Friday, August 29, 2014

Comparison, You Little Thief (AKA: The Lost Blog Post)

So here's Take Two of the post that I tried to put up last week.  Sorry for the delay.  Maybe it just needed to be tweaked.  Because tweaked it has been.

Here's the bottom line, folks:  Being an adult can really, really stink.  Sure there are some great perks.  I can stay up as late as I want, eat ice cream for dinner and I get to live with--gasp!--a boy.  But for all the fun stuff, there's hard stuff.  

There's loss and responsibility and work. And no matter how much you ask, your boss is not going to approve nap times or recess.  Which makes no sense, by the way. You've left the time of letting someone else deal with the big things to dealing with the big things head on.  And sometimes those big things fight back.   

Some of our hardest battles become with ourselves.  Or past selves.  What we did years ago can pop up over and over in our Adult Here and Now.  Like a pesky gnat that you can't catch.  

The biggest gnat in our house is debt.  We're doing what we can to pay for things that we bought years ago.  Enjoyed months ago.  Ate Lord-only-knows how long ago.  Decisions and sacrifices and, sigh, big girl and boy choices are made daily in our household to get ourselves on firmer footing.  And, dang it, we're doing it.  

For the most part, we've got this thing.  Make plan.  Stick to plan.  Done and done.  

But every so often things can knock us around a bit, making us waver some on this path we've chosen.  (Because it's all a series of choices.)  And it's not the broken car window or new tires or clothes for a constantly growing child that always do it.  

Sometimes it's the thought of how your life should look. Where you think you should be.  How you should be living in this stage, at this point, by now.  Sometimes it is that nasty little beast (or another B word, if you prefer), Comparison.  Look at them.  They have everything I want.  Why?     

And then you go out and spend, collect, buy things you can't afford because you think you have to have them to make your life look right.  Feel right.  Be right.  Plan derailed.  

This happened to Steven and me not too long ago.  We've been blessed to meet a really wonderful couple that we enjoy spending time with.  They are funny, smart and have a blonde-haired boy just like we do.  I mean, they're awesome.  It's like looking in a mirror, really.  How could we not be friends?  

We decided to get together at their place one weekend for some family time and that's when we realized that our twinsies were not quite like us.  Their castle, er, house, was beautiful.  It was filled was wonderful pieces from all over the place and all I could think was, "This.  This is what I want."  

The afternoon was great--really, they could not have been more gracious--and we left already talking about getting together again.

But when we got home, we both started mental checklists of what needed to be better about our house.  I wanted a new kitchen and was daydreaming of ripping down cabinets and re-configuring layouts.  Steven had ideas about a bigger garage and completing the unfinished second floor.  

Neither of us uttered one word out loud, probably both a little embarrassed about what we were thinking.  And instead of saying my prayers that night, I fell asleep to thoughts that looked a lot like a show on HGTV. 

The next day when I woke up, I read my morning devotional from Christine Caine.  (If you don't know who she is, take a little time with Google and meet her.  Amazing.)  These are the first words I read that day:

Do you ever wish you were someone else, had something else or did something else?

Ever have one of those moments where you look over your shoulder to make sure that you're actually alone?  Well, I will go ahead and tell you that is pretty pointless.  You're never alone.  God knows exactly what you need to hear and exactly when you need to hear it.  I may not have said my prayers the night before, but God sure was answering them anyway.  

The devotional went on to say:

Way too often, we get so caught up with trying to be like someone else that we forget how special we are.

Galatians 6:4 says, Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else ...
Comparing your life, your calling, your schedule or even your way of doing things with someone else will only bring frustration.

So relax. Love yourself and who God made you to be!   

Comparison truly is the thief of joy.  It makes your perfectly wonderful house / body / career, something that is all of a sudden too big, too small, too much or not enough.  They are enough.  God gave them to you for a reason.  Just as they are.  Just as you are.  

We don't know our friends' story.  How they got to where they all or if that road was full of good things or bad things.  I truly hope it was a journey full of more joy than heartache.  But ultimately, that story is theirs.  That life is for them to live.  It is not a finish line for me to try and reach or a standard to which I need to try and model my life.  

And if I want a life like theirs let it be for the love they share, the compassion they show and the laughter they freely throw around.  Not for the things they've acquired.

Sometimes in this adult life we have to fight for our joys.  We have to stop letting comparison steal it.

My house is wonderful.  It is where we live so much of this life together, as a family.  My kitchen is perfectly fine.  It is where I feed my family and a certain three year old likes to dance with me.  My family is mine.  My life is mine.  Our story is ours.

And there is no comparison.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Creating a Calm Life

I've been seeing this pin floating around Pinterest for a little bit. I've always liked what it said but after last weekend, it really hit home.

I'd written a blog post that you won't ever see.  Not because it wasn't a good one or because I no longer believe the words. But because posting it may disrupt the calm.  See, it's not just OK to be happy with a calm life, it's also OK to put in the effort to create one.

People often confuse calm with boring.  Calm can be anything but boring.  Calm is the chance to sit and appreciate that things aren't moving so fast your head is spinning.  It's quiet moments to read or listen or, for heaven's sake, think.

It is true that some of life's most amazing moments come in its most frantic.  I will give you that.  And some of your most astonishing strength will only be shown when it seems like your world is completely upside down.  When life is anything but calm, when it is pushing you to the point of breaking, there will be wonderful things that will show up.  Compassion.  Forgiveness.  Love.  Friendship.  I will never doubt any of that.

But in the times in between I don't mind that my life is calm.  I don't mind if my time is not so overbooked that I'm too busy to enjoy what I'm doing.  I like that my world mainly consists of a routine, the same basic thing from day to day, with little twists here and there.

Some people like their lives manic.  I get it.  I mean, I don't.  But I do get that people may not want their lives like I want mine. For the most part I want to float along life like I'm in the lazy river, not like I'm white water rafting.  And you know what?  That's fine.  You can take a lot in if you really pay attention to the world as you slowly pass by.  You have fun strapping on your helmet and racing through life, paddle in hand.  All I want to worry about is whether my inner tube has a drink holder.

Keeping things calm can sometimes be a fight.  Not everyone in your life is as willing to float along with you.  Dammit, sometimes someone just wants to pee in your pool.  Sucks, but it's true.  And while I am a huge advocate of not taking any crap (that word was my second choice), I have also learned that putting in the effort to keep things calm may include keeping your mouth shut.  Putting your pen down.  Walking away.  Switching pools.

And I'm also OK with that.

Please believe me when I say that wanting my life to be calm and appreciating that it can be that way, does not mean that I want it to be stationary.  I like to do. I don't want to stay cooped up in my house and never try new things or meet new people.  That's silly.

But when I do go, I don't want it to feel like a race.  And when there are weekends with no plans, that's great.  And when vacations don't happen, that's fine.  And when they do, and they just consist of time with people I love and no to-do lists?  That's the best.  That's the calm.

It's OK to be happy with a calm life.

Float on, friends.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Honestly trying to do better- A review of The Honest Company

I love Diet Mountain Dew, coloring my hair, candles everywhere and I wear perfume every day! Needless to say that I am covered head to toe in all kinds of chemicals and the more I “research” the more I want to have a tad less of these compounds in our home and especially around Jett!
Maya Angelou quote

When I found out I was pregnant I bought all Seventh Generation house cleaning products. It takes a little while to get used to them but I do think they work pretty well! I do still fumigate with Lysol and use Clorox on hard jobs and after colds or pinkeye. I also still buy Lysol or Clorox brand toilet bowl cleaner.

I tried cleaning everything with vinegar and I was ok with that however Jason didn’t care for the smell! I will say, it will get your blinds sparkling. I mixed it about ¼ vinegar to ¾ water for this job!** And no matter what Pinterest tells you- DO NOT microwave vinegar to clean your microwave- your kitchen will smell horrible for a long while.**

So now, Jett is a year old and I started looking into The Honest Company for his bath products. I ordered the trial pack which contained travel sized products of the shampoo/body wash, face/body lotion, healing balm, hand soap and multi-purpose cleaner for $6.95. They will continue to ship you 5 products a month for $40 (including shipping) if you do not cancel. So I have used all of the products in the trial pack and like all of them! Here is the link!

·        The shampoo/body wash is good. I think it foams up just as good as my normal Johnson & Johnson baby both products and doubled as a bubble bath. I didn’t feel as bad when Jett put his face in the water (it is tear-free) and drank some (yes, we are at that stage). The scent (orange-vanilla) is lovely just not as long lasting as with J&J. He was just as clean just not fragrant- which is probably because there are fewer chemicals. At this time they do not offer a “calming/night time bath gel/lotion” which I really do like from J&J.

·        The face/body lotion is ok.  It is fragrance free. Jett seemed super soft after I applied!

·        The healing balm can be used on diaper rash, irritated skin, cuts/scrapes, etc.. It is a gel/balm consistency. I have only used it on Jett’s fanny a few nights before bed and I have nothing bad to say about it! It went on smoothly and was thick enough to stay where I put it! I could see myself using this on my hands this winter when they get super dry! The site said it was good for eczema too!

·        The hand soap is nice. I got the lavender scent in my kit and it isn’t overpowering but enough fragrance to make you feel pampered! It is not antibacterial (which is another thing I am working towards ridding my house of- except in the kitchen) and is non-toxic!

·        The multi-surface cleaner is ok. Again the more natural products take adjustment time- your house will be just as sparkling just less aromatic proof that you just cleaned! I feel it cleans just as good as the Windex Multi Surface cleaner!

They offer so many products from laundry detergent (liquid or pods) to vitamins! So for my first monthly bundle (which you can adjust how often it comes in increments of every 4, 5 or 6 weeks), I chose the shampoo/body wash, face/body lotion, bubble bath, organic breathe easy rub (Vick’s Vapor Rub), and the dish brush with ceramic base. The total of these products if I went to Target* and bought them would be $54.75 plus tax and I paid $40 (shipping and tax included)!


*Target is the only retail store that sells The Honest Company however, they do not carry all the products.
<3 Rachel

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Saving money in the kitchen and adding a little spunk!

Cooking has been a learning experience in my marriage. I had never touched uncooked chicken until a few months before we got married- it still grosses me out. In the development of my skills, I know I have wasted tons of money by either cooking too much or buying more than what we could eat before it went bad.
So here we are 6 years into and it dawns on me- break these packages down and freeze some of this food! HELLO! Seriously, it was like a light bulb went off! I buy the fresh dinner rolls at the bakery section of the grocery store and break them down onto smaller bags of 2-3 rolls! We do not eat rolls every night so buying a bag with 16 rolls… I know we would toss at least 10! And the same with chicken- I either buy it in the already individually portioned packs (when they are on sale) or buy it in bulk and store it in smaller bags. That way when I know I need to make 2 meals that week with chicken I can pull out 4 breasts or if we only need one meal that week with chicken I can pull 2 out!
My other tip is just to have fun in the kitchen! Experiment and worst case… you order a pizza! I encourage you to have fun, add spices and try new recipes!
<3 Rachel"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude" -- For today's healthy lifestyle, choose Old London. #quotes #cooking #juliachild



Monday, August 11, 2014

Celebrating Endings and Beginnings

It's funny how we don't realize the blessings we are in the middle of until we look back on them.  Not once, but twice, over the past week I was able to celebrate the lives of two very special people--one at the end of theirs, the other just before it is about to begin.

I have a dear friend whose mother passed away recently.  Her memorial service was last Wednesday.  There were tears and sadness.  But there were beautiful songs and smiles and laughter.  There, in the midst of what most would think of as a completely sad time, was joy.  So much joy.

I would never belittle someone's pain by saying that the death of a loved one should be an easy thing to go through.  That pain is real and everyone goes through it differently and in their own timing.  And I don't care the amount of preparation you believe you have.  When the end comes and things are final I can only imagine that there is no amount of time that will ever seem like it was enough.  There will always be a hope for at least one more moment, one more second, with the one that is gone.

Despite that, there is one wonderful truth that I took from the service that day.  That no matter how badly we may still want to keep the ones that we love with us, once they get where they are going, there is no chance they would want to come back.  Because once you are Home, once you have met all those that have gone before you and Jesus has taken your hand and shown you around Paradise, there is no thought of turning back.

So take comfort in the fact that their ending isn't an ending at all.  It's the beginning of something so wonderful we could never really begin to fathom it.

Three days after we said goodbye to one life, I met some girlfriends at Serendipity for lunch to celebrate our sweet friend Jaime's second baby--due in just a matter of weeks.
Summer, Stephanie, me, Jaime & Michelle

Baby boy Landon will join big sister Austin and we cannot wait to welcome another life into this crazy world.  A world that scares us, challenges us, makes us angry and gives us hope.  A world that we cannot wait to teach him about.  And he is one blessed baby boy to have such amazing parents learn from and share this ride with.

I love when a group of women get together to love on each other.  And that's what we did on Saturday.  We  giggled and shared stories and ate cheesecake with whipped topping and strawberries.  We talked diapers and toddler troubles and laughed about Jaime's ability to pose for beautiful pictures holding a container of wipes.  And it was wonderful.

Jaime's little girl--and now her soon-to-be-here little boy--will get to see these things as they grow up.  Women who love each other and love their Mama.  And the two of them because they are hers.

It wasn't until I got home that I fully realized how special my last few days had been.  Being able to share in both these times with people I loved was beautiful.  Life keeps going, keeps moving.  Just when you think things have stopped, you're proven wrong.  People pass on, babies are born.  Love does not end when life here does.  There are always new beginnings.  

Friday, August 1, 2014

C&C Review: Rimmel London Scandal Eyes Retroglam Mascara

As I was browsing Pinterest I saw a new mascara that sounded like what I need- the pinner said it was the best she had ever used and that she was addicted to it. She said it gave her full lashes without a ton of effort- I mean, isn't that what we are all looking for? So I had to try this one out!!!!

I looked at the Ulta site (here) which described it as: plumps and curves lashes for an eyeconic 60's look! The hourglass brush is shaped to the lash line, pushing lashes up and out to create a bold, wide-eyed look.

I was so excited to get this on my lashes!!!!!!! Oh and did I mention that it was only $5.99????

So last Monday was the first day I used it. I love the way it goes on! Love the brush- I feel like it really grabs my lashes and coats them evenly! However by the end of the day (7pm) - I looked like a raccoon! Not the look I was going for, but I decided this mascara needed a second chance--Monday was a day and a half to keep it polite! Most likely I rubbed my eyes or banged my head against the wall a few times so I wrote this experience off to Mondays!

Tuesday and Wednesday went great- no raccoon eyes and I decided that this mascara wasn't as thick/heavy as my regular and it was softer to the touch!

Thursday I had something in my eye and in the process of getting it out my left eye was watering pretty bad and I had mascara everywhere! It’s like it melted instantly and ran in tear puddles down my face!

So my final thoughts on this mascara is that I will probably use the rest of the tube but will not buy it again. ;( It’s just "OK." I like the brush and how easily it goes on but I need more staying power than what it offers! I would give it a 2 out of 5.
<3 Rachel