Friday, April 11, 2014

Just Being

I'm pretty sure I've broken some sort of absence rule over here on the blog.

I'm surprised I even remembered my login to my Mac as my brain muscles are most definitely getting squishy and rusty. And I don't like it one bit. {Yet, admittedly, I kind of do.}

I wish I could give a good excuse as to why I haven't had the desire to sit down and blog.
Like we've been busy completely remodeling our house.
Or I took on a volunteer project which has taken up all my time.
Or we have been busy packing all of our belongings to move to Madrid for a year.

But instead, the only real excuse I have is simply life.
We have been very busy enjoying every bit of it.
Busy enjoying happy.



Our pastor put it perfectly into perspective a couple of Sundays ago when he said, "We must find the value in being, not doing."
I'm pretty sure he was looking right at me when he said that.
Ok, not really.
But truer words have never been spoken, and these particular words struck a nerve deep in my soul.

So here I am, really focusing on simply being, not doing.

And to be quite honest, for the first time ever, my life is tranquil.
I am at peace with every aspect of it.
I feel content. I'm sleeping at night. And I don't feel even a twinge of anxiety.

This level of contentment, however, hasn't come naturally. I've had to work quite hard and make a very conscious effort to get to the where I'm at. I've spent the last 8 months detoxing and intentionally eliminating things from my life that tend to cause me anxiety - things like perfectionism and comparison.

I've said no to more commitments in the past 3 months than I have in my 30 years of living. I've made more of an effort to be around the people who make me feel the most "whole" and whom I feel no pressure to impress. I spend more time in the word and in prayer. I try to focus on gratitude instead of wanting more. I've forgiven myself for mistakes I've made and regrets I have. I left a profession that I thought I would love but didn't. I have learned that my value is not in the things I do but who I am.




Earlier this week, my morning devotional from Jesus Calling really stayed with me, "Accept yourself and your circumstances just as they are...Do not wear yourself out with planning and analyzing".

Once again, I'm pretty sure the author must have done a bit of stalking, and then wrote this just for me. Not that planning or analyzing are bad qualities, well, at least I hope not. Those are two characteristics that are absolutely etched into my being - I will never be able to rid my planning nature. Planning in and of itself is a wonderful thing, but planning to achieve perfection is where things get sticky. I have learned {and am still learning} to let go of things I cannot change and to not sweat the small stuff. **But believe me, this isn't easy. There are still plenty of small things I sweat. Just ask my husband and his habit of putting his cereal bowls in the left side of the sink. ;)

But I promise I'm getting better.

Know how I know? Because I made scones from a box this week instead of scouring Pinterest for an hour looking for the perfect recipe for two co-workers' birthdays. Or the fact that I'm totally fine with pizza and balloons for Lyla's second birthday. Or the fact that I am perfectly content updating and improving our current home instead of being sour that it's not time for us to "upgrade".

I'm really enjoying this whole avoiding perfectionism thing.

But also in my moments of weakness, I find myself getting antsy. Hoping for a new project or commitment. Wanting more responsibility. Wanting a challenge. Wanting to take on the world.

I'm a doer through and through.

But then I'm immediately reminded that this time with Lyla is so precious, so sweet, so fleeting. Each milestone, each passing moment, will never again be repeated. And when I have other commitments, I tend to not be as focused on my family as I'd like to be. My entire heart, brain and existence goes into whatever responsibilities I've been given.


So for this very short spec on the timeline of my life, and for the very first time ever, I have chosen to put my entire self into just being.

And it's amazing how just being brings a somewhat unfamiliar feeling to my bones: peace and contentment.
Oh. And lots and lots of happy.



Friday, March 28, 2014

19 Months


19 Months Old: 03/19/14

Stats {as of your 18 month check up this month}:
Height: 31.7 inches (43%)
Weight: 23 lb 13 oz (64%)
Head Circumference: 48 cm (88%)

The sweet and sour phase of toddlerhood continues. And now that you are closer to two than one, you think you’re too big for your cloth-diapered little britches. You’d walk across the street by yourself if we let you. Yet, you’re still so incredibly needy as you beg for cuddles with Mama or Dad before bed every night. 

Have I ever mentioned that I love this stage?


Little Linguist
You’re getting better at communicating this month. However, it's still very much a work-in-progress. No matter how often I beg, you cannot {or refuse?} to say “please” or “help”. But luckily, we've become pretty good at reading between the lines with eat, more, no, poo-poo, and plenty of *dramatic* pointing. So, thankfully, your frustration tantrums have subsided quite a bit. You’ve started to say some more two word sentences, mostly greetings, like Hi Mama, Bye-Bye GiGi, and Hi Baby. And you always say tank yoo when given something. You’ve also started saying hold you and reaching out your arms when you want to be held. And you are a big fan of telling us when you’re tired. Even if you’re in the middle of playing hard, you’ll suddenly stop and loudly blurt out night night. Then in the mornings, you wake up, kiss your Ellie the Elephant, and tell her niii-niiight and tuck her under the covers for the day. 

You are not much of a “repeater” of words as some of your toddler friends are. In true Lyla fashion, you much prefer to master a word before you speak it. I even hear you “practicing” on your own from time to time in your room. The other night after counting your toes together in the bathtub, I caught you practicing your “counting” after I put you to bed. You have down the tone and inflection of “one, two, three!", but we’re still working on the correct phonetics. ;) 



Physical Skills
At this point, it’s hard to believe you were such a late walker and crawler! You are quite the mover these days. Though rarely graceful, you walk, run, and climb on ev.ery.thing. Your new favorite spot in the house is the window seat in our living room. One day, I left the room for one minute, came back, and you had climbed up and were standing on the window seat. And speaking of climbing, your favorite is going up and down flights of stairs…by yourself. The mini heart attacks have only begun for Mama. As have the giant purple goose eggs on your forehead. 

We’ve got a toddler on the loose, and it’s exhausting. 



Behavior
Overall, you are a laid back, super easy, well-behaved toddler. Your dad and I were so proud recently when you sat through an hour and a half church service without a peep. Well, except for when you yelled BAAYBYYY a few times at the newborn behind us. But no matter how well behaved you are, you are still a toddler. So you do have your moments. And Dad and I recently discussed how we’ve reached that point where we need to form some kind of discipline “plan” so we’re on the same page. You have gotten much better with patience while waiting for food, and we are working on using your words instead of screaming. We’re also working on not throwing milk. 

Cute Stories
Our favorite time of day is bath time. You run around naked and say baaath in an octave I never knew existed. Well a couple of weeks ago, you were standing naked as a jaybird filling the tub with your toys when you started peeing on the rug. You looked up at me with shame-filled eyes and started crying. I assured you that it was an accident, but you kept pointing to the pee on the rug and began crying harder and harder. So hard, that you also started tooting. So then, there you were. Standing on the rug. Naked. Crying. Tooting. And tearfully exclaiming,  tooot? tooot? It was sadly adorable.

For weeks now you've been saying Mi-Mi! Mi-Mi! And for the life of us, we could not figure out who Mi-Mi was. At first we thought it was your new name for Grams, but then you started saying it even when she wasn't around. All we knew was that whoever this Mi-Mi was, he or she sure did make you excited. Well, we finally made the connection last week. Mi-Mi is your best buddy, Samson or "Sammy". And you and Mi-Mi have a love/hate relationship, just like a real sibling duo. And poor Sienna is still just dog

You had a little slumber party at GiGi and Bots (Pops) house a couple weekends ago while your dad and I attended a marriage conference and enjoyed a weekend "date-cation". GiGi and Pops sure do love sleeping in on the weekends, and I assured them you'd sleep until at least 8:00. Well, you had different plans as you woke up Saturday morning, ready for your day, at 6:30 a.m. You immediately began calling out for Gii-Giii? Gii-Giii? That of course made waking up at the crack of dawn a little less painful for GiGi. 





Personality
It has been so much fun watching your little personality develop. But it's also quite amazing to see some of the same characteristics you've always had, even as an infant. You are calm, thoughtful, cautious, and an observer. However, you have also turned into a little comedian as of late. {But only when you're comfortable in your surroundings, of course.} 

Our weekly music class is a perfect example of this. The first few classes, I nearly quit as you were clingy, fussy, and didn't crack even a partial smile. You just watched with a grumpy face, refusing to leave Mama's lap, as all the other kids had a fabulous time. By week 4, you started playing with your instruments, while on my lap. By week 5, I think I saw a smile or two. By week 7, you were singing and laughing. And by the very last class, you had turned into an absolute ham. No joke, you were in the middle of our circle of toddlers and adults dancing BY YOURSELF, running up to adults, and laughing hysterically. One of the moms jokingly said, "Who IS that child???" 



The best part? Your GiGi told me your dad was the exact same way all throughout school. First semester, teachers would express concern at conferences as your dad didn't talk or participate much and was very quiet. By second semester, teachers couldn't keep him quiet, and he had the whole class in stitches as he was the new class clown. Same story, year after year. 

And so far, you are taking after your dad in so many ways.  

I sure can't wait to see how you continue to change and grow, and how your little personality makes you uniquely YOU. 

Thanks for the ride, Beans. This sure is fun.  



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cloudy with a chance of sunshine

Oh. Hello.

Here I am.
Ever-so-slowly peering out from my black hole of groggy sickness and blahs.

Although usually a foreign concept to me, there's been a piercing silence on the blog lately. And if you haven't noticed, well, I've been in a rut. I don't even think I've opened my computer once in the last 2 weeks. And *gasp*, I'm pretty sure I've taken a total of 3 pictures of Chunkin the last two weekends. Thanks to two rounds of icky respiratory crud, I just haven't had much energy for anything really. Especially not blogging. In fact, the thought of blogging has made me nearly burst into tears.

Ok. That's a lie. I haven't had the energy to burst into tears.

Oh the winter blahs. I say winter because until this past weekend, Kansas did not get the memo that it is March.

But this particular case of the blahs has been all-consuming for the past several weeks. And I'm not so sure I have an acceptable excuse for letting things get so murky. But there's been clear evidence of a dark, bulging rain cloud hovering over our household. Partly due to the terrible weather, partly due to some personal decisions and happenings, but mostly due to sickness. And tagging along with sickness has been exhaustion, thanks to a toddler who suddenly started waking through the night. So, I haven't been the only one in the family resembling that of a zombie lately.

My poor family. They've been real sports about my whole slacking on life thing. Somehow, they've survived on chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese, or anything else that has 3 or fewer ingredients. Of course Lyla has been consuming an obscene amount of "ta-ta's" {crackers}, while I've been snacking on an embarrassing amount of cottage cheese. I don't know, something about it is comforting when it's been less than 40 degrees outside for over thirty consecutive days. Odd, I'm aware. But comforting nonetheless.

And speaking of slacking, let's talk about my after-work uniform as of late. The moment I walk in the door from picking up Lyla from daycare, and not a second later, the pants come off, sweatpants go on, and I find the fuzziest socks I own. May not see so ridiculous, except I haven't had the energy to change my work shirt as well. So, the uniform consists of baggy sweatpants paired with a work blouse. And of course the fuzzy socks. My husband is one lucky man.

But as of this week, it finally looks like we've made it to the other side. So if I've completely rained on your parade with my story of gloom, there is light up ahead! And though they may be little slivers, my eyelids are slowly adjusting. Because you see, my cough has gone from a rattle to more of a subtle clearing of the throat. Lyla is feeling better everyday and starting to sleep again. But most importantly, my friends, the sun has started shining. And when the sun shines, my soul is alive.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets stuck in the ho-hum-drum of life. And winter. And sickness. And work. And the same old, same old.

But here I am, trying to get back into the swing of blogging. Writing what's on my mind. And although there may be nothing but sludge at the moment, I can feel myself awakening. Life is coming back to me.

It's amazing what a little sunshine can do. I might even start wearing real pants after work.

But probably not.

Recovery nap time with my best gal


Thursday, February 27, 2014

18 Months

18 Months Old: 02/19/14


I'm not quite sure how we got here. 

I have an 18 month old. A toddler. A child

I thought the infant months went fast. That is, until Lyla turned one. When suddenly, time began to travel at such an intense speed that everything seemed to be in the past tense. It's just like going on vacation. You find yourself flying home thinking Um. That was seriously 7 days? I'd like an encore please.

It's quite unnerving really. To be so encapsulated in the everyday, that you wake up one morning and realize 3 months have gone by. So, I'm trying to carve out little compartments in my memory bank. Hoping to hold on to the little moments, each special in it's own way. And I especially hope to remember the seemingly mundane moments. The ones that you are just sure you'll remember forever. Until suddenly, you can't. 

Like how Lyla kicks her legs when she spots a fruit, and no matter the type, calls it an apple. Or how she says Hiii Lyla the moment we open her bedroom door in the mornings. Or how she taps her little pointer finger ever-so-lightly on objects so that we can name them for her. Or how her little voice goes up an octave with every word she speaks, as if to ask a question. Or how she'll be playing hard and all of a sudden walk over to me, put her head on my leg and say ni-niiight

I could eat those moments. 


And of course we have some not-so-fun moments. 

We are in what I like to call the sweet and sour stage of toddlerhood. Half the time, Lyla's so darn sweet I think her veins are pumping syrup. The other half of the time, I'm pretty sure she's swallowed too much lemon juice, straight from those lemon-shaped bottles. One minute, she's hugging, kissing, and sitting on my lap nuzzling and grabbing my face. The next minute, she's throwing a monster-tantrum whilst throwing herself to the ground, thrashing about, and screaming as loud as her lungs will possibly let her {for no apparent reason, other than Samson looked at her funny.}. It's sort of like getting whip lash.

Luckily, I'm acutely aware when we are about to have a melt down. These explosions occur when 1. Lyla spots food that she isn't eating herself 2. is feeling tired, or 3. is frustrated because she can't accomplish or communicate something. But, I obviously do whatever it takes to avoid these tantrums...especially in public. This is why I carry "ta-tas"(crackers) with me wherever I go. Yes. I sometimes quiet my child with a snack. A carb-y snack that we call ta-ta's no doubt. {Disciplinarian model of the year.}



But aside from the toddler tantrums, this age is just a ball. You know on your wedding day, when you smile so much your mouth hurts? That's how I feel with my heart. We find ourselves laughing every night at something so cute it makes our hearts hurt. Like during this new little game Lyla plays while we rock her before bed. Just as you think she's fallen asleep, she pops up, starts laughing, kisses our lips as hard as she can, and then slams her head back on our shoulder. Then UP she pops, plants a big smackaroo on the lips, then down slams her head. And she repeats this over and over while we're all hysterically laughing.

We just love to play silly little games these days. Peek-a-boo is still a favorite, as well as anything that involves jumping or being thrown on the bed. And she's been doing this thing where she raises her eyebrows, opens her eyes as wide as she can, and expects whoever is with her to do the same. This usually has both parties in stitches. But one of my favorites is something Gabe plays with Ly. He asks her, "Lyla, what's for dinner"? She giggles in anticipation, and then he shakes and wiggles her and yells "SPAGHETTI"! Then the rest of the night she'll wiggle her body and in a high pitched voice yell "BADELLY"! 



But I also laugh at things I probably shouldn't. Like when she feverishly signs "more" and pathetic little tears start welling up, simply because she wants another goldfish cracker. Or when she very ungracefully trips, falls, and rolls on the floor, as if it was perfectly choreographed. Or how she sternly and confidently points and says "NO" to the dogs when they do something she deems naughty {like walking anywhere near her while she's safely eating in her high chair}. 

Ah, yes. The word "no" is a current fave this month. "NO" to the dogs. "No" to herself when she throws her sippie cup on the floor. "NO NO" to sweet "Li-Li" at daycare when she grabs something she's not supposed to. I'm hoping we don't have a little bossy-pants on our hands. ;)


And although I'm not sure we're anywhere near potty training, Lyla definitely shows signs of understanding. She sits on her little potty when Mom goes to the bathroom. She reaches out her hand for toilet paper. She "wipes". She lets us know when she goes "poo-poo" and pee {which we don't have a word for yet} by pointing. And she recently started saying "toot". Ha! 


And we're still going to Mommy-and-Me music classes. I look forward to them all week! But to be completely honest, it takes Lyla 30 of the 45 minutes to warm up every week. Lyla's never liked being center of attention, and she really likes to feel completely comfortable before trying new things. I try not to force her to do anything she doesn't want to do, but I do lovingly encourage her to participate. Although she'd much rather be an observer than a participant, she has slowly come out of her little shell and is starting to really enjoy herself. She especially loves shaking the musical eggs, rolling the spiky balls, and waving around the scarves. I, of course, love the mother-daughter bonding. 

In addition to easing into new situations, Miss Beans is very particular and detail-oriented. Yes. My 18 month old is incredibly detail-oriented. And the amazing thing is, she's always been strong in dexterity and fine motor skills, more so than gross motor. But she is very methodical in how she does things. Even if it doesn't make sense to us, she sure is confident she knows what she's doing. She will carefully stack blocks so that they fit perfectly together, or she will put a specific amount of little toys to fill a tupperware and close the lid, or she will line things up in a line facing a certain direction. 


She also notices when things are out of place. Like if there is a different-colored piece of fuzz buried in the carpet, she will spot it, say "uh-oh" and bring it over to Gabe or me. Or like the other day, I was wearing my paint clothes. She was standing about 10 feet away from me and distraughtly said "uh-oh"! I asked, "What's the matter, Ly"? She walked over to me and pointed at a paint spot on my tennis shoe. Or if she gets any dirt on her hands while playing outside, we get some wide-eyed "uh-ohhhh"s, while she carefully picks each piece of dirt off her hands.

Perhaps we have a perfectionist on our hands?


Again, I'm not exactly sure how we got here. How I have this 18 month old with feelings, opinions, and a spectacular personality. All I know is that I'm loving every moment. And I'm thankful for the ride, no matter how fast it's going. 

All I can do is hop on, buckle up, and hang on for dear life. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our Day: Working Mom Update


At this exact moment in time, I have an ideal mom-of-an-only-toddler work situation.

Of course there are moments when I wonder what it would be like to stay home, when I wonder if I should stay home. Time is just so precious and moving at a blink-and-you'll-miss-it pace.

But those thoughts are not a place I stay for too long.

The thing is, I am incredibly blessed with my job. Aside from the frantic before-dawn rush that is our mornings and the fact that I'd really like more time together in the evenings, our routine is a well-oiled machine. I have a great boss and co-workers, I get to run errands during my lunch break {sans toddler}, and the moment I leave work, I don't think about it again until I walk in the next morning.

Oh. And I get Friday's off.

Last year, I remember thinking, on what seemed like an hourly basis, if only I could just have Fridays off. two day weekends are simply not enough. Saturdays and Sundays were days spent cleaning, grocery shopping, errand-running and preparing for the next work week. If only I had one more day in the week...

And I was right.  It is incredible how one extra day is the most generous game changer. Sure, sometimes I get a bit greedy and wish for just one more day, until I realize how blessed I am for my Fridays off.

Admittedly, I wasn't quite sure how to adjust at first. Not that I had no idea what on earth to do with all of this extra time, it's just that I suddenly had the time to realize how much I had let slide. How much there is actually to do to maintain the home. I had neglected our little home for so long. So, I spent every Friday racing to clean the house, run multiple errands with Lyla in tow, cross off my multitude of to-do's, and meal plan for the next week.

That didn't last long.

My sweet husband reminded me why I took my job in the first place - to be able to focus more on my family, not on all that has to be done.

So, I made a promise to myself. That Friday will always be our day. A day just for Lyla and me. A day where I get to be a stay at home mom. Where we go to mommy and me classes, have playdates, grab lunch with friends, explore, learn and have fun. And then there's the much-anticipated nap time. Because nap time, my friends = Mommy time. I get to read, blog, have phone dates with out of town friends, and sometimes I get a little crazy and try a Pinterest project. Life on the edge, I tell you.

There's only one rule for Fridays. And it's not allowed to be broken.
No work allowed.

It sure is the little things that actually turn out to be monumentally huge things.
I can't think of one thing, not even one, that is better than Fridays.
Except maybe Saturdays and Sundays.

When Dad gets to join in on the fun.







Happy to join in the Little Things link up with Ashley!




Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day. Love, the Slackers.


I could never be a "lifestyle" blogger.

The main reason being that style and I are not really synonymous.
But also because I am never really holiday-ready until the week, or sometimes even the day of.

Take Valentine's Day, for example. While most bloggers began crafting and planning cute pink and red outfits at 12:01 a.m. on December 26th, I find myself scurrying around at the last minute feeling like a Valentine Grinch.

Even though I love the idea of baking and making for holidays {especially ones that require so much cute...like little pink hearts}, I am often a procrastinator. And I'm not really sure why. I like to think it's because I'm busy with life. At least that was my reason last year as I was simply trying to survive as a new working mom. Or perhaps I'm just not creative. At least not as creative as my perfectionist mind needs me to be. But most of the time, I'm really just trying to enjoy the moment I'm in, not where I'm going to be months from that point.

I battle with this counterintuitive mindset because in most areas of my life, I'm a neurotic planner. But it stresses me out to think about Lyla's birthday party theme or next year's Halloween costumes when it's not even spring yet.

I want to enjoy February 14th first.

I actually read an interesting article about "Mindfulness" in Time Magazine. Long story short, it's about taking the time to fully be present in the moment you are in, rather than multitasking 20 things at a time. Which is what I, and most other Americans, do all day everyday. Mindfulness helps us to focus on one thing at a time and is practiced in things like yoga and cognitive behavioral therapy {a technique many counselors and therapists use today to help with anxiety}.

Or maybe that's just my intellectual-sounding way to really procrastinate.

Either way, this year, I really do have a good excuse. To not be on my Valentine-ready supermom A-Game. Our house was recently hit by the sinus monster-plague. We were down and out for two weeks. So all of my felt-garland crafting and homemade Valentine-making plans went by the wayside. {I sure could have used a snow day *or two* last week to make up for lost time.}

But once we all started feeling human again, I suddenly felt the pink and red spirit! Last-minute or not, I wasn't about to say bah-humbug to some memory-making with my mini Valentine.

So it may have been by-the-skin-of-our teeth, but we've already had quite the fun in preparation for Valentine's Day. And I must say, I'm a bit smitten by little cutie-pie Valentine this year.



Oh. And can we talk about the preparation involved in finding the perfect holiday bow?!?! Or, I guess in my case, finding 10 perfect bows and forgetting about them in my Etsy cart. I usually remember about my stocked cart 5 minutes after the "cut off time". So then we settle on something we already have. The travesty!

However, this year, I planned ahead. But of course just as I went to push "Submit Order", I chickened out. I've had some major *major* issues with USPS and a couple of vendors on Etsy lately. In fact, Lyla's special Christmas bows did not get to me until Christmas Eve. And I ordered them at the beginning of November.

So for Valentine's Day, I decided to take matters into my own hands. And I made a couple of bows during nap time one day. You guys. They took about 4 minutes...combined. I may be no DIY-er, but I sure can glue and cut like nobody's business. Plus I'm always trying to find ways to use some of my bajillion leftover crafty things from teaching.

I was pretty happy with the way they turned out!







This was taken about 6 seconds before Lyla ripped the bow out of her hair, and Samson used it as a chew toy. 

And then we had some "fun" with painting. I decided to use Lyla's masterpiece to make Valentines for her daycare pals. *And one extra for Daddy, of course*. 

 Yes. My 17 month old is wearing my softball team t-shirt from 4 years ago.



 Dad decided to paint their faces to try to make Lyla laugh. In case you hadn't already guessed, it didn't work. 



Needless to say, Lyla was pretty proud of her work.




Lyla and I will be enjoying music class, a sweet little Valentine's party, and a nice, long nap.  Then the evening will commence with a toddler who goes to bed at 7:00 followed by the hubs making me a classic Italian seafood dish we were first introduced to when we lived in RI. 

Now, that's amore.