Sunny Saturday

What a heavenly week it has been on the Trail.  As I write this I am sitting at my favorite downtown spot feasting on the best grilled sandwich and bread and butter.  Alone.  Which means...my mom is in town.  God bless mothers.  She is my respite from my days at home with my babies.  She swoops in with her 'get out of here' attitude and grants me space and time to refresh and regroup for the days and weeks ahead of me at home.  How I love this woman I call mom.

I could go on and on about the things that made my week sunnier, but I will keep it short and sweet.  Here is this week's round up...

Peonies.  I know everyone and their momma are talking about these blossoms, but we are, too.  They are literally blooming all over our yard and this time of year I couldn't be more thankful to have a master gardner for a mother-in-law. She made this yard absolutely stunning before we moved in and I get to reap the harvest of a labor of gardening love.  A little secret: peonies are my favorite. (And Lily's, too.)

This Memorial Day weekend we have family driving into town and there will be lots of playing with cousins and eating and so forth.  You can believe I will be making these oatmeal chocolate peanut butter bars to munch on all weekend long.  They are simple and delicious and pretty much my go-to when I need to bake for a crowd.  

You are Free by Rebekah Lyons.  My friend, Annie, recommended it to me and the first few chapters have been life giving.  Rebekah's vulnerable voice speaks life over struggle and pain.  What a gift.  If you haven't read this one, pick it up.  It's good, friends.

Dating my husband.  Since my momma is in town Kevin and I went on our ten year anniversary date last night.  Kevin and I are going-out-on-a-date kind of people.  That's how we connect and thrive and love each other well.  Whether it's having a glass of wine and enjoying a kids-free conversation at home or heading out to a yummy dinner, we try and do this as often as possible.

Since Kevin and I had a planned date last night, I tried to make myself look presentable.  You know, making sure my hair was washed, my shirt didn't have spit up on it and my nails weren't chipped and unsightly.  Enter Sally Hansen's Insta Dry.  I know this is nothing new, but to a mom of three the Insta Dry part is essential.  I love a good shellac manicure in certain seasons, but a trip to the salon every two weeks is not in the cards right now.  This polish is a great substitute and makes my nails look manicured without a lot of time or money.

I hope you have the best Memorial Day weekend with family and friends celebrating the sacrifice so many men and women have given for our great country.  Have a Sunny Saturday, all!


Ten Years

3,650 days.  87,600 hours.  A whole lotta minutes and seconds.  That's how long I have been married to the very best man I know.  (He is a numbers guy, so I thought I would WOW him with my math.)

This is a big one, people.  Kevin and I have been together an entire decade.  I can hardly believe it.  Sometimes I feel like we were just standing in our now backyard saying 'I do' and other times I feel like we have been together for-ev-er.  It ebbs and flows.

If I knew ten years ago what I know now I would have married this man as soon as I laid eyes on him.  He is truly the greatest person that ever happened to me.  He is my best friend and there is no one else on this planet I would want to do this life with day in and day out.  I did not draw the short straw in the husband category.

I don't want to get too mushy gushy here, so I am just going to end with one thing I have learned in my ten years of marriage.  

Stay married.  

Marriage is hard and tricky and annoying and lovely and familiar and a gift. If you're in a drought in your marriage, be patient.  Wait.  Try.  Work.  The rainbow that comes along with the rain is on the horizon and it will get better.

Marriage is worth it.  Worth the hard days, the hard weeks, the hard months, the hard years.  Marriage is worth the humbling act of saying 'I'm sorry'. Marriage is worth the dirty laundry not in the laundry basket and the empty water glass on the nightstand and the remnants of grass scattered through the living room.  Marriage is worth letting some things go to make room for relationship and forgiveness and love.  Marriage is worth it all.

I am taking a risk here, but I would venture to say that marriage is the greatest gift God gave us on earth, besides Jesus of course.  I know it's mine.

So, Happy Anniversary, love.  You're simply my greatest and best adventure.


5 Ways to Make Life Simpler with Littles

"Momma."  Maybe one of the sweetest words my ears hear on a daily basis.  Also, one of the most uttered words in our house in this season of raising littles. I prefer 'Momma' over 'Mom' or 'Mommy' and sometimes I stop when Lily is trying to get my attention, because I know 'Momma' will soon be replaced by 'Mom' and my sentimental self is just not ready for that.

The role of momma comes with responsibility (don't we know it) and adding another babe to our family the last few months has made me revisit our daily routine and think through some ways to make our days less chaotic, less crazy, and a bit simpler.  These are small changes I am implementing to enjoy our hours at home more and be a crazy woman less. 

1.  Take a shower before the crew is awake.

Feeling ready for the day ahead is vital for my sanity.  I know some mommas can shower in the middle of the day (or not at all) and feel great.  That is awesome.  Unfortunately, I feel frazzled and unprepared if I haven't gotten in the shower to start my day before someone else starts it for me.  No matter what it is that helps you feel ready for the day, get up a few minutes early and do it.  This is a game changer in my stay-at-home-momma life.

2.  Plan breakfast and dinner.

Meal planning has always been in my world, but I was only planning dinners. When Jude entered the world, I realized I needed a plan for breakfast every morning because I was trying to nurse, then pump, and do breakfast for my two starving toddlers.  We moms are good at multitasking, but everyone has their limit. 

I needed breakfast thought out beforehand so I could concentrate on feeding my babies and not on what I was going to feed them.  Unlike our dinner plan, I don't do this a week in advance, but set out items the night before so it's ready to go.  Our breakfast options are limited and stay the same except for weekends.  My go-to breakfast items are oatmeal with honey and berries, yogurt and cheerios (when I feel like cleaning up a mess), banana applesauce mini muffins, and Earth's Best mini pancakes and waffles.  Meal planning gives my brain a break when I'm in the middle of juggling babies.

3.  Put the kids to work.

"It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings." -Ann Landers

Luke (4) and Lily (2) are definitely at the age where they can do some things for themselves.  Luke dresses and undresses himself, brushes his teeth (with help), picks up toys, deposits his dishes next to the sink after a meal, will sometimes dust, and puts away his clean clothes.  Lily does a version of all of those things, with lots (and lots and lots) of help.  This is super helpful about half of the time.  The other half it is most definitely more work when they do it themselves.  But, I know the fruits of our labors will come and I will be all about the praise hands when the kitchen is cleaned up after breakfast without me lifting a finger.  #intenyears 

4.  Let some things go.

Type A personality is in my blood, almost to a fault.  At the end of the day there is a running list in my head of things that need to be completed in order to put my feet up and be prepared for the next day with a clean slate.  My friend, Annie, termed this 'ground zero'.  Anything not on the 'ground zero' list at the end of the day, I let go.  If it didn't get done in the hours in my stay-at-home-mom work day, I save it for tomorrow.  Some things on my 'ground zero' list include dishes cleaned, counters wiped, toys picked up, laundry not left in the washer (dryer is allowed), and surfaces free of clutter.  Things not on my running list include projects I am working on, other cleaning, prepping food, and kid chores (see above).  

Everyone needs a break and at the end of the day I have needed to let some things go so I can be recharged for my littles the next day.

On another note, I do not fight every single battle with every single kid.  If Luke wants to wear his John Deere shirt for the fourth day in a row, I let him. If Lily wants to use a 'big girl' fork to try and eat her pieces of hot dog, go for it.  If they both want to run around in their underwear while building and knocking down a fort for a half hour, have at it.  I am trying to say 'yes' more and let things go that really, truly don't matter.  

5.  Buy less, own less.

I know, I know, this isn't what you wanted to hear, but I have found it to be oh so true.  Owning less toys, less clothes, less books, less stuff frees up so much of my time to be present with my babies.  Each kid has a wardrobe of items that can be thrown together at a moment's notice.  90% of their wardrobes can be mixed and matched so it is #dadproof.  We keep a limited amount of toys and books out within reach so clean up time is not overwhelming and rotate these items out of a closet to keep the kids' interest.  We try hard to keep surfaces clear of clutter to leave room for imaginary play with trains or a giant fort construction or an art session with paint and stickers and glue.

Owning less stuff makes life with littles simpler. 

My days with three babes are not perfect.  If you were a fly on the wall on a Monday morning you would know this to be true.  But, these are some simple ways that I keep the crazy from being overwhelming and keep my eyes and heart on the goal of loving and raising my family the best I know how.  How do you make life with littles simpler? 


Sunny Saturday

Somehow it's the middle of May.  Or maybe the end of May.  I'm not sure how we got here.  This month always comes in fast and leaves the way she came.  We are free as a breeze this weekend and I am crossing my fingers Kevin will be up for a trip to the Farmer's Market.  It would be our first of the year and it's my happy place.

I let the slow pace of last week spill over into this week and I am finding it's much easier to be home and truly enjoy it when the sun is shining and the kids can play outside until their little cheeks are pink and their knees are dirty.  This week I'm sharing some things that made my week just a tad bit sunnier.

Flowers.  Blooming.  Everywhere.  I'm sure it gets a bit old me sharing what flowers are blooming in my garden, but I just can't help myself.  The iris are showing off all around my yard and add a bit of magic to our surroundings with their sugary sweet smell and beautiful purple and peach and red and yellow petals fanning out for all to see.  Iris are some of my favorites.

Travel dreaming.  Kevin and I love to travel and enjoy being away from home with and without our littles.  We are in the planning phase of some trips right now.  One of my favorite things to do during nap time is window shop VRBOs to find what will work best for our family.  We only stay in hotels for weekend trips these days since our crew is getting bigger by the year and most of the time it is more reasonable to stay in someone's entire home than to get one hotel room.  Mind blowing.  My most favorite site is vrbo.com and I also like airbnb.com.  It's the vacation time of year!

Two weeks ago I vowed I was done eating candy for awhile.  Lo and behold my sweet as pie husband gifted me some sugary treats for Mother's Day.  After these yummy caramels are gone, I promise I will quit the candy, at least for awhile.  These are from Trader Joe's and are soft and gooey with a tad bit of salt. 

I have a soft spot for glassware.  My Grandma Hines is getting ready to move and brought these champagne glasses for me on Mother's Day.  I love their feminine shape and the fact they once were held in my grandmother's hands makes them extra special.  Mimosas will be sipped from these beauties.

Warmer weather is here, which means I want dinner to be easy.  Amen?  We have been making our own pizzas lately and this french bread pizza recipe is about as simple as it gets.  We made these this week for a playdate and they are always yummy.  Don't skip the avocado.  

Hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today!


Mommy. Momma. Mom.

One day it happened.  Out of nowhere.  Luke started calling me, 'Mom' on a regular basis.  Not Mommy. Not Momma.  


It was almost like a curse word to my ears.  When did I become plain old 'Mom'? When did the first baby I held in my arms that was mine grow from an infant to a toddler to a boy?  I don't have an answer.  Time is a thief.

My momma heart hurt, but I knew it was all part of the process of raising littles.  Love and help and teach and hold and empower and read and snuggle and love.  And let go of Mommy.  And Momma.  And embrace 'Mom'.

My new name got me thinking about how wonderful and heartbreaking this motherhood journey can be.  Babies need so much of their momma and then slowly, surely, little by little, they are less reliant on mom and more reliant on themselves.  And every inch they pull away is cause for celebration and an itsy bit of sadness.

“Kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. It’s the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” —Barbara Kingsolver

These days it is easier to understand my mom more.  It is easier to understand the conflict of raising me and watching me start my own life.  I can now see and feel the weight of that conflict with my own babies.  I understand her urge to hug and kiss me when we are together.  I understand her need to spend time with me and make me happy with little things like wiping down the counters or sending me off on a date with Kevin.  I understand the force that propels her to do anything she can to be near me and my babies.  I am starting to get it, because, God willing, I will be in her shoes someday.

I may still roll my eyes at her ramblings about Facebook and the 15th shirt she bought that looks like the other 14 in her closet, but those aren't the things that matter.  What matters is she was is my mommy.  My momma.  My mom. 

“I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” —Mitch Albom

I celebrate you today, Mom.  For everything you did for me as a baby and a toddler and a child and a teenager.  And all you do for me today.  You're my best Momma.  Love you.


Random Sunny Saturday Ramblings

This past week we experienced a heat wave and torrential downpours.  It's the spicy spring and it surely is mixing it up on us.

The flu, or something like it, overtook our household early in the week, so we spent lots of time eating crackers and toast and applesauce sprawled out on the couch.  Fingers crossed, we are over the worst of it and I am going to spend my weekend trying to catch up on some much needed rest between all the fun happenings for Mother's Day.

Both of my grandmas are making the trek to the Trail today to meet Jude and I am over the moon about introducing our newest little man.  They are coming all the way from the other side of the state, so to say I'm excited is an understatement.  We are going to spend today eating and snuggling and chatting the day away.  You know how women can do that...

Today I'm sharing some things that made my week a bit sunnier.

This isn't cool or trendy or exciting, but it most definitely made my week a bit easier in the midst of a sick kid.  A white sheet.  It can be blue or purple or yellow, but should be a flat sheet nonetheless.  I like white, well, because bleach.  I plopped my Luke in the middle of it with a plastic bowl the entire time he was sick and it saved me from endless laundry to do and gave me piece of mind about him lounging on the couch.  It sounds gross, and it is, but it kept me from losing my mind when I was absolutely exhausted.

Mother's Day weekend means poppies.  These guys are almost always blooming over Mother's Day weekend and I love to see these paper-like beauties surprise our ditch with their bursting tangerine color.  They aren't cut worthy, but they sure are pretty to look at out our dining room window.

Grilling season.  It's simply the best and easiest time to cook dinner all year long.  We went up to Kevin's parents' house to see them before the sickness hit and it was all brats and baked beans and potato salad.  This baked bean recipe from the Pioneer Woman (bless her) is my favorite when you have some extra time on your hands to make them up really tasty and not at all bad for you.  #sensethesarcasm

Shutterfly is the place I save all my photos and make memory books for each kid once a year.  It is easy and user friendly, which is pretty much my mantra in life.  While I love Mpix for large format printed photos, Shutterfly is perfect for making books, gifts, and printing off 4x4 or 4x6 prints.  Somehow when I switched to a new phone, I didn't get the Shutterfly app downloaded.  Last week I saw an ad for free unlimited 4x4 and 4x6 prints on the app, so I downloaded and got to work printing photos for birthdays and Jude's first year calendar. Go download the app today and print to your heart's content.  Just pay shipping.

One more thing.  Slowing down.  Our sick house has caused us all to slow down this week.  Yes, we are sleep deprived.  Yes, we feel cruddy.  Yes, we are only eating toast.  But, I have snuggled Jude an incredible amount this week and looked into Luke and Lily's eyeballs and read book after book aloud and went to bed early.  These are all good things.  And this bad, yucky sick stuff is the reason for all those good things.  I want to bottle this up and keep it for awhile, this slowness, and remember it is a good and worthy cause to chase. But, of course, without the sick part.

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today.  To all the moms out there, Happy Mother's Day to you.  I hope you have a day of rest and relaxation with your families.  To all the women out there who are praying to be moms, I am saying a prayer for you today. 

Have a Sunny Saturday, all!


5 Devotionals for Families with Littles

If you've hung out here long, you know I love a good podcast.  I am an avid listener of Family Life Today and last week I heard about the book Come to the Family Table by Ted and Amy Cunningham.    In my quest to raise humans who know and love Jesus, reading the Bible is something we do in our home on a daily basis.  Our bedtime routines include reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible and The Toddler's Bible.  It is great quality time spent separately with each child, but I was inspired to try something together as a family.

Ted Cunningham spoke about slowing down dinner time at the table and including a devotion and a game or discussion.  Obviously our family is young and long discussions aren't happening in this season.  Let's be honest, my main goal at dinner is to get food into the bellies of my picky toddlers without lots of tears from them or me.  But, we can still start somewhere and committing to a devotion each night we are able to eat together is a great place to start.    

When I researched a devotion that would fit our family, I became a bit overwhelmed.  I ran into lots of family devotionals, but not many that were preschool age appropriate.  (Someone go write a preschool family devotional, please.)  So, after perusing Amazon and Google for awhile, I decided a preschool devotional would work for us in this stage of life.  Listed below are a few I think would be perfect for families with littles under the age of five. I haven't decided on one, yet.  

Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family

52 Weekly Devotions for Busy Families

Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers

I Can Learn the Bible: The Joshua Code for Kids

If you have a family devotional you love, please share!  


Mother's Day Goods

This weekend is looking to be a good one.  Sunny skies and a few days at home all together after a week apart with Kevin traveling.  It doesn't get much better.

Since Mother's Day is a week away, I thought I would share some of my favorite girlie-momma things and maybe spark some ideas for the mom in your life.

Because of some scheduling conflicts, this week was another Cooking Club week. Two weeks in a row makes this momma happy and sane and filled up.  The theme was Trader Joe/Costco night and we all brought items we love from either place and it. was. awesome.  It was like sample Saturday, except we went back for seconds all night long.

My friend, Lydia, won some beautiful earrings at MOPS last week and couldn't wear them because of her sensitive ears.  We had a mini giveaway at Cooking Club and I won!  These beauties from Pierce and Ivy are on trend and I am loving the black leather with the copper threading down the middle.  Bonus, they are super lightweight!  This sweet little company is made up of four best friends in our area and they have just taken off.  It is so amazing to see women working and succeeding together!

Flowers are always a favorite of mine for Mother's Day.  Tulips, iris, lilacs, hyacinth, or hydrangeas are welcome this time of year for the momma in your life.  Fresh flowers just make everything better. #amiright  It is the perfect time to cut flowers from our yard and you can bet I am cutting them as much as I can and placing them all around the house.

Everyone loves getting mail.  Luke is sure we check it each and every day. Sending cards is one way I like to show love to the special people in my life, especially since I live in the middle of flyover country.  Every year I pick up a few packs of plain cards from Hobby Lobby when they are 50% off and use them year round for different occasions: a thank you, thinking of you, mother's day, congratulations, even birthdays.  I will stamp them if I feel extra crafty or let my kids decorate them with crayons, markers, even paint if I'm up for a mess.  A great last minute Mother's Day gift would be a pack of hand decorated cards from your littles to the grandma in your life who enjoys sending love through the mail.

Pictures are always good for mommas.  Either a gifted photo shoot with a photographer or a past picture printed and framed.  My favorite place to print is Mpix because it's super fast, the quality is fantastic, and they have a plethora of sizes.  Pictures are the way to us mommas' hearts.

I'm just going to say it.  It is super hard to not cook on Mother's Day.  I know some mommas go out or some husbands cook, but sometimes it's just unavoidable and a mom is cooking lunch or dinner or both on Mother's Day.  This sausage, goat cheese, and chive bagel strata looks scrumptious and I am absolutely going to be trying it out this year.  It can be made the night before and tossed in the oven the next day for about an hour and voila...no cooking on Mother's Day!  I'm in.

I hope you have the most beautiful weekend.  Spring is so here and we are going to be spending every minute we can in the sunshine.  Happy Sunny Saturday all!


Jude is 3 months

Our baby boy is three months old today.  Lily and I were perusing her baby book this week and she kept on saying 'Baby Jude' as we flipped through gazing at her baby self.  It's official, our Jude is a Forristall and Kevin and I believe he is definitely a hybrid of both Luke and Lily. 

Jude has stolen our hearts in every which way and we all can't get enough of his smiles, giggles, coos, and that sweet flirting with his eyes he saves for a few select family members (me included).  #praisehands  Here is what our baby boy has been up to this past month.

  • Jude is taking three naps a day.  Two of them are big chunked naps of about two to three hours and one is a shorter 30 to 45 minute nap.  He sleeps in his crib and just upgraded to the larger woombie, which makes this momma sad.  
  • Our baby is a little social butterfly.  He loves to smile and talk to anyone who will listen and it might just be the cutest thing in the entire world.
  • There is a special place in Jude's heart for Luke and Lily.  He lights up whenever one of them comes into his line of vision and talks to him or says 'gooooo', which is pretty much his favorite word in the whole world.
  • Jude has a healthy appetite.  After dropping in percentile at his two month check up, I am sure he has made head way and is back to where he started.  He nurses 5-6 times a day and gets two bottles at night containing a mixture of pumped milk and formula.  Momma can't keep up with him.
  • Bedtime for Jude is somewhere between 7:45-8:15 p.m. and he sleeps until 2:00-3:00 a.m. After a bottle, he heads back to bed until 6:30-7:00 and then he is up for the day.  His nighttime sleep has gotten a whole lot better.
  • The way Jude flirts with his eyebrows makes me swoon.  He is a pro at smiling with his eyes and this is probably my absolute favorite thing he does right now.
  • Bathtime is one of Jude's favorite times of day.  Everyone participates and they love scrubbing Jude down with washcloths.
  • Jude's favorite places to hang out are in our arms and his bouncer chair. He has just taken a liking to his playmate where he smiles at the baby in the mirror.

One day this past month I looked at Jude and my jaw literally dropped.  He morphed from a newborn into a an infant in what seems like overnight.  This season is so fleeting and I am savoring these days, weeks, and months with a sweet babe under our roof.


Ordinary to Extraordinary

Luke is peeking at Lily from behind the chair at the kitchen counter.  He is saying 'tickle me' and giggling as Lily creeps slowly and gets her chubby little fingers close to his arm ready to materialize his request.  She gets close, then scurries back to me.  I watch this scene transpire in our home a little before 7:30 in the morning.

It's a simple, ordinary morning.  Luke is finishing his mini pancakes, Lily is talking to Jude as I remind her numerous times to 'only touch his nose' (not his eyes or mouth), and I am sitting in the chair pumping milk and attempting to keep h-e-double hockey sticks from breaking loose while I am attached to a machine and unable to put out any fires until I get four ounces in two small bottles.

This ordinary scene is my everyday.  It's my Monday through Friday.  It's my life.  Most days I do my best to give attention to each one of my babes individually, look them in the eyeballs and talk to them, and try and not loose my cool when the words 'bird poop' are said thirty-eight times during lunch. If all those things happen, it's an over the top day.   

The good days, the Monday through Fridays are making up a big chunk of my life. When I watch this early morning scene, something from within me shouts at me to pay attention and take a deep breath.  I am gently reminded how this life is fleeting.  I am reminded that one day (far too soon) these babies will fly off and find their own nests.  I am reminded to stop and look at these moments with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of wonder.  I am reminded to put down the camera for a moment and start using my memory to cement these everyday happenings in my brain.  I am reminded to take time and marvel at Luke's contagious giggle and savor the way Lily looks right into Jude's blue eyes and tells him she loves him.    

These ordinary days can get away from me, they can blur one to another and somedays I wake up and try and remember what in the world we did with all the hours in all the days.  And I can't.  It's not because I have a terrible memory (although I have that, too).  It's because I allow all the not-so-special days to be just that, ordinary.  And when I really think about it, they are anything but ordinary.

The days at home with my babies mean something.  I want to make the ordinary days extraordinary for my littles.  Not by doing the most Pinterest-worthy activity or taking them on an excursion every day of the week, but by making sure they know that their momma enjoys them.  I want them to know I look forward to seeing them every morning and treasure the good night hugs and kisses I get before bed each night.  I want them to feel incredibly known by me and their daddy.  I want them to know they are loved and cherished in a big, big way.

I want their childhood memories to be ones of laughter and love and joy and whimsy.  I believe it is possible, especially with an awareness to not just do the 'right things' everyday, but to do the silly things, the uncomfortable things, the things my babes will someday look back and remember.  I want to do all that I can to give them the kind of childhood that's hard to put into words because it summons up feelings of joy and home and authentic love.  The kind they will want to give their kids someday.  That is my truest hope and dream. And sometimes, all it takes is a giggle and a deep breath to stop and remember these ordinary days are really, truly extraordinary.

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