Sunny Saturday

It's been a lovely week with friend and family time sprinkled with some slow, easy days and nights at home.  One reason I am in love with summer this year...our pace of life is slowed a bit and there is more freedom for just being a family.  I'm thinking we need to embrace this kind of life all year long.

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

Have you tried the iced cascara coconut milk latte at Starbucks?  It is the perfect drink to curb the July heat. I have treated myself to one a few times and can't get enough.  The cascara syrup is a favorite of mine and with the sweetness of the coconut milk, it is cool perfection in a cup.

A new suit.  I finally took the plunge and invested in a good 'momma' bathing suit.  I say momma suit because it is practical and covers everything well and is a suit I can bend over in to pick up a child and not be showing everyone everything.  The Brigitte from Albion is most definitely not a typical mom suit.  Albion is a company I have been watching for awhile on Instagram.  This is my very first piece from them and I couldn't be happier. First, it's classic with navy and white stripes and has the option to wear the sleeves on or off the shoulders.  It also covers everything I want to cover and holds in things I want held in.  And, guys, it is SO well made.  The fabric is thick and I have absolutely no modesty issues.  I wore it this week to the Quarry and was super comfortable playing in the sand and pushing my babes on the swings.  I'm not going to lie, my body kinda loves this new mom swimming suit phase.

This is a super random tip.  We have a big ceiling fan in our living room that spins clockwise most of the year.  This week Kevin switched it counter clockwise.  Did you know this makes a difference?  It pulls the hot air up and pushes cool air down.  I promise you it could be life changing.  I have been able to wear leggings and long sleeves (my fave) thanks to this fan.  Kevin, on the other hand, has stuck to his t-shirts and shorts. #thethermostatisourbattleground

The MOPS magazine.  If you are a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) member, a magazine comes to your mailbox every quarter.  It is a treat to read the articles with a hot cup of coffee in the morning or a cup of yogurt and fruit at nap time.  The articles are inspiring and provides me perspective.  The voices on those pages speak such good, true words to me during this current season of raising babies.

We are hoping to process some sweet corn this afternoon.  Fingers crossed we can get it all done in a few short hours.  Hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today!


Simplifying the Calendar

It is an ordinary Tuesday.  I roll out of bed around 6, workout, shower, then sit for a few minutes to read my devotion and pray.  I hear Jude stirring, making lovable singsong sounds from his crib as he wakes.  I pick him up, savor his sweet smile and feed him as my other two babes still dream in bed.  Kevin is at Bible study, so I stagger getting the littles up.  After Jude is happily playing on the floor with a full belly, I sneak in Luke's room and lay beside him for a minute while he rubs sleep from his eyes.  After a snuggle and a kiss, he is up, wondering who else is awake in the house.  A minute later, I have Lily in my arms and she is wants breakfast (right. now.)  'Chocolate muffins?' she asks.

After placing Lily in her chair with a 'smiley face' of non-chocolate muffins on her plate, I get Luke to the table and multi-task eating, cleaning the kitchen, and reminding Luke and Lily 'knees or bottoms' as they stand on their chairs to reach the extra muffins in the middle of the counter.

Ten minutes go by and I look at the clock.  We need to leave in fifteen minutes.  In fifteen minutes all three kids need to have clothes on their bodies, teeth brushed, hair combed (ugh), and I need to pack a healthy lunch for three of us.  Hmm.  As I come to realize all this, I start to prod and encourage Luke and Lily to finish their muffins.  At first, I am mostly calm. Then I move into a higher-pitched voice sounding like the first-grade-teacher-me trying to rally twenty children to the gym for a tornado drill.  Except, there is no tornado drill in the Forristall house.  I planned a playdate with a friend this morning (the second one this week and remember it's Tuesday) and if we don't leave in fifteen minutes we will absolutely be late.

The next fifteen minutes include lots of encouraging and threatening and 'put your pants on' and 'time to go!!!' and me counting to ten in my head and breathing deeply and sighing.  We finally make it downstairs and I squeeze Luke and Lily's toes into shoes and carry them to the car and buckle them into their seats in-between cries and screams and 'she took my book!!!'  An ordinary Tuesday, indeed.

This ordinary weekday morning was a simple one.  It was embedded in routine and, yet, things still fell off the rails.  That's the thing about children, all can be well-planned and intentioned, but things can still fall apart without any warning at all.  What I didn't tell you is that we traveled the week before and, for the days following our travels, I filled our calendar to the brim to make up for missed playdates.  A rookie mistake.

I should have learned my lesson by now.  I should know that too many I-have-to-be-here-at-this-time days leaves our crew, and especially me, weary and crabby and at odds against each other.  Making the decision to have two playdates two days in a row (following days of traveling) was a miss on my part.  It forced a rushed morning which led to words I regret which lead to me feeling guilty.  


Living an intentional, simple life has been on my list of goals for a few years now.  Even with my longing for a simpler way of life, I fall short sometimes. I am absolutely a work in progress.  I learned on that particular Tuesday I need to slow things down after a trip.  I learned consecutive days out of the house is probably not the best decision.  I learned I still have room to further simplify our days.  I learned (again) saying 'yes' to something absolutely means saying 'no' to something else.  #likemysanity

All of us mommas have our sweet spot: the place between the crazy and the calm. A place where we feel happy and light-hearted.  A space where we smile more and yell less, where we play on the floor with our kids or have a nice (albeit interrupted) chat with a girlfriend over coffee in the backyard.  

I have found that being away from our home more than three days during the work week takes me from mostly calm to mostly crazy.  Maybe your sweet spot is being out five days during the week and staying home at night or being gone a few mornings a week and a few nights a week or going out during the week and staying home on the weekends. 

Whatever your sweet spot is, find it.  Be aware of how your calendar looks and how you feel and decide if those things are correlated.  (Hint: they probably are.)  Sit down before each week and make sure you aren't over booked.  If you are overbooked, see if you can move something to a slower week.  Or, maybe you have some space and know you need to get out of the house.  Shoot a text to a girlfriend and invite her and her kids over or be a tourist in your town and check out someplace new.  Whatever you do, be intentional about what you put on your calendar.  It will affect how you feel and how you interact with the people under your roof.  

We all have the freedom to say 'yes' or 'no' to things that get penciled in on our calendar.  Use that freedom to your advantage to be the momma or wife or friend or daughter you want to be.  I am going to practice saying 'yes' to only the finite things I can handle while still being a loving, calm, and has-most-of-her-stuff-together mom and wife.  I am working on simplifying our calendar and, therefore, helping to regulate my attitude, my mood, and my ability to love my people well.



Sunny Saturday

The weekend is here and it is still hot.  The only way to get relief from the sweltering sun is to stay inside or sit in a tub of ice outside.  So, we have been choosing the inside option this week.  We squeeze in a short walk every night when the sun is low, but we are sweaty hot messes when we head into the house for baths.  And baths we take every night.  (Ugh.)

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

First up, these Dark Chocolate crisps from Trader Joe's.  My friend randomly gifted these to me and they are perfect.  They are light waves resembling potato chips and have a bit of crunchiness throughout.  They are delicious and addicting.  You have been warned.  P.S. That is an empty box you're looking at, I ate them in two days.  #yikes  

MOPS.  Mothers of Preschoolers is an organization that gathers moms all over the world.  I am a lover of mommas and babes and MOPS.  I attend one group at my church in Omaha and another in my rural community and absolutely don't know what I would do without them.  If you are local and want more information about either group, send me a message and I will answer any and all questions.  MOPS is a place I feel safe and heard and known.  And the hot breakfast and childcare doesn't hurt either.

More flowers.  We are getting to the tail end of the cut flower season at our place.  Most of my garden beds right now adorn radiant purples and oranges and yellows.  This phlox is like a weed in that it spreads like crazy and doesn't need ideal growing conditions.  It looks great from far away and can fill in spaces that need something tall and full.  I pretty much let it grow anywhere because it's prettier than weeds.  Right?

Norwex cloths.  I have taken the plunge and am a Norwex user.  I was looking for a cloth that didn't stink after a use and these are my golden ticket.  I have the Envirocloth as well as the kitchen cloth and I love them both.  I use the kitchen cloth to wash dishes and the envirocloth to clean countertops. Goodbye stinky rags.

Quality time.  This week I was able to spend some quality time with people I love.  There is nothing like putting the phone away for a few hours to have a real conversation with a real person about real life.  I think the world needs a little more quality time and a little less social media time.

Hope you have a great weekend wherever you may be today!  Happy Sunny Saturday!


Sunny Saturday

What a week.  A sunset date, Cooking Club, hot coffee, playdates with friends, time alone with my babes.  It has been a good seven days, friends.  Weeks like these I find myself extra grateful for this life God has gifted me.

Today I'm sharing some things that have made my week extra sunny.  They are equal parts random and lovely.  Hope you enjoy.

First up, this truthful book by Jerusalem Jackson Greer.  I mentioned it last week, but I am in the thick of it and can't put it down.  At Home in this Life is honest and real and down to earth.  I love a good story and this is exactly that.  Girlfriends, you won't be disappointed by this one.

Big, beautiful, plum-colored lilies.  These are planted in our front garden bed and I can see them from our picture window.  They are absolutely stunning and I can't help clipping a few stems and displaying them inside either alone or with an array of other cut flowers from the yard.  It's simply the best to have flowers just a few steps outside our front door.

Less is more.  I have been on a purging spree.  Kevin so thoughtfully found The Minimalists documentary on Netflix for me.  (He really loves me.)  Although I haven't had a chance to watch it, I started listening to their podcast.  I love their tagline 'Love people, use things. The opposite never works.'  My favorite simple living writers are Joshua Becker, Tsh Oxenreider, and Erin Loechner, but Josh and Ryan give some practical advice and their banter and discussions are comical (and slightly inappropriate at times).

My crockpot.  This is not included in my picture, but I have been using this thing like it's going out of style.  I know everyone is loving the instant pot, but I haven't jumped on that bandwagon, yet.  And, I'm on a purging streak, so one is definitely not coming into the house anytime soon.  This week I made Thai chicken with peanut sauce for my crew when I was at Cooking Club and it was well received.  In the summer, I love having dinner already thought through so I can spend my time outside in the sprinkler with my babes.

Today we are celebrating my sweet nephew's birthday construction style.  Both Luke and Lily are just a teensy bit giddy to see their cousins.  Have a Sunny Saturday, all!


Before Kids Parent

I did it.  The other Saturday my toddlers were getting out of the car (for the third time in an hour) and I braced myself because I knew these children needed sunscreen if their pale little Irish-German bodies weren't going to get peel-y pink in the warm sunshine.  We were heading to see a train on the side of the road because that's what you do when you have a four year old boy.  I got ready to pull out my 'all natural' sunscreen stick and then I stopped.  Maybe because I was tired.  Maybe because I was in a hurry.  Maybe because I was being lazy. But, I stopped and replaced my hard to put on sunscreen stick with a can of aerosol sunscreen.  I sprayed sunscreen all over my toddlers pale arms and legs and necks.  #whatwasithinking  After I did it, I thought, I am officially the parent I promised myself I would never become.

When I was a before kids parent, I would only feed my children whole, healthy foods.  They would never, or hardly ever, eat sugar.

When I was a before kids parent, I would never take my kids shopping because of the possible tantrum that I saw so many parents deal with at the grocery store. If I did take them shopping and they would by chance happen to throw a tantrum, I would most definitely leave my groceries in the checkout line and go home to discipline said child throwing the tantrum.

When I was a before kids parent, I would never take my children to a non fast food restaurant.  I wouldn't want to interrupt anyone else's meal.

When I was a before kids parent, I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would never raise my voice to get my point across.  #enterfootintomouth

When I was a before kids parent, I thought breastfeeding and homemade baby food were the only ways to feed an infant.  I thought cloth diapering was essential. I held sleep training up on a pedestal and absolutely knew I didn't need a $30 swaddle for my baby to sleep through the night. (Now, I would pay $60 for a full night of sleep.)

When I was a before kids parent, I was determined I could still do everything I was doing as a before kids parent and have a baby.

When I was a before kids parent, I knew mostly nothing.

Now I'm all here's an Uncrustable and an applesauce pouch for lunch and thank you Luvs for making cheap diapers that work and 'Mom, can you please come HELP ME.'  My after kids self is laughing mockingly at my before kids self for being just plain naive.

My after kids parent, my real self today, is much more practical and joyful and grace-filled.  Kevin and I have a few goals for our parenting journey and we work and focus on how we can make them come to fruition.  Most All of our goals have nothing to do with grocery stores or sunscreen or cloth diapering. Frankly, my after kids self knows those things aren't going to make or break the trajectory of my parenting journey and my childrens' lives.

So, can we do ourselves a favor and call truce on all the things?  Call truce on all the parenting decisions that seem like a big deal and really, truly are the details.  Let families make decisions based on what is best for them and not judge or compare.  Let's give each other grace and let love come through when we interact with a parent who chooses a different path or a different brand of diapers.

Let's not be a before kids parent.

We know this parent gig is hard.  Day in and day out.  We know we all want to do it well.  Let's not get caught up in the details.

Instead of judgement, let's give encouragement.  Instead of comparison, let's grant each other love.  Instead of pride, let's offer grace.

I am okay with not being the 'perfect' mom I thought I would be pre-three babies.  I am okay with keeping my eyes on the big picture and letting the details fly way like the drift of aerosol sunscreen.  I want to be an authentic mom and let all my mom friends be the same.  

And so, when you see me at Target with Lightning McQueen SPF in a can and you have an organic sunscreen stick, know we are in the same game, on the same team, both doing our very best to raise and love our babies well.  We are most definitely not before kids parents.  


Summertime Things

Did anyone else think Wednesday was Monday this past week?  Independence Day threw me for a loop being on Tuesday this year.  I have been operating in the wrong day for the last four days.    But, Saturday is here and all is well!  

I am meeting some of my college girlfriends today sans kids for some girl time and catching up.  My husband of the year is settling in with all three of our babes and I am so grateful to get out of the house for a bit. #imarriedwell

We are in the thick of an Iowa summer with all it's humidity and cloudless days and relentless heat.  There is just something about the way a July day feels; mostly like one needs to be by water or inside in the A/C.  On this Sunny Saturday, I'm sharing some things that make an Iowa summer a bit more enjoyable.

July is the month of lilies.  They are in bloom in the front yard, back yard, and side yards.  There are pink ones, peach ones (and every color in between), ruffled ones, and extra large ones all over the farm.  Kevin and I love pointing these flowers out to Lily and telling them they are her flowers.  She might love it a bit, too.

This tank from Walk in Love is my absolute new favorite piece of clothing.  If you have seen me more than once in the past month, you have probably seen me wear this shirt.  It is lightweight and easy to pair with my workout gear or a pair of shorts to head to the Farmer's Market.  The 'Be Still' message on the front is a good reminder for me during the want-to-do-everything months of summer.

A good book.  I have a few on my list this summer and I am trying to slip some fun ones in as much as possible.  I tend to read nonfiction or memoirs and I want to change it up and read some just plain fun fiction this summer.  I started Windfall and am hoping to read Dark Matter and A French Wedding as well.  These books are outside my usual genres, so we will see what happens.  I did just get At Home in this Life by Jerusalem Jackson Greer and might try and get started on it sometime this next week.  This heat makes me want to stay inside one afternoon and dive into one of these books.

I love a good salad in the summertime...on bread of course.  Our lunches lately have consisted of chicken salad on croissants or Hawaiian rolls.  In this stage of life, I pick up a tub at Sam's and call it a day.  If you're interested in doing it the homemade way, I found this easy recipe that I might try one day when my kids can all use the bathroom on their own.  #keepingitreal

I hope you have the best Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today.  Long live the hot days of summer!


5 months with Jude

A lot has changed since Jude entered the world on a cool February evening five months ago.  The snow and bitter wind has been exchanged for humid heat, green grass, and longer days.  His newborn swaddles have been swapped for bigger sleepers and a sack he can actually move in.  I no longer get to see his sweet face four or five times in the middle of the night.  It's hard to believe, but life has changed a lot in the last five months.  The changes have been incremental.  Slow, sloth like shifts that are hard to notice until, well, I notice.  Usually three weeks after the fact.

Our littlest guy is the definition of change.  Here is what he has been up to this past month.
  • Sleeping ebbs and flows.  His nighttime sleep is semi-consistent with a good eight hour stretch at the beginning of the night, followed by a feeding and another three or four hour stretch.  Nap times are a bit harder as we are trying to teach him to sleep in bigger chunks.
  • Scooting.  He is somewhere in-between rolling and crawling.  He somehow gets from point A to point B and the only thing I know to call it is scooting.  He is on his knees a lot and wants to crawl like it's nobody's business.  (Take your time son of mine.)
  • Jude is one of the smiliest kids.  All it takes is talking to him to be gifted one of his mouth-open-wide-smiles.
  • Spitting up is still on Jude's repertoire of things he does well.  The washing machine is always going at our house.
  • Jude loves playing with his rings and books and gets giddy when someone reads, The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. 
  • Jude has discovered his legs.  He loves to kick his legs when he gets excited about something. Speaking of kicking his legs, Jude loves to do his new trick in the bathtub.  We will soon be moving bath time to the actual bathtub.   
  • If Jude is crabby, a trip outside will surely lift his spirits.  He loves rolling around on the grass and looking up at the sky.
  • Jude's favorite people are Luke and Lily.  Lily likes to blow raspberries on his stomach and Luke likes to read him books and talk to him.  My dream is for them all to be the best of friends.  #mommascandream #onmykneesforthisone

Our baby boy is growing, growing, growing and as much as we love it, we are cherishing each and every day of the sweet baby phase.  (Kevin and I both love it so much.)  


Sunny Saturday

My hubby is home.  He was traveling all week and life just feels right when we are all under one roof.  My saint of a mother came to stay with us this week while Luke attended Summer U and it was a week of refreshing time away for me. Summer U and my momma are the reasons I feel like a million bucks today.

This week I'm sharing some things that made my week sunnier.

Washi tape.  I spent some time crafting this week (who am I??) and washi tape is my new favorite product.  It comes in so many pretty colors and patterns and is perfect for making cards or dressing up pens or paper clips or pictures in a kid room.  This stuff is so fun and purchasing it at Hobby Lobby with a 40% coupon makes it acceptable to pick up a few different patterns.

These little purple bulbs are blooming all over the farm.  They are called drumstick alliums (thanks google) and the kids have loved watching them change from green to purple balls.  They last in a vase of water for at least a week and are an ideal compliment to a big bouquet of lilies and phlox or white hydrangeas.

Halo Top ice cream.  Anyone else out there loving this stuff?  It is the perfect treat in the summertime and boasts around only 240-360 calories for the entire pint.  What's not to love?  My favorites are mint chip and chocolate chip cookie dough.  I don't mind chocolate and vanilla either.  Let's be real, I would eat any pint you put in front of me.  My freezer will be stocked with these pints of goodness all summer long.

Last weekend I made my first cherry pie of the season.  Our cherry tree is bursting with the red fruit and I can't keep up with it all.  If you're local and want to pick, shoot me a text and come on out.  Give me a scoop of Halo Top vanilla ice cream atop a piece of warm pie and I am living out a bit of heaven.

The last thing that made my week sunnier was time alone.  This week I was able to get away and write and think and blog and plan next year's school year for Luke.  When I get to get away, I always feel refreshed and energized to invest in my babies with a renewed sense of purpose and excitement.  Self care is important, Mommas.  Make sure you take time to fill your tank.

I hope you all have a great weekend celebrating Independence Day.  Have a Sunny Saturday, all!

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