Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Stitch Fix & some really awkward selfies

photo 2
So after my fabulous sister in law tried Stitch Fix and really liked it I started thinking about giving it a go.  I know my yoga pant wearing self most days seems a little out of touch with fashion but I actually really like it!! In my former life I would actually dress based NOT on what will hide baby slime stains the best. But these days I mostly make do with the fashion houses of Le Target and Le Kohls (when I have a coupon).  And don't even get me started on trying on jeans with 3 kids with you ..."Mama you have a big butt!" said at full volume from inside the dressing room while Abishai crawls under the door to peep on the person next door.  Seriously, shopping is just not happening for me for a few years.  I also am celebrating a bit because I have been working hard and finally lost a few pounds that had been soooo hard to get rid of (I still have work to do but am feeling happy with progress and in general happier in my own skin) So with some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket I decided to try it and I gotta say I'm impressed!! You fill out a fashion profile and a personal stylist selects 5 items for you- you only pay 20$ initially and that amount is applied to whatever you keep and you can specify some pricing and items (no jewelry, under $50, etc) .  Each item also comes with a styling guide to give you ideas of how to wear it. The items are more expensive then what I normally buy but the fun of trying new things and the convenience of not dragging the kids out was totally worth it. I am still deciding what to keep but I actually really like everything in my Fix which is shocking!!!  Even jeans people!!!!! They fit and are long enough...it is an early Christmas miracle (I almost didn't even try them on bc I am so convinced finding jeans is an epic battle that requires hours). OK so here is my first Fix stuff and please ignore my complete inability to make a normal face, the baby slime on the mirror, and the fact that I have not washed my hair in 2 days.  I only am posting after Annie encouraged me that I do not look completely crazy (thanks girl) and plus my little photo bomber is cute right?
a dress but I will always wear with leggings I think
up close pattern...totally me right?
long and super comfy sweater
photo 1
sweater photo bomb evy
up close pattern & the normal state of Evy
jeans and sweater
skinny jeans that FIT & another sweater..it sheds a bit but might be cute with colored jeans?
earrings..totally me but I'm not sure worth the money.

So, what do you think (besides that fact that I am a complete tool)? Some things I would never have picked out but I like them. Still pondering what to keep but I gotta say Stitch Fix was a success. I will probably only do it a couple times a year but it was a fun experience that I would recommend to anyone wanting to branch out and anyone who can't seem to get out :)

insert shameless plus for me to get free stuff: So if you want to try it out please, oh pretty please use my link to sign up- that way I get a credit and you get a fun box of fashion arriving on your doorstep soon (and then you can post awkward selfies and your friends will sign up and the free clothes & awkward selfies will continue :) .  Please tell me what you like or don't...just no comments of my complete inability to take a normal selfie. Seriously, why do I look constipated?!?!
Happy Styling,


Friday, November 21, 2014

why I was hiding in the bathtub & a fabulous night to celebrate being women

Jason has been gone in California for work all week and yesterday by 7:20am I was sitting in the bathtub with my coffee and a book hiding from the children. Sad but true.  I just needed 3 minutes of sanity where no one was pulling on my leg or wiping something on me or having a catastrophe.  I remember a distant time in my life when 7:20 was roughly the time my alarm went off.  Now my son had already been awake and whining for almost 2 hours.  Oh,the depths of the tired. And now I sit with a sink full of dirty dishes and a washing machine full of dirty clothes that I intended to remedy before Jason arrives home this evening and the water is shut off.  So clearly in light of such a first world problem my only option is to sit here and tell you all about it. Becuase I am an overshare-er. It is what I do.

But really this week was pretty great. The girls and I stayed up too late and they helped a ton with Abishai.  We filled our days with play dates, time with our neighbors, and fun activities so the time would not drag until our Papa returned.  I enjoyed some of the reflection time I had and ..shocker..I know even though I don't usually chose time alone I actually benefit from it.  So overall it was a good week.  And then there were the moments I felt exhausted and like I cannot manage my own schedule let alone these three little people that demand to eat 3 meals a day. Seriously, by the time I clean the aftermath of one meal they are asking for more food.  And the snacks required. Don't even get me started on the tyranny of snacking. Some days this week I felt brave and awesome and some days felt like I was barely hanging on until the glorious time of day known as post bedtime (there is still the lurking danger of a little girl tip-toeing down to ask for water, tattle on her sister, or tell me about what she just read in her book) but mostly it is quiet and peaceful and I can just BE.

And while the quiet is great and needed so is the hum and buzz of community that reminds you that you are not alone.  Last night though my house was full of the sounds of women laughing, children running, and the smells of mehendhi and biriyani.  My friend Swapna taught us how to cook chicken curry and vegetable biriyani and can I just say if I was born an Indian woman I would have gotten kicked out of the culture by now.  There are at least 25 ingredients and so much work but oh, the smell and the taste!!! Another friend came with her daughter and did mehendhi for us all as well. I love this art form. It just reminds me of the beauty of being a woman and it is so relational and intimate because you are sharing space and being together.

Before we feasted I prayed and thanked God for the reminders that we are not only mothers but also women and as I said it I was reminding myself too.  Because some days I get lost in the to-do's and the whole keeping them alive thing and I forget the journey is best when shared and savored.  I'm so grateful for these friends and the chance to do life together here in this place that is feeling more like home everyday.

Great women and a great night.  We all need a tribe and for sure mine will always eat Indian food. And there are leftovers people so feel free to pop in,  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

another birthday

Evy had been asking about following Jesus for months. We can see all these massive and small things burrowing in and making their way to the surface often in tears at family meetings or seemingly endless questions about scripture and life and God's role in it all.
She carefully listened to the words of songs and would ask questions like "Mama, what does it mean Jesus is our king?" "mama, what does it mean that his apetc-tions are great for me? (how great your affections are for me)" "mama, what does it mean "his Holy name?" "mama, what does it mean "his love never runs out on me?" "mama, what does it mean "His grace is enough"?
These questions. Weighty questions.  Answers I believe and sense one moment and struggle to embrace the next.  But questions I am grateful she is asking me; her mother. Imperfect and thankful for grace in everyday.  The journey of watching my kids trust Jesus is nothing but blessing. And from here on out the questions get deeper and more complex but we have One we can trust to show us the Way.
"Mama, i want to follow Jesus too!!"
 Some will say she is too young but Jesus scolded those who came with knowledge but no heart conviction, no humility.  Evy came as a little child and God does not despise small beginnings. We talked through her many questions and we prayed for her and us.

I grabbed my camera and captured a few images of this new birthday in our little girl's life. She is following after Jesus and we pray He shows her more and more of what that means in the years ahead. Grace to you on the journey,

Monday, November 17, 2014

A very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday party for Abishai & Charlie

We celebrated Abishai and Charlie's 1st birthdays with a combined party at our place on Saturday.  Abishai is already 1 and Charlie is almost 1 and it just seemed perfect to combine the celebration. Plus, Annie and I ain't stupid and it also meant half the work for each of us. Have I mentioned I'm so happy they are closer to us now?? Like SOOO happy. These cousins get to grow up together and we sorta think that is an amazing blessing. Prepare yourself for WAY too many pictures of the cuteness.

Kudos to Annie's friend and Pinterest for all the stolen and fun ideas for decor.

Pictures from each month of the boy's lives.

there was quite a crowd for present opening time

Love this of my Dad and Mom and Abishai.

Auntie Jorie killed us all with some fabulous knit hats for the Iowa and Illinois mini-fans

But clearly Abishai was not feeling his

opening all your gifts with lots of "helpers" may be a bit traumatic. But yes; that would be a FIRST WORLD PROBLEM.  I may love this picture too much.

I would like to offer evidence that some families can take a normal family picture:

And then there is us:

screaming and pulling his sister's hair and sign in front of her face and what weird finger in pocket thing am I doing? I think I was trying to do the hand-on-the-hip to look thiner but panicked.  There is no hope for me people.
Oh wait!! This is a bit better:

Prayers of blessing and thanks for the boys. Yep, I might have  cried.

cake time! (and please ignore Jason's Movember ridiculousness)

I can't decide which was funnier: watching the boys dig in (Charlie pretty much rocked it with some full face planting action while Abishai preferred the small bites!!) or watching all the adults and kids laughing at the boys.

Dig in!

"how are you feeling about all this?"

a smirk & a sneeze

"Umm, excuse me, are you gonna eat that?"

I just can't stop posting these pictures.....babies in matching sweaters eating cupcakes is too much for me.

the cutest cousins

The Mamas about to handle the clean up and yes, I think Abishai was entering a sugar coma.

The party was a little crazy and by 'a little crazy' I mean complete chaos but in the absolute best kind of way.  The kind that leaves you exhausted with tears in your eyes and a full heart. As we were cleaning red frosting out of the carpeting that night Jason and I shared how blessed we feel so many family could be there to celebrate our boys and their lives. God is good y'all!
Happy already and almost 1st birthday to the sweetest little boys we know! We could not imagine our families without you,

bring it on 35!!!

I turned 35 on Friday!

I have more wrinkles and a few more pounds than I did years ago but I am also more confident in who God has made me to be and I'm able to embrace more of the joy and abundance in my life.  Although time for some truth telling; as my always border line inappropriate friend (which is just one of her many fabulous traits) reminded me, I am half way to 70.  So yep I'm getting older but still yeah for birthdays! I make no apologies for LOVING birthdays!!

I love celebrating and it felt so special that my neighbor and friend Swapna and her family helped my girls plan a big morning of surprises, gifts, cakes, and amazing homemade cards.  They worked on it all week and Annikah was so excited to finally surprise me (I think Evy was mostly in for the cake). I started tearing up because it was one of the nicest birthday mornings in a long while. Surrounded by new friends and my awesome family I felt so blessed. 

The cards the kids made were so sweet!

I also challenged friends and family to the #bdaylattelove challenge and loved seeing all the posts throughout the day and weekend of friends taking the challenge to buy a fancy coffee for a friend and deliever the coffee and tell your friend why she/he is awesome and how you are grateful for their presence in your life. We all need more coffee and encouragement in our lives right?
 Here are just some of the friends and families that celebrated by encouraging others!!!

Thanks everyone! It was so fun for me to see everyone accept the challenge!

J's parents arrived in the afternoon of my birthday to be here for Charlie and Abishai's 1st birthday party and they offered to give us a date night out.  So what is better than Mexican food with my boo? Oh I know!! Deciding last minute to also see Dumb and Dumber To (our first movie out in over a year).  We ate too much.  We talked about life and change and us.  We laughed at his stache and a really dumb movie and old memories.   We reflected on this past year and everything God has done.  And I was grateful the fake leather on my shirt covered the snot that Abishai covered me in before we walked out the door.  This is my life and I would not want it any other way.

 It was a great day for a birthday! Bring it on 35, 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Wizard of Oz Swagger & cheesecake that will make you slap yo' mama

This Halloween was freezing y'all! Seriously windy and cold and it even snowed first thing in the morning..soooo not my favorite.  But cheesy home made family Halloween costumes ARE our fav so we toughed it out and by toughed it out I mean we took pictures and then lasted a total of 5 houses and less than 10 minutes.
Think this from all children involved (and ahem, I might have seen Jason shed a tear too).....

The festivities began at Anni's school party and costume parade earlier in the day...

and the halloween fun continued with friends and neighbors

Nirdesh's first time celebrating this bizarre American holiday

Bibi, Joy, and Chris joined us and got in on the Wizard of Oz theme. Seriously, I am so dorky cuz I live for this stuff.

Thankfully Joy saved the day by remembering there was an INDOOR (can I get an Amen!) party at the park district complete with friends, games, food, a parade, and a magic show. We are all about it!
And seriously is Abishai not the most adorable lollipop guild member you have ever seen? I am considering doing his hair like this everyday!

Anni was picked as a volunteer to "ride" a magic carpet and pretty much thought it was awesome!

After all the chaos we celebrated Joy's birthday and the awesome friend she is to our family with presies and pumpkin pecan cheesecake! Anyone who knows me knows I am not a bake (must be all the rule following required..ahh! I shutter!!). Like seriously I bake ONE thing. That is IT!!
The only exception to this rule is the one time a year I make this recipe and it is worth it y'all!

I can no longer find the recipe online so I will share the goodness here. Obviously completely stolen from a blog a few years ago but since it is no longer searchable I feel it is my duty to share this goodness with the world. And it is sooo much better when made with spices from Zanzibar!

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake (that has no calories and is best enjoyed when eaten with good friends or family!)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c sugar
6 table spoons butter, melted.

3 packages cream cheese
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 can pumpkin 15 oz
1/4 c heavy whipping cream
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
5 eggs, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 c packed brown sugar
1 c chopped pecans

Place a greased 9 in. spring foam pan on a double thickness of heavy duty foil (about 18in squae). Securely wrap foil around pan. IN a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar, stir in butter. Press onto bottom and 1 in up the sides of prepared pan.  

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugars until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin, cream, cinnamon, and cloves until blended. Add egg; beat on low speed just until combined.  Pour over crust. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in of hot water to larger pan. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. For topping, in a small bowl, combine butter and brown sugar.  Stir in pecans. Carefully sprinkle over hot cheesecake. 

Bake 30 minutes longer or until center is just set.  Remove springform pan from water bath.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy!!!

So, how was your Halloween? And more importantly who is coming over for a piece of cheesecake!?!?