Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Club {Self-Help}

Mama's been reading a lot of self-help and nonfiction books recently. Before you start rolling your eyes and wondering if I am a loon (the answer is YES), please know I am not having a nervous breakdown or anything. My wits are still about me, and we are all managing life pretty darn well, despite the fact that we cannot seem to stop getting sick.

It's just that there is sooo much going on in the world, and I kind of feel like my emotions and thoughts are being controlled by others. Not in a #fakenews sense, but maybe kinda? I don't really know. What I DO know is that I've read some really good books about life, parenting, and relationships in the last few months, and they have given me some great tools to make me feel like I have control over my actions, thoughts, and emotions. Because you only have one life, so why should you live it in fear and uncertainty?

I am not perfect, and I do not follow every word of these books every moment of my life. Some of them admittedly do not resonate with me in every chapter. For example, I don't hate my kids and I am not cheating on my husband. However, I love reading about the experiences of others, how these individuals engage with the world during these events, and how I can equip myself with tools for dealing with moments of stress and uncertainty.

Love Warrior: This book spoke to my soul. I started reading it, not realizing it was a memoir, and could not believe how much I identified with what was written. It was like reading my diary, even though I don't have one, but a hypothetical diary. I am not sure if men would be able to relate to Glennon Doyle, but I think it would be helpful for them to see a woman's world through an honest lens. I am a huge Glennon fan. There is a reason she is so successful, and that is because she is wise AF. You go Glennon Coco!

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind the Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living: This book would most likely resonate with working moms or Pinterest moms. I will warn you that there are some Christian themes, and she kind of bashes other denominations at one point. However, once you move past the God stuff it has some really great advice. And if you are a Christian you will love the way she integrates faith into her daily life. God or no God, this book is a keeper.

The Danish Way of Parenting: I've talked about The Year of Living Danishly on this blog before. I do not want to sound redundant, so I will not list it again. However, it was a very eye-opening book for me. Wanting to dig deeper into Danish life philosophies, I thought it would be helpful for us to learn how Danish principles are manifested in parenting. The Danish Way of Parenting dramatically changed the way we interact with our children. I do not want to hype it up tooooo much, but to me this book is a major key to successful parenting. Give me all the hygge. 

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk: Jeff and I are only a few chapters in on this one, but we have already learned so much. What I like about this book is how the parents can do exercises together. The author describes scenarios, and the parents then discuss the different ways the problem can be addressed. Jeff is a counselor, and he is constantly saying, "This is good stuff."

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame: This is the first parenting book we purchased, and I discovered it at a good time in our lives. Everett was a busy toddler who threw tantrums left and right, and I needed Janet Lansbury's words of wisdom to assure me that I wasn't raising a complete psychopath. Because let's face it, toddlers rock your world in a way you never thought possible, and they question every form of reason you thought came programmed in the human brain. Janet taught me to embrace Everett's independence, and to frame it as a successful tool that he will need during his life. Not all of her stuff has worked for us, so if there are any other Janet Lansbury fans out there I would love to hear how you implement her ideas!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: Don't let the four-letter word in the title scare your delicate self away. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book. I do not have much in common with Mark Manson, but he is very wise. This book is about taking responsibility for your life, prioritizing what matters most, and accepting consequences for your choices. Read it! There is a reason it is a bestseller.


So there's my list! I've read others that didn't make the cut (you guys, Brene Brown is better at TED Talks than books, and Bringing Up Bebe is cruel and heartless after reading The Danish Way of Parenting). Let me know if there are any more I should read! I am also always looking for good fiction.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Snapshots 08.29.17

Years ago my dear friend Stacey gifted me a packet of lavender seeds for Christmas. I planted them at our old house and loved having them. The bees flocked to them in summer, and the dog often smelled of lavender after walking through them to visit with the neighbors on the other side of the fence. 

I was able to extract lavender seeds from those plants and started a few seedlings at the new house. Only one has survived so far because I forgot to have a friend water them when we were out of town for 2 weeks, and that plant is now being smothered by pumpkin vines. Fingers crossed!

Just in case we lose our beloved lavender forever, we stole a few stalks from the old house before we left. Now they adorn the windowsill above our kitchen sink - along with some rocks we found at the ocean, and a flower Everett picked for me.

I have always wanted to plant coneflowers, and Jeff's mom and I found these on clearance. Now is a great time to plant echinacea. It's another one bees love. Everett was fascinated watching this bee do his job on these flowers.

Progress on our front yard. The MIL planted some Annabelles for us. Having her around is like having a good little house elf. I can't wait to see these bloom over the next few years.

We have spent almost every evening outside enjoying these beautiful summer days. I am looking forward to fall, but sure will miss all the colors of summer. 

Scavenger hunt and magnifying glass in the park.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Summer Staycation

Last week I was supposed to play the role of "Solo Cool Mom" on a backpacking trip through the wilderness. I had been planning this trip for almost a year, I have been training for it since December, I bought a new backpack and had everything packed and ready to go. But sometimes life happens and you randomly get mastitis.

Life occasionally hands you lemons. I believe the only solution is to make the most of what you have. Jeff's mom was in town to help out with the kids (you know, because I was going to be gone), and it was wonderful getting to visit with her.

She made us pesto, planted some new plants for us, made us meals, played with us, and kept us sane. 

In retrospect, it was a good thing for me to stay home. I got to rest, relax, and rejuvenate - all of which I clearly needed having developed mastitis. I was so sick that before my MIL came my mom had to help us out every day (there was one day I just slept in her bed all day while she occasionally brought me food in bed, medicine, and Gatorade).

Here is my mom advice for the week: make sure you have people in your life who are willing to help in times of trial. Surround yourself with people who raise you up and inspire you to do good things. It's easy to get stuck in a rut, but when we moms have a village, we can accomplish anything.

Shout out to all the moms out there, especially my moms.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Snapshots 08.15.17

We recently stayed at an old friend's home in Seattle. She was out of town, but all the little pockets of detail in every corner made it feel like she was there with us. They live in a small apartment, but I could not get over how personal and loving the space was. It reminded me how much I love the  places in our home that make this space unique and wonderful, and bring us little bits of joy every day. I thought I would start sharing little snapshots to showcase these special things and places in our lives.

Anyone who has tried to purchase a Japanese maple knows how much it can set a buyer back. Many years ago, maybe 6 or 7 years, I bought a tiny Japanese maple from a local nursery for $28.00. It was about 10 inches tall, and I was told it is a rare breed of maple that would cost me hundreds of dollars at full size. It lived proudly in the front yard of our old house. Multiple gardeners and landscapers commented on it over the years, as it is not a common breed seen in the average yard. It grew and grew into a full, beautiful tree, and I told the realtor we were taking it with us to the new house.

A 90 degree day in June is not an ideal time to transplant a tree, but we didn't have a choice, and naturally it went into shock.

We didn't have time to do a stellar job with this transplant, and we later learned we should have cut back a bunch of growth on the tree before we attempted to move it. Because we didn't do this, the tree decided to sacrifice a portion of itself, hence all the dead leaves.

But beneath all those dead leaves you can find vibrant and healthy new growth.

Every day there is new growth, and promise that this thing just might make it through the move. I will be so sad if it dies. It is irreplaceable and priceless, holding much physical and emotional value. There is no way we could afford a new one, and the nursery that sold the seedlings is now closed.

The same new leaves 2 days later.

The garden was not what it usually is this year. However, I did manage to transplant some squash in the new garden beds Jeff made for me, and they are thriving. Is there anything more endearing than a pumpkin?

And of course we are just living our lives, loving spending these precious days together. Some days are easier than others (Mondays and Tuesdays are usually nightmares), but I try to snuggle and love on my crabby baby/toddler during those bitching witching hours.

She plays with his toys, he comes and bugs her.

Trucks are everything.

She woke up with crazy hair and I just had to document it.

She is happiest when she is playing outside.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Grass Is Greener

We are officially moved out of our old house. We handed over the keys and drove off into the sunset with a box full of plants we dug out of the yard. Shhhhhh...

As I walked through the empty house, all the memories came flooding back. Everett standing in the front window of his room waving at the people walking by, Alice toddling around the bathroom pulling all the Birchbox samples out of the cupboards, bringing home our babies from the hospital, learning how to bake bread, successfully growing my first garden, bubble baths in our custom master bathroom...

All the backbreaking work we put into the house to make it what we needed. This place was Us.

I sat in the stairwell, staring at the empty master suite we created, listening to all the familiar sounds of Home. Then I locked the doors one last time, saying goodbye to my rhubarb, lavender, cherry tree, and all the other plants I bought over the years with Groupons, or had grown from seeds that cluttered up our mantle, all on our small budget of often only one income. Over the course of 8 years it all turned into a beautiful garden. It may not have been a landscaper's plan for the yard, but it was made with love and authenticity.

And now we start over. New house, new projects. A new place to call Home.

I am eager to get started, but for now we are unpacking and settling. I think we have had enough chaos these last few weeks. As I mentioned before, we did not really want to move. We were not looking, and we were perfectly happy and content in our little green house on the boulevard. We were going to stay there forever. I think this is what made it so hard to leave. We had to break up with something with which we were still in love.

But the right house did find us on the Boulevard, and we are definitely not looking back. It's like how Jacob thought he imprinted on Bella, but all that time she wasn't really the right one...it was her daughter. Yes...yes, this is a Twilight reference. So on that note I must conclude, but you get the idea. We are sooo(infinite o's) thrilled to be in our new place, but it was bittersweet leaving our little home behind. However, I can't wait to share our new lives on the Boulevard.

Monday, June 12, 2017

When Life Gets Too Boring

Just when life was starting to feel a little boring, when I told myself, "I finally have time to pick up the guitar!" I planned a million things to do over summer to fill our weekends, we started the planning phase of rebuilding our deck. Life was comfortable!

And then we bought a new house.

And the house is glorious.

It needs some work, but it is just simply glorious. It is in our favorite part of town, has so much character (built in 1934), and is covered in wallpaper. So maybe that last thing isn't necessarily a sell, but everything in the house is high quality and so well maintained that we can be happy with some wallpaper while I figure out my vision (pronounced with a French accent).

We will now be living in a house that has some legitimate history. I feel nervous and honored to take over the care of the home, but we need to carefully maintain the integrity of its original construction, or run the risk of being chased out of the neighborhood by purists wielding vintage pitchforks.

To start, we are having the wiring updated. Once that is done we can officially move!

I am definitely not looking forward to moving. I have been avoiding moving for years. Please send all positive vibes my way.

So why did we choose to move? I was driving home from church with Alice a few weeks back and saw an open house sign pointing in the direction of my favorite neighborhood. I drove past without stopping or acknowledging, then a few seconds later something told me to turn around. Alice was overdue for her nap, but we would just be there for a couple minutes, right? We got out of the car, walked up the steps, went inside, and I knew I was home. The more I went through the house, the more certain I became that this was where we would be for the rest of our lives.

I went home and gave Jeff a flier for the house. I didn't say anything, I simply told him he should check out the open house. At that time Everett woke up from his nap and Jeff said he wanted to go with ALL of us. You guys, I cannot begin to describe how odd it was for Jeff to agree to this in the first place. We were not looking for a new house, and he hates doing silly things like going to open houses. In fact, we had firmly decided we were going to live in our house forever; never moving. If Jeff could have chosen to do anything at that moment, I bet it would have been to eat a turkey sandwich and take the kids to the park. But defying the laws of logic, he went to an open house instead. And he loved it. I watched his face go from mildly grumpy, to neutral, to excited, to ecstatic, to DESPERATELY NEED. And after 10 minutes exploring the house from attic to basement, Everett told us which room he wanted.

So we did not exactly choose to move. I think the house chose us. The previous owners were thrilled to have another family move in, and they cried when they watched Everett play in the tree house (yes, there's a tree house). By the way, it has only been occupied by 2 families since it was built. The place has been loved and cared for, and we will do our best to care for it too.

We put our current house on the market a couple weekends ago, then sold it in about 5 days. How did it sell so fast? Well...we are really good at staging:

Now we talk about owning two houses. Yesterday we did yard work at our current house, then packed the lawnmower and the kids in the car to do yard work at the new house. Fun stuff!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Easter Love

Life is full, life is rich. We are spending our days in the grind and staying afloat, magically. Here's a little of what has been going on:

  • Alice moved up to the toddler room at daycare a couple months ago. This has been life changing in the best possible way. She eats, she sleeps, and she is so happy when I pick her up at the end of each day. She is still not walking, but scooting around quite a bit. I honestly believe much of her development was stymied by her experience in the nursery. She was always cranky because she could not get any sleep, so she was always being held. I am so lucky that she was in a center where the workers cared enough to give her what she needed: physical contact. Even though she was cranky, she always felt loved. She is thiiiiis close to walking and takes a few steps unassisted, but still prefers to scoot around on her hands and knees.
  • Everett has been taking one-on-one swim lessons at Gonzaga for the last couple months. I can see an improvement every week, he loves the experience, and he absolutely idolizes his swim coach. Bath time these days has featured him giving his rubber ducks swim lessons. He has also enjoyed the change in our weather, since that means he can play outside and explore.
  •  We planted our cold weather veggies! It will be so nice having healthy food to come home to once everything starts growing. The rhubarb is coming back in full fury, like it always does. I rediscovered this picture from a couple years ago and it continues to crack me up. All that being said, I think I need more rhubarb recipes. Please send them!
  • We are planning some pretty great vacations, so that is exciting. Our camping gear will get a lot of use this summer.
  • Easter came and went. We had a wonderful day surrounded by family, and I did not lose my sanity with all the church obligations that were on my plate. And now it finally feels like spring is officially here. 
For the Easter extravaganza I made Alice and I matching outfits. The boys were maaaybe going to get matching bow ties, but I certainly didn't prioritize it, and I definitely didn't budget for it when ordering fabric. Next year. Maybe. Probably not.

 I had been eyeing the Hanna Andersson matching spring outfits for a while, but hated the idea of throwing down hundreds of dollars. Much of it is sold out now, but I believe the adult skirt was upwards of $80, the t-shirt was $34, the shoes paired with it were well over $200, and the baby dress was $45. Not happening.

I spent less than $40 on fabric from Fabric.com (I still have a TON left), the t-shirt was $7 from Target, and I already had the Saltwater sandals. The skirt pattern was $1 from Joann's, and Alice's dress is a free pattern from The Cottage Mama.

Regarding the picture...Alice had just woke up from a nap (see: hair), I still hadn't brushed my teeth or put on makeup, and Everett was over it. Also, Jeff couldn't figure out how to use the camera. A winning experience for all involved.

Please also take note of the rhubarb plant photo bombing us in the bottom right corner. 

Everett was pretty much head to toe in Cat and Jack. He picked out everything himself, with a small bribe of shark slippers to sweeten the pot. Honestly, I'm shocked that we got him in this outfit since it doesn't have any firetrucks, dump trucks, dinosaurs, or monster trucks on it. Boys. The suspenders were from the dollar bin at Target, and he loved looking like a farmer.

Alice was comfortable in her dress all day. We had a sweater layered over it for most of the day, as Spokane springs are still quite chilly. She even took a couple naps in it without complaints. It should also be noted that she and I wore our outfits all day without the fabric wrinkling. That's a major bonus in my book.

I would say the day was a success, and so were the outfits.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ebble's Favorite Things {Spring}

It's been a while since I have shared all my favorite life things.

BUT you have to know that these Things are truly special to have made the cut. It takes a lot to get me excited about products these days. Between working full time, worrying about the baby at daycare, keeping the house up to snuff, traveling, etc., I have little patience for tediousness. If a book isn't good in the first 10 pages, it gets shelved; if something is cheap but doesn't fit quite right, I won't buy it. So here you have it: ALL the things that are Emily-approved for Spring of 2017.

1. Happy Hannas: Jeff got me a pair of Hanna Andersson pajamas for my birthday this year. I have worn them almost every night since January 1st...and washed them...a handful of times. The kids have been wearing Hannas their whole lives, so it's about time I treated myself. The organic cotton is soooo soft. Comfort is key when it comes to pajamas, and these made coming home from Hawaii a little easier. Hygge Yo' Self and get these jammies! Because, you know, winter is still here.

2. The Year of Living Danishly: Speaking of hygge, don't forget to read this book. It gives great insight into life in another country, and has some pretty good suggestions for how we can do things over here in the U.S.of A.with healthcare, work-life balance, being good people, and so forth. I've read many books in the last year, and this one stood out to me most.

3. Herd Supply Co.: My dear, sweet friend Leah started her own biz making soaps and accessories from her family's herd of sheep. She's totally legit, and even sells her products at her local Whole Foods. I think this is the coolest thing. Ever. You guys, the Cherry Almond soap is everything. Like, orgasm in the nose. I also use the dryer balls she made, and I am super intrigued by the yarn that was spun from her sheep herd - I mean, does it get any cooler than that? Use the discount code STELLA for 10% off your purchase of 2 items or more. Not sure how long her discount code is good, so get it fast.

4. Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen: Spring is almost here! I've done a lot of research on the sunscreen topic, and this was the winner. Leave it to the Australians and their nonexistent ozone layer to make a product that blocks out the sun efficiently. Thanks to my Irish heritage (Happy St. Patrick's Day!) I have incredibly sensitive skin. Some lotions, oils, and gels (including Neosporin) make me break out into hives, so I have to be careful about what I put on my skin. I am also very passionate about not giving my kids cancer, and they have both developed rashes from cheap products. This sunscreen is fantastic and has not given us any issues in the 1+ year we have been using it. The bottle states the product is not waterproof, but we have not had issues with this, even after visiting the beaches and splashing in pools in Hawaii. If that fact causes you anxiety, then it is still perfect for outdoor play, and Honest has a good waterproof option for kids. However, make sure you always carry the bottle with you because it turns pink when exposed to harmful UV rays, and this has been helpful!
5. Microfiber Cleaning Rags: And because spring is almost here, that means it is time for Spring Cleaning! I have a lot of enthusiasm about these rags, so much that I ended up cleaning the whole house the first day I had them. The package I got in store at Target is a little different, but that green one (dark blue in my package)...Incredible. I cleaned the kitchen in about 5 minutes with it. It picks up everything and holds it, where a normal cloth or sponge just moves the crumbs and dirt around. After the baby has a messy meal, I bust out one of these bad boys and we are clean in seconds. BUY THEM. You're welcome.

6. Lululemon Tanks: If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I'm doing an at-home fitness program. With all the sweating + hot yoga I've been doing lately I need a lightweight workout shirt that flatters my mom body and makes me feel good about myself. The top I got myself as a push present after Alice is similar to the one I have linked, but mine has a little more coverage (see pic). I love how light this fabric is, and the loose fit hides my mom belly. I also exercise in a cheapo Target tank I got after having Alice, but I only take that one out of the drawer when I am washing the lulu top. My suggestion is to visit a store and shop for what feels right. Save your dollars because lulu is expen$ive, but I've found that it is also the best for workout gear. But who knows, I might slowly be converting to a fun, new company I discovered...more on that later (unless I decide to keep it as my own secret...mwuahahaha!).

There you have it! All the products I love right now. Check back later for more, and let me know if there is something I should try.
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