Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother's Day 2017.







  I know Mother's Day is one of those holidays that everyone experiences differently. The emotional aspect combined with expectations means it just looks different for everyone! I remember feelings of longing after our miscarriage and after trying for over a year to get pregnant, and then just excitement as I was 8 months pregnant, and sweetness as I held my babies on the holiday years later. This year was just as sweet! 

  I have no real expectations for Mother's Day, except maybe eating some good food and having to change a few less poopy diapers? I'm easy to please, really. πŸ˜‹ We had plans to spend most of Sunday with my mom and sisters, so Justin took me out for an early supper with the boys Saturday. We hadn't been to Chuy's in forever (the jalepeno ranch dip is AMAZING) and its one of our favorite kid friendly places. After that, Caleb helped me open my new running-themed gifts (new shoes!!!). Nothing crazy, but exactly what I love- intentional time with my boys. 

  Sunday morning we headed to the other side of town after church and Caleb was SO excited to celebrate grandma and see Mia at Pizza Choo Choo (Pizza King that has a train to deliver your drinks). Nevermind that there were 14 of us there, he was primarily fixated on Mia πŸ˜‚ It really is neat to live close to family, especially as we keep growing. We managed the chaos of 6 kids under 5 and had fun eating pizza and celebrating my mom (and each other) before sending our husbands home with the kiddos. My mom, sisters, and I treated ourselves to some shopping and a movie and it was amazing. I don't remember the last time I was at a theater and the one we went to had cozy leather recliners to sit in. My mom even fell asleep during the show (she'll swear to you that she didn't though). It was the best! 

  And, because Justin is amazing, I came home to a perfectly quiet and clean house after the movie. He took the boys with him to grocery shop and brought me back some gelato to share. Guys, it was the best. The entire weekend! Time with my kiddos, time with Justin, time with my mom and sisters. Not fussy or fancy but just right. I spend pretty much all of my waking hours with my kids, so it honestly is extra special to have a day where its acknowledged. I won't ever feel guilty for loving Mother's Day! Also, matching outfits for the boys for every Mother's Day- its a new tradition I'm establishing. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Running.


  Our church is working through a sermon series about keeping our mind/body/spirit healthy and they kicked off with a message all about physical fitness. They even created groups to join for people working towards a common goal- including a World Vision running team. It was sort of the catalyst I needed to get back into running and have an official goal to work towards. Last Fall I signed up for a 5k and ran it (way faster than I expected!) and it felt amazing! With winter and two kids who happen to hate the gym childcare, I haven't don't a ton of running since then and that bums me out. 

  So, I'm doing it. I'm running a half marathon this Fall and training starts now. I'm nervous, a little skeptical about how I'll fit in runs when I'm on kid duty 99% of the time, and a bit worried I won't be able to finish it and it'll all just be a bit embarrassing. BUT as one of my most favorite ladies says, I'm doing it scared. If I wait until it seems like an achievable goal, then it will never happen. 

  I'm writing this down and sharing with you so that it's out there. Maybe a few people are working on fitness goals of their or or will just simply ask me about this. I won't be a broken record (I know everyone isn't super invested in my daily 3 miles runs) but I will pop in every so often to share little updates on how training is going, how I'm feeling, and how God is working in my through this. 

  I have four big things I want to focus on while I train:

Jesus// I want to use my morning runs for prayer and worship. I did this all through high school and college and its 100% what I miss most about running as part of my daily life.

Discipline// My health is really important, but it often takes a backseat. That is absolutely because of my lack of discipline and overeagerness to say yes to other things/people. My kids and husband won't suffer if I'm taking care of myself (though I often think that because of the time it takes away from them). I want to be strong and disciplined enough to stick with something and see it to completion!

Healthy family// I truly do want my kids see that health is important in our family. I want it to simply be an everyday part of our lives and maybe even something that comes naturally to them because of how I help model it. Ideally, I would be able to have uninterrupted workouts on my own time and by myself (SO MUCH EASIER) but that isn't practical and it doesn't help my kiddos see me making health a priority. So, I'll likely be doing all my runs with the boys! 

Active marriage// It's funny how God hears and answers our prayers in ways we don't expect. Maybe funny is the wrong word for it? I have been praying for Justin and I to have more shared hobbies since we were dating. We've certainly found some over our nearly 8 years being married, but I'm really excited that we're both running the half marathon this fall. I'm sure training will be hectic, but I'm excited to go on long runs with him. Doing things together is one of my favorite things, so I'm really excited to make this a fun part of our marriage!

  I'm happy to say I logged my first run of the season today! (not including my workouts at the gym) I took the boys out in the jogging stroller for a couple of miles and its wasn't awful. It was actually really fun! Now only 6 more months to go...

But seriously. Give me all your half marathon/running/running with kids tips! 




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Noonday At The Well.



 (Hi hi! This post is mostly for my Indy people- but there's a treat for everyone at the very end.)

 If you don't have plans tomorrow (Thursday) evening, you're invited to join me at The Well Coffeehouse in Fishers between 6-8pm for a low key Noonday Collection ( LuLaRoe!) open house! I'm super excited about it for lots of reasons (I know nothing about LuLaRoe and want to see what all the hype is about!), but I narrowed it down to 5 of the best reasons I think you should stop in and see me tomorrow evening in Fishers!

1. a mid-week night out. Pretty much everyone is dragging by Thursday evening, amen? What is better than a quick pop in to a cute coffee shop and no fuss shopping? Come on your own, have your kiddos tag along, or bring  girlfriend (or 3) and make it a date!

2. get your closet ready for summer. Hi! Did you know summer officially starts in 6 weeks? This pop-up will have accessories and clothes you can actually try on (and take home!). Start your summer wardrobe now- or just get ahead on some shopping for birthday gifts!

3. a casual way to check out Noonday (and LuLaRoe!). This might be my favorite reason to swing by the coffeehouse tomorrow! I know that hosting a show in your own home or stopping by one a friend is hosting can seem awkward and sales-y. But stopping at a fun coffeehouse is the exact opposite- its casual and simple and low-key. If you've been wanting to learn more about Noonday Collection, this is the best way!

4. support change around the world in TWO ways. Noonday Collection and The Well Coffeehouse are both rooted in fair trade and creating a lasting impact around the globe. I honestly cannot think of a better place to have a midweek trunk show- by grabbing a coffee and shopping you'll be doing double the good!

5. and, if you've stuck with me this long- here's a reason for everyone to love: a giveaway! The first three people the swing by the coffeehouse this Thursday and mention this blog (or instagram) post will get a gift from me (gift tbd- so weigh in if you have a preference of a gift card, VMP journal, etc Likely something not Noonday related at all!). That's not all! Don't live in Indy or just can't make it? The first three online orders through this link will also get a gift from me (see note about tbd above!)! (hint hint: Noonday e-cards make a great end of the year gift for teachers!) I already gave you 4 reasons why you should shop or stop by the show- and now you have extra incentive :)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Photo books.




  I'm a big fan of tangible photos. Obviously, I enjoy taking them, but even more so I love having our memories captured in something we can physically hold in our hands or walk past everyday on the walls of our home.

  Growing up, my grandma had a photo album for each of my sisters and me that she would add to regularly. (by photo album I mean one of the old school one with sticky pages that you lifted the clear topsheet from to place the pictures on each page however you wanted) The same was the case for my mom. And we had an ever growing collection of photo boxes- filled with old and and newer pictures. I loved going through them and reading my mom's notes on the back of each photo. 

  More often than not, a finger was blocking the viewfinder or the flash was on when it shouldn't have been or the picture was completely out of focus. But I never cared. Back then and still now, the imperfect everyday shots are my favorite. I always dislike them in the moment after I take an imperfect photo, wishing I had captured a better shot. But always, without fail, I look back days/weeks/months later and love it- imprecations and all.

 I'm getting off track though. I love real, printed off photos. Not just a massive photo roll on my phone or computer that I never bother to look at and will likely be deleted to make space for something else one day. It always seems silly to me to have so many photos stored digitally where no one will ever really appreciate them. So I print my photos off often. I try to do a monthly print of family/kid photos and add them to their photo boxes or project life books (I'm so behind on those though). 

  But even I can admit that with our cameras so accessible these days (hi, iPhone) more pictures are taken and its silly to print each one. Enter photo books! I'm super super late to this game, so I'm not offended if you're rolling your eyes. But I just got my first round of ChatBooks and my first Groovebook is on its way, so I thought I'd share what I've learned so far in case you need any tips. Have you tried any of these? Leave a comment and let me know you're experience/tips! :) (I included any coupon codes I could find in case you want to try any of the photo books. Some are referral codes where I get credit if you use the codes but no love lost if you don't use them😊)

Shutterfly: I like this service for inexpensive and simple gift books. I've never used the app, since I'm mostly uploading camera photos from my computer. I've used Shutterfly to make pregnancy/newborn books and gift this past Christmas to create gifts for family from trips we've taken (beach and lakehouse). Easy templates to use, computer friendly (I didn't use instagram photos), decent quality. I'll likely use them again next year and make those photo books an annual gift (spoiler alert to my family!) I love Shutterfly and Snapfish for my monthly photo printing- between the two you can almost always find a coupon code for penny prints or 101 free prints. Its a great way to get photos off your phone/computer (always print in matte, not glossy)! For any professional photos (newborn, annual family, etc) I stick with higher quality mpix.com, but for everyday pictures Shutterfly and Snapfish work great. ((I couldn't find a coupon code, but there is an email-able Free Photo Book coupon each account user can send to friends to try the service- let me know if you want one!)

ChatBooks: Overall, I'm really happy with my first round of ChatBooks. I found a coupon code and got my first book free so I only paid for 3/4 of the ones I received. It took me a little while to figure out the app and how to get it to truly be caption-free (I used only photos from Instagram). My favorite parts are that I could use my hashtag (#RushLittles) to seamlessly pull and organize photos from my IG feed, it labels the books by volume and date, and I could choose the cover photos. I have to admit I was a little let down at the photo quality when they arrived, but then I remembered I paid only $8 for each. They really do look great for that price. The size is perfect and I'm excited to have them on hand so we can flip through them often. Caleb has already found them is keeps asking to see 'baby Caleb', so I know they will get a lot of love. My biggest tip for ChatBooks (or any photobook app that you want to use for your Instagram photos) is to create and use a personalized hashtag. It makes the process SO simple. Since the boys were babies, I've been using #RushLittles. It's unique enough that literally no one else in the world is using it, which means when I sync that specific hashtag up with my ChatBooks app it only pulls my photos. If you have 20 minutes to spare, its worth going through your instagram feed and adding a unique hashtag to pull from when you create your photo books! (here's a link if you want to try it and get your first book for free) 

Groovebooks: I'm jumping the gun on this one because I haven't received my first copy yet. But I can share the three things I know I like about this photobook service so far- besides the user friendly app. First, it's extremely inexpensive. For $2.99/book, you can't beat it. I also love the option the book has for taking single photos out- each page is perforated to allow you to remove a photo to frame/share/etc. Lastly, I like the gift option. You can recreate a book and have it shipped directly to whoever you want to gift. It makes a great gift idea for grandparents to receive monthly photos of their grandkids, while also taking little effort and cash upfront. The downsides? I'm learning it takes forever to print and process (I ordered mine two weeks ago and it's still 'printing') and I don't have crazy high hopes for photo quality. But again, I'm sure its great for the price I paid! (Here's a coupon code for your first book free: RUSH1984)

Artifact Uprising: I plan to try this next month to see how the quality compares to ChatBooks. They are more expensive ($15 versus ChatBooks $8), so I'm guessing they'll have a nicer look. But for a product I plan to print monthly and have set out so we can flip through anytime, the lower price tag of ChatBooks seems like a better fit. I like that Artifact Uprising lets you format the books and customize them. I really like the look of their hardcover books and may give them a try for some baby books I need to print off for Tyler. Again, a bit more expensive than Shutterfly (which I usually use) but I'm guessing the design and quality will be worth it for something that is a keepsake! (I couldn't find a coupon code, but there is an email-able $10 off coupon each account user can send to friends to try the service- let me know if you want one!)



Monday, May 8, 2017

Expect more and less.


What we need to do is actually expect more of God and less of this world. We need to take down the expectations that we so ridiculously place on other people and translate those emotions to our Father, who can do absolutely everything. We need to redefine what it means to engage expectation.

I hope that never supersedes the greatness of God in my story. I long to not be a distraction, I long to be a vessel of Him. I never want that to take away what God has done here. (talking about her tendency to be loud or awkward or spastic)

  Guys, I have absolutely no idea where that quote is from. But I love it. So much so that I evidently wrote it down in a blog draft a couple of months ago. So here's to past-me writing down wise words to encourage future me. Anyone know where it's from?

  Here's to expecting more of God this week (and expecting way less of the world and other people). Join me? 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Five and one.



  I've decided that my kids will never stop teaching me lessons about life and myself. Raising small humans is funny that way- sort of a little mirror walking around your home reflecting back all the great and not so great parts of yourself, along with things you had never noticed before. And even though I'm sure I had heard that before having kids, it never really sank in until it I experienced it.

  With a nearly 3 year old and  1 1/2 year old, I am in what I think seasoned moms call 'the thick of it.' I know that seems to have a negative tone it it, but I don't know that anyone means it to. I love these years. The boys are growing more every day (physically and developmentally!) and it feels like one big adventure. 

  Lately, I've been thinking a lot about where the boys are developmentally. They seem to hit a new 'stage' of development every few months and, most often, each new stage sort of takes me by surprise or causes me to stop and think. Sometimes out of amazement or amusement, and sometimes out of exasperation, if I'm honest. Because I've decided that with each new stage comes five really fun/cool/exciting things and at least one hard/challenging/patience-testing thing. I'm coining it the five and one rule of thumb- and remembering it is essential for me to thrive (not just survive) at being a mom and loving my kids well.

  Its pretty common sense, but the five and one rule of thumb only hit me these past couple of months. And it probably is a result of more intentional prayer and reflection for the boys over the last year. While I'm only just realizing it, I can see now that it has been the case since newborn days. Or really, since pregnancy. 

  My pregnancies were each marked by amazement at the miracle of life and how God created our bodies to carry babies, excitement to meet my sons, fun planning and dreaming, etc. And also came with pretty legit anxiety/worry/concern/unsureness about what was to come. Then, the newborn stage was so full of sweet snuggles and gassy grins and trying on cute outfits and feeling so fulfilled with a new little life. There was also tiredness or soreness or feeling lost on how to soothe this new strange baby. And so on and so on as the boys have grown over the last few years.

  Anyways, I think this aha! moment and realization that every stage has a handful of great parts along with a more challenging part is so big for me because it gives me perspective. Some days, I only see or acknowledge the hard parts. And not because I'm a negative nancy, but because the hard parts can be really really hard. Having a baby who never naps or a kid who isn't growing or a kid who bites at school, whatever. Sometimes its just easier for those parts to stick with us and cause us to miss the good stuff

  Caleb spent the better part of Fall working on learning to express his emotions (he feels things intensely) and I spent a ton of time worried/embarrassed/frustrated about it. Honestly, I spent more time focused on that one issue than I did enjoying his newfound imagination or the bright side of his intense emotions- he loves others passionately and gets so excited about things he loves. I missed a lot of those good parts of the stage he was in because I let the challenging parts overwhelm me. 

 In general, the age 1.5-2 is crazy for me. Lots of learning and feeling and developing opinions and little ability to express those. Tyler is smack dab in the middle of that stage. The kid has a strong will and a curious mind! I'm tempted, every single day, to just be exhausted and tested by him. He never stops moving and has really, really strong opinions about things right now. But the five and one rule of thumb points me back to the best parts of this stage- his curiosity, his sense of adventure, his lack of fear or anxiety, his growing understanding of his opinions, and his independence growing. Those are really, really cool things that I have the sweet gift of watching literally develop in front of me everyday and I want to make sure I don't miss them!

  So, hold me to. When my boys are teenagers and I'm undoubtedly worried or stressed or frustrated about a certain stage they're in, remind me that for that one thing (even though it feels huge!) there are probably five awesome things going on with them. I don't want to miss those! And isn't the same true for us as adults? Every season of life comes with good and bad. Sometimes its reversed and there are five challenging things, but still one good thing. Either way, I don't want to lose sight of the good. Of the sweetness, because each season has even a small bit! 

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Currently I'm. (1)


listening: How I Built This podcast (a little nerdy, but fascinating)
making: our first HelloFresh meals! The box was just delivered today.
watching: old Office reruns since we can't ever agree on a new show
reading: I just finished our May book club book and was sad when it ended! I'm starting this one next.
wishing: our summer trip to the Shore wasn't two months away
eating: Halo Top mint chip ice cream, more often than is socially acceptable
wearing: (well, in this case, not wearing) I lost my most favorite earrings- but they just came back in stock so it looks I'll be buying another pair (seriously.)!
wanting: to really, really find a way to get running back into my daily routine
working on: a (hopefully!) fun toddler playdate/service project for this summer
loving: this year's trek through the Bible. It's my first time doing it chronologically and its the honest to goodness highlight of my day
excited about: summer with two toddlers. That's a bid broad, I know.

  I love these posts and excited to back into a groove of them now that blogging is on my priority list again!