Category: my heart

FIVE. (a letter to Rory on her 5th birthday)

 

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My Dearest Rory,

Today you are five and I feel like I can hardly wrap my brain around that enough to even type it because WHERE DID THE LAST FIVE YEARS GO?

Everyone says it goes by in a blink and that is so very true. I blinked and you went from an infant to five.

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I will never forget the night you were born and those big, alert eyes taking in the room and observing every inch of my face. Your dad and I giggled out loud at how you wouldn’t take your eyes off of us for even a second. Your eyes were filled with such wonder and that has never left you. Every single moment is captured by you with deep observation. It is amazing to watch you take every detail in.IMG_0179Four has been a great year for you. You have grown and matured so much this year. Sleep has also been better which is a true miracle. We still struggle but have found ways to help nights go better even when you can’t sleep. You have been so extremely healthy all year which has been an enormous blessing. Sometimes I think your immune system is so rock solid because even now at FIVE today you still put every.single.thing. in your mouth. If I had a dollar for every time I have to tell you to not put something in your mouth you would be set for life.

IMG_0222I thought on your fifth birthday I would list my five favorite things about you. It was a good idea until I realized how hard it would be to limit it to just five, but I’m going to try-

1- The way your lips wrinkle upward at the corner of your mouth when you laugh and create this sweet little dimple. I look forward to your laughs just so I can see that spot and kiss it. In fact, your laugh is one of my favorite sounds in the entire world. It is so contagious and sweet. I could listen to it all day for the rest of my life.

2- The way you need to know how everything works. It is amazing to see your mind observe every detail of whatever is around you so that you can figure out how it works or how it is made. You will take apart things just to see how it goes back together. I’m always in awe of this.

3- I absolutely love how independent you are. I, of course, always want to be needed because I am your mom, but it makes me so proud to know that you have the will to figure out things on your own.

4- Your fierce style. Girlfriend, you have style for days. I love how you don’t care what anyone else thinks about your outfits. It doesn’t matter what you have on, you will strut yourself into school, church, wherever like YOU OWN THIS PLACE because you are so proud of your outfits. I’m always amazed at how you put things together that would never cross my mind. I’m so glad your confidence has soared so much this year and that you are in your element now.

5- Your tenacious spirit. Most of the time I just call you strong-willed, and that is so true, but you are also wonderfully tenacious. Once you set your mind on something you are going to do it until you do it WELL. You do not give up, you will press on until you master whatever you’re doing. I believe this is my absolute favorite thing about you. Nothing makes me prouder than seeing you tackle something head on with determination. You may fail or fall several times but you always, always pick right back up more determined than ever until you nail it. I wish I was more like you in that way.

I could list thousands more things that I love about you.

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I want you to know that I am so deeply proud of you. I can’t get over how smart you are and how beautiful you are. I love that you are unique and don’t follow a crowd. I will be praying that you always start the trends and set the standards instead of follow them.

This year has been such an amazing year of growth for you. You started the year struggling with confidence and feeling like you were good. That was the hardest time for me as your mom because YOU ARE SO GOOD. Every bit of you is good. We are ending this year in a new place where you are confident and flourishing. I’m so thankful for that. You have learned so much at school and about life this year. You are in such a good place and I’m just so proud of that.

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I cannot wait to see what year five brings for you. It is going to be an exciting year of big changes. You will start Kindergarten soon and that is so scary and exciting for your mother. I know you are beyond ready and I can’t wait to see how much you learn over the next year.

Rory, on your fifth birthday, I want you to know that you are my biggest joy and my most precious gift. Being your mom has been my biggest source of pride. Until I had you I didn’t grasp the meaning of the verse, “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalms 139:14)- and that verse describes you so perfectly. I know God formed every inch of you perfectly. I wish I could ingrain this into your brain for eternity so you could never waver in your confidence. You are beautiful on the inside and out and I pray that you will always know that.

Sweet Rory Eve, I love you more than words could ever say. Thank you for being such a wonderful daughter and big sister. I’m so proud of you. I’m so thankful for you. These five years have been the most challenging and beautiful years of my life. I wouldn’t change a single thing about you. You are sassy and sweet. You are funny and serious. You are the most amazing five year old in the entire world.

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“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7

I love you to the heavens and back my precious girl,

Mom

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Rory at Five:

– 42 inches tall- you can now ride most rides which you are so excited about!

– You LOVE: TUTUS AND DRESSES AND NOTHING ELSE (ha), unicorns, play tattoos, barbies, COWGIRL BOOTS AND NOTHING ELSE, makeup, ponytails, legos, “Dolly Partner”, swimming, dancing, running, and most of all you are madly in love with your little sister, Ryder

– Favorite Books: Go Dogs Go, Franklin, Pinkalicious (you really love all books though)

– Favorite Songs: You love praise songs, it is the sweetest thing to hear you sing them! You also love “Let It Go”, “Cool Kids”, “Welcome to New York”, “Shake It Off” (anything by Taylor Swift actually!), “The Honey Song”

– Favorite Movies and Shows: Sheriff Callie, Kate and Mim Mim, Octonauts, and Paw Patrol. All Disney movies are your favorites- you love anything princess!

– I asked what you wanted to be when you grow up and you said without hesitation: “A FASHION ENGINEER” – I couldn’t possibly think of a better job for you.

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Christmas Letter 2014

As cliche as it might sound, I honestly cannot believe the year 2014 is almost over.

This year has been such a whirlwind, wonderful year.

We started out the year in Savannah, enjoying being so close to family and enjoying our life there. I absolutely loved my job and Andy was working hard at his. He had a few calls about other jobs but quickly turned them down because we loved our house and our proximity to grandparents and other family. Then one day he gets a call and the job seemed way too good to be true. One month later from the initial call Andy started his new job. What a whirlwind! We have so loved Cleveland and East Tennessee. I tell Andy almost daily I don’t know if I will ever get used to living somewhere so beautiful.

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Andy– What a year he has had, y’all. I couldn’t be more proud of him. This year has been the biggest year of growth for him in his career and he has worked so hard. The promotion he got was something we weren’t expecting so early in his career but he deserves it more than anyone I know. As we all know, Andy’s not much of a talker, but as far as I know he absolutely loves his job. I know his boss is very good to him and I know that he seems a million times happier. His job is always going to be stressful and crazy busy, but it isn’t weighing him down at all times like it was before. No one is more thankful than I am for that!

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Rory– I think out of all of us, Rory has had the most growth this year. She struggled through school last year and lost a lot of confidence in herself in the process. The move was hard on her, she remembers every.single.thing. so she had a hard time missing her friends and grandparents. She also is very attached to “things” and she most definitely struggled with missing her “yellow house”. It was a very big adjustment for her. About a week after we moved here, I started Rory in a PreK program that is affiliated with a church. We hadn’t had the best experience with that in the past, but I prayed long and hard over where to send her and kept coming back to this particular school. God directed us there because, y’all, that girl has flourished. Rory’s confidence is back and soaring. She has learned so much it is actually shocking to me. Tears are falling as I’m writing this just thinking about how far my precious girl has come from last year. Gone is the girl who comes home from school saying, “but I just want to be a good girl”. Thank you, Jesus, for answering our prayers for a wonderful teacher and school. Rory is such a strong-willed, smart girl and I know teachers make all the difference with her. I will be praying non-stop for her teacher selection each and every year so she can continue to flourish like she has this year. As you know, her fashion sense has flourished as well. She absolutely cracks me up with her need to have the right outfit and how much she thinks it out. Nothing about the process is vain, its just a very well planned and thought out process for her (as is everything in her life). She is so her father’s daughter because she has that engineer brain, but even fashion is math and a project to her. She gets a measuring tape and measures her self and then her clothes to see which thing would fit the best. I mean COME ON. No one taught her to do this, she just found a sewing measuring tape and has been doing it ever since. My heart swells with love and pride for my sweet Rory Eve. I’m so glad this has been a year of rescue for her. And I truly mean that.

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Ryder– Ryder is my free-spirit. I can’t tell you how many times a day Andy and I will say, “oh she’s in Ryder world.” It is so funny to watch her. Every day we drop Rory off at school and every day we get home and Ryder goes straight to her room. She LOVES being alone with all their toys. She plays alone all morning, even going so far as to say “mom get out I don’t need you!” after I check on her. I love to listen to her talking to herself or playing with Barbies and making them talk. I have never seen a child so imaginative, but apparently my sister, Telena, was that way too. Ryder hasn’t had as hard of a time with the move, but I think it IS because of her “Ryder world” and of course because she is younger. She is every bit of a threenager and we have certainly struggled with that, but because I just had a threenager in Rory and now see how precious Rory is at almost five, I feel like I can survive Ryder. It is challenging and we are looking into her possibly going to Rory’s school for a few days a week to have more structure. We shall see. I personally wouldn’t mind having some time to think and get things done without worrying what Ryder was going to get into that day. Ha! I can’t wait to see how Ryder continues to grow and learn new things every day.

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As for myself, I have had a wonderful year of growth as well. I feel like I started the year in a drought and am now coming out of that. I absolutely loved my job in Savannah and miss it all the time, but I have enjoyed this time at home with the girls. I’ve been trying to work on blogging more and have really gotten into loving makeup (which sounds juvenile) and the whole process of how it can make you feel like a whole new person. I’m really enjoying the apartment more than I thought I would, which goes to show that “attitude is everything”. It is cozy and I could definitely go for 2 bathrooms instead of one, but I do really love it. It is easier to maintain and I love the layout. You all know how much I love to make my home beautiful for my family and I think that even in the apartment I’ve done a good job at that. Since we finally sold our house in Texas, I do get excited about starting the process to find our first home here in Cleveland in the next few months. I’m hoping I can convince Andy that we need to go for a project house and have lots of remodeling and ripping down walls and making it into our own. I will say that ending this year knowing it is my last full year in my 20s has thrown me for a loop just a bit. I never thought I would be feeling this way, but I am a little sad. At the same time, I’m hoping my 30s are more settled and I feel that they will be. I hope that my 30s bring me finding the courage to finally go after my dreams of maybe writing that book I have always wanted to write. I’m hoping my 30s bring me friendships here that are mature and honest and real. I’m hoping they bring me more growth as a wife and a mom.

We have surely been blessed this year. I’m immensely grateful for the gifts God has given us this year. Big changes are always hard, but I feel like moving here rescued us in a lot of ways. We have all grown and changed in many ways. I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings us.

Thank you for being such a huge part of my year. I love every single one of you who reads the blog so much.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and I can’t wait to show pictures and video of our Christmas as well.

Tiffany

 

closure.

Two and a half years after moving, two separate moves, two realtors, and one person who screwed us out of thousands of dollars later… WE FINALLY SOLD OUR HOUSE IN TEXAS.

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I can’t even express to you what it feels like to have this weight lifted. It feels like approximately 117,000 lbs lighter. Having two house payments for 2 1/2 years has been beyond stressful. I am so beyond thankful to finally have this chapter closed.
And yet.
I couldn’t help but shed a few sad tears along with the tears of joy (and believe me, when we signed those papers I cried with relief like a baby).
This beautiful house that we lived in at one of the best times of our life sold and officially ended our time in Texas.
We closed on the house January 31, 2010 after living in two hotels in Oklahoma and Texas for two weeks after moving from Louisiana. We moved in the first week of February. Rory was born February 12. To say that time was crazy would be an understatement.
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We brought our precious Rory home to that house and oh, how I wish I could spend one more day just me and baby Rory. She was the best baby on earth. So easy, so perfect.
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Around 10 months she started not sleeping. I remember those long nights and days. That house saw all the hours with me.
It was there that “the bish” happened and I realized just how much of a stinker Rory was going to be.
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Then just 15 months later we brought our precious Ryder home to this house.
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I don’t think I slept more than an hour a night for so long. And that isn’t an exaggeration. I’d be up with Rory and Ryder all night. I have no idea how I made it through that.
And it was in this house that we had so many phone calls with cardiologists after we discovered Ryder’s heart defects. I remember vividly being in that cold doctor’s office and hearing her describe all the many defects and procedures we would have or hopefully not have. All I could think on the way home was how I could not wait to get into my house with the girls. This house was safe and I needed that safety to comfort me.
That home saw a lot of heartache and tears as we fought hard for our Ryder to grow and try to avoid open heart surgery. Those walls could tell you of prayers that last hours and of prayers that were simply pleading with God to miraculously heal her heart so she wouldn’t have to endure that surgery. It could also tell you the peace we felt when we realized maybe there was just never going to be another way and that surgery would save her life and hopefully the lives of others.
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That house was with us through ear infections, sleepless nights, open heart surgery recovery, etc. It was our comfort zone for many battlefields.
It also held more joy than any house could possibly hold. So much laughter over milestones and funny things our beautiful, perfect children did every day. It saw many firsts: smiling, rolling over, crawling, first teeth, pulling up, walking. I will never forget how Rory pulled up on the couch one night and then literally just ran across the room. There was no typical toddling from her- she just straight up ran. And I will never forget Ryder and her hilarious “scoot”. She would scoot all over that house on her bottom, it was the cutest thing.
That house saw lots of monthly photo shoots for Rory and Ryder, our very first “sister pics”, and two first birthdays.
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It held a lot of Sunday school get togethers with amazing friends. They were our rocks, our prayer warriors, our extended family.
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That house also invited friends over for play dates for tired mamas to drink coffee and have adult conversation. (This picture is actually from Kayla’s house but its the only one with all the kids.)
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It was in Texas that I learned the most what true friendship was and that house helped nurture those friendships through fellowship.
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Andy and I grew more in our marriage than ever in that house. We fought and made up, our poor sleep-deprived selves were sometimes too quick to anger, but luckily we learned to forgive and show grace in that house.
We will always cherish our time there and will never forget bringing our babies home and enjoying them so much in that home. I’m so thankful for our time there, it was the most growth in every aspect of my life that I’ve ever had.
I hope it brings the next owners as much joy as it did us.
 
(And maybe one day I will tell the tales of the other occupant of that house…. oh yes, we think it may have had a ghostly visitor.)

a simple, magical Christmas

I was in the living room folding clothes the first day we were back from Thanksgiving when I heard it; the first sign of the magic of Christmas in the girls’ voices.

Rory: Ryder! Did you know that Santa is coming soon? We don’t have a chimney but mom will leave the door open for him!

Ryder (much gasping and expression in her voice): NO! Is it SO SOON?! Did you know, Whoa-wy, that Santa is going to park them reindeers right on the balcony outside?!

And on and on it went, one imaginative story after another. It must have went on for 30 minutes.

The best part? I have barely talked to them about Santa other than confirming he will be coming and singing the typical Christmas songs. They are just making all these fun things up on their own.

What’s even more magical? Hearing them talk, on their own, about the birth of our Savior. They love to play with the nativity set and they love to talk about the angel and the star and “that baby Jesus who was so sweet all wrapped up in waddling clothes”. I mean, does it get any more precious than that?

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Rory said a prayer the other night before bed and it went something like this: “Dear Lord, thank you for this day and everything you gave us. Thank you for Christmas and for sending Jesus to live in our hearts. He is a precious gift. We love you and Amen.”

Tears. I couldn’t even open my eyes, I was so humbled.

Because I’m going to be honest, I’ve had a few weeks of being a butt in my heart and mind about Christmas. I have missed my house in Savannah. My beautiful yellow house that I’ve dreamed about my whole life and just, literally, fell into our laps at an amazing price. It was so easy. It was so gorgeous. It had everything I had ever wanted.

And here I am in our “800 square feet of fun” with no room for my giant tree that fit like a dream in our old house.

WHAT. A. FREAKING. BRAT.

Sometimes I’m just appalled at myself. What is wrong with me?! I mean, seriously.

When I finally got over my ungrateful, wretched behavior, I got out our “half tree” (yes, it is only HALF a tree- completely flat on one half) up and decorated.

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And I fell madly in love with the simplicity of it.

It is decorated with the ornaments we get every time we go on a trip and all our “first” ornaments- first Christmas engaged, first Christmas married, babies first Christmases. These ornaments that show of our lives together as a family, before and after children.

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Instead of decorating the entire apartment from head to toe, the girls and I put a few simple decorations. For a change, I put out decorations they could actually touch and play with. I mean. WHAT A SHOCKER. Can you even fathom your children living in your home and getting to touch the beautiful things that make Christmas so magical?!

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They were giddy over it. I was giddy over it. It took me an hour to put everything up and it’ll take the same to take down. Isn’t that a relief?!

When I saw and felt how delighted I was in the simplicity of my tree and decorations I started to crave simplicity in the entire season.

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We have had a big, complex year. Though this move was something we have dreamed of as far as location and promotions for Andy goes, it has also been the hardest as a family. Seeing your child miss their friends and cry over being farther from grandparents is harder than I could’ve ever imagined. It has just been an emotional experience for us.

So, I took a long, hard look at the things that always stress me out and make me forget what Christmas is really about. The things Andy and I argue about. The things that we need to financially cut out and put towards more important things.

There was one thing that I kept going back to that met all of the above stresses: Christmas Cards.

This one was a hard pill to swallow. It took me a long while to become rational. I mean, what would Christmas be without getting a card from us this year?!

In the end, I knew it had to be the first thing to let go.

Because I’m a crazy person, I stress HARD over that perfect Christmas card. I stress over the fact that they need to be PERFECT. It would be horrible if I had a typo or *GASP* if someone else in my circle picked the same card. And don’t even get me started on my perfect handwriting for the envelopes- I am an insane person when it comes to this part of the cards. Also, I have NO CONTROL when it comes to sending the cards. I can’t cut people off the list. It is just too hard for me. Last year I spent SIXTY EIGHT DOLLARS on Christmas cards BEFORE postage. HECK TO THE NO NO NO NO NO NO. I simply just COULD.NOT. do that this year. Could not.

So the first thing I cut this year was the beloved/stress-me-the-heck-out Christmas card.

Instead, we are going to be spending the money I always spend on Christmas cards to give a child presents she wouldn’t get without someone “adopting” her this Christmas. I feel my girls need to experience that much more than they need to be on a card that people throw away at the end of the season.

We have also decided that we will be sending Christmas day here at home, just us four. We have travel plans the week before and after Christmas, but for three days it’ll be just us at home. Andy has off and we want to enjoy time together and let the kids actually enjoy their presents. We will not get out of our Christmas pajamas all day on Christmas. It will be amazing. 

I can’t wait to see how the girls’ imaginations continue to grow and all the ways we can help to make this season wonderfully significant for them, because Christ’s birth is just that- wonderfully significant.

I’m so looking forward to a simple, magical Christmas.

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*Feel free to save the above picture and print it out as our Christmas card. That was as much as I could do, and I even put a 5 minute timer on myself so I wouldn’t stress over it.

What are YOU doing to simplify the holiday season this year? I would love to know!

Let the noise of love be loud at our tables today.

This week has been very loud. I can’t seem to get away from the noise around the world.

The Ferguson tragedies are ringing loud throughout social media and loud in every part of my heart.

Here I am, white as milk, sobbing for this black community wondering what I can do to make a difference to my community and theirs, together.

The poor mother of Michael Brown is not only having to mourn the loss of her precious son but also has the weight of the aftermath on her shoulders. Do you honestly think she is happy with the riots, looting, and the arson? I can guarantee she wants nothing more than to rewind time to take it all away. I can imagine her lying awake in her bed wondering where it all went wrong. What could she do differently to make sure her son stayed out of trouble and ultimately was still alive?

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Regardless of what people are pronouncing so loudly on facebook, I know WHITE families who have been through the same thing. Maybe not being killed by a cop, but the “what went wrong and made them stray” burden they will forever carry.

I have a cousin that grew up just like me who at some point started a life mixed up in drugs and crime. I know his mom asks herself every day what could she have done differently. Or my friend T who has been in and out of rehab and jail.

These two people I love with all my heart and they will struggle every day for the rest of their lives with addiction. It all started with one bad decision. One bad friendship disguised as the only person who understood or loved them- even more than their own families.

All three of these mothers mourn the loss of their sons- either to death or drugs or jail or whatever.

I have asked myself constantly what can I do to make a difference now in the middle of all this noise. What can I do to make sure my girls grow up to love others equally?

We have to teach them through our own actions. We have to set the example. We have to teach them how to respond to racism and bad situations with grace, mercy, dignity and respect.

If these people who are rioting and committing crimes had been taught differently growing up they wouldn’t be doing these terrible things. They wouldn’t be responding in violent ways.

If some of my white friends had been taught differently they wouldn’t be blowing up my facebook feed with blatantly racist remarks. I have been completely heartbroken and appalled as I have seen these people who call themselves Christians say horrible things about “those black people”.

How about those white people? Because we are just as bad. Meth houses, Holly Bobo cases, Charles Manson? Those crazy white people. Those horrible white people committing crimes that are what nightmares are made of.

Sin goes both ways. It doesn’t see race or social status.

More importantly, Jesus Christ goes both ways. He died for every single one of us. He covers every sin committed by every man, no matter what their race is.

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Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved. Romans 10:13

His blood is colorblind. His grace is sufficient for every race, every tongue, every tribe.

How can we expect anyone to act the right way if Christians don’t set the example of Christ and also be colorblind as He is?

Nothing will every change if we don’t open our hearts to what Christ wants for us. He commands us to love God and love others.

ALL OTHERS. Every single race.

Because we are all worth it to Him.

So this Thanksgiving racism may be loud in our hearts and minds but God’s love is louder.

He muffles the noise and calls us to be louder in our love for others.

I am most thankful today that my parents raised me in a home that was loving and gave grace freely. I grew up in a home with no racist remarks. I grew up in a home where God’s love showed through my parents to people of every color equally.

I am forever thankful that I was taught empathy towards all colors and situations.

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It is my life’s mission to teach my children the same thing.

Lord, be with me and show me how to teach my children equality. Help me to never lose sight of those things. Help me to be an example of grace and mercy to all races, just as You showed us through the Cross.

Happy Thanksgiving. Let the noise of love be loud at your table today.

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Taking care of yourself as a SAHM (some tips). #write31days

I was a stay-at-home mom for 4 years before getting a job last year. I lived in unwashed/undone hair, little to no makeup, and yoga pants on a good day. Most days I stayed in my pajamas stained with crap (literally).

When I got a job I had an excuse to dress nice and put a good face on and dang did I feel good about myself.

Not in a cocky way, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel that good about myself but it just felt so good to get into some clean, fresh clothes and have my hair and makeup done every single day. I felt more alive and felt good in my own skin for the first time in a lot of years.

I say all that to lead to now where I’m a SAHM again.

I decided the very first day of my new but old role that I was going to make sure to get up and get dressed and ready.

I realize it very much so sounds counter productive since, as I’ve said, you literally get crap on you every day.

But you know what? I promise if you decide to, at the very least, wake up, wash your face, and put on some mascara you will feel a million times better. 

So I thought today I would give you a list of some EASY things to put on and still be casual and comfy around the house BUT will make you feel like more than a kleenex to your kids’ snot.

First lets discuss makeup. I find that if I even out my skin with a very light foundation and finish it off with blush and mascara at the least I feel SO MUCH BETTER ALL DAY LONG.

1- My favorite mascara. I have tried every mascara under the sun because I was blessed with great eyelashes but I am always trying to make them even bigger, better, and more luxurious. CoverGirl LashBlast is the best mascara ever and ever and amen. 

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2- I wore Bare Minerals powder foundation for about 10 years and it just wasn’t my favorite anymore for some reason. So then I tried Tarte 12 Hour Amazonian Clay Foundation and absolutely loved it while I worked. But now that I’m at home it was much too thick of a foundation for staying at home.

I tried Bare Minerals bareSkin foundation and it took me a few days and youtube tutorials to realize I was using way too much, but as soon as I did it the right way I fell madly, deeply in love. It is so lightweight and EASY. Make sure you invest in the brush with it because it makes all the difference to me.

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3- Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush. Y’ALL GO GET THIS IMMEDIATELY. It is a little more pricey at $26 but I have had mine that I use every single day for 6 months and it still looks almost untouched. For real. It lasts forever and is the most beautiful blush on earth. Bonus, it actually does last 12 hours. So you can add some color to your cheeks in the morning to look alive and not think twice the entire day if your blush is looking weird and splotchy.

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Clothes- now I know that there is nothing harder than putting on something uncomfortable and trying to clean and play in the floor with your kids. More importantly, all of my friends have real bodies and even the skinniest of friends have different bodies after baby. Especially right after. So here are some options I’m loving right now.

1- LEGGINGS and dresses. I’m not a leggings as pants girl, but I love a good pair of leggings with a very comfy and forgiving dress. I literally live in this sort of outfit now and I never in a million years thought I would. Also, I never iron so something like this would be perfect for me. ha!

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2- Jeggings. I discovered jeggings last year and feel like I can never go back. They are so comfy and stretchy. I can get on the floor with the girls like no big deal in these bad boys.

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I recently bought these at Faded Glory Jeggings at Walmart and don’t ever want to take them off. And they are $13. !!!! (Also they don’t have a zipper- they just slip on but are cute– how could that possibly be?! I’m pretty sure these are the new mom jean. HA.)

3- Flowy tops. Jennifer Garner addressed her “baby bump” this week making her my new best friend even if she never knows it. So should I say more about why I love a flowy top?

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I also love this outfit and the outfits recreated in the source! Maybe I need to start recreating some pinterest outfits!

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So mommas, let me say something loud and clear- IF I CAN DO THIS AND CHALLENGE MYSELF TO GET READY EVERY DAY SO CAN YOU. I feel better than ever and am enjoying being a SAHM again and I know a big part of it is because I’m getting ready and that means I’m taking care of myself first thing in the morning to ensure I feel my best.

And then guess what happens? I treat my whole family better and don’t feel like I’m the least important thing.

It is easy to stay in our pajamas all day and not take care of ourselves. That also means it is easier for us to dip into a vicious “no one cares about me” or “I will always come last” cycle. How do I know? I LIVED IN THAT CYCLE FOR YEARS.

But now I am in control of it thanks to taking care of myself a little every single day, even if that means just mascara. Do you hear me, moms? JUST MASCARA can make all the difference in the world.

Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your family.

So tell me- what do YOU do to make sure you are taking care of yourself every day?

——–

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Look at us, we are all the same.

It has been three years.

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I have all the feelings in the world and all the words in the world in my head and in my heart, but I just feel like it is the same ol’ same ol’ thing and why does anyone need to hear it again?

Three years ago, our baby girl Ryder, had Open Heart Surgery to fix several defects. Things were more dire than I realized and also than I ever told anyone.

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It was the hardest and yet most beautiful time of my life. I’ve never felt more desperate and terrified, and at the same time I have never felt more loved and at peace.

What do I say more than that? It was beautifully terrifying.

The outcome was miraculous. Ryder soared through the surgery and recovery. It was such a struggle before surgery. Everything was one huge hurdle we just couldn’t jump over before. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t stay awake. We barely survived, all of us. It was as if she was just waiting to have that surgery we tried to avoid. It was everything she needed. 

We are still having struggles and I’m sure we will have plenty ahead, but she is here with us. So any trial is worth every single minute of heartache we have experienced or will experience with her because we have her.

We get to enjoy her oh-so-dramatic self. We get to see her grow and learn. We get to see her love on her sister (and fight with her sister). We get to know her. We get to love her. We have the pleasure of experiencing the magnitude of her personality and how she is a fighter through and through.

There is no sacrifice too great or storm too fierce to offset our love and joy for Ryder. 

And that goes for Rory too.

Because at the heart of the matter, parenting is so gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking and hard for every single parent. It doesn’t matter if you have a child who has open heart surgery or one who never even gets a cold.

We are all the same, no matter the trials and triumphs. My child who was desperately ill is no harder than the child who strays as a teenager but is never sick. It is heartbreaking either way.

We love them the same, either way.

Because we are all parents. We all want the very best for our children. We all want no harm to ever come to them. We are all heartbroken because no matter how hard we try, they will get hurt and they will hurt us.

And yet we will keep loving, keeping fight, and keep trucking on because it is what we have to do. Each trial makes us stronger, each victory makes us more thankful- combined they make us better parents.

I hear a lot of “I don’t know how you did it” and my response is always “because I had to”. Doesn’t that apply to all parents in all situations?

The single mom- I have no idea how she does it. But she does because she has to.

The mom to a sick child- I still don’t know how she does it. But she does it because she has to.

The mom to the strong-willed child- LORD KNOWS I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE (we) DOES IT. But we do because we have to.

Look at us, we are all the same. All trying to raise our children to make good choices and to love others.

Keep trucking on, y’all. Do it because you have to. Do it because you love your children more than life.

Do it because the joy in being a parent outweighs the heartache by a million.

 

Lake Winnipesaukee

One of the best parts of our move here is that I already have a few friends in the area, Andy’s brother lives 20 minutes away, and also an aunt and a cousin live in the area! We have rarely lived anywhere with established friends and family so I just feel so thankful I already have a few people close to me!

My Aunt Patrice and cousin Jessica and her little girl Bree invited us to come to Lake Winnie to have a day of fun. There are tons of rides for kids and a great waterpark too. I’m pretty sure, mainly because they won’t stop telling me, that it was their “MOST FAVORITE DAY EBBBERRRRRR”.

I couldn’t believe it but Ryder actually rode pretty much every ride she could ride and had a blast doing it. I was so proud of her.

Rory was in heaven because girlfriend would ride ANYTHING.

You will ALSO be shocked to know that Ryder walked in the heat from noon to 7:30ish without ever saying “my wegs won’t work”. It was a true Labor Day miracle!

{However, her legs or body wouldn’t work the entire morning because “they too tired, momma! they can’t work!”…}

Rory also told me between giggles yesterday, “Mom! My face hurts from smiling so much!” Mine did too, Rory girl, mine did too.

I didn’t get a ton of pictures because I was too busy having fun! It was just such a wonderful day with family and we can’t wait to go back again!

Rory giggling like crazy on her first ride. This was one of my favorite parts of the day. I literally almost cried watching how much fun she had on that first ride.

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And believe it or not, Andrew and I got to ride a couple of rides without the kids too. Isn’t he just precious?! IMG_4727We all slept GOOD last night. The girls woke up telling us they’d like to go back there everysingleday. Bless it. They are precious.

Yesterday I was thinking, between giggles, about how hard parenting is and then just when you think you can’t answer another “BUT WHY” or “HOW DO YOU SPELL ____?” or referee another fight or step over another tantrum-pitching toddler you suddenly get a day of pure joy. That is exactly what yesterday was for me. Its been a tough week or so and I thought IF I HAVE TO BREAK UP ONE MORE FIGHT OVER STUPID CRAP I’M GONNA CUT SOMETHING. Then we go on a fun adventure and the girls are SO good and I get to laugh with them the entire day and experience the joy of riding rides for the first time with them. THAT is what parenting is all about.

Keep up the good work and fight hard through the tough parenting decisions/discipline/toddler tantrums and you will have days of pure joy as a reward for your hard work. It never fails.

 

on my last day of work.

Today marks my last day of work. I have such crazy mixed feelings about all of it. On one hand I am just so excited about the move and where our life is taking us next that I’m ready to be done.

And yet.

I am so not ready to leave my job.

I’ve written before about how life has shifted since I got a job. I just don’t even know how to adequately describe it. My life has been better because of this job. I have found a new sense of value and worth in having this job. I have gained another family.

I will miss so much all the joy that my coworkers and the patients brought each and every day. I probably laughed more in the past year than I ever have in my life. Which is saying something.

Out of an entire year of working I had MAYBE two days I seriously didn’t want to go into work. TWO DAYS. I worked through a kidney stone and tried to work with the flu. I mean I seriously loved this dang job. Ha!

It was more than the friendships that I so strongly have with my coworkers too.

I felt a new sense of purpose and worth just in the fact that I was getting up most days of the week at a scheduled time and actually getting ready. I took showers. I wore nice clothing – dresses several times a week! (!!!) I put on make up and fixed my hair. I enjoyed every second of it.

Just those simple things shifted my life so much.

When you are a stay-at-home mom there really isn’t much need or time for all the showers and make up and fixing your hair. And why wear beautiful clothes when your children are just gonna crap and puke or spill everything they eat/drink on them??? I mean. Seriously!

I loved getting to go to work and (mostly) have adult conversation. I loved getting to eat lunch with friends and not have anyone ask for a bite. Or not having to count someone’s bites. Or not saying “EAT YOUR FOOD” twelve million times.

Yes, there were lots of days I missed my children. But that was so good for me. To actually miss them. For so long I never had a free second. So this year was just so good because we missed each other during the day and loved seeing each other at night. And because it truly was THE PERFECT JOB, I got to still be home with them two days a week. I mean, I’m telling y’all- dream job.

On Wednesday we left work early and went to Florence to eat downtown and do a little shopping. My coworkers went in and got some gag gifts for me and also some gift gifts. Then they wrote me a poem called “Ode to Tizzy” and it made my life complete. It was the perfect day and the perfect end to one of the best years of my life solely because of my job.

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Let me just state a few things for the record: I did dance all day every day- its what I do best in life. BUT I did work. Dancing is just a priority sometimes. I’m not a fan of washing my hair but it isn’t OILY dirty. And some men/women mistake my FRIENDLINESS for FLIRTINESS. I sometimes mess up messages… like I forget the patients name or get it wrong (example Mick Jagger). I did NOT kill my neighbors chickens and cannot discuss this yet because I still live in the neighborhood. When I was a young PK my friends and I sometimes would copy our butts on the church copy machine. (sorry mom and dad and Sheree and Joyce) Paper Mill Wife status is something I’ve never heard of until I started working here- but around these parts apparently most paper mill wives are “ladies of leisure” … clearly this is something I am not. — Just felt I needed to clear some things up. HA.

I have loved getting to know the patients too at my job. I obviously worked in a medical facility so can’t say much but there were some precious people that I will miss so much. One older man who was sorta grumpy to some people took to me and I definitely took to him and I’m going to miss his grumpiness and his way of making fun of you because he loved you way. Then the other elderly man who brought fresh veggies and ALWAYS brought his digital camera so he could show me pictures of his garden, his family, his “trophies” from WW2. Sweetest man on earth and I will surely miss him. Then every other “regular” patient who came in and laughed at/with me- they all made my day so much brighter. Some of the drug reps and I got to be friends and I will really miss seeing them as well. I hope they miss me just as much!

I will, however, not miss the men who are INAPPROPRIATE and touchy. Just sayin’.

I will also miss all the WEIRD AS HECK ailments people have. I mean seriously. You wouldn’t believe unless you worked in the medical field. MERCY PEOPLE. Mercy.

My life will be much duller and a little less bright after today. I’m just so thankful I was able to have this opportunity and meet and know these wonderful people. I will miss every single one of you tremendously. I love you and cherish your friendship.

{From left: Rejetta (and Sayer!), Lisa (favorite-ever boss), Stacy, myself, Tanya, Tiffany (my partner in crime co-receptionist), Olivia and Aleisha}

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PS- I gave them pictures of me with different phrases recorded as a gift. It was fantastic.

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our new adventure.

*I apologize for this post in some areas- most of this comes from my journal that I keep and I wrote it over the course of about a week or so and I just kind of copied that and added some in between.

On June 18th, Andy came home and said, “Well. I got a call about a job today.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. We have officially moved every two years or less since we have been married. I can hardly keep up anymore.

My mind immediately went into overdrive. I asked Andrew approximately 1000000 questions. He knew maybe 8 answers of those because, hello, he had no more info than that at this point.

The problem with these weeks of limbo between the initial call and the interview (which took longer to set up because of 4th of July holiday) is that life goes on but also stops. People start talking about plans in the future and all you can think is how you might not be around anymore.

But, at the same time, there is no guarantee from one phone call that you will move or that it will work out. So you try and stay connected and involved (and in my case this time still trying to make friends here) even though you aren’t sure it is worth the effort if we will be moving. (That sounds harsh, but I don’t know how else to say it.)

So, basically, these last few weeks have been very much hurry up and wait. We have kept completely silent minus immediate family and very, very few out of town friends.

We finally went to Cleveland (aka our Chattanooga family vacation…) and Andy had his interview. The company bent over backwards to ensure we were set up and had a great experience. Andy rocked his interview, of course, and they verbally offered him a job that day. Wednesday we got the official paper work in. We said a lot of “this is really happening!” to each other. Tears were shed. Giggles were fluent. We were ecstatic.

Honestly.

It is hard to believe we are facing this again.

A move.

Andy got the call about this job exactly two years after we moved from Texas to TN. When we accepted the job at the Counce mill and moved to Tennessee we thought this would be it. The very last move.

I also said and thought I’d never live in (and especially LOVE) Louisiana and Texas. So. Clearly I have no idea.

I have such extreme mixed feelings about this move, just like any other move.

Thinking about living my work FAMILY has made me shed many, many tears. LOTS OF SOBS. I would lie awake at night thinking about how I would never make it through telling them we were leaving without sobbing. I just can’t imagine leaving them, leaving my job, leaving “my” patients. I just love my job and work family so very much.

And of course, the friends we do have here mean so much to me as well and I hate leaving them too.

The hardest part is definitely telling your friends goodbye.

But, y’all know I am also so excited about this new adventure. Moving is always hard in some areas but if you know me you know I love and crave change. So I’m completely ready for our next adventure as a family. (Adventure is the only word that can describe it- I think of every move as just that. A beautiful, new adventure God has given me.)

This has very much so come out of no where. Andy and I had zero intentions to move. Andy especially planned to live in Savannah forever.

So, as with every move, we are overwhelmed with bittersweet feelings.

We will so miss living THIS CLOSE to family. That has been such a wonderful treat after not having it. I wouldn’t trade a single second here because my girls finally got to know their grandparents, aunts, and cousins so well. And I’m so glad we won’t be TOO far so they can continue to build these beautiful relationships with them.

We know God has placed this amazing opportunity for Andy and our family exactly where and when He sees fitting best. We are just so excited to see the plans He has for our family in a new location.

Also, let me say this: I am overwhelmed with pride for my sweet husband. Andy is the hardest worker I know. He has reached every single goal he has ever wanted. He is so driven and gets what he wants because he earns it. I couldn’t be happier for him for this awesome promotion and for all the accomplishments I’ve been by his side to see.

He makes every single move worthwhile.

We cannot wait to see what Cleveland, TN has to offer the Harris family and what WE have to offer Cleveland.

I  just don’t think they can prepare themselves for the Harris family…. 😉

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***update: as predicted, lots of tears were had at work today when I told my boss and coworkers. LOTS O’ TEARS.