Birthdays can be such a time of reflection.  Time to look back, look forward, express gratitude for what you have, and make plans to fulfill future goals.

Honestly, I'm pretty excited to turn 30 this weekend.  My twenties were spent setting up my life.  I got married to Tyler, I birthed two sweet baby boys, and have a little baby girl on the way.  We have found our home for the next long while.  These are the people I will travel my lifetime with and this is the place where I will be planting roots.  It feels so good to know that.

My thirties feel like a time to move forward in living and learning.  For finding out more about myself, practicing intentional self care, and using that energy to serve my family, my friends, and those in need in our community and around the world.  

After seeing a counselor earlier this summer to help me wade through some emotional struggles brought on by some long-standing tendencies coupled with a really rough first trimester of pregnancy, I walked away with a list of five self-care goals to help me make sure that my thirties are strong and healthy.

1. Once a month unique date night with my husband
If you know me at all you probably know that I can tend to be a little, umm, boring.  On the positive side this comes from often just being contented with what I have and what I've done.  But deep down this comes from a fear of trying new things.  What if I don't like it?  What if it's scary?  Or hard?  Or expensive (frugal people unite!)?  We all need new experiences from time to time.  Once having children it became increasingly evident how much intentionality it can take to make dedicated time to nurture a marriage relationship.  It's so easy for me to get swept up in daily duties and realize that Tyler and I haven't had a date night in months.  So, this is a priority for me,. For us.  What could be better than trying new things with the man I love most in the world?

2. Once a month spending time with friends
Remember in college when all you had to do was a little class, a little studying, a little work, and then a lot of hanging out with friends?  Or, you know how in TV shows this group of four or five friends see eachother everyday, sometimes multiple times a day?  It's just not realistic in the real-life adult world of jobs, kids, volunteer work, activities, work, rest.  But once a month?  That's totally do-able.


3. Exercising for at least 30 minutes 3-5 times a week
This has never, ever been a strength in my wheelhouse.  It's probably because I can really struggle with being lazy, but I have just never had that drive to make working out a priority.  I mean, sure, the time that I spend feeling guilty about fitness is probably four times as long as it would take to actually do a work out that gets my heart rate up and builds a little muscle.  One thing I've realized works for me is to have a super easy "placeholder" that I do without fail until it becomes a habit and then step it up to the habit that I actually want.  In this case, I have been going for a short 15 minute walk alone (bless you, husband, for playing superheroes at home with the boys so I can do this!) every morning. Am I even remotely sweaty or is my heart rate even remotely elevated after this short jaunt?  No.  But after it becomes a solid part of my daily routine, I will add in some light jogging and short weight workout, and probably a little bit of yoga and stretching.  And then, goodbye fitness guilt and hello health!

4. Daily time spent in prayer and reading the Bible
This has also always been a struggle for me, until recently.  I truly never thought that I would be able to say that getting up early and spending time with God would be a bedrock, without-fail part of my day.  But it has.  Similar to how I plan to work on fitness habits, I used the placeholder of simply reading one chapter of the Bible on an app on my phone as the VERY first thing I did in the morning.  Before Instagram.  Before Facebook.  Every morning for about two months.  I also released myself from the pressure of making sense of what I was reading or applying it directly to my day.  No, all I had to do was read it.  After a couple of weeks, I added a short prayer time following the reading.  Still in bed.  Still followed by aimless scrolling until the morning cries of my children forced me out of bed.  Now, if I wake up (and I always do, early riser that I am) and it's after 5:30am, I get up, get my walking clothes on, start a load of laundry, and head out to my spot in the living room where I have my Bible, Book of Common Prayer, and daily devotional book and spend 10-15 minutes reading and praying.  It make such a difference to me.  It helps me start the day realizing that there is so much more than the world inside my head, the world so used to silently grumbling about daily tasks and minor inconviences.  Grace and love and blessings big and small are abounding, and there is serious work to be done in this world caring for those in need.

5. Sharing my writing once a week
During one of my sessions with my counselor this summer, she helped me realize that writing is really important to me.  It's easy to get caught up in the cyclical work of caring for children at home and at the preschool that leaves me with a full (albeit exhausted) heart each day, but really empty hands.  There isn't much that kind of work concretely puts out in to the world.  But taking time to write out thoughts, share them with others, engage in conversation, does feel like I'm using the content of my brain and my days to produce something.  Like I've said before, my hope is that in sharing my experiences and my life that someone will be able to relate and say, "Yes! Me too!" and then maybe we will all feel less alone.  While I would love to be posting on this blog more than once a week, and my hope is that will be the case some day soon, I'm starting with the plan of regular weekly posting.

There you have it.  My plan for better mental health through habits.  This is such an interesting topic, routine and habit lover that I am.  So, I'm genuinely curious, what are your habits that help you feel your best mentally, physically, and emotionally?





Despite the fact that the grills have barely cooled from everyone's Labor Day get togethers, I've been secretly in the Fall spirit for a few days now.  I always think that I love summer, but if I'm not on the beach or in a pool, it's not really all that much fun.

When my friend Anna, who writes about lots of fun stuff like make-up and feminism and books and nursing school over at her blog Bluegrass and Pearls asked if I wanted to join her and another friend in a little wooden pumpkin decor roundup, I was so excited because: I love to make things, I never make time to make things, I needed someone to give me some form of direction (hey!  decorate this wooden pumpkin!).

So I started with this unfinished pumpkin from Hobby Lobby.  In true Hobby Lobby fashion, it was marked $9.99, but all the Fall stuff is 40% off, so I only paid $6.00 for it.  The stain, paint, and brushes were just supplies that I had on hand.  Use what you've got and all.


I really am only a little good at one artsy thing and that is hand-lettering, so I decided for a stained, hand-lettered, simple piece.  The first step was to stain the pumpkin.  The wood was pretty porous, so I just did a thick first coat using a wadded up old baby sock.  Professional!  It dried pretty quickly, which was good because the kids-are-napping clock was quickly counting down.




Next up was deciding on a quote, attempting to write it with pencil, realizing that wasn't going to work and then straight up winging it with the paint.  If you look carefully you'll see that it's pretty lop-sided and I first spelled the word thankful without the "F".  I really had to let go of perfection on this one and embrace the wonkiness.  Here's a quick hand lettering tip: if you want the look of fancy cursive, just use your regular handwriting but space out the letters more than you usually do.  And practice a lot while watching 30 Rock reruns.



After finishing the letters I added the vines and painted the stem.  In the end, I wish I would have left the stem the wood color.  Again with the embracing imperfection.  I'm really happy with how it turned out, though.  It really works well on our main floor which has a sort of cool, neutral, woody, mildly farmhouse, mildly modern vibe.


So, now I just have to go convince my husband to make me a pumpkin pie, decide on a good Halloween costume that involves a pregnant belly, and play Vince Guaraldi albums on repeat.

Don't forget to head over and check out Anna and Melissa's pumpkins. They came up with some super cute and classy ideas.  Happy (sorta almost kinda) Fall!



A lot can happen in two years of not blogging.  A lot has happened in these two years of silence.  Baby, job change and a cross-state move toward more extended family, husband entering full time ministry, new church, buying a house, another new baby on the way.

So much.  And rather than go in to detail, tediously offering play-by-play updates to all these mystery readers that are most likely people that I actually do know in my real life, I will just start where I am.

A wife, mother of two, pregnant with a third, part-time preschool teacher.  This description of myself is part of the problem, part of the reason that I am writing again.  Those roles are all so important and I feel quite lucky to have them all.  But who am I a part from these titles?

No idea.

What do I love?  What are my hobbies?  My passions?  What am I doing with my time that extends beyond the needs of those closest to me and reaches out to the world at large?  I don’t know.  I’ve forgotten how to know.

It seems like dusting off the blog and writing about myself again is, to use one of my least favorite phrases, an exercise in “navel-gazing” (see? bleh.) and selfish and who wants to read this stuff anyway?

But every once in a while when bearing out a little of my heart in the wonderful/horrible world of social media, I will hear a “me too” from someone.  And that’s life giving. 

In what could easily be labeled as “oversharing”, I hope to use this blog as a way to document my journey to better mental health.  To knock ideas around, to discuss powerful books and podcasts and movies and the beauty of nature and systems and a clean house and yoga and good food and family and personality and journaling and adventure.

Blogs are quickly on the way out the door, evidently.  But I’m not interested in monetizing (unless someone wants to offer me money to write, in which case I’m totally game) or algorithms or marketing or Pinterest or “lifestyle”.


It’s just me.  Living life, being weird and real, and writing about it.  Hopefully more than once every two years and a lot of stuff later.




Dear Henry,

Perhaps a letter to you in on a public blog is a little strange or cliche.  Maybe I should have written this letter on some pretty paper and tucked it away for you to find and read someday.  But letters get lost, and the internet seems to have caught on enough that I can place this here for you to find someday and learn a little about how your Momma felt in the days before Baby Brother came around.

Right now you are playing with a puzzle on the floor while singing "Jesus Loves Me" (a song that your Aunt Jen taught you and that you insist be sung to you by Momma at bedtime,..while you sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star simultaneously).  You are always singing, playing superheroes, begging for crackers, a snack which we rarely even buy, and telling us all who we should pretend to be.  "You be Mommy Batman, I'm Henry Batman, and he's Daddy Batman."  You are brave enough to slide down any and every slide, a recent development.  You say things every single day that have us wondering how you even understand communication so well.  When you cry, you cry hard until you "feel better now" and "get all of my sads out".  Also to note, the way you have been calling me "Mom-Mom" lately.  So cute.  All of it is so heart-meltingly adorable that I sometimes can't even stand it.

But what really has me thinking and reminiscing is the firsts.  There are some that were documented with a picture, some that were just documented in our memories, and some that have floated away into the sleep-deprived great beyond.  They were all, and continue to be one of the most amazing things that I have ever witnessed.  Seems a bit dramatic or overstated, I'm sure.  I mean, did I expect you to never get any teeth or walk or experience ice cream or spontaneously tell me that you loved me?  Yet, with each of your firsts, big and small, I feel so lucky to have witnessed them.

Sometimes it can be hard being the firstborn.  Your daddy and I both know that, being firstborns ourselves.  It's scary to dive in to the unknown, to be the one that wants to follow the rules, to be the one that carries the responsibility of leading the younger siblings.  I'm sure our siblings would describe this more as being "bossy", and they might be right.  Most of all?  You have the responsibility of teaching your Daddy and I how to be parents.  How to live for something other than ourselves and our immediate desires.  You were the one that spent the first sleepless nights with us.  You were the one we had to buckle in to that carseat for the first time.  You are the one who has to deal with our constant questioning of ourselves in the midst of limit-setting and toddler meltdowns.  Honestly?  You have handled it all so beautifully.  You have forgiven in an instant, ready to hug the parents that have just turned off your favorite show or said no more cupcakes.

I think that you are going to do a great job being a big brother, Sweet Boy.  You are so empathetic and observant.  You can communicate your feelings.  You are brilliant.  You are obedient.  You are kind.  You are oh-so funny.  You wake up in a good mood and go to bed smiling.

It's ok if these next few months are hard for you.  Learning to share your world with another person usually is.  But you know what, Henry?  We'll all hold hands as we laugh and cry and stress and experience joy as we welcome your brother in to our family.  The same way that we've done all the other firsts.

This is just another first with you.

Love,

Mom-Mom and Daddy Batman





That's a toothbrush, not a cigarette.  In case the PJ's and splattered mirror weren't enough indication.

When I was pregnant with Henry, I wrote several posts about my pregnancy experience.  This time?  Not so much.  I blame the toddler and the fact that I cannot sit down at the computer without him sidling up and asking to "yook at pictures, Momma?"  And they are all pictures of baby Henry, so I gladly oblige.  We'll pretend that this update did not take me a week to write and that I am not now 37 weeks pregnant.

So here's a little update on pregnancy #2.

BODY:

In the interest of honestly and vulnerability and even a little posterity: this pregnancy has not been nearly as magical as the first go around.

Yes, there are so many people that would LOVE to be sitting here (however uncomfortably) at 36 weeks pregnant.  I do not take for granted this life that I carry inside of me and the fact that it came so easily to me.  And yes, there are women who have morning sickness until the day that they give birth.  And pregnant women on bedrest or who deal with high risk pregnancies.

I know that I am lucky.  Like, really, really lucky and shouldn't complain at all.  I know that.

But that doesn't change the fact that the nausea, sciatic pain, rib pain, moodiness, and exhaustion of this pregnancy have been a little hard on me.  My memories of the first trimester revolve around me lying on the couch during the bitter winter trying my best to play with Henry while I alternated between wanting to cry, fall asleep, or throw up.  I did the former two quite a bit, the latter not quite as much, thankfully.

The second trimester, that fun middle part  was a lot of forgetting that I was pregnant because I was too busy taking care of a nearly-two-year-old and buying a house and solo parenting while my husband traveled for his job as a Student Pastor.

The third trimester is simultaneously zooming at the speed of light and dragging on.  Not sure how that happens, but we are getting to the impatient point.  Which is a shame, since we have just less than four weeks baby boy's due date.  I'm pretty darn uncomfortable.  I carry my babies HIGH and that means that anything but lying in bed involves a burning sensation in my ribs.  If you know me in real life and see my with my hands resting on top of my belly, it's not so much a sweet gesture of relishing in my state (though I do love this boy so!) but more of an attempt to move this kid out of my ribcage.

BUT, in spite of all this I am working to treasure the kicks and hiccups.  I haven't had any signs of labor or anything yet, so I am sitting tight and thinking he will be born close to his due date.  I loved being pregnant and looked forward to being pregnant again, so I know that there are things I will really miss.


MIND:

Had I actually finished writing this post when I started it, I would have said in bold, "I'M SCARED OF GIVING BIRTH, AGAIN."

Reading up on natural childbirth, practicing relaxation and breathing techniques, and giving myself some positive birth affirmation phrases to repeat and think on have been so helpful.  Although we opted for a hospital birth again this time, I am stil planning on being extremely selective about what (if any) interventions are used.  Remembering the euphoria of meeting Henry for the first time just over two years ago reminds me that this will be an experience that is stored in my soul for the rest of my life.

This could be my last pregnancy, and I know that I will miss the feeling of cradling this boy safely inside of my belly.  It's fun to wonder if he will look just like his big brother or if he will look completely different.  Revelling in the suspense and surprise is something to be enjoyed.

Yet we are ready.  READY.  Not ready as in things are done, our house is clean, our freezer well stocked, our bags packed.  But ready to meet our precious newborn boy.  I'm in a pretty good headspace when it comes to the idea of waiting.  I know that once he is here, he will be HERE and have near-constant needs (the nerve!) and my life will start looking a whole lot different.  Different in a hard, good way.

The thing that I am treasuring the most during the next few weeks of waiting is my time with Henry.  Sweet, sweet, Henry.  My firstborn.  My little lovebug.  He's been pulling away from me a little lately, which in some ways is good.  He's clinging on to Daddy even more, which means my heart is usually to be found melted on the floor. I don't have any doubts about the fact that I am always his momma, and he knows and feels that.  But there is a difference in the relationship that we share.  It used to feel that he constantly needed me and now, that neediness for Momma just comes in bursts here and there.  The scraped knee, the overtired bedtime, the strange situation.  Pausing and reveling in those little arms around my neck, the two-hands-on-my-cheeks kisses and the whispers of, "One more minute, Momma" is one of the greatest joys of my life.

Also to note is the fact that I've reached the, "Ehhh, we've done enough to prepare" nesting stage.  I don't know if I just am super lazy or unwilling to give up things like the last few weeks of napping when Henry does, but I have zero desire to clean baseboards, organize closets, or clean out the fridge.  I'm still just as good at procrastinating as I was in college.  Even to the point of thinking that I can just vacuum this or that during the early stages of labor.  Yes, I know, bad idea.

There it is.  The one and only time I've written anything about being pregnant with my second bundle of joy.  And now?  Let's just bring on the crazy ramblings of the momma of a newborn and a toddler!


Five and a half weeks from my due date.
I can't decide if that seems far away or as if it is way too close.

Either way, in a matter of weeks Tyler and I will have kids.  Not just one kid, somehow a fluke that you tricked everyone in to thinking you should take home from the hospital and raise for the next eighteen years, but two little boys for whom we are completely responsible.

Yikes?

I don't know.  In my last post, I mentioned the "oppresive boredom" that I can sometimes feel.  I wonder if having two little munchkin-a-roonies around will be more my pace.  No time to be bored!  Or eat!  Or shower!  

What kind of parents will we be with a little experience under our belts?  Will we treasure the newborn stage, find ways to make 3:00 am "fun"?  Will I be able to admit that I can't do it all and say yes when someone offers to hold or rock or love my baby?  Will Henry be able to contentedly play while I spend hours upon hours upon hours nursing a newborn?  What will precious one-on-one time with each boy feel like?  Will I be ok with letting house things slide in order to pursue things that really make me feel alive?  Since we are planning on this being our last baby for the next long while, will I actually exercise and get in shape post-baby?  Will Henry only eat carbs because I am too tired to make his few favorite vegetable-laden foods?  Most importantly, what is a good four person Halloween costume that can include a newborn and a toddler?  (Side note:  Tyler and I discussed how amazing it would be to be the characters from Seinfeld.  Obviously the baby would be George Costanza.  But, it's pretty low to make your two year old dress as Jerry or Kramer instead of something that he actually likes, so we scrapped that idea.)

I just keep telling myself that we will take it day by day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute.  We'll laugh at diaper explosions.  We'll comfort a crying toddler, even if it is literally over a certain pair of socks being unfortunately unwearable while in the washer.  We'll scarf down our meals in shifts while standing in the kitchen.  We'll ask for help when we need it.   We'll laugh and cry and fight and apologize.  We'll think that our two boys are the cutest things to ever grace our planet.

On the cusp of two, I'm not really worried.  Not really worried.  I'm excited and hopeful.

And, perhaps most of all, ready for my ribs to NOT serve as a xylophone for baby feet.


Oh boy, do I ever need a heavy dose of intentionality in my life these days.

I described what I've been feeling to Tyler as "oppressive boredom mixed with constant overwhelm".

Sounds healthy, right?

Maybe if you are a stay-at-home momma you can relate to this.  It's such a weird thing to have constant things to do at all times of the day and yet feel so...bored.  I'm sure that anyone can feel these things at any job, of course.

So, my plan is to add a heavy dose of intentionality to my life.

Intentionality in:


  • My marriage: often, Tyler and I just kind of go about our evenings on our own or watch some television or read.  I know that we are both tired of this.  I would consider our marriage strong and we love eachother so very much (I still can't believe that I somehow tricked Tyler into marrying me.) But, we want to be creative together, to have fun together, to work together.
  • My parenting: I'll be honest, I work pretty dang hard at being a mom.  If you're looking at time spent with my son (ok, both sons, since I am literally with the baby in my belly constantly), I could hardly spend any more time with them than I do.  I'm not sure what intentionality will look like in this area.  I know that it (for me) does NOT look like planning more toddler learning activities or anything.  I'll explain this in a later post sometime.
  • My hobbies:  My...what?  Besides reading, there isn't much hobbying going on around here.  Often if feels as if in order to do anything "fun" I have to get all the "work" done first, and since I am a highly unmotivated person, I usually procrastinate with meaningless screentime and get neither fun nor work done.  I like sewing, cooking, reading, writing.  How about less facebook and more of those things?
  • My relationships:  Being brutally honest (in a totally public forum, probably not the best place to first say this out loud, but, ya know....) I don't feel like I have any close friends because I stink at keeping up with relationships.  I have new friends, long time friends, lifetime friends, older friends, younger friends, all of them so wonderful.  But if I'm having a hard day and need someone to talk to, often I just don't know who to call.  I feel like reaching out would be a burden on someone or overstepping boundaries.  If you are one of my oh-so-wonderful friends, you may be thinking that this is a big load of (overly-processed) baloney.  Because it is.  It's time to work hard at loving my friends and letting myself be loved by those friends.  No more isolating myself out of inconvenience.
  • My spiritual life:  This one is the hardest one to put in to words.  Basically, I need to add some reverence to my daily life with God.  The prayers of thankfulness for the blessings in my life are often, but the confessions and thinking about and taking action on actual issues, not so much.
  • My health:  It's simple really:  Move everyday.  Eat lots of plants everyday.  Breath fresh air everyday. Being eight months pregnant, a new exercise regimen isn't exactly on the list of things that could reasonably be accomplished, but simple things?  I can do that.


Because that is more than enough rambling for today, the rest of my thoughts: what makes this time different?  what am I implementing?  what am I not concerned about (i.e. cleaning my bathrooms more than once a week)?  will be for another post.

Sheesh, it feels so great getting all that honesty and vulnerability out there.  No fancy staged picture, barely proof-read, and written during naptime.

Now tell me: how are you intentional in these areas of your life?  Seriously...tell me.  


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