Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Loving Lately

It's a been a minute since I wrote one of these, and I am ready for some light-hearted fun after a couple of tough weeks. So, here are a few things I am loving lately: 

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker. I love, love, love me some Jen Hatmaker. She is a best-selling author of quite a few books, her most well-known likely being For the Love (If you haven't read that one, it is awesome, too!). Well, I couldn't wait to get my hands on her newly released book. When I learned Raleigh and I would be driving 7 hours in one day, I was pumped because I knew Rals could watch some girly movies while I listened to Jen's new book while driving. Win-win! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Brag board. I don't know about you guys, but combating tattling is a constant in our home. I have also noticed lately that I have been very hard on, and critical of, my Crew. Enter the Brag Board, which I learned about by while listening to that wonderful book above. Basically, every time one of us notices someone else doing something nice or making a good choice, we write it on the brag board. This brings a little more positivity into our lives while drowing out some of that pesky negativity.  

Bright Eye Complex. Hi. My name is Lindsay. I am a Momma of four. A pretty-much-always-tired momma of four. Aren't we all, mommas? Aren't we all pretty much exhausted all the time? Well, I am tired of looking like it - with the dark under eye circles and what not. So, I will be ordering my Bright Eye Complex from Rodan + Fields ASAP. I am SO excited for it to arrive so I can start looking all bright-eyed-and-busy-tailed even though I may feel like...tail. ;) Anywho. This is a brand spanking new product that is all the rage, the one that you are about to start seeing all over social media. So. Let me know if you want to give it a try. I am not going to be an annoying R+F consultant and hunt you down, but I'm just sayin': I am happy to help you look all bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed, too! And yes, I will most definitely be taking my own personal before and afters, so stay tuned for that. Join me? It will be available for y'all November 4th, just in time for you to look all glowy and rested all throughout the holiday craziness. :) 

Homemade apple pies. Y'all know I looooooove to bake. BUT. Up until a couple weeks ago, I had never baked my own pie! So, after we made our annual visit to Windy Hill Apple Orchard, I decided it was high time for this baker to hop to it! I found a super simple recipe and was delighted with the results. Sadly, my hub can't eat apples (they give him migraines), but the kids and I were able to enjoy our fresh pie, right out of the oven. Delish! 

One Good Name. If you are ever looking for the cutest customized invitations, paper products, etc., you must check out my friend Amy's etsy shop. She started making my kiddos' birthday invitations and paper party goods a couple years back and we haven't stopped since. Not to mention, she is about the sweetest person on the planet and mother to four ridiculously adorable girls!  I submit, two of our recent invitations as Exhibit A and B:

Hillsong United. Ever since we returned from China, I have been running about three mornings a week. Although barre is still my most favorite, sometimes it's just not feasible to get in a class with our schedule right now. So. On the days I can't barre, I run. What's that got to do with Hillsong United? Well, I'll tell ya. Until recently, on the rare occasions I did run, I would pound the pavement while listening to hard-core rap. Yep. Love it. BUT. Recently, I have been using my morning runs to worship. I listen to my most favorite Christian group, Hillsong United (check out their Pandora station) and just think and pray and sometimes, cry. Yes, I have been the crazy crying lady running around my neighborhood. After after every single run, I feel refreshed and renewed, all because I am getting in that solo worship and prayer time. So good for the soul.  

FabFitFun. I had seen so much advertising for this company but it wasn't until several of my good girlfriends sang it's praises that I, too, bit the bullet. For those who don't know, FabFitFun release four seasonal boxes a year that contain all kinds of awesome products - some are for hair care, some are make-up, some are clothing items, some are jewelry, some are fun get the point. Anyway, it is so fun because you don't know what's in the box until the box arrives. A couple weeks ago, I received my first box ever - the Fall Box - and it was filled with some really great items! 

Now, hopefully y'all know by now that I like to keep it real. I won't endorse something unless I truly believe in it. That being said, there were some items that were meh to me. For example, there was a really neat lip color/balm stick that would be great...except it was this bold, bright red that I just canNOT pull off. There was also a really cute accessories holder...that I will use but wouldn't have bought if I had the choice. However, there were several home runs, too! In fact, more homeruns than strike outs. For example, there was this really nice mud mask product I have been using that has made my skin so soft and smooth! It really has made a noticeable difference. There was also a really pretty wrap I'll be wearing all winter long. 

And...there was a cute hat. Now, if you followed my Instastory during mt Fall box reveal, you saw me dogging the hat, insisting that I couldn't pull it off and that it would only work for some peeps. But after some encouragement, I tried it again after actually washing and brushing my hair ;), and I'm warming up to it (pun intended).

Some other cool things I have now learned about FabFitFun is that there are extra add-ons you can purchase separately (for example, they had those Diff sunglasses that people are loving as a $25 add on, among many, many other awesome products). Also, each box contains slightly different options. For example, my wrap is a cream and aqua/green-ish color, but other people's were different colors. Also, my box had an Apple Cider Vinegar hair rinse while others' had a charcoal brightening toothpaste. You never know what you're going to get until you open it to see "What's in the box?!" (name that movie ;) ).

SO. Here's the deal: each box is $50 (unless you go ahead and order all four boxes at once and then you save some dough AND can choose certain components of your box, like color schemes). However, the total worth of my Fall Box was $377. So, you are paying $50 but getting WAY more for your money! I think that's a pretty good deal, if you ask me. And, even though I didn't loooooove every product in the box, the ones I did love are worth WAY MORE than the $50 I spent! AND, while I am definitely not one to shop for myself, I have to admit that it was so fun to receive, open, and go through the box, discovering new products and clothing items. This would be an AWESOME Christmas gift for someone you love, no? (Or yourself, of course!). Give it a try? If you do, do me a favor and use this link to join, pretty please with a cherry on top?:

The Land of Motherhood. I love this beautiful, new website, which offers a soft, modern landing spot for us Mommas to share experiences, discuss products, and offer support. I was lucky enough to write a 4-part series on our adoption. If you haven't already, feel free to check it out. It highlights the process and experience from a different angle than I shared on here. <3

Can I also give a shout out to the creators of The Land of Motherhood, who sent me the COOLEST thank you gift for my series? Are you ready for this? A lemon tree! That arrived to my house in the mail. Yes, a tree was sent in the mail! I have never opened a package to find a living tree before, and now I want to receive one again! We can't wait for our tree to sprout lemons so we can make our own Lu Crew Lemonade. :)

Raleigh's curls. Anyone else ever feel jealous of your own kid's hair? Insert raised hand emoji here. We still aren't sure where Raleigh's blonde, curly locks come from, but man! I hope her ringlets stay forever.

Fall bucket list. Each season, I create a Fall Bucket list containing activities my Lu Crew can check off as the season wears on. We've already crossed off several items from our Fall 2017 list, with more check marks coming over the next couple weeks.

I think that's about enough of that nonsense, huh? Back to the work week we go! :)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cheers to the Weekend, Friday the 13th Edition

Friday, we meet again. 

It's so nice to see you after a busy week (I feel like I've been saying that a lot lately #brokenrecord). This week, on top of our usual four hours of therapies, we also had an(other) audiology exam, a new referral, a trip to the dentist for the big three, two parent-teacher conferences, a preschool field trip, and now this morning, a trip back to the orthotist to pick up some new gear for our littlest girl. Yee.Haw.

Anyway! We are thrilled to see another weekend and have some fun plans that include my hub heading to the lake with some guys for the night while the kiddos and I cheer on our Tigers from the couch :), something super fun tomorrow night we planned over a month ago, and then family pictures on Sunday since the weather wasn't the best last weekend. Other than that, football will be playing in the background of our home, and we'll be trying to pretend it's Fall in the 80-degree temps. #makeitstop

For now, some things we've been saying CHEERS to this week: 

Babyland General. Y'all. Babyland General is AMAZING. A little strange. But also amazing! My mom and sisters and I headed there last Saturday to celebrate my beautiful niece's sixth birthday (fist bump to you, sweet Cameron). Raleigh and I drove the 3.5 hours there, leaving at 6:30 am so we could make it in time. When we arrived to Cleveland, Georgia (aka the middle of nowhere!), we saw this beautiful, gigantic Southern plantation home-looking building. 


Inside was a massive room that included a huge cabbage patch and tree, where the cabbage patch kids are born. Lest we not believe this was their birth place, we were informed we would be witnessing a live "birth" of a new Cabbage Patch Kid. Yep. And we did. And honestly? The whole thing was adorable! We let the girls run wild and soak it all in. They selected their new children and then took oaths promising to be the best mommas they could be. So.Freaking.Cute. 

 The cabbage patch and tree
 Making their wishes

Watching the "birth" 

Taking their oaths :) 

Then, we all headed out to the most delicious lunch, watched Cameron blow out her SIX candles, and enjoyed some yummy cookie cake before Rals and I headed back home. It was seriously the most fun day, and I don't think the girls stopped smiling and giggling for a single second the entire time.

The BEAUTIFUL birthday girl!
 The whole crew!
My best friends: My Momma and my sisters

Ragnar Racing. My hub and his seven teammates did a great job, and had a great time, running in the Ragnar race last Friday afternoon/Friday night/Saturday morning. Each man ran around 16 miles total, running in shifts all throughout the day and night. Way to go, guys!

Chick-Fil-A. For the last two months, we have been trying to encourage Bella to eat cold foods. Initially, she refused anything cold, as all of her food and drinks were served room temperature or warmer in China. For a couple weeks after we arrived back to the States, we heated her milk but then slowly started cooling it down. Now, she can drink her (almond) milk straight out of the fridge! But she had not taken to ice cream, nor any cold foods, no matter how hard we tried (because every kiddo deserves cold treats, especially when you live in the hotter-than-Hades South). Until, that is, Chick-Fil-A milkshakes happened earlier this week. B-I-N-G-O. Homegirl could not get enough. CFA does it again! (P.S. She has also decided she likes lollipops now. Hooray!)

Field trips. All three of my Bigs have field trips this/next week, and first up was Harrison! Because Bella and I had an appointment to attend, his daddy took him on the field trip (and actually, he took him on the same field trip last year!). They went to the pumpkin patch, and even though the humidity was around, oh I don't know, 8,000% that day, Harrison had a BLAST, especially since one of his favorite friends was there, too! 

School-loving kiddos. On Wednesday, I got Banks and Raleigh out of school early and, along with Harrison, took them to the dentist for their cleanings. When we were done, there was still about 90 minutes left in the school day. As we got in the car, I told them we were heading home and they begged, I mean BEGGED, to return to school. Ummm....okay. ;) If you insist.

And that's it for now!

I'll be back next week with a fun, light-hearted post to balance the heavier one I shared earlier this week. In response to that, let me take a minute to say THANK YOU. THANK YOU to those who have reached out and checked in - your love and support and encouragement and prayers have lifted us up this week, and I appreciate them more than you know. <3 THANK YOU to our friends and family who ask about our daughter. We feel so blessed that she is so well-loved by people we love. THANK YOU for reading the words I write in this little space here. THANK YOU for your prayers in the weeks to come - we covet them deeply. In short, THANK YOU. 

Until next time! Have a great weekend! And GO TIGERS!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Being Overwhelmed By The Overwhelming

I am going to be totally honest. 

Often times these days, I feel completely overwhelmed. By so many things. For me, writing is therapeutic. It's a big part of the way I process things. And, I don't want my little space here to look like this beautiful highlight REEL of life. I want it to be REAL, too. So, here I am. Keeping it real. I want to be able to read back over these posts and vividly remember how I felt during this specific time. And while I feel overjoyed, blessed, and so, SO lucky for the path God chose us to walk, I also feel overwhelmed. Things that are overwhelming me these days? For the love. Here we go:
  • It's trying to schedule and maintain Bella's busy, weekly therapy schedule. It's ensuring I do my best to do all the suggestions and exercises our therapists give us because THAT is what is going to help her development the most...strike that. LOVE is what is going to help her the most. But the therapies are a close second :) - using what we are taught throughout the week. This is one of my greatest priorities right now, and I will do absolutely everything in my power to help our daughter. But still, it can be overwhelming.
  • It's trying to divide my attention and love between four children, while trying to be cognizant of who feels depleted on Momma time and who needs extra attention at any given moment.
  • It's trying to ensure all the glory is given to God, for every part of my life and story. I am so open about our adoption because adoption is AMAZING. It is such a beautiful love story. It is so, so, SO hard in so many ways, but the beauty of it all completely outweighs the hardships. And all of it, all of the beauty, is owed solely to God. I try my best to make this clear and try to ensure all glory is given to Him.  
  • It's trying not to freak the freak out over significant, unexpected out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Side note: Last week, I prayed hard about this to God, as we are facing a big, expensive surgery soon and costs are looming. The very next day, my prayers were answered. Our God is a good, good God.
  • It's trying to manage my anxiety about Bella's present and future functioning. You know what worrying helps? Nothing, that's what. But it is a battle to keep it a bay, at times.
  • It's trying to check off the bazillion other things that are on the to-do list of any momma, much less a momma of four, much less a momma of a child with special needs. Over.whelming. Side note: I know that we are ALL busy - whether we work full time or part time or work from home or stay at home. In no way do I think I am busier than anyone else! But the busy-ness of our schedule these days can be daunting. 
  • It's trying to keep calm and carry on when my hub is traveling. 
  • It's trying to make sure Bella knows she is loved and safe and secure. It's trying to help her feel safe when other adults are around.
  • It's trying to maintain a clean, clutter-free home; to make sure all laundry is done and put away by the weekend; to empty the dishwasher; to put some sort of meal on the table for the five people who are waiting for it; to make sure closets have seasonal clothes and shoes that fit; to be a homemaker. Note: I know, I know. These are minor things to most. These are things that are meaningless compared to the other things. These are things that should be put on the backburner for now. But here's the thing: I have anxiety and it increases substantially when my home feels out of control and cluttered. So, this is important to me. 
  • It's trying to not wear clothes from five years ago that have holes in them because I don't have time to shop for myself and feel guilty doing it anyway. Yes, my hub encourages me to shop for myself all the time! It's my own issues that get in the way.
  • It's trying not to feel guilty that I can't be Room Mom nor volunteer at all this Fall, in my children's classrooms. Our teachers deserve all the help and support they can get, and as a stay-at-home mom, I consider this part of my job; so, it is really hard to not be able to offer that to them right now.  
  • It's trying to give the care, love, support, and attention so needed to someone who has been weathering a nightmare since the beginning of this year. And to mourn the loss of another.
  • It's praying and worrying over people I love with scary diagnoses.
  • It's trying to be at least a decent friend to all those I love and adore. My friendships mean the WORLD to me. And I often feel like I don't do enough.
  • It's trying to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to those who have stepped up, stepped in, stepped alongside, to support us since we've brought our Bella home. It's feeling like there are not enough thank yous in the world for these people. The last two months have really highlighted the people who have our back, and I will be forever grateful for them
  • It's trying so hard not to feel so hurt by people who have hurt my heart over the last two months. It's also trying to be less sensitive, less judgy, and more understanding. 
  • It's feeling guilty over the fact that, at the end of the day, when I finally get quiet time with my husband, I am often too exhausted to even talk. It's not being able to make him a priority right now. It's feeling like I don't compare to the amazing, supportive husband that he is. It's not adequately being able to thank him for all he does for me, our kids, our family, our friends, our community.
  • It's trying to find my me time - to not feel guilty when I go for my morning runs or sneak in a naptime or weekend barre class.
  • It's trying not to curse at our aging dog when he wakes us up in the middle of the night, again, because he is thirsty.
  • It's trying to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Jesus, take the wheel.

This is hard. This is overwhelming. But. This too shall pass. 

And honestly, I wouldn't change it (well most of it. Some of it I would definitely change). Life has taught me that character is made in the challenging moments. That life is short and even when it feels overwhelming, it is a beautiful gift. It has taught me to treasure the people who have been with us, each step of the way. I know that I need to cut myself some slack, and lower my self-standards at times. To stop feeling guilty over all.the.things. But I am a perfectionist and it's hard! I also know that God has blessed us with four beautiful, amazing children, and that He is walking alongside us through this life we get to share together. 

So. Overwhelmed? Yes. Absolutely. But grateful and blessed beyond measure? Yes. Absolutely. Onward, we march.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Cheers to the Weekend, Hello October Edition

Hello, weekend! Hello, extra coffee after a late night out last night! Here's what we're saying CHEERS to as we welcome in this October weekend: 

Birthday fun. I posted all the details from Banks' TEE-riffic Golf PAR-TEE earlier this week but never mentioned how we celebrated our 8-year-old on his actual birthday, last Friday. He awoke to door decorations (tradition) and his gifts awaiting him downstairs. He was so excited to see a Visa gift card as one of his gifts, as he had been asking for one so he could do his own birthday shopping. Done! Banks then went to breakfast with his Daddy (tradition), and I met him for lunch at his school (tradition). Because Bella ended up having to go to Urgent Care at that time, I was able to enjoy a solo lunch with the birthday boy (and thanks to my hub for dropping everything to take Bels). After school, all six of us headed to the toy store so Banks could shop using his gift card. We then came home in time to enjoy his requested favorite dinner (tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches) and let the birthday boy stay up late (10:00 pm!) to watch a movie with his Momma and Daddy. It was the "best birthday ever," he declared multiple times. :) 

Retirement. Something else super excited that happened last Friday? My own momma, my hard-working momma, finally got to retire from a job she was forced to take to support her four babies 26 years ago. It was a GLORIOUS day, and while we weren't able to be there for the surprise party her friends threw her since we were celebrating our birthday girl, she had a great time and was totally shocked. AND we got to see her the next day, as my parents and my grandma came up for my uncle's retirement party (retirements all around - yahoo!). 

This was a special day because our Bella got to meet her G. Gram for the first time. She also got to meet another of her cousins, and another set of her aunts/uncles, as they came up for the party and come over to meet our girl. Such a special day! And such a FUN party that night!!

One less copperhead. Something not so fun that happened? A huge copperhead crossed our path when we were driving home from Banks' flag football game last week. It took not one, not two, but FOUR times of driving over it before it finally basically exploded. Bleh!!!!

Momma Dates. Yep, our Momma Dates continued this week, and it was Harrison's turn. He opted for cake pops, which was just fine with me as I got to sip on my absolute favorite, a PSL, while we chatted away. He is such an awesome kid. :)    

Big appointments. We had a(nother) big appointment earlier this week but per usual, our Bella was a rockstar. And then came home to lots of sibling snuggles. It's too bad this girl isn't absolutely adored. ;) 

Group date nights. Last night, my hub and I went to see one of my all-time favorites, Zac Brown Band, with a group of our friends. The show was so, so, SO good - man they just make the best music! It was nice to sneak away and get a few hours of relaxation with people I love. <3 

And that's going to do it for now! I'll be chugging the coffee today because, after a late night out, I will be solo parenting starting at noon, when my hub and several of his buddies will leave for their Ragnar Relay. Starting at 2:00 pm, my hub and his teammates will be running on trails all night long to complete the race. He'll be finishing up his last leg around 7:00 am tomorrow. Yikes! But I know these guys will rock it after all the hard work they have put in training. Meanwhile, Rals and I will be heading out bright and early tomorrow morning for a very special little lady's birthday party, and we can't wait! Finally, if the weather cooperates, we'll close out the weekend with our annual Fall family photos. Whew! I have a feeling we'll be one tired bunch come Sunday night. But all good things, all good things. 

Have a great weekend, y'all! Keep it cool. Go Tigers! Take down those pesky Deacs!