Time to Reflect

I told you that since our move at the beginning of the year things have felt very peaceful. I feel like I am no longer busy in the stressful sense of that word. Sure, I have things to do like everybody else, but I can be a tad bit more flexible and I can squeeze in some down time. 

Waking up so early, constantly changing diapers and chasing kiddos -- teaching school to the children for the first half of the day and then teaching myself in law school for the second half of the day - plus commitments, running the household, appointments, meeting with friends, etc., makes me feel like I'm never quite on top of things and never fully succeeding at anything. But I'm learning to embrace the imperfections of my life and just admit to myself and to others that I struggle juggling it all. So I'm grateful for slower days or little indulgences I get that give me the recharge I need to get back to the grind or appreciate routine. 

For my Birthday this year Chris bought me a flight to go see my sister Missi in Florida. It seemed like the perfect way to take advantage of some down time and get away for a recharge. I got to meet some new family members, catch up with old friends, enjoy my sisters and brother, and not have to worry about bundling up to go anywhere. 

Cecily met the ocean for the first time. I went for a solo walk with just Cecily in my arms on the beach. We breathed the salt air. We hummed with the crashing waves. We found a few seashells to bring back to Ohio for the other kids. We stood still for moments here and there taking in the beauty and reverently worshipping God for His creation. And my soul was at rest. Cecily cooed the entire time. I'm certain she loved that walk as much as I.

The Florida trip was a quick weekend rendezvous, but I've continued to find ways to unwind since being home. Our local coffee shop is a block from my house, so after a long run in my old town with a friend, I can squeeze in a little indulgence while I study before the kids wake up. I can't tell you how wonderful it makes me feel to get a 6-7 mile run in and an hour of studying in before daybreak! 

It used to be that styling outfits, taking photos, and shopping was what inspired me - but now a little time alone is what recharges me. It has been so good to be back to being a morning person and taking advantage of those hours I used to snooze through. Nevertheless, sometimes I miss the old days of taking the time to do my hair and make-up every day, shop for thrift finds, and wear something a new way each day. A few weeks ago I put this together for a couples' date recently and loved the way it turned out. For the most part, though, these styled moments are rare.

In other news, Cecily turned 7 months today and I was able to get a little photo shoot in this morning with her. She has been hitting some milestones lately, and I'm finding myself feeling sad that her toddler days are right around the corner.

These babies of mine teach me so much about life. How I respond to life inevitably becomes the way they respond to life - I see my mistakes in them, but I also see so much forgiveness from them. Oh how quickly telling them I love them or am sorry will absolve any ounce of sadness or anger in them.

Now I have to get back to studying. Just needed a quick moment to reflect a little on the past few weeks. Winter seems to drag on forever, but looking back on these photos, it feels like it is going by too fast. Funny how that happens.


My Beauty Must Haves

I will apologize up front that I no longer have a theme for this blog. I guess for the most part it's just pictures of my family and my life now. So those of you who come here to read about what's going on in my life and not for what make-up I'm wearing, just skip this. 

DISCLAIMER: No one is sponsoring this post. None of these products were sent to me for a review. These are just products I can't live without right now. 

Anyhow, I love finding things that work and I always seem to be on the hunt for something better. Beauty products also happen to be my current obsession (trying to be less of a clothes horse and not buy so many shoes, too). So this is what's on my mind. 

1. Marchesa Parfum - Prettiest bottle ever. Light floral scent. I got it for Christmas after I sniffed everything that Sephora had to offer about a year ago. I had settled on this scent and finally got it! It's divine. It's my favorite. It's the first scent I picked out on my own (my husband always picked my fragrances out before this. Before my husband, my Grandpa did). 

2. Neutrogena Eye Cream - It's not necessarily this brand that I'm in love with, because this is the first eye cream I've ever used. It's that using eye cream has made such a difference in my skincare routine! My eyes aren't as puffy when I wake up, and they don't get as irritated or red because I don't use my moisturizer around my eyes anymore, I just gently tap this stuff. This also helps keep my eye makeup on and helps it glide on more smoothly. 

3. Medela Nipple Cream - OK, weird, I know. But I use it for my lips. It really really works and it has no taste to it. We had -15 wind chill this morning and my lips aren't dry. Enough said. 

4. Eau Roma Water - I bought this a year ago from LUSH. It's handmade rose and lavender water that I spritz on before I put my moisturizer on in the morning and at night. During the winter months my skin gets so dry, especially after I put make-up on. Sometimes I spritz this on during the day over my make-up to help with the itchiness. It smells so fresh, it takes some of the redness away before moisturizing, and it helps make my skin look dewy. 

5. Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks in Powder Pink - I don't use this for my lips, I just dab a small dot on the apples of my cheeks. It gives the most natural looking flush and does not make my skin dry. It lasts all day, too. A friend sent it to me for my Birthday last year and I've been hooked since. 

6. LASHFOOD Conditioning Mascara - I got this as a free sample from a Sephora order. I also like Benefit mascara, however, this stuff is amazing. It never ever flakes, my lashes look longer and are stronger. When you first use it, it looks so natural that I wasn't so sure about it. I want drama for my lashes. It feels like you're just swiping oil on them, though, not dry gunk. After a few weeks of use, it starts working amazing - I have gone a couple days without mascara because of how long my eyelashes have gotten and now the mascara is noticeably dramatic.

7. ELF Eyebrow Gel - I'm obsessed with eyebrows right now. Putting a gel on them makes a huge difference for me because my eyebrow hairs are so long. The gel keeps them in place. I try to keep my eyebrow hairs trimmed, but even when I trim them, they need the gel to keep them arched. This stuff is so cheap ($2) and it does the trick. I'm sure there is better stuff out there, but for silly gel for my eyebrows, I'll spend $2, thank you.

8. Make-up Eraser Cloth - This cloth is what inspired me to write this post. This thing is a miracle. Seriously. I've used tons of make-up removers, pads, wipes, you name it. This works without any chemicals or soaps. You simply wet it, wipe once, buff with the opposite side of the cloth, and voila! I only wash it once a week, too. Do yourself a favor and buy this. It is worth its weight in gold.

9. Feeling Younger Skin Tint - I picked this up at LUSH with a Christmas gift card just for the fun of it. It's like putting pearlized paint on your skin, but it's actually handmade and healthy for your skin. My skin glows with this stuff. I mix it with my foundation for a more dewy look. Easier than "strobing," but gives the same effect.

10. Tarte Amazonian Clay Bronzer - Since age 15 I've been wearing bronzer and mascara. My two make-up must haves. In the past, any bronzer I've used clogs my pores, smudges, or hasn't been just the right color. This bronzer does not clog my pores, blends flawlessly, and is the most natural looking color I've ever used.

11. Essie Nail Polish Good as Gold - I love Essie polish. For whatever reason, this color dries so fast and only needs one coat. I have lots of Essie polishes, but only this one dries and covers this quickly. I love being able to swipe a quick coat on right before I walk out the door. Within minutes of driving, the color is dry and no second coat is needed. Such a versatile, classy color, too!

12. LUSH Reindeer Rock Soap - With that same LUSH gift certificate I picked up some of this soap, thinking it would just smell nice. I use it on my face in the shower, too. Since using this soap I have not been itchy at all (and remember, -15 wind chill here this Winter). I have the Clarisonic brush and haven't had to use it due to the exfoliation from the Make-up Eraser and the gentleness of this soap. It is so expensive for how fast you go through it, but if you want to splurge on something, this is totally worth it.

13. Urban Decay Smoky Eye Palette - I splurged on this a few months ago. I felt guilty at the time, but now I don't know how I'll use anything else. When I use the dark colors in this palette, I don't see a dusting under my eyes, the colors are all my favorite eye colors (with plenty of neutrals if you want to do a naked eye). The brown in this palette is the perfect color to fill in my brows, too. I also love the brush that comes with the palette for swiping in the crease of the eyelid. I'm addicted to this product.

14. NARS Sexual Healing Lipstick - I made the mistake of succumbing to the NARS make-up counter at Sephora and trying on almost every single color. Of course I'd find out that my most favorite lipstick color is in one of the most expensive make-up brands available! I can't go on about how great the texture is necessarily, but this color I cannot rave about enough. It has the right amount of shimmer, the right amount of frosty, the right amount of nude pink, and I've worn it about every day since I got it for Christmas (thanks Mom!). And sorry about the name. ;-)

So after all that, I'm still looking for the perfect foundation. I thought I was a Bare Minerals fan, but it has looked kind of funny this Winter. I can just see the powder and before using the Reindeer Rock soap my face was itchy when I wore the powder foundation like it was when I was using Urban Decay and Make-Up Forever. I tried the LUSH Colour Supplement, but it doesn't glide on easily and dries a little weird. I want to try NARS tinted moisturizer next. Any suggestions? I want something that covers well, offers a wide range of colors so I can match my skin right, and that isn't drying.

I'm also not thrilled with the moisturizers I'm using. Thankfully my cleanser/toner/exfoliating regime makes up for it. But still. I'm using Aveeno Daily Moisturizer for day and Neutrogena for night. Neither products are bad, but I don't really notice much of a difference when I use them. Maybe it's just that my reindeer soap, eau roma water, and that makeup eraser is all I need! I was given a sample of Perricone MD once - it was amazing, but I just can't afford it. Suggestions?

OK, I'm done now. I'm glad I got to get all that girl talk out.


Hello to 2016

Hi friends. I'm still here. The weeks leading up to Christmas and the week after Christmas just flashed by. This week things slowed down and I am at peace. I've slept in several mornings. I've actually had a few moments of just sitting down and playing with my children. I've had and scheduled a few playdates. I haven't lost my temper at anyone - even when we locked ourselves out of our van after a shopping trip at Costco on a cold, rainy day. In fact, the high stress year of 2015 seems to have completely disappeared from my mind within this first week and a half of 2016.

God is good. He had everything worked out for us all along. Our house closed exactly the day that the rental was free. We got everything moved over with the help of family and friends in just one weekend. We got everything unpacked and hung on walls within a day or two after the move.

I spent the first week at home canceling all appointments and doing nothing but being with my kids. So by Saturday I needed to get out - run errands, get groceries, and I even got some shopping in with my Christmas money. Of course I may or may not have squeezed in quite a bit of online window shopping in first to give me some inspiration. Always impressed by the cute clothes online at Simons. Do you follow me on Instagram? I snapped a photo of one of my treasures from the Saturday shopping haul.

Below are some random unedited photos of us after the move, most of which did not make it on Instagram:

A shot of the kids playing out on our enclosed front porch of our rental house (note the coats that are necessary - Winter has definitely arrived).

 The living room of our rental before I paint the wood paneling white (after picture to come soon).

My little spot at our new place. 

The kids enjoying berries and toast at the breakfast bar of our new place (this breakfast bar being of my favorite things about this house).

 Some artwork from my kids that they did during our week spent at home.

 Snapping a quick photo of these boyfriend jeans for my sister's approval.

A quick shot of Cecily for her 6-month Birthday (this was actually the first month Birthday I missed! I took this photo the day after her Birthday). 



Five days till Christmas, but who's counting? It's our last Christmas here in this old house. It will be a special time. We have most of the boxes organized now and we've left all of our Christmas decorations up to keep things looking homey until the move. 

I made it through finals week. I was anxious and stressed, but God got me through and my family was very supportive. Now I have two weeks off to finish packing, enjoy the holidays, my family, and gear up for my last year of law school. It feels really good to be done, and I can't help but be proud of myself for having made it through this year with my sanity intact. 

Unfortunately, we are one by one catching different variations of the stomach bug--annoying--but we've learned that this happens to us every year at Christmas time and we just have to go with the flow (no pun intended). I'm the latest one down - missing out on our big Ohio family Christmas party (this makes two years in a row for me ). Maybe this is God's way of making me get some much needed rest. 

This morning we were all well, though, and we got our Christmas family photo taken. Dare I say these photos turned out better than the ones we took for our Christmas cards (where Cecily would not look at the camera in any shot we took). And aren't the girls adorable in their little Christmas dresses, and CJ in his jacket and tie?! I die! Love these little people to the moon and back. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours. May you take a moment to reflect on the season, remembering that Jesus came to save us - we are and will be because of Him. It is truly a magical and wonderful time of year, and I pray that we will each savor the moments we have to praise and worship the gift God gave us of His Son.


An Easy How-to: Turning Straight Leg Jeans Into Skinnies

So gals, I'm knee-deep in boxes and my head is jam packed with last minute cramming for finals . . . I'm not gonna lie, I've been super stressed. 

Whenever things get crazy like this I usually have to stop a minute, play piano, draw or MAKE SOMETHING. Sometimes having some kind of creative outlet is all I need to help with stress. So I decided to make my stress reliever project re-fashioning a pair of children's sized overalls to fit me. 

I bought these silly overalls in the girls' section at Gap. They are size XXL girls, but they fit and cost me less than $4. Why not, right? I just felt like I looked a little juvenile in them as is. Maybe you all like the baggier look of them better, but I wanted something a little more tailored. 

So I decided to take in the seams at the leg . . .

All I did was turn the legs inside out and use a bar of soap to draw a line where I would re-stitch the seam. I drew the line on the inner side of the leg because the outside had the seam showing.

Then I stitched a straight line over the soap line.

After this, I turned them inside out and tried them on. I thought they needed to be taken in some more, so I just drew another line with the soap and stitched another straight line over it.

After testing this new size out and approving it, I then zig zagged the edge, double stitched the seam, and cut off the excess fabric.

So now I have $4 kids' overalls that look a little more grown up. Plus, I got to do something fun and creative in the midst of studying and packing. 

If you have a pair of baggy jeans that you'd rather be skinny jeans, this method would work on just about any pants. It's not the most professional alteration, but it really does look great and it's super easy. Let me know how it goes if you give it a try!

Ok, now back to cramming . . .


Happy Five Month Birthday Ceci!

Our little Cecily has discovered her own voice and has just as strong a personality as her older sisters. She knows exactly what she wants and makes sure we all know it. Even if she is content, she makes sure everyone can hear her by making loud squealing noises - she will not be left out! She has been trying to sit up, stay awake longer during the day, and she just recently started grabbing for toys. Can't wait to see her develop more over the next few months, but mostly excited for her first Christmas!


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Since our house sold before Christmas, we changed our minds about Christmas cards. I'll be sending them out soon with our new forwarding address. Not that we have anything in stone yet for where we're headed, but we have an idea, and we will for sure have a different address soon. Hard to believe we will be moving in just a few short weeks! 

Caught a few sweet moments on my iPhone of Chris and the kids decorating the tree. So glad we get to spend one last Christmas in this house. Such sweet, precious memories.