Life Lately// 04.20.2015

 

Spring is in full swing!  The past few weeks have flown by but we’ve been enjoying the outdoors plenty.  Soccer is about to start for the kids which is exciting.  My husband is coaching and it will be the first time the kids are really involved in a team sport like this.  We are all excited.  However, we may end up living at the soccer fields.  The practice/game schedule means we’ll be giving up swimming for the time being but I think it will be worth it.  This weekend was great!  My husband was out of town so the kids and I were left to our own.  We spent most of the time outdoors, with friends, and doing yard work that I usually leave until Memorial weekend.  It felt great to get a little sunshine and beautify the front of our house.

Busy doesn’t feel like it quite describes things around here.  There is no shortage of things we are doing but I’m trying my darndest to make sure we have down time and time for just talking.  It is amazing the thoughts that come out of my kids when we have time to just talk.  The quiet conversations on the floor in the hallway or kitchen because a snuggle was required STAT are what make being a mom so fulfilling.  I love the closeness with a little one and their questions/thoughts on life.

Reading lately:  Scary Close by Donald Miller  (will be doing a review soon since all of us girls are reading it.

Watching lately:  The latest season of Wilfred on Netflix and some of the HBO shows that are back: Game of Thrones, Veep, Silicon Valley, and Louie.  (This latest season of Louie is different than usual but good)

Loving lately:  Trying new classes at the gym with friends and keeping up with yoga, floral shoes ( I have my eye on a pair of heels), the new Rifle Paper Co Notebook Set,  going makeup free more often, evening walks with the family.

 

 

Life lately in photos.

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My mom & I, Izzie wanted a photo with a rose, yoga class with my SIL, Oldest daughter looking old and stylish in her scarf from Aunt Erin, coffee and books outside with Daddy, Festifools Art Parade in Ann Arbor, MI. It was fantastic!

 

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My son before school the other morning. We had some lessons in grace that morning. Life lessons–sometimes it can be hard to decide how to handle a situation. He forgot his snack for school and his special game for his outdoor picnic because of distraction from video games. I made the choice to give him grace and fix his mistake– it made for a great life lesson conversation that evening.

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Me and my love Izzie.

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Jumping on the trampoline with some crazy static hair.

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Berlin and I made this M spring wreath type decor for the door using a pizza box and some flowers. Hot glue gun to pizza box made this beauty! So easy and cheap too.

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Tricks in photos. I’m designated photo taker for these crazy kid ideas. We were waiting in the alley in Ann Arbor while their dad was shopping for records.

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Among the things we’ve been up to lately… finishing our upstairs bathroom and preparing for painting rooms downstairs, I came across this shelf and thought it would be great in the kitchen. I kind of love it.

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And tricks.

 

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And I don’t know. 😛

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Locked out of my house. Yep, great way to start a Sunday. Ended up so late for church we went to Home Depot instead after having to scale the house to climb through the second story window. Spare key inside was not so helpful. Not sure if you deal with trying to use your brain while inundated with kid chatter but sometimes this happens because my brain malfunctions.

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Walks in woods.

10 Easy Mood Boosters.

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I’m not particularly ‘moody’, per say.  I’m human.  I have moods.  Most times my negative moods are brought on by being cold or hungry.  Too much noise can get to me.  Those things can be remedied easily but sometimes I just need a little more to get out of a funk.  I can get deficient in my motivation to do anything useful because of those negative moods.  Yesterday I was angry for a good part of the day because someone did something to hurt someone I care about and it permeated my thoughts causing me to be distracted and a little lacking in my ability to accomplish things.  Right now I’m actually cold and eating leftover stir-fry while trying to get motivated to finish painting my bathroom.  I was thinking about the ways that I usually get out of an unfavorable mood, some of which I did or will do today even!

1.  Open the shades and let some sunshine in.  Nothing can keep me in an unmotivated cocoon like living in a dark cave.

2.  Put on music.  Music is a serious cure!  Dinner time prep chaos turns to joy when my husband puts on a little Miles Davis.  Dance parties are always welcome and can make cleaning into quite a sexy chore as I’m dropping it low with the toilet scrubber.  Ha, yeah…  Just unless you need to wallow, avoid Elliott Smith or the like if you need a boost.

3.  Treat yo self!  It doesn’t need to be extravagant but sometimes a little splurge of a nap, a shower and prettying your nails up, spending a little extra on a favorite treat (I will sometimes buy a new Fair Trade chocolate to try.), 30 minutes of anything just for yourself can do wonders.  This week I bought a book and then read it!  It may be funny to some but yes, that is a privilege to me.  If you have not seen Parks and Rec, here you go. 😀  This show is hilarious.

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4.  Clean or organize one area.  Sometimes just choosing one area and having it fresh and organized can improve a mood.  Clean car to climb into….boom!  Happy!  That pile of mail on the counter organized….boom.  This is really good to get motivated to continue on cleaning if you don’t feel like it.  Commit to 10 minutes of cleaning something and usually the accomplishment spurs itself into more cleaning.  For me, clutter free living means less clutter in my mind.

5.  Flowers or plants.  Picking some flowers or buying a bouquet/plant and bringing it into your living space can bring you closer to nature and improve a mood.

6.  Get some exercise!  Those endorphins really help to kick a mood to the curb.  Combine getting your body moving with some music to really get it gone!  I noticed a big difference when I can relieve stress by running after a long day.  My entire evening was more energetic and the following day goes better with less stress being held in.

7.  Write it out.  Blogging or writing in a journal helps.  Whether it is a list of things to accomplish so it gets it out of my brain or just thoughts that are organized into words.

8.  Aromatherapy.  A candle burning or putting a little essential oil in a diffuser or on your skin can do wonders.  One of the reasons I love bookstores so much is the feeling I get from smelling coffee and paper books when I walk in… it is relaxation in scented form.  Lavender oil or eucalyptus is fantastic as well.

9.  Be Quiet.  Meditating, praying, or just being still and clearing your mind can be so renewing for your spirit.  To be honest, sometimes I have to do the above things to get me to a place where I can be quiet but I notice a huge improvement when I take time to just be quiet.

10.  Get Outside! Getting outdoors with some fresh air can do wonders.  Take a walk.  Sit on your porch.  I will sometimes just sit on my porch to write out my grocery list.  I have to do it anyway and being outside can be calming.

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I Created a Monster!

No, I’m kidding.  My girl is incredible.  She does have some ideas though… large and fantastic at that.  We just celebrated her birthday and our first real slumber party.  When we were in the discussion period of “planning”, presenting her with options and asking what she would like to do.  One of those questions is always “What kind of cake do you want?”.  Mainly to see if they would prefer traditional cake and what flavor, ice cream cake, pie, etc.  This kid had an entire theme planned out with an idea of what the cake should look like…. this year it was Candyland.  Last year, she drew out her request of a 3 tiered topsy turvy wedding cake.  This one was a bit tame in comparison but I had to smile at her excitement.  I also had to tell her that we weren’t going to do a Candyland theme because this year we were doing a more casual party with her friends.

I LOVE that she enjoys her birthday.  I love that we’ve made every year special for her and memorable.  But, I thought it was time to reign her in a bit.  Her first request was to go to Florida for her birthday.  Which seemed reasonable to her since last year we took her on a trip to Chicago.  I love it but I don’t.  I want to keep the kids grounded and not entitled and I don’t want to miss the signs that I’m not doing that job.  That is a hard thing assigned to parents.  You want to give them the world but you also want them appreciative and not materialistic.  Balance. Balance…. tricky business sometimes.  We all as a family needed a chill celebration though this year and she was just as sweet and appreciative as other years.  I thank God everyday for her heart.

In the past, I would get ideas of things I wanted to do for her and I went as far with it as I felt like…. I’d get theme-y and craft away.  I had so much fun.  My favorite to date was her Japanese street style party because she was really into that at the time.  All rock star, bright colors, Hello Kitty, sushi, and purple hair.  It was great.  I was relaxed about it though because it was something I wanted to do and had ideas coming from my own head on what I wanted to do.  I’ve noticed a change happening over the last few years though.  This bar is now being set.  An unspoken standard for celebrating something and it takes the fun out of it for me.   Growing up party inspiration was in magazines–styled and not real life.   It is different when it isn’t coming from a celebrity or a styled editorial but just a regular suburban housewife through Facebook, Pinterest, or blogging.  It lends this idea “you can do this too” which often turns to “you should be doing this too“.   Then unfortunately,  “I can do this better than you.”  As if we don’t have enough pressure already, the trend of aspiring to have these “if my life were on TV type parties” for a lack of anything coming to my brain to call them is starting to get old and sad.

It isn’t just birthdays.  The Facebook profile life is slowly creeping into all areas.  Our family holidays, sadly.  Weddings, obviously.  Announcing babies.  Having babies.  Toddler life.  It is one issue I had with doing this blog over the last year.  I want what I say or show to be authentic.  Real life and real me.  The way I intentionally live. Of course, inspiring someone is great!  Not if the bar is put out there just way too high and unreal.  I know I’m not the first person to comment on this plastic lifestyle. ( You like that?  Mean Girls reference. :))   But I really don’t want to be a part of the problem, perpetuating this myth of what life should be like.  We live in a look at me culture and I get that (and participate to an extent by way of Instagram and blogging)– but I hope more people start realizing that the way it is heading is crazy.  These celebrations….or heck, LIFE becomes less about the person and more about the personalized details.

I really hope that I’m able to find a good balance.  Celebrating and enjoying moments with my family while keeping them grounded.  While also not letting the rising culture of Pinterest crazy get to me.

Here are a few fun images from her party (minus her friends because of protection):

IMG_1035 copyHer grandma makes gourmet cupcakes and my daughter requested rainbow frosting… each had a different mystery filling and then these rainbow swirl tops.  They were sparkle-fied and we giggled that these could be called her Unicorn Poop cupcakes. 🙂

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Here with Grandma and then later painting nails with her friends.  (Target had this fun photo booth prop kit for only $6!  It was a hit.  Also, painting nails is such a cheap thrill for tweens.)

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Lunch with the fam.  Party games and breakfast of donuts and yogurt parfaits.

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Birthday girl!  Her brother was appalled at her lack of toys.

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Using her new curling iron.  How  is my girl this old?!

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Hiking into your Nature.

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It is strange how a blog post can just take off on it’s own.  I sat down the other day to write a post about hiking and it turned into something totally different.  It is cathartic to just let my words come right out–brain to fingers and allow the filter off.  It is my favorite way to write but also a little scary.  The guard comes off and opening up comes with that vulnerability.

So my plan is that this post will be about hiking…. let’s see if my brain agrees.  🙂  Spending over half of my life with James, we can look back over our relationship and see how much we’ve changed.  Our interests and thoughts on life have both grown apart and together like a vine climbing up a tree in the forest.  Sometimes swirling up one side and splitting apart to join on the other side…. sprouting another little vine or leaf.  We are still a part of the same vine but our growth adds to the strength and complexity of the whole.  I just made that up.  I think in analogies like that all the time.  It is probably weird but I like that I can compare myself to a hamburger or whatever.  Anyway, we’re talking vines.  Now that we’ve been climbing up this tree for some time, I couldn’t have imagined how it would be to look down and see all the twisting and twirling below, filled with little offshoots and leaves.  I love it.  I love the natural change and growth we have gone through.  It may not have been all comfortable growth but the end result is usually worth the means.  Our interest in hiking is one of those unexpected little offshoots.  Never would I have expected either one of us to be into hiking.  I have always loved the woods and exploring but usually not one for physical activity or exertion. More of a Thoreau type sitting by a pond reflecting.  He wasn’t all that interested in nature.  Somehow we’ve both converged on this point and would like to add hiking adventures to our new hobby list.

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Beginning a new hobby is thrilling.  We started walking more trails last year and it has made us want to explore more.  We would love for it to be a family activity but we’ve found we need to only do short hikes with the kids because one of our children complains quite a lot and doesn’t make for a fun outing.  Hopefully we can cultivate a love of outdoor exploration in them but forcing isn’t always conducive to that.  I have been researching some good places to go hiking here in Michigan.  I’m not exactly sure where to start.  After researching, I came across hiking groups that do Moon Hikes… Now that is exciting too!  I’m not sure I want to do group outings but I like that idea.  Here in Michigan is finally becoming weather for comfortable running and outdoor exploration and I’m ready to just take off!

If you are in MIchigan, where would you suggest to explore?  Not in Michigan, any tips on places to add to our list, I would love the suggestions!

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We didn't realize one of the trails would take us to Lake Michigan...so we walked along the shore for quite a while.

We didn’t realize one of the trails would take us to Lake Michigan…so we walked along the shore for quite a while.

Had to throw this one in from one of our nature walks.

Had to throw this one in from one of our nature walks.  Eli with his nature journal.  🙂

 

Real Conversations//Making Friends in 30s

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It is a dreary Tuesday morning.  I woke up too late to have hot coffee because the automatic shut-off turned off the warmer.  So warmish coffee morning until the new brew is finished because I decided to not own a microwave.  Most of the time it doesn’t really bother me but cold coffee makes me question that decision.

I’m thinking that today is going to be a chill at home day.  I have the feeling that I’d love to go on a hike with the kids but gauging from their moods, I think they need some home time.  We had a busy weekend with Easter and then yesterday we spent the day out at the park, then an indoor play area and swimming at my gym with their cousins.  I had a great day as well.  I was able to spend time with my sister-in-law Sarah and enjoyed adult conversation…the life and thought sharing kind that is welcome, connecting, and a little exhausting at the same time.   I miss that kind of conversation most weeks.  I’m grateful for the times I’m able to meet up with these special women in my life.

Sometimes I am painfully aware that my social avoidance creates the lack of those deep conversations that I enjoy.  I have some amazing women that I can talk with and share life with…but most aren’t available for stopping in for a cup of coffee.  I miss my sisters.  The miles between can be bridged with Facetime but it isn’t exactly the same as meeting up for shopping and coffee.  There is value in being physically present and involved.  Making new friends over the age of 12 is difficult.  The real friends where you can be honest and share in life.  Add in the busy family life and work, it feels darn near impossible. Plus, there is so much competition for women that may be ridiculous, but it is there.  I’ve come home from meeting with a group of women many times and just felt exhausted from the subtle manipulations or not-so-well masked insecurities which come out as judgmental jabs–it makes it harder for me to want to attempt friendship.  This is where my INFJ intuitive nature envies my extroverted friends.  Why subject myself to opening up?  I’ve been told by one very straightforward type that she feels like I have a guard up.  That I don’t fully express what I’m thinking and hold things back.  It really made me examine myself and how I communicate with women in social situations.  I didn’t feel like I did have a guard up because I always spoke honestly–but after examination, I do hold back.  Except for with those few very close friends and family.  That is why I get so drained from those conversations but fulfilled at the same time.  To share and really feel connected because I’m being fully honest and not fearful of being judged while hearing someone else fully in return.  Oh, ladies…. I don’t have an answer except that I should probably take more risks and make more time for cultivating new friendships.  I know I’m not the only one that feels this way.  But this makes it more unfortunate to me…so many of us ladies in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s…with kids and family, involved in activities and not social hermits still feel a lack of true friendship and yet it continues.

Moving doesn’t help.  One of my friends is a military wife and when I met her, she told me that she wasn’t sure she wanted to be my friend because she was tired of losing friends to location changes.  She was not very happy when I told her I was moving back to Michigan…. and I get it.  Making friends is difficult and an investment in your time and heart.  The older I get though, I realize how valuable those friendships are to the quality of life.  Life is crazy and unpredictable.  Exciting and maddening.  It really makes all that crazy much more manageable when you can share it.

{diy} Watercolor Shoes // Sharpie Alcohol Project

My oldest had a half day of school and we wanted to take advantage of a few hours of Mom/Daughter time without the other kids around.  Last time we went shopping and out to lunch.  The time before that was the art museum and makeovers at the makeup counter.  This time we wanted to do an art project.  So we sat down this morning and looked through my DIY Pinterest boards and she picked Sharpie alcohol watercolor projects.  When I mentioned we could do it on shoes, she lit up and said “Let’s do it!”.

This project was very simple.  I picked up a pair of cheap white sneakers, rubbing alcohol, and a few colored Sharpies and was ready when I picked her up from school.

The steps are so easy!  Take out laces of shoes.  Draw some designs (do smallish areas at a time).  Squirt straight rubbing alcohol on the design to let the color run using a squirt bottle, dropper, or paint brush.  We used all three methods on these.  Let dry.  You can redo a section to layer on the colors after the alcohol has dried.  It dries fairly quickly.  This project took an hour and then the dry time.

SUPER fun functional art!  I can’t wait to try some watercolor pillows next!

diy watercolor shoes Supplies.  Canvas shoes.  Sharpies.  Rubbing alcohol.  Spray bottle.

IMG_1126 copyDraw designs.

IMG_1129 copyUse dropper, spray bottle, or paint brush with rubbing alcohol to spread out the ink.

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Just a Little Bit.

Hello Friends.  Spring means time to get organized and dust off the winter yuck and clutter.  I’m so looking forward to this!

Right before Christmas we had a little home repair emergency.  Our ceiling in the office started leaking water which turned out to be from a problem with the base pan in our upstairs tiled shower.  It is now the end of March and things are still not back to normal.  I have a new shower–Yay!  But the mess, things packed in boxes, and primer across walls in multiple rooms (and unfortunately some damage from the construction means my stairs and hallway now need to be repainted too), drives me bananas.  I keep making plans to get things accomplished–organized, cleaned, painted.  However, this is the crazy winter of sickness as well.  I don’t really get it as we have been living a healthier lifestyle than ever before and we seem to fight it off quickly but something new comes up constantly.  So, I currently have the flu.  The lovely Norovirus that attacked several families I’m close with the last few weeks.  My plans again have been derailed.  I need to plan a birthday party for my daughter–but the mess is still nagging my brain.

Before the flu got me, I decided that I can’t keep giving myself anxiety over the things that need to be done.  I also don’t have time to do full on cleans all day long and I’m going to have to adjust.  So I made a list of all the things I want to get done and I’m tackling a little bit at a time.  It feels fantastic to have just one little thing checked off!  Now, if you’ve been to my house, you may be thinking, “What mess?”  But below is an example.  I may have things straightened up but it is the clutter and mess like this–the little things that can add up.  You know, like the banister in It’s a Wonderful LIfe. 🙂

Image-1One thing that really needed to be cleaned up was my cleaning supply area.  I had bottles that were old and basically gone still taking up space in my little under the sink area making a pile of stuff fall at me every time I went to grab some fruit wash or dishwasher detergent.  I also have been making an effort to rid the house of toxins that I can avoid–so most of that stuff under there wasn’t necessary anymore either.  It took me a little longer than I thought because I decided to give it a quick paint to freshen it up. Other than the paint drying, it would have taken me a whole 20 minutes.  I used a little of the sample paint that I bought for repainting the kitchen and decided against… which was nice because it isn’t going to waste now.  Something so simple was a tiny victory in my list and on my mind.

So as you are looking around and feeling like it is so much to do.  Try making a list and choosing something small to start– get the 30 minute jobs out of the way and feel a little victory in your day.  It really is inspiring.

I came across this Spring Cleaning guide on Pinterest the other day and I plan to consult it to help with my somewhat A.D.D. brain when it comes to cleaning.  (You ever open the dishwasher to start putting away things, put away a dish, and then start cleaning the bathroom?  I do. I’m nuts.)  Also, something I hadn’t thought of was doing a 30 day cleaning challenge.  Breaking cleaning up into 30 days really seemed insane as usually once I’m motivated to do something, I want it all done… NOW.  But I’m coming around to the idea.  Little bit at a time like the little engine that could.  I’ll make it up the mountain–maybe slower than before but I’ll get there!

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Happy Spring!

Wow, every year I’m surprised by how long winter feels.  This was no exception.  The last few weeks have been great and I think it is a combination of seeing the sunshine more lately and starting to practice yoga more consistently.  Slowing down is such a need for me.  The more I take the time to just be, I realize it is a necessity… No, not that I need to go to a yoga studio necessity but a time to clear my mind and focus on things that matter.  Last year was my year of ‘NO’.  I had a break from photography jobs.  I only did what was necessary and what I really wanted for my family.  It was SOOOO fantastic.  I can’t even emphasize it enough.  This year, I took on a few positions volunteering.  I also committed to working through wedding season.  So I got it in my head that this year I was going to say ‘Yes’ whenever I could and see how that felt.  Carpe Diem!   I only live once so let’s do all we can!

…… You know what happened?!  Saying ‘Yes’ means you get asked a lot more…. means your time gets spoken for if you aren’t careful.  I found myself considering things I NEVER would consider just to not hurt someone’s feelings and thinking, ‘Well, maybe I would like it….”  It is only March and I’m feeling burnt out and was frustrated by feeling like I was living through motions but not really there.  I talk to these parents that live this way all the time and I just don’t get it.  Why?  Why live in this fast paced, do all I can with every second of my life planned out?  I’ve come to the decision that my previous year of ‘No’ was much more suitable for me.  I felt present in my life and for my kids.  I thought maybe I was missing something because it seemed like I was the only one not complaining… ha ha.  Funny thought, but yes, I thought that.  Like maybe I need to be doing more too because my kids are only in one sport at a time and I eat dinner at home.  The good things about minds is that they can be changed.  This year of ‘Yes’ lasted 2 months and I have to say I’m quitting!  I’m a quitter of doing this insane dance while juggling and smiling and doing flips with coffee in my hand.

Happy Spring.  A time for renewal.  I just have to say that if you are in a mode of YES and feeling overwhelmed or not even overwhelmed but just not present…. Do yourself a favor and say NO sometimes.  Just be.  I promise you will feel better and renewed.  We don’t do this enough because the status quo is to be busy.  Never enough time.  Well, you only live once and I say you should be there for it.

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The other day while driving down the mucky dirt road, I saw this goose walking across the still frozen pond. There were about 20 all together in a huddle on a different side, but this loner had his own idea. I’m not sure what this goose was doing and I watched him a while. I don’t have any spring-y photos but this one seemed applicable. I feel you adventurous Mr. Goose.