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Long Overdue

2012 September 25
by Sarah

Poor neglected blog. This break of sorts hasn’t been intentional, but I think it’s been necessary. As I talked about in my last post, I’m still struggling to have everything together. Life is busy and full and good… and I still want to document our lives–for ourselves and for faraway family and friends–but, well, life happens and I’m still trying to figure out this thing called balance.

Last week I was feeling five-senses inspired, but last week I was also in survival mode. Jeff was on a business trip to Texas for the week and Sam had a fever and cold which turned into a double ear infection. It was all I could do to keep the two of us clean, clothed, and fed. I’m happy to report that little man is feeling much better and almost fully back to his old self again. He’s sleeping, napping, eating, and playing like himself, and his ears aren’t producing nearly as much nasty discharge. I’m starting to get back into the normal swing of things too now that I’ve gotten some sleep and don’t have a clingy, fussy baby attached to me 24/7. I did enjoy the extra snuggles, but wow that was a long week.

So it’s a Tuesday, but I’m going to do a five-senses post today anyway because I feel like it. And because we’ll be headed out of town for a family wedding this Friday and I will not have time then.

Lately, I have been…

tasting: the first honeycrisp apples of the season (preferably dipped in peanut butter), candy corn and pumpkins (a guilty pleasure), many mugs of hot tea, leftovers, carryout pizza

seeing: a play with my husband (a date!), the drippy nose and crusty ears of my sick toddler, favorite characters back on my TV screen, green grass making a comeback before winter’s hibernation, our small group family coming together to support and celebrate with its members

hearing: hoarse toddler cries (possibly the most pathetic sound in the world), my husband’s voice over a scratchy cell connection, news of two new babies coming to good friends in the spring

smelling: not much through my stuffy nose

feeling: chilly morning air and warm afternoon sun, socks on my feet after a summer of podiatric freedom, the increasing lightness of tissue boxes as Sam and I plow through them, thankful for a wonderful doctor we can trust

On Having It All Together

2012 August 24
by Sarah

I don’t have it all together. Most days I feel so far from having it all together that the idea is laughable. And yet, my perfectionist self longs for just that and my pride longs for other people to think it.

You’ve all heard the anecdotes of parents explaining to their kids about giving your best effort and that’s all that counts. That kid who says, “But what if my best isn’t good enough?” That’s me. I can feel so defeated before I even start that I don’t try at all.

Needing to be perfect or trying to meet unrealistic personal expectations all to often keeps me from doing the good things I could be doing or, more likely, the simpler version of the grand vision in my head.

Let me tell you some more ways I don’t have it all together:

  • Clean laundry often sits in laundry baskets for days because it’s such a drag to put it all away. (In reality it usually takes me about 10 minutes.)
  • I dust when I notice surfaces changing colors. (Didn’t that lamp used to be black?)
  • Our basement looks like the Room of Requirement/Room of Hidden Things. Seriously, it’s where things go and are never seen again.
  • Speaking of the basement, I still have boxes (plural) from college to sort through. Uh, yeah, I graduated over 7 years ago.
  • I have struggled for years to have consistent quiet times with God.
  • I spend time reading blogs instead of working on my own.
  • I cannot for the life of me accurately estimate how long it will take me to do something. I take my best guess, but I’m usually wrong. (Thankfully my husband is much, much better at this than I am. And I have improved slightly in some areas.)
  • We bought an IKEA wall shelf years ago and it is still in its wrapping, leaning against the bookcase in the office, waiting to go up on the wall.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there.

God has granted me perspective over the years and this struggle does not have the grip on me it once had. I have been known to say, “Eh, good enough”—and not just when I’m frustrated. Sometimes I have to swallow back the perfectionism and realize that no one else will care or maybe even notice what I am trying so desperately to perfect.

At my first job out of college, my direct supervisor used to tell me to just do a good enough job and hope no one complains. If someone complains, then you can go back and fix it later. That drove me insane! I never did understand him.

Now I’ve been doing this mom thing for over a year, and I’m still trying to figure out a good system for balancing the unending to-do list while keeping my child alive and happy. Shouldn’t I have this on lock-down by now?

Sometimes I still struggle with wanting to be super mom and comparing myself to others who seem to have it all together. But the reality is that no one has it all together. You might think they do, but something you can’t see is getting the shaft or they have a virtual assistant or hire a cleaning service or something. We are all just humans. Flawed. Imperfect. In need of God’s grace.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, I’d be able to hire someone to clean my house for me. (Optimism, perfectionism, and procrastination can be a wicked combination, let me tell you.) I get in over my head and just want to quit. At the same time, some challenges loom so large that I don’t even know where to begin and I quit before I even start.

There are many wise women out there who have great ideas and lots of experience in kid-wrangling and running an efficient household. I am thankful for those who share their knowledge and experiences on the internets with newbies like me.

One of those women is Tsh Oxenreider of Right now I am working my way slowly through her ebook, One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This ebook is great because it simultaneously compiles lots of tips and tricks for simplifying your life (thus giving you more time for the things that really matter) while breaking them up into manageable chunks and checklists. Checklists! Be still my compulsive heart.

So I’m making progress. Slowly figuring out a flexible system that works for me as head housekeeper and cook, bookkeeper, blogger, gardener, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. Will I ever have it all together? Nope, but that’s okay.

Sam’s Almost-One-Year Photo Shoot

2012 July 22
by Sarah

My little baby is turning ONE in five days. Where has the time gone?! My blogging goal this week is to share and reminisce about some of what was happening a year ago. This week I will also be preparing for a party and having family in town so we’ll see how this goes.

To kick things off, today I’m sharing our favorite photos from a recent photo shoot Sam and I did with our friend Laura. Laura is working on building a portfolio before she starts her own photography business. When her web site is up, I will share all that info with you too. She is an all-around fun person, which helped make this session a really fun time! She is waiting for her own baby boy to make his grand entrance any day now, which is why these are Sam’s almost-one-year photos.

All of the photos were favorites; it was really hard to narrow them down to share here.

Since I am the main photographer in the family, I’m not usually in the photos. I especially treasure these shots of the two of us.

This next one looks like he’s coming out of the blocks in a race. Future track star? It IS in his blood.

I love the next two shots because they capture an everyday occurrence that is so “Sam”:  twirling my hair when he’s getting sleepy.

My happy boy.

Breaking out the serious face.

He’s into giving kisses these days. I love it.

Sam is a total water baby. We were basically done with photos and just chatting it up when he kept making moves toward the water. So I let him splash around a bit. He got completely soaked and loved it.

I love this kid.

Recipe: Homemade Yogurt Popsicles

2012 July 19
by Sarah

Last week on my personal Facebook, I said, “Homemade orange-yogurt pops, the taste of my childhood summers, are freezing up as I type. (Also homemade strawberry-yogurt pops.) Can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow!” Several people asked for the recipes and more details so here goes…

You could use paper cups and popsicle sticks, but I bought these rocket pop molds online for about $10. I do have a little boy after all. Okay, even I think it’s more fun to eat a rocket-shaped popsicle than a plain one. :) I also prefer reusable products when possible and we’ll make up the cost of the molds super fast.

I think the recipe for orange-yogurt pops my mom used when I was growing up involved frozen orange juice concentrate, but I simply used a ratio of 2 parts juice (Tropicana ‘Some Pulp’) to 1 part yogurt. These popsicles have more of an icy texture with a hint of creaminess and were very similar to what I remember as a kid. I didn’t add any sugar and I used plain yogurt; I liked them as is, but I might add a bit of honey or other sweetener next time. If you use a flavored yogurt (both vanilla and strawberry would be great!) I definitely wouldn’t add any sweetener.

For the strawberry pops, I found two simple recipes here and here. They are basically identical except for the amount of sugar (and now I can’t remember how much I ended up using). I didn’t pulse the strawberries very much because we wanted a sort of chunky texture. Oh, I also used regular low-fat organic yogurt instead of greek yogurt because that’s what we had at the time. These were very creamy and Jeff’s favorite of the two.

Next time I will try greek yogurt (extra creaminess!) and maybe some different fruit. I’m thinking peach since they are in peak season right now. Yum.

Oh, and using 1 cup of juice/half cup of yogurt and a half pound of strawberries/half cup of yogurt gave us five of each flavor in these particular molds. Even Sam liked them! They were too cold for him to take a bite straight from the popsicles, but he enjoyed the bits we put in his mouth for him.

What are your favorite flavors of popsicles? Do they remind you of your childhood like they do for me?

Splish Splash

2012 July 9
by Sarah

Here’s a smile-inducing video for your Monday morning:

Bath Time Splashes from Sarah on Vimeo.

 As you can tell, he loves splashing just a bit.

Five-Senses Friday

2012 July 6
by Sarah

Today I am…

hearing: the muffled hum of outdoor a/c units and cool air moving through the ducts; the repeated light banging of metal on metal as Sam plays with his favorite toy: Mochi’s dog kennel; songs from the TV show Phineas and Ferb silently running through my head; the sound of my own voice over and over (“No touching!”, “No throwing food!”, “I love you!”, “Peek-a-boo!”)

feeling: thick, humid air that envelops me the moment I walk outside; damp on my brow if I stay outside longer than 5 minutes; both the contentment and sadness that come with finishing a good book

seeing: a little boy, so curious about the world, emerging from my little baby; once green grass now dry, crunchy, and brown; flowers in need of water; new dangers in ordinary places now that Sam is cruising and exploring every nook and cranny

tasting: leftover fruit dip from our small Independence Day gathering; lemonade; iced tea; lemonade and iced tea together

smelling: coconut oil and baby skin, clean laundry

Small Style

2012 July 5
by Sarah

Hope you all had a lovely Independence Day yesterday! It’s a little odd having a holiday on Wednesday, but we made the best of it and hosted a cookout with a few friends. The US of A is far from perfect, but I’m awfully glad I get to live here (even if I do think it would be fun to live in jolly ol’ England too).

But back to the topic at hand…

Small Style is on a reduced summer schedule – only once per month. Since I missed last month, it’s been awhile. These pictures are actually almost a month old themselves, but I had to show off my new favorite Sam outfit:

I love these little applique tie shirts for little boys so I was very excited when I found this one at Carter’s a few months back! He wore this to church and got many compliments and comments.

It was all fun and games until a car would drive down the street. That event merited a serious face:

On Sam:

shirt – Carter’s
shorts – garage sale (I think?)
shoes – Pediped