Monday, August 25, 2014

Skincare Update

It’s been a few months since I posted about skincare and it’s continued to be a well-read post!

Since I’ve finally gotten a bit of a system together I thought I’d do a little update to share what has come to work for me. In my last post, I mentioned that I ordered some products from Paula’s Choice…an online beauty store. I ended up LOVING what came in the mail.

So right now, here’s how I have progressed and I have to say I think my face is loving the new routine.

 

Untitled11 – Paula’s choice / 2 – Argan oil / 3 - Norwex / 4 – Tarte BB Cream

 

First things first, let’s talk about the Norwex Body Pack. I just received these last month and they are truly amazing. We really like Norwex products for cleaning, in fact I’m running some specials this month if you need anything, but I had never used any of their body cloths. Everyone recommended them and spoke highly of them and now I know why. The first night I used these on my face, I almost didn’t believe my makeup came off. It was super gentle, only used water, and left my face clean and so fresh feeling. I even threw a cloth to Alex for him to try. There are two different types: Body pack and Make-up Removing cloths and here is a good description of each.  Since my face is more normal/dry I definitely need a moisturizer after scrubbing my face.

Which brings me to my next step. From Paula’s Choice I ordered the Resist Anti-Aging Toner, Serum, and a sample of the Retinol Moisturizer. Since I’m pregnant I’m steering clear of the Retinol Moisturizer but I’ve been using the other two and LOVE them. I haven’t used a toner since my mom bought me the Clinique 3 pack back in high school so this was a new step for me. It’s not like the old alcohol/tingly toners of my past but instead a gentle toner that leaves my face super hydrated. I use this right after washing my face at night followed by the Serum.

This serum is amazing! It leaves your face feeling all fresh and soft. I usually use this at night following the toner and in the morning I use the Argan Oil.  Sometimes I use it on my entire face and other times just around my eyes. While I haven't noticed any life changing results, I would say since adapting a system, my face has felt and looked a bit more refreshed.

And this Argan oil from Apple Valley Natural Soap, well you know I love their products and this one did not disappoint. It has a faint vanilla scent and it is SO hydrating. I’m not sure I will give it up because it works so great as a moisturizer. It doesn’t leave your face oily and I can apply my bb cream right afterwards without feeling  like I have a ton of makeup/oil on my face which is a bonus for me.

And lastly, the Tarte brand BB Cream. Oh my. I’m not sure which is my favorite but this would be high on the list. While not cheap the difference between the drugstore one I was using and this one is ridiculous. This goes on soft and smooth and leaves my face with even coverage. In fact there’s enough coverage with this for me that I often do not have to use anything else to clear up any imperfections on my face. This summer I’ve topped it with my Bare Minerals bronzer for a bit more color but that’s it.

So there you have it. I may have even made my beauty routine easier with these products, if that was even possible. But so far I’ve loved them all and would definitely recommend them.

 

Anyone else find some amazing beauty products over the summer?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

life lately

Life lately has been a whirlwind. When we decided to take on our house to-do list, I don’t think we were thinking clearly. I think we had a strange haze about us that thought we were invincible and I clearly forgot what it was like to be 8-9 months pregnant. Not to mention this toddler we have underfoot this time around.


We’re in rush mode trying to finish the last items on our list before baby comes: spraying all the interior trim, the baby’s closet, and getting everything put away and put together again. Clearly, again we were not thinking straight because we need to leave our house for the paint spraying. For entire days of entire weeks. Oops!

Not to mention that we are nearing the end. If this baby decides to take after her sister she will be here in 3 weeks 3 days. 3 weeks. That cannot happen this time around and yet I’m not sure what I want anymore.

Nobody is functioning with all guns at our house. Out of the past 11 days Alex has been in and out of our lives due to golf and guys weekends, we’ve been traveling, we started spraying our trim and two year molars are rearing their ugly head.

2 year molars. Oh my goodness. A couple of weeks ago she was out of sorts and I after I exhausted every other option I had her open her mouth. And my finger felt the edge of every single 2 year molar. The madness never ends. Four molars at once and our normally very strong and courageous daughter is throwing in the towel. Can’t say I blame her. Motrin is our best friend.

Not to sound to whiney but it’s been hard and I know others have so been there and been through worse. And the news, oh man, I know things are ugly all around us.

But there are times when it’s good and right to admit life lately has been hard. I just told Alex the other day that all I want is a day away to be pampered. And I want this baby out. Until I remember what the first few months are like with a newborn. Then I get all flummoxed because I don’t know what I’d rather have. Sleeplessness and my body somewhat back, because fatigue is getting the best of me right now, or sleeping through the night and wanting to nap all day. Seems about a horse a piece. If I were my husband right now, I would be desperately trying to figure out how to tack on a few more hours of boys weekend before coming home.

This insanity isn’t going away…not when a new baby comes. All I know as of right now is that I am definitely not self sufficient and my thoughts that I am are truly delirious. Thank the Lord that He helps me through each day because I need it.

Our daughters will probably say when their older…”remember when mom sang ‘I need thee every hour…’ all.day.long.” Yup, I do.

Because I need the reminder, minute after minute.

Thank goodness for distractions and family visiting and daddy coming home tomorrow. He doesn’t even know…

There you have it, our crazy life in a nutshell. And did you grasp what I said above. We have 3-5 weeks until this baby comes.

3-5 weeks.

Yikes!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fall Wardrobe Toddler Style

We’re at that point in time that I've recently begun the hunt for fall and winter clothing for Elizabeth. I don’t know if it’s the push for back to school or if it’s the nesting (probably both) but the poor girl needs some clothing for fall.

While I keep holding out hope for their to be fall clothing at garage sales, it never seems to be the case. And with the types of winters we’ve been having summer clothing can only be mixed and matched so much.

With that in mind, here are some of my favorites for fall/winter for Elizabeth. I tend to shop at a mixture of places for her and try really hard to buy things on sale. That being said, because we are having another girl I’m a little less concerned as I know someone else will be able to wear these things at some point.

Our favorite stores include: Old Navy, Gap, H&M, Mini Boden, and Carters/Oshkosh B’Gosh. I love the quality of Carter’s/OBG, Gap, and Mini Boden and the prices of H&M and Old Navy. You may have noticed that I left out Target…that’s because I don’t necessarily love it. I like the Genuine Kids and Cherokee brands but everything else just hasn’t held up that well for us given the price.

I tend to buy just a couple of each item type, so quality matters, with a few more t-shirts/tops thrown in the mix. We have the Hemnes 3 drawer dresser and it’s always my goal to keep almost all of her clothing contained within two drawers. So far I’ve mastered that as we only have 1 1/2 drawers being used for clothing. That way I keep myself in check, even at garage sales!

My style for Elizabeth, and myself for that matter, leans classic and sporty. This fall, since Elizabeth loves them as well, I’m honing in on dresses. She loves twirling! And seriously I cannot get enough of gingham! As far as shoes, I shoot for an everday pair, tennies, and usually some sort of boot. I picked up some Uggs at a garage sale for $2 so we are set on boots. The other two were purchased when Amazon was having a super sale (tennies) and on the Livie and Luca Resale page on Facebook.

Keeping up with growing toddlers is every mom’s dilemma and that’s true for us too. Elizabeth skipped 2T entirely and is solidly in a 3T. For shoes she jumped sizes this summer and is now in an 8/9 depending on the brand. I keep thinking she’ll plateau for a bit but it doesn’t seem that way!

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Mix and match pieces are great…not shown are the couple of sweaters and jeans I picked up on super sale this summer. While I’m still awaiting big sales to purchase any of these, I know I’ll have to start looking soon. Before we know it cooler weather will be here.

Until then, let’s soak in the sun!

Monday, August 11, 2014

When Life Happens

It’s been awhile since I’ve even opened up this page to blog. Life has been happening all around us and to be honest, it’s been exhausting. Everything just coming together all at once.

The past two weeks we’ve found ourselves knee deep in dirt and plants, siding and construction, chaos and mess. But that’s life right and now our yard for the first time since we moved in two years ago finally looks like someone lives here and cares!

In the midst of all the dirt, my computer officially died. As in, I walked into Best Buy with it for the Geek Squad to look over and walked out with my hard drive in a little plastic bag with the admission that they *should* be able to recover everything.

All of that and a diaper study and a toddler and an 8 month pregnant swelling body and tragedy in the news all around us. I’ve made it through the days by grace. When Elizabeth’s blankets caught a hot coffee cup on the table this morning sending the contents flying all over our neutral linen upholstery it was grace that our mouths responded quietly and with grace.

Grace. It’s what’s needed these days.

Our house, is just a thing. We love making it feel like home, but it’s just a thing. Our couch, just a thing. The spilled coffee, just a roadblock. The computer dying, just a glitch in the day by day.

The little girl in front of us with the big eyes staring. Just waiting for what is to come. She’s important.

The beheading of children. The wars going on. The poverty, the starving, the injustice. They’re important.

And they bring us right where we needed to go in the first place. To grace. To Jesus.

To the one who knows the outcome.

And is working in this moment to bring justice and grace and nourishment and protection.

We’re never going to get it right. We’re never going to feel enough for the tragedy around us and we’re never going to be able to dismiss the chaos that may not seem so important around us. We cannot do justice to all the injustice. Life happening here and life happening there.

There’s just grace.

And on our knees kind of praying.

Come Lord Jesus.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Baby #2 : The Final Countdown

I’m 31 weeks.

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That means I have 10 weeks to go if baby is a week late, 9 weeks until full term, and just 6 if baby comes when Elizabeth did.

Shwew! That’s not that far away.

I entered the third trimester a few weeks ago and I have to say things are looking up so far. I definitely don’t feel quite as big as I did the first time around at this point but I’ve gained the same amount of weight it seems. Up 21 pounds although I’m just starting to swell so we shall see what that number does in the remaining weeks.

We have a few names we are mulling over and one that seems like a front runner so hopefully we will get it figured out before she’s here. At my last appointment they said she’s head down although that could change but at least we are moving in the right direction. I’m very excited for Elizabeth to be a big sister. She’s obsessed with her babies and any babies that we see out and around. I know she will be a great helper and to be honest, my biggest worry is for myself. If I’m honest, I don’t love the baby stage…I’m thankful for it and delight in it but it’s not my favorite. And we have already begun preparing our minds and hearts that life is about to get a bit crazier. Hopefully we will all stay as sane as possible.

How far along: 31 weeks

Gender: GIRL!!!

Weight gain: 21 pounds

Maternity clothes: Bottoms but for the most part things are still a bit big this time around. I’m wearing a lot of non-maternity just a couple of sizes bigger than normal.

Stretch marks: No…relying on Palmer’s Cocoa Butter in the jar

Belly button in or out: all the way out…and I was just told by my OB that it is for sure herniated. She has very low hope that it will go back to normal and I will probably be looking at belly button surgery postpartum. Anyone had it done?

Sleep: Still going great…I haven’t even pulled out my body pillow. Maybe it’s time to sell it?

Best moment this week: Getting all of my stuff out of the nursery and into our guest room/craft room in the basement. We are making huge progress in the nursery which makes me feel a bit more ready. The crib is up and bedding is on, closet is cleared out…just a few projects that I hope to tackle in August when my mom is here.

Miss anything: Alcohol. I’m almost embarrassed to write that but summer is the season of the best drinks in my opinion. For the most part I eat/drink everything else in moderation so I’m sure by the time the baby comes and it is fall my desire for a cold margarita will have passed:) And crazy about the stone fruit listeria scare. I’m certain I’ve eaten 9 pounds of stone fruit from those retailers since June 1st. No listeria here…phew!

Movement: A little bit but definitely not as much as I did at this point with Elizabeth. Elizabeth used to move the most during the day and the least at night. When she arrived her days and nights were right on. This little girl likes to get all crazy at night. I can only hope she will arrive knowing that night time means sleep. Probably a lost cause.

Cravings: Nothing really. My appetite has really shrunk.

Looking forward to: Finishing the nursery, having plants in our yard and a newly sided house, meeting this little peanut.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stitch Fix #4

I haven’t shared a Stitch Fix reveal since the first fix! Sorry about that. I have to admit that the second two were less than stellar and I only kept one item from the two of them combined. Despite having a very detailed Pinterest board and giving lengthy feedback, they just haven’t quite pinned down my style. Which of course is a bit frustrating if you see other bloggers reveal their great goods:)

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If you are unfamiliar with Stitch Fix, it’s a personal styling service where you fill out a detailed style profile and they send you 5 items they pick out for you. You can opt to have them send accessories as well although I always opt out of that as I prefer to pick my own. You pay an upfront styling fee of $20 and if you keep any item that $20 gets deducted from your total. So easy and convenient. And if you decide to keep all 5 items they take 25% off your total.

Pricing is set on a scale you set and I just moved a couple of categories up so my prices may be a bit more than most. But something to remember is that pricing will not be Target cheap. Even if you choose the least expensive box. I’d say they range from $35-$75 depending on the item. For me I use the service primarily to find items for girls night out, date nights, etc. because I often find I have nothing in my closet for those times. 

Also if you see something on someone’s blog that they received you can request it for your next fix and if they have it they will send it to you! I actually requested one item for this past fix and was ecstatic to see it in my box. For this fix I asked for items that would work while 7 months pregnant, transition into fall and postpartum and work for nursing. They did a great job making sure each item met one of those criteria.

 

So here’s what they sent me:

Mystree Truce Smock Detail Open Cardigan – $38

This was the item I requested and I’m so glad they sent it. Of the 5 items, this is the one I loved the most and that I kept from this fix. It will be perfect for postpartum and nursing and for the transition to fall.

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Pomelo Polka Dot Tab-Sleeve Blouse – $58

This blouse was not a hit from the time I pulled it out. I knew it would be too short at any stage of life and it was. Also I’m not one for large polka dots. Returned.

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Eight Sixty Presly Floral Print Blouse – $68

If the price of this next one would have been just a bit lower I would have kept it. It’s a little different from things I normally choose but it was really cute on and I could see the transition to fall with a cardigan making this a keeper. Ultimately it was just a bit much for the type of top it was. Returned.

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Collective Concepts Mckinley Tie-Neck Blouse – $68

This top was actually a bit more navy than it is showing up in pictures and just fit like a potato sack. This is not my type of top normally, which is something I enjoy about using Stitch Fix. They make you go out of your box, but this was a bit matronly and too plain, again for the price. Returned.

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Loveappella Carlita Chevron Print Dress – $78

And lastly this Maxi. I think the price is probably right on for this and had it been May I would have kept it in an instant. I tend toward more saturated autumnal tones for fall so I couldn’t get my mind around wearing it come fall. It also would have worked perfectly for maternity with the exception of the band under the bust. It was just a bit too wide and didn’t work well with my bump. I did love it though, very flattering and nothing I would choose on my own. Regretfully returned.

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So there you have it.

My fourth Stitch Fix and I have to say it’s getting better. I am looking forward to doing it again postpartum when it actually is fall and they have more “fall-type” items in stock. I’m finding that I tend to do most of my shopping online for myself and just make sure I can return items I don’t like. It’s not uncommon for boxes chock full to show up and me just keep an item or two but being able to try on with items in your closet has become invaluable to me, especially with a toddler afoot.

If you are interested in trying out Stitch Fix, follow this link to get started!

http://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3077376

*The links in this post are referral links…I will get a small credit if you choose to sign up through it*

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What My Daughter’s Need Most

This past week so many thoughts passed through my mind. I contemplated getting rid of Facebook, shutting down my blog, reducing the amount of peripheral fluff. And I prayed and sought and talked with my husband. And I felt like never before such a strong urge to be intentional.

In the end, since I’m still writing here, the blog isn’t going anywhere. But I have placed some borders on my social media usage because sometimes the fluff gets in the way of what I really want to be focusing on. Being intentional.

Because what my daughter’s need most is their mother. Not a Pinterest inspired version. Just me. Just as I come. My heart, my love, my time, my attention.

Before Elizabeth was born I felt a strong urge for intentionality in my mothering. And after she came and I started reading the parenting books, it didn’t take me long to realize the parenting I wanted, the ministry of motherhood I longed for, wasn’t found in the pages of the books I had been given. I shut them all. In fact, I’ve really only read through 3 or 4 parenting books all the way through and I can assure you they are not the ones you may expect.

I began to get a little confused as to what my role was. I missed ministry and speaking into the lives of women and children. My husband in his own gracious way encouraged me to shut the books, to get rid of them, and to open the one book that would give me everything I needed. The Bible. And so, being the great wife I am, I followed his advice.

And then about a year later, I opened Sally Clarkson’s Ministry of Motherhood. I read through the first 3 chapters, wrote down some notes and shut the book (eventually I finished it!) She finally offered the words and the calling I was waiting to hear.

“I realized with the passing of each day that spiritual and emotional maturity would not just happen to my children because I wished it so. It would not come just from a passive example of my being good. Effective spiritual, emotional, and social training in the lives of my children would have to be both intentional and planned.” Ministry of Motherhood, p. 13

She put words to where my heart was stirring. Having been involved in campus ministry like Sally, I had discipled young women before. I had gained the wisdom of a discipleship model; to pour out my life investing in the next generation, living, loving, serving, training and pointing them to Jesus.

As soon as I read those chapters, I shut the book not because I didn’t like her advice, but because a light bulb went off. God was calling me as a mother to intentionally disciple my children. I had known this in a way prior to having Elizabeth but so much other fluff had been added. Peripheral things that seemed trivial in light of the Gospel. God calls parents to impart His word to them, to teach them about Himself, and to raise up children that know who He is. He asks more of us of course, but this is a foundational truth.

And I shut the book because that discipleship model I had been taught in college was something I knew how to do.

These girls, this season I’ve been given, is where my ministry is. Where my heart needs to be poured out. And discipleship happens best when you get involved and get intentional. It's messy and hard, there are questions and times of failure, but discipleship is coming alongside and teaching, equipping, helping and just plain being there.

The whole mystery of parenting fell away when I realized I just needed to rely on the Lord and set forth an intentional heart to focus on my daughters. Young children learn by observation. This is a known truth. They learn by watching what is going on around them. That’s why if you spend time with kids that are a little wild, your child will probably want to test out being a bit wild and that’s okay and very normal.

For me, knowing my daughters will be watching me, learning from me, copying me makes me not want to get my act together and do things perfectly, but instead to be ready. To be immersed in God’s word, to be authentic and real, to admit when I’m wrong, be affectionate and offer grace. To give them myself, even the messy parts. God has called me as a mother to be intentional about sharing who He is and who Jesus is to my children. And for me this happens all day long. Not just through stories and His word but by living life in a way so that they "hopefully" see me more often as humble and in need and God as the one who supplies.

Hard, yes. Worth it, incredibly.

My heart has been burdened that I can’t just say the words. I can’t just offer platitudes and good jobs. I can’t just sit on the sidelines and hope they catch on. There’s hard, intentional work to be done. My daughter isn’t going to catch on like one catch’s a cold. We’re building a foundation together.

Creating a family, creating a legacy, creating a life together. Being intentional about what that looks like, how's it's played out, and what stays and what goes has helped.

In those years of waiting for children, Alex and I began to imagine the type of life we would want if we ever had children. And there are moments, like Saturdays as we sit and listen to the music at the Farmer’s Market, where my heart swells because those fleeting notions are turning into reality.

Everyone has a different vision of this…that’s what is so fantastic. Everyone has a vision for their family, for their children. Some are world driven and others heaven focused. But we all have some sort of thing we are being intentional about imparting.

For us, we’re attempting to be intentional about creating a family atmosphere that’s full of love and grace and forgiveness. Where fun things happen as a family and where one can always feel safe. We want our daughters to enjoy being with us. We watched families, we've asked advice, gleaned wisdom and are attempting to put it into practice.

We are intentional about teaching our girls about who God is daily. If they don’t learn who He is from what we share and how we act, speak and behave, they will leave our house ill-equipped. Even if He never calls our daughters to true faith in His son, I pray they leave our house with a real and authentic view of who Jesus is.

Being intentional never seemed so daunting or difficult as it does but thankfully God is with me in this and I know that discipleship is always worth the hard work put in. As someone who has sought out a mentor and been poured into for the past 10 years, discipleship is worth every minute, even as adults.

Practical application?

We don’t give up even though we want to sometimes. We keep imparting the same truths over and over again. We train, we encourage, we offer grace, we are quick to listen and slow to anger (try!!), and we continually offer opportunities for Elizabeth to practice what she is learning. For her, it’s sharing, walking and staying close to mom when in a store, listening and obeying, sitting through dinner, pouring water, getting dressed, and praying. She has her own little prayer she knows. “Thank you Jesus, Amen.” They’re never too little to learn God’s word or speak to Him.

For the fall, I’m hoping to create a little curriculum alongside the monthly truth’s our church is teaching to our kids on Sunday’s. This month they are learning that “God Made Me” and it’s become a theme we can focus on throughout the month. Nothing fancy, nothing Pinterest-y. Just talking about how God made her. Every part of her.

For me, I’ve had to turn off the world a bit to be more intentional. That peripheral fluff has to go…otherwise I’m distracted by the minor things. Even though I don’t have a physical “boss” I have a boss who’s watching every move. Who gives grace and offers second chances over and over again. I have a God who cares how my day goes and one who has given me the tools to be intentional in my mothering.

He’s called me to go and make disciples…and He’s given me two right in front of me.

 

*in case anyone is wondering, here are the books I’ve read all the way through and have really enjoyed and found incredibly resourceful and helpful*

Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

For the Family’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Disciplines of a Godly Family by R. Kent Hughes

Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic

as well as these non-Christian books

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen La Billion

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

 

Favorite kid books

Jesus Storybook Bible and Thought’s to make your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd Jones

Learn about God series by Carine Mackenzie