friday favorites #4

¡Feliz viernes, amigos! Let's get this party started! Grab your coffee, avoid some responsibilities, and let's chat about all the awesome stuff that happened this week.

Friday Favorites

Teddy Bear in his bouncer

Basically all he has wanted since the day he was born is to be included in all the family activities. If he's not sitting up so he can see everyone, he gets very moody. I brought out the bouncer early last week, and it has given me the freedom to finish an entire mug of coffee on multiple occasions. He can see his big sister from this perch, play with all the fun toys attached, or his personal favorite, just sit back and suck on his hand while observing the world.

Toddler Talks

Pippa asked me after school, "Mommy, can I have a snack, lay down on the couch, and watch Handy Manny?" Isn't that what we all want out of life?
Which brings me to my next favorite...

Handy Manny

Netflix has way too many options for a 2 year old to handle. Some of the shows she chooses range from cute, to weird, to super annoying (I'm looking at you, Caillou.) When she chose Handy Manny as the show she wanted to watch the other morning, I was skeptical. A show about tools? Come on, Pippa.
But I actually like this show! As in, I try to trick Pippa into picking it every morning. They include quite a bit of Spanish in the show (huge win for me), and I think I've learned how to repair a few things around the house. Thanks, Manny and Tools!

Softsoap Antibacterial in Crisp Clean 

In all honesty, Justin picked this up at the store because we were almost out of soap in our bathroom, and it was super cheap. For some reason, we can't get enough of how good it smells. I keep finding excuses to wash my hands...

Lifting heavy weights

I have really noticed a difference in how my clothes are fitting since I've started incorporating heavy lifts into my workout routine. I start with heavy lifting, then finish my workout with a plyometric cardio circuit. I feel like I'm really maximizing my short time at the gym, and my workouts fly by. Unlike running on a treadmill.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I used this crockpot recipe. So filling, so delicious, and full of hidden vegetables! A perfect winter recipe.

Favorite Reads

So you want to start a side business, but you don't like selling? This article is for you.

Mamas working on losing that baby weight: here is some GREAT advice. This woman is a wonderful role model both spiritually and physically.

Maybe the holidays don't have to be so stressful. It's a choice!

Decision detox - I need this in my life. Also, she is hilarious.

This Advent devotional series.

So what's making you smile this week?


simple systems: organizing schedules

Staying home with my children. Teaching part time. Building my business at night. I truly thought it would be the best of both worlds. I pictured slow mornings with the babies, finishing my coffee, playing blocks and puzzles with my toddler, gazing into my baby's eyes while he cooed back at me. Then I could get glamorous in my pencil skirts and cardigans and pass the children off to someone else while I shared my passion for the Spanish language for a few hours. I would work my side hustle in the evenings with vigor, pursuing my other passion of helping others look and feel their best.

And some days are actually like that. Other days...aren't. Other days are me running out the door 10 minutes later than I intended, a hurricane of sweat in the Florida heat. Some days I happily escape to teach after a morning spent scrubbing marker out of the couch. Some nights I collapse into bed at 10 p.m. after finally completing my lesson plans and correcting, feeling guilty for not even touching my business. Not every day is idyllic, but I am so thankful that there are so many ways I can use my talents to serve others and provide for my family. 

One thing stood out to me very quickly this fall as I stepped into my new role of being a mother of 2, part-time teacher, and part time business owner: my organization needed serious improvement.

So many people advocate using your phone calendar, passion planners, or other intricate systems. I knew that in this stage of my life, there was no way I could stick to most of those. I never bothered to open the calendar on my phone, and I needed to keep things simple. 

I have finally developed a simple system that works for me. I'm sharing it here in the hopes that it will help someone else find their organizational sweet spot! Here's how I juggle faith, family, work, business, and down time.

1. The Family Calendar
We use a dry-erase calendar in the kitchen where we write in church and school activities, doctor appointments, social events, going to the gym, and family time. It's that whole metaphor of filling a jar with the big rocks first (the most important things in life), then the pebbles (other things that matter), then finally filling in the open areas with sand (things like Netflix). The most important things MUST be scheduled in first before filling the open areas in our schedule. That means spiritual life, and family time take priority. Next comes scheduled workouts, work time, and family budget meetings. Finally, social events are added in. 

2. The Desk Calendar
I purchased a large desk calendar for my workspace to manage my lesson plans for teaching, appointments for my business, and Wellness Nights I book with friends. I also copy many of the same things from the family calendar, because I know I will need to see it in several places. This is my personal calendar.

3. The Planner
I found an inexpensive small day planner at TJ Maxx to carry in my purse in case I need to keep track of dates while I'm out. I honestly don't remember to open it up much, which is why I needed the desk calendar - it's open, in front of me, and hard to avoid. The planner is more of a backup. 

4. The iPhone
If something is really important, I set an alarm on my iPhone to remind me a day or two in advance so I know I won't miss it. 

5. The Notebooks
I have 3 notebooks - miscellaneous, business, blog - to keep track of ideas I have for each area of my life. The miscellaneous one holds shopping lists, to-do lists, Pippa quotes, and the like. The business notebook keeps track of my income producing activity and ideas for growing my business. The blog notebook is so I can write down blog post ideas as they come, and brainstorm, organize, and edit content.

As you can tell, I prefer hand-written to electronic when it comes to organizing my life. The act of writing it down helps me remember, and I have found that I am more likely to look at a physical item rather than open an app on my phone. This system can be somewhat redundant, as I am writing some calendar items 3 or 4 times, but it keeps me from being a flake. I need that - others may not. 

The most important thing I learned through this process is to find the system that works for you. To make something a habit, it must be convenient, and in plain sight. As badly as I wanted to consolidate my planning to electronic devices to save paper and space, it just wasn't working for me. I didn't find it convenient. I never checked it. Find the simple system that your family can stick to. It feels good to no longer have the nagging feeling that I'm forgetting a doctor appointment or deadline - it's all right in front of me.

How do you organize your family schedules? Do you prefer paper and pen, or electronics?


Christmas gift ideas for teachers

It's that time of year when the Last-Minute Lesters among us are gravitating to the Dollar Spot at Target along with every display table at TJ Maxx. That's right, it's Secret Santa, awkward work gift exchange, White Elephant season! There always seems to be a few people on your list who are difficult to shop for, simply because you don't know them very well. You want your gift to be meaningful, but don't know where to start. One of those people may very well be your child's teacher.

As a teacher of 5 years who is also married to a teacher, our family has been on the receiving end of countless thoughtful, generous, and lovely gifts and gestures each Christmas season. For the very first time, I find myself in the position of buying for my own child's teacher! 

How the turntables have turned...
Teachers are the people that spend almost as much time with your child as you do! They care for your baby (or grown baby) during the day, nurture them, guide them, influence them, and love them. You want your gift to reflect the appreciate you and your child have for all they do. You also probably don't want to break the bank. Especially if you have more than one child in school!

So without further delay, here is my list of gift ideas for teachers written by a teacher!

*Disclaimer* Teachers don't expect gifts. That's not why they do their job. This is simply to give you some ideas if you're already planning on doing something nice for your child's teacher to step away from the classic "2 Teach is 2 Touch a life 4 Ever" plaque. Though I'm sure that would be lovely.

1. Hand-Written Letter
My favorite and most memorable gifts from students or their parents have been hand-written letters or messages. They are personal and meaningful. If your child is old enough to write, have them write one, too! Teachers handle a lot of negative situations throughout the year - you have no idea how much a bit of appreciation can brighten their entire day, month, or year! This is nice to do regardless of if you buy something for the teacher or not. 

2. Small Gift Card
$5-$10 to Starbucks, Amazon, Target, etc would be so thoughtful! It's an opportunity to let the teacher treat themselves - something many educators simply don't do. My volleyball team once got me a gift card to Caribou Coffee and I made it last an entire school year. I absolutely loved being able to treat myself every so often, and I thought of my athletes every time I bought a coffee. 

3. Devotion Book
We have always taught at private Christian schools, so a devotion book would be right up our alley. If your child's teacher is not religious, or you're not sure, a book of positive quotes or meditations would work, too!

4. Books
Most teachers I know love to read. If you know what they like to read, surprise them with a novel, a biography, or a personal development book. If you're not sure, try a gift card to Barnes & Noble. 

5. School Supplies
I have yet to meet a teacher who doesn't like a fresh stack of Post-It Notes. Most of us got into the field of education simply so we could continue to buy school supplies every September (kidding...kind of). A monogrammed notepad, fancy pens, cute paperclips, drawer organizers, or a fancy notebook or planner are always welcome!

6. A Favorite Beverage
Yes, I know coffee or tea can be overdone. But with a little bit of detective work, you can find out what's keeping that educator fueled throughout the school day. Be it green juice, soda, lattes, or flavored water, stock them up! If you're feeling bold, find out what their adult beverage of choice is, and sneak them a bottle of their favorite wine or a six pack of beer when the kids aren't looking ;)

7. Something They Love or Collect
My husband loves the Green Bay Packers. I've known other teachers who have been very vocal about their favorite sports team, color, animal, or things they collect. I bet if you ask their child they would be able to identify this almost immediately. 

8. School Survival Kit
When I used to teach full time, I felt like I lived in my classroom. I honestly probably spent more time there than I did at home. I made sure to keep deodorant, concealer, lip balm, a scarf, gum or mints, protein bars, water bottles, an extra phone charger, hand lotion, dry shampoo, a hairbrush, and let's be honest - candy in my desk drawer. Restock your favorite teacher with some personal items for their classroom!

9. Essential Oil
One of the most thoughtful gifts I received one year was a small bottle of essential oil with a roller ball applicator. If essential oils are your thing, a small bottle with suggested uses attached would be a fun gift!

10. Framed Print, Picture, or Quote
Etsy has some adorable and affordable prints that could be perfect for male or female teachers. A picture of your child and the teacher in an inexpensive frame would be lovely. You really can't go wrong with a framed quote or inspirational saying.

There you have it! Don't put pressure on yourself to do an intricate art project or Pinterest DIY, unless that's your thing! Teachers will be so touched that you thought of them, and will appreciate any gesture, big or small. 

I know I have a lot of teacher friends. What would you add to the list? What are your favorite gifts from students?


my story

Inspired by Brené Brown's book Daring Greatly, I would like to open up with everyone and be a little bit vulnerable in hopes that it will reach someone who needs encouragement, or needs to know they are not alone.

A year and a half ago, I was depleted, stressed, lonely as a new stay-at-home-mom, and sick of leaving home to work part time jobs in the evenings and on the weekends. I craved family time, but found myself in a situation where my husband would walk through the door, and I would hand him the baby and leave.  I craved adult connection. I wanted to start my day with purpose and meaning. I felt tired by 2 p.m., and often napped when my baby napped.

I was introduced to a solution to all of those things weighing me down by a girl I went to college with. We didn't even know each other that well, but I had seen her posts on Facebook, and wanted what she had. Purpose. Vision. An income from home. Energy. I swallowed my pride and contacted her.

A few weeks after getting started, I stopped needing to nap in the afternoon. My workouts began to feel easier. I lost the bloat in my face and arms that had stuck around for months after I had the baby, even when I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight. This is hard to admit, but for months after Pippa was born, when I saw my face in pictures it just didn't look like my own anymore. I didn't recognize myself. All of that changed after starting these nutrition products I arrogantly assumed I didn't need.

I had put so much pride in the fact that I was an athlete who loved fitness, that I didn't realize how uneducated I was about nutrition, and the state of food in our country. I secretly thought systems like this were for people who couldn't eat right on their own. What I didn't realize was that the food I was eating- even the organic food, the fruits, and the vegetables, were not giving me the nourishment I needed. This video really helped me realize the need for better nutrition, even for "skinny" or fit people.

Not only did I feel better physically, but I also so an opportunity to change my family's financial future. I saw a vision of not just living paycheck to paycheck, not just getting by, but finally paying off those pesky student loans, giving radically to others, and yes, traveling more. In the meantime, this could mean paying a car payment, a phone bill, or a grocery trip. It could mean a flight back home to see my family. And the work required was getting healthy and helping others do the same - something I'm passionate about sharing!

A third gift I found was a tribe of like-minded people who support me, cheer me on, and are willing to share everything they know. I don't feel as lonely throughout the day when I'm at home with the kids, because I have some incredible women who I've linked arms with to call, text, Vox, and message throughout the day. They push me to reach my goals, they remind me to laugh and have fun, and they point me back to God when I need it (always).

I think the greatest gift this journey has given me, though, is personal growth like I've never experienced before. It has forced me to dive into Scripture to see what God says about self-worth, money, and work. It has driven me to take a long hard look at myself in the mirror and see a leader instead of someone who is inferior to others. I was often so paralyzed by what I thought others would think of me that I avoided doing things I was excited or passionate about to avoid criticism. One of my favorite quotes from Daring Greatly has given me a new mantra, "Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it's a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands."

So I'm striving valiantly to use my passions and gifts to serve God and others. It's scary - so scary. Big goals are like that. Putting yourself out there for others to see, comment on, and criticize is terrifying. But what good thing isn't worth the discomfort? Who ever looked back on struggle and hard work and said, "I wish I didn't have to work as hard as I did."? Quite the opposite! The journey, the struggle, the sweat, the fear - that's where our lessons are learned, our stories formed, and our relationship to God strengthened.

And now my mission: to help as many people as I can break free from the stories they have told themselves about who they are, so that they can figure out who they want to be.


3 ways to start monday off right

I always used to the think the command to remember the Sabbath Day meant to go to church once a week - maybe even Bible Study with coffee and donuts! The more I read and study Scripture, however, the more I'm starting to see that God has designed a day of rest for our benefit. For awhile I got defensive about this concept, wondering how God expected me to do nothing at all for 24 hours, when I was barely keeping up with my regular tasks the rest of the week. I think, though, the idea is not to count the number of steps we take on a Sunday, lest we break the Sabbath law, but rather the spirit of drawing closer to God, giving our bodies and minds a chance to rest and refocus so as to enter our week refreshed and ready to give work our all.

In that spirit, I try to avoid income producing activities on Sundays, spend quality time with family, and read a little extra Scripture. And, though it may not seem 'restful,' I also try to prepare myself and my family for the week by doing a few extra chores. I love blasting hymns, or Christmas Carols, now that the Holiday season is {almost} upon us, putting on some clothes with an elastic waistband, and taking a few small steps to make sure our week runs smoothly.

1. meal prep + chores

This does not have to mean making six freezer meals on a Sunday afternoon (although that would be awesome). For me this simply looks like planning out my meals for the week, and chopping my veggies ahead of time both for meals and snacks. It may or may not also include a deep clean of the fridge and a fresh loaf of pumpkin bread.

For us, the extra chores are washing towels and bedding, vacuuming everything, actually folding the baskets of laundry that were forsaken in the midst of a busy week, and possibly reorganizing a drawer, shelf, or closet.

2. quality family time

My love language is quality time, so if I don't get that extra dose of family time on the weekend, I'm already feeling depleted going into a busy work week. It's not always possible to sequester your whole family at home on the weekends, so it can be as simple as a nice long family walk, a board game, or snuggling in bed reading together. I always find that I'm much happier to jump into a busy schedule when I have taken the time on the weekend to refresh my body, mind, and relationships.

3. plan everything for the week

And I mean everything. Especially for people who have unpredictable schedules (ahem, children), it is super important to write down the most important things that must happen in your week. I write down when I will work out, and what that workout will be, what my morning devotions will be, what meals we will eat, budget meetings, blog posts, business hours and phone calls, and of course lesson plans for school. Thanks to a tip from my sister Molly, I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go, so I can keep a running list of things that need to get done, things I need from Target, blog post ideas, things I need to talk to Justin about, Christmas gift ideas, etc. I also keep a small, cheap planner from TJ Maxx to keep track of dates, like doctor appointment, scheduled meetings and phone calls for my business, and important deadlines. If you don't plan to fill your time with your priorities, it will quickly get filled up with scrolling through social media, scrambling to get things together last minute, and walking into a room but not remembering why. Know where your week is going!

via Ziglar.com
And there you have it! That's how I utilize my Sunday to prepare for the week. What are your best practices for making sure your week runs smoothly?


currently °4

making || pumpkin bread with glaze on top. Listen, just because I live in Florida, and temps have been in the high 80s this week, doesn't mean I'm immune to the draw of autumn scents and flavors. 
cooking || nothing tonight! Using up a gift card. Not mad about it.  
drinking || organic coffee infused with coconut oil + protein creamer. So. Good. 
reading || "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown. 
wanting || a new wardrobe for this Florida weather. Minnesota: long sleeves, pants, and boots 85% of the year. Florida: sundresses, tank tops, and flip flops 85% of the year. My closet is no longer serving me. 
listening || to audio books and podcasts on long morning walks
playing || blocks with my baby girl, making the "tallest tower in the world!"
trying || this thing called a budget. Managing the money God has entrusted to us. 
remembering || what it was like 10 days ago when I didn't have this cold...
watching || a little Peppa Pig here, a little Curious George there, with a dash of Super Why when we're feeling crazy. 
deciding || to pray more, trust more, and worry less
wishing || I could get through more than 2 pages of a book per day
planning || my very first Thanksgiving dinner on my own. This is....not going to be pretty. 
enjoying || this morning's temper tantrum wherein Pippa is screaming, "No cock-a-doodle-do...EVER!" because I had the audacity to suggest that she put the toy rooster on top of the Little People house herself while I was nursing Teddy. So...yeah. 
wondering || how long is socially acceptable to go without washing my hair. (Still showering though). 
needing || a great women's devotional book or Bible study book - any suggestions?
wearing || Eau de Spit Up perfume all day every day
noticing || so many friends and acquaintances doing brave and incredible things with their lives - so uplifting and inspiring! 
smelling || a non-organic, non-fancy French Toast candle from WalMart. (Can candles be organic? Is that a thing?)
buying || some Christmas presents for my people...trying to keep it simple and thoughtful. 
feeling || like the calm before the storm...big things are about to happen in life, and I'm reading, planning, preparing it! 


state of the family

Philippa Florence is 2 years, 5 months. What? Almost 2 and a half? What happened to my pint-sized baby girl?
She's gone and developed her own personality, preferences, and sense of humor. She loves "girly" things like headbands, bows, Sophia the First, princesses, Minnie Mouse, and Mommy's makeup. BUT she also loves Curious George, blocks, books, letter magnets, volleyball, Little People, and the Packers, so I feel like her interests are well-rounded. 
1. Pippa's eye patch and pirate ship chart // 2. matching headbands
3. The FL humidity is doing a number on Pippa's curls // 4. Ice cream on the beach

1. kid loves playing with her blocks // 2. Aunt Annie's biggest fan!
3. Kitty backpack, Curious George, Sophia the First lunchbox - ready for school! // 4. Loves playing with Mommy's makeup.
+ Every time she sees me doing my hair she says, "Oh! You doing hair? I'll get the makeup."
+ She loves finding coins on the sidewalk or in the car. "Money!" But my heart burst right out of chest when I heard her say, "Money is for thank you Jesus." (We will occasionally give her a dollar bill to put in the offering plate at church).
+ When she comes home from school she announces to her stuffed animals, "Hi animals! I'm back!"
+ Each day when I get her from school, she shouts in utter shock and sheer joy, "You came BACK! Mommy always comes back."
+ At dinner: "So, Mommy. How you day at school? Great day?"
+ Whenever Justin sings or acts silly, "Justin, stop."
+ She does this new thing where she speaks crazy gibberish. I'll ask her, "Are you speaking Spanish or English?" "Spanish, Mommy!"
+ Sandwich is pronounced "shauwitz."
+ Is wearing an eye patch for an hour/day to correct a slightly lazy eye (only shows up when she's tired).
+ When she had a cold, "I'm feeling sickies. I need medicine."
+ About Teddy: "He love me! He's so cute! He's smiling. Mommy he crying! He hungry for leche."
+ To Teddy: "Hi Teddy Bear. Hi Big Boy. You give me a smile?"
+ Sometimes at night I'll lay in her big girl bed with her until she falls asleep. That's when she starts talking to me about her school day, names all her friends, and tells me what they play. The best!
+ Often pretends to leave by grabbing my backpack and heading out the door. "Bye! I go to work! See you tomorrow!"
+ "Mommy you so pretty."
+ Love to group things together - toys, magnets, food, whatever - and say, "Look! They all friends!"
+ "Just look, don't touch!"

Theodore Scott - 3 Month Update
1. A gentleman and a scholar // 2. Preppy beach look
3. Old man vacationing in Florida // 4. He's a thumb-sucker!

1. He's formal, but he's here to party. // 2. Sweet boy in his white tee
3. So happy when he wakes up in the morning! // 4. Loves kicking and stretching!

Teddy's a dreamboat. He sleeps from 7 p.m. - 7:30 a.m. with a dream feed at 10 or 11 p.m. He smiles at almost anyone who will make eye contact with him. Such a flirty little dude! He's just the most laid back, happy kid right now - and I'm praying that doesn't change!

+ Sleeps 12 hours at night
+ Eats...a lot. And subsequently spits up a lot.
+ Working so hard at rolling over. Not there yet, but getting so close!
+ Is fascinated by his big sister Pippa.
+ Loves to chat with Mommy and Daddy. Makes the "guh" sound a lot. Also some gurgling and cooing. Will give extended monologues if Pippa is quiet for long enough.
+ We play a game where I stick my tongue out at him, blow bubbles, or make a rolling r sound, and he tries to copy it.
+ Sucks his thumb! First he wouldn't take the chupie (pacifier), then he starting sucking his hand, and now he found his thumb. I didn't know what to think at first, but now I kind of like it. He self-soothes so easily.
+ Loves to observe, and just wants to be part of the action. He is content as long as he can see what is going on!
+ In my opinion, looks like a human emoji. Round face, big round eyes, those expressions...
+ Thigh rolls for days and days.
+ Now sleeps with his arms out of the swaddle.
+ I have no idea what his nap schedule is. Should I?

Justin + Emily

+ Life is busy and full, but so much fun. Work hard, play hard!
+ Justin is settling into his new teaching job, is in charge of Pippa's bedtime routine now, and cooks about half the meals. (Especially pancakes. I'm not allowed in the kitchen when he makes pancakes)
+ Emily is balancing teaching very part time, getting out of the house with 2 children, running her health business, and trying to read more than 1 paragraph of a book at a time.
+ We are loving the Florida weather as we head into fall and winter. Mid 80s for trick or treating? We'll take it!
+ Finally kicked Teddy out of our room completely. Bassinet is in the garage, changing table is in the nursery. Our room looks really big suddenly!
+ We keep talking about having a date night...soon...

Halloween 2015

Pippa got 3 opportunities to wear a costume - Library story time, Halloween party at school, and Trick or Treat. Here were her 3 costumes (thankfully all ones we had on hand):

Teddy was the cutest Charlie Brown you ever did see.

And we had absolutely no Halloween spirit and did not dress up.

We have been gifted with so much more than we deserve. I pray each day and thank God for our family, our work, our life, our health, and his grace. I also pray each day and ask for his guidance as I manage the many blessings he has entrusted me with. What a life!

Happy Autumn, Reformation, Halloween, All Saints Day, and Día de los Muertos!


Miami, Florida


¡Bienvenidos a Miami!

Last weekend our family drove down the coast of Florida and ended up in the Miami area for teachers' conference. Some of our best friends from college who live in the area offered up their guest bedroom for the weekend, and we gladly took them up on it. Besides the 3 babes running around, it felt just like we were back in college.

I love to pack light. Once, on a mission trip to Mexico in high school, a group of us (including our responsible chaperon - hi Plugs!) had a contest to see who could pack the smallest amount for a 10 day trip. We wore only the clothes on our backs, and each had but a small satchel containing the essentials. One of my favorite sections in the Bible is when Jesus sends the disciples out to do mission work with nothing but the cloaks on their backs and the sandals on their feet. It feels so good to not be weighed down by possessions.

This trip was not like that.

Diapers + wipes, back up onesies for various baby fluids, more spit up towels than I care to admit, nursing accessories, toddler eating + sleeping essentials, our nutritional system, and oh yeah - clothes for me. It felt like we were moving all of our worldly possessions. Traveling with an infant is no joke!

Anyway, our time in Miami was short but sweet. Our friends showed us some of their favorite spots, parks, and restaurants, which I loved! It's so eye-opening to step into a friend's life for a few days, to get a better idea of what their daily routine looks like.

Once the conference started, I stayed behind with our two little ones, only slightly nervous about being away from home court advantage. It was tempting to just put on the iPad and entertain ourselves around the house all day until everyone else came back. After all, everyone would understand that I had 2 very small children in an unfamiliar and expensive city with lots of traffic.

Then one morning the rain just so happened to ruin our plans to visit the community pool near our friends' house, and we did an early lunch and nap. Once both the kids were napping, it hit me that I was going to have to entertain them for at least 3 more hours once they woke up. In someone else's house. So in a rash moment of determination, I opened my laptop and searched for free things to do with children in Miami. One destination caught my eye - Little Havana. The culture, language, music, food, and colors all seemed like a perfect opportunity to experience the "real" Miami, learn a little bit myself, and show Pippa why I speak Spanish to her.

I dressed Teddy in his best "old man in Florida" outfit, we hopped in the van, and I prayed I would be able to find a parking spot that didn't cost $20. 30 minutes and countless tolls later (thank you Sun Pass!) we found a quiet street to park the van for FREE, and began our leisurely stroll down the famous Calle Ocho. I was hoping to catching a glimpse of Pit Bull, but no such luck. We watched the old men play dominoes in the park, inhaled the intoxicating scent of Cafe Cubano, licked some authentic Cuban ice cream at Azúcar, and took pictures with the giant colorful chickens. I would love to come back sometime with other adults to indulge in a mojito or two!

Other highlights of the trip include:

* seeing our Lutheran school - Divine Savior Academy
* Amelia Earhart park, complete with a petting zoo!
* mojitos at Bayside Harbour
* building sandcastles at South Beach
* wandering the trendy Art Deco beachside neighborhoods in South Beach
* cooking meals and sipping wine with old friends

I can't wait to head back to Miami and discover more of this incredible city. Plus we had the BEST Cafe Cubano on the way home, and I really need to find that tiny gas station where we bought it and get another one...


friday favorites #3

I might be about to jinx myself, but I think I'm starting to settle into this "being a mom of 2" thing. By no means am I doing it perfectly, or even with grace, but our days are starting to have a routine to them, I'm not packing up the entire house every time we leave, and I no longer feel like everyday tasks are on the emergency level of fire breathing termites with a stockpile of weaponry taking over the world.

Theodore is sleeping through the night. What's that sound? Oh! It's a chorus of angels singing their heavenly tune. We put him to bed at 7, wake him for a 10 p.m. feeding, and then he sleeps until about 6:30 every morning. Feels good to be human again.

So, yeah. Life is still busy (wait, we have banned that word from society, so...) our days are still very full. But, BUT, we're figuring it out. Doing the bulk of our lesson planning and correcting on the weekend even when we don't feel like it, because it makes our weeks that much smoother. We're writing things on the calendar like "going to the gym" or "budget meeting," because if they're on the calendar, then they are an actual appointment we can't break.

Anyway! That's our life. Probably 95% of the western world can relate. So instead of waxing on about the minutiae of our days, let me share some of my favorite things from this week!

The Spanish Children's Books section at the library

Pippa has so many books. Too many books (is there such a thing?). So I really don't want to go out and buy more for her. But it's still nice to throw new books into the rotation from time to time. Enter the library. She's finally old enough to actually choose books she wants to read. I always lead her to the Spanish section, more to motivate me to keep speaking Spanish to her than anything else. Anyway, they have a great little selection of books. Here are a few from this week:

Chris Brown's True Stewardship Podcast

After some prayer and time meditating on the Word and the goals for my business, it became clear to me that unless I was managing God's money properly, there was no reason for him to entrust me with more. We had a very wishy-washy budget, but I knew it was time to get serious of kicking those student loans in the teeth. After listening to a few hours of the Dave Ramsey podcast, I stumbled upon this one. It takes a Biblical look at what stewardship really is, and how it applies to our lives.

The thing I like most about this podcast, is that it keeps my financial goals in front of me constantly. That's the problem with most goals - if we don't keep our WHY, or the final outcome in front of us, we lose steam when things get hard. With this podcast it's like I've got a huge support system of people striving for the same thing as me!

Toddler Talks

This kid is killing me. Her language is exploding and I love it! I marvel at the sentences that come out of her mouth on a daily basis. I'm going to have to do a separate post on all the things she's been saying lately, but let's just say phrases like, "Oh Mommy. You so pretty with makeup." and "What lizard dooo-ing? She finding food." have come out of her mouth.
Someone got into Mommy's makeup

Yesterday we had this conversation:
Me: "Did you know Daddy is a teacher?"
Pip: "Daddy teaching kids!"
Me: "That's right! Did you know Mommy is a teacher, too? Mommy teaches the kids Spanish."
Pip: "Oh! Pippa speak Spanish too!"
Me: "That's true, too! Pippa does speak Spanish!"
Pip: "Yeah...."
excuse the dog hair
Also, she set her people up like this (above) and goes:
"Mommy, look at all the friends! Just look, don't touch!"

She's just this little person with so many thoughts and feelings.

Morning Walks

It is by no means "autumn weather" here in Florida, but the mornings are at least somewhat less humid these days with a slight breeze. It feels good to not be a sweaty mess after an 8 a.m. walk.

These Quinoa Black Bean Tacos

Speaking of budgets, this meal is very budget-friendly. We like to incorporate a few meatless meals into our week, and this one is easy, delicious, and makes plenty of leftovers.

Old Navy Workout Tanks

Found for $8 on their website. Perfect for Florida weather, not too tight for that postpartum tummy situation, and cute!

What's got you smiling this week?


post baby body (2 months out)

Ah yes. The post baby body. This is such a sensitive subject for many women, fraught with emotional land mines and myriad ways to give offense.

On one had, we see celebrities and "fitspo" inspirational women on social media who are 20 lbs below pre-baby weight at 2 months postpartum, with six pack abs and catch phrases like "no excuses!"

On the other hand, we have the mamas who are offended by any suggestion that a woman might want to regain her figure after birthing a child. "The culture is trying to get rid of any evidence that we had babies! You're perfect just the way you are! Your saggy belly is a battle scar - you should be proud!"

I hereby proclaim permission to fall somewhere in the middle of those two equally unappealing extremes.

So without further ado...

Reasons to Take Care of my Health after Baby

Vanity (or the quest to find flattering clothes)

I am truly happy for women who have naturally lean bodies who can look so toned after having baby. They will most likely attribute it to eating clean and staying fit throughout pregnancy. Those things are so important, and a huge accomplishment, because carrying a child in your womb is seriously tough. But for those of us who eat healthy and stay fit, but still look 4 months pregnant for weeks on end postpartum, it's a hard message to hear. Every person's body is different. We have different genetics, metabolisms, body types (short torso...ugh), and situations.

But let me be clear. I don't like the sagging postpartum midsection. First of all, the words "sag," "sagging," and "saggy," just sound unappealing. Kind of like the words "moist," and "puberty." But I digress.

I don't like it because I find it impossible to dress. When you're pregnant, the goal is to show off that bump. And many maternity clothes are designed to do just that. When I'm postpartum, I want to disguise the bump. I don't love explaining to 4th graders and men who apparently don't know anything about the post baby process why I still look like I have a baby in my belly. It's just a weird conversation. So I tend to stay away from many of my maternity clothes.
that's a lot of belly to shrink

8 weeks post baby...progress
At the same time, I'm not yet fitting into my fitted and sleek pre-baby clothes. So I'm stuck with a limited wardrobe of stretchy and kind of unappealing in-between clothes. I want to get back to my normal size if for no other reason than I hate clothes shopping and I'm kind of frugal.


Working out makes me happy. I forgot about that! Taking 2 months off from working out besides the occasional walk around the block felt like heaven. I wasn't allowed to work out for awhile, so there was no obligation and no guilt. I loved not having to plan my shower around a sweaty workout.

But then I reached a point in my postpartum journey where I was cleared to resume fitness activities, and my weight loss hit a plateau. It was time to join a gym! I'm a huge advocate for living room workouts and no equipment body weight workouts, but I knew that with 2 small children, a small home, and limited free time, I would always have an excuse not to workout. I figured joining a gym (for the first time in 4 years!) would force me to get out of the house if for no other reason than for fear of wasting my money.

After my first workout, I was seriously on a high of endorphins. I felt a surge of energy I hadn't felt since before pregnancy. (Even though I worked out during pregnancy, it wasn't the heart-pounding, go-all-out type of workout). It was 9 p.m., but I felt like I could do anything! Grade a stack of papers! Do a budget! Fold all the laundry!

not cute...but sweaty + happy
When I didn't feel like working out the other night, I had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself in the form of chatting with baby Teddy. "Mommy doesn't want to workout right now, but a fit mama is a happy mama. A fat mama is a sad mama. So Mommy is going to the gym whether she likes it or not!"

Strong for my tasks

"She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks."
Proverbs 31:17

Ah, yes. The Proverbs 31 woman is always a source of inspiration. A mother of small children has TASKS to do! Lifting carseats, laundry baskets, and a 30+ lb toddler requires strength! Lugging Teddy's swing to and from school everyday requires strength. Keeping up with a 2 year old requires endurance. Running on less (a good amount for having a 2 month old, but still less) sleep requires more energy. Vacuuming, running a household and a business, teaching, parenting - they all require energy, endurance, and strength. Those things are enhanced by activity and good health. I take care of my health to be a good wife, mother, teacher, business owner, and steward of God's gifts in my life.

Tools to Take Care of my Health after Baby
10 weeks post baby

+ Pinterest - an amazing source for gym workouts, home workouts, no equipment workouts, and workouts with baby
+ workout gear - loving my new Old Navy workout tanks
+ these fat burning and nutrient-dense shakes (while still nursing, I use them in addition to healthy balanced meals)
+ Bible studies + devotions to keep my mind sharp and motivated to serve God to the best of my ability
+ the Bedtime Belly Buster!

+ podcasts, audiobooks, and good music to listen to while working out

What are your favorite tools, workouts, meal plans for fitness after baby?

P.S. My thoughts on getting back into shape after baby #1