Monday Confessions, Early Spring Musings on church

“April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” ~ T.S. Eliot

Yesterday morning, after hustling to try to get 6 people out of the house and drive the twenty minutes to church, it started to rain. Matt dropped us curbside and as I struggled to open the umbrella with one hand and hold my coffee and bible with the other…I was suddenly wearing the coffee. I started to laugh so that I didn’t cry. By the time we got inside, I lamented to the kids “how are we still ten minutes late?” I was in all my coffee and dry-shampoo-wearing-glory wondering just why is church such an effort. Is it worth it?

It became clear though on the way home, when two of our big kids that had joined us in the adult service were able to give back to us the three main points of the sermon from Luke 6. When our kids said back to us that a true believer in Christ is “fruitful, truthful and faithful,” I felt much better about the shenanigans we endured to get ourselves there. I remember someone saying once that we might not remember every meal that our mom served us through our childhood, but we know we were nourished. We are supposed to look at church attendance in that light, that we might not remember every sermon or point but we are spiritually fed. So as parents, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up'“ (Galatians 6: 9).

So, even if the early spring rain is falling or the coffee is spilling, we are doing the important work as parents. We are investing in our kids spiritually and that takes the long view. I am so thankful that we have our faith to guide us in this parenting gig.

Here are some spring scenes from around our yard yesterday. We are loving all the animals to watch around our new home!

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Monday Confessions, 5 things to stop doing in order to produce more Joy!

I don’t know about you friends, but January usually finds me trying to slow down and take stock a bit about what’s important. It’s sometimes a forced change in pace. The winter weather keeps us in, the hustle of the holidays are over and things are just generally slower for me in business. I need this “reset” so badly but I also find myself resisting it. So, instead of resolutions of things I need to start, I’ve actually been thinking about some things that I know I need to stop doing in order to allow for more joy in my days!

Listen friends, I am taking this advice as much as I am giving it. I’ve been wrestling with chronic stress and insomnia (see also “Mommy Burnout” by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler) so these are things I need to stop as much as anyone to gain fresh joy and perspective in my life, as well as my health.

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

1. Stop over scheduling: This seems self explanatory but we all need to take a good look at our schedules, especially as we head into spring and a new season. Don’t try to jam in too many things for yourself or your family. Kids need margin too. They need free play and even, boredom. I know how much it causes me to get frazzled when I am rushing everyone around and nothing puts disappointment on a kids face like telling him he has to rush off somewhere instead of getting to play outside with friends/siblings.

“Busyness is a byproduct of our culture. It is the sacrifice we make for our religion of more, for our perfectionist tendencies, for our temptation to over schedule, over inform, overprovide.” - Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

2. Stop Comparing: We all know the saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” and yet so many of us live constantly trying to see how we measure up. I think this affects each of us differently, but it can be everything from body image, to clothing style to our home or kids…It is any area of life that we find ourselves comparing and lacking. Don’t do this to yourself. If you find yourself comparing, take a step back and ask yourself why?

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” -G. K. Chesterton

3. Stop wasting too much time on internet: See above about the comparing issue….so much of this springs from our internet culture. We don’t all need to know what the housewife in Wisconsin is baking or decorating or wearing today. It’s not that all these things are bad things, but it’s just that it takes up time and mental space that you could devote to other things in your days. Set a timer if you need to or remove apps from your phone. A big help is turning off notifications so that you aren’t getting dinged constantly and beckoned to come look at your phone. I promise more days with less internet will bring your heart joy.

“Deep breath. Are we all inhaling intoxicating Pinterest fumes? An oxygenated reality? And if so, can we call it true inspiration? The definition of inspiration is the drawing of breath, an inhalation, a gasp. A filling-up that offers an abundance of energy for your day, for the task, for that project, for this life.”

- Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

4. Stop acting like you don’t have power to change: I heard a podcast the other day talking about maintaining a family’s schedule and the interviewer said, “it feels more like the family schedule controls me than I control it.” I do understand this feeling for sure, but a question arose while I listened. Are we not in control of what we choose to fill our lives with? We truly do have the power to change things if they aren’t working for our lives or families. If nothing else, America is certainly the land of choice. We have options about schools, jobs, foods, etc. We can change things that aren’t working. Does that mean it’s easy? No, it most likely won’t be easy. I can revisit a lot of feelings from early last year when we contemplated moving…it was by FAR not easy and 2018 was the year that tried to kill me, but now sitting on the other side of that journey in our new home, I can see it was worth the huge change. This idea of the power to change can apply to all kinds of habits, from our health to our housework, so don’t be afraid and start small! One small change can lead to big differences over time.

5. Stop with the frantic: I know all these suggestions here are like a spiderweb that all connects at this point, which they do. This frantic part though, it’s not just a pace but the frantic part is a mind set. Frantic has you thinking, “when your mind has to work seven steps ahead instead of just being where you are, because this deadline’s coming, and the laundry has to get done before that trip, because you can’t forget to pack snowpants for school, and you need to beg for more time on this project. Again…Good things like efficiency and multi-tasking go off the rails so far that sometimes I find myself running in my own house, shuttling things from room to room like my life is a timed obstacle course. This is insane.” (excerpt from Shauna Niequist, Stop Hustling and Get Your Life Back).

I find myself getting like this all the time, worrying about everything from big decisions like education all the way down to what is for dinner. It’s not like we can escape a lot of these parts of life, but we can make room for more slow time and quiet. It’s the opposite of what culture teaches us constantly, which is to dominate, to hustle, and to succeed at all costs. Sometimes “success” needs to just being to slow down and play with our preschooler on the floor. Our souls need a lot more of that type of interaction than the constant hustle. As I am exploring my serious need for rest and a change of pace, this is not only a preference issue but an absolute necessity for me. I need to change out of the frantic if I am going to find health again.

I hope you hear my heart on this Monday morning, we are in it tougher. What are some things you need to STOP doing in order to create more joy in your days?



Monday Confessions, it's March

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     Oh March, you "came in like a wrecking ball" for sure and we have the roof damage to prove it. Was anyone else affected by Friday's crazy storm here in the northeast? It's already later in to the day and I've been working on editing as well as life/house stuff so I'll keep it short but I've been missing my Monday Confessions posts lately! The big excitement around here is that we got a new niece yesterday and I can't wait to meet her, Makenzie Elizabeth! Our kiddos are excited to have another cousin and I am looking forward to some baby snuggles :) 

So here's what's on my mind today...

1. I went to a killer boot camp workout this morning which actually put in to question whether or not I am "in shape" at all! I realize that levels of fitness are different for everyone but whew, she tried to kill us through burpees, squats and weights. I hope that I can get up off my desk chair after writing this! 

2. My most favorite recent book I've read is Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng. It's beautiful writing and characters with a bit of 90's nostalgia and I found myself lost in the story. Definitely put it on hold at your local library or get it on your kindle if you are looking for a good spring break read!

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3. Speaking of Spring Break....my kids break starts this Thursday! They are excited and yet I see snow in the forecast so it's just not the "spring" feeling I was wishing for but we will have to find some fun adventures anyway to make it a good time off. 

4. My favorite Spotify channel lately has been the "afternoon acoustic" or Johnnyswim on repeat. What music or vibe are you loving these days?

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5. I got these TOMS for my birthday and I adore them. Wedges look put together but are still good for a mama chasing a toddler. What are some fashion favorites you're looking at this spring?

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I hope you have a beautiful week full of sunshine and coffee, two of my other favorite things!!

Xo,

Emily 

Monday Confessions, Early Summer Favorites

  I know it's not officially summer until Wednesday this week but with the kids out of school, it has already felt like summer for a week and a half! I have been in full swing mom and business mode while trying to balance it all out. Unfortunately I still think balance is a bit of a myth, but I've learned to pick a focus for the day and try to get to at least that particular priority. If I am honest, there's always things at the end of the day that will just have to wait for tomorrow! For today's confessions I am going to share five favorite things I've been enjoying so far this summer!

Reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: If you haven't read this classic since childhood, I recommend it. (And then watch Anne with an E on Netflix!) I confess that I watched the beautifully done Netflix series and then revisited the book. The opening credits alone to the Netflix series is a gorgeous montage of paintings. Give it a look and check out the book :) 

The sequence is based on eight custom-made paintings by artist  Brad Kunkle , and created by Imaginary Forces, the design-based production studio.

The sequence is based on eight custom-made paintings by artist Brad Kunkle, and created by Imaginary Forces, the design-based production studio.

"Chore" Charts: which are really more like a plan to control the chaos and motivate the kids to keep to a simple routine. I am loving this version that a friend shared with me that covers basic morning tasks to allow kids to earn privileges like screen time. Any type of complicated chore charts, I know we will ditch before the week is out! 

From Erin @ Erin Farell Photography

From Erin @ Erin Farell Photography

Pedicures: Plain and simple a little relaxing and quiet while walking away with pretty toes is always a favorite! Plus, who can say no to the massage chair?!

Doing Something for others: Some advice I heard recently was to "put something on your calendar each week that's not about you and serves another person." I've been putting this into practice the last few weeks, simply trying to think about it on Monday morning. I ask myself, "who is someone that I can serve with a practical need this week?" This is not a brag on me AT ALL and in fact, this practice has been doing wonders on giving me an attitude adjustment when I need it most. It reminds me of others who need the help because maybe they are walking through a rough time. A simple meal or delivery of needed items can be a huge encouragement to someone who needs their spirits lifted among the practical help! 

She Reads Truth summer reading plan I have said for many years that as soon as I neglect my spiritual side, it's not just my faith that suffers. Engaging with the bible and prayer on a regular basis not only feed my soul, but helps my entire being to stay in balance. Having solid and regular doses of truth intake can help me keep perspective in even the toughest situations. All this being said, it also regularly reminds me of my own sin and need for repentance. I know this is a healthy process, especially as I seek to mother 4 children way this summer with everyone home each day. Even the simplest seeming things can instantly get overwhelming while dealing with two 8 year-olds, a 6 year-old and a 2 year-old. Three meals a day anyone?! :) 

Monday Confessions, Summer & Rest

   Summer is officially here in our house with the kids finishing school last week! Along with summer break kicking off, I've been doing a study on rest. I know that may seem silly to have to study about rest, but I am the worst at actually resting. My very name means "industrious" and it can be hard for me to be still. I struggle with the concept and practice of real rest. (The study I have been listening to is Rhythms of Grace by Rebekah Lyons if anyone is interested). It has me thinking about how this summer season can bring about some true rest instead of more hamster-wheel type busyness that I've been prone to lately. I know that I truly need a break for my mental and physical being, as well as the health of my family.  

     As I think through things that I can lay down for a season of rest, one thing is social media. I am going to start with taking a social media break this week. I've been posting a lot with the summer kick off events, but it also affects me when I look at everyone else's imagery. I know over time it feeds how I compare myself to others as well as just impacting my perceived reality of how everyone else is handling life. I have found that even a brief time on Instagram can have me longing for a different countertops or wishing for a trip to Europe. Whatever the envy of the moment, I am going to try to choose not to even allow my eyes to see it or my heart to be affected by it. I know even this small thing will feed my need for soul rest! Will you join me?

"Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
 -Matthew 11:28

 

 

As always if you need me for business inquiries, I'll be checking email, emily@emilytroutmanphoto.com 

Monday Confessions

          Rain on a Monday should not be allowed! It's hard to be motivated with a rainy Monday but that's where discipline kicks in. I have found myself in the middle of many tasks today but all along listening to the rain. I sat for a minute earlier and just watched it fall from the sky. It's good to just stop and take life in! I confess I've been hurried and busy and guilty of being addicted to productivity. It's a constant learning curve for me!  Im the middle of my addiction to productivity though, I've been forcing myself to slow down, even if for just small bits of time.

    One of my rest activities (I know, oxymoron right?!) is reading and I have started back in on the Anne of Green Gables series that I liked as a kid. An excerpt I read last night was Anne gathering flowers among the fields in May and she says,

" I'm so sorry for people who live in lands where there are no Mayflowers."

I fully agree as I take in the beauty of these peonies from my mother-in-law's garden! I love their beauty and their scent (the ants I accidentally brought in, not so much :) So even as it pours today, I have some reminder of how the April showers do indeed bring the Mayflowers! Have a  beautiful week friends!

Monday Confessions, It's May!

        It's May this morning and I hear the birds singing! It looks like a warm day ahead here in DE and I'm hoping the fog burns off to see the sun. Are your Monday mornings full of a  to-do list that sometimes feels daunting? Mine usually are. So here I sit, with my warm cup of coffee and just taking it one thing at a time. Here's whats on my mind to confess...

1. If you've known me for some time, you know that I swear big earrings can make an outfit (or distract you from a boring outfit or a tired face :) I am currently loving the leather earrings from Nickel and Suede  and I just wore these champagne shimmer earrings over the weekend. You know I also love supporting small, family run businesses which this particular business is!

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2. I am currently listening to XM Radio's channel 61 called Y2K country. Don't laugh, it's amazing! It's all the songs I used to listen to in college and there's nothing like driving with the windows down singing Wave on Wave  by Pat Green. You should try it!

3. I confess that I am not always a huge fan of our fast paced technology driven world but I have been cracking up this week as my 21 month old climbs up on the couch and says "Lexa.." to try to give our echo dot Alexa some directions. 

4. I confess that chasing my 4th toddler in 8 years has been challenging lately. He is oh-so-cute but oh-so-feisty! It's a tricky time of him trying to insert his independence and explore his surroundings all while having no real sense of danger. It's been nice to get outside to play but chasing this kiddo is wearing me out!

5. I confess we are really missing having a dog in our family but I am trying to be realistic about the amount of living things I can take care of under my roof. I keep torturing myself looking at puppies available or dogs for adoption. I am just hoping that the right thing will eventually come along but we are just not in a position to rush into getting a pet. The kids definitely know how to get to us, like our kindergartener telling us, "We were talking about the pets we have at school and I don't have one any anymore." Knife to the heart right?! Ha.....

Well my lovely friends, I hope the week that lies ahead is a good one for you! Hope you see some sunshine today! 

Monday Confessions

Hello friends, welcome to a new week. Is it possible that we are already into the last full week of April 2017?! Our house has definitely been dragging this morning a bit. Benjamin decided to just lay on the kitchen floor as soon as he came down stairs. I sort of feel the same way after a full weekend! I've already had a full morning as well with a photo session and wrangling my beloved toddler (thank goodness for friends who help you with your kiddos so you can work)! 

Inspiration image from the most recent  Magnolia Journal

Inspiration image from the most recent Magnolia Journal

You ready for my confessions? Here we go...

1. Saturday was rainy and plans were canceled so we spent and entire day cleaning out our basement! I know this is probably horrifying to some of you because how could people need to clean a basement for an entire day, right? Well for the last 5 and half years, the basement has been a collect all. I apologize in advance to our garbage collector and the earth but I feel SO much better with a lot of things gone. We took a truck load to goodwill as well! Whew!

2. I heard a quote recently from Winston Churchill that resonated with me, "America always does the right thing, after exhausting every other option." That is a lot of us right?! Trying to do the right thing but checking out all of our options first. (Anyone else watch the Crown on Netflix?!)

3. What good books are you reading friends? I just finished Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons. It was a good read! Book review blog post hopefully coming soon...

4. I confess that I'm digging these light gray jeans with the open hem bottom for spring. What do you think?

5. Speaking of clothing, I am SLOWLY but surely getting back into smaller sizes so I am in a big need of a closet organization and spring is the perfect time. I'm going to check out the latest Magnolia Journal with Joanna's tips on closet organizing (Can't I just trade my closet for hers?! :)  Nothing would fit me but her jewelry but I would love to try ;)

Here's to a great week ahead friends!

Monday Confessions, Apple of Your Eye

    I was trying to get in some morning reading yesterday before the morning chaos but it just wasn't happening. I got the kids settled and my first cup of coffee made, only to come across this quote from exactly a year ago on my phone. I don't know who to give it credit for but it was absolutly the most timely words I needed to hear. 

"If you’re running yourself crazy trying to be more and acquire more, to the point where your children are a distraction rather than the apple of your eye, is it worth it?

Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6) "

     I've been thinking this over for the past 2 hours and it's hitting me hard. It's a longer story than a blog post, but wrestling with motherhood, calling and priorities has been a constant in my life over the last 8 years. Even getting away overnight last week to the Seasidebride Workshop, I was wrestling with these questions. The above bible verse seems to be giving me some clarity, in that it is better to have a little less (insert material things, success, etc) than it is to have more of those types of things and be constantly stressing. The whole idea that I could be treating my kids as a distraction instead of the main subject is pretty convicting. It is my prayer this week that I can start to see ways in which I allow this mentality to creep in and pray that I would be shifting more to a heart posture of keeping my family the main focus. I think it's even more meaningful that this is Holy Week, the week of the year where we remember Jesus' last week in human form on earth.

     Obviously all the other things I am responsible for are really important as well, like teaching and this very photography business, but I need to make choices to keep my time well spent and my sanity in tact. Busy mom friends, how have you found ways to keep the correct focus? (I won't even dare say "balance" because I don't think that exists!)  

       Here's a cute iPhone shot from yesterday's egg hunt and Easter bunny visit! (I had all 4 kids there by myself so there was no chance of me having my big camera and chasing!) Hope you have a beautiful week! 

Eater Bunny visit 2017

Eater Bunny visit 2017

Monday Confessions, Thoughts on slowing down & a few blogs I'm loving!

     It's surprisingly Monday again and honestly, the last few weeks have been a blur of days. I or someone in my home has been sick for three full weeks. I have personally gone through the flu, bronchitis which then morphed into a sinus infection and horrible ear infection. I will spare you the other details of what I have been dealing with but can I just say that I am ready to be well?! The calendar turned to spring this past week so I am hoping the weather cooperates and we can all get healthy. This winter has truly been the most sicknesses I have ever had as an adult in one season. What is all this illness revealing to me? It has been showing me the need for rest.

    I think we all mistake a full, busy life with a life of meaning, which is far from the truth. We "push through" even when ill and think that there's some imaginary award for being tough. I've been forced to try to rest and recover, but it's been a stuggle. I'm really slow to learn on this one. I've read lots of recent books on this topic, yet I haven't put it into practice. So in this season of basically being forced to rest, I am hoping I am learning more of what matters day in and day out.

"If we want to live a Wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must learn to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth." - Brene Brown , The Gifts of Imperfection

  On a totally separate note, here are a few blogs I'm loving lately! 

The Small Things Blog - I've followed Kate Bryan for years. I love her personal style as well as her home and other things she shares. I've even made this delicious coffee cake recipe she shared not too long ago! 

Image from Small Things Blog 

Image from Small Things Blog 

 

Joanna Gaines (of course! Who doesn't love her?!)

Image from Magnolia Home

Image from Magnolia Home

Young House Love's recent post on lighting fixtures has me itching to do some updates! 

Images from Young House Love blog

Images from Young House Love blog

One Little Momma - accessible style for moms (although I don't think I would try the overalls thing! It's cute on her but I am just not built for it!) 

Image from One Little Momma blog

Image from One Little Momma blog

Emily Ley's recent post on book suggestions!  

Image from EmilyLey.com

Image from EmilyLey.com

Monday Confessions, Sick Day

(Not my image, not sure of original source but this dog is WAY cuter than me at this point!)

(Not my image, not sure of original source but this dog is WAY cuter than me at this point!)

     It's Monday and I have a confession. Last Thursday I woke up with a fever and chills. I took meds and started to perk up so I thought I was OK to go out. Can I just say that if I had to make the same decision again, I would STAY HOME! Seriously, sick people should stay home. I thought that my symptoms would pass in a day but they only got worse and by the weekend it was horrible. I don't know for sure if I have the flu but I didn't necessarily want to deal with a doctor's appointment and test only to tell me that I have the flu and there's nothing they can do for me other than what I am already doing. So I confess that I went out sick and I apologize to the people that I might have exposed. I have learned my lesson! I also have been grateful to my husband for picking up the slack while also not feeling well. Also, a huge shout out to my in laws that helped us with a couple kids, meals and groceries this weekend!  

   This is my kids spring break week and every plan we had has already been altered or cancelled due to sickness and the impending Nor'easter headed our way tonight. I am trying to take the positive spin and not be entirely dissapointed. Thankfully two of the things that got cancelled the kids didn't know about yet so they aren't affected by it. Just hoping we get a spring break re-do after this mess of a week! Stay warm and safe out there! 

Monday Confessions, February morning

    I woke up to the hustle and bustle of a normal Monday around here, with the exception of the realization that it's my birthday week. I have been all over the place about turning 35 (Hello! It's super, uncomfortably close to 40 right?!!). Some days I am totally fine because it's just a number, but other days I have found myself walking down memory lane wondering just how it has gone this fast?! I was just 30...  It's Monday though, so life goes on and so do my duties! Here goes a few confessions for you...

Shauna Niequist's blueberry crisp was my breakfast of choice!

Shauna Niequist's blueberry crisp was my breakfast of choice!

1.     I had some frozen berries that inspired this berry crisp for breakfast. Plop some greek yogurt on a warm bowl of this and you'll have a heavenly start to your day! I honestly could eat the whole thing myself, but alas, this is not a good idea for 35 year olds :)  This also works as a lighter dessert if you're looking for ideas. (It is considered clean eating too as a bonus) Check out the recipe here on Dinner a Love Story.

2.    I confess I am on my second cup of coffee, but at least the second cup I made was decaf. 

3.    I missed listening to the live stream of IF:Gathering in Austin, TX over the weekend. It's a powerful women's conference full of well known authors and speakers, but that's not all. It's a place for women to be encouraged in their faith and told to live in their own spheres making a difference for Jesus. The messages come not just from those well known people, but every day ladies living for Jesus. Thankfully they are allowing the messages to be streamed through today, so get on a check it out! I had the bluetooth speaker on in my kitchen while doing all my daily duties. I've already been challenged and encouraged while folding clothes and loading the dishwasher!

      I admit that I am often cynical about technology and it's affect on this. Opportunities like this though, make me thankful for all these technological advances! Get on the site and get encouraged today! (Only available through today for free or you can order the digital downloads).

4.   I confess I am thankful for both encouragement and coffee this morning because I am a small business owner in tax season. Can you hear the sigh coming from me? It's no fun, but I try to remind myself that it's a privilege to live in a country where I can own my own business. It's a gift to own a flexible business that allows me to be with my kids daily. So if you find me buried under all these papers and receipts, just remind me of my own words!

5.    How about that super bowl last night?! It was such an exciting game even though I confess I am not a huge NFL watcher. I was rooting for the underdog but those Patriots just kicked it into high gear at the end! I don't even know what to say about Lady Gaga but she sure did put on a show. What do you think? Did you love her performance? 

In a world where you can be a lot of things, lets just try to be kind. That's my goal in life today! A "recent reads" post will be coming on the blog soon as well! Have a fantastic week friends!

Newborn, Middletown, DE

"The most precious jewels, you'll ever have around your neck, are the arms of your children." (unknown)

This is my sweet new niece, Penelope Jane and she entered the world just a couple weeks ago! She was about 10 days new at the session. Enjoy all her squishiness, I know I did! Welcome to the family kiddo! 

Monday Confessions, a January morning

  So I confess that I really feel like I am winning at Monday, although if you saw me still in my PJ pants or my house, you might disagree. I feel like I am winning because I already got 4 children up, dressed, fed, backpacks and lunches packed and got the three big kids off to school all on my own! I was cutting it close on timing but still got everywhere there before the bell! I've also gotten loads of laundry going and a pot roast in the crock-pot. I heard once that if you know what's for dinner by 10am, you will be a lot less stressed and I entirely agree!

My breakfast iPhone shot....

My breakfast iPhone shot....

So here goes the rest of my confessions...

1. I have been drinking hot lemon water first thing in the morning and then keeping the lemon water going the rest of the day! I kept reading about the benefits of adding in lemon water to start your day, so I've been doing it for a few weeks. It supposedly helps everything from metabolism, to liver and digestion functions. I am going to stick with it to see if I notice long term benefits! If nothing else, we all know it's definitely good to get your body hydrated first thing after sleep. 

2. As for my breakfast, I've been loving yogurt with granola and berries when I don't have time for cooking eggs. Our town thankfully got an Aldi's within the last couple months and it's been amazing for me to get fresh produce at great prices. (I also love Produce Junction but it's farther away!) 

3. I confess we've been home bodies over the last week because between weather and sickness, it's our only option. I am thankful though that after a busy holiday season, having some time to try to get a handle on things at home is a gift. I spent most of Saturday afternoon with the twins creating their solar system projects for school. I love seeing their creativity come alive! I've really been reminded lately that childhood is often messy and not aimed at productivity like adulthood. This might sound obvious but I think a lot of times we want our kids to act like adults. We should let our kids be kids and enjoy the creative process! (My son is Uranus, ask me how many jokes a second grade boy can make out of that one?!!!)

iPhone shot of kiddos at work over the weekend!

iPhone shot of kiddos at work over the weekend!

4. We got sucked into an original Amazon series called The Man in the High Castle and it's so good! Matt and I rarely agree on tv shows that we want to watch but this one we both love. Without giving anything away, imagine if the USA had lost WWII and we were all speaking German or Japanese! It's a fascinating concept and extremely well done. We only have a couple episodes left of Season 2 and will have to wait until the fall to see Season 3 with everyone else!

5. Our town finally got our own Y! This has been a great excitement for me because it's allowed me to get back into classes while cute Benji plays with other little guys. So far I have loved Body Pump of course and also been to HIIT and boot camp classes. They sort of remind me that I have a ways to go to get back into the fitness level I was at before having Ben, but we all need goals right?! It's the perfect time of year to get into a routine and it's also nice to have some activities outside of the house. I still have a soft spot for working out at home when I can, but it seems less realistic with an extremely busy toddler right now! (I mean the kid can even turn on the dishwasher so I have to watch him constantly!) 

Monday Confessions

Friends, it's Christmas week! How on earth?! It's not just the "how is it all going to get done" feeling today for me, but "how is it really the end of another year?!" I have one more Monday Confession for 2016 after this. That really is just hard for me to wrap my brain around. Have I mentioned also that my kids started Christmas break at noon last Friday?! Um yes....ask me how long two of my kids have been playing Mario Kart today?!

In the spirit of keeping it real though, here's today's confessions....

1.  I run about an 11:30 mile on a good day right now. I know, it's slow. I tell myself though that the turtle still beat the hare in the end, right?!

2. There are serious messes in EVERY closet in my house. The crazy thing is that I still know where 99% of everything is, even in the hidden mess. I get annoyed at my kids asking me where everything is, but in reality, I know where they are usually! In my BC life (Before Children), I was very organized and meticulous or so I thought. Now I just shove it in the closet and survive!

3. I confess that I sometimes cut my own hair. Usually it's just the bangs but I've been known to cut it now and then too. 

4. We have an artificial Christmas tree with a cage around it. Two things I SWORE I would never do. Because kids....

5. If you need a good Christmas station, go to Pandora (or Apple Music or whatever you like) and create an Ella Fitzgerald Holiday station for yourself. You will thank me! I have had it on continuously!

6. Need some good slippers? These UGG Dakota Mocs have hardly left my feet since the cold hit!

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7. I have a new favorite holiday dip recipe that we love (don't judge it for nutritional value, it's just a treat!) This Zesty Corn Dip will have you going back for more! If you don't like spice, you can eliminate the jalapeño! 

8. I am in the middle of reading Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley. It's good but a little different than I expected. It's in a similar vein as Present Over Perfect  By Shauna Niequist but some different additions and perspectives. I shared this image over my Instagram (@etroutman) earlier this week when I snuck out for a pedicure! 

9. Need a last minute gift idea for a friend or me? :) I still haven't gotten to grab the Magnolia Story and I am sure the book is as charming as the couple! 

10. I am still finishing up a few Christmas cards that either went rogue and came back to me, or those that I was waiting on addresses! It's one of those things that might feel like a to-do but I get so much joy from receiving Christmas cards that I know it's totally worth it! I am genuinely impressed with all of you that get the whole family photo, because I've pretty much resorted to just trying to get the 4 kids in!

I am going to attempt at fitness class later this afternoon at SDF  so if ya'll don't hear from me soon, you know what happened!  (chuckle...but for real, I've been inconsistent and a class might get me!)

Happy Halloween!

‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.

– William Shakespeare

Happy Halloween to my Monday Confessions followers! Here is my little Star Wars gang ready to celebrate.... Can't you just hear the theme music?! 

       If I am utterly honest though, we are all weary. We got up this morning with tired eyes and quick tempers just from the pace of life we have been trying to keep. I am so far from my idealism earlier this fall that I would keep our schedule with plenty of margin for just living life. Yesterday instead of hanging out, enjoying the weather and each other, we basically rushed from one thing to the next. Some events were planned, some were necessities like work and groceries, and yet others we just wanted to try to fit in. How do we always get like this I am not sure?! I have been reminded though that we are in an intense phase of life. It's joyous, yet exhausting and trying all at once sometimes. We have only had time to carve one pumpkin and only yesterday did I finally get some Halloween candy to give out. Sometimes I've learned to just lower my expectations.

   Even in my tired Monday grumpiness this morning, I was reminded in the bible of who we can lean on. Isaiah 53 says, "Yet it was our weakness he carried" and another version states, "surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." Although I am mostly just dealing with regular daily stresses, I find comfort in knowing I am not alone in these struggles. 

May you enjoy this Monday full of excitement and not too much candy :)

Monday Confessions, A glimpse into our weekend

    Here's a little glimpse into our weekend with Macy's first horse show Saturday and some cookie baking on Sunday! 

I confess that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. I tend to feel this way during a busy family and photography season. It's all good things, don't get me wrong, but it's still a mountain of things I feel responsible for. It's the life of all mothers right?! I am trying to do it all with a toddler who is sort of walking and into everything! His latest achievement is being able to open all the doors in our house, heaven help me! 

I just finished reading, Rare Bird, and it literally made my heart hurt reading it. I was full on ugly crying at 6:30 in the morning Saturday while reading. Ben was up early and although I love Elmo as much as the next girl, I preferred picking up a book. I do whole heartedly recommend this book but at the same time, read with caution. If you have recently lost a dearly loved one, it might be balm to your soul. It also could crack your heart open into a million pieces if your a mother. It reaches right into all of our deepest fears, yet at the same time promises us God will still be there. It's a small but mighty book. I will not soon forget it or the story of Jack, a brown-eyed boy who loved his legos and God. Read with tissues!!!

So although I feel far less than capable of all the needs and to-do's in my life today, I am going to repeat this truth from Psalm 62 (& go get my free coffee, Go Eagles!),

"I wait quietly before God,
    for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will never be shaken."

Monday Confessions: There has to be a better way

   I am coming off a great but full weekend, filled with friends and family! I am tired but my heart is full. On Saturday I got to spend a day on the beach with 5 other dear friends and it was fantastic. The sun was high in the sky and the ocean was the perfect chilly temp to cool us off. It truly is amazing how fast a day without kids can go! 

  An interesting thing happened though as we were sitting on the beach. A woman was walking around asking for people to meet her at a certain spot at 1pm in order to all say the pledge of allegiance. She just lost her cousin to suicide, he was a young man of only 26 and a war veteran. How could we not all respond to such an unnecessary loss? As it neared 1pm, people from all over the beach started making their way to the designated area. I cannot tell you the power it was to look around at people from every color and creed standing there, as Americans. We stood together to say the pledge, to honor this lost soldier. Did you know an average of 22 veterans take their own lives each day?

  A few things have been rolling around in my mind since then. First of all, there has to be a better way. The statistics on suicide among veterans is staggering. These men and women have sacrificed so much, yet feel so lost. I cannot write any of this from personal experience, but among my dear friends on the beach was an army wife. We had a good conversation about the reality soldiers face upon return. 

   Another thing that has set on my heart was the fact that we could all lay aside our differences on that beach, to just be Americans together. I am sure if you pulled any two of us aside, we might've had differing opinions on everything from sexuality to social justice. We were an extremely varied group, yet it was important to come together. In this election season, we have all  seen and felt so much divide. My hope for the rest of this election year, we find ways to come together like this, "one nation under God."

 

  If you feel led to contribute to making  a change to these statistics, there's a really fantastic program out there called Heroes and Horses. The program allows "challenging them to rediscover who they are and what they can be moving forward. Heroes and Horses’ focus is not about what happened, but what can happen when one chooses to press on."

9 months

For this morning's confessions, I am doing a little reflecting over the past 9 months with being a family of 6. I still have to remind myself sometimes, "I have four kids!" I used to think that was a silly excuse for being at overwhelmed at life,  but now I GET IT. Having kids of any number of children is a huge explanation for lots of things...like lateness, tiredness and being scatter brained among other things. Some people are amazing and flawless with multiple children, but that's not me! I wish I had it more together with every month of photos for this kid but I am taking what I can get at this point! Here's a few photos of our sweet chunky little man on his 9 month birthday last weekend (and yes it was less than 24 hours before his little hospital adventure! He likes to keep life interesting :) 

I am learning in this season in life to embrace the feeling that I can't do it all. It seems so counter productive but it's actually very freeing. I need to do my primary roles and let other things just fall to the periphery. I am doing the very best I can to serve clients, take care of my family and myself. I have found it honestly very hard to keep up taking good care of myself but I take it all one day at a time. Today a workout and a shower are on the schedule!

A helpful scripture that I have been pondering is found in Psalm 61, 

"I cry to you for help
    when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
   for you are my safe refuge"

So thankful that we serve a God that is our help, our refuge and can help when we are overwhelmed!

So although some moments I wish for time to just slow down, I will just have to embrace each day to the fullest right now. As I collapse into bed each night, I will do my best to forgive my failures from the day as well as seeing all the things I have to be grateful for! As Shauna Niequist says, "Present over perfect." (Can't wait for her book to release!)

Monday Confessions, Easter

    It's the day after Easter and it was a wonderful but full weekend. I had a few indulgences so I started the morning with 22 Min Hard Corp and Tony Horton. It feels good to have the blood pumping because all 4 kids are home today and I know workout time would be hard to come by! 

Some highlights of Easter weekend....

1. Friday night Matt and I got to go to dinner with friends we've known a long time but hardly ever get to catch up with. Reminded me that parents NEED to get out with adult friends, have conversations and enjoy life together! Thankful for friendships! 

2. Saturday our church threw a great Easter Extravaganza, which is egg hunts and all kinds of family fun. The weather was great and it felt like the whole town turned up for the event! Then we got to attend another friend's house for an egg hunt and potluck with the easter bunny! 

(iPhone shot)

(iPhone shot)

3. This weekend kicked of little league season here and the ball fields is where we will be spending lots of our time this spring with our two big boys on their respective teams!

4. Easter morning was full of kids opening baskets and a great time of worship at church. The twins asked if they could join us in the adult service (we have great kids services as well) and we agreed. It was actually really neat to worship together and they did a great job sitting through service. It was such a beautiful reminder through music and sermon of what Easter really means!

5. Easter afternoon we celebrated with a family luncheon, which reminded us to count our blessings. For my kids, they were counting their loot! Grandma and Poppop organized a fun egg hunt which the kids loved. Sitting at the dinner table talking about yet another terrorist attack really brought it home for me to keep what's important on my daily priorities. We cannot live in fear but we certainly can make the most of each day we have!

Can I just say that these four both hold my heart and kick my butt on a daily basis?! I don't mean they literally kick my butt, but the parenting of four small people is a challenge that is beyond my own strength. Thankful that we don't walk this road alone!