Thursday, May 28, 2015

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Rain drops on roses, and whiskers on kittens...

I thought it'd be fun to do another round of "Favorite Things" (here are Parts 1 and 2). So. Off we go! Oh, and for the record, none of these are paid endorsements. I just think they're fab and thought I'd share. :)

The Leotard Boutique. Raleigh started gymnastics a couple months ago, and it is just the sweetest thing to watch her balance, flip, jump, stretch, and somersault to her heart's content each week. It's even sweeter watching her do all that in her adorable flutter sleeve leotard. Any momma with a little girl who takes dance or gymnastics knows that with that comes the need for leotards. Enter The Leotard Boutique. Y'all? They are $15 (with $3 shipping) and come in a rainbow of colors and styles. Score! 

Reece Blair. I have posted about Reece Blair before but thought I would share their info again for a couple of reasons: (1) As many have heard by now, a family from our extended church suffered an unimaginable tragedy last week. There really are no words...However, Reece Blair, which is owned by two amazing women, wanted to help. So. They created a brand new bracelet, named after the family, and are donating ALL proceeds from the sales of the bracelet to the family. <3 (2) Reece Blair also won the 2015 Belk Southern Designer Showcase and will be sold in Belk stores starting in 2016. Hooray!!! 

Children's Bibles. One of my dear friends gifted Harrison the absolutely beautiful The Jesus Storybook Bible for his first birthday. The child-friendly language and illustrations, well, be still my heart. In addition, Banks got The Action Bible for Easter. This is an AWESOME version for boys, I can tell you that! Every day, he begs me to read him the next story. We've started this cool new routine of reading the same story from both Harrison's Bible and Banks' Bible each day, which not only allows for double exposure to the same story, but also encourages lots of great faith-based conversation on a child-friendly level. I highly recommend both versions, depending on the age/gender of your little.

Pure Barre. Three words: lift, tone, burn. If you have one in your area, or something similar (I've heard the Y offers barre classes, and I know there are other studios by different names  also offering barre-based workouts), I highly encourage it! It is the type of workout where, every.single.time, mid-workout, I swear I am never coming back. It is just too hard. And then, the second it's over, I can't wait to come back! It's the best workout I've ever had my entire life, and it is perfect for anyone out there who hopes to lift (ahem--me), tone (ahem--me), and burn (ahem--me). 

Lucky Sage Shop. Many months ago, I found this absolutely adorable online store called Lucky Sage Shop, that makes the sweetest, matching momma/daughter bracelets. I just had to have a set for my one and only little lady and me. Also, I have found that they often offer discounts if you follow them on Instagram (I scored ours for 15% off). If you could have seen the look in my daughter's eyes when I showed her our matching jewelry... <3 And she gets SO excited on special occasions when we wear our bracelets together. 

Ebates. Are you a member of yet? No? Well, why in the world not? Seriously. It is the easiest way to make free money. All you do is visit Ebates (do me a solid and click through the hyperlink I posted above, which will allow you to quickly sign up for your free, no-strings-attached account) and then click on the link of the store where you were planning to online shop anyway (e.g., Buying something from Old Navy? Instead of going directly to, go to and click on the little link for Old Navy, which will take you directly to the Old Navy website). That is IT. Seriously. No strings attached. You'll get a percentage of what you spend sent to you in a check every few months.

Boogie Boards. This was something my sweet friend introduced me to on a recent play date. Have y'all heard of Boogie Boards? Apparently, business professionals use larger versions as well, but we LOVE the smaller versions for our kiddos and use them ALL the time! It's basically a little clipboard that comes with a stylus. You can draw all over it and then push a button to erase and start over. They are perfect for car trips, restaurant waits, and practicing writing your name for the first time ever. :) 

The Amp Roller. No, I do not sell Rodan + Fields. I think I am quickly falling into the minority that don't ;) BUT I do love, love, love their products. And I mean loooooove them. They have totally transformed my skin. My latest obsession. Their amp roller. This thing is like a magic wand for fine lines, wrinkles, and stretch marks. I can't believe I am sharing this photo, but here goes. The photo on the left is my stomach (stretch mark included) from January of this year. The photo on the right is my stomach from May of this year (so long, stretch mark). See what I mean? Magic. I know a pretty awesome lady who can hook you up, if you're interested. :) 

Eleanor Rose. Is it sad that my children's closets are fuller than mine? #yes But y'all, I just can't help it when I come across sweet, timeless, inexpensive (!) clothing like that of Eleanor Rose. Funny enough, I first discovered this online store when I saw their pull-out ad in a Land of Nod catalog. The second I looked on their website I was hooked. I bought Raleigh a sweet dress to wear in our recent family photos (which she wore again for her end-of-year music program and will wear again and again all summer!) and also a swimsuit from the adorable collection they just released. Not only is the clothing great quality, but they have amazing customer service AND shipped the items the same day I purchased. Awesome! 

A few other online shops I love and wanted to mention? 

Peek-a-whoo, who I've written about before. I am one of their brand ambassadors and have an awesome new gift set I'll be sharing soon, along with some exciting news for the company in a few weeks. 

Goat and Lulu, owned and operated by my sister "in law" and chock full of adorable children's (and recently, women's) clothing.

One Good Name, a great etsy shop to find all your printable needs. I have gotten party printables, invitations, school favor tags, etc., from this adorable shop and am always so impressed!

And a few other things I am loving that really need no explanation?

Bud Light Lime on a hot summer day; "Breaking Bad," which my hub and I are obsessively watching nightly right now; Puddle Jumpers, which continue to offer peace of mind at the pool for this momma since one of my big two is not yet an independent swimmer; Pitch Perfect 2, which some girlfriends and I saw a couple weeks ago in the theater. I haven't seen the first one but I can tell you that the second one is hilarious!; Restless by Jennie Allen, the amazing, life-altering book you must read!; and last but not least, champagne toasts to hubs who accept new job offers and will NO LONGER HAVE TO TRAVEL!!!!!!!

Cheers to some of my favorite things! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Recent Recap

As much as I love to use my little corner of the internet as a place to share my thoughts and ideas, and maybe also provide a space for influence, growth, support, advice, and love, I also (selfishly) use my corner as my own little yearbook. It's a way I can document what the Lu crew has going on in our lives as we come and go, live and change, together as a family. So. Now, a little recap of what's been going on with my Party o' Five lately:

Banks graduated from preschool. Imagine if you will, Pomp and Circumstance playing as the most adorable 5-year-olds marched into the room, wearing their graduation caps with their hands folded in prayer. Picture these sweet kiddos, who began preschool together three years ago and stood alongside each other as they finished out the preschool program, singing their hearts out to several adorably choreographed songs. Then, envision their names being called, one by one, as they walked to the front of the stage, shook their teachers' hands, and received their diplomas. And then, picture them saying The Lord's Prayer together. If you think there was a dry eye in the room, you are nuts! It was just the sweetest thing. We ended the celebration by heading out to a special lunch with Banks' classmates. We will miss them dearly as we embark on our kindergarten adventure next year.

Raleigh concluded her first year of preschool. Another adorable music program. More precious kiddos. And saying good-bye to the 2's class. See you in the Fall, 3's!

Harrison finally decided to sprout some teeth! So far, there have been sightings of his lower two teeth, although I have a feeling more are on the way. Also, this kid no longer crawls No siree, Bob. He is a walking machine and absolutely LOVES to do whatever he can to try and make people laugh. He is such a ham!

I attempted to cook made-from-scratch meals for my family. I know. I hear the gasps from all over the world. ;) Okay, so I cheated. We had a three-day trial of free meals from Hello Fresh. The pros--every last ingredient was packaged and portioned, requiring only a little pre-cook chopping, mincing, zesting, etc. (and yes, I had to google "how to zest a lemon"); there were step-by-step, you can't mess this thing up, instructions; the meals were healthy and yummy. The cons--I still managed to mess up two of the three recipes (but luckily, they were still edible); the portions were not enough to feed our family of five; the meals were price-ier than I would like to spend, especially since there were no leftovers. Conclusion: it was nice to have three (free) meals that were different than the usuals I typically make for dinner, but we will not be making it a routine purchase.

 Coconut shrimp satay with shaved carrot and cucumber salad (Side note: I still have no idea what a satay is)

 Argentine-spiced steak with couscous salad and cilantro-scallion chimichurri

Pan-seared chicken with tomato-barley hash and charred broccoli

We created our annual Summer Bucket List. I do this every year as a fun way to make sure we are packing in lots of adventures into our summer days. I vary the list each year and display it on our communication board in our kitchen so that I can quickly reference it each morning when deciding what our day will look like. Here's a peek into what we'll be getting into this summer: 

We jumped into summer with both feet. We've already been having a great time making good ol' fashioned summer memories, including creating an outdoor obstacle course in our backyard, hitting up the pool as much as possible, and eating as many popsicles and frozen treats as possible. We <3 Summer 'round these parts!

We got into a little mischief. I have a feeling this is going to be a wild and crazy, exhausting, but oh-so-fun summer for my little Lu crew.

We attended our third annual Memorial Day pool party. This particular neighborhood pool party always proves to be a BLAST! This year, my kiddos were surprised when their Bammy and Digby showed up to party alongside us. We had a ball! The theme was Blues, Brews, and BBQ, which meant there was a band playing blues music all afternoon while there was craft beer on hand for tastings and BBQ available for eating. It was so, so fun!


We've made time with dear friends. There have been several birthday celebrations with friends of all ages, Bachelorette viewing parties with my neighborhood girls, a reunion with my three women's retreat roomies, the planting of a backyard veggie garden by my hub and Banks, grilling out with great friends, pool play dates, etc. Whew! And it's not even June! 

I have a feeling this will be one full, fun, festive few months, and I can't wait. Here's to a joy-filled, memory-makin', sun-chasin' kind of summer!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Goodbye, Preschool

Sticky fingers, runny noses,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes-es;
Shapes and colors, ABCs,
Taking turns and 123s.

Toothless smiles, hugs, and giggles,
Circle time and lots of wiggles;
Wooden blocks and dress-up clothes,
Learning how a flower grows. 

Milk and cookies, first-time friend,
Thinking days like these won't end;
Preschool done before you know it,
No one sadder than this poet.

Like a butterfly, time has flown,
You have learned and you have grown;
Tiny chairs give way to desks,
Book reports and spelling tests.

So take off now, spread your wings,
Soar to new heights, learn new things;
Just remember as you do,
Someone's very proud of you.

-Author Unknown

My sweet Banks, I couldn't be prouder of you if I tried. On to our next adventure, buddy. Look out kindergarten, here we come!

With All My Heart, 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What's Next?

Several months ago, I started praying for insight. For guidance. For help. 

You see, the calendar pages were turning, inching closer and closer to my last baby's first birthday. With that momentous day on the horizon came a feeling of uncertainty. Of confusion. Of restlessness.

I just wasn't sure what was supposed to be next for me. 

So. I started praying.  

Dear Lord, Please open my eyes. Show me the path You want my life to take next. Help me understand how I can best serve You and serve others. Please let me understand my purpose. Amen. 

Day after day, I prayed. 

The thing is, I went to school for a long time. I studied many, many, MANY hours and worked very, very, VERY hard. I took out substantial student loans, spent a year away from my hub, and was trained by some of the very best in my field. And then, I graduated with a doctorate in child psychology and went on to specialize in pediatric neuropsychology. At the time, I was certain that helping children, helping parents, helping families, through my profession was my destiny. It was the way I'd be able to do my part to serve those in need, and maybe, just maybe, positively affect change in the world along the way. 

And then I had children.

I had never dreamed of being a stay-at-home momma. Ever. 

And then I had children.

I had always envisioned myself being a full-time working momma. 

And then I had children.

So, after spending three years as a full-time working momma, I became a stay-at-home momma. This was, by no means, the life I had envisioned when I began my graduate education so many years ago. This was not the way I planned my life. But then? 

Then I had children.

And everything changed. The vision of what our family life, our home life, would look like, changed. 

It has been the greatest blessing of my life, to be able to be home with my babies. It is hard and beautiful and exhausting and amazing. I wouldn't trade it for the world. But here's the thing: I left a full-time working life of helping children with complex medical and psychological needs in order to be home with my three healthy (Praise God!) littles. And from the beginning of this transition, I have felt lucky and blessed and...guilty. 

How can I help others if I am simply staying home to care for my own three?
What about all that time, money, and effort spent on my education? 
How am I bettering the world? 

So. I started praying. For months, I would pray. What's next for me, Lord? Help me find my next path. And I heard...nothing. 

I continued to pray but also tried to take matters into my own hands. I offered up my services as part of a volunteer opportunity that arose through my church. This would be perfect! It's exactly what I had been waiting for! I would be able to use my education and my training to help children and adolescents in the Charlotte community. This was it! So, I submitted my name, described my qualifications, waited to hear back and heard...nothing.

Hmpf. Okay. Well, maybe that wasn't the path I was supposed to take. So. I continued to pray and continued to try to take things into my own hands. I submitted my children's book manuscripts to yet another publishing company and waited for a response. I had high hopes of my book one day appearing on every child's bookshelf, of being able to gift copies to children in need, of being able to donate some of the proceeds to local charities. This was it! So I waited to hear back and heard...nothing. And then...rejection.

My frustration grew. My confusion grew. My restlessness grew. Where was the path my life was supposed to follow next, now that my last baby was quickly becoming no longer a baby?

All along, I came praying. 

And then, one morning, many months in, I finally heard the answer, clear as day. I was standing in my quiet kitchen early in the morning, doing my daily devotional, and I heard a voice telling me what I had been waiting to hear: 

Do exactly what you're doing: Focus on your family. Focus on your children.

This was it. 

I know now that my calling is to be a momma. Not just any momma, but a momma whose responsibility it is to raise faith-filled, God-loving, good-hearted children
THIS is my job. This is the path I'm supposed to take: to raise children who will go on to positively affect the world. To raise children who will positively influence those around them. To raise children who will be strong leaders, who will show others the way, who will make good choices when faced with evil. To raise children who love God and love Jesus with all their hearts and help others feel the same way. This is my job.

And then, just last week, my hub shared an article with me that sent chills down my spine. I hear ya, Jesus, loud and clear. Thanks for the talk. Thanks for the sign.

I write this for any momma out there who may be wrestling with the same question of 'what's next?', the same feeling of restlessness, the same determination to do good for the world. Here's what I suggest:

(1) Pray about it. And listen. Pray about it. And listen. Wash, rinse, repeat. 
(2) Order this book. I've not yet finished it, but WHOA. It's another life-changer. 
(3) Call your momma. Tell her you love her. 
(4) Pray some more. Listen some more. 

Being a momma is a privilege. And now more than ever, my priority.

I have been created, gifted, and trained specifically for these children, today. I am their mother, for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).

Friday, May 15, 2015

Five On Friday: Busy Bees Edition

Hola! I'm back with a little Five On Friday to close out the week before welcoming in the weekend with open arms!

I had a lovely Mother's Day last weekend with my little family o' five. It went a little something like this: breakfast in bed; cards, drawings, and flowers; church and brunch; uninterrupted rest time (!!); Pure Barre; take-out sushi and wine; lots of snuggles and love in between. And did I mention I was given a bell to use all day so that my hub could be at my beck and call? Yes. Please. It was a wonderful day with my beloveds. 

 Our photo snapped right after church, where a professional photog was on hand to snap family pics :)

Because we had family photos taken last night to commemorate Harrison turning the big 0-1, I wanted to give him a little trim for the occasion, seeing as how his sweet, fluffy, hair would curl over his ears in the photos. So, earlier this week, I snipped a couple of inches off around the ears and ohmygoodness, the end result was a BIG BOY. No more baby status 'round these parts. I am so, so sad to see the baby stage go :( :( but am looking forward to see what kind of little boy this sweet one becomes.  

If you've read this blog for any amount of time at all, it should come as no surprise that cooking and I just don't mix. No siree, Bob. Enter Hello Fresh! A dear friend of mine gave me a code to use so that I could try out this service, which entails a home-delivered box containing healthy, delicious recipes with all of the pre-measured ingredients included for three dinner meals.  The box arrived last night, and we'll be trying out the recipes this weekend. I can't wait to see how the meals turn out. Hopefully, I won't screw up the step-by-step recipes. Ha!

Banks and Raleigh both had field trips at the same time yesterday, but luckily, my hub was not traveling. This meant the Lu boys attended one field trip while we Lu ladies attended another. I definitely think I got the good end of the deal: while the fellas headed to Publix (yes, the grocery store?!?) with Banks' class for a full tour, including lobster petting and cooking sampling, we ladies headed to our favorite strawberry patch. Our morning included a Disney-themed hay ride, strawberry picking, strawberry donuts and slushies, and free play with tons of fun outdoor play equipment. Yep, my hub drew the short straw for that one. :) 

After a relatively calm beginning to 2015, things are ramping up as summer approaches. We'll close out the 2015 preschool year next Friday with a sweet music program and graduation and dive right into a summer filled with camps, beach trips, family visits, swim lessons, baby showers, and good ol' fashion fun 'round these parts. I'm hoping it'll be a great mix of both relaxed and busy, and I am looking forward to clocking a lot of special time with my rising kindergartener. <3 And there will be lots and lots of this:

Kudos to my hub, who took our trio to the pool one evening this week for a couple hours while I Barre-d it up! He is a brave soul, that one.

And now, we head into the weekend with big plans for a girls' movie night tonight (for me); the close of teeball season tomorrow morning followed by an afternoon of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity (for my hub); and Sunday morning spent in the church nursery and the afternoon spent at a birthday party for Banks' buddy. Whew! No rest for the weary this weekend, that's for sure!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend that's as busy or relaxed as you want it to be, too! Before you head out, though, would you mind humoring me with several silent prayer requests, including individual prayers for myself and my own little family o' five; for my mother "in law"; and for several friends who are dealing with some unpleasant "stuff"? Thank you so, so much!

Have a beautiful, memory-makin' kind of weekend. :) 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Fresh Perspective

Sometimes we mommas need an attitude adjustment. 

About a month or two ago, a friend from high school posted something on Facebook that has really stuck with me: 

Instead of saying, "I have to..." try saying, "I get to..."

For example: 

I have to listen to my screaming, crying, fussy, teething baby all day long
I get to listen to my screaming, crying, fussy baby as he sprouts his first teeth and help soothe him. I know he feels comforted being in his momma's arms, and I feel so lucky that it is me who gets to help him feel a least a little bit better each day. Actually, I am beyond blessed to just to be a momma, as I know many would love to know how it feels to have their own baby in their arms, fussy or not.

I have to wash, dry, fold, and put away many, many, MANY loads of laundry each week
I get to wash, dry, fold, and put away the many clothes my children, my hub, and myself are lucky enough to own. We each have our own closet. Closets that contain many clothes and not just any clothes. But different clothes for different seasons. And shoes. We each own numerous pairs of shoes. I am so blessed to be living a life that allows me to own more than one pair of shoes. And clothes for different seasons. 

I have to pick up the bajillion bits of teeny, tiny pieces of paper that cover my son's bedroom floor each afternoon.
I get to pick up the bajillion bits of teeny, tiny pieces of paper that cover my son's room, which represent the remnants of his artistic endeavors during "Room Time." Not only that, I get to see his proud smile each day when he shows off his newest drawn-and-cut creations.

I have to collect money from school parents only to then purchase, wrap, and deliver end-of-the-year teacher gifts.
I get to collect money from school parents and buy gifts for two wonderful teachers who have chosen to use their spare time to help educate my young child. Not to mention, my children live in a country where they not only get to attend school but are expected to. Wow! How lucky we are!

I have to see my daughter throw fits when she doesn't get her way, resulting in tears at least 10 times daily.
I get to see my daughter throw fits and cry when she doesn't get her way, which allows me the opportunity to teach her about emotional expression and help her learn that we don't always get what we want--which just so happens to be an awesome reminder for me each day!

I have to parent on my own while my hub is away on business. 
I get to parent on my own while my hub is away and working hard to provide for our family. This challenges me to learn new ways of coping when there isn't an extra set of hands to help me and really push myself harder than I ever thought I could, all while being reminded of the importance of giving myself grace when I am tired, worn, weary and making (daily) mistakes as a momma. 

I have to load three kids into our massive vehicle multiple times a day, buckling and lifting in and out, over and over again.
I get to load three (healthy!) kids into our (safe!) vehicle each day, which means that our days are filled with (often fun!) places to be, that we are blessed to be able to afford a reliable mode of transportation, and that we have carseats that can keep my precious cargo safe. 

I have to drop off my crying baby in a church nursery only to provide care for other children while their parents attend church. 
I get to drop off my crying baby in a church nursery, where he will learn that the world is still a safe and a-okay place even when momma and daddy are not around. And then, I get to watch precious little boys and girls learn all about Jesus while their parents enjoy a much-deserved hour of their own quiet time with the Lord. 

I have to endure two to three cartoons each morning rather than watching my own preferred news program. 
I get to endure two to three cartoons each morning, which allows me time to enjoy my coffee, talk with my hub, and get our day going, all in golden silence while the kiddos eat their breakfast. 

See what I mean? Game changer. 

Now, I have to go and tend to my baby, who woke up early from his afternoon nap. I get to tend to my baby, who woke up early from his afternoon nap, which means extra snuggles, just the two of us. What a lucky, lucky momma. <3

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hold On To The Good

You know what?

Sometimes, life is hard. I have learned that, first-hand, throughout my life.

You know what else?

It is during those times that I know I need to lean on my faith and be fervent in prayer. 

It is also during those times that I find it necessary, absolutely, without a doubt necessary, to hold on tight to the good.

Right now, the good in my life is...

Personality. Big, full of life, personality

Sweet, protective big brothers

Healthy well-checks.

Evening visits from the ice cream truck

Family traditions that will become cherished childhood memories

Weekends away with friends who are family

Sibling cheerleaders during teeball games

 Swing sets at full capacity

Evening strolls with cherished people

Little boys who want to dress up like Jesus ("'cause he wears a blue thing and a white shirt, Momma")...

...and independently create a "crown of thorns" during quiet time

 Time spent with little mommas

Babies who are promoted to "big boy" carseats

Special mail for special grandmothers

An impromptu soaking by the sprinklers, while fully clothed, of course

Being pampered at "Muffins for Mom" 

Daddys who help coach excited sons' teams


 Babies with the most kissable cheeks on the planet

Date nights in a well-loved city

Breaks from princess dresses to give Ninja Turtles a whirl

Pool parties with dear friends for 35th birthday celebrations...

...and little ones who fully believe that their Daddy is a super hero

Dressing as accidental twins with your little big boy

Snuggly babies who are always ready to dish out a hug

Friends you are journey-ing through life with

Warm sunshine, pigtails, and hula hoops

And celebrating the journey of mommahood with those who made you a Momma.

Even when it's hard, life is good. So, so good.

I hope that you, too, have some good in your life you are holding onto tightly today.