finding my church.

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I don’t make room for guilt and God in my heart. It seems that one or the other is reigning and the relief and comfort both bring, while so different, is consuming to the point that my body is flooded, there is no room.

Today, during my few minutes of yoga  (I’m doing another ‘ten day challenge’ on my blog Facebook and instagram) I had that sweating/shaking/you brain isn’t ‘thinking-thoughtful-thoughts anymore’ moment. And I felt so clearly; “God is here. Here in yoga, in your book, in your baking, in your interactions with your girls. You are engaging Him, loving Him, and knowing Him better in these spaces.”

I am not a fan of many devotional books, contrived bible studies, or video series that are shown at Women’s Breakfasts. I have a hard time reconciling the woman on the video with my woman in the mirror, we seem like different breeds. The Church and I often times not lining up. My heart wanting to give to every homeless person I come across for my tithe, and churches seeming to scramble for new sound systems and technology for their sanctuary… I know none of it is that simple, but it feels simple to provide what you have to those who ask, without question. And, regardless, it often times leaves me feeling  lost and guilty for not being at every study/sunday morning/and devotional. And I have battled that guilt for years. Ached for those spaces to feel right, the right fit. But have yet to find that church setting that seems to be brimming with Jesus and not judgement and legalism. And I know that half that battle is in my own heart, but big pieces of it also seem to lay in a deeply broken church. One that holds one mold, one kind of person, and I have struggled to reconcile where I fit.

But this morning it rained down on me in the midst of a thankful filled Sun Salutation. Yoga is a prayer, I spend those 25min feeling awe for His creation and how intricate my body and muscles and blood flow are. I feel intense thankfulness for the time and space from my girls I am getting to take. And I feel that calm, quiet, listening space emerge in the moments of holding a post just long enough to shake. I feel Him. Without judgement of “are my hands in the air?” or “did I just parent wrong in front of that church Mom?” or any other guilt ridden junk I lay on thick in those situations.

I feel abundance, and wholeheartedness, I feel vulnerable and awake, and feel thankfulness and new understanding. I end conversations with fiends (“non christians” !) and feel closer to God, deeper in relationship, and in Worship without ceasing, as opposed to ending the song set and checking the clock worried about my preschooler in the sunday school program.

I’ve found where I fit. I fit in with God. I fit in with movement. Nature. Friends. I fit with vulnerability and raw conversations with people who challenge me to look at what I think and believe and back it up; in scripture, in great books, in prayer, and in ironsharpensiron with Charlie. I feel at rest in where we are right now.

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And if those movements don’t look and feel like worship, deeper than I’ve ever known, I don’t know what does.

spring fling.

The sun has been out in full force and with it I’ve felt the settling into this home. Hanging some photos, getting some personality into the nooks and crannies, hosting friends and so many kids for all day playdates, and getting down to business on back yard planning. But in all of it I can get so swirled up in ideaplanmoneytodorepeat that I don’t get anything done and instead end up pinning for days and stream of conscious planning with Charlie but never pulling the trigger on even the small projects. So, I need a few goals. A couple of bullet points to get going for the upcoming spring; Happy Spring Year? Happy New Weather? Happy Midmarch? I’m not sure. Whatever it is, I’ve got the fresh bug and want to get while the gettings good!

First Off! FOOD. We’ve been packing in the fancy pizza, amazing mead, endless pudding and pie, and… obviously… pounds. So some smoothies, clean eating, and fresh foods are first on the list. And, WATER.

1977237_10100813944166420_485947768_n{Charlie got me a Ninja as a housewarming gift, not the biggest fancy set but the sweet $100 one from Target. It still felt like a big pill to swallow $$$ but OH MY  has she been earning her keep. I’m going to post some of my favorite things I’ve been making in there. But let me just say; If you aren’t making pancake batter in a blender, you’re doing it wrong.}

Two: Get in the sun, every chance I get!

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I am a rain lover, a cozy upper, and a hot drink connosouir. But lately? I’m a sun cat. I want to be in it, around it, soaking it in, and keeping all those rays in my pocket for the harder days. Our new back yard is super different (wrap around, say whaaa?) and has some work to be done. We need to fence a portion of it, make the whole space a little more entertain friendly and get some playspaces set up. And the planning phases are SO fun. But the execution is going to need to really get started! Brings me to my next one…

Three: Put my  hands in the dirt at every chance. Need to till up the garden beds, get my seeds going ASAP, and make all my big long seed lists!

Four: Run. I’ve been sorely neglecting the gym and the pavement and my body/heart/mind are all suffering. I feel lost about trying to shore up the motivation (again again again) but I know how worth it the fight is. Here’s to starting anew tomorrow. If I put it here, it’ll happen, right?

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Do you have any new goals? How are you carrying them out? Forehead tattoos? I’m thinking thats my next step.

We’re Home. And leaving home too.

We’ve moved out of dreaming, scheming, buying, paperwork signing, and planning. We’ve moved out of the home that witnessed us grow up and into a family of four. We’ve moved out. We’ve moved in. And now that we’re home, the realness of empty walls and new spots that don’t quite fit the old stuff is weighing heavy. The big home that will hold the bulk of memories is here, but we’re sitting on the side of the scale where memories are light and small and the bulk is still to come, but can only happen with time. We’re in that spot of  finding your back roads and ways home, how to best find the freeway, and what grocery store is the closest walk. The “what room are you in? I can’t find you!” and “where are the mugs again?” . And the blinking and wondering… ” Is this all really … ours?” When do we call the landlord?

We are in our little dream home. And it’s everything and more. Each little nook we keep finding and falling hard for.

but still . . . 

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Our little town got an uncharacteristic ten inches of snow the days before we moved. But we did it anyhow. Through drifts up to my knees we hauled boxes down the ramp and into our home.

But maybe more importantly, in drifts up to my knees, we moved out of our old home.

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About seven months ago we out grew this house. The girls wanted doors to close, space to run inside, space for art and painting and learning to cook. The walls felt low and heavy, the arrangements felt stale no matter what we did, and our ache to make a space our own in every way started to burn big. The desire for renovations. Responsibility. Walls to come down, in hearts and structures, got huge.

After we found out about the Little Lettered Dream Home, I mentally moved out. I was unpacking my couch in the new roomy home, I was hanging fresh art on walls, painting bright white and deep blues. Only I wasn’t. I was living the day to day in a home I had hit bursting point with. I was so frustrated with it’s lack of function. With the muddy yard, the galley kitchen, the too small garage. I was out of love with the very things that drew me to the home three years ago. We were bumping our heads on the ceiling, our bodies into each other at every turn, and my want for some expanse and privacy was growing big.

Everyone knew where we lived. It made for a magic porch, but it also brought with it some fears and a little too much exposure. I had been craving a little anonymity. A bit of privacy. Less fishbowl, with still so much light. I wanted the Little Lettered Dream Home that I had fallen so hard for.

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When we picked up the keys from the seller. I got in the car and tears just streamed and streamed and streamed. It was real. Hard and poky in my hand I held our future. I had moved out of the renters unknown. And into the “my kids will grow up here. my next baby will be born here.”

I moved into the office for writing. The extra deep bathtub to reset. The renovation dreaming and planning. The big shop for Charlie to make all his own.

So in a whirlwind of help, extra arms, love, and speedy movement… we painted everything, did a few repairs, made a lot of ‘homeowner’ purchases, and packed up our whole lives. And moved.

In the hubbub of making a new home, going to Ikea, unpacking and building everything. . . I almost forgot our old little red home.

Till we got a message from our old landlord “I trust you guys, you can hand the keys over to the new tenants (our friends, by the way), as soon as you’ve cleaned it out.” 

…and it hit like a ton of bricks. Or harder.

The first Home we had. The one that I drove up to started sobbing the moment I saw those giant flowers in bloom and a little space to call ours. The space that rescued us from a very bad neighborhood, from homelessness and confusion after we had jumped in faith and given notice with nowhere to go. The place the held our first garden. The space that grew more strawberries than we could eat. The space that hosted endless backyard playdates, the birth of so many friendships, and probably hardest to close the door on of all. The birth of my second baby. The redemption of birth and the expansion of my heart in the most profound way I have ever experienced. And we were locking the door behind us.

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As hard and weighty as it felt to close the door behind me and leave the memories to age in my head and rattle around inside the house that is our home no more, I am so excited to close that book and start this new one.

The one with growing girls, and gangly legs, with big talks and bigger decisions. The door to school, and babies, and reading, and new growth is open wide. And we are here to breath it in. This home empty of our memories but full of 102 years of other peoples heart is big.

And pretty beautiful too.

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Love, love here we are.

{Pablo Neruda.}

So fresh and so clean! My home/body/laundry master list of recipes!

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I heard, about five years ago, someone say “if you wouldn’t put it in your body, don’t put it on your body.” it hit home, stuck in my head, but didn’t bring about much change. Till we had a baby… after having Nolie I started to really consider what I was using on her/me and around our house. I knew she would crawl/get into stuff and put her mouth on every single thing… and I felt like it was really time to change. I started with homemade laundry detergent, that quickly led me to home made spray cleaners, and finally into no-poo hair care, body scrubs, and lotions. We kind of jumped ship quick! And haven’t looked back! Since then we’ve gotten even deeper and don’t do no-poo anymore, but just use hot hot water and scrub well daily. All of our hair has never been healthier! I want to quickly share our go-to family recipes for around our home.

A bottle of Dr.Bronners still finds it’s way in (it seems to be the only way to really get extra virgin coconut oil out of hair, or greek yogurt for that matter ;) ) and brings us many bubble baths, and I buy Mrs.Meyer house cleaner spray here and there because the marketing has won me over. But about 90% of the time we are using wholly homemade cleaners for our home, clothes, and bodies. And loving it! And? LOVING the  money we save!

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For Home:

I use a spray bottle with half white vinegar and half water for nearly everything! I have a few bottles and add different essential oils to each one depending on where I use it most. For the kitchen I typically make satsuma vinegar (I put orange peels/satsuma peels into a glass jar filled with vinegar, I let it sit for about ten days. Don’t worry! It won’t mold! and then strain out the peels and use that as my kitchen vinegar.) and mix it with half water and use that for my countertops/kitchen table/stove/highchair/sink. When my sink gets extra rank I do a sprinkle of baking soda all over it and then spray my vinegar (Nolie and Evie LOVE to watch it bubble up!) and give it a quick scrub and then lots of water to wash/rinse it off. It will shine after!

For the bathroom, I mix half vinegar and half water with a few drops of tea tree oil (available at most natural food store, or for pretty cheap even at Trader Joe’s!). That helps keep bugs away, is a natural way of making your bathroom smell stellar, and is a natural antimicrobial. But keep it up and away because when drank straight (as opposed to diluted a few drops in water/vinegar) it is unsafe.

For the Tub/Toilet, I have found the BEST mix is one cup white vinegar, one cup hot (from the tap) water, and a few drops of Dawn Dish Soap. Shake it up, spray into tub/toilet and give it a little scrub. It works wonders!

For Laundry I mix equal parts borax and baking (or washing) soda and then half that amount of biokleen or oxyclean. (for example, one cup baking soda, one cup borax, 1/2cup bio/oxy) and then use one Tbs. per load in my washing machine. I’ve been using that recipe for four years and it has never gone wrong! It is SO CHEAP.

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For Exterior doors/windows I keep a spray bottle of water with lemon oil in it. Evidently spiders don’t like lemon. And I REALLY don’t like spiders. So I spray around all opening windows and doors a few times a week during the summer. It also brings a really nice fresh scent to our house.

Window Washing, we go old school here with straight vinegar and newspaper! Just like your Mom and Grandma did ;) I will say though, I do love and miss windex. It’s possibly my one holdover with the whole natural home stuff, I miss it like whoa.

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For Body:

For Hair, we used to be “no-poo” and use a mixture of baking soda/water for washing and then a dilution of Apple Cider Viengar (ACV) and water for conditioning. I still use ACV here and here if my hair feels a little coarse, but not often at all (maybe once every two months?). Otherwise I am going on two years of nothing and Charlie just broke over six months. Both of us had fairly long “adjustment” periods where our hairs oils balanced back out, and looked pretty ugly for a bit. For me it was just a couple weeks, for Charlie it was almost a month. He works a hard labor job, gets sweaty often, and struggled with not great skin. Since moving to just hot water washing his skin has cleared up considerably and his hair is healthier and less greasy than before! So, for hair, the recipe is hot hot water (as hot as you can stand is what I do, Charlie and the girl do theirs considerably less) and scrub it pretty hard (to redistribute the oils that are there) and that’s all. I do a little rub of tea tree oil along the nape and behind the ears when I think of it just so that we all smell a little extra fresh and because I am a bug worried freak, but that’s just preference and totally not necessary.

For Body Cleaning, Charlie is a big fan of the Dr.Bronner bar soap. The girls love bubbles so we put Dr.Bronners liquid soap into their baths pretty often too. I use baking soda and salt scrubs. My go-to, everyday, scrub is equal parts sugar and salt, a big drizzle of honey, and some eucalyptus oil (a drop or so). I use that to scrub my whole body and it leaves me smelling amazing and being super smooth. Nolie and Ever also love scrubs and epsom salts too so those get a lot of use. On a day when I know I am going to be cleaning my tub anyhow I will also use my coffee grounds as a body scrub too, evidently it’s great for circulation and can help lessen the look of cellulite even, crazy! I mix them (coffee grounds) with either a little melted coconut oil or olive oil and use them on my legs before I shave.

Shaving! I do shave, despite all the other hippie sounding tendencies ;) I use a tiny bit of coconut oil on my legs in the shower (we keep a jar in the kitchen, bathroom, shower, and bedroom) and then shave and rinse the razor very well (EVCO can kinda build up if you don’t!).

Body Lotion, I use plain coconut oil on my whole body as a lotion/moisturizer. It smells amazing, melts on contact, and absorbs into your skin really quickly. I put only a tiny bit on my face/mainly just lips because I have naturally pretty oily skin on my face. But I lather it on the rest of me! You could melt it ahead of time and add an essential oil to if it you wanted more of a scent (almond or lavender would be amazing!) but I never get around to doing that.

Face, I use one tbs baking soda and two tbs milk on my face really often as a wash/scrub and it cleans really well. I also use an egg white all whisked together and applied to my nose like a mask for black heads. Another frequent one around here is oatmeal/honey/sugar as a scrub/mask for long baths or “beauty parlor” with the girls. They especially love that one because it tastes good too!

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For the Girls:

Here’s the beauty… nothing any different that what I use on anyone else. We all just do hot water scrubs for hair, use coconut oil for lotion, and it also works great for diaper rashes too ;)

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section or on my Facebook page! I’ll try to respond promptly!

Ten Tips to getting your best family photos ever!

1. Hire an amazing photographer. Don’t skimp, save up, and remember how worth it these photos are. Find one who not only has a style you love, but who YOU love. The more comfortable your family is with your photog, the better your pictures will be. Remember this, you guys are beautiful when you are just living life in love together. Find someone who captures that.

1475972_10100738406913680_378939463_n2. Come up with an idea! Keep it simple, but having an idea in mind helps in every other way. If you have an idea/theme that will help you decide on outfits, props, destination, everything! I knew I wanted cozy/cabin feeling outdoor photos. So we packed up loads of blankets, a big thermos of hot cocoa, and wore tons of layers, and off to the tree farm we went!

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3. Count on Candids. Don’t get to0 pintresty with your plans, unless you are kidless then pintrest to high heavens while you can! Go into your photos with lots of opportunity for cute candid photos that include your whole family. For us, nursing is a go to because it contains the squirmiest of our family, and everyone is engaged. Mugs and hot chocolate also work well because the girls liked to sit and clink glasses, cuddle up, and drink something sweet! So it helped them sit still and be able to get some awesome sister photos. The candid’s are always going to be the lifelong favorites, the moments that aren’t perfect but are so dead on to where you’re at, so allow for those to happen without all the “you sit here. SMILE!” stress.

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4. Don’t be afraid to let your kids be themselves. Does you daughter ONLY wear that one dress. Go with it! Does your husband just hate v-necks, let him pick what he wears! And does your youngest just never sit still? No biggie. Find ways to chase them toward the photographer, or bring a fun activity, or pack a sucker (yes, I wholly advocate that). Getting awesome pictures of happy kids is far easier than getting pictures of kids who are annoyed or encumbered by clothes they don’t like. And, bonus! It takes the heat off of you picking their outfits!

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5. Prep your kids. Get them excited! Tell them what’s happening, and why it’s going to be fun! Show them pictures of you when you we’re little, explain how cool it will be to look back on this. Nolie LOVES to see photos of herself as a baby, and talking about how she can see these when she is a teenager is a HUGE selling point. Let your kids get excited about this too, make a card for the photographer, help decide what to bring as a prop (cider or hot cocoa? obviously my girls are brilliant and picked chocolate). These are family photos, and the more ownership your littles take in them the more fun you will all have, the more of an experience it will be, and the better the pictures will turn out.

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6. Have some fun. Laugh too big. Have a double chin. But give up caring, because in ten years, those huge laughs on your face and your tiny children and your young husband… they will be your absolute favorite memories.

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7. Remember that bold is best, and matching is unnecessary. This holds true for lips (bright! pop!) and clothes. Save the clothes with words/characters for another day if you can (if you can’t, go for the giant Minnie Mouse shirt and a smiling kiddo over the sad faced girl in a gorgeous mini boden.)

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8. Get your makeup done, Mama. I know, I know. This is weird, expensive advice. But I HIGHLY recommend it. You know the age old “if mama ain’t happy, no ones happy!” same goes for photos; “I’m mama feels great, everyone feels great!” my confidence, lack of stress, and feeling like my best self… it made a world of difference for our photos.

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9. For at least a few photos. Pretend your photographer isn’t there. And kiss like the kids are in bed. Comfort your kiddos like you would when no one is there for the photo. And let everyone just be; kicking,nursing, kissing, crying, just let it be for at least a few.

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10. And, finally, your kids are the most beautiful, intense, amazing, and worthy of remembering creatures on the planet. So with a good photographer, there really is no screwing those cherub cheeked babies up.

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Makeup (and confidence boost!) by; Love Beauty 

And Photographer (and friend); Tiffany Burke Photography

eye of the storm.

I shouldn’t write about this. Because the conclusion of this story isn’t here yet. It might be a month away. Or it might be five or more years away. But I’m living in the apex and it feels too big to cork it. Too risky to put these dreams out there. But if feels like a lie to keep them all in.

I think about tiny feet coming through a big door, into a little odd shaped room with a line of hooks low enough for spindly little arms to reach and hang their too big coats. 

Our family is one giant upheaval right now. Charlie started a new job this past week. That means that since June he has left a job, started a new job, left that job, and started back up at the old job. Change like that throws us for a big significant, overwhelming loop.

I see hardwoods that shine and are oiled by little slippered feet that twirl, twirl, twirl. “At least 18 times in a room so big!” and the grin seems just as wide as my heart can spread in this room to breath. 

We made the choices prayerfully, carefully, and with council and so many late night conversations. But we both are still trying to find our feet in this ever changing ‘normal’.

The black wood stove burns hot. The soft rugs invite. And fingers can intertwine  and eyes and linger and lips kiss. And little snores can be heard in the next room. And the fire can burn brighter still.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, the perfect house, through a really amazing affordable housing program, came on the  market. And this is the piece I should wait to share. I should wait till I have either a bow to tie it up; announce our first home. Or till I can write another post. One not distracted with dreams of a laundry room and space for my girls to spin.

I imagine hearing the steady beat; whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. Behind a closed door. A room that can warm and  vibrate and clean our endless linens.

But I’m here. In the eye of a tornado. Change all around us, dust no where near settled, suffocating in paperwork and numbers and qualifiers, and prayers, and ‘are we this grown up?’.

Their room. Their thick moulding, high ceilings, space to Jump! and read and color and stretch, and mostly; Grow. 

So what are we doing? We are celebrating all the small wins. We are finding normal and stability in our weird and wild girls. We are potty learning ( I know, what? Ever is crazy little but wants to do it!) and cookie baking. We are focusing deep on love. On eye contact and kissing, on time alone, and home cooked meals. On comfort food, and good uplifting articles on parenting I aspire to. We are reading books in the free minutes, drinking cider like mad, and checking our emails incessantly to see if we have heard any news about the next steps with this home.We are anchoring in the things that are unconditional. In His word. Each others arms. And two big eyed spunksies with toothy grins.

Bedside tables, my beautiful bed, built by my beautiful husband. Space for the trunk at the end of the bed, overfilled with blankets to cover the four bodies that cuddle in tightly. 

That prayer and feeling God gave me last December, it has been nothing but dead on for the year. And still, to the very end, I’m Holding Tight.

I’m home, dreaming. 

Dressember 2013

I decided to full force jump into Dressember this year, I’ve done it in the past as a fun “get dressed!” inspiration but never fully committed. This year the terms of Dressember changed, the goal no long just to ‘wear a dress’ but so much bigger than that.

To make a change. To raise awareness.

{from dressember.net }

“What began in 2009 as a quirky style challenge with a clever name spread like wildfire. Put simply, Dressember is a month of wearing dresses. At its core, Dressember is a celebration of femininity and beauty. It has created a community the globe of like-minded individuals who would not have otherwise ever come in contact with one another.

In 2013, Dressember took on new meaning: opposing human trafficking by aligning with International Justice Mission. IJM is a human rights organization that works to rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. Now, those who participate in Dressember are also seeking to raise awareness and funds for IJM’s work to continue. The heart of Dressember is freedom– that every woman, man, and child has the right to be free to live a vibrant life.”

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I decided to participate because this is a cause that is important. Overwhelming. And heartbreaking. I look at my two girls and know that we know wealth, safety, security, warmth, and a life without fear in a way that many women, children, and men couldn’t begin to dream of. Today my girls donned dresses, not because they know or understand this cause, but because ” We can help other people with a dress!” and Nolie’s words ring true.

Raise a voice! Give a dollar (or, you know, a hundred!)! Participate, tell your friends and family, ask them to donate. Save up some change, forgo fancy syrup in your holiday drink (or don’t, because it’s delish and you can probably afford $4 for coffee and $5 for an amazing cause!), give a little to help a lot.

collagedressember{dressember day 2} follow along on instagram #dressember2013

In 2011 alone, IJM partnered with local authorities to rescue more than 1,600 children, women and men from sex trafficking, forced labor slavery and other violent oppression, and helped put more than 100 slave-owners, traffickers and rapists behind bars.

Today, over 27 million men, women, and children are trapped in slavery. That’s more people than the entire course of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The mission of Dressember is to put a stop to one of the greatest social injustices of our time. Dressember participants wear dresses every day during the month of December to celebrate the freedom of beauty and femininity that they’re allowed, and to raise awareness and funds on behalf of those who aren’t free to live vibrant, autonomous lives. One hundred percent of the funds raised during Dressember will go directly to International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that has worked tirelessly for over 15 years to bring rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and violent oppression. Together, we can make a lasting global impact.

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{day one}

Please consider donating to this cause, and it isn’t too late to participate! There are a whole lotta dress filled days left in December! Here is my IMJ account that is easy to donate through, or you can donate through dressember.net as well.

http://www.ijmfreedommaker.org/account/7390/Autumn-Baughn

http://www.dressember.net

My little mirror.

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I keep waiting for her to be quiet and not need me, long enough to write about how incredible she is. Long enough to put down into words how amazing it is to see the cogs turn, the words come, the abilities pour out, and her growing go faster-faster-faster till it’s spinning so fast we both fall down. But that moment isn’t coming, and we have both just fallen down, hard.

I remember  Nolie crying for no reason that I could discern, yelling loudly and sadly in words I couldn’t understand, but I was there. I could get down on her level, talk to he and give her huge feelings words, I could hold her all day long, and nurse her for hours. When she was having a day that developmentally spun too fast we would slow the world in the rocking chair and nurse all day while I watched old movies and cried about how hard it was.

But Ever is a new breed. She wants to nurse, but can’t stop watching Nolie-playing-running-working to do it. So instead she latches on and cuddles in and then scratches and kicks and kneads my boobs while simultainiously trying to stand and run and nurse… “gymnursics” would be the understatement of the century. It feels like we are off; two cogs on, what is supposed to be, one wheel, that just keep grinding and sparking.

I am lucky in my disposition that none of this makes me mad at her. But mad at myself. Frustrated at my inability to take a deep breath and just.keep.loving.  I have read enough, experienced enough, and researched thoroughly enough to know deeply that none of this is her manipulating-doing “bad things”- or being “naughty” all of this is …. normal. All of this is developmentally dead on, learning her world, her boundaries, what works and what doesn’t, what cause and effect is, what happens when things fall down, what happens when you throw, what happens to others when you ________ . I know. Empathy is starting here. And it needs to start here with me, not with the 1.5 year old.

But it’s so hard. So, so, so damn hard. I want to cry and yell and just say “GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK, LIFE!” Today I cried to Charlie… “I just want to drive to a job, leave the girls with someone I trust as much as you trust me, and just do some busy work. Wear dress pants. Eat the the snacks left by whoever was an over zealous baker the night before. And drink some frilly latte with my comrades while we gossip about the annoying memos.” {And, for the record, this was weird and I *never* want that.} These days feel so long, till there over.

I am on a hair trigger fueled by little sleep, little space to myself, stress over things that are small, (Birthday parties, business information, mama drama, vacation planning, the daily things that aren’t bad at all. The things I know I would ache to ‘deal with’ if anything ever really went wrong.) and the weight of two… the weight of two little girls, the weight of four ears that hear it all and cry when I say “no” to harshly (because it’s scary! and I am so much bigger than them!), and forgive me so so easily it breaks my heart for my mean’ness even more.

And maybe that’s the crux. When I am laying in bed with Ever, attempting to nurse her down for nap for the third time, and she is clawing at me and leaving deep marks, and I am laying her down again-again-again and she is crying so hard she chokes and I am at the end of it and I then she pinches me hard (in frustration and lack of words) and then I say, again, “I can just hold you.” and she sobs her sadness, finally, into my arms and her eyes close with hard and tight as she finally latches on and falls asleep, and I can remember that this was not that bad. And I can leave the room and have to face the apologies of all the hours before this; “I am so sorry I said a mean word (Stupid), I am so sorry I spoke too harshly at the park when it was time to leave. I was feeling frustrated and upset.” and instead of being met with my feelings, at the same confessions that come from a sweet and small 3 year old voice, I am met with “it’s okay Mama. It’s hard being a baby. It’s hard being a Mama. Lets cuddle up.” and I can feel it. That despite my lame and anger, my huge-huge-huge disproportionate feelings when they are being two of the punkiest punks I have ever seen… what they soak up is the forgiveness, what Nolie is learning and growing (and AMAZING AT) is the empathy. She is quick to forgive, and a portion of that is because she has the most open heart I’ve ever seen, but a portion of that is modeling… is what she’s seen. Is a quickly erased slate.

We will weather this stage. And the hard failures I have, the endless apologies on my lips, the sleepiness and lack of words, the anger and frustration, the nap battling, and so much ‘mama mama neeeed’ing will come to an end. And at the end of that phase is this new one, one I am blessed to be standing in with my older girl, the one where empathy isn’t just a glint in their eye as they share a loved toy with a crying friend, but empathy is words upon words of balm to a soul of any age.

I’ll admit that 18mo is not my favorite. But it is a harshly accurate mirror. And here I stand, often wordless at my girl and in need of extra love despite not knowing how to ask for it. But I can see what stands on the other side, and I am not quite wishing this away, but am endlessly excited to see what fruit grows out of Ever and I during this spark and fire filled time.

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We pretty much ate the whole loaf, standing around the counter with babies on our hips and butter dripping off our finger tips. It was so worth it. Hot homemade bread is a healer, a uniter, and a big ‘i love you’ in this house.

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My kitchen aid mixer turned out two loaves of bread and 16 dozen milk cookies this weekend. 15 dozen cookies went out to Mamas working to build their supplies for their own babies and for little ones that they are pumping and donating to. It’s amazing how many of my memories are food tied. That silver work horse was the last Christmas gift I got from my grandma before she passed away, five years ago. I can’t pull a cookie or loaf from the oven without taking a minute to think of her and all the pancakes I ate at her kitchen table. The pringles and carrot sticks we ate on Friday nights. And the baby sitting she gave that turned into my sitting with her to make sure she had dinner, and all the calories we could muster up to offer her. Of the endless root beer floats we shared and Basketball games we cheered to the TV. Of her knobby hands holding mine and smiling huge grin each time she saw me come through her dining room and to her spot on the couch. I miss her so much. I know she is sitting around a table, enjoying angle food cake in heaven with all of her sisters. Laughing about nothing… loudly.

I love you Bakka. Thinking of you today. It helps that Charlie is wearing his Sonic’s t-shirt, we’re still rooting for ‘your boys’.

September? I hardly knew her.

Is it really (almost) october? Ooffta, this month flew and something tells me the next few will too.

I feel like I am running as fast as I can and everything is just whirling by, only really I am eating as much fallcentric food as I can and the pants are getting tight and I am having a blast watching the blurs of my two little flaxen haired crazies.

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Heres the rundown; since it’s 10pm and my newly laundered linens are begging for me. 

Charlie has been building two beds a weekend for the past couple weeks and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing much! Did you know we have a little shop? You can check it out and see all the cutes he is making here.

The girls are navigating that hard line of how to play with each other and still find some space alone. Nolie soaks up the one-on-one time with me during naps in a big way (like, just wants to lay across my body and ‘cozy up tight’). Her ‘touch’ love language is big and obvious and meeting that need can be super hard with a climby toddler nursling who takes up a lot of my body energy/touch quota and time. So lately I am just scrapping the to-do list, alone time wants (hi, I pretty much don’t blog anymore and it makes me super sad), and trying to meet the need when it’s here and hope it passes. But really? laying on the couch and talking about her amazing thoughts for an hour and a half each day? it’s pretty much the best.

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Ever is a riot. Such a weirdo! She and Nolie couldn’t be more different and seeing how Ever is just turning into her own little amazing person is basically blowing the minds of everyone in this little family. She has the most expressive eyes and eyebrows and is quick to laugh and grin, but only with us; to those who don’t know her? Ever is a fusty little stoic, and I wouldn’t have her any other way.

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The sisters are playing together non.stop. Tons of “lets play babies! I’ll be eight months old and crawling and you can teach me to walk Evie!” and also lots of “noooooo, I just want to take my turn looooonger baby!” So, we’re learning.

I am trying to keep up. And barely making it. Between all the shop work Charlie is doing, preschool figuring out (that’s another post… for sure), and trying to figure out how to parent a kiddo who is EXACTLY like me (Uh, hello my loud and sensitive second baby, I love you/WOW we clash) and failing miserably some days. We are busy with play-dates, party planning (a Pink Pumpkin 4th, to be exact), home cozying and decorating, kid wrangling, holiday planing  (getting ready for year three of The Giving Tree! and possibly selling our wares at a holiday fair!). And, just, oof.

Things that have fallen by the wayside. . . . exercise, not eating diary, and oodles of confidence. Related much? Oh, and laundry. Lets just not even go in to that abyss.

October is likely to be packed too. But I am trying to employ some plans to calm that crazies; only one scheduled thing a weekend, training for a 10K in December, and giving us at least one stay-at-home-day-all-day each week.

Does anyone else seem to still be in school mode and just hit the ground running come September? I really ought to just buy an august to august calendar and embrace my school loving self a bit more. For now? BED.

549572_10100641749441030_1009470161_nAlso, I am *much* less lazy on my facebook page and post pictures, recipes (pumpkin spice for your coffee? YUM), and updates there often! Check me out!