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!