my virtual magazine: stress and simplicity

We don't get the newspaper. I don't subscribe to magazines. Instead, I like to look at the internet, specifically blogs, as my own free, personal, and virtual magazine each morning. I love that I can pick and choose what is applicable to my life at that moment, and what isn't.

This past week was a stressful one, so articles and posts related to stress and simplicity really spoke to me. I am determined to face this week with a short list of priorities for each day, so I don't find myself overwhelmed when Pippa goes down for her nap. I also realize that I am living in the future instead of enjoying the day that God has given me now. These articles all give some excellent tips for finding joy, rest, and simplicity in even the busiest, most stressful times of our lives.

This devotion was the perfect way to start my morning. 

Sometimes we go through stressful seasons of life. Here are 5 non-negotiables to get though each day.

I love the idea of minimalism, but it's easy to get carried away with legalistic rules that make minimalism more stressful than freeing. Here's a guideline than can help.

Ladies transitioning between maternity, nursing, and different sizes of "regular" clothes can relate to my struggle to keep things simple. Here are some good tips.

Spring cleaning! I'm in spring cleaning overdrive right now with a cross-country move and a new baby in the near futures. This article is filled to the brim with practical tips for decluttering, organizing, and storing things in your home. 


a crucible of sorts


noun | cru • ci • ble 
: a difficult test or challenge
: a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions

Thanks, Merriam-Webster.

Anyway, we seem to have found ourselves in a nice little crucible of challenge and change. First there's the conundrum of packing while keeping the house perfectly clean for showings. Then there's just...pregnancy in general, and figuring out in what state and hospital we will give birth. Also, someone seems to have entered the terrible 2's a few months early. She's certainly been strong-willed and vocal about her preferences lately. Finally, there are all the everyday responsibilities that come with being an adult. 

School ends in 5 weeks. The countdown to our cross-country move is now 8 weeks and change. Baby's guess date is in exactly 12 weeks. The showings on our town home will, apparently, never end. Ever. And anyone who has ever tried to keep a home show-worthy with a toddler and a dog knows this is a Herculean task. (Maybe it's just because I'm pregnant or out of shape or both, but I feel like I've run a marathon after cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, swiffering, and wiping down mirrors). 

It's so absurd to complain, because we don't even own the townhouse, so we don't have to worry about selling it, or even setting up the showings on our own. We just have to keep the place clean and vacate the premises when necessary - that nomad life. So many friends are in the same situation right now, but with the added stress and pressure of actually selling the home and having multiple children. And after venting to my mom, I am reminded that she and my dad did this at least 6 times while in the process of having their 6 children. Perspective.

Most days I feel up to the task, even excited about everything that's happening. Then there are days where the exhaustion knocks me flat on my back, and let's just blame the pregnancy hormones for all the emotions that come bubbling to the surface. Just keeping it real, folks. 

I'm getting better at prioritizing, and deciding what truly needs to get done each day, what can wait, and what can get done in a "good-enough-for-now" manner. (I'm looking at you, hiding extra junk in the garage when there's a showing). 

I'm also learning that most worthwhile changes come after a period of intense work and challenge. 

And most importantly, I'm learning that I am human. I can only do and handle so much. But God  promises to be my refuge in times of stress. When I am weak, then his strength is shown. When I feel overwhelmed, it is then that he shows me what he can do. 

Our current situation is temporarily stressful, and will lead to so much joy. It is truly not trouble or hardship. Many face far more difficult and dire situations on a daily basis. Many battle illness, tragedy, and persecution. 

Despite knowing all of that intellectually, I still feel overwhelmed some days. So I am reading and rereading this section of scripture:

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." {2 Corinthians 12:9-10}

I'm thankful for God's mercy each day. I'm grateful for those around me who have shown me grace as I fumble through our "crucible of change." I'm thankful for all that I'm going through, and all that lies ahead. 

In conclusion:
It's all good. The end. 


state of the family - april 2015

Here we are, mid-April, and it is the best of time, it is the worst of times. (But mostly the best).

Somehow, I was just sitting in my parents' living room with all my sisters crafting my New Years Mini Goals. (April is "a sound mind - adult learning" by the way. I have been successful with my January - March goals...but have not really pushed myself in all aspects of my April goals). In that respect, I blinked and 3.5 months passed me by.

Conversely, I feel like we are in a vortex of time that moves like molasses. Come summer, we are packing all of our belongings, attending Justin's sister's wedding, moving to Florida, and having our second baby. When I think about what the near future has to hold, each day seems like a lifetime.

I suppose that's life, huh? When we look back, we can't believe how quickly time has passed. When we look ahead, we feel impatient. My focus has been on enjoying the present, or at least experiencing the present, instead of wishing the time away. Thank goodness for lovely spring weather! It has allowed us to make impromptu fun outings to the park, to get ice cream, and to the zoo!

state of the bump

I truly can't complain about how pregnancy has been going lately. Once morning sickness subsided (around 20 weeks), I began to feel more like myself - energetic, ambitious, happy, and excited once again. The bump has been growing at an alarming rate (probably at a normal rate actually...just seems so much faster the second time around).

That doesn't mean I haven't had the normal aches and pains that go along with pregnancy - it's just part of the deal! But seeing a chiropractor, prenatal yoga, exercise, and mostly healthy eating have helped with a lot of those minor complaints.

I'm craving sweets for sure. Specifically ice cream and fresh fruit. I don't think I have any aversions now that the morning sickness is gone. I've been SO THIRSTY, and chugging water like it's my job. I have a water bottle on both floors of the house, and I keep a third one in the fridge ready to go.

Easter weekend was momentous for baby brother, in that we actually decided to spend a little money and buy him some clothes! The entire Carter's store was 50% off, so he got a few onesies, 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of pajamas, and a fedora - he'll be a beach baby after all!

I'm currently at 26 weeks and 5 days, so just over 13 weeks left (in theory) until we get to meet baby boy!

state of the pip

Parenting can be a lonely job, especially if you have had the experience of staying home with a baby while your spouse works outside the home. I consider staying home with my babies a privilege, and I truly don't take it for granted. That doesn't mean that those midwest winter days stuck inside with a nonverbal child don't get long, though!

But then this magical thing happens...your itty bitty baby starts to get long and lanky, and starts walking and talking and dancing and making jokes and developing their own quirky personality. Suddenly you have a companion! Someone to (kind of) talk to and have memories and jokes with.

And that's where we are with our 22 (what!?!?) month old, Philippa Florence. Her verbal development is exploding, and I think my jaw drops on a daily basis at the words and phrases she thinks to say. She is sweet and sassy, silly and smart, observant and obstinate.

Here are a few of my current favorite Pipisms:

- While I was holding her, resting her legs on the bump, she felt baby brother kick. Her eyes widened, and she said, "Mommy, that's the baby!" Followed by, "Más baby!" (more baby)
- She likes to tease us with her love. She'll say, "I yup you! (I love you)" but point to anything but us. This morning she took it a step further and said, "I....yup..." her eyes darted around, clearly trying to think of something silly to get a reaction from us, and then decided on something, "I...yup...you, Baby!" and pointed to my belly. I know she was playing us, but my heart melted.
- Counting 1-10 en español - but always skips siete.
- Singing her ABCs (but for some reason she calls the song "EFG")
- Singing Jesus Loves Me/Cristo Me Ama in English and Spanish
- "Wauwee" - how she says sorry. A few weeks ago, she ran into a lady in public restroom, and say, "Oh! Wauwee."
- "Sink, sink, sink." while tapping a finger to her temple. She loves to list all the characters from Winnie the Pooh and what they say. Pooh is "think, think, think," but with her lisp it comes out "sink." Piglet is "oh d-d-d-dear!" Tigger is "hoo hoo hoo hoo!" And Eeyore is "Thanks for noticing me." She cracks up at this one, shakes her head, and goes, "Oh, Eeyore."
- "Tank you." 
- "Oh well."
- "Ay yi yi!" 
- "Mommy, nuggles?" when she wants snuggles
- "Jeans are too tight." and the clothing preferences have begun.
- "Oh, yes!"
- At the park she was very independent...but then would realize she didn't know where I was and would yell, "Mommy? I see you?"
- "Baby buh-bump, buh-bump at doctor." talking about hearing the baby's heart beat
- spells her name "P - I - P- I!" 

I'm sure I'm missing some, because she seriously learns to say something new every day. I want to bottle her up and keep her this way forever! So instead I'm taking as many videos as my iPhone can hold. 

She loves Curious George, Winnie the Pooh, and "Bob" - Veggie Tales. She sleeps with monkey, George, Minnie Mouse, Snoopy, and Pete. She is quick to throw a "fit" if she doesn't get what she wants - she has really perfected the fake cry. It usually stops quickly with a stern look and a "Do you want a time out?" We are having so much fun with her at this age! Here are some of my favorite pictures of her right now:

She is going to make an awesome big sister! I can't wait to see the 2 of them together!

Justin is enjoying coaching bowling at school - and loving that so many students are getting into it! He is also doing his best to keep his pregnant wife and toddler daughter happy. We are both soaking up the last few months with the students we have - we are going to miss the families at our church and school so much when we move. Not much else is new with the adults in the family, except that we're trying to fulfill our Stillwater, MN bucket lists before we move! 

And congratulations if you made it through that novel. I'm no good at scrapbooking, so it's really fun to have these archives to look back at the different stages of pregnancy and babyhood - it all passes so quickly, and you somehow forget everything you think you'll remember forever. And now we're off for another fun outing with gorgeous weather. Hurray for spring!


so...what exactly do you do?

With my husband driving in the seat beside me, my daughter napping in the backseat listening to the Veggie Tales CD for the 96th time this weekend, and our little bambino doing calisthenics in my tummy, I sneak in some work time using the data on my cell phone. 

As I set my phone down, I can’t help but reflect on how much I have grown to appreciate network marketing and residual income over the last year. I can work from the road, a hotel, my comfy couch, while visiting family - anywhere! Even better, I can choose not to work on holidays or vacations - and I don’t ask permission from anyone. I don’t have to forfeit family time in the evenings when my husband gets home from his job. I can be sick on the couch for weeks on end with morning sickness, and still see an email every Monday telling me I got paid. 

From someone who has worked in fast food, retail, food service, babysitting, coaching. as a receptionist, and as a substitute teacher, this is by far the most freedom I have found in a part time job. I remember the knot in my stomach waiting for the waitressing schedule to come out, scared to see if I got the requested time off I needed or not. I remember the stress of calling 7 different coworkers to see if they could cover for me. I remember the frustration of figuring out what to do with our daughter when both my husband and I were coaching in tournaments on the same weekend. 

I have definitely found a better way. Not a scam. Not a pyramid scheme. Here are a few questions and concerns I had before I got started, and my answer now:

  1. So what is it you actually do? How do you earn an extra stream of income? The simple answer is:
      1. Take the products and get incredible results.
      2. Share those results with others.
      3. Help people who want to drop a few pounds, have more energy, have better mental clarity, or earn an extra stream of income find a solution. 
    The longer answer is that each day looks different. 
    Sometimes I have people coming to me in search of those solutions as a result of me sharing my story or my friends’ and family’s story.
    Sometimes I see people who could benefit from one of our solutions and reach out to them. (I educate, you decide, I support you!) 
    Sometimes I am helping people on my team get started with their products, or  showing them how to earn extra income. 
    Sometimes I am listening to podcasts as I take a walk, or listening to a team call while I plan out my next day. 
    Sometimes I go to events to learn more about our company.
    Sometimes I am doing personal development - Bible reading, devotions, personal growth books, etc.
  2. Do I have to be one of those annoying people no one wants to talk to because I’m always trying to sell them something? Answer: No, you don’t. You are more than your job. Be a real person. Connect with others. Learn what is going on in other people’s lives. If you see a way you can be of service, offer a solution humbly and respectfully. And then support them whether or not they choose to join you. You’re not selling anything. You’re sharing a solution that worked for you. You are serving others. 
  3. Do I have to spam everyone’s Facebook feed with my products? Answer: No. You can connect with others however you choose. Social media is a wonderful tool to reach many people at once. Again, though, be a real person. Be yourself. Share bits and pieces of your life, what you find funny, things you love to do, and if you want, occasionally - occasionally - share how these products or this company is changing your life for the better, just as you would a great book, movie, or restaurant.
  4. How often do I have to work? Will I be doing parties all the time? Answer: Work as much or as little as you want. I put in a solid hour as Pippa naps each day, and often a bit more after she goes to bed. Just remember that you will get out of this what you put into it. If you work efficiently and consistently, you will see results. If you do nothing for a month, don’t expect people to be knocking at your door asking to join your team.  As far as parties, do it if it works for you to do it. I have done 2 (well...2.5) since I started a year ago. As a stay-at-home-mom, though, it doesn’t always work for me to do. So I find other ways to connect. 
  5. Do I have to handle money? Ship things? Answer: no. You are literally sharing the product, and you help others set up their accounts online. The website (free, by the way, when you enroll) takes care of payment, and the product is shipped right to their house. 
  6. Do I know enough people who will join me? Answer: yes. And if you don’t, you will meet people. Do you know 2 people who eat? Want to look better and feel more energetic? Help them find their 2 people and your products are paid for. Do that for 10 people, and you’ve made it to the highest level of the company. And it’s not always about who you know, it’s about who you’ll meet. 
  7. Will I have to step outside my comfort zone? Answer: Um, yes. But with big payoff. Time freedom, financial freedom, and health await on the other side. I can’t tell you how much I have grown spiritually and emotionally in the past year. Totally worth temporary discomfort. 
Whether you are a college student or recent grad looking to avoid or pay off students loans, a stay-at-home-parent looking to contribute to the family’s income, or you love your job, but are looking for a way to afford travel, more giving, or a better professional wardrobe, you can do it. Find those spare moments in your day. Take the product, share your results, help others do the same. 


why events *are* for introverts

One thing that almost prevented me from trying Isagenix and consequently network marketing as a career was the presupposition that being an introvert meant I would have trouble succeeding. Many network marketing companies also stress the importance of attending events - and my company is no exception! When I thought of events, I pictured flashing lights, loud music, excited people, and buzzwords like "synergy" and "freedom!" getting thrown around - all things that make an introvert want to hide under the covers with a flashlight and a book. I didn't see what I could possibly gain from participating in this nonsense.

Well I was partially right. There are flashing lights, loud music, excited people, and so, so many buzzwords. But I was also partially wrong - there was so much for me to gain hidden beneath the hype.   

I had the opportunity to attend my first corporate event in January of this year. It certainly didn't hurt that I got to travel to sunny California while the weather here in Minnesota was dreary and arctic. It also didn't hurt that I got to spend a few days toddler-free and with some wonderful friends and teammates! 

Now, being one who is not necessarily motivated by money, fame, recognition, or other extrinsic rewards, I wondered if I would be able to connect with the very successful speakers leading the event.  These were the people who were making multiple six-figure incomes, even millions of dollars per year. These were the people who were "Isa-famous."  

When I first walked in and heard the music, saw the dance party happening onstage, and saw the success stories being recognized, it solidified the walls of skepticism I had put up, and my heart sank. Thankfully, it didn't take long before the trainers and keynote speakers had their turn, and my mind and heart were changed. 

There were a few reoccuring themes that each of the speakers stressed in their own way:
- it was not about the money (though a nice benefit of success)
- servant leadership and helping others succeed was a top priority
- they preferred to use their money to pay off debt, pay for children's college tuition, give back to the community, leave a legacy for their family all before increasing their own standard of living
- humility and teamwork
- personal development
- kindness to all
- integrity and hard work
- most expressed God and their faith life to be a top priority in their life

An introvert could find much to admire, and much to learn from those who have gone before. 

This weekend was another opportunity to attend an event, this time much closer to home. Just as before, I was delighted to find people who shared my values, not just onstage, but in the seats besides me as well. If I am willing to look past the hype, I find an abundance of information at my fingertips, and others who are motivated intrinsically instead of by wealth or recognition. I find people who are willing to share what they know in order to help others join them at the top. No secrecy. No jealousy. No competition. A spirit of service!

Network marketing has stretched me out of my comfort zone over and over, but the result is always growth. I'm grateful that my team helped me overcome my doubt and skepticism to attend an event. It has helped me build my belief in our company, products, network marketing, and myself. I'm now looking forward to my next chance to attend an event. What a change from a month ago! 


currently °2

making || lists of gratitude and goals
cooking || lots of baked potatoes - why does Aldi only sell 10 lb bags?
drinking || not nearly enough water
reading || "Boy" by Roald Dahl
wanting || temperatures above single digits...pretty please?
looking || for some good books
playing || "pillow walk" every day with Pippa - that's where you line up pillows on the floor and walk on them...
trying || to cut out sugar this week
remembering || a few days ago when I was eating sugar...
watching || Friends on Netflix. All the 90s clothes are back in fashion! So funny. 
deciding || what goes and what stays - spring cleaning!
wishing || for spring weather to go with the spring cleaning
planning || a spring break trip to Wisconsin
enjoying || secret baby flutters and kicks
waiting || for Justin's school year to be over
liking || greek yogurt with vanilla and cinnamon
wondering || whether our baby is a boy or a girl!
needing || a change with my hair
wearing || the same black lounge pants all day, err day
noticing || how big and funny and sweet Pippa is getting
smelling || cold air...it has a smell
thinking || about how much our lives are going to change in a few short months
buying || Tums - so many Tums 
feeling || strong


on feeling motivated

It's an arctic Wednesday afternoon. February in the Midwest - a dreary affair. The toddler toys have been played with, put away, and ransacked again; a never-ending cycle of blocks, teapots, books, and trucks. The daily chores have been tended to, and dinner is in the crockpot. Our daily allotment of television has been consumed. In fact, we've overdrawn and borrowed from tomorrow's allotment. At some point there was a quick errand to the library and Target, which took up significantly less time than I hoped it would. Hours remain until reinforcements arrive home, and both toddler and mother are cranky in a post-nap winter haze.

On days such as these when there is nothing penciled in my planner, the mornings are so full of promise! A leisurely coffee and devotion. An hour spent reading and snuggling and laughing together. A cursory workout and shower. The prospect of errands and naps and projects.

We just can't seem to avoid those afternoon doldrums, when neither work nor play is enticing. We have had enough! Of each other, of our surroundings, of routine. We need nature! We need sunshine! We need other people! ("We need pens." Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock in the episode where he goes to Washington? Anyone?)

In these situations, it's almost impossible for me personally to feel motivated. This is unfortunate, because there is so much I could be doing that trumps giving up and watching Netflix reruns. First there's the photo-a-day project to improve my photography hobby. There's the option of creating a blog post, coming up with activities to improve both Pippa's and my Spanish, cleaning out and preparing to donate unused possessions, or getting ahead on my Spanish lesson plans. We could be having a dance party, or video chatting with far-away family and friends. 

The problem is never a lack of things to do. It's lack of perceived motivation. It's like when you were little and you would whine to your mom, "I'm so bored!" and she would say, "Great! I've got some chores for you to do." Then suddenly you didn't feel so bored after all, and gee whiz! playing with your humdrum old toys didn't seem so bad! 

The solution is to Just. Do. Something. Just start. Pump some music, pick an activity, and do it. 

My crabby afternoon self hates that solution. But, darn it!, it works. Starting is the hardest part, but in my case, activity usually begets a positive emotion. 

Now if someone could just remind me of this every day...

What are your tips for escaping the afternoon/winter doldrums?