camping and a little camouflage

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Okay, so I'm obviously a glutten for stress but a few nights ago while my little man was engrossed in Youtube videos of car crashes on mountain tops (I have no idea why this is so appealing!)  I spent about two and a half hours planning his fifth birthday!

Let me start off by telling you that first he wanted a tree cutter birthday. Right. Me too. I don't know what a tree cutter is, but my little person likes dozers, race cars, Kubota tractors and all kinds of things that make me truly understand what people mean when they say, "well, he's a boy." I definitely have a boy. So, when I politely explained that I didn't know what a tree cutter birthday party should entail (and in my head was completely freaking out because I couldn't find anything related to tree cutter parties on Pinterest) little man decided on a camping party.

Yes!

Score!

Momma can do that! 

So, four pages of notes and a few internet searches later, I found a really great camping invitation. I will report the progress over the next few weeks, but I leave you with these tantalizing ideas...

This is the backside of the invitation!

This is the backside of the invitation!

1) Bug juice

2) Outdoor obstacle course

3) Tents, tents and more tents!

Oh, it's going to be a DIY extravaganza y'all...

what does self-care mean for a Christian woman?

I went to small group two nights ago after missing each group of the semester thus far (approximately 5 or six meetings!) and I feel renewed. 

Three years ago, if my closest friend had told me that sitting inside a local eatery, eating good food and laughing with a group of girlfriends for an hour and a half would be fulfilling, I would have thought differently. I wouldn't have laughed, but at the time I would have probably considered "self-care" as my being able to save a few hours for myself each week, you know, going to Barnes and Noble, grabbing a pile of magazines and books (despite the fact that I knew I wouldn't read them all), and drinking a large coffee that I wouldn't have to share. But really, that's just motherhood. Sometimes we just want to read pointless celebrity gossip and intake calories from whipped cream and chocolate syrup that we don't have to share with our husbands or children :)

I spoke with a friend a few weeks ago, and I think we just happened to catch each other on a mutually rough day. We were both overwhelmed with wanting to be working supermoms who do not tire after a week of work, after school activities and everthing else we do regularly that we truly do love. Before we put our phones aside to resume our schedules, she told me that she needed to begin incorporating self-care, which is a word that more times than not will lead me to think about the spa gift card from my husband that I have been saving for a rainy day. 

But there is something about those words, self-care.  

As a Christian woman, I think self-care equates to a whole other idea. Sure, we feel fantastic when we look good or lose a few pounds, but lately, my desperate need has been one for spiritual health. I've learned that self-care quickly follows suit when you tend to work toward achieving spiritual health. I feel the greatest when I am close to God. What makes me feel close to God? Here are a few things that draw me nearer to Him.  

1) Marinating in God's word. Daily. This will seem hard if you overthink it. Yes, focusing on my prayers is "best" when I am at home in the early morning with my worship music playing in the background. I feel even better about this time when I can have this time for thirty to forty-five minutes uninterrupted. Is this realistic for all of us? Honestly, I wish it could be. But insert family, work, extracurricular activities, and a multitude of other things, and sometimes we are happy to just have five minutes of complete silence before bed. BUT...in the same way that we make getting up for work a priority, taking the time to be specific in our reading of His word is paramount to prayer life and relationship with God.

2) Taking part in community. Join a small group or community group and attend regularly. Don't miss. If you feel like missing, and find yourself coming up with excuses of things that you are responsible for regardless, understand that taking aside an hour will generally not effect your schedule negatively. In fact, after a life-giving fellowship you may accomplish more than you originally planned!  Never take yourself out of the running of being lifted up by other believers by God's Word. While in attendance, express yourself in a way that allows you to open up with other women who are seeking the same things: Jesus and how we can live our lives to bring glory to His name. 

3) Setting aside alone time, preferably each day for a few minutes, but definitely a few times per week. While prayer is our main means of communication with our Heavenly Father, and is a strong number one for this list, having alone time to process your thoughts is a strong habit to incorporate into your daily schedule too. When you are alone it will be easier to walk yourself through the things that you need to commune with Him about when it is time to pray. What do you need to thank him for? What do you have going on that you need to ask God to help you identify, and then correct? It's hard to deepen your spiritual relationship when it remains surface-level, and if you're trying to do this while driving in your kids' carpool or running errands on a lunch break, you may have brief revelations, but it takes time away from everything to truly make this time beneficial in your walk with God. 

4) Studying, asking questions and learning. In some circles today, Christianity seems to be like a popularity contest. I believe this sometimes results in groups of women who are taking the word of others over the word of God. If you are unsure of what you are being taught, hear, or read, make it a priority to learn God's word on your own!

You can find yourself cheering on someone else in their spiritual journey, and this is great, but you are the only one who can cultivate your own relationship with Jesus.  

 

bbq love

So I finally did. I guess I should say "we." My husband and I had our first date day of the New Year! 

My wives club meets during my church's small group semester, three semesters per year, and one thing I'm a strong advocate for is date night. But the kicker is this....my husband and I have NEVER had a date night!!! We may go on a date every few months, and let me tell you, by that time it is so long overdue a quick attitude is likely guaranteed at some point during the event. I guess you could say that we allowed "busy" to dictate our time together. Well....no longer! Today I happily left work, met my husband at Moe's, talked about nothing special and had some much needed quality time. Thank God for the little things that mean so much!

So, that's it. I just wanted to share my bbq happy and give myself a kudos for starting off the New Year being more intentional with my relationships :) 

 

what's the groundwork for your life change?

Happy New Year!

I'm off of work for the week, just spent a few hours joyriding with my two favorite boys (a let's get out of the house venture  that included fast food tacos, nachos and cheese, sweet tea and discussions about home renovations for the upcoming months!), and feel absolutely free. Do you know that feeling? Like you wake up, and your worries are gone because you've just DECIDED to live and enjoy the life you've been given?

These last few months (okay, the last year at a minimum, lets be honest), have been crazy. I've woken up, gone to work,  thoroughly enjoyed watching my little man grow in his karate class, participated in school as much as I can, hosted a few small groups, worked on my soon to be published book!!!!!, and successfully blogged for an entire year! Wow! That's not a very extensive list, but I feel accomplished. I also feel ready to admit that I greatly allowed my activities and what's expected of me to dictate my comings and goings. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions because they last for the first few weeks of January, and as soon as I "mess up" or "get off track," I literally feel like a failure. That's dumb, but it's the truth. The older I become, the more I prefer setting goals for life change. I guess you could argue that resolutions are the same as life change, but maybe I just like to call it life change :) Call me dramatic, it's okay :)

Key players in my truly making life changes will always include my growing to be a better wife and mother; as women, we can never be too mature, or too put together where we aren't in desperate need of growth and Jesus. As I type this I am thinking about my pouting session at church (of all places!) as I mumbled through my favorite elevation worship song because I was upset my family was late to service. Again. Okay, see, I'm falling into petty, that wasn't even necessary! But, back to the things I plan to work on to achieve life change. I decided that a great way to start 2018 on the blog would be to share a few things I look forward to doing in my attempts to live fully and free, leaving behind running here, there and everywhere!

I'm trying my hardest to be a planner. You know, write things down, think about projects and activities in advance and work toward them, you know? So I told myself at the beginning of last year that if I successfully calendared all year long, I would buy me a big girl planner, a.ka. an Erin Condren planner. With stickers and fun stuff! So I did, it arrived early which was fabulous, and there were some fun pages at the beginning that I thought I would share for to give some inspiration :)

This year, I am believing God for the successful publishing of my book (this is in process!!!), continuing to build myself and my son larger savings, uplifting and loving my husband more intentionally, taking a business risk to grow financially, BEING A BETTER SERVANT for His Kingdom, know Christ better and making sure my son and tranforming my mind and my body!!!

I'm curious, what are you believing God for this Year New?

What are a few things you plan to achieve this year to make true life change happen?

 

A sneak peak at my goals for the year.

A sneak peak at my goals for the year.

xoxo

Marlena

we can't do it all for them...

Last Thursday, I stood alongside my husband, our shoulders slightly touching as we watched our Little complete the obstacle course and move his little body through the stances required during his recent belt testing in karate class. My heart beat fast.

Proud mama that I am, I found myself wondering. What if he doesn't get his yellow belt? What if he is the only one who doesn't get it? What will be the best way for me to explain why he didn't pass his belt test? Realistically I could say, "Well, baby, you bounce in class. A LOT." It makes me smile to picture him doing something well in class and bounce, bounce, bounce himself away, sometimes talking to himself in his own little world. But then I see his instructor look at him and give him a slight nod "no" to get him back on track and my heart beats a little quicker. He's got to get this new belt!!! Surely he is ready! But is he?

Since becoming a mother, I find myself championing for my son and everything he does, whether it be karate, raising money for school functions, and the list goes on. And on. And on. But as much as I hate to admit it, as I watched him during his first belt testing attempt ever, I am slowly beginning to realize that I cannot always do for him. He's got to learn, grown and create his own accomplishments. He's got to start putting in the work for these things he wants to achieve.

A nervous wreck throughout the entire process, hastily watching and comparing his movements to others' in his class, we finally finished, and I coerced my husband to go along with us to World Market to start out hunt for new dishes. My Little started asking about his new belt and when he was going to get it. Not knowing beforehand that it took a few days to find out the testing results, I gave him a squeeze, many kisses and opened a the usual soda he grabs whenever we head into World Market and asked him the most important question I had asked during this entire belt testing process. Baby did you do your best? Nods. Says yes. Smiles. Accepts kiss and hug from Mama. Moves on.

Parents were told that not receiving a phone call on Monday or Tuesday was a good thing. Meaning, parents of the children who did not pass their belt exam will get phone calls from instructors today or tomorrow. Today is Monday. It's 11:15 and there have been no calls yet. Either way, we're moving on. My baby did his best. He has excitement in his heart for what he is doing in class. That's all that matters :)

To be continued...

xoxo

Marlena

nap mats and cold lunch...

Okay....

My sweet baby is officially in Kindergarten!!! OH.MY.GOODNESS.

The entire morning was an absolute cuteness overload. Picture this, tiny child, cutest face you've ever seen, and a backpack almost half as big as his little body. Actually, don't even try to picture it, just check out my sweet baby below!

Beaux William on the morning of his first day of Kindergarten.

Beaux William on the morning of his first day of Kindergarten.

So, being the smother mother that I am, I took off of work on Monday and Tuesday of this week to help my family get into the "flow" of our new schedule, i.e.,  kindergarten for my little man, karate after school four days a week and daddy working from home, all before my going back to work with a new work schedule. Whew! (It almost makes me tired just writing that!).

Upon drop off, I assumed that I would have to comfort my little with hugs and kisses. I mean, he's so small, going to big boy school would surely be a scary ordeal. Surely, he'd be scared, right? NO, MA'AM. He was a champ! I actually had to walk into class after loading up his cubby and kiss his sweet little face!

The night before,  I didn't go to bed as I stayed awake to pack his lunch, backpack and supplies, and really, to just think about what was happening. As a small baby, just a few weeks old, I had to go back to work and take my little to childcare. It was devastating. I won't elaborate too much, just because it is still a very sore topic with me and still hurts my mama heart. Years later, after a few different child care experiences, here I found myself sitting around the evening before Kindergarten absolutely expectant. As mentioned in a previous post, I found a quaint little classical school, one that I had completely overlooked in my quest to do more, be more, have more, etc., (check out my post in July about contentment) and in my excitement for this new adventure, it hit me hard that the time I fought so hard to have at home with him for so long, was officially gone. I would never have those moments again of nursing, holding and rocking. Ultimately, my dream of being able to be a stay at home mom for him would never become a reality for me. It makes my heart sink admitting that. Talk about a reality check that will pull the chords of your heart like nothing else.

Monogrammed nap mat (bae was a fan of shark week this year!) and monogrammed lunch box and backpack.

Monogrammed nap mat (bae was a fan of shark week this year!) and monogrammed lunch box and backpack.

I was genuinely anxious all day. I rested quite a bit, if for anything because I didn't sleep at all the night prior, but I found myself wanting to see what he was doing, and most of all, know what he was thinking. Was he scared? Overwhelmed? Or, like his daddy, just go with the flow, no exuberant thoughts running through his little mind at all? :) I learned a major lesson after pick up, however,  all realizations of my son losing his vulnerability were put on hold when I heard about the first day. Given that he had awaken the night before his first day and laid on his nap mat while watching late night TV with me for a few hours in the living room, I was almost sure that he knew that his blanket was attached to the mat. BUT, he did not. Or better yet, if he did, he was just used to having someone spell it out for him the way that I always do, and the way his previous teacher had in his pre-school. In a world where kids know so much at such a young age, sometimes we assume the littles know more than they do. But unfortunately, during my soon to be regular after school "drill," where I will question my little and ask questions about EVERYTHING he will share with me about his day at school, he told me he had a good day, but he was cold at nap time. Picture me rolling my head like the girl from that awful, scary movie years ago, and of course my question is, why were you cold sweet boy?

Because I didn't have a blanket. My heart sank. In my attempts to perfect everything, I didn't do something as simple as go over my son's new supplies with him, showing him how his nap mat cover operated. I really blame myself. While I truly believe he forgot to cover himself up and didn't want to sleep without his blanket like he said, I had already texted his teacher during nap time and she texted me back and said he was sleeping like a pro. So of course I assumed he was comfortable. So while I was okay that he slept well, I will say that I know there is a panic that comes over my face and in my voice that I think he secretly loves when I get into protective mode and he knows already that while I'm at that point, he gets away with basically everything as I work to make amends :) Ahhh...the joys of being a mom. In order to show him that he had a blanket in his cubby too, the next morning for day two, I had his teacher pull his nap mat out and I physically showed him how the he could pull the blanket down and pull it back up once he laid down. He got a kick out of this by the way! And honestly, it made me feel good that I think he now knows that he had a blanket the entire time, and although I didn't explain the way I should have, but mama had prepared him for what he needed once again :). FYI,  If you don't have children, there is nothing worse than feeling like your child thinks he is unprepared, or feels like he doesn't have something he needs while others around him do. It hurts doubly when they have what they need and just don't know.  We won't even get into lunch, when he told his teacher that he didn't want his HAMBURGER HELPER heated up. Oy veh!!!

For all of you who have sweet babies, good luck to you this school term! We don't get the past to do over, but we can make sure that we are truly living in the present! Teaching them how to properly open their nap mats and all!  :)

Father,

I pray for my little and his sweet friends at school as they learn to navigate the world of Kindergarten and big boy school. I pray that his sweet teachers are covered by you and your protection and know you on a personal level. I pray that they seek you in all they do! In Jesus' name, Amen.

 

xoxo

Marlena

mama cute does not = daddy cute

As a former competitive swimmer, who has since gained a freshman twenty-five, had a child, and gained weight steadily over the last few years as I maintain a fairly "busy" schedule, I have completely lost my way as it comes to fashion. I enjoy comfort. And more comfort. Did I say I love comfort???

Before having my son, I ventured out to my office at the time most days with a pretty great business casual wardrobe, consider it my love for a great Rachel Zane (kudos to her stylist on USA's Suits!!!) pencil skirt, blouse and crazy cute pump combo. You know, nothing crazy. But absolutely everything that your husband will love while still remaining classy and maturely dressed! A total jeans and tee kind of girl nowadays, I consider myself fancying it up a when I toss on a pair of cute wedges and a necklace with my distressed boyfriend jeans and blouse. Just being honest...

While I'm comfortable, and I could easily fit it with a group of the college-aged kids at church, I've completely lost all sense of maturity in the way I dress. And while jeans are my forte, my husband has his own idea about what's attractive. (Hint, extra tall pumps and cardigan-free ensembles :). As a thirty-two year old, mother of a four year old, I also feel the need to dress maturely and in a way that represents who I am. Wife, mother, creative-thinking child of God. Which means I love a great cardigan (or ten) and am all about long maxi dresses, cute booties and a staple leather jacket that can (and will!) go with EVERYTHING. What I've had a hard time with these last few years is finding a balance. How do I dress in a mature way that makes my hubs give me THAT LOOK. You know the one... :)

I've decided to do a complete wardrobe overhaul and here are a few tips I will be keeping in mind as I shop!

1) Remember that you are a mother, but you are also a young, attractive married woman.

2) Yes, the hubs may have a certain look that suits his tastes, but if you only try to appease him, you may loose yourself and miss out on an opportunity to discover your true personal style. Make sure there is a balance for both in your closet!

3) Know that it's okay to be sexy. Just know that this doesn't mean you have to show skin. Exposed zippers and joggers with a hot pump are everything.

In my attempts to build a new, mature, and husband-child friendly wardrobe, I recently visited one of my favorite stores, Ann Taylor Loft!

I grabbed two of what I would call statement or feature pieces, and a few basics that are always necessary.

Daisy Tie-Waist Button Skirt,  Ann Taylor Loft.  I love this piece! I think this will be great with a solid v neck tee and flat sandals for a casual summer day, or wedges with a dressier fabric tank and great necklace for date night.     

Daisy Tie-Waist Button Skirt, Ann Taylor Loft.  I love this piece! I think this will be great with a solid v neck tee and flat sandals for a casual summer day, or wedges with a dressier fabric tank and great necklace for date night.  

 

Periwinkle Lace Tee , Ann Taylor Loft. I was immediately drawn to this piece. Anything identified as having lace immediately goes into my category of classy and mom-worthy. However, I can easily see this as part of a date night ensemble with the hubs paired with with a black short and cute shoes!

Periwinkle Lace Tee, Ann Taylor Loft. I was immediately drawn to this piece. Anything identified as having lace immediately goes into my category of classy and mom-worthy. However, I can easily see this as part of a date night ensemble with the hubs paired with with a black short and cute shoes!

Left: Essential Tank. I bought this item in nude and navy. When trying these on, they had a dressier look than I thought they would, so these would not only look great with shorts and jeans for a good casual day, but they will also look quite appropriate with hair pulled up, an oversized necklace and maxi skirt for a romantic look out with the husband.  Switch the maxi skirt out for a pair of joggers for a morning out for coffee with your girlfriends.

Right: Vintage Soft Pocket Tee. I bought this in Pink. (It is super cute with the Daisy Tie-Waist Button Skirt!)

I hope you will follow me on this journey filing a daddy-approved mommy style that is all ME and no one else!

xoxo

Marlena