Family

say what you mean to say

February 4, 2016

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This week (and maybe last week, too) was a very average week. You know those weeks, right? The ones where you intend to do all the things and instead find yourself with a half-accomplished to-do list and a brain that feels all sorts of scattered? Yeah, I’m totally there. The kind of week where you have a little knot in your stomach for a reason you can’t identify. When you’re doing all the “right” things and yet everything seems to be a little off.

As Nancy Ray put it on Instagram, I’ve been feeling very “human” lately.

None of my mistakes this week have been very big, but they’ve bothered me deeply. What I rarely let on is that I hate making mistakes, letting people down, dropping the ball. And yet I’m so very aware when I do that it eats me up inside. Because it bothers me so much, I try and brush it off, move forward and do better next time. But inside? Well I feel those mistakes deeply.

Just the other week Joe and I got into an argument. It wasn’t big or about anything interesting – I think it was one of those late-night arguments that gets magnified when you’re tired. I had misplaced something of Joe’s and when he asked me about it, I brushed it off like it was no big deal because I was so embarrassed. I was careless and absent-minded and I lost what was important to Joe. Instead of just saying “I’m sorry” I decided to brush it off like it didn’t matter. Cue ensuing argument about why I didn’t care about losing said item…

This week I lost track of what day of the week it was because we’ve had two snow days and Joe was home from work on Tuesday and Wednesday. So when our friend and childcare provided texted me at 4:30 asking me if I was going to come pick up Ainsley, I was more than a little mortified that I had completely forgotten that pick-up was at 4 not 5. I swung the other way and apologized profusely, but it still left me with that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

A number of important e-mails went unanswered because I just didn’t have the time to get to them with all that I have going on.

More guilt. More “I’ve got to do better!” running through my head.

I met with a friend this week and felt like I rattled on about my life only to realize later that the questions I really wanted to ask her never got asked. I ran the conversation over and over in my head, wondering why I talked so much and whether or not I should have asked more questions.

“I’ll ask her next time!” I thought. “Make a mental note to be more intentional when we get together next week!” I scolded myself.

The truth is that saying “I’m sorry” takes a lot of vulnerability. It’s humbling, honest and real. Sometimes I’m more likely to try and work my way out of a situation by bringing a gift of apology or trying hard to win back the approval of others rather than simply looking them in the eyes and saying a few simple words.

Our world and our culture are so focused on teaching us to stand on our own two feet. That we should “make something happen” – whatever that means. And while I do believe we have a responsibility to use our God-given gifts in the best and most effective ways possible, I think there’s a lot of freedom to be gained when we stop trying to make something happen and leave room for God to do something great in our lives.

So today, and every day, I’m working on striving less and surrendering more. Giving more time and consideration to God’s will over my own. Accepting my very human-ness and tendency to fail time and time again.

Grace > Guilt.

Every. Single. Time.

Madison

Food & Recipes

Baby Breakfast :: Oatmeal Edition

February 3, 2016

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Ainsley has been stuck with just two little teeth for close to five months now. Today I just saw a tooth starting to poke out on top (!!) but feeding a hungry baby who is very interested in food but only has two teeth is a challenge! She chokes on food all the time if I don’t mash it up enough or make the bites small, and I alway feel so bad.

The teeth situation has forced me to get creative with what I feed her outside of purees, smoothies and yogurt. Sometimes it’s a little more effort, but feeding her and introducing her to new foods is so fun and rewarding.

I’m starting to play around with the idea of doing an e-book in the future with all our favorite baby/toddler recipes, so I’ve been making an effort to capture the things Ainsley eats and take down measurements rather than just throwing it all together.

When possible, I feed Ainsley the same types of foods we are eating to make it less work or cook/bake in bulk to cut down on prep in the morning or evenings. Since I start out most days with oatmeal, chia seeds and nut/seed butter, so does Miss Ainsley! This oatmeal is always a big hit, although she rarely eats the whole bowl unless she is super hungry. I usually just save the leftovers and re-heat them with a little added milk the next day and it works just fine.

Baby Breakfast :: Oatmeal Edition
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 serving
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ teaspoon chia seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 fresh raspberries or other berry
  • 1 teaspoon nut or seed butter (I used Sunbutter)
Instructions
  1. In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the oats and water. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until oats are puffed up and cooked. Stir in the milk, chia seeds and cinnamon until well combined. Top with the berries and nut or seed butter and enjoy!

Madison

Fashion

Favorite Old Navy Finds

February 1, 2016

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This weekend Joe and I took a trip to our nearest city, about an hour away, because I was in serious need of being around large groups of people, eating Chick-Fil-A and drinking a cup of Starbucks while browsing stores and picking up a few things for Ainsley’s first birthday! (Cue all the tears…)

I ended up going to Old Navy because it’s my go-to for cute, cheap basics and trendier items I’m not sure I really want to spend a lot on. They had so many cute things, and I went home with a few new items for my wardrobe. Since online and in-person can be so different, I thought I would share with you the items that caught my eye!

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1. Quilted Crew Neck Sweatshirt 
2. Popcorn Stitch Sweater
3. Go-Dry Pullover
4. Classic Cardigan
5. Oversized Scoop Neck T-Shirt
6. Denim Jacket
7. Go-Dry Keyhole Back Top (pictured above!)
8. Short-Sleeved Tunic Tee (it’s just so good! I bought one but want to buy more!)
9. Long-Sleeved Boyfriend Tee

Madison

Family

An Ainsley Update

January 29, 2016

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I realized I talk about motherhood in a general sense quite frequently, but I rarely talk about Ainsley specifically. As she grows and becomes her own little person, I’ve been thinking a lot about her privacy and how much or little to share online. There is a delicate balance to strike, that’s for certain, but I am so thankful for each and every one of you who prayed for her and want you to share in the JOY that she brings to our lives.

I’m sure that all parents say this, but Ainsley is a very special baby. There is no other way to say it, but this kid radiates joy wherever she goes. Her personality is bright, fearless and bursting with energy. She is go-go-go all the time and getting a photo of her sitting still took at least 50 tries. How did I get her to smile in that photo above? I roared in her face like a lion. Ha! She loves loud, rough and rambunctious play, like going “way back” (aka upside down), being on dad’s shoulders, bouncing with dad on the bed and flying around the room Superman-style.

The last couple months she has shown a lot of interest in balls – tennis balls, basketballs, Pippa’s toy balls, etc. Joe already has high hopes she will be an athlete, but her no-so-athletic mother is trying to temper his hopes and enthusiasm in case she gets her mom’s genes.

We read to her constantly, and she’s developing a pretty good attention span most of the time. She’s babbling a lot these days, but I don’t think she really understands what she is saying. She says “dada” and “mama” a lot and her new word/sound is “nuh” which she says all the time. I’ll walk around the house with her, talking to her as we go, and she just responds with “nuh” again and again. Let’s hope this isn’t a precursor to “no!” She also does a lot of loud, happy yelling, which is sometimes funny and other times not so funny, like when we are out in public.

Ainsley still wakes up once in the early morning hours, around 4 or 5 am. She used to take a bottle and go back to sleep, but the last few weeks we’ve just been giving her a little water. I’m not sure why she does this little wake-up, since she is obviously not hungry, but our new routine is a little bit of water in a sippy or bottle, then she rolls over and lays her head on my chest with her eyes open. She just lays there, soaking in the cuddles, until I set her back down and she goes right back to sleep. It’s really really precious. And dare I say I sort of love our little pre-dawn routine? She isn’t a very cuddly baby, so I’ll take my cuddles when I can get them.

When she turns 1 year old next month (what? where did the time go?) we will have to have a scan of her spine and a follow-up optometry appointment as a routine part of her pediatric follow-up for some of the issues she was born with. We have no real reason to believe that it will be anything but good news, but I’ll be happy to have those tests done with and in the past as soon as possible. Prayers for a smooth process and good results would be appreciated!

Lastly, I feel like I need to say a giant “THANK YOU” to all of you out there reading who have followed this story of ours, prayed for our baby, cared for our family and encouraged us (particularly me!) along the way. I’ve met so many people this last year who have told me they’ve prayed for us and our sweet baby, and it brings me to tears every single time. I look at Ainsley and thank God for the gift that she is, and the sheer miracle of her presence. We’re humbled and thankful daily, and blessed to be able to share her and her updates with you all. #sappymom

Madison

Food & Recipes

A Wine + Chocolate Girls NIght

January 28, 2016

*This post was sponsored by Ghirardelli. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make E&C possible. 

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January is a long month in the Midwest. I mean, after New Year’s there is a long stretch filled with cold days without much to celebrate. So what’s a girl to do? My answer was to get the girls together for a wine and chocolate party. It was the perfect way to break up the weekday routine and host friends in our newly renovated house for the first time. Although the house isn’t finished quite yet, we have a few finished rooms and that calls for a party!

The good thing about not having much on our walls right now was that I had a nice open wall to set up the spread of wine, chocolate, fruit, cupcakes and chocolate-dipped marshmallows. I was aiming to keep things on the simpler side so it wasn’t too hard to pull together on a busy weeknight but I tried to get a lot of “wow” for my minimal effort.

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Because it was a weeknight and our kitchen isn’t yet finished, I used boxed dark chocolate cupcake mix in these pretty pink foil liners I got from Walmart. The frosting was also purchased, but piping it on with either a piping bag or a zip top bag with the end snipped off makes it look a little more homemade. I topped each cupcake with a Ghirardelli Valentine’s Day chocolate and I think they turned out pretty cute!

The marshmallows were dipped in melted milk chocolate and once the chocolate hardened I used paper pop sticks and ribbon to finish off the look. And I added some fresh fruit to the mix for a lighter option and the fact that fresh fruit feels like such a luxury in the middle of a Midwest winter, doesn’t it?

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When we moved back to Iowa from Minneapolis I was a little worried we would have a tough time finding good wine locally. Growing up I remember the options being seriously limited, but I was happy to discover that has changed. Small-town Iowa has upped their game in recent years. The night’s wines were a selection of red wines (pinot nior, merlot and cab) from Josh Cellars, which has always been a favorite.

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Sometimes life feels so busy and hectic that I feel as if I don’t have the time during the week to do fun things like girls night. It can be hard to coordinate child care, the busy schedules of others, food and drink, etc. But I was reminded last night that it’s absolutely worth it, and maybe even necessary, to take time to build and maintain relationships with the women in our lives. As everyone left, we all agreed that we should make it a regular thing. Thanks, ladies, for taking the time out of your schedules to make this happen!

Madison

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