Transitions

Man, transitions are really tough, especially with kids. I knew moving would pose some challenges, but I'm not sure I was fully prepared. We have been out of our old townhouse for a week now. First we stayed at my dads for 2 nights, then we drove to California and have been with my mom since the 20th. We are staying here until the 30th, that afternoon I'll fly out with the kids to North Carolina...midnight is our arrival time, yikes! Even though we're in one place for 10 days, it's still different, and the kids can feel it. 

Playtime at my dads

Playtime at my dads

Ice cream

Ice cream

Beckham has been out of sorts. He can go from super happy to crazy emotional in mere seconds. And I'm not just talking about the typical toddler emotional, this is way different than his normal behavior. It doesn't help that Ben left Friday morning to make the drive to NC with his dad...so now we not only have the emotions that come with change, but we have added emotions for daddy being gone. He'll just break down crying and I will ask if he needs a hug and he just falls into my arms crying "my daddy" or "my miss daddy." It's just heart breaking. I have really been trying to identify his emotions when he appears to get mad and at times it does seem to help and deescalates the situation, other times he just needs space so going to his room helps with that. 

Flamingos at wildlife safari

Flamingos at wildlife safari

Where's all the water? 

Where's all the water? 

I'm doing what I can. I give hugs, I try not to lose my patience (which doesn't always work), I snuggle, I play, I tell him all about our new home and how his bike and bed will be waiting for him, we pray for daddy and his safe trip, we pray for grammie and Bapa because he prays for them daily, we snuggle with cars, we eat ice cream, we visit friends, we go swimming, we read...we try to do what's "normal" for us. Beckham recently (as in the last month or so) started asking me "mom you happy" whenever he wakes up, when I get upset with him, when I'm disciplining him, or randomly throughout the day. He now tells me when he's not happy, saying "no my happy" or he will say "no my nice". When I question why he's not happy it always has to do with missing daddy. It really pulls on my heart when he says he's not happy, I wish there was more I could do.  I've been thinking about this though and maybe he says he misses dad because he doesn't know how to express anything else, like missing our house or being confused with where we are moving to, etc.  So maybe he does miss his dad, but also misses his routines, his toys, his room, and is unsure of what's coming next, where this "new house" is or where all his things went. 

Family pool time  

Family pool time  

Amazing post nap hair

Amazing post nap hair

Our days are like roller coasters, lots of ups and downs, but more exaggerated than normal. And adding in a 15 month old doesn't make things any easier. She is sweet and I would say is responding better because she's just so much younger, but she is attached to my soul! I can't go around the corner without her yelling "mommy, mommy"...or banging on the bathroom door while I shower, or barely letting anyone else hold her. I love the extra snuggles, but this mama is craving some space.  

In the zone painting while Eliza napped

In the zone painting while Eliza napped

Garage sale find

Garage sale find

Playtime with my cousins kiddos

Playtime with my cousins kiddos

Yesterday was the first day since last Saturday that I had a chance to workout...and let me tell you, it was amazing! I just went to the small gym at my moms community center and it had the free weights that I needed to do an intense 45 min workout. I got to completely zone out and work hard and it felt so good! I'd say I was way more calm and prepared for the evening after sweating my brains out. I'm guessing this is how Beckham feels when he spends 15 minutes running up and down the little slope in my moms backyard or when he wants me to chase him throughout the house. So I taught him donkey kicks, plyo push-ups off the couch, jumping jacks...we did all sorts of jumps and twists to get our energy bugs out and then we read books to calm down before bed. 

Showing me her teeth

Showing me her teeth

Pool play

Pool play

So this post is more for me to process all of this madness and to express the difficulty we've had, but also to help me see that my kids are doing pretty well and I'm doing pretty well and that we will definitely make it through. Although the next 5 days seem like an eternity, I know they will pass too quickly and will leave me wondering where the time went. And before we know it, we'll be sleeping in our new home, in our old beds.  

One on one time with this little man at the park

One on one time with this little man at the park

Making waffles  

Making waffles  

This is how we do weekends

This is how we do weekends

I'm sitting here typing this as both kids have been flipping out in the room for the last hour or so for nap time. Both were tired, cranky, fed...but are fighting naps and I'm about to down my beer with a side of chocolate. :) It's all about balance though, right?!

Have any of you moved cross country with kids or gone through a big transition/change with little kids? Any insight or words of wisdom?  

Cheers,

Ella

Adventure: Mt. Adams Wildnerness

I haven't done a post like this in quite a while, or maybe ever on this specific blog, so what better time to start. I like documenting our adventures and usually take a ton of pictures and post them all on FB, but I don't ever really write about the experience, so I thought I'd give it a try. 

As green as can be...pretty hard to take any bad pictures around here. 

As green as can be...pretty hard to take any bad pictures around here. 

In the midst of all our crazy moving madness, I took a day trip with the kids to meet up with my in-laws and Ben's brothers family in the Mt. Adams wilderness area. They were camping at Elk Meadows RV and Cabin park and we just drove there for the day. I would totally love to stay in their little cabins, you must check them out if you're looking for some place to non-tent camp. Ben was doing some work for the day so I packed up the kids and drove out there, approximately an hour and 45 minutes...it's just passed Trout Lake Washington.

Wild flowers and beauty all around the campsite

Wild flowers and beauty all around the campsite

Boy is this area gorgeous! I haven't been out here since a wedding last summer, and I just love the area. Back in the pre-kid days, Ben and I went hiking, camping, rafting and spelunking out here...oh and wine tasting too! Lot's of different adventures to choose from. This time around the kids and I just spent the day around the RV park, playing, eating, and exploring the near by nature walks. 

Isn't this gorgeous?!! 

Isn't this gorgeous?!! 

I didn't get to go on any hikes this time, but I would highly recommend going on the Sleeping Beauty hike. It's super close to where we were at, but having the two kids with me and no hiking backpack, I just couldn't manage it this trip. Sleeping beauty is one of my all time favorite hikes because it's relatively short (1.3 miles), but kind of steep...but the views from the top are absolutely unbeatable. You can almost throw a rock at Mt. Adams from the top. Check out this link for the hike and make sure to add it to your summer list of adventures!

Can you see Mt. Adams peaking through the clouds?

Can you see Mt. Adams peaking through the clouds?

With little kids Beckham and Eliza's age you don't really need to plan too much, give them dirt, rocks, buckets, and let them play and explore. Let them be little adventurers. Even Eliza wanted to do everything the "big" kids were doing, she wanted a walking stick, she wanted to jump off rocks and explore through the woods. I'm excited to take more camping trips with the kids as they grow and will continue to enjoy any kind of adventure, whether it's a quick day trip to the coast or the mountains, or the park around the corner. Get outside and have fun!

Smelling the flowers on our walk

Smelling the flowers on our walk

Little explorers

Little explorers

Breaking rules at a young age and crossing over barriers that say "no trespassing"...I'm pretty sure they take after their parents. :)

Breaking rules at a young age and crossing over barriers that say "no trespassing"...I'm pretty sure they take after their parents. :)

Miss Indie checking out the view

Miss Indie checking out the view

These two explorers had such a good time. Wish I would have taken a picture of their faces after eating s'mores that night. 

These two explorers had such a good time. Wish I would have taken a picture of their faces after eating s'mores that night. 

We just keep buckets and big trucks in the back of the car for play time at any destination, it's perfect!

We just keep buckets and big trucks in the back of the car for play time at any destination, it's perfect!

Pretty impossible to get all 4 cousins smiling at the same time. They sure are cute though!

Pretty impossible to get all 4 cousins smiling at the same time. They sure are cute though!

Do you have any favorite camping spots or adventures spots that are a must go in the summer?

Posing for Instagram Selfies...don't believe what you see

Remember that one time I was on a roll writing 2 posts in one week? Yeah, that's a rare occurrence...practically a month ago. But that's life and that's how I roll. 

Like most of my posts, I'm not really sure where to start so I just go with the flow of where my brain takes me. Come on ya'll let's take a ride, don't you say sh** just get inside...anyone? Bueller? Moving along...

It's no secret, I like Instagram, always have and most likely always will. I love pictures and that's why I love Instagram (let's call it IG). I've met some pretty cool friends on IG, seriously! But IG can be bad for you, just like drinking an entire bottle of wine on a Wednesday night when you're all alone, or eating an entire carton of Ben and Jerry's ice cream when you're all alone...you get the point, right?! The latter two make us feel yucky, give us a stomach ache, maybe a hangover, maybe lead to more eating or drinking or questioning how we even thought those were good ideas in the first place. IG can be bad for you in the sense that it can also make you feel yucky inside, give you a stomach ache, make you depressed, make you always dream of the greener grass on the other side, and wonder how everyone has super clean mirrors to take flexing selfies in when you just cleaned your closet mirrors for the first time in a year. Hypothetically speaking. 

You may be wondering how does it make you feel all of those things? Well that's what I'm here to tell you. Back in the day (a Tuesday, in the winter of 2011/2012), I joined IG, and it quickly became a mostly fitness, with a side of life, focused account. It helped motivate me, encourage me, give me workout ideas, introduce me to people all around the US with common interests, and it made me realize that I have lived in homes with really shitty natural light that puts a damper on awesome selfies! Except for one spot in my current home, the little dining area, it has white shear curtains that act like a soft box and make for the most beautiful light...but ain't nobody got the space or time to bring in a full length mirror into the small dining space just for perfectly lit photos. :) 

See, pretty nice lighting in the dining room.

See, pretty nice lighting in the dining room.

I have no shame in my selfie game, I'm all for them, I've taken them, I will continue to take them as long as I have the desire to (as a side note: I do not endorse selfie sticks. I just can't. Ben and I have been taking selfies from when we first started dating in 2002 without a damn selfie stick and will continue taking selfies/usies without the use of one till the end of days)!! Anyways, I still follow a ton of fitness girls on there and love them and all their hard work. Maybe it's because I have some background in photography, lighting, and posing to understand how photos can be manipulated (without filters) to make someone appear slightly thinner, more muscular, or taller or whatever. I've played around with my phone camera and am amazed how a slight tilt in the camera angle can completely change a picture. And when we add perfect lighting and multiple photos to choose from, we see an amazing selfie of some beautiful girl that many women get depressed over because their abs will never look like that in real life. 

I don't know about these...I think I'm mostly flexing in the first top two, third I might be standing and wondering what I'm doing. Bottom left I've got some back tilt going on, then some real life squish in the bottom middle, and bottom right...tilted forward, flexing/sucking in belly, and trying to flex bicep at the same time, but that just wouldn't work. My brain was fried and would only let me do one thing at a time. Flexing and posing is hard...especially when you have no idea what you're doing. And yeah, you'll never know what the smirk was all about...did I fart? maybe. Did I almost pee my pants? maybe. Did I jump to the ground to prevent someone walking by the back windows from seeing me flexing in all my glory? maybe. You'll just never know I guess. 

I don't know about these...I think I'm mostly flexing in the first top two, third I might be standing and wondering what I'm doing. Bottom left I've got some back tilt going on, then some real life squish in the bottom middle, and bottom right...tilted forward, flexing/sucking in belly, and trying to flex bicep at the same time, but that just wouldn't work. My brain was fried and would only let me do one thing at a time. Flexing and posing is hard...especially when you have no idea what you're doing. And yeah, you'll never know what the smirk was all about...did I fart? maybe. Did I almost pee my pants? maybe. Did I jump to the ground to prevent someone walking by the back windows from seeing me flexing in all my glory? maybe. You'll just never know I guess. 

I experimented slightly...although in hindsight it would have been easier to have someone else do the photos because it would have taken way less time (I had to find ways of propping my phone up in the window sill and on a bed stand to get it at the right height...not an easy task) and I could have taken some awesome blooper photos of me trying to figure out how to flex multiple muscle groups at the same time without appearing as though I'm constipated. I took these photos in my bedroom, in 4 different spots...we have floor to ceiling windows in the room and then terrible yellow lighting near the bathroom vanity. You can see in the photos that a slight shift in light, body positioning, flexing, not flexing, slightly different clothing, different angles...and an odd smirk, make my body appear different. I'm pretty happy with how my body has changed over the course of the year, I've exercised because it makes me feel amazing, and I still eat pretty much whatever (one reason why I'm pretty sure I'll never have a six pack...as I sit here sipping on beer and eating a dark chocolate peanut butter cup from TJ's)...so I'm not saying I look terrible...all I'm saying is that I look different at each of the photos. Maybe more tone in some, maybe less tone in others, more deflated in some (skin doesn't unstretch too quickly after babies), but my point is that people on IG pay attention to what they post and I would wager to say that many are aware of areas of their house that have the "best" lighting for an ab shot. I'm not saying I don't get caught up in the trap of thinking holy crap that chick looks freakin amazing, why don't I look like that? But I'm very aware of it and squash those thoughts pretty quickly these days. 

Top left & middle are a few feet apart and you can see how different my stomach looks...nothing changed but some lighting and shadows. Top right...yeah I wasn't breathing, how can you when you're sucking in so hard. Bottom left, normal not flexed, bottom middle...two feet over from the previous photo- flexed, tilted, and voila my abs look flat. Bottom right...I don't know how to do a booty shot, i try to flex my booty and then end up sticking my belly out like my toddler, then I think my leg and back cramped up. I know the pictures aren't drastically different, but they are different enough.

Top left & middle are a few feet apart and you can see how different my stomach looks...nothing changed but some lighting and shadows. Top right...yeah I wasn't breathing, how can you when you're sucking in so hard. Bottom left, normal not flexed, bottom middle...two feet over from the previous photo- flexed, tilted, and voila my abs look flat. Bottom right...I don't know how to do a booty shot, i try to flex my booty and then end up sticking my belly out like my toddler, then I think my leg and back cramped up. I know the pictures aren't drastically different, but they are different enough.

So why do I write this? Because I'm hoping that it shows you that not everything you see on IG is exactly as it appears in real life. Mirrors and lighting can lie...and then we add a filter, and bam! you've got yourself a six-pack and a hottie hanging off your arm...or something like that. Ladies, be good to yourselves. You are beautiful! You are not meant to look like anyone else (unless you're an identical twin, then, well you're somewhat screwed), you are meant to be yourself. Take photos to track progress, take photos because they make you feel beautiful, take photos for memories, take photos to document life, but don't huff and puff over every photo and compare yourself to those you see on IG. Unless you really know your lighting and know how to pose to make every muscle pop without getting a hernia, then you'll never look like those super fit girls on there, and you shouldn't, because you'll look like your awesome fit self!! Another side note...I asked Beckham what mommy does all day...his response, "take pictures". There you go folks, apparently I take pictures all day, and by the look of this post, apparently I do. 

I hope I brought some humor into your life today. And maybe some other things to think about...IG is the highlight reel of people's lives. Maybe I'll hire a paparazzi one day to take "real" pictures of me, from real angles, and then you'll see that most of the time I'm a mess...and I have a resting bitch face, with a major pout and a furrowed eyebrow. But in the meantime, enjoy my highlight reel. 

xo,

Ella

Words Speak Loudly

I like to wake up early before the kids get up so I can read quietly, maybe journal, and have my cup of coffee. On Saturday I found a book a bought a while ago and picked it up to read the first few pages. The book is called "Wild Things- the art of nurturing boys". I read the intro and put it down because the kids woke up and it was time to get moving.

On Sunday morning I woke up to start my little morning routine and as soon as I came down stairs to sit at my desk with my journal, I got this overwhelming sense of conviction of how I speak of Beckham. Let me back up to Saturday...Beckham was in time out a lot, Ben was frustrated, I was frustrated, Beckham was beating on Eliza a lot and just not listening. Amongst ourselves, Ben and I often say things like "geez why is Beckham being such a jerk...why is he so mean...why is he so defiant...he makes me so mad sometimes...he can be such a little shit." Yes, many of us can admit to calling our kids worse things when we're fed up with tantrums and such...and no I don't call him names to his face, but that doesn't matter. On Saturday was also when I read the intro to the Wild Things book...and this is what stuck out to me:

"Boys bear a unique image of our wild, playful, and imaginative Creator. How boys are nurtured directly affects who they will grow into as men. How boys are designed often requires a different approach from what we would take with girls, if they are to find their way and mature into noble men. Boys are (more than) a little squirrelly-but a whole lot of fun."

This little passage really made me think about the way I speak of Beckham to Ben and to other people, and even the thoughts I have to myself. We learn that the things we repeat over and over to ourselves, we begin to believe. If we repeat positive things over and over, then we slowly start to believe those positive things. Same goes for negative words. Repeating these negative statements about Beckham was effecting how I was treating Beckham and responding to him. I know he's a sweet boy, but once he did something that frustrated me, my attitude and my thoughts changed a little. I started to tell myself that he's being so terrible and that he's just doing these things to piss me off. And in reality, he's 2.5, he's not capable of doing these things with pure harmful intent. The way I respond to him and treat him now really will impact his development down the road. He may not remember one event, but if I keep it up then he will definitely start to remember how his mommy talked to him and treated him. I want those thoughts to be positive ones. 

So much fun at the pool with this hot weather we're having! 

So much fun at the pool with this hot weather we're having! 

Every day isn't like this, and all toddlers have really bad days. Those bad days don't have to have such a strong emotional impact on me though, and I truly believe that if I replace the negative comments with more positive ones, then the way I respond to Beckham will change. Even the last two days have been different. He's still as happy, excitable, energetic, wild, lovable, explorative, emotional...but my words and my thoughts are changing. He feeds off of that, he's no dummy, he can sense when I am annoyed with him or when I am loving towards him. And saying kind things about him to others really does make me relate to him differently. 

Just hanging in the cupboards while I cook dinner.  

Just hanging in the cupboards while I cook dinner.  

This is just the reality of parenting...these little humans that we created have the ability to make us more annoyed and upset than any other human on earth. But the responsibility I'm given with these specific humans is to raise them into kind and loving human beings, and if I can't see that their behavior does not define them and is not directed to specifically piss me off, well then I have a lot of work to do on myself. Their behavior is just that, behavior, typical of toddlers and little babies. And I can truly say that it has been making a difference this week, letting all of this sink in, and I'm no rockstar yet, I have so much work to keep doing on myself and my attitude, but little by little I am making progress. 

I sure do love my little humans. 

"Mama wook, my nuggle baby." 

"Mama wook, my nuggle baby." 

My Eliza Milli

I know everyone says it, I've said it before with Beckham, I said it last month when she turned 11 months, I said it every month before that, and I'll say it again; time flies. It flies especially fast when you have a front row seat to watching a baby grow in her first year of life...and every year after that. I am definitely still in denial that Eliza is 1, I would really like to rewind to the first 6 months of her life so I can commit more events to my memory. We had so much going on in life between raising a 19 month old, Ben graduating dental school, moving cross country, then flying to Europe 2 weeks later, then moving into our home a week after that, then Ben starting his residency...and all of a sudden she was 6 months old and Beckham was 2. I have a feeling that every year will be like this, and before I know it, both of them will be having babies of their own and I'll still be wondering if anyone has created a functioning time machine. 

What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes

Tiny baby girl

Tiny baby girl

Eliza came into this world a week ahead of schedule, quietly, and without much fuss. She has truly been a sweetheart from the start. Maybe it's because she's the second child and I was more laid back and less stressed about every little thing she did or didn't do. But this girl gets in her bed wide awake and smiling and then, get this, falls asleep on her own!!! Beckham did not do that for the longest time. I had to practice stealthy tai chi moves to be able to set him down in the crib without waking him up so he would remain sleeping and then tip toe with the utmost caution out of the room so I wouldn't wake him. That's not to say she's without her quirks. The girl loves her milk, out of a bottle, not in a sippy cup. She will totally throw herself (lunge forward) onto the ground when she gets mad at something or doesn't get what she wants. And when she's hungry, she gets Hangry, and food needed to be on the table 5 minutes before you actually gave it to her.

So curious about his little baby

So curious about his little baby

She loves bath time, loves running around and exploring places, especially now that she's walking like a rockstar, and she adores her brother and pesters him by taking his cars away and trying to play with whatever he's playing with. She still nuzzles into my neck or leans into my chest and actually snuggles when she's sleepy. I die when this happens, it's the sweetest thing ever! This girl knows what she wants and she goes after it. I can't even imagine what she will be like as she continues to grow. I'm so privileged to be her mom but at the same time I'm incredibly nervous of parenting a teenage girl...I can do little baby snuggles, but I have no idea how I will raise a growing girl. 

Such a little firecracker

Such a little firecracker

The relationship that her and Beckham have is really sweet, yes they beat on each other, but they love each other so much. I really hope and pray that I am fostering the growth of  a passionate, strong, loving, caring, determined, and God loving young girl. Now I just sit back and watch the years fly by, wishing for a pause button to just savor each sweet day (and a fast forward button to skip through the really hard days). I am so thankful for this sweet girl...who is now 13 months old because I forget to finish blog posts on time. Happy Birthday my sweetest Eliza Milli!!

Happy Birthday my little mouse! 

Happy Birthday my little mouse! 

DR Mission Trip

Last week was the fastest and slowest week I've had in a very long time. Ben and I had the privilege of providing dental services to a small village in the Dominican Republic alongside 3 other dentists and 30 team members from Fairview Village (a church in Pennsylvania). We were invited on this trip back in the fall and jumped at the opportunity to go on a mission trip together. I was so worried about leaving the kids and being away from them for 10 days, I didn't quite know what to expect for the trip, leaving me with little time to be nervous or excited, I just knew it was coming up and that we were going. Oh and Ben and I didn't know anyone going...or technically we had never met anyone face to face, just spoke on the phone to a few of the dental team members. 

After a red eye to JFK and a 5 hour layover, we met with the rest of the team, from Fairview Village, at JFK while getting ready to board our flight to Santo Domingo. Few hours later, then a long time in customs, a van ride to the Work and Witness house in Santo Domingo, we finally got to say a longer hello and meet the people we would be spending the week with. Sleep came soon after and then we packed the vans again in the morning for a 2 hour ride to a remote village called Rancho Arriba. Now when I say we loaded up the vans...I mean loaded a big cattle truck with bags and bags and bags of medical/dental supplies for the clinics, and then our own personal suitcases. The team from Fairview Village has been visiting Rancho Arriba for 8 years working on the Child Development Center...which has now been mostly completed with a second floor that includes a chapel and an orphanage. 

That's the big cattle truck we rode in everyday...but initially it was packed to capacity with supplies and suitcases.  Inventory on clinic supplies when setting up our rooms. Dr. Crystal hard at work as the extraction queen. 

That's the big cattle truck we rode in everyday...but initially it was packed to capacity with supplies and suitcases.  Inventory on clinic supplies when setting up our rooms. Dr. Crystal hard at work as the extraction queen. 

Everything was set up on Sunday for work to begin on Monday morning. Once the morning came, the dental team worked nonstop to see as many patients as they possibly could. It's quite difficult to explain how smoothly everyone worked together. It was amazing! For a group of dentists, 3 wives as assistants, 2 women who became our sterile techs, a high school girl as another assistant, and one "office manager"...no one knew each other, no one tried to prove anything, and everyone was humble and ready to serve in any way possible. It was so incredible to see how willing everyone was to step up and help where it was needed. To sum the process up...we worked for 4 days and saw approximately 246 patients!!! 

Dr. Ben and a beautiful smiling girl.  Kids can play soccer anywhere...this is the "playground" at the center.  Another beautiful smiling face we saw daily at the center.

Dr. Ben and a beautiful smiling girl.  Kids can play soccer anywhere...this is the "playground" at the center.  Another beautiful smiling face we saw daily at the center.

So now to process everything...we worked hard, we rested not so well, time flew by, I missed the babies, and now we're back in Oregon and back to the daily grind. Lives continue in the DR and lives continue here. People have asked me what the trip was like, how were the people, what the conditions were like, etc. I've been to worse places, seen worse conditions, seen people worse off is what comes to mind first. The people of Rancho Arriba were welcoming, they were happy to have dental services provided to them, they were thankful for pain being gone, they came back to thank the dentists for removing teeth and removing pain, they made us fresh coffee when there was little to else to give, they thanked the team for their hard work and dedication over the years, the kids were always smiling and giving hugs and high fives. Their homes are little shacks, most people ride motorcycles around towns, the roads need a lot of work, the food is delicious, the weather is perfect, wifi is unreliable, and the people are kind and have beautiful souls. 

All the dentists hard at work...and my favorite photo: the view from our "clinic" space (aka one of the classrooms) onto the generator that ran the clinic and drying clothes.

All the dentists hard at work...and my favorite photo: the view from our "clinic" space (aka one of the classrooms) onto the generator that ran the clinic and drying clothes.

Views of Rancho arriba

Views of Rancho arriba

Every day we loaded into the back of the cattle truck to go the short distance from our hotel to the child development center. Every morning we passed coffee plantations, and every morning the fields and mountains surrounding the village looked different. Some days the fog was really low lying, adding some mystery to the fields, other days the lush green colors of the fields shone brightly as the sun was rising. Although the ride was bumpy and windy, it was such a beautiful and serene landscape to take in before the rush of the day took over. 

Homemade coffee shared by "mama". And more views around the village. 

Homemade coffee shared by "mama". And more views around the village. 

Before going on the trip I was caught up in my own tangle of life...basically I had my head up my own a**, to put it bluntly. I don't know if I experienced something dramatic on this trip or had any major revelations, but it was really good for me. Sometimes the best way to get out of our own heads is to focus on others. To love others, serve others, do something for others...and that's exactly what we did. Not to say that my life issues don't matter, but a little change in scenery and a dose of reality is really beneficial. It just gives you different perspective on life. It helped to reset my brain a little bit. I'm a believer in routines and schedules, but this week away has shown me that routines aren't always super beneficial, flexibility is good to have, and that everyone needs to be on "island time" at least once a year to truly learn what it's like to be present and find joy in the moment. 

Last day was spent exploring Santo Domingo and the Colonial part of town

Last day was spent exploring Santo Domingo and the Colonial part of town

The dental team saying goodbye on the last day.  And as always, a selfie of Ben and myself (necessary on every trip).

The dental team saying goodbye on the last day.  And as always, a selfie of Ben and myself (necessary on every trip).

It was a whirlwind of a week, and like I mentioned earlier, we're back to the groove of everyday life here. Work is stressful for Ben, kids have way more energy than I do, a little more coffee is needed to get moving each morning, but it's a pretty good life considering those are my struggles. We're already thinking of the next time we can go and serve together, hoping it happens sooner than later. 

With love,

Ella

P.S. if you're interested in seeing more photos of the trip I shared a ton more on FB. Feel free to click here and check out the album. Thanks for stopping by. 

Seasonal Ruts

You know when life happens and all of a sudden a month or so has passed? Well, that has kind of happened. The plague hit our house hard between December and January...everyone got better, for 2 weeks at least. I now am congested and have a little cold, Ben had something, Eliza had a fever and has been coughing...but the intensity of these little illnesses is much less than the previous ones. Thank goodness, because seriously, it was all just too much. 

Paddle boarding in February for Ben's birthday...such an amazing day!

Paddle boarding in February for Ben's birthday...such an amazing day!

But with that said, things just got tough in all aspects of life. It's like when one thing hits your wall and weakens your defense systems, all of a sudden it leaves cracks for other things to creep in and bring you down even more. And that just messes with your psyche like crazy. I lost energy, I lost time, I lost motivation to write, to practice hobbies I enjoy, to see people I enjoy seeing, to be fully myself. I started doubting myself and what I'm doing, started questioning whether I should remain at home with the kids or go back to work. I started to feel more and more like a failure in many areas of my life. When you don't sleep, and any remaining energy is used to care for little humans, that leaves you with very little else to give to any other part of life. 

Eliza kisses are my favorite!

Eliza kisses are my favorite!

As things have generally calmed down and returned to normal, I'm trying to figure out how to get back to doing some of those things I enjoyed. The motivation isn't quite there yet, and I still feel rather scatter brained at times, but I need to start somewhere. This week I've been reading more during my downtime...this doesn't require too much thought and planning, I just find a place to sit and read, for pleasure. Next week I probably won't add too much else because we leave for our mission trip at the end of the week, and I'm not sure I need any additional things to stress or think about. 

We had a few super warm days...that called for FroYo and loads of outside play time.

We had a few super warm days...that called for FroYo and loads of outside play time.

It also helps to have a few friends who will listen, love, and speak truth, even when it takes everything you have to get out and meet those friends. One thing at a time, baby steps, and slow forward progress is all I can do. I realize this is just a season, I don't need to make any big decisions right now, but I do need to keep moving forward and not in circles. What does that look like? Well, I'll let you know when I fully figure it out. 

My loves. My favorite people. 

My loves. My favorite people. 

So this basically is just me rambling a little, trying to do something to move forward and get myself out of the rut. Happy Monday, enjoy your week friends.

Question: what do you to get out of a "rut" or make it through a not so great season of life?

xo,

Ella

Breaking Point

Every once in a while, maybe every few months, I reach the level of complete and utter exhaustion where the least expected thing/person/commercial/song will tip me over the edge of tears, tears and more tears. I'm currently at that level. By the way, this is not a peppy or super upbeat post, this is my reality right now and I'm sharing because I know it's someone else's reality as well and we could all use a buddy during these times. Read on if you will.

The month of December was hard, Eliza was sick, Beckham was sick, I had some weird bug, and Ben started a new job...oh and then there was Christmas. We were cooped up for what felt like eternity. We have been back to our regular routine for a week and a half so that's a positive thing. What hasn't improved, and has actually become worse, is Beckham's sleep. He has been waking up earlier and earlier, napping less and less, but not only that, he is also waking up on average 3x/night and coming out of his room or lays in bed kicking and screaming because he can't get his blanket back on. I could go on and on, but basically, I'm not sleeping well, or rather, I'm not feeling rested whatsoever. I'm not one of those people who can take a power nap during their naps either. I will fall asleep hard after quite a while and then I never know when kids will wake up, so often times I end up getting startled out of sleep and feel worse than I did before taking a nap. 

I've been going to bed between 8 & 9pm the last few nights because I have absolutely no energy to do anything but stare at the wall after the kids go to bed. During the days I have 2 jobs, keep kids fed and keep Beckham from killing Eliza. The latter sucks, and sucks dry any energy reserve that I do manage to find. You all know what happens when you are not rested, not getting enough sleep, and dealing with a miniature terrorist all day long...it's not pretty. I do focus on my successes...like when I don't lose my patience when Beckham has a complete meltdown as we're leaving the gym and practically needs to be held down so I can buckle his carseat in. But I consciously have to remind myself that I am doing fine and that just because the mom with 3 or 4 kids seems to be handling things way better than I am, doesn't mean she isn't struggling or hasn't struggled before. 

IMG_9909.JPG

Last night I had to write myself some reminders: This too shall pass and It's ok to cry. Maybe it was this reminder or another night of no sleep, but as I mentioned at the start of this post, today is the day where everything is making me want to cry. Gym time is usually my place to refuel, but today I was fighting tears the entire time. Not only because I'm exhausted, but I'm also having some back/hip pain that is limiting certain things I can do. So the one place where I can truly get a break and focus on myself, I am now having to slow down and take a step back because of pain. I'm sure it's all related somehow. Lack of sleep, leads to fatigue, leads to muscles not working right, leads to making silly posture mistakes at the gym, leads to me pushing harder because I'm frustrated, leads to new pain, leads to more frustration, leads to more difficulty sleeping because of pain, leads to tears, tears, and tears. What a fun cycle. And I tend to be the type of person that keeps pushing and pushing until I hit my breaking point...which happens to be now. 

Fun unexpected date night to the Blazer game...oh and a much needed beer. Although one quickly forgets that too much beer and a toddler who want to watch cartoons at midnight for 2 hours don't mix well. 

Fun unexpected date night to the Blazer game...oh and a much needed beer. Although one quickly forgets that too much beer and a toddler who want to watch cartoons at midnight for 2 hours don't mix well. 

Things I know: I'm not the only one experiencing this. Running into two sweet mama friends at the gym reassured me that my child is not the only 2.5 year old that doesn't like sleep right now. I'm not the only one who feels like I could sleep for days at a time. I'm not the only one who feels under qualified to raise a toddler. This is just a phase and it will pass. This is a very short period of time in the grand scheme of things. I have a gym that has great childcare and I am guaranteed 2 hours of uninterrupted time to do what I please. I have 2 kids that wake up every morning and are more than happy to see me. I have a husband who always reassures me that I am doing the best I can. 

This girl has the best hair! See, it's not all tears here, we have some laughs too. 

This girl has the best hair! See, it's not all tears here, we have some laughs too. 

This caused many tears though...nose against window ledge at a high speed...loads of blood and crying. But we recovered quickly.

This caused many tears though...nose against window ledge at a high speed...loads of blood and crying. But we recovered quickly.

Moral of the story. I need rest. Writing it all out in a jumbled manner really does help. And thank goodness for concealer, because without it my under eye circles would truly scare people away. And makeup...thank you for existing, you make me look more alive and less like death. See example below. :)

See, makeup and lipstick, really does the trick to make me look alive. Oh and an eye brow pencil.

See, makeup and lipstick, really does the trick to make me look alive. Oh and an eye brow pencil.

As always, thank you for stopping by. 

Question: Do you have little crazy humans keeping you awake at all hours of the night? Do you dream about the day you'll actually get to sleep in? 

Letter Series: #2 {Hey Mama}

There's a lot of new mom's out there and there's a lot (like massive amounts) of external pressure on mom's from how they parent, to how they look post baby. It's something that has been on my heart quite a bit after having Eliza, especially when someone recently commented how they are nowhere near as fit as I am and haven't worked out as much as they should after having a baby. Ugh, that made me a little sad. So today I wrote a letter, to the new mom or the seasoned mom, or to myself if I forget this again. 


Hey mama,

Congratulations on the birth of your baby! Whether you had your baby a month ago, 10 months ago, or if it's your second or third, doesn't matter, you had a baby!! Amazing. You created life inside of that belly, a miracle in itself. And now you have to figure out how to navigate through life with an extra little human (or two or maybe more). Seriously, that's not an easy task. It's really, really hard. Even if you've done it before, each baby brings things up to a whole new level.

I've been there. I cried tears of joy, sadness, exhaustion, happiness...all the tears, for everything. Was I doing it right? What else could I be doing to be better at this? All I wanted to do was snuggle that tiny little baby & stare at him constantly. And that's what it should be about. Getting to know your baby, loving that baby, spending as much time as you want staring at the baby, and adjusting to being a mom. Don't ever feel guilty for wanting to do all of the above and nothing else, that's absolutely, perfectly ok if that's what you want to do.  

What sucks is that the world will tell you otherwise and will make you feel guilty about so many things, and often times it's done unintentionally. It's not fair, to new or seasoned mamas, to have to think about losing weight and getting your pre-baby body back right after coming home from the hospital. But I've been there too, I stressed about it SO MUCH! It's only after having my second baby that I learned that it is not possible to achieve my "pre-baby" body, why, because I've had 2 babies!! I no longer have a pre-baby body. I can't un-do my body changing and growing over 40 weeks (twice!) and neither can you. No mom should ever feel guilty about not exercising after having a baby. Exercise doesn't exist for the sole purpose of losing weight. I love exercise because it gives me energy (so does coffee and sleep), it puts me in a better mood (so does wine), it helps me recharge for the day, it challenges me...but it's taken a while for me to get to this point. I have to constantly keep myself in check to make sure I am not comparing myself to other moms or thinking of how much weight I have to lose or how much tighter my stomach should be by now. And I don't ever want anyone to look at me and be made to feel guilty about something as trivial as a number on the scale. 

Enjoying time with your baby is super important. YOU are super important. You are amazing and you created an amazing little miracle. Get to know that little miracle inside and out. How quickly you lose your baby weight does not determine your worth. It does not make you a better or worse person. It's just a number. Our babies are little for such a short amount of time, stressing about a few pounds is just such an energy suck. So love your baby, and learn to love yourself in whatever way works for you. If exercise is your means of loving yourself, then go all out, but don't do it out of guilt. If crafting, sewing, watching Netflix, walking, coffee dates, napping with your baby make you happy, then please do those things and don't feel guilty about not doing what the other moms are doing. Be kind to yourself, you are so incredibly amazing just as you are.

With love and respect,

Stained-yoga-pant-wearing mom of 2


Much love to all the moms out there. There is not one right way of going about this. My hope is that there would be less guilt and more grace for whatever path we choose as moms. 

open letter to moms, love your body,

Practice makes perfect

For Christmas my amazing husband (Ben) got me a calligraphy set. I mentioned before that I would love to learn calligraphy and hand lettering in addition to my card creating/writing. So being the awesome hubby that he is, he got me an adorable box to house all of my letter making goods and calligraphy supplies.

I pulled up the internets and found some resources to help me get started...because I had no idea how to even insert the little nib thing into the nib holder (I totally did it wrong the first time I practiced, oops). The first thing I've learned, calligraphy is freakin hard!!! All of those little youtube videos make it looks so easy and how the heck does everyone write in a straight line with letters just perfectly flowing together...yeah it's an amazing skill that I will one day be better at. Notice I did not say master, because that's just crazy talk. 

But I've been practicing during nap times. It is one of the most relaxing things I've done during nap times, I love it! I suck at it (and I'm saying that in a completely nice way)! But I continue to tell myself that it is the process and the practice of this skill that is having a therapeutic effect on me. 

calligraphy
calligraphy

See, I got a little better on day 3.

I tend to gravitate towards the modern calligraphy style and I'm sure I'll probably make up my own way of writing once I get a little more comfortable with the different strokes and how the pen actually works. But that's not really the point. The point is that for once I have found something that I'm willing to do for the sake of doing, for the sake of exploring an art form, and for the sake of relaxation. There is no other motive...except for maybe having prettier letters when I write people. 

There is no pressure to create something, no pressure to produce something, no pressure to practice or to be really good at something. I am taking full pleasure at not having a plan, not following specific set of instructions, and just going wherever this takes me.

Mirror, mirror

Cue music {a la Backstreet Boys-Everybody}...El-la's back, alright. Dance party may proceed.

Ok, are we good now? Feel free to keep dancing or am I the only one still bobbing my head and humming to this song?! I was on team Backstreet Boys, but I'm definitely on team JT now. I digress though. Anywho. 

I love receiving hand written notes, cards, letters, or really anything but junk or bills in the mail. There's something about a written note that makes you slow down and take your time reading it. Maybe it's because people's handwriting these days is just impossible to read (mine isn't, my handwriting is beautiful), I kid, I kid. But really, handwritten cards or notes just make me stop, unlike an email which I just quickly skim over to determine if it's something I really need to read now or something I can forget about for a while and read next week or so. 

In the last year I've made it a point to send handwritten mail to random people in my life. Nothing crazy fancy, just a quick friendly love note to bring a smile to a friend or to offer encouragement in a time of need or just because. Basically I do it because I like telling people they're cool and that they are loved. And I love fueling my addiction for pens and stationary. 

I was challenged recently, by Ben (for new readers, Ben is my other half, the buff & sexy one). He asked me how I can encourage and send love to others but I can't do the same for myself? I'm always so critical of myself, what I'm doing/not doing, how I'm parenting, what I'm eating/not eating, etc...you get the point. So I am slowly trying to be more loving of myself and what I see in the mirror, both externally and internally. I'm thinking that I need to write myself a friendly love note, as weird as it may feel, I'm pretty sure that it would only end well. 

Drum roll please...and this is the genesis of She Writes Love. For the first time in my life I don't have a plan, a goal, or a clearly defined end result in mind for this site. My only plan is to enjoy the process. Learn through the process. Love the process. Love myself. Love others. And occasionally make people laugh through virtual dance parties.