Smelling the Flowers

IMG_4003How often do you “stop to smell the flowers?”

No.  Seriously.  We toss that phrase around, but do you ever actually do it?

Both of my kids have developed their own habits, without much direction from my husband or me, to always stop and smell the flowers.  (And hug trees.  My boy loves to hug trees.  And now, his sister does, too.  I love it!)

We can be out on a walk, in a parking lot, at the zoo…  Doesn’t matter where.  If the kids see flowers, we aren’t going anywhere until we stop to smell them!

And it’s pretty great.

What might be a rushed, stressful moment, suddenly turns into a deep breath, a beautiful smell, and a reminder of what is sweet about life.  The kids take a deep breath and smile and giggle.  They get excited over the prettiness of the flowers.  And even when the flowers don’t smell, they’ll tell me how ‘yummy’ they are!

Now, when I’m out by myself on a walk or running errands, I often find myself taking deep breaths as I walk by planters and gardens.  I may stop to look at an unusual flower or enjoy a bigger whiff.  And I enjoy the moment.  Just that one small moment, for what it is.

I love that my kids remind me to enjoy the little things.  It’s easy to forget and get sidetracked…  But those little hands and little faces draw me in every time.

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So do it.  Take a moment to “stop, and smell the flowers.” I dare you!

Weekends are… Messy

I’m a neat freak.  Organization nerd.  Simplicity geek.  I love a clean house, where everything has a place.  I love clean floors and sparkling countertops.  I love for my home to be “pretty.”  That’s when I am totally relaxed.

Or…  When I used to be totally relaxed.  With two toddlers running around, the house hardly looks like that today.  Or…  Ever.

Today, as I was cleaning up lunch, I glimpsed our living room – the remnants of a blanket fort falling apart.  Costumes and cars all over the floor and chairs.  Shoes and socks thrown about the kitchen floor as the kids headed upstairs to naps….  And all I thought was, “yep.  It’s the weekend.  This is what weekends are for.”  Smile.

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me, “If at the end of the day, your house is still a mess, still dishes in the sink, laundry to do, and dinner to be made…  Do you feel guilty?”  She, too, has two small children at home.  I knew where she was going with her question, but all I could do is laugh.

Guilty?!  Nah…  Life’s too short for guilt.  I may cringe.  I may feel a cleaning sprint coming on before bedtime.  I may have to take a couple of deep breaths and give up a little free time to get some of it done.  But guilty?  Nope.  Not a bit.

My house is not what it once was.  It’s not a quiet, beautiful, serene sanctuary from the rest of the world anymore…

But.  It is: comfortable.  A place full of laughter and energy.  A place where imaginations get sparked.  A place where forts and rockets, baby dolls and stuffed giraffes rule.  It’s a messy kitchen full of healthy meals.  Laundry that shows a love of the outdoors – dirt, grass, puddles, etc.  A place where markers, paint, crayons, play-doh and shnibbles of paper show up in the carpet (!).

Is it perfectly pretty?  Nope.  But it’s perfect for us.  And that’s all that matters.

When you look at my list of goals, none of them have to do with having a clean house.  Get projects done?  Yes.  Continue to make this house ours?  Yes.  But perfectly clean?  Nope.  (As much as the neat freak in me loves that idea…)  Nope.

Life is too short.  The time with our kids learning to play and imagine is too short.  There are some things you just have to let go…  And this is one.

Weekends are messy.  That’s what makes them delightful!  Will I feel guilty about that?  Not in the least…

Now, excuse me while I straighten up just a bit before the kids wake up…!

Goals

Goodness!  A week and a half has gone by already…!  Life is busy with two little people running around the house… AND life is busy when you start implementing some goals, right?

Earlier this year, as I started to get my mojo back and was getting excited to find some time for “me” again, I made a list of seemingly-easy-to-achieve goals.  Things like:

  1. Read one book a month.  (I’m one month behind, but have two going right now!)
  2. Get outside.  Everyday.  (Doing it!)
  3. Walk 3 miles, 3-4 times a week.  (Yes!)
  4. Meditate.  (Currently doing about 4 days a week – looking to do 7.)
  5. Eat healthier.  (Did Whole30 in March, then switched to Paleo.  Feeling great!)
  6. Start strength training.  (Started strength training on Monday!)
  7. Get back in the habit of going to church.
  8. Have a social outing with a friend at least once a month. (Yes!)
  9. Date night (or day) with the hubby at least once a month.  (Yes!)
  10. Complete one project around the house each week.  (Yes!)

This past weekend, I crammed all of these things in!  Finished a book – “A Man Called Ove.”  LOVED IT.  Camped out in the yard with the family, complete with a filled kiddie pool and campfire with marshmallows!  Walked.  Meditated.  Tried new, yummy Paleo meals.  Joined the YMCA.  Went to church to celebrate some of my former youth group students graduating high school.  Went to a concert with a girlfriend.  Worked on pretty-ing up the front porch.  (Only thing missing was a date with the hubby!)

And it feels good.

I’m starting to find a groove again.  I’m more patient with the kids – and myself.  Summer is here, and I’m hoping to take it a day at a time and enjoy it!

What are some goals you’re working on?  Small things.  Easy things.  Things that only require you to make a small chunk of time and prioritize it?  (Notice my goals aren’t “lose 30lbs” or “learn to play guitar,”  Lovely ideas.  But, I need achievable right now.  Things that bring joy – that don’t lead to failure or let down.)  It’s a great place to start!

It Is Time to Take a Look!

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Life with two toddlers has gotten crazy.  Like, really crazy.  By the time both are in bed, I go to bed, too.  No personal time.  No time with the hubby.  No time to go out and have fun without kids.

I’ve had enough.  Time to start claiming my piece of the pie, again!  Time to re-examine my priorities, schedule, routine, and practices that help me be my best!

And this is where I’m starting… Time to take a look:

1) What are the things I wish I could do on a weekly basis? on a monthly basis?
2) What are the things I have to do?
3) What could I let go of?
4) Where could I ask for help?
5) What do I want to learn?
6) Who do I miss?
7) How can I find a little more peace?
8) What can I do to physically feel better?
9) How can I feed my spirit?

10) How can I change my environment to make life a little simpler?

If you do these questions, too, let me know your “ah-has!”  (I’ll post my answers, too, in a later post…)  Let’s find ways to encourage and support each other on the journey!

This Is How It’s Done, Fellas.

All week, I’ve been looking forward to today.  My husband had the day off and promised me a morning to sleep in.  That alone was worth gold.

But then!  I slept in today.  When I woke up, the kids were dressed and had had  breakfast.  My husband made me my bulletproof coffee and my breakfast.  When the kids started circling like sharks and whining and fighting…  I started to give in to them.  But then!  My husband swooped in, saying, “you get to eat your breakfast and drink your coffee uninterrupted today.”

He then took both kids to drop off the oldest at school.

…It’s a school day and I’m alone.  On a beautiful morning.  Coffee and breakfast in hand.

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A great day to enjoy this time outside on the deck, with my dog.  We watched the birds on our bird feeder – gold and purple finches, indigo buntings, sparrows, red-wing blackbirds.  Watching the dance of who gets to perch on the feeder, and in the tree, when. As I was watching them, I heard a commotion down at the pond.  When I got up to look at the water, there was a mama Hooded Merganser duck with 8 babies swimming and diving.  Bunnies were pouncing under trees.  The river otter made an appearance for a moment.

The sun shone.  The breeze blew.  Bailey, the dog, snored away…  Ahhh…  This is the life.

When my husband came home, we chatted for a bit on the deck.  We put the littlest kid down for her nap.  I went for my daily walk and he finished painting our mailbox and cleaning out the garage.  After my walk, he went to pick up Sawyer from school and I got to take a nice, long, hot shower.  Pure loveliness.

Do I share this story to brag about my hubby?  Yeah, maybe a little.  He’s pretty great.

But also – I wish more spouses were like this.  I know I am lucky.  Very lucky.  He sees me. Like, really sees me.  He knows when I need a break.  He knows when I need to be pampered a little.  He knows when I feel out of control or overwhelmed,  He knows when I feel a little bit beaten up by my daily life.

And he does something about it.  He gives me space, time, and the ability to address some of my own needs and wants for a few hours.  As an introvert…  He knows I need time to recharge on a regular basis and he steps up to allow me that time.

Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without that.

Marriage, and relationships, are so important in our daily lives.  They connect us to others in a way that allows someone else to truly see us – and what is better than that?  But the next step, beyond the seeing, is appreciating who the other is and doing what we can to make each other’s journey a little less burdensome.  Help carry the load.  Help share the joy.  Make him or her smile.  Remind them how lucky they are to have you.

Be a blessing and be blessed.

The Great Outdoors

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to “get outdoors every day.”  We live in Minnesota where it’s winter 9 months of the year…  So that makes for a good challenge, right?

Being a stay-at-home-mom, that leaves a ton of time to fill at playgrounds, right?  Well…  Not always.  Between two kids with different nap schedules, meal times, pre-school, yada, yada, yada – some days it doesn’t happen until Daddy gets home in the afternoon.  Which is great for the kids.  Not so great for me.

At that point I have a couple of hours before dinner is served; clean-up begins; bath times commence; and the bedtime marathon is in full swing.

A couple of hours…  Do I nap?  Sit in a sun spot and read?  Start working on dinner or cleaning up the house?  Meditate?  Watch TV?  (Wait…  What’s “TV?”)

Nah….  I go for a walk every chance I get!  I started last fall, walking 3.5 miles every afternoon.  It began as a much-needed break from the kids (my husband laughs that it took having two toddlers before I willingly engaged in exercise!), but now it is “my time.”  I listen to podcasts and breathe.  I check out the songbirds, hawks, eagles, ducks, river otters, bunnies, frogs, turtles, etc.  I soak in the sun.  I enjoy the cool breeze.  I say ‘hello’ to the other walkers I see every day…

It only takes 45 minutes.  But it’s something.  And I love it.  It refreshes me for the evening ahead and allows me a few more hours of patience, smiling, and laughing with the kids.

It soothes a tired soul.  Nature does that, doesn’t it?

One of my summer goals, with the kids, is to explore a new nature area every week…  We did our first one yesterday.  A lovely center with hawks, an eagle, an owl, a bunny, turtles, and frogs in the visitor center.  Trails to walk.  A river overlook with a view of an eagle’s nest.  Wildflowers in bloom. A small creek…  Lovely.  (I only wish my three year old was more agreeable to short hikes!)

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Playgrounds are great.  Bikes are awesome.  Pools are fun.  But I have a hope that someday my kids will find a meandering walk in the great outdoors just as exciting.  Already, my little boy and I stop and name all the things we can hear when we’re outside.  (It’s a fun little game if you’ve never tried it!)  He notices smells in the air and can identify all kinds of things!  And both kids have amazing eye-sight, noticing the tiniest bugs and flowers…  So fun!

So, get outside!  Take a break.  Breathe in some fresh air.  Get the kids outside and noticing the world around them.  Move your bodies.  All will blessed for it…

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Enough

As I’ve been trying to work some new practices into my daily life (with the hopes of finding some sanity and peace), this past week everything I’ve read or listened to has come down to the same theme – YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Interesting how the universe knows just what you need to hear, when you need to hear it.  Of course.

Three years ago, I made the decision to give up a job that I loved to be at home with my new baby boy.  This was a baby we thought we would never have – and were overjoyed at the gift that he was!  We assumed (ha!) that we would be parents of only him… so the thought of staying home for roughly five years with just my little buddy sounded wonderful.  I was in!

During the first 15 months of his life, I resigned from my job; my husband began his Masters degree; we sold our townhouse; bought a home; and two weeks after moving, found out I was pregnant again!  What?!  Life was about to get even more interesting.

Our baby girl was born 4 weeks premature… right in the midst of her brother’s “terrible twos.”  He didn’t handle it well – too much change.  Too much stress.  Aggression became his coping mechanism of choice.  I felt like I was in over my head.

By the time our little girl turned one, I was dreaming of going back to work.  Getting a break from the chaos that was my daily life…  But the truth of the matter was, the jobs I am trained for don’t pay well.  I would be working only to pay daycare costs.  And that seemed just silly.

So here I am.  Sawyer, our little boy, is three.  Ruby is 18 months.  They make me laugh.  They make me wonder.  We play.  We learn.  We are growing together.  Life is new everyday.  And as summer is around the corner, I’m excited for what adventures we will have this year!

But.  There are days when I still wonder if I would be a better mom if I worked outside of the home.  I find myself doubting my abilities all the time.  I doubt my patience.  I doubt my temperament.  My creativity.  My energy.  My planning.  My willingness to venture out of my comfort zone.  My sanity…

Some days are just, very simply, not fun.  Earlier this week was one of those days.  I was going to lose my mind.

And then I took a few minutes to meditate.  The message throughout my guided meditation?  “You are enough.”

The next day, I went for a walk.  The message on my podcast?  “You are enough.”

I’m reading a couple of different books…  The underlying themes?  “You are enough.”

I’m spending the day with a dear friend tomorrow.  Guess what she’ll tell me?  “You are enough.”

It’s true.  I may not be the best mom on earth.  I may not have a Pinterest craft ready everyday; an exciting field trip; a recipe to whip up with the kids. I may not be able to always smile through the rough patches…  But.  My kids get lots of hugs and giggles.  We play together.  We imagine together.  We talk about being kind, helpful, and brave.  We visit with family and friends.  We get outside.  We get messy.  They are learning to be little people…  And I’m still learning how to “mom.”  And we’re doing it together.

I am enough.  Enough for me.  Enough for them.  I’m breathing that in.  And out.  And back in,  All day long.  And I hope I’m teaching them that they, too, are enough.  Always.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey – and know that you, too, wherever you may be in life…  You are enough.

Mom of Two… Seeks… Sanity? Health? Balance? You Name It!

Life.  It’s crazy sometimes.  It’s overwhelming.  Sucks the air right out of you.  Diminishes you to a puddle of goo…  When you have a free moment, all you can think is, “should I shower?  nap?  clean?  read?  go out?  exercise?  watch tv?  learn something?  talk to someone?”  And yeah…  All of that seems too hard.  So you end up staring into space for an hour, and then back to the grind.

Oh wait.  That’s kids.  Ha!  Life before kids was lovely.  I was one of those people who was always hearts and rainbows – you can do anything, just look at the positive and make time!  Clearly, I did not understand the life of a mom.

Now I do.  And it’s crazy.

I have a three year old boy and a 18 month girl.  I love them both to infinity and beyond, but the person I once was is no longer.  I am a new creation – and still figuring out what that means.  I’m just starting to take back a little of my time and energy to re-create or re-discover me, again – and this blog is going to help me do that.

And maybe help you along the way, too.

I’ve always been interested in the Six Dimensions of Wellness: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Spiritual, Social, and Environmental.  The idea of our lives finding balance when we strive towards health in each of these areas has always held power for me.

And so…  That’s where I plan to start.  I plan to, each week, touch on each area – check-in, challenge, encourage, experiment, and learn…  Hopefully, sorting some things out for myself, bringing my family along for the ride and using these tools to enrich my kids’ lives, as well as create a space to share ideas and practices with a community.

I hope you’ll join me on the journey.  Whether you’re a mom, a young adult, someone feeling stuck and looking to change something about your current situation – I think all of these places in our lives are openings for change when we find a new sense of balance.  And the blessings that will fill our lives on the way?  Infinite!

Bless This Mess… You, Too?

Anyone else overwhelmed with life and feel like a straight up mess these days?  Yeah?  Me, too.  Welcome to the club!
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 But…  I’m working on a new project – Me!  I’m tapping in to my old roots in wellness, and exploring how to bring back the six areas of wellness into my life.  And my family’s life.  One step at a time.

We recently completed the Whole 30 food experiment (eliminating grains, gluten, dairy, legumes, sugar, and most processed foods from our diet).  The whole family – a 3 year old and 18 month old included!  And we ALL feel better, have better temperaments, more energy, etc.  So, we’re continuing to eat extra healthy (probably switching to Paleo – I’ll talk about this in another post) – and now that the weather is getting nice, we will continue to increase our time outside and moving our bodies!

My goal is to bring all six areas of wellness back into our lives – everyday.
Physical
Emotional
Intellectual
Spiritual
Social

Environmental

I have some ideas for where this is heading…  But more than anything, it will be a journey!  If you’re curious or interested in ways to help your family connect through wellness, by all means, join us!  The more the merrier (and yes, it’ll be a bit messy – but, blessed!)!

Hat from http://www.gloryhaus.com in the Jen Hatmaker collection.