Monday, December 21, 2015

you got this

You guys, sometimes I wonder if I’m doing it right. The mom thing. There are so many amazing moms in my life. And on pinterest. And blogs. And in the news. And basically everywhere. I mean we’re surrounded by moms. Good moms. And it’s so easy to see all of those moms at their best (and let’s be real, we are almost always seeing them at their best), making their own baby food, maintaining the most organized homes,  throwing adorable themed parties, using cloth diapers, buying organic snacks, and all this while looking flawless and perfectly coiffed. And I think “WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING? I AM THE WORST! I DON’T HAVE A CHORE CHART FOR MY 2 YEAR OLD! I ACCIDENTALLY PUT SUNSCREEN ON MY 5 MONTH OLD! AND MY DISPOSABLE DIAPERS ARE FILLING UP ALL THE LANDFILLS!!!”

And then the other day, I was giving my 2 year old a bath. We were laughing while I got her all soapy, and I stopped for a second, and I thought to myself “Your daughter is going to get out of this tub, cheery, clean, and warm, and then you are going to put clean, warm, appropriately fitted pajamas on her, and then you will tuck her into a bed with clean sheets with her 2 special blankets and she will be happy. You’re doing a good job.”

And another time, I was agonizing over  something else that I can’t remember right now but then I stopped and looked at my kids. My 5 month old was drinking a bottle (by himself! My heart!) and my 2 year old was eating her lunch, which consisted of a fruit, a vegetable, a grain, protein (PB for the win!) and dairy. I all of a sudden felt like a super capable adult. I thought to myself “You’re doing it right.”

And then one time I walked in on my two year old playing with her precious dinosaurs. One was falling off the couch and she had her “mommy” one saying “Oh no, sweetie. It’s going to be ok. Don’t worry sweetheart.” And I thought to myself, “She learned to talk like that from you. You’re doing so well.”

Look, none of us have it completely together. That other mom you saw at the children’s museum the other day, who had a full face of makeup and perfect hair and perfect snacks for her kids and who is being abnormally patient with her kids, I promise you: she is having a good day. You have them too. She also has bad days. You have them too.

There are some children out there who aren’t blessed with loving parents, but yours are. You’re doing something right. You’re trying. That means everything. If you’re doing all you can, if your kids know you love them, you’re doing it right.

A favorite quote of mine: "To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle—and all will—I say, “Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are.”

You really are. Keep on keepin’ on, mom. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mama & Little Giveaway

We are so excited to be working with Arlene from Mama&Little this week. She sent us a couple of necklaces to test, review and GIVEAWAY! That's right! She is giving us 50$ in store credit to give away to one of you!!! That's a combination of necklaces and/or bracelets!! The details for the giveaway are at the bottom of this post.

So, if you've never used teething jewelry, you're probably like "what?", so let me give you the basics. Mama And Little makes super cute necklaces and bracelets (to fit every mama's style) that are totally safe for your teething baby to chew on. They are food-grade (plus no BPA, PVC, phthalate, cadmium, latex, lead, or heavy metals) silicon and are totally dishwasher safe. The beads won't break or fall off. They provide a convenient, stylish & safe teething option.

Brittany is wearing the Zooey in Mint
This is the Deila in Marsala
As you can see, both of our babes loved grabbing onto these necklaces. We each flew with our babies this week and they were like a secret weapon for helping our girls fall asleep on the plane. They are definitely a new Mama and Baby fave around here. (In fact, I just may be ordering this and/or this for myself for Christmas!)

Okay, now for the giveaway! Use the Rafflecopter to enter, we'll draw a winner on Friday (Dec 18th) and announce that afternoon. Good luck, and may the giveaway odds be EVER in your favor! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

bloom where you're planted

written by Caity

A theme we decided to have in this blog has been "bloom where you're planted", and I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately..

I remember when we first moved to Philadelphia we had high hopes and a lot of optimism. We lived in a funky neighborhood, Brad had a cool job, we were kind of "on our own" in a new place for the first time. We were excited.

Then we got sued by a cyclist for scratching him when he ran a light and grazed our car, got our car mirror smashed in by some hellions, realized the overall filthiness of the city, were smothered by the humidity and no central air, were harassed by our landlord, and were unable to find parking on our tiny one way street. Ever. 

We lost steam really quickly. We thought living in Philly would be a type of "New York lite" experience for us. City life, but less expensive, and more car friendly. But all it did was seem to be against us all the time, and always fall short of expectations we'd had from living close to New York. We started to really dislike Philadelphia. 

The seasons changed and we were able to find a new apartment near the park to rent, with parking. We made some dear friends who raised our spirits even in the hardest times. Without the constant stress of being prisoner to parking spaces and a naggy landlord, we were suddenly able to deal with the stress of having a husband that works at a start-up. We took full advantage of living near the park and spent every spare second we could soaking it up. I regained my sanity walking through the woods in that back every single day. We gazed out our windows at the beautiful spring flowers that bloomed outside. Our attitudes and hearts changed. 

Our short time in Philadelphia was hard, but I remember rocking Bea to sleep at night, looking out the window at our beautiful trees, thinking, "Life is so good. Our life here is precious."

Philadelphia didn't change. It's still dirty, people are still prickly, it's still hard to get around. But I have only the fondest memories of living there. The first months were hard but as our attitudes changed, and we decided to bloom where we were planted, our time there was wonderful and such a sweet season of our lives. Leaving after only a year was hard. But it was a lesson to me to start sooner. To enjoy my life wherever I end up and not to wait too long to do it. Time is precious. Too precious to waste on negative feelings and wishing for the past, and the comfortable. I learned that I need to exit my comfort zone to find a new, even sweeter comfort zone, and to enjoy it while I can because it could be gone all too soon. Living in Philadelphia was not easy, but I learned such valuable lessons; it was one of the most important years of my life. I hope I can always remember to hit the ground and bloom where I'm planted as quickly as I can. Life’s too short not to.

some snapshots from one of the most enlightening springs of my life:

around the corner from our house

from my walks in the woods

all of this, RIGHT outside my kitchen window!

our beautiful philly front yard

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Putting Christ back in Christmas

Apparently Caity and I are on the same wave length lately, because this post may have some common threads from her post on Friday.

Like Caity, I've never really been a Black Friday shopper. I don't love the chaos of shopping crowds on a normal day. So Black Friday has rarely tempted me. Zack probably thought he really lucked out by marrying someone who doesn't want to wake up at the crack of dawn to drag him around the mall and spend all the money. But you guys, there is something far more dangerous than plain old Black Friday. Its called Cyber (Psycho) Monday. Online shopping is a habit forming experience. You stay in your pajamas, in the comfort of your own home. It's just too easy. Then you add in the convenience of the Amazon or Zulily app and its just a recipe for disaster. So when Cyber Monday comes around it's all about dem dealz.

Normally I have to pull myself away from my social media apps. But on Cyber Monday, its' all the shopping apps that I can't get enough of. I'm not going to lie to you. I may have switched tabs a few times while writing this post, just to double check deals. I've become consumed with my gift list, and searching for hours and through pages of funky socks and kitchen gadgets to find the perfect gifts. 

I'm really excited about Christmas. LIKE REALLY excited. Christmas is by far my favorite time of year, and I may have started listening to Christmas music on November 1st. I love the music, and the cookies, and the decorations. I love the nativities, and the opportunity to talk about Christ more. I love that its one time of year when we get to be with all of our family. I love to get gifts, obviously. But even more, I love giving gifts. I love everything about Christmas time (yes, even the snow.) 

But for some reason this year, it's been harder to let Christ sit at the forefront of my Christmas celebration. I'm so stressed out about what I'm going to buy for everyone for Christmas, that I haven't even taken 5 minutes to watch the new video about Christ. The shopping has totally distracted me from the real reason we even give gifts. I haven't really pondered Christ, or thought about what I'm going to give Him this year. So, I've pulled myself away from all the dealz, to make a list of 25 ways to put Christ back into Christmas. 

I like to think about what Christ would be doing if he were here. I think He'd be serving, He'd be spreading joy, He'd be feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. He'd be doing things to lift people up and make their lives a little easier. So that's exactly how I'll serve him this Christmas. One of our modern day apostles, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "As we emulate His perfect example, our hands become his hands, our eyes his eyes, and our hearts His heart."  I want to take more time this season to worship Christ, to share my testimony of Christ with others, and to be His hands. 

I want to get my Christmas season back on track. So each day, I'll complete at least one thing on the list until Christmas. Most of them won't require much money, or much work. But they will each be an outward act of my love for Christ. Each experience will step outside my normal routine to focus my heart on Christ.  
Christ said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." As we become His hands on the Earth we will come to know Him more deeply, we will see people through His eyes, and our hearts will become more like His. I hope you'll join me in making this Christmas season more about Christ. Make your own list, or steal mine. Let's focus on giving the gifts that Christ would give.

1. Read this book as a family
2. Take dinner to a friend
3. Watch this video with my family
4. Donate a Toy
5. Donate a Coat
6. Pay for someone's groceries
7. Scrape someone's windshield
8. Shovel someone's driveway
9. Babysit someone's kids
10. Bear my testimony of Christ
11. Pay for someone's order at the drive-thru
12. Read Luke 2
13. Doorbell ditch cookies
14. Visit an assisted living home
15. Call an older family member
16. Leave quarters at the quarter machines
17. Donate to No Kid Hungry
18. Buy a gift card and hide it in the store
19. Post a message about Christ on Facebook
20. Post about Christ on Instagram
21. Pay 10 people genuine compliments in one day
22. Pick up garbage
23. Write thank you cards and mail them out
24. Make a Nativity craft
25. Visit a live Nativity