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"called to build the kingdom first through the romance and adventure of our home..."

 

Cruise

“Rest and repose are as much a part of life’s journeys
as seeing all we came to see.”
― Gina Greenlee

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At the beginning of May we, marking the conclusion of a full work season, were so giddy and grateful to take our kids on a cruise (Tampa port, to Grand Cayman and Cozumel). We had a handful of days marked on our calendar to "do something fun." We talked about doing Disney and Universal "like tourists" and staying up there. Talked about heading south and seeing some of the beaches in our state we've never explored yet (Miami, Key West, etc). Talk about Amelia Island, or Savannah, or 30A. Or doing that northeast trip we've been pining for for years. But when "cruise deals" came up... we couldn't resist. 

Just too easy. Paid for ahead of time. Nothing to research or prepare for. No "transporting" or "traveling to." No loading and unloading. No "going." Just showing up in our city, getting on a boat, and everything ready for us... the whole time. I kept saying to Caleb "This is why cruising is a preferred way for retirees... its so EASY!" 

As far as vacation and rest goes, it couldn't have been more restful and... well, easy. We felt so pampered! The kids went to the kid's camp every day for a few hours, so we even got alone time every day... "for free"! Ha! We got to dress up (I went a little outfit crazy...), have no worries about "too much luggage," and just lounge around and say "yes!" Yes, you can have pizza! Yes, you can have ice cream! Yes, we can go to the pool! Yes, you can do the slides! Yes, we can snuggle with you! Yes, yes, yes!

If that isn't rest, I don't know what is! Here's documentation for our personal family history and a few notes on highlights for me <3 

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  • Boarding the ship was one of the best parts. We've been so committed to traveling with our kids, even if and when it's hard and extra effort, but we almost couldn't stop laughing at the embarking process. "That's it? This is all? This is so easy!" All four of us were giggly and it was just so sweet.
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  • The Guy Fieri Burger Bar and Blue Iguana Taco Cantina right by the pool were daily indulgences. Both far better than "cruise food" I've had before!
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  • One of my favorite details of Caleb when we first met was how he had two perfectly balanced sides: bumming around and dressing up. I loved both. And I love now that he's in music he always gets to leave the house "looking nice," as opposed to construction where clothing was just practical. Rue has adopted his dad's appreciation for "handsome clothes" and picked out a number of looks himself. They both felt pretty fancy and it killed me.
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  • Will never get over evening light on the ocean.
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  • They discovered sugar cereal... and fell in love fast and furious!
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  • We *might* have watched Rue go down the slides 876 times. For hours and hours and hours and hours. And it was the best.
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  • Jo took it upon herself to show Baby the Caribbean. Baby wasn't far from her side all trip! I love the third photo here... Jo was SO "mama bear" when Baby got splashed by someone coming down the slide! Hahah Don't mess!
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  • On one of our "date nights" we played each other in putt-putt. I lost by ONE stroke and we re-matched the next day. And I won by ONE stroke! We are going to break the tie at a putt-putt course near us sometime this summer hahah Definitely a Top Three part of the whole trip. Just have so much fun with my Mr. Morris. Ps. Also def did the couples massage. "Take me back." 
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  • Other than the slides and 24/7 food bar, the kids' favorite part was probably the fold-down beds. Obsessed and adorable!
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What We Did In February 2018

"To think that we, who thought ourselves rich before, are made so much richer now."

Elizabeth Prentiss

Documenting the riches of our ordinary, "gets all blurred together," responsibility-filled, confusing (because when human hearts are involved there are always questions and there aren't always answers -- or at least clear and easy ones), inestimably precious, rich-in-joy, holy ground of daily life. One month at a time.

WEEK ONE

  • Jo and I went on a very special trip to New York to be with her Aunt Bek and Honey. Late this past fall Bethany felt a lump in her throat. After all sorts of doctors' appointments, googling, opinions, and options... there was very little clarity. As a family we were praying for the obvious (full healing!) but for the Lord's guidance and clarity for "the next right step." The confusion was just so sad. Dun dun dun... all those "wrong" paths led Bethany to a specialist in New York. She and Cindy initially went for a consultation and a few days, but it turned into identifying the tumor AND having surgery for it. All in one trip!

We arrived the day before surgery, made the most of the freezing, icy, rainy New York Wonderland, hung out in the hotel, and just waited for the next day to come... a day riddled with questions and unknowns. Bethany's composure and elegant grace deeply moved me. Of course she was nervous, but she had a sweet steadiness about her that brought me chills many times in that 24 hours. Cindy, too. They were out here alone, doing "tumor things" again, during the same time of year as they had as a family before... and they just. did. it. 

I've been studying the embodiment of beauty in my personal (and partially public) life, and one of the main verses I've reflected on - I even blogged it a few weeks before my trip! - is Acts 3:2. After a simply stunning day of peace, thrillingly happy news over the outcome of the surgery (went better than all were expecting! They removed the whole tumor with no long-term side effects!!), and relief... I walked out the hospital lobby (where I had been a number of times that day), and happened to turn around. I noticed, for the first time, the words inscribed over the arches leading into the hospital: Acts 3:2.

A beautiful, cherished time in my heart... a time when God seemed so near, working so joyously on the behalf of His children. I know He is good when He gives and when He takes, but this all felt like a particularly triumphant "Give!" and we are all so grateful. 

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Slap happy and wild. Phew. She is at a tough age of wills, energy, and "keeping in small, quiet, germ-y places' (like hospitals and airplanes)... but I'm so proud of her for being forced out of her comfort zone, and learning how to handle it. We had a few especially sweet moments that I had to jot down as "mom highlights." Love discovering the world with and through this little one.

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Honey, Bek, Corrie... we love you so! Let's do margs on the beach next time, k? 

WEEK TWO

  • A Grandiose Day. I love the simple, tiny things... I love how they all add up in a lifetime (or at least seven years so far...). But The Grand Gestures only mean that much more. The guy is tired. He's working seven days a week for a little bit of time here. And yet, Caleb spent every night while I was away in NY working on his Valentine's Surprise. Making wooden flowers by hand, painting them in the garage, researching dinner options, ordering balloons (and then, the morning of, rising at 4:00 am to fill and tie them all himself), finding "themed" treats, going through my Amazon Wish List and picking out a gift, serenading me, roses (special for some secret reasons only he knows... not the normal "classic love flower" reasons). And then, on top of it all, he took off work that night - which is NOT usual! He works on holidays because they are some of the best days, and I want him to! But he told me he always sees these couples enjoying these nights, so much energy in the air for "the world," ladies all dressed up... and he wanted me to be one of those ladies, right with everyone else. He got one of the last reservations at our favorite restaurant, and he just truly lavished himself on me. Which, I don't care if this gets me in trouble or labeled or not, isn't particularly rare. And I'm grateful and blessed to the heavens that even on the most normal, routine days... he makes me feel so loved by him A day I'll never forget, because of all it represents.
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  • Our Valen-Tiny's had a pretty fun day getting notes, candy, and special treats! How I adore them!
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WEEK THREE

  • After a blissfully full January and early Feb, we've settled into an intentional simple life for the moment. Keeping Caleb fed, rested, and healthy is the main priority! Structure like we're doing isn't "as natural" for us, but we've learned we need it sometimes! So far so good! We couldn't resist adding on night of fun, however. The last night of the Florida State Fair we met up with our dear friends, the Ahlgren family, and watched seal shows, watched the kids go down giant slides, went on the ferris wheel, munched on Amish donuts, dared Dave to that rope-ladder-climb, and met some "scawy!" animals in the barns (Summer stared down a horned-bull! I think Summer won... hahah)
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WEEK FOUR

  • One of my biggest goals for this year - especially this season of Caleb's schedule - was to get out of the house with the kids! Vitamin D, salt water, sand minerals, fresh air, childhood treats... it does everyone so much good! So 4-5 days a week the last three weeks, you can find us at the beach, or park, or wandering Tarpon Springs!
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  • C and I are also trying to make the most of our mornings together. And our time alone with Jo (Rue is in pre-k from 9-noon). I love these memories of breakfast, coffee, oil changes, gym, and putting around town between 9 and 11 as a family of "three."
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  • One of the best parts of our many hours at the beach has been the chance I'm getting to read! (Seriously... quality/fun time with the kids, getting out in nature, moving their bodies, and basically "free time" for me - in between all the little requests. Can't beat it!!). I'm one of those people who likes to read a few things at a time, but I'm almost finished with "Liturgy of The Ordinary" by Tish Harrison Warren (as recommended by Megan Haughery).  The beauty and importance of the ordinary is so near and dear to my heart, and this book was equally interesting, "amen-ing!," and "new way to look it this"-ing for me. Feeding my family is one of my greatest joys, but in the midst of reading I was prompted in these moments to just *relish* the goodness it is to make grilled cheese, and cut up little produce bites, and present my babies with their food.
  • And just this week we started what I hope I can keep up with: lunchtime is story time! When I was in school we often had 10-15 minutes of "quiet" eating and the lunch monitor would read aloud to us, and there was a season during homeschool where mom would use lunch to read chapters of scripture or of chapter books. I always loved being read to while eating. So far it's been a huge success: more peaceful lunches, more food in mouths, and a feeling of mid-day connection <3 
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February, you were good to us! March and April hold 4-5 groups of visitors and we are SO thrilled! Can't wait for all the new memories to move from anticiaptions to realities to preciously-held-rememberings. 

What We Did In January 2018

"To think that we, who thought ourselves rich before, are made so much richer now."

Elizabeth Prentiss

Documenting the riches of our ordinary, "gets all blurred together," responsibility-filled, confusing (because when human hearts are involved there are always questions and there aren't always answers -- or at least clear and easy ones -- to them), inestimably precious, rich-in-joy, holy ground of daily life. One month at a time.

Week One

  • Caleb's First Smoked Brisket / We stayed up well past midnight to taste it, and were so giddy together. It was fantastic.
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  • Just loving the 18-24-month-ish (and big-boy-4-year-old) stage so much. "Double Crown" fits Summer splendidly. Her baby goes with her everywhere. She's been an eating champ the last few weeks, which if you know us well, you know how hard her eating has been. She still nurses to sleep in my arms. And the sounds of my two loving and laughing is my heaven. I've felt, especially, recently a powerful force of love for these two... that my life is spent in and on theirs *so much.* That I can never be separated from my deep love for them. I'm enjoying motherhood very much, and so amazed at how there is grace for each new struggle. And grace to see each new wonder of daily life with them. Picking noses, cleaning them, planning for trips, watching them sleep, loading and unloading the stroller, being there when they fall apart, being there when they do *such* a good job. It's all so holy. Such an honor.
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  • The bond these two have is stunning. It reminds me more of what I've heard twins describe... "a next level connection." I had 'wanted' to have kids super close together (like 18 months apart) because it felt like that would almost ensure a special closeness. When these two were almost three years apart I wondered if that would impact their connection. Gosh, it surely did not. They are "their best" for each other. He is SUCH a loving big brother, and she is never kinder or more sensitive than when it involves him. He's so patient with her "spark," and she's so obsessed with all he does. And they just spend so much more time laughing than bickering. I'm grateful!
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  • Speaking of spark, this is one of my favorite Summer moments yet. A couple times a week I take the kids to the beach after I pick Rue up from school. It's our little tradition. For whatever reason, as we were leaving and Summer saw me carrying the beach bag, she INSISTED on carrying my purse for me. "JoJo do it!" It was filled pretty well, and just a bit too heavy for her. "But she persisted!" It took us ten minutes to take the normal one minute walk, her stopping every few steps to adjust, heave, wobble wobble wobble, drop, adjust, heave....! I encouraged her the whole way, offered to help (and was shot down), and listened to her groan and announce "Strong!" "Heavy!" "Oh no!" "Heaaaavvvy!" It's in these moments I have such vision for the woman she will be. Her strength scares me, I'd be lying to say it didn't. But it also *genuinely* inspires me. She puts her head down and does it. Caleb and I use the phrase "raising wildfire" and "taming a wild mustang" often.  We pray we embolden and stabilize her well, because she has so much to offer with such beautiful strength.
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Week Two

  • My besties and their boys came to Florida! A special six days of being "face to face," wigging out over foggy beaches, long late nights, Drawful, Old Fashioned's and wine, St. Petersburg, "Don SAY-sar!", a special exhibit at the fine art museum of original Star Wars costumes for my Star Warriors, a natural skin care "spa night", re-telling the same favorite stories, and discovering new things about each other. Will be a highlight of the year, I know. Love and miss you both. Let's meet in Minne next!
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Week Three

  • We were invited for a little "staycation" up the road in Orlando with our dear Shorey/Baxter friends! Three generations of connection and sweetness... all the adults are such close friends, and the kids got along preciously. We are all enormous Disney fans, but they've grown quite a love for Universal Studios and it was meaningful to us to be able to visit with them for our first time ever (that Harry Potter area....! My word!!) Truly happy days (even when we all got the stomach flu!)
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Week Four

  • To make a great thing even better, we had the joy of inviting the Shorey/Baxter bunch to our place for another leg of the trip. Hosting and "having people in my home" is one of my favorite things (even though I don't possess many of the skills generally considered to be hospitable ones...! I still love it, and love that even through weakness people are truly welcome). We got to have a big "dinner for 18" their first evening, and our close friends, the Ahlgren's, joined us! Then lots of beach, Tarpon Sponge Docks, Hellas and Greek food, stroller jaunts, sangria, and conversation. "Practically perfect in every way!"
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Embody | Part 4 | Practical Steps

EMBODY is my "word of the year" for 2018. It's become a pillar for me and came as the culmination of a long, negative "relationship" with my body that I have been vigilantly trying to correct, understand, walk into joy with, and hopefully help any like me along the way.

1. The Realization of The Body (The Literal Embody)
2. Embodying What Is Beautiful
3. Comparing and Contrasting Beauty and Sexual/Physical Desirability

4. Practical Steps
5. 
The Creativity and Artistry of Bodies
6. The Embodiment of Others


"You will take care of what you value." These words, heard on a podcast, have struck. my. heart. It makes so much sense. Instead of chasing the wind and always coming up short, filled with disgust, there is a way because of "good things" to embody my spirit and wear it joyfully on the outside.

Instead of doing anything out of:

Hate
Disgust
Envy
Anger
Hopelessness
Shame


I can change the narrative and, by embodying the good, act out of:

Love
Gratitude
Generosity
Grace
Hope
Joy


This has been my aim in the practical. 

For a few weeks there I was just taking notes on the “Trains of Thought” when they came blasting down my inner tracks. This led me to a fun place. Brain-storming and getting to know “my character.” These are all simple but have brought so much joy in just practical outworking. I feel more connected to and grateful for my body these last months. Not where I want to be eventually, but definitely getting there…

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An important note: Don’t ever take someone’s practice of a principal and copy-and-paste it to yourself. Explore the principal, then walk out our own life. Do your research, pace yourself, and find your little joys. All of this started becoming a part of my “weekly routine” bit by bit over six months. In 2016 we really focused on our “soul fire” things, which for me included cooking healthy, delicious food and the feeling after working out. I’m really in a sweet place with both… feeling like my family is fed well, my creative outlet is met with cooking a lot, and losing a lot of negative and yucky stigma over exercise (the way to be skinny or “pay back” eating bad). Every week I do something… on the fullest maybe five times… on the least only once. But it’s been re-trained in my head to be a “hit of happiness” and I’m working for that feeling right afterwards. I feel like my body is strong and healthy, which is absolutely wonderful. 

And the years before these were survival mode! We got through the other side, but we had no headspace, energy, or time for “more.” Don’t feel bad if you are there! It is crucial, you will get through, and “the other side” will feel even better than you remembered! It will be fun to get things done, not burdensome. Make it fun, when it's fun. No shame here.

Okay! Here we go:

- Speak Gratitude
I've had to do this verbally and outloud. When the "voices of hate and shame" whisper, I've been striving to re-train my mind to being grateful. I try to find one physical part and notice it, and thank God outloud. When legitimate yet "negative" feelings arise, I'm learning to make the effort and gain the peace. (For example: "I feel sluggish." "Okay, well, go for a run and you WILL feel better. So just do it." or "I feel sad." "Okay, make something delicious... it will bring you joy! Go do it!") There is so much to be grateful for that can compel us to good action.

- Grand Childhood Memories Trip of 2018
Seeking to make the most special, yet simple-expectation-ed, time for us… enjoying the thrill of waiting, letting “the happening” be seen through rose-colored-glasses, and promising a good return on the moments once they’ve become memories. (Details here!)

- Social Media
I saw a quote that said something like “Unfollow anyone who make you feel discontent or jealous.” (Or something like that). I did. I am pretty picky about who I follow anyway, but I went back through. I firmly believe that what we put before our eyes and what we allow to infiltrate and be “normal” (even if it’s NOT!) impacts our souls. I also did a tally of all my followers. I made a list of what “kind” of account they were, and went through one by one.

At the end I had about exactly 50% people who were friends or family. The other 50% were split pretty evenly between “writers” (I decided this was people I follow because of their WRITING), photographers, motherhood, food accounts, body positivity accounts, designers, travel accounts, etc. I only follow one “fashion blogger” and no fitness/weight loss/body goals accounts. For me it brought out more temptation and gave microphones to the negative voices. Instead, my feed now is a place filled with positivity and in general and mostly, I leave being on IG feeling uplifted, not competitive or complaining. This, as you can imagine, was ridiculously helpful. 

- Dancing
“Dance like no one is watching”… actually. Just dance with no one watching. Ha! I’ve closed and locked the door, tried to find a fun playlist, and then just move… let however I feel move “out.” No mirrors, no witnesses, no one but me and God. So, if I feel stupid, then I’ll move stupid. If I feel amused, I’ll do whatever I can to express amused. If I wave of passion rushes over, I’ll try to embrace it and stomp it out.  A lot of the body positive accounts I follow encourage and do this... so I finally decided to start trying!


- Relaxation Meditation
Not for “spiritual” purposes as much as physical — though I know all are connected. Using these guided relaxation videos Caleb and I both are always so impressed with how much of the body is tense that we didn’t realize… and how much better we feel releasing the tension and being coached how to. It feels refreshing.

- Posture
With the help of my brilliant sister, at home exercises, and a few products, I’ve been feeling so much better… it’s amazing to correct posture and feel the instant “better-ness” of standing properly. I have a long way to go to re-train my muscles. This fall Katelyn James posted about her “neck hump” thanks to bad computer/phone posture. I was mortified to feel back behind my neck as I watched… I have “the hump/curve too! The exercises my sister has given me have improved my flexibility and mobility, and the two “devices” have been a game changer! Caleb can tell the difference… it really is working. (The products are linked here).

- Natural Skin Care
I’m so passionate about food and made the switch to taking care of my skin and hair (almost totally!) with “products I could eat.” It feels like cooking for my face. I did a whole post about the details of that here.

- My Natural Face
My goal is to have supple, glowing, sun-kissed (by the real sun) skin without spending much money, while “killing two or three birds with one stone” (aka: making memories with the kids, moving my body, and getting sun and minerals on the beach), with homemade and local (first) ingredients then chemical-free/toxin-free/paraben-free ingredients (because this is SO MUCH FUN for me! It doesn’t feel like a burden or “another thing to do”… it’s a blast. Wanting to use less make-up overall, even for a "fancy" face. I want my own body to be at it's best and it's fascinating to get to figure out how to do that. No shame for make-up-lovers. That's not the point. I love research and concoctions and experimenting and analyzing results. It brings such joy.) Details in this post!

- My Natural Hair
Comfort in my own skin, at least for this season, meant peeling the layers to my actual naked body as God made it. I found a lot of identity and confidence but also envy, desperation, and toxic mindsets in “being a blonde.” Quickly I realized: Oh my word… my hair is falling out, fried, breaking, and crispy… the embodiment of my internal feelings about myself! Yikes! I wanted my hair to be strong, soft, vibrant, and cared for. Like I wanted my heart. It was a “tangible step” for me to take into this. So, I had my hair dyed back to its natural color, and I have been absolutely babying it! But… it is working! My hair texture and strength has reversed in the last four months. It’s growing faster, too! I had to decide if I wanted to have long healthy hair, or blonde hair… and while both “felt like me” ultimately I swung a little more to the natural health side of the choice. It took a solid three months to even “like” the change. I’m getting close to loving it ;) (The details of what I’m doing are here).

- My Color Story
I love white, black, blue (from navy to pale), and red. Trends are fun, but hello! really distracting at times (and expensive almost always). Realizing: I’m not really a grey person! Why do I keep buying grey things? Or pastel person! Or purple person! has been fun. Even though I enjoy it so much on others, or on Instagram, or or… My spirit is pretty classic, bold, yet simple and happy.

- My Clothing
Honed in the qualities I most wanted to embody, I brainstormed words, created mood boards, and paired through the “pieces of art” that I will dress my form and narrate my spirit. The defining words I came to were: “Classic, merry, and sensible.” Classic both for “standing the test of time” and also “classy-ness and elegance.” Merry, a vintage-sounding word for a mix of happy and whimsical. And sensible: both clothing that is practical for a mother of two who really isn’t going to galas or luxe-anything’s, and also “that makes sense” for a woman in 2018 to be wearing… modern not costume-y. (My post detailing the final line-up and more of the process is here)

- My Artistic Details: (this relates mostly to “how I clothe myself”)

Texture
Denim (I love how it’s sturdy)
Silk/silky (I love how it’s soft)
Cotton (I love how it’s functional)

Patterns:
Breton Stripe
Small Check
Polka Dot

Shape:
Wide/open/interesting necklines
“Womanly”/structure mixed with curve
Wraps/ties

Details:
Piping and trim
Brass Hardware (buttons — also buttons in general, snaps, zippers, etc)
Sunglasses

Hair Style:
Down + Curled
Headbands
Pencil Up-do’s

Jewelry:
“Gold”
“Diamond”/Crystal
Timeless design

Other Notes:

Love one pop of color against neutrals
Love color-blocking with shades of the same color
Love beads or “crystal” sewn into clothes

Things I noticed: I don’t prefer lace on me, most floral patterns, entirely loose and flowy cuts, stretchy/spandex-y/body-con type fabrics (unless I’m wearing dem yoga pants), graphics/writing on clothes, chevron and buffalo check, geometric or natural stones jewelry, excessively trendy pieces, turtlenecks (but man I love them… they just aren’t my happy place on me. Something for me to admire on others hahah).


Here’s the fun part… everyone will be different. I love people I know who dress in almost all neutrals and those who are like a living rainbow. I love the stories those tell. I love how people and their bodes can embody rain forests, and art museums, and soccer fields, and eras of old, and the quality of mystery, and mermaids, and Boston, and horses. I love the stories in the forms. I love when people do it well with courage and joy. It’s such a worthwhile goal.

My Embodied Routine | Skin + Hair

As I wrote about here, I have been on a mission to 1) "cook for my face" and use products on my skin that are "safe enough to eat, 2) pull back from the great beauty product industry (mostly personal reasons and to know "I can"), and 3) for the fun! This type of research and discovery and results is SO. MUCH. FUN. for me! I'm taking the chance to do it while I'm in a time of life that I can.

None of the products I recommend are sponsored or have been given as gifts. I've bought and tried them all myself! I'll include a few "this didn't work for me's" along the way too... but everyone's skin is different. So. My success doesn't necessarily mean yours!

I've linked all the products in my Amazon Shop... so you can click here and find anything (at least that Amazon has...): I'm Kristen Amazon Front.  This isn't sponsored either, but I get, like, a 3% commission from anything off this link. So I figured "why not!" This gets it all in the same place for you, it's easy for me to update, and it might bring in a little travel money. If you can get any of this at a small, local business or for cheaper at Target... totally do it. Saving money and being more local is a large part of my heart in this! And I get how Amazon commissions can look conflicting with that ;) So I'm admitting it all upfront! Haha

HAIR CARE

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Kristen's Favorite Hair Mask:

I've tried them all you guys. Eggs. Honey. Yogurt. Apple cider vinegar. Banana. Mayo. Avocado. It's been five months of science projects over here! Hahah But bar none, hands down, for me these three are the most effective.

- Castor Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Real aloe vera (haven't tried bottled, though!)

Literally just slick your head up with palm-fulls of all, starting at the scalp, massage for 10 minutes, tie up in a loose bun, and shower anytime in the next hour to 24 hours. When I first got going I did this every other day, and would sleep in it each night. After a month I went down to twice a week (once over night, once for a few hours during the day). Now I sleep in it once a week. The oil has made my hair so strong and soft, the aloe makes it so shiny!

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Honesty Policy:

I'm having a hard time with chemical-free/natural shampoos and conditioners. First, they're just expensive to play around with. Second, I've used two or three and they were awful. I decided to try some other options.  I used the RemyPure bottles (shampoo and conditioner) for a month straight, then OGX Argan Oil of Morocco for a month, and in December used Argan Magic (far left). Argan Magic has been by FAR FAR FAR my favorite. It doesn't lather well, but other wise it's had the best results. I'm hoping once my hair is even a bit more healthy I can try some chemical-free options to maintain it. 

SKIN CARE

Literally everything I can find says that the foundation of good skin care is "Exfoliate, Cleanse, Tone, Moisturize, every night, no exceptions." So mama is obeying!

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I've been using this system since highschool (recommended to me by my dermatologist!), and it's still my favorite. I tried a few other exfoliators including coffee grounds, salt, baking soda, turmeric, etc. Nothing gives me the results good ol' white sugar and olive oil do. I've added some drops of tea tree oil to reduce redness and help even tone. I also tried a large variety of local, homemade, all-natural, charcoal, etc soaps (soap is cheaper and easier to experiment with) but Dr. Bronner's Castille BAR Soap is the victor. 

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I also tried many toners! Apple cider vinegar, green tea, lemon, lavender, rice water... but nothing has been as good as this combo (which was suggested to me by a IG reader!!)

- Witch Hazel
- Rose Water
- Elemi Oil
- Frankincense Oil


It doesn't skin, it's so soothing, and my skin looks so even! You can also put some in a spritz bottle and spray it on your wet or dry hair for a little shine! I do this!

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Last but not least! The Dunk Tank.

Jojoba oil, Vitamin E oil, Argan oil, Coconut oil, castor oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, apricot oil... phew! I tried these ALL. Here's my faves!

- Coconut oil (to remove make-up... so I guess this should be at the beginning of the post! Before washing!)
- Vitamin E oil (I adore the JASON brand!!) or Argan Oil (got mine from Trader Joe's) for the face
- Castor oil for eyebrows, eyelashes, and eye area (It's pretty thick so it's good for more delicate areas. But you have to be careful or your eyes will be all goopy! It also helps thicken and grow hair! I can't say I've noticed longer lashes/brows... But I notice DEFINITE thickness improvement!)

SUPPLEMENTS

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"Everywhere" is talking about collagen and its practical divinity for skin and it's elasticity and health, so I've been mixing it up with collagen protein powder, homemade bone broth, and collagen oil. It dawned on me that collagen is what people get injections of during plastic surgery or for "plumping." So, I'm thinking this is more of a longterm lifestyle thing than "instant results for a 20-something."

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I have SO MANY MORE supplements in my cart on Amazon and saved in lists. But this is what I take now:

- Biotin (great for hair, nails, skin)
- Rainbow Light Organic Prenatal/Multivitamin (been taking this the whole way through since Rowdy's pregnancy)
- Fish Oil
- Charcoal (because I get SO BLOATED! This helps very much.)