child and is a huge part of my life today. I love to think back 20 years to when we were (probably literally) pulling each other's hair out and then fast forward to the present when I need to talk about something or pray about something and she's the first person I go to. Our God is so big that he brought us back into each other's lives after so many years....His ways are greater than our ways. AMEN for that. More on her and more on this whole friendship thing another time!

xoxo,
ali

{besties and worsties}

A few years ago, Ryan started a tradition at the dinner table where we each have a turn sharing the best and worst part of our day. Or as Claire calls it "doing our besties and worsties". Yesterday was one of those days for me when I couldn't even think of a single worst part of my day because my entire day was just so darn good. I got back to the gym for the first time in a month, got a much needed eyebrow wax (you would not believe how long it took me to find the time to do this), cashed in my free iced coffee (pumpkin no less!) from dunkin donuts, ate lunch with my hubby, devoured the bible at nap time, took the girls on an outing to the craft store after school, cooked a delicious dinner in blissful peace while the girls crafted away....all this and the girls were on their best behavior all day; obeying me, not fighting, not even just tolerating, but all out loving on each other. It was amazing and a breath of fresh air. A much, much needed one. This was the same day, remind you, that started out with me losing my cool with Emma before school. But I learned so much from it that it wasn't enough to put a damper on my day. And you can imagine my joy to learn that that wasn't Em's worstie either. As a matter of fact, going to the library for your special at school is worse than getting yelled out by your mom and spending all morning in time out. Either she gained a lot of wisdom from our "talk" too, or she's learned to completely tune me out already at the age of eight. I'm crossing my fingers that it's the former:). One day at a time, I'm learning to slow down, take a deep breath and be thankful for all of my many blessing. Every last little one of them.


xoxo,
ali



Monday, March 26, 2012

{failing flesh}

So remember my last post that ended with me wanting to treat my girls in a way that brought glory to God? I made it exactly three seconds this morning before I failed miserably. Emma had been giving Ryan and I a run for our money all weekend. She was picking on her sisters left and right and was being repeatedly disrespectful to the two of us. And we had had it. This morning, I woke up and came downstairs and was greeted by a very grumpy eight year old who has gotten a little too big for her britches. Within thirty seconds, she was talking back to me and giving me major attitude and let me tell you...if it is not yet 7am, don't mess with me. So, I lost it again. It was one of those moments where I put her in time out, told her what she was doing wrong and then continued to let her know just to make sure she got it. While I made breakfast, I drove my point home. While I did the dishes, I made sure she really knew and as I packed her lunch for school I told her again. Just in case she didn't get it the first fifty times. What I realized later was that I was upset with her for not controlling her emotions and for being unkind to the people around her....and that that's exactly what I was doing to her in return. While her punishment may have been justified, the way I went about it was wrong. It needed to be done out of love for her and not out of my own frustration.


While working on my bible study today, I came across this verse:
"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."
psalm 73:26

I needed to hear that! And so does Emma. We are human and we will have things that we struggle with. My hope is that both of us can learn to let God be in control of our hearts so that we don't give in to the temptation to take it out on the people around us. Together this week, we will work on memorizing this verse and applying it to our lives. As part of her punishment, she has to go out of her way to show an act of love or kindness to one person each day. Maybe mommy needs to do the same. One of the things I'm most thankful for about this little girl that God has blessed me with is that he is always using her to refine me. She keeps me on my toes that's for sure. Here's to many more years of failed parenting attempts and the hope that God does great things in my children in spite of my mistakes....

xoxo,
ali

Sunday, March 25, 2012

{speechless}

Some days you just have no words. Today started out as one of those days for me. I had some other things going on that were upsetting me (and therefore wearing my patience level waaaay down) and the girls pushed my buttons one too many times while getting ready for church this morning and I LOST IT. Like lost it, lost it. Like yelling at my girls and telling them about fifty times too many exactly what they were doing that was driving me absolutely crazy. And not in a nice, loving way. More like in a "I have zero tolerance for you or anything you say or do right now" way. Yup, as patient or laid back as you think I may be, that's not always the case. There are those moments like today when my stress or emotions get the best of me and I react in the worst way. Of course this had to happen on the way to church. Ha. Gotta love the irony. We dropped the girls off at their classroom and went in to the service and I was just numb and speechless. I was even speechless inside my head (trust me, this rarely happens). I was just completely mentally and emotionally drained, not to mention feeling a little guilty for being so harsh with the girls. I was just done. I was already over the day and the day had just started. And then the band started playing my song. This is one of the songs that gets me every time....it always has a way of speaking to me right where I'm at and reminding me of the merciful grace of my savior. The grace that redeems me over and over again.


Inside Out
A thousand times I've failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm lost in your grace

Everlasting your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending your glory goes beyond all fame

My heart and my soul, I give you control
Consume me from the inside out
Let justice and grace become my embrace
To love you from the inside out

Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing you praise

Everlasting your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring you praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out to you

Ahhhh, just typing the lyrics settles my soul deep within. There is immeasurable peace that comes from knowing that His mercy never fails. I pray that daily I would lose myself....that I would be consumed with the one who laid down His life for me and that every thought and action would be held captive by that. I pray that I would relate and react to everyone I come in contact with (especially my girls) in a way that brings glory to my savior. I want his all consuming love to change me....and to continue changing me daily. Every last shortcoming: big or small.

xoxo,
ali

{pinterest}

I am still a little out of the loop when it comes to pinterest. I love to go on and peek around to get ideas, but I still have not set up an account or actually started pinning anything. Kind of like how I got my new iPhone almost a year ago and still haven't downloaded a single song onto it. No joke. Sometimes you just can't be bothered. Sometimes you need to spend time focusing on more important things: like your table setting for Easter. Yup, Easter is still two weeks away and I've already been obsessing for weeks over the decor and details of the day. I found this pic of my dining room set online....all decked out for Easter dinner. It's giving me a little inspiration for what I want to do with my table. Ahhh, if only my dining room had nearly that much natural sunlight!
p.s. One of the things I love most about pinterest is that it reminds me that I'm not alone...there are millions of other people out there wasting away hour after hour, day after day, seeking ways to find an outlet for their creativity. I must not be crazy...there's safety in numbers:)

happy planning!
xoxo,
ali

Friday, March 23, 2012

{friday favorites}

1. SPRING!!!!: I thought I would be sad to see winter go...especially with our lack of snow this year. I was WRONG. I can't get enough of the warm weather. It's ahhhhhh-mazimg! The feel of the sun beating down on me, ditching my boots and throwing on flip flops, driving with the sunroof open and the windows down, long walks with my girls, tired and dirty kids at the end of the day, tan lines....I'll take it!


2. my backyard: I am love love loving spending my afternoons(and mornings and evenings for that matter) in the backyard. Giving my girls a picnic lunch, watching them play and laugh together, reading a book while soaking up some sun at nap time, planting herbs and flowers, swinging on the swingest(Yes, I do this. Alone. Even when my kids aren't around. Major nerd)....I CAN'T GET ENOUGH.

3. reading: I have always loved to read, but I often go through phases where I just don't have the time (or I fall asleep by the third page). I have started reading at nap time and it's been wonderful. I love the refreshing escape in the middle of my day that helps me unwind and get ready for round two. I'm almost finished with this week's book...can't wait to pick out another!

4. fresh brewed orange iced tea: self explanatory....brew some tea, squeeze in a few oranges, pour over ice and devour. I drink this by the pitcherful. Heaven.

5. maxi dresses: Love. Obsessed. Never ever get sick of them. It's the perfect blend of casual and chic, day time or date time. I'm pretty sure I've been wearing a maxi dress for a week straight. I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna stop anytime soon.

6. birthday parties: Who doesn't love a good birthday party (other than most husbands I have come across)? I love to throw parties and I love to go to parties. They are fun, they are festive and they feed you cake: what's not to love? When you are a mom of small children, there's always a party. We are in full on party mode...spring has a way of doing that. Four this weekend alone. That's a lot of fun...and a lot of cake. Don't mind if I do!

So there you have it, a few highlights from my week. ON TIME. Imagine that. Hope you all enjoy your weekend...I know I'll be enjoying mine:-)

xoxo,
ali

Sunday, March 18, 2012

{man pants}

Yes, you read that right. I said man pants. As in the most important article of clothing that I own. As in run out immediately and buy yourself a pair. My beloved man pants have been around for quite some time now (much too long for Ryan's liking, I'm sure). If by now you are wondering what man pants are and why in the world any self respecting woman would own a pair, this is the part when I tell you:) The technical name for them is "boyfriend pants" and they come from Victoria's Secret. I just happen to think that man pants has more of a ring to it. And I just happen to kind of resemble a man when I wear them. But seriously, they are my best friend. My man pants are an XS but fit like an XL. They are made that way (hence the boyfriend part). Genius. If I am in a bad mood, if I am freezing cold, if I am sick, if I am just too tired to deal with life, if I have eaten my fair share of cupcakes or engorged myself at dinner....they are there. Alway waiting with their eternal softness, loose waistband that will never ever feel too snug (therefore never adding to the bad mood), they are my dream. Oh, and add a hooded sweatshirt with them and forget. about. it. Seriously. Ryan usually knows it's been a long day if he walks in the door at night and I've got my man pants on. The rest of the world probably knows it's been a long day if they see me in Target and I've got them on. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I hosted a playdate recently and had them on. The house looked great, the kids had their cute little party food all ready to go, and there I was in my man pants. I'm sorry, but sometimes it's just gotta happen. Lately, I've been a lot sick, a little bit lonely, a tad down about the race and the man pants have been making frequent appearances. Sorry hubs. I didn't have many favorites again this week (I kind of stink at that part lately but I'm working on it!) so instead here's an ode to my faithful friend.....my good old man pants. Go ahead and try them....you'll thank me for life;-)


xoxo,
ali

{bright sunshiny day}

The tears of yesterday's disappointment have quickly faded. I admit, I woke up totally still grumpy, numb and let down but all of that left the moment I walked into church and started to worship. In that moment, I was able to let it go. Every song we sang today was a great reminder that my savior's love is enough to carry me through any hurt and disappointment....even one so trivial. The rest of the day was absolute perfection....lunch with the entire Boyd clan, touring ridiculously gorgeous homes at some open houses and hours upon hours in the beautiful sunshine getting our backyard ready for spring. Even gave the girls a perfectly simple dinner on the back lawn at dusk. Like I said....perfection. All that and I didn't think about the race for one single second. God is good! But then again, I kinda already knew that. I just needed a subtle reminder today.


You are my supply
My breath of life
And still more awesome than I know
You are my reward
Worth living for

All of you is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with your love
And all I have in you is more than enough

xoxo,
ali

Saturday, March 17, 2012

{when dreams die}

Today will go down in history as one of the hardest days of my life. Race day. Or not race day as I should say. I know it may be hard for most people to understand the loss I feel by not being able to run this race....all I can compare it to is a job promotion that you've been working your butt of to get but don't; a college that you've always dreamed of attending but you're denied acceptance; a proposal that you've been anxiously anticipating but he dumps you instead; anything that you've longed for and almost achieved only to have it slip through your fingers at the last minute.... a dream that is dead.

I was proud of Liz and Toni (and Brittney!) and was so glad to see them off today. I was like a proud mama....following them all the way to the start line....jogging alongside the corral with the camera trying to keep up with them so I wouldn't lose sight. The moment we had been dreaming about, stressing about, talking about and anticipating for months was finally here and I wasn't going to miss seeing them pick up their feet and start that journey. I just never ever dreamed that I'd be standing alone on the other side of the fence wearing my flip flops and blowing them kisses as I did it. Thank goodness for big huge all concealing sunglasses because I'm sure I looked like a fool. But I had worked too hard for too long to just stand and wave them off: the tears were inevitable. And let me tell you....they flowed. All the way back to the hotel they flowed. And as I sit and type this rather than sleep soundly in my bed it is because they are still. flowing.

For months and months I have sacrificed hugely to prepare for this day. My husband has sacrificed his wife. My kids have sacrificed their mom. Friendships have sacrificed because of the all consuming training. Every area of my life has sacrificed in some way because there just aren't enough hours in the day. That is one of the hardest parts of this. Knowing what goes into training and knowing that it will take a lot for me to ever attempt it again. A lot more missed weekends with my family, a lot more of those days of not being able to walk up and down the stairs after a long run, a lot of precious time with my metabolism being screwed up while it tries to figure out what in the world my body is doing, a lot of money spent to make race day happen...this list goes on. And finding a new running partner willing to run a marathon that I can train with? That could be a long time coming.

This I know for sure: I have almost tasted the victory of this. And it was sweet. Sweet enough to get under my skin and assure me that there is no question about it....I will run one. When that perfect timing comes together and I find the race, the partner and the time to train...I will run. And when it finally does happen, the bitterness of today will make the sweetness of victory that much more sweet. There's gotta be a silver lining somewhere.

xoxo,
ali

Saturday, March 10, 2012

{friday favorites}

....bed rest style. Ok, so it's actually Saturday, but I've been sick in bed all week and this is the first time I've felt like typing so give a girl a break;-). I haven't really left my bed this week, so here are the favorites that have carried me through:


1. gossip girl: It's one of those shows that for years I've been asking myself why I don't watch because I had a sneaking suspicion that I would love it. Turns out I was right!! It's the best thing to happen to tv since The O.C. Thank goodness for Netflix and all of the past seasons right at my fingertips!

2. tea: Thanks to Liz spoiling me with Starbucks tea runs and my sudden opposition to coffee, tea is my new best friend. Can't get enough of it and loving that it's oh so calorie free;-)

3. soup: Why is it that when you are sick, nothing tastes better than a good old warm bowl of soup? Toni was sweet enough to make me a huge batch of chicken soup full of fresh herbs from her garden...just what the doctor ordered!

4. meals provided by someone other than me: Speaking of Toni and her to die for soup, there is nothing better than having a meal provided for your family. I have not made dinner in almost a week. That right there is almost worth missing my race for. Ok, not quite...but almost. Seriously though, I highly recommend getting sick or giving birth if for no other reason than being on the receiving end of a few hot meals delivered to your table;-)

5. my hubby: He's been a trooper...pretty much single parenting it all week, driving the girls to and from their activities, picking up the responsibilities of being "mom" for awhile. And to top it off, I'm usually asleep or half asleep and not keeping him much company. I can't wait to get some energy back and be part of this family again. I miss my peeps!

So there you have it, my favorite things about being holed up in my bedroom all week. Hopefully by next Friday I'll be fully recovered and enjoying things outside these four walls. Until then...more gossip girl;-)

xoxo,
ali

{reality strikes}

Remember that big race that I've been training for for months? Turns out, it's not gonna happen. After a few days of being terribly sick and a few scary episodes where I could hardly breathe, I wound up in urgent care....with pneumonia. I know that soon the realization will hit me that all my hard work has gone to waste and I'm sure that my stomach will sink when the starting gun goes off yet my feet stand still, but for now I'm focusing on getting myself better and thanking God that He let me get sick when I did; if only to protect me from something worse. I know that He works all things together for good...and even if I can't see it yet, this too is for my good.


xoxo,
ali

Friday, March 2, 2012

{friday favorites}

My bff happens to be an amazing photographer and she also has a blog that I just love to read (mariaglassfordphotography.com...check her out!). My very favorite part of her blog is her "friday favorites". I love to check in each week and get a little glimpse of what's been going on in her life through her self proclaimed favorite things of the moment. I love it so much I decided to steal the idea for myself. If nothing else, hopefully it will keep me accountable to not let forever go between posts and will give you something to look forward to reading. Let's get started!


1. long runs: I ran 20 miles on Tuesday. I'm not gonna lie, I feel kinda like super woman. I have always loved to run and it's always been an area that I'm naturally gifted in, but 20 miles seemed unreal not too long ago. It was incredible to be in the middle. of. nowhere. three towns away from home, knowing that I got there on FOOT. The adrenaline was already kicking in that day, so much so that there was even a little bit of sprinting involved on the homestretch. Cannot wait for race day after that!!!!!:)

2. white flowers: Call me boring or plain, but white has always been my favorite color (so much so that I had my bridesmaids wear it...so much for standing out on my wedding day!). I love the pureness and crispness of it...I love how it's not limiting and goes with everything. I keep finding myself in the grocery store selecting fresh flowers for the house each week and bypassing all of the beautifully colored bouquets for the simple white beauties. And I just love how they look all around my house!

3. The Bachelor: I know, I know. Me and the rest of America. Or at least me and the rest of the normal Americans;-). It's a train wreck that I cannot ever and will not ever turn away from. And even though Courtney is so horrible and Ben is such a ridiculously shallow loser for choosing her, the horribleness of it makes me love it even more. What's life without a few guilty pleasures, right?

4. kale: In soups, in salads, roasted and salted and turned into "chips"....anyway I can get my hands on it, kale is my go to food of the moment!

5. date night: I know I've said this before, but having a set in stone date night every single week is a little bit a m a z i n g. I got another cutesy 'date night' text from my hubby this week and it totally made my day. There's something about knowing that come 5:30 I am OUT THE DOOR that makes the rest of the day just automatically lighter and brighter.

There you have it, just a snippet of my highlights from the week...I really could go on all night but I've gotta save something for next friday. Happy weekend!;-)

xoxo,
ali

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hi there....remember me? It's been bugging me for days (ok, weeks maybe) that I haven't been blogging....all it took was a few nudges from friends and a sleepless night with a head cold and here I am. I'm proud to announce that it wasn't so long between posts that I forgot my password...got it on the first attempt this time. That's gotta count for something, right?;). I wish I could tell you I've been busy, sick or tired and that's why I've been so quiet....it's not. Actually, I have been busy (marathon training is serious stuff), we have all been sick (stomach bugs, fevers, coughs and congestion have been raging in our house and I have been tired (apparently three year olds with broken bones don't get much sleep. More on that later.)....but all excuses aside, I've been off developing thicker skin for awhile.

You know that saying that it takes five compliments to make up for one criticism? Or something to that effect, you get the point. Well, it's true. And maybe when you already have insecurity issues, it takes about fifty compliments to erase the doubt of a single critic. My posts are vulnerable. That's kind of the point of them. Being real with you forces me to dig deep within myself and recognize areas in my life that God is working to stretch me. I also hope that in doing so, every now and then I will strike a chord with someone reading and that my vulnerability will let you know that you're not alone. That in this crazy ride of life, marriage, motherhood, just being a girl....we're all in it together. What I forget is that every now and then(or more often than not for all I know) there will be someone that reads what I'm saying and has no idea where I'm coming from. And wants to let me know. Well, I've been learning to be ok with that. Sticks and stones, right?

Starting off my Detox study, I said that I was going to be sharing with you on each topic....and I haven't. On purpose. The themes, while all different, have all had the same significance for me (over and over again each week). In my life it's been in a good way but I don't want to beat a dead horse with all of you. You see, whether it's negative thoughts, self acceptance, body image or comparison, the point keeps getting driven home that I care waaaaaaay too much about things that don't matter (other people's opinions to name just one!) and I don't love myself or give myself nearly enough credit (which is just as prideful as thinking I am (as my niece would say) the bomb.com) and that I need to get a grip and spend my time and energy on what really matters and that true beauty will come from the overflow of that. This study has been incredible for me. I've been learning much and digging deep and I'm so thankful for seasons of refinement in my life. There is something so beautiful about recognizing the ugliness you've got going on and picking up your feet and walking away from it. One measly step at a time. But a few measly steps are better than none, so I cannot complain. And if this week's study wasn't on sexuality, maybe I'd share more. But I'm not about to go all Dr. Ruth on you...at all.

So there you have it. Thank you to those that have egged me on to get back to typing. There is nothing more unsettling than getting an email from Stat Counter showing me who has been reading only to know that I haven't been writing! Here's to "not another three weeks between posts"....wish me luck!

xoxo,
ali

p.s. if you annoyingly find yourself using the term bomb.com after reading this, you can thank jane maikkula for that!;-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

{how did i not know sooner?!}



Ummmm......if I had known that I could shop on Etsy for adorable additions for my classroom-to-be, I'm pretty sure I would've started homeschooling years ago! Seriously, though. I'm not exactly kidding. It's no secret that I am obsessive about the details. Which is exactly why I am starting this project now. Vintage french or vintage modern? Ahhh, decisions decisions! Oh, and in case you are wondering why in the world I have decided to head down this path or if you are even slightly considering homeschooling yourself, check out confessionsofahomeschooler.com and read the "Why We Homeschool" link under her About Me. She says everything I have been thinking, feeling and saying yet in a much more eloquent way. Touched me to the core....so much so that after sobbing my way through it I kind of wanted to start this whole homeschool thing like yesterday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

{isn't she lovely}


I've never been a huge Stevie Wonder fan, but for some reason back in 2004 I became one. As I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Emma, I heard the song "Isn't She Lovely" and the emotional, hormonal mess that I was became so in love with those words and the anticipation of the long awaited, sure to be lovely baby girl that I was about to meet. From the first moment the doctor laid Emmy on my chest, I began to sing that song to her. "Isn't she lovely. Isn't she wonderful. Isn't she precious, less than a minute old....." and I sang it to her again and again as I held her, as I nursed her, as I rocked her in the middle of the night. More often than not, with tears of complete awe streaming down my face; changing the verse with the changing of the minutes, days, weeks, months and years. In the blink of an eye, my sweet baby girl went from "less than a minute old" to "already eight years old". And gosh darn it, just like I've been claiming for years.....she is lovely. I often have trouble finding words to describe Emma, probably because she's always been so complex. The more I know her and the more I study her, the more I realize that lovely really is the perfect word for her. She is kind and gentle, nurturing and deep, funny and refined, timid and wise.....put it all together and she's just plain lovely.

{beautifully ordinary}

This started out as a mommy blog, a place for me to document the childhood(s?) of my girls...to jot things down so I could have a place to look back and not forget these moments in their lives. Over time, my readers have grown to include people that I don't know, people that I didn't know I knew (if that makes sense) and close family and friends whom I adore. I love nothing more these days than getting an unexpected email or text from a stranger or a friend letting me know how a post that I've written has touched them in one way or another. There are days when my mind is just dry and I can't think of a single thing to say (usually when I'm filling in with a style tip or yummy recipe) and then there are days when my mind is reeling nonstop and I write until my fingers ache and the post is so long you go blurry eyed reading it. You may have noticed the new name for the blog "beautifully ordinary". To me it sums up who I am and why I write. We are all ordinary....we're just people. No matter what successes or failures we may or may not have under out belt, the truth is that we're all on an equal playing field. To put it bluntly, all of our s*!% stinks. Yet, we are beautiful. We were made in the image of our Creator and we are oh so beautiful whether we realize it or not. My hope is that you would realize it. I hope that this is a place where you can come to learn that about yourself...that maybe through my brutal honesty, you would come to realize that no matter what painful, hard, terrible or wonderful things you face from day to day, there is incredible, beautiful value in you. I am also a huge fan of taking the ordinary things in life....whether it be a birthday party, a trip to the beach or just another tuesday afternoon...and making it beautiful. I thrive on the details...going the extra mile to add a little beauty to the mundane and I love to share those ideas and inspire you. And above all, I am a mother; one of the most ordinary jobs in the world....afterall, every person alive has one or has had one. My desire, while I may not always do it perfectly, is to mother my daughters beautifully, with love and grace and mercy. I would love nothing more than when my kids are grown and someone asks what their mother was like for their answer to be "She was beautifully ordinary.". I figure it beats being flat out crazy;)

So thank you all for your emails, texts and comments....they make me happy.....and please, keep them coming!

{wonderfully made}

Recently, it has come to my attention that maybe, just maybe, I have some insecurity issues. And by recently, I'm pretty sure I mean my entire adolescent and adult life. I have a habit of making friends with people of whom I am extremely envious. Even if I am not envious of them at first, as I get to know them more, I find things about them that I convince myself are lacking in my own life and I simply cannot measure up. Recently, it all revolves around my insecurities over my appearance. To be specific, as I am aging (noticeably, I might add), as my metabolism is slowing down (despite the trillions of hours I log in the gym), as I look in the mirror and see my dad's face staring back at me (don't get me started), I seem to have friends that are overflowing with natural beauty. Friends that are blessed with genes that keep them eternally and effortlessly skinnier than I will ever be, or with hair that is either blonder (or browner) and always shinier, friends that can put on a trash bag and look gorgeous. But they don't put on trash bags; instead they put on gorgeous clothes and look like super models. (Apparently, I only become friends with really pretty people....maybe I need to change that.) And day after day, I am fighting back the constant crippling thoughts that I am the ugly one. Crippling to the point where somedays I want to cancel my plans because I know that no matter what I wear or how I style my terribly cut hair, I won't measure up and it'll eat away at me all day. I know it's silly and I KNOW that I am overwhelmingly blessed in so many ways. I even know that I have talents and gifts that others don't have....but for some reason my head tells me that those things are not nearly as important as how I look and so they don't matter. I was talking this through with Toni on our run a few weeks ago and her response was "Don't be silly. I don't want to hear it. Do you know how many millions of girls would die to be you?" That helped. For about thirty seconds. I thought "Hey, maybe I'm not as bad off as I think!" and then immediately I convinced myself that those millions of girls were all barefoot and toothless and hanging out in Walmart. Because the only way you'd want to look like me was if being toothless was your alternative. Obviously. I was not saying these things to Toni to fish for compliments just as I am not writing these words to all of you for that reason. I am writing because I have a hunch that as women we all struggle with this in one way or another. Maybe this is because I can see the competition and defeat in my own daughters when they feel that their sister looks "more beautiful" than them that day. Maybe this is because my five year old comes home from Kindergarten feeling badly about herself because she isn't as "fancy or sparkly" as the other girls. Maybe it is because every magazine cover is showing us an airbrushed version of what we as women need to strive to look like. Maybe you are the drop dead gorgeous one but you see everyone else and all you can see are their happy marriages when yours is struggling or their beautiful children and for years you haven't been able to conceive a child of your own. The point is, we all have our insecurities that speak lies to us about who we are and where our worth is found. I'm learning to kiss those lies goodbye and replace the negative soundtrack in my head that tells me I'm not good enough with the truth that I am wonderfully made. And you, my friend, are wonderfully made as well.


"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works (that's me...and you) are wonderful, I know that full well (ok, maybe I don't know it that well yet, but I'm working on it)." psalm 139:13-14


Sunday, February 5, 2012

{oreo brownies}

"combine brownie mix as usual but instead of adding water, add cookies 'n cream ice cream and hot fudge" lol! that's my kind of recipe....can't wait to break into these tonight during the super bowl! recipe courtesy of kevinandamanda.com :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

{partied out!}






We had a long day of partying and I am so tired I can barely type....wanted to get a few of my favorite pics of the birthday girl up before I forgot. Such a great day...so many memories made!

Friday, February 3, 2012

{beach bound}

On a lighter note...I was in target this morning picking up some groceries and happened upon this bikini top for my trip to Florida next week. It was the last one in the store and was my size....totally meant to be!;) I love mismatched suits, love animal prints and LOVE coral....can't wait to throw it on with some black bottoms and hit the beach!!!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

{h o m e schooling?!?!}

If you've learned anything about me, it's probably the fact that I have a storybook perception of how life should look and I often struggle with striving for that (I'm blaming this for watching too many movies during my childhood;)). Kids in storybooks live in houses with white picket fences, live on tree lined streets and hop on and off the big yellow school bus to and from school each day (hopefully with warm chocolate chip cookies waiting for them when they return home). This, of course, was the plan I had for my children. I'm starting to think it may not be God's plan for them. It could very well be, after all, that the Hollywood version of what a perfect childhood looks like may not be what His version of their perfect childhood looks like. I am learning to be ok with that.

For a while now, I have had a quiet, gentle voice whispering "homeschooling" to me over and over again. Ryan, on the other hand, has not. Until recently. This afternoon, I got a call from him about how he feels our girls are too busy and we don't have the time with them we need and that he's starting to think that homeschooling may be where we are headed. These have been the exact thoughts I have been wresting with over the past month. So between the both of us feeling lead in that direction, it looks like this is the road we are heading down and now the question becomes not if but when?

For years, I've threatened homeschooling based on a fear of what I didn't want my kids exposed to. Well, while I'm not thrilled with the fact that Emma belted out with "I'm Sexy and I Know It" (lovely) on the way home from gymnastics tonight (thank you, little John Pryer), it's no longer these fears that have lead us here. The fact is simply this: I have a little girl who will be 8 next week (halfway to 16 as I keep looking at it) whom I have not seen for the better part of three years. I rush her off to the bus in the morning and eight long hours later I get her back just in time to squeeze in a meal, a homework session and a quick shower. Forget about it if we have gymnastics, girl scouts or a play date with a friend. I decided a few weeks ago that the girls need to start putting their own laundry away. So far it's happened exactly twice and here's the reason: every time I go to tell them to do it, I realize that it comes down to them having the time to shower or the time to take care of their laundry and the shower always wins. They do need to bathe, after all. And the laundry sits there for another day because gosh darn it, they will have chores if it kills me so I am not going to put it away!

When the girls were all little, I was always busy. But it was a different kind of busy....it was me filling my days busy. Let's go to the gym and then grab Starbucks with friends busy. Let's hang out at the water park all day busy. It's beautiful out and we're heading to the beach busy. Now life is just busy period. A busy-ness that's out of my control. An "I will see you on the weekend and ask you then how your life is" busy. That's not what I want for my family. I want more than anything to speak truth into my girl's lives and there are just not enough hours in the day to do it. I find myself counting down the days until summer when I can see my girls....really see them...and it's only February.

It's ironic to me that whenever I reach a really good season in my life, I suddenly feel an urging to be stretched in a different way. I guess that goes hand in hand with my new year's resolution this year. It seems that whenever I hit my stride in life this happens. If nothing else, it keeps me from becoming complacent and for that I am thankful. I have it pretty easy right now. Every single afternoon (unless I choose to skip it for a playdate), I put Madeline on the bus and Claire goes down for her nap and I have a few hours of sweet silence. Next year Claire will be in preschool and I'd be heading for the glory days of having hours upon hours of me time. I'm pretty sure it's looking like me time with have to wait a few years. But you know what? That's ok. Because when I get there, one thing I know for sure: I will look back on these days and more than anything in the world, I will long for them again. And I know that if I never went through with it, never gave my girls a shot at being home with me, I'd regret it. For me, the biggest heartache of motherhood is how fast they grow and how quickly time flies; if there's one regret I don't want to have it would be not soaking up every second I could with them when I had the chance.

Now comes the question of when and how we will make this transition....but it looks like eventually our playroom will start resembling a school room (and yes, I'm kind of excited to put vintage alphabet cards on the walls).

{colored denim}

Along with the rest of the world, I'm crushing on colored denim right now. I just bought a pair of red jeans but this pic seals the deal....I'm now on the hunt for green. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

{date night}

The day I've been waiting for has finally come....we now have an official "date night" around here. Ryan and I have always made date nights a priority, but even at that we can often go a few weeks or even a month without actually scheduling a babysitter and making it happen. Well, now we have Jenny.....the cutest 14 year old in the world who comes complete with her own bag of tricks to entertain the girls:) They absolutely adore her and Ryan and I adore having Tuesday nights to look forward to. First of all, there's something so great about getting out of doing "bedtime". Why is that? There's just something about being so done at the end of the day that just makes bedtime an annoyance for me. Like come on...do you really need a third drink of water? Have you really already had a bad dream even though I just put you down five minutes ago and you haven't fallen asleep yet? There are plenty of times where either Ryan or I are out at night and one of us "gets out" of bedtime, but there's something fun about being off the hook together. There's some sort of comraderie in knowing all day that come 6:00 we will be free as birds:) This week I got a few "I'm so excited it's date night" texts from my hubby and it made me giddy all day knowing that we had that to look forward to together. We find so many other things to spend our money on, we finally decided that enough was enough and the amount we are paying Jenny is a small price to pay for having a night carved out for just the two of us every week. It's also great to just unplug from parenthood and recharge a little bit together and then come home ready to see those precious little faces waking us up the next morning. Ahhh, I'm already counting down to next Tuesday!


p.s. Did I mention that we came home to the house smelling of warm brownies right out of the oven? That's right, little miss Jenny bakes. She's a keeper!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

{emmy}

Birthdays have a way of making me hugely sentimental...been thinking a lot about my biggest girl as she spends her last week being seven. I'm so incredibly proud of what a sweet, mature, loving and nurturing girl she has become. I want to remember her precious seven year old face forever!

{negative thoughts}

I've been taking it pretty "shallow" with my past few posts so I wanted to take a few minutes to deepen things up a bit. The topic for my detox study this week is negative thoughts. I am excited to dive in and learn more about dealing with those not so happy thoughts that all too often swirl through my head. Here's a little sneak peek from the study that I know my mind will be feasting on for the next few days:


"In the age of Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives, we hear messages on a daily basis that warp our worldview to match that of society. Our thoughts become fixated on what the media tells us we should be or have, and we NEVER MEASURE UP. Whether we like it or not, these messages affect our lives. Whether it is seeing the body of the model in a magazine, wishing it were ours, or loathing whatever it is that keeps us from achieving it, we undermine any chance at contentment. We think that if we could just "make it" in life, then we will finally be at peace."

Sound familiar? To me, it sounds like my strive for perfection. My strive to measure up to both the model in the magazine and the pottery barn perfect house in the catalog with the crewcuts model kids. (But really, is that too much to ask for??;)) And the fact that stressing out over trying to be these things and not measuring up is enough to make me crazy! The truth is, this side of heaven, there is no perfect. I can try to achieve all of those things until my dying day and they will never be enough to bring me true contentment....and I will torture myself in the process! If it wasn't enough for Seal and Heidi or Brad and Jen.....chances are it probably won't be enough for me, either. My heart knows that true contentment can only be found in my savior....sometimes my mind just needs to catch up.

"You'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise not things to curse." Philippians 4:8 The Message

Sometimes as a woman, as a mom with little kids constantly underfoot, as a girl who looks in the mirror and suddenly realizes she has aged ten years overnight, as a girl with champagne taste on a beer budget, it's hard to keep true perspective. I'm thankful for this verse and this reminder to keep my focus on what is good and what is lovely....life is much much sweeter from that standpoint:)

All this and it's only day one. Can't wait to see what the rest of the week brings!

{birthday banner freebie}

andersruff.com has become one of my favorite go to sights for party planning ideas. check out this FREE printable banner that they are offering....i just whipped up two of them for emma's party in a matter of minutes (it didn't hurt that they offer it in two color schemes...both of which coordinated with her party perfectly)!! go ahead and see for yourself....they have lots of cute freebies to offer! and lots of not so freebies too;)

{spring sneak peek}

spring is in the air! it could be the fact that it's been warm and sunny this week...or the fact that i am going to the sunshine state next week....or just the fact that emma's birthday is coming up and i am clothes shopping for her....or maybe all of the above. but this i know: i've got spring clothes fever!!!! i despise winter clothes and i'm daydreaming about the bright colors and flowy styles just around the corner. yay for spring!!!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

party time (almost!)

It's party week around here which means that I am in all out planning mode! I can't believe that my tiny baby girl is going to be an EIGHT year old in just a few days. WHERE OH WHERE DOES THE TIME GO??? Since I can't slow time down, I figure I better start celebrating it and enjoying the ages and stages we're at. This stage we're at is all about the American Girl doll, so that's the big theme for Em's party this year. Emmy and I have been having a blast working out the details for this party together (so crazy to me that she's big enough to bounce ideas off of!). This isn't going to be the biggest, grandest bash I've thrown but it's been special to plan all the details with the birthday girl and getting things just how she dreams it to be. I can't wait to post pics of the big day, but first....time to go make some teeny tiny doll sized party hats!!;)

Monday, January 30, 2012

{anxiety}

I promised a little snippet each week from my detox study. This week the focus was on anxiety.

To be honest, for the most part, I wasn't feeling it. Not to say that I never struggle with anxiety or fear (and definitely not to say that I don't struggle at all because there are plenty of weeks that are going to kick me in the butt.). It's just that over the past few years, God has just shown up for us over and over again. From our fear over Claire not being able to walk and/or grow to two moves and countless concerns in between, God has been FAITHFUL. He has showed up to meet our every need and shown us over and over again that He does indeed work all things together for good. In that process, I have learned to hold tight to His perfect plan for our lives and to not fear troubles that come across our path. There is something that continually causes me anxiety, however, and that is my need for perfection. I am a perfectionist who will spend three (or four...ok maybe five) hours online creating (and paying a fortune for) the cutest valentines I can find because whatever my girls bring to school needs to be PERFECT. I will spend months on end planning a birthday party down to the very last detail because what good is a party if it's not PERFECT. I get stressed out if my girls are displaying the same bad behavior over and over again because although they are human, why can't they be PERFECT?!?! I am willing to pay top dollar to live in the town that was voted "#1 in America" because that must mean its pretty darn close to PERFECT. That being said, this is what jumped off the page at me this week:

"We live in a culture that expects women to have perfect looks, perfect marriages, perfect children, and perfect careers, treating anything less with disgust(who me?!). Every single one of us is drowning in an unrelenting flood of stressful tasks, demands, and pressures. Believe me; even those who exude an air of confidence and poise secretly struggle with feelings of anxiety and neverending worry. But God never intended for us to be caught in this emotional cesspool. God's perfect love will calm the raging storms of anxiety and the thunder of worry in our lives-if we will allow him to rescue us."

"Perfect love drives out fear." 1 John 4:18

{photo fun}



A little fun at the photo booth at church this weekend. The girls had a blast and were in there all night....more pics to follow!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

{detox}

I love women. I am fascinated by them. I'm not sure when but somewhere along the way I realized that although we are all so different on the outside, when you peel back the layers we are actually not that different at all. I am a self professed snob. I know, I know it's terrible. But I am and I know it. My sister laughs at me because I have a "zero tolerance" policy for a lot of things: mom jeans, scrunchies, midwestern accents, "bed in a bag" style decorating, kids with mismatched clothes and bad haircuts, pantries stocked with fritos, doritos and 2 liters....just to name a few. Admittedly, I'm pretty hard core about my disgust for these things. Just ask Kristin how many times I've rolled my eyes and told her "Ugh, I would never!". What I haven't readily admitted is that while I am rolling my eyes at the frumpy mom jeans and greasy hair pulled back into that scrunchy, I am looking at that woman beside me wondering if she's a much more patient mother than I am because while I spent an extra 20 minutes that morning obsessing over which jeans fit me best that day (and getting irritated at the little ones interrupting me in that ever so important process), maybe she was taking that time to teach her preschooler how to tie his shoe. Maybe she was playing candy land for the third time since breakfast. Maybe she was (gasp!) scrubbing toilets or mopping her floors. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've learned that just because my jeans may be cuter than hers, it doesn't make me any better than her. We are all gifted in different ways and (are you ready for this?!) life is not a competition. After all, where would we be if we didn't have one another to learn from? There is so much freedom in realizing that.


That being said, I love participating in bible studies. I love getting together with women from all different walks of life and getting deep with each other; learning what makes each other tick. Learning what things in life we all allow to make us or break us. I started a new study last night called Detox. Detox is a favorite word of mine (usually when related to my diet;)). I love the thought of cleaning out all the junk and starting fresh. And if I happen to lose five pounds in the process, that's just icing on the cake. Actually, with all the cake I eat, it probably really is the icing, but anyway. I was already excited for the study and then I opened the book and read down the list of topics we would be studying and I could barely contain my excitement: anxiety, negative thoughts, self-acceptance, body image, comparison, sexuality, aloneness, forgiveness and ungratefulness. Wow, what a list! I have to be honest, one or two jumped right off the page at me (If you know me well and are trying to guess which ones, stop judging me!!) that I had to skip ahead in the book for a sneak peek. My hope for the following weeks during this study is to share my favorite insights from these chapters here as I am stretched and learn more about conquering these issues. There are so many issues that we face as women. I'm excited to tackle them from a biblical perspective and get my head on straight!

"And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." John 8:32
Freedom from obsessing over my weight, anxiety about my future or comparing myself to every girl that's skinnier, cuter or richer than I am? Bring it!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

{s t r e t c h}

I was challenged by a friend a few weeks ago to define what my goal is for the year 2012 in one word (I don't think I can do anything in one word!). I love being asked questions that make me dig deep; my problem always seems to lie in finding the answer. I was in a small group years ago and was asked the question "What fuels you?". Everyone else in the room answered the question on the spot. Seven years later I still am unsure of my answer. This time around, I was intimidated by the question but began doing some soul searching for my word. That one word that would define what I wanted to strive for this year. I usually have all of the same old resolutions: to clean my house more, organize my closets, stay on top of the laundry, be bikini ready by june, etc. Those things are great (and MUCH needed in my life) but they are not enough. They are not it. And I'm pretty sure that even though I've resolved to do them this year, I'll be resolving to do them for 10 Januaries more. I'm happy to say that only 23 days into the year and I found it! I want to s t r e t c h. There are areas in my life where I can see the need to require more of myself; to not settle for mediocracy but to stretch myself toward excellence. Being a good friend/partner to my husband is mediocre. Learning him and anticipating his needs requires more. Training my children to be merely well behaved on the outside for the sake of my sanity is mediocre. Training them to have pure hearts on the inside requires more. Showing up at bible study and answering questions is mediocre. Digging deep into God's word and really seeking to know who He is requires more. Serving baked ziti or chicken nuggets for dinner over and over again is mediocre. Scouring websites and cookbooks (and splashing hot oil in my face like I did today) to try new recipes requires more. Running a few miles on the treadmill is mediocre. Pushing my body to its limit and training for a marathon requires more. Blogging once every four months is mediocre. Blogging consistently requires more. I could go on for hours. The point is, I want to be stretched. I want to not settle for a mediocre, easy way out version of myself. I want to stretch myself towards something more.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

{the WALL}

It happens about twice a year. I get to a point where I've just simply had ENOUGH. If you are a mother of small children, you know what I mean. The point where another hand grabbing your leg, screech reaching your ears, glass of milk spilling, night of sleep disrupted way too early, toy you've already tripped over three times that day blocking your path (are you feeling me?) is enough to make you either pull all of your hair out or run out the door screaming and never look back. Or in my case, crawl in bed, pull the covers far over your head, crouch up in a ball and pretend the world outside that cocoon does not exist. Today was that day for me. My semi-annual "I need a vacation; I need to escape this place; I love my children to death but right now I feel like I actually am dying, drowning, suffocating and I'm not really ready to die yet" wall.


Last night as I was cleaning up after dinner and winding down the day, I realized that I had snapped at my girls more times than I had encouraged them. I had glared at them more times than I had hugged them. I had reminded them over and over again about everything they had done wrong and rarely praised them for what they had done right. And I was oh so ready to put them in bed and escape them for the night. I had attributed this to a rough day, but did not yet recognize this for what it was: THE WALL. I realized that I had fully hit my limit when they woke up this morning (at 7:00...a triumph for them as far as sleeping in goes!) and after about the first fifteen minutes (to my credit, Emma remembered that it was Chinese New Year and thought it would be fun to bang pots and pans to ward off the evil spirits) all those feeling from the night before started again. It's one thing to be irritated by every last thing at the end of the day, but to be irritated by 7:15am is just bad news!

When I reach this place that motherhood becomes more of a burden than a privilege, I know that it's time to carve out time for myself. To re shift my focus on the God whose love is always steadfast and whose arms are always open no matter how many times I whine, complain or make the same foolish and irritating mistakes over and over. That is the first step. To recognize the perfect parent and to remember the example that He has set forth. The second step is to book a hotel room for myself or a flight to somewhere far away (in this case, Florida!) to just be ME for a while. To be one person instead of 4. To sleep in until a time when my body decides it's ready to wake up, to dress only myself in the morning and to do anything or nothing at all. Whatever I want. Oh, don't get me wrong. I love those precious little faces with my whole heart, but sometimes this battery needs to be recharged. And for the love of my little girls, they deserve it....and so do I.