Golden

I celebrated my golden birthday last month (28 on the 28th). My husband asked me my thoughts about getting older, and I have been pondering it for a bit now. While I am not afraid of aging, I am actually OK with getting older. In a culture that fears age for vain reasons, I am looking forward to who I am becoming. Not only am I getting older, but I am getting better. I am a better mom. I am a better wife. I am a better friend. I am kinder to myself. Age has a way of teaching you things, even when you aren’t realizing it, and I feel like I am becoming who I am supposed to be.

The number keeps getting higher, but it’s only a number. That old adage that says you are only as old as you feel is so true for me. I don’t feel old, nor is 28 even considered old (just depends who is looking at it).  I have made fitness a priority in my life, so my body has treated me well. While my diet may not be the best or cleanest, I am strong. I have muscles. And you know what? My thighs touch. But you know what that means? I have strong legs to bounce my kids on and run to keep up with them. Fitness is a part of my life and will be forever. I don’t want to feel old because of how my body feels. I want to feel young. I want to get older.

I want to perfect that balance of taking care of myself and taking care of others. It is a delicate combination, because if I spend too much time caring for others and forsaking my own health, that isn’t good. If I spend too much time focusing on myself then I become selfish and vain, and can’t sufficiently care for others. Does that even make any sense? That is why I work out. I run, I lift weights, and I get enough sleep, I eat and drink in moderation. So there is a balance that I am trying to figure out, but it is important. Everything I do affects my body either negatively or positively, and I am in control.

I also am learning to be kinder to myself. My body has gone through a lot in the past five years, so I should be in awe of what my body has done instead of frustrated that I still haven’t lost that last bit of belly flub. I will never be the person who is proud of my stretch marks (thanks, Levi), but I won’t obsess over them. Do I want that flat stomach? Yes. I should probably eat less ice cream. Progress over perfection. I just really like ice cream 😉

I have more wrinkles this year, but that means that I have smiled and experienced more. I want the kind of friends where your heart warms just thinking about that person. I want less relationships, and the ones I have to be more genuine. I want to surround myself with people who will inspire me, support me, and make me better. I have pulled away from those relationships that were more draining and negative because I don’t need that in my life. I would rather have a few close friends than a bunch of mediocre ones. The phase of life I am in is very busy and demanding, so I have to choose how I spend my time wisely. I don’t want to spend my time with someone who isn’t making me a better version of myself.

If I have the privilege of getting older, that means I have more time to spend with my amazing husband. And that means I have more time to practice loving him and making him happy. I was blessed to find my partner early in life, and I am so thankful for that. We are approaching ten years as a couple, which I can’t quite wrap my head around how it has been that long! Ten years with a man as awesome and selfless as him, and I am just beginning to learn how to love and appreciate him the way he deserves. I am a lucky girl, and I don’t want to take him for granted.

I am learning to care less about what people think of me. For someone who is very sensitive by nature, this has been a big one for me. I can’t control what people think. I can’t make everyone like me, nor should I try. I can’t make everyone happy. I will stand up for what is right, but I won’t go out of my way to try and help someone who doesn’t want to change. If I am doing my best and loving others, then that is where I accept reality and move on.

Growing up also means pushing myself out of my comfort zone. That’s where the growth happens! I need to think less about what others will think and more about my goals in life and what I need to do to get me there. The reality is that I am my own harshest critic, and more than likely other people may not care as much as I think they will. A big part of that is this blog and forcing myself to be in front of the camera. I am not comfortable in front of the camera, and I’m not sure I ever will be. I am learning to share my voice and ideas, as awkward as I may feel. I am proving to myself that I can do things outside my comfort zone, and that is how I can make myself better.

 

I am learning not to make excuses, but also to know when to give myself a break. It really comes down to choices and priorities. I am the kind of person that needs to be busy. I went through a phase where I had so much planned, and now looking back I don’t think it was healthy for me or the kids. While a lot of what was on the schedule was kid-centered activities and playdates, there was too much structure. I am learning to relax. I am learning to prioritize what really needs to be done. Needs come before wants. Chores come before play. As a mom I am realizing how important it is to teach these theories to my kids, and I am learning just how much my kids learn from example. That means not being on my phone all day long, checking social medias and texts. That means teaching my kids to serve others before you serve yourself. It means always using your manners, and loving someone even when they are unlovable. The value of an apology goes a long way, and I am seeing that with my kids. I mess up, and I want my kids to see that I am human and make mistakes, and can swallow my pride and apologize when I need to. That is the whole picture of Jesus, right?

I want to embrace getting older. Every year I earn means I am acquiring more wisdom, understanding, and love. Age isn’t scary. I don’t want to look back on my life and be disappointed in who I was. I want to live a life that I am proud of and appreciate who I am becoming. I want to inspire others to do the same: be a better person. I want to set those goals. To take the risk. Be diligent. Don’t make excuses for myself. I know by God’s grace I am capable of whatever I set my mind to!

 

Best Ever Granola Bars

After years of trial and error, I have finally perfected my granola bar recipe! These are AMAZING and do not last in our house. Now just a warning, I made no mention of them being healthy. Although since they have granola in them, that makes them healthy, right? Moving on…

It’s very important you press the mixture down hard and don’t touch it until it is totally cool. That way when you cut it, it will stay nicely in bars. Or if you are overzealous you’ll just have super yummy granola crumbles. 

Chewy Granola Bars Recipe

5 cups oats (I’ve used old fashioned and quick)

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter melted

1 cup peanuts

1 cup raisins

1 cup chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 375*F. Combine all ingredients. Mixture should be quite sticky and hard to mix. Add more peanut butter and/or honey if it isn’t sticky enough to reach the desired consistency. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Transfer into the dish, pressing down hard (the mixture should be very compact). Bake for 20 minutes. Allow the bars to cool completely before you cut. Enjoy!

 

 

Fighting the Battle of Motherhood

I was joking around with my best friend’s husband a bit ago about how blessed I am to be able to stay at home with my kids. I don’t get that Sunday night pit-in-my-stomach thinking about going into “work” the next morning. I am so thankful for the freedom and ability to create my own days and spend all my time with my children. But there are moments, days, or even weeks that I struggle. And right now, I feel like life is a battle. Meals are a battle. Naptime is a battle. Getting buckled into the car is a battle. Fun activities are even a battle. I find myself just wishing for naptime and just plain worn out by the end of the day.

It is hard to keep my focus as a mom when the kids have been screaming all day long and I am just tapped out. But when I sit back and think about it, they are just kids with a sin nature (like me!), and it is my job to teach and to train them how to become responsible adults. What an overwhelming thought! When I get into a funk when I feel like I just can’t win, it is hard to get over it. What I have come to realize is that it is just as simple as my perspective.

Knowing myself, my first response to a tough situation would be to get mad, overwhelmed, frustrated, or anxious. I get down on myself because I need to be doing a better job. Instead of thinking those negative thoughts, I need to be proactive with the kids and find a way to counteract the whininess or attitudes. Instead of feeling defeated, I need to focus on the blessing it is to have these wonderful and unique children in my life. I need to reflect on the fact that I am so blessed to be able to stay home and spend my days with them. In those moments when I am wishing I had a job outside the home, I need to take a step back and thank God that I have the opportunity, no- privilege, to stay at home with my kids. (Not that there is anything wrong with working outside the home, I just know that right now I am called to be at home with my kids.)

I hope you know that you are not alone. You are not the only one that struggles or has bad days. Staying at home can feel isolating at times, even if we have a community built up around us for support. This phase of life is exhausting, overwhelming, and oftentimes thankless. Even if you work outside the home, it can be just as tiring. Do the best that you can; you are probably doing a better job than you think. You are fighting the good fight and it will be worth it. You are doing a great thing. God created you to be your children’s mother, not someone else. Keep at it. Keep fighting. We are all in this together.

 

 

Life Lately

To put it simply, life has been a bit overwhelming. I took an unintentional but much needed break from blogging and IG and all that. Here is one of the main reasons why…

We moved!


But back to chronological order. Scarlett had her first visit to the ER a few weeks ago. The kids were being a little wild and despite my attempts to calm them down, it finally ended up with someone getting hurt. Scarlett smashed her face into a glass vase and ended up getting two stitches. She was so tough! My angel of a friend watched the two younger kids and I was beyond grateful. The ER had a crazy wait before we even got to see a doctor! She was so calm and didn’t even cry during the procedure. “No crying, just tears.” She said.
Right when we got admitted. Even with a sliced lip she’s the cutest!


Watching these girls bond is the best thing in the world!


We were then hit with the plague. Eloise got it first, but Levi got it the worst. The poor thing was down for the count for a loooong time. Then Scarlett got it, then Eloise again. December was a tough health month!

Poor Levi. He was so bad off for a few days! I didn’t mind the cuddles though.

We took a short day and a half trip to New Hampshire to go to Marcus’ work party and to check out some houses. I had everything packed, but somehow the suitcase didn’t end up in the car. So after we got to my parent’s house we went and saw a few houses, then ran to TJ Maxx and the grocery store for party clothes and diapers. Nothing like forcing you to be a little more flexible, right?

So on Christmas Eve we decided to put an offer on one of the houses. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t meant to be.  Apparently someone as crazy as us submitted an offer on Christmas Eve too? We ducked out of a bidding war. No point in overspending on a home.

We had such a wonderful Christmas! We stayed home with the exception of my run with my sister. There is nothing like relaxing and enjoying the day with your kids.

Marcus and Eloise when she had round 2 of the cold on Christmas Day. A man and his baby=cutest ever.


Eloise turned seven months old! She is now crawling, pulling up, and moving more than I have the energy for. She’s obsessed with the cats and will scream at them. We love her so!


Our friends from Florida came up for a week and we showed them what winter in New England is all about! We took a 24 hour trip to NH so they could experience snow.


Eloise is still unsure about it.


While at my mom’s house I discovered this gem. I’m the baby on the left: Eloise is the spitting image of me as a baby!


We made a trip to NYC on the train the next day. Because we are crazy like that. But we had a great time!  We didn’t get to bed until after midnight that night. It was  totally worth it!

Somehow Eloise slept the entire time on the train. One less baby to chase=thankful!

The kids and I at dinner. As crazy as life is with three kids three and under, it is totally worth it!

Date night with my sister and brother in law and our friends! Went to a new restaurant in New Haven called Olives and Oil. So good!


I am trying to take more individual pictures of my kids. It’s so tough to when they are all so young! Can you even stand how cute they are?!

This girl. So sweet. So caring.

How handsome is he? And so smart. So silly.

Marcus’ grandfather’s health had declined. Marcus went to Maryland Sunday night and was able to spend the last days with him before he passed. He was a great man!

Packing, crawler edition.

How to pack a house when your kids are young: screen time FTW.

The big day finally arrived! I’m still in denial we moved out. We will miss our first home!


And that’s been the past month. So now we are settling into my parent’s house and waiting (im)patiently for homes to come on the market. Levi has figured out how to get out of his crib, so we are now battling the escapee toddler syndrome. Please, oh please send advice my way. How did you get past this stage? All the tactics we used with Scarlett have been futile. Help!

Mens Stocking Stuffer Guide

Buying for men is TOUGH. Maybe it’s just my guy, but he never wants anything. And when he does, he buys it. So whenever holidays or birthdays roll around, I am always stumped! At least with stocking stuffers I have my go-to items that are sure to please.

mens-stocking-stuffer-guide

[eafl id=766 name=”Mens Sunglasses” text=”Sunglasses”] / [eafl id=764 name=”mens fun socks” text=”socks”] / [eafl id=763 name=”jack black face lotion” text=”face lotion”] / [eafl id=765 name=”Fitbit Blaze” text=”Fitbit Blaze”] / [eafl id=761 name=”Calvin Klein Boxer Brief” text=”Brief”] / [eafl id=760 name=”Jack Black Clay Pomade” text=”Clay Pomade”] / [eafl id=762 name=”jerky” text=”jerky”] / [eafl id=767 name=”Ibeats” text=”headphones”] / [eafl id=768 name=”gum” text=”gum”]

[eafl id=766 name=”Mens Sunglasses” text=”Sunglasses”] are a hot item in our house. Both Marcus and I have an affinity for a good set of spectacles. Marcus, however, seems to lose them as quickly as he buys them. I can’t count how many pairs of Oakley sunglasses he’s lost over the years! These [eafl id=766 name=”Mens Sunglasses” text=”sunglasses “]are so inexpensive, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at them. Here’s to hoping this expensive habit can be salvaged!

My husband has always been about his funky [eafl id=764 name=”mens fun socks” text=”socks”]. I am always adding to his collection, and these fit the bill! In the book he wrote (releasing soon! #shamelssplug) he explains the significance behind his socks and how it helps him at work. Go check out his website and you can preorder a copy of his book today!

My husband is not high maintenance in the least. He does, however, enjoy a good lotion or product. He started using the Jack Black line in the past couple years and he loves it! This [eafl id=763 name=”jack black face lotion” text=”lotion “]would be a great addition to his collection.

We are a Fitbit household. Both of us are pretty active, and it is a fun way to stay competitive with our fitness goals. Marcus loves his [eafl id=765 name=”Fitbit Blaze” text=”Blaze”]! And my brother in law just got one too. This would be such a great gift for the athletic guy, or the guy who wants encouragement to be more athletic.

This may be TMI, but I recently went through Marcus’ clothes. I don’t want to tell you how old some of his undergarments were. Or maybe I could try and tell you, but they were before my time and I don’t even know how old they are! (We have been together for 9 years for some context). I have been adding to his brief collection and he is a huge fan of these [eafl id=761 name=”Calvin Klein Boxer Brief” text=”Calvin Klein boxer briefs”]! A little more expensive, but I promise they are worth it. He will thank you!

Marcus has used tons of different hair products over the years. When he started using the [eafl id=760 name=”Jack Black Clay Pomade” text=”Jack Black Clay Pomade”], he was sold for life. Very easy to use and to style, and your ‘do stays put and looks effortless.

Is it just my guy, or do men love weird foods? I personally do not understand the [eafl id=762 name=”jerkey” text=”jerky “]thing, but it is always a hit. [eafl id=762 name=”jerkey” text=”This “]variety pack of different types would be a fun gift!

My husband, the king of losing all the things, somehow has hung onto his really nice headphones for a while now. He has and loves his [eafl id=767 name=”Ibeats” text=”Beats”]! Another one that is more money, but totally worth it. If you’ve never tried them, you don’t know what you’re missing! Your guy would be totally thrilled to find [eafl id=767 name=”Ibeats” text=”this “]in his sock.

Always a crowd pleaser in our house is [eafl id=768 name=”gum” text=”gum”]. I have some stashed in my car and diaper bag so I can pop a piece and not offend the world while running errands. We always need more, and we love [eafl id=768 name=”gum” text=”this “]kind!

Is yours as hard to shop for as mine? Share what your go-to stocking stuffers are! I need more inspiration!

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