On the last day of March, the kids and I loaded up for a spontaneous trip to see some Bluebonnets. I packed several outfits per child, multiple shoe options, plenty of leftover Easter candy, and one LARGE iced tea for myself. I mean, how difficult is it to take photos of three children – five, three, and one in the outdoors, an hour away, whilst missing naptime?! Call me crazy, but I love these types of photos. The seasonal progression types. Don’t ask me to locate the ones from one or two years ago, but they are there… somewhere on that external hard drive!!
I have learned to keep very low expectations when it comes to photographs I capture. When I focus my attention on piquing their interests, asking them questions, and not directing the show, I usually find a handful of decent candid shots that fulfill my wishes! So much better than the former me who stressed about each outfit, laid down the law about what shoes and collared shirt to wear, and forced smiles while making them sing nursery rhymes and balancing on one leg. Alright, so that last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but I’m sure my mom performed a great half-time show behind my camera, without any bribery!
Our overcast day turned brutally hot and we had direct sunlight for most of the afternoon. Since I’m now the practicing, “super chill” and go with the flow Mom, (so totally not, but trying!) we rolled with the punches, downed bottles of water, and hitched a ride on the Gator/Mule/Ranger/Polaris/Kubota. Thank you Gari for your kind and generous hospitality. We loved the ride and needed to retreat to your beautiful home after!
Below is a little something I wrote specifically for our Mother’s Day Out newsletter. It is for all us Moms in the trenches with our tiny ones, making messes, memories, and trying to have fun along the way!
Balance is elusive. Peace is sustainable. A peaceful presence and a peaceful attitude are fully accessible and within reach when I press the pause button in my mind and look to Jesus (more on PEACE). I find myself constantly dangling between two extremes – strict and easy-going, scheduled and loosey-goosey, joyful and agitated. I’m most of these things simultaneously and it can seriously drive a girl crazy!
But, I know we are seasonal beings. There’s ebb and flow. Winter gives way to spring, and then summer to fall. Joy comes in the morning. I’m both energetic and bone-tired. All too often I allow my emotions to dictate my mood. I let the little annoyances of the day creep in and steal parts of my peace, my calm, and my patience.
“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.” Psalm 95:6-7
As I fight to be an engaged mom, I am able to exhale and know that I am choosing all the right things in this season. That’s a key component – in this season. I would love to have a revolving front door, hosting friends regularly and welcoming all into our home, but this isn’t my time for never-ending parties under our roof. For one, there are peanut butter smears on the couch, and I just found blue toothpaste smashed in our rug… Not that I don’t welcome any and all who drop-in and even plan dinner parties, but I am definitely not currently the Hostess with the Most-ess. (And, I’m learning to be okay with that!)
Back to balance… it is elusive. Just when I have a stocked fridge, planned meals, food prepped, and a tidy house, I feel the deficit in other areas. Like, can’t we just feel victorious about ONE thing without any mom guilt about the others?!
So, I didn’t play “Knight and Dragon” for endless hours today, I didn’t read “Tator the Gator” fourteen times, and I didn’t hold the baby non-stop… BUT, we did play “Knight and Dragon,” we did read “Tator the Gator,” I did carry and rock the baby, and then we ate a decent dinner, and all the sheets are clean. Victory. I watched the boys play in the sunshine and helped Charis climb off a chair. I calmed Owen and held him for an extra long time, just because. This is enough. This is the good stuff. I’m learning to treasure all the tiny moments. Celebrating my wins and letting all the condemnation and guilt slip away.
What are your wins for the day? Completed errands? Drinking a full eight cups of water? Finishing a book? Let’s focus on our wins, shrug off any mishaps, and celebrate all the goodness.
Finding, compiling, and putting together Valentine’s cards is usually a bit hectic at our home. We’re coming off Owen’s birthday highs and then whip it into high gear for classroom parties, teacher treats, and special Valentine’s for classmates. It’s enough to make my head spin! Thankfully, with both moms nearby we usually have an extra hand to pull-off all these events and special moments!
Because my kids morph into hyper-active, ridiculous, and out of control tiny humans at the ingestion of sugar, I tend to forgo the sugary sweets for their cards. There are tons of super cute ideas using fun sayings to correspond to candy, but I just can’t introduce any more sweet into their bodies for my own mental health!!! Ha! With that being said, I like to find non-sugar related Valentine’s that are just as sweet (see what I did there?!).
If you’re last minute, like me, and need a quick printable then look no further! At the bottom of this post are two generic versions of my boys’ Valentine’s. You’ll need individually wrapped or boxed Goldfish and a package of tiny dinosaurs. I can usually find the dinosaurs in the birthday favor section of Wal-Mart or Target, or at our local Dollar Store. Amazon also sells them (Package of dinosaurs). To make the dino version even simpler, use a quick strip of washi tape to adhere the dinosaur to the paper. I wish I would have thought of that when we were assembling. (Thanks, Mom for finishing Cade’s cards!!!)
There you have it! Our simplistic, non-candy Valentine’s. What are your traditions for Valentine’s Day? Do you handmake your cards or pick out a special design at the store? Is glitter or glue involved? I’m not that adventurous, yet!
Warm Winter Weather
For me, this is everyday joy. Finding the incredible in the ordinary, seeking out fun and adventure in the midst of routine, and enjoying every last second of daylight with my people. We ventured outdoors for a family bike ride, and then again for a friendly soccer match. Our main motivation on the second go-round was to run the boys to the point of exhaustion so Jeb and I could walk slowly, hold a conversation, and decompress a little. Such fun. Such ease.
Little Miss doesn’t miss a beat. She was running around kicking the soccer ball and even stole it from her brothers a few times! All around families were connecting and laughing. Kids were running wild, kites were overhead, and I just relished in the simplicity of being outside and having a ball. I tend to over-complicate most things including a trip to the park. Jeb made the executive decision to keep most of my preparedness in the van so we wouldn’t be pack mules heading to our spot!! (Side note: changes of clothes are necessary, snacks are mandatory, quilts are optional, as is water, apparently!!)
I usually just carry my iPhone around and am pretty okay with the turnout. Those pics are mainly for memory’s sake and to include in mini family albums. But, I decided one item that I was willing to cart around this day was my big girl camera. I don’t nearly pull it out enough, but when I do I am again reminded why I love this medium of art so very much. Below are my favorites after our long, leisurely park day.
I just can’t even. I love this so much. The brightness and gold flecks in his eyes, his chapped lips, red cheeks and sweaty hair. This is him. Wearing his Daddy’s cap, telling a story, looking directly at my eyes, with a stare. Not unfriendly but also not yet disarming. Man, I love this one something fierce.
Owen found this Hulk mask and loved it! It smelled, was slightly damp, and generally grossed me out. But, he was having a blast, so I rolled with it. My favorites are his eyes. It’s rare for me to capture them so clearly with a full on stare because he’s almost always on the go. My love! Sweet, sweet expressions. I focused on my boys and will need to snap some of Charis next time. She was on my hip during some of our soccer game and the giggles, claps, and belly laughs were too cute!
Does your family have a favorite spot? Tell us in the comments where you tend to gravitate! Parks, trails, creeks, beaches? I’d love to know.
Happy Birthday, Owen Crew!
You came into this world like a rush, full throttle, but then rested easily and peacefully on my chest for the following hours. The same is true of you today, three years later. You are full of excitement and love to jump “Monster Machine” style, but you are also intensely sensitive and aware. In the same breath you announce, “I’ll punch you in the face,” and also, “Mommy, will you cuddle with me?” Of course the intonation in your voice is just as telling as your big baby blues. We’ve dubbed quite a few of your attitudes and voices as “Bull-dog” and you love being Rubble on the Double, but here lately “Wildman Kolby” has been making appearances in the form of sporadic and spontaneous dance parties!
Owen Crew, you are a delight. Our latest morning routine involves you sneaking into my side of the bed just after Dad leaves for work for some extra snuggles. At night you refuse to wear any pajamas, so by five o’clock you’re basically a Popsicle and crowd in close for warmth. Before you drift back off to sleep you hug my neck, kiss my face, and thank me for letting the “puppy dog” in the bed (with a scrunched up face and crinkled nose – the look you give when you know you’re getting away with something!).
Bud, we love you. Thank you for being our laid-back, funny guy, who eats everything set before you. You most definitely move to the beat of your own drum and don’t usually get in a hurry over anything, but we’re okay with that. (Well, I’m working on being okay with that… especially during our family bike rides…) You are passionate and observant and are becoming quite the storyteller, like your brother. I love that you aren’t intimidated by people and love to pray. I can’t wait to see all that emerges from your steadfast energy. Great things will unfold before you, my love, and we’ll be here cheering you on!
Just for grins, here are last year’s photos. Those curls!!
Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins [it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others]. 1 Peter 4:8 (AMP)*
Here’s a quick rundown of the top posts for January – side note: Can you believe that we’re already a month down in 2016?? I personally started the new year with such gumption and have since curtailed a bit of the enthusiasm. Sickness kept us confined, which during the winter months isn’t too much of a stretch, but Houston has been having some glorious 60 and 70 degree sunshiny weather that was beckoning.
PEACE series – I wrapped up the final installment this month. Thanks for all the encouragement! The feedback via Instagram and email has been wonderful. Thank you for your affirmation, support, and for walking this journey with me!
If you’re already an Amazon user, consider shopping via AmazonSmile, their charitable site that offers the same products and services while giving back a percentage of every sale. You are able to choose your favorite organization from over a million registered NGOs.
Some of my favorite bracelets!
On the Horizon
- February – Owen’s birthday month (Read his birth story, day one)
- Valentine’s DIY crafts (Here are some from previous years)
Peace. This singular word has been reverberating in my ears for about seven years and has become my championed reality. I wholeheartedly embrace peace and know it can be attained. With that in mind, I’m starting a series on PEACE for the month of September. The series will serve a few purposes, 1) Clarify my thoughts and experiences 2) Imprint these truths even deeper on my heart and, 3) Hopefully inspire, or at least intrigue, you to begin your own study of peace.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
What we’ve covered so far is that peace is attainable regardless of your external circumstances. It is an internal surrender to the God of the universe, who is the Source of all life. Peace is an active mindset and a daily practice. Ultimately, it is relinquishing control and placing your trust in our Heavenly Father.
PEACE IS RELEASING CONTROL
Releasing control is difficult. It is especially difficult for those of us who lean toward perfectionism and expect excellence in all things. You know this includes you when these type of thoughts cloud your mind: “It’s faster if I just do it myself, so I know it’s done right.” Or if you are the hover-er. You can’t help but “check-in” to make sure all is going according to plan. Other tip-offs that this may be you is if you balk at last minute changes to the schedule.
Okay, so most of us like to have control, or be in a place of authority to exert control, but we all know that control is an illusion. There will always be variables, changes, unforeseen complications, accidents and the occasional uncooperative person or toddler.
PEOPLE ARE DEPENDABLE
One of the many life-altering lessons I learned from our year in Iraq is that people are dependable. A by-product of my week of peace (read more here) is that there was an ease in asking for help. There was trust knowing it would be appropriately addressed. I had no qualms about releasing control on important tasks to my faithful friends and believing it would be accomplished. The great outcome of this is that I was physically free from the stress of the task and was continually surprised by the quality of effort and talent in executing the goal, usually much better than I was able.
Once you have this practice down of releasing control and empowering others to take over, you will be freed up to handle bigger/better/more meaningful things. So often, we are tied to our projects and find our identity in these ministries that we miss the opportunity to bless another and to be released into an upgrade.
EMPOWERING OTHERS WILL BETTER YOU
Think of it like this – you love lemonade and have faithfully served your lemonade stand for years. You have big dreams of seeing this business flourish and reach beyond your one yard. But, if you refuse to allow anyone else to mix the drink, serve the cups, or take the money, you aren’t freed up to expand. The investment of time, energy, influence, and experience to develop more is worth empowering and enabling others to take over.
Y’all, I am continually in this learning cycle. I get it and then have to really get it and then it circles back around… So what areas or projects do you need to release? Will saying no actually bring the doom and gloom we often imagine? Let me know in the comments if this resonates. Ever feel this way?! Love, love, love!
One of the best things about social media is the sharing. I love seeing new products, finding practical solutions to my own conundrums, and sharing tons of resources. For this installment of my Friday Faves, I give you Amazon. Amazon Prime is wonderful. Amazon Subscribe & Save is a God-send, and AmazonSmile is another lesser-known extension of Amazon.
Here’s the breakdown: AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.
Amazon will give .5% of every purchase to the specific 501(c)(3) of your choice. Our family looks for ways to give back at just about every turn. We volunteer, we give financially, and we try to support as many socially-conscious businesses as possible. This is a great way to have an impact with minimal effort. Win-win!! The only difference is you begin using the smile.amazon.com URL to access Amazon.
Okay, the last plug for Amazon. Subscribe & Save. This is a game-changer, folks. How many times have you forgotten to change your air filters because you forgot the size, or it’s not on your regular grocery/toiletry/household list? Remember once and then setup your account to ship the same items (at a discounted price) at repeating intervals (monthly, quarterly, etc.). You will receive a reminder email before it ships if you need to change your order…it’s a great reminder! I primarily use this service for diapers (five years and counting!!) and laundry detergent.
For more information, here’s the link to AmazonSmile – Getting Started
Friends, how do you automate your life? I feel like this is a necessity these days. Please share in the comments!
Amazon has an affiliate program, but I am not currently receiving any monetary compensation for this endorsement. I independently researched and use these services and wanted to pass along the memo!
It has been too fun to be able to gradually update my website and begin implementing a few design things here and there. You may have already noticed a little opt-in box. If you subscribe to my newsletter, I am offering two different designs for your devices. One is affectionately named “Waves” and the other is “It is Well,” for obvious reasons. Upon signing up you will receive immediate access to download the digital files. There is a print option and also sizing for each of your devices.
Both of these phrases are imprinted in my heart and mind. I talk a little bit about that in this post. The overarching theme is that God is powerful. God is able. He is for me and will sustain me. Even nature bends and obeys His voice. And also, when we believe and fully trust His character all our external circumstances can’t compete with the peace within.
So, which do you prefer? The landscape or the typography option? I’d love to hear your preference in the comments!
*Also, if you’d still like access to the downloads but are already a subscriber, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the files! Happy Day, Friend!!
I make much of simple, everyday joys. Finding the incredible in the ordinary. Viewing life and motherhood through the lens of joy, seeing profound beauty, and gaining peace throughout the mundane. ShelbieShue is an affectionate childhood nickname and I still answer to the call.