Family Date Night Ideas

I feel like Reese is just now finally to the age where she can get excited about things that we plan as a family, which is super exciting for me and Matt!

We love hanging out just the four of us and keeping this time protected, intentional, and special is what it’s all about.

I know it’s easy to go through your day to day existence and feel like you get in a rut so I thought I’d share some of our family date ideas with you!

 *Family Picnic*

This can just as easily be done in the backyard as it can at an actual picnic spot. Don’t over think it. Just take your dinner outside and eat it there. Invest in a picnic blanket (we use my quilt from my college dorm) and have it handy. Something about changing up your dinner location is just fun. Stay at home mommas, do this with your littles during the day. They will think it’s the coolest thing ever.

*Ice Cream Social*

We just got the most uhhhhhh-mazing kitchen appliance from Costco! It’s called the Yo-nanna. It basically turns any frozen fruit into soft serve ice cream. If you don’t have something like that, let your kids pick a favorite topping that they get from the store and add it to vanilla ice cream or yogurt after supper. Let them be as creative as they want to be. Make a mess. Laugh at their combo ideas. Just let it be fun.

*Family Game Night*

Our kids are too little to play board games but we do like to play other games we make up for them. I can still remember as a kid asking my dad every single night if we could play hide and seek. He was a good sport because I think we played it a lot. Find something your kids like and offer to play it with them.

These are not groundbreaking ideas. They’re just a jumping off point. But the goal in all of this is for we as the parents to get our kids hyped up and excited about the ideas we have. If we show them that we are pumped about it, more than likely they will be, too! Unless you have a teenager. I got nothin for you there. Even if it’s just one night out of the week that you plan to be fun and abnormal, that will be a huge highlight for your kids. You might even end up loving it, too!

After Reese was born, Matt and I started what we called Friday Family Fun Night. Born out of a need that we had to have something at the end of the week to look forward to, our little tradition began, and it’s still going strong! There’s nothing fancy about what we do. It’s literally just going to walk at the park, taking a quick walk thru Trader Joes to test out the samples, and then we go get Moe’s to pick up dinner. Since the girls our still little, they go down when we get home and Matt and I watch Wheel of Fortune and Shark Tank while we eat our dinner. I know, we are cool. Reese loves chomping down on chips on the way home and thinks it’s just the best thing ever.

I think sometimes because we don’t have what we would consider awesome ideas or activities to do with our families, we just let ourselves do nothing. Just start somewhere and be willing to think outside the box. These are the years that our kids will remember for the rest of their lives. I want mine to remember some serious fun!

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail to someone

I See Food Differently

It’s Transformation Tuesday, yall.

In honor of everyone’s favorite instagram hashtag, second only to the Sunday Selfie (Lord, help us), I decided to share a little about my journey through the Whole 30 challenge. Complete with a horrifying before and after picture that the world of social media just wasn’t ready for.

So let’s start with WHY I decided to do this challenge. Anyone whose had a baby knows that the further away you get from the newborn stage the less opportunity one has to blame weight on the babe. Most of my weight had come off thanks to good old fashioned nursing, eating kind sorta clean-ish, and exercising whenever it was convenient. But I still had a very pesky ten lbs hanging on and I was just over it. I knew exactly what I needed to do and it didn’t include working out more so I could eat whatever. I had to clean up my eating.

Thankfully one of my sisters wanted to do the challenge with me. I would highly recommend doing this with a buddy. It’s just nice to have some support in case you need someone to talk you down from what we affectionately termed a “food cliff”. So we started at the beginning of March and it was the worst. Only eating fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts, and some seeds doesn’t sound horrible but it kind of was when we first started.

I love food. So much. But one of the things I learned through this process is that I really love the experience that goes along with the food almost as much as the food itself. And it wasn’t til about half way thru the challenge that I had a huge breakthrough…

Food is a part of the experience but it is not the experience.

I could still go out on a date with Matt, to lunch with my sister, to a Bachelor finale party, etc. without having to feel like I was missing out. Just because I was eating something different, didn’t mean I had to miss the whole experience. This was big.

Another pretty crazy breakthrough was how much I actually genuinely enjoyed eating this way. I felt like I had gotten to the point that I felt a bit of torture every time I had to make a food choice. That’s a lot of torture if you consider 21 meals a week (plus snacks and dessert) AND beverage choices. For instance, a typical look inside my mind on a date night with my husband used to sound something like this…

“Ok, I had chick fil a for lunch so I for sure need to get a salad. Yep, a sal– oh shoot they have honey bbq dipping sauce that goes with those fries? Ok I’ll get grilled chicken with the fries on the side. But I’ll definitely get water. Water is a good choiiiiiiiiiii aw dang their sweet tea comes in a mason jar? That’s so cute and southern. I love being cute and Southern. Ok I’ll get the salad and a sweet tea. Maybe Matt will get fries so I can steal his.”

So most of my choices ended up being more about the lesser of two evils than the best fuel I can get into my body. Now the goal is to get to the point where the largest percentage of my eating is taking up with what I call “utility meals”. Basically the best I can eat at the time. Then when a special occasion comes up during the week and I want to indulge a little without derailing, I call that the “meal of choice”. Bye bye guessing game.

It’s ok if you’re thinking “she’s nuts.” I do feel a little nuts but I really like it. The parameters don’t make me feel trapped, they give me freedom. It’s kind of like having a budget. Some people think budgets are restricting but they actually just keep you accountable, which gives you more freedom in the long run.

The way I break it down is this: 3 meals a day for 7 days is a total of 21 meals. If I have one meal as a “meal of choice” and the rest as “utility meals” then I’m still eating over 95% clean. Two meals of choice and I’m still around 90%.

This is the first time in a really long time that I haven’t felt burdened by the thought of making wise food choices. I’ve lived too long being afraid of missing out on fun experiences but also afraid of weight gain. I am sooooo loving being free of that. How ironic that the most disciplined I’ve ever been in my eating is also the most free I’ve ever been.

The other amazing thing about this way of eating is how full I feel after meals. I am still nursing (a lot) so I was very conscious of my milk supply and wanting to make sure it didn’t suffer. But even after cutting out the grains, dairy, and sugar I actually felt my supply was better.

I can’t report that I lost a ridiculous amount of weight (I think at this point I’m only at 7 lbs lost) but the way I feel and the way my mindset has changed has been worth it.

It sounds super duper cliche but I feel like a different person than I did when I started. It was not an easy thing to do but I’m so glad I did it!

Here’s a picture to show me on Day 1, Day 21, and day 40-ish.

Yeesh.

If you’re interested at all in learning more about the Whole 30 Challenge, check out the book “It Starts with Food”. Most of the recipes I used are on my pinterest if you need ideas!

Thanks for reading and I hope you feel encouraged about how you can enjoy food more and enjoy more food.

Laura

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail to someone

Teaching your kids the word

Let’s get real.

As moms, we feel a lot of pressure when it comes to what we are intentionally teaching our kids…

They need less screen time and more outside time. Not too much outside time though. You don’t want them turning into hooligans. And they might need some screen time because in this electronic day and age, eventually they’ll have to learn how to navigate an i-pad. I don’t know much about street cred in the preschool realm (or anywhere else for that matter) but I do know that at least being able to turn on a device will give the illusion that their mom is chill and let’s them fall asleep every night watching re-runs of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Speaking of pressure, how about that pressure in the educational department?

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like as soon as I start feeling good about what my two year old knows, I have a kid in nursery at church that’s saying their ABC’s backwards and writing their name in French.

This pressure turns all of us some of us into pretty aggressive teachers. We don’t want our kid being the one that goes off to preschool not knowing how to hold a pair of scissors.

Can I be real for a minute? I do want my babies to know basics and to build and expand on those basics. But my heart for my babies above all else is not that they’d know how to recite letters and numbers…

I want them to know God’s word.

But even more than that, I want them to love God’s word.

Deuteronomy 6:6 says “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

This verse hit me like a ton of bricks.

A few very sobering changes were going to have to take place in our home if we were to apply this verse and make it a part of our daily reality.

First, before I can impress the commandments on my children, they are to be on my heart. I can’t impress what is not already impressed on me. So as parents and leaders of our home, we started getting after memorizing God’s word. Then step two started coming into play…

We started impressing them on our children. Webster’s dictionary defines “Impress” as a verb that means “to affect deeply or strongly in mind or feelings; influence in opinion.” God’s word has lots and lots of promises but one of my favorites is that when it goes out, it don’t come back empty. It always holds it’s value.

It is not time wasted to teach our children the precious truths that will be their guide, their hope, their peace, and their security. These are their promises– letters written to them and for them. It is our honor and our duty to be impressing them on them.

But beyond just memorizing and being able to recite, we have to talk about them consistently… “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.’

If we’re memorizing a certain scripture, we talk about how we can apply it, what it means, what it means to me, and what it can mean to her. We also have certain times of day that we talk about God’s word. Night time before bed, in the morning when we’re getting ready, and in the car. When we’re in the car is one of our best times because it’s one of the only times she’s contained (moms of toddlers, can I get an amen?).

I know what you’re thinking… I can barely keep my kids fed much less teach them to be mini rabbis.

Taking the advice in the last part of this verse has probably made the biggest difference in our family. We didn’t exactly write the word on our door frames, but we did hang them on our walls, write them on our chalkboards, and play them in the songs we listen to.

I have a short attention span. Add sleep deprivation to my already lacking ability to focus and you’ve got  a cocktail of crazy. I must be reminded constantly to keep the word on my tongue. Having it in our home is the perfect way to do that.

I don’t have time to not be intentional with my babies. I know it sounds intense to say that the world is after our kids… but it’s true. The enemy is literally looking for people to devour. What could be more valuable to our children’s futures than to give them what they will need to stand firm against the enemy.

So get after it. mommas.

Start speaking the word over your littlest as they nurse in the night. Don’t think your two year old is too young to learn the word. If mine can recite every word to Shake It Off, she can for sure learn the fruits of the spirit.

I can tell you from recent experience that there is nothing more precious than hearing the word of God coming out of the mouths of your children. What an honor that we get to be the ones to place it there.

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail to someone

Dear Laura

Dear Laura,

Look at you. So full of optimistic hope as to what a wonderful experience is ahead of you. You;ve barely even given birth yet and you already know sooooo much about how to raise children. You’re so smart. You should teach mom lessons.

I know you’re probably surprised to hear from me since you’ve got such a handle on all this stuff. But I did want to offer you a bit of perspective. You know, from hind site. So here it is…

Stop saying things you’re “never” going to do.

Stop it right now.

Already you’ve said things like…

“I’ll never have ugly toys in my house. Only wooden Melissa and Doug.”

“I’ll never let me child sleep in my room past eight weeks.”

“I’ll never let my child behave that way in public. Why can’t parents control their kids?”

To your shock, all of these things will happen. All of them will be outside your control. And all of them will have absolutely no reflection of how good or bad of a mom you are. Might I suggest you begin giving yourself a not so gentle smack in the face every time you’re tempted to say the word “never” in any capacity.

Pain now. Gain Later.

You’ll thank me for this.

And real talk? The giant jungle-themed exercauser in your kitchen is going to straight save you during dinner prep. Your kids will sleep in your room til at least six months. And you might find yourself dragging a kicking and screaming two year old out of the toy aisle of Tuesday Morning while you’re sweating from head to toe.

Shall we continue?

Stop being critical of other moms. I don’t care what they do. I don’t care who you think you are. You’ll eat your words and drink your thoughts and they do not taste yummy. You might even feel the need to stop every mom you see in the Target diaper aisle, lay on their shoulder, and through your ugly cries say “I didn’t know how hard this was? I’m sorry I didn’t think this was hard before. Forgive me, please?!”

That’s no way to make friends.

Stop worrying about sleep schedules, milestones, and percentiles. Yes, I know everyone asks how much your kid sleeps.

But here’s a fun secret: They don’t actually care.

Any friend on facebook who talks about how proud they are of so and so because they sleep all the time needs to be blocked immediately. Don’t go all the way to the ultimate dis of “unfriending”. You can be friends again once you realize how little you actually care how much your kids sleep. But until then, more than likely, you will read their boast post in the middle of the night while you’re nodding off, infant attached to you. You might just look at your sweet baby and say something stupid like “Why can’t you sleep like so and so?” Guess what? They will sleep. Then they’ll go through stages of not sleeping. And back again. Then before you know it, they’re 15 and you can’t make them stop sleeping.

Percentiles. Bless them. You will feel the temptation to put a great deal of weight in these.

Don’t.

As long as your babe is eating, growing, and sleeping (sometimes) you are fine. Chill out. Smile and nod when your friends brag about their kid having a head in the 90th percentile. Resist the urge of asking why that matters and just celebrate with them and their giant baby. Yours is little, yes. But take it from me, when she’s two, she’ll be asking for thirds on chicken pot pie and wearing a whole year size bigger leggings. And it still won’t matter because all that does matter is that she’s eating, growing, and sleeping (sometimes).

Finally we have milestones. These suckers are kind of like the SAT’s during your junior year of high school. People will ask, again, because they don’t know what else to ask. But while it seems like the most important thing in the world at the time. Pretty soon, it won’t matter. You might have a (very) late walker. But she will walk… eventually. This is one of your first shiny new opportunities to not base the value of your kid on their actions. The same friend whose kid slept thru the night at eight weeks will also have the kid that’s rolling over and dividing fractions at three months. See? I told you that blocking was a good idea. Again, celebrate with them and praise GOD that you’re kid is right where they are.

Last thing…

Enjoy your baby. Smell her. Touch her, Sing to her. Laugh with her. Play with her. She’s going to get big so fast… in spite of what her percentiles say.

Oh, and don’t worry about your baby weight. It’ll come off… eventually. Chill out and enjoy your job. Some say it’s the best in the world. I say it’s just going to get better from where you are now.

Sincerely,

Laura (two kids and LOTS of sanctification later)

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail to someone

The Red Rain Boots

2014 was a hard year.

It was filled with transitions in our family. Some were welcome changes… had a sweet baby, had our first full year as State Farm business owners. A few were not so welcome… lots of up and downs with Matt’s health and the financial strain of going from full time employee to full time employER.

The strain hit hard and we did our best to push back. We cut back everything we could in the budget and really only bought stuff we “needed”. This meant that Christmas would be a heck of a lot different than it’s been in the past.

Matt and I both LOVE gifts. We love giving them to each other and we love getting them from each other. In an effort to be mature (not my strong suit) and to not spend money we didn’t have (also not my strong suit), I suggested that we not do gifts. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most people. Plenty of couples don’t do gifts. But we enjoy it so much, it was a big sacrifice for us to let it go.

Especially me.

But I put on my big girl panties and dealt with it.

I had to reassure Matt about 757 times that I really meant it and this wasn’t some trick to make him think I didn’t want gifts but I really wanted him to read between the lines and buy me gifts anyway. Not that I’ve ever done such a thing in the past…

My reassurance gave him the confidence to follow through and we were both going to enjoy the season even if it meant no gifts.

On Christmas Eve morning, which is the time we’ve always exchanged gifts, Matt and I got up early to exchange stockings. We couldn’t cut out everything all at once! The gifts were small but very thoughtful and after we were done we just sat and talked in front of our tree. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed… or a lot a bit. It’s Matt’s fault. If he weren’t so awesome at giving gifts, I wouldn’t miss them so much.

We realized time was slipping away and we had to get ready to go to brunch so Matt hopped up and went to the kitchen. He told me to come look at the rain because it was really coming down. When I got into the kitchen, he had opened the door and walked out on the porch. He looked down at a big bag and said “well, what could this be?”

I knew right away that he had cheated.

And I loved him for it.

I took the box inside and tried to keep my cool. But inside I felt like I was going to burst with excitement. The big wrapped box could have had a bag of twizzlers inside and I wouldn’t have cared. It was just being able to experience the excitement and anticipation of such a fun surprise that had me all giddy.

I opened it up and saw the beautiful Hunter logo.

Inside that perfectly British box were the most beautiful shiny RED rain boots.

I couldn’t help it.

I lost it.

I cried. and cried, and cried and cried and cried.

I wasn’t crying over the boots.

Yes, they were beautiful and I had been wanting some for a while now. But these boots represented something so much more. If different seasons bring different weather, this one for us brought storms. As soon as we felt like we were getting a break, the sky seemed to open up and another downpour would begin. We pulled together and made a decision that no matter what, we would choose joy.

There’s a saying that goes like this… “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

So here we are in a shiny New Year with shiny new boots knowing that rain will come and when it does, we’re gonna play in it til it passes.

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail to someone