Mother’s Day Reflections

I have a confession: on my first Mother’s Day (last year) I was not very kind to my sweet husband. 

Looking back on that day, we had a great day celebrating with both of our moms, but I can still remember the way we ended the day on my own bitterness with unmet and very unrealistic expectations.  

Like a lot of new moms celebrating their first Mother’s Day, I had expectations in my head about what the day would look like.  While there is nothing wrong with hoping for a special day, here was the problem: I did not share a single one of those expectations with Lance.  Needless to say, I ended feeling not fully satisfied not because I don’t have the most loving and thoughtful husband, but because outwardly I made Mother’s Day seem like not a big deal, when in my own little head it was a very, very big deal. 

Lesson learned.  This Mother’s Day was different. And it was a new favorite day. 

Want to know what changed? I was honest. Before falling asleep the night before, I told him very directly: I would love breakfast in bed.  His response: sure, what sounds good? 

Well, that was simple.  And guess what happened.  I slowly woke up Sunday morning to the literal sizzling of bacon and the lovely smell of pepper and melted cheese.  And mama was happy. 

It wasn’t really ever about the food. Simply put, I would be happy with just a cup of coffee, it was more about the act of service.  I felt so loved not because of the amazing bacon omelette, I felt loved because Lance got up early and came walking in smiling with breakfast and I could see the effort, the love, and the care.  And from that moment on, the day was perfect.  

It all started with me quickly mentioning before falling asleep the expectation I had in my head.  Because as loving and thoughtful as Lance is, he simply cannot read my mind!

Once silly Mother’s Day expectations were met, I was able to fully see with clear eyes the amount of love that daily surrounds me.  

It was a sweet day spent with both of our moms.  

Bellinis were sipped.  Lots of yummy Mediterranean food was consumed. Chocolate cake and key lime pie were devoured.  Sweet cards and beautiful flowers and gifts were exchanged.  And Hudson picked purple flowers for me and said “mommy” extra sweetly. 

Once our moms and families left, we rested and then went back out to the pool and splashed around for a bit. I created a spa set up and Lance even attempted to paint my nails. It was the sweetest thing, but let’s just say I had to take over after the first nail.  His willingness to try will always be remembered!   

All that to say, it was a good day.

My heart felt full + thankful. 

I am thankful to be surrounded by so many amazing women that set such a beautiful example of what it looks like to mother well.

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Perfect Quarantine Weekend

It is no secret that I am ready for life to return to some semblance of normalcy, but there are definitely a few things that I want to stay the same even after quarantine.  One being an open weekend.  Typically, our weekend plans are so filled to the brim with plans and things to do.  This makes for fun and full weekends, but these types of weekends often lead to tired and drained out Mondays. 

Now, weekends are fully blank slates.  Infinite possibilities.  Well, not infinite because there is not much to do currently, but it does make way for much more restorative time away from the hustle of the week.  

We just had one of those magical weekends.  The one where it feels like time is endless.  It was the perfect combination of productive and rejuvenating.  It was full of family, doughnuts, fresh air, and lots of sunshine; a winning combination in my book.  

After this magical weekend, I am convinced that quarantine weekends can in fact be just as good, I will go as far to say, even better.  It just requires some intentionality.  

Just like I would write down a recipe that resulted in the perfect meal, I want to do the same for this amazing weekend we just lived out.  I don’t want to forget it.  

In no particular order, here are a few ingredients to what I am calling, the perfect quarantine weekend.  

1. Slow Start

Usually with marathon training or a regular weekend, there is something that requires an alarm on a Saturday morning.  It has been refreshing to not have an urgent alarm that requires me to get up before 6 am.  This slow start sets the tone. 

2. Doughnuts  

Saturdays and Sundays are NOT for oatmeal and toast.  This weekend we picked up Sidecar Doughnuts.  I am convinced doughnuts on a Saturday morning are always a good idea.  For some reason, this time they tasted even better.  They were warm and tasted like summer.

3. Fresh Air 

With most trails and beaches closed near us, the options for a nice hike are limited. We took a little drive to Orange County and as we waited for our doughnuts to be ready, we went on a short walk on the Back Bay Trail in Newport.  It was nice to be in a setting outside of our normal neighborhood + to take some detours off the main path onto some narrower dirt trails.  The view of the bay is beautiful and there are yellow wildflowers everywhere.  It felt good to not only get outside, but to get outside somewhere outside of our normal view.

4. Family  

Some rules were broken and we did spend time with family this weekend.  Definitely not condoning rule breaking, but my heart could only take being apart from extended family for so long.  It was live-giving to spend quality time with family that we love.

5. Takeout

We have a rule where we order takeout every Saturday night.  It is our small way in helping local food establishments, while also giving us all a much needed break from cooking + dishes.  It is such a small thing, but these weekly takeout Saturday evenings have become a thing we look forward to and a much needed break from our regular weekly routine.  A few of our takeout favs: Cava, Bamboo Thai, Senor G’s, and Mendocino Farms.

6. Play

Our weekend was full of a lot of bubbles, chalk, legos, coloring, and running around.  In the week, I like to set a few intentional/educational activities and projects for H.  By the weekend, I need a break and it is all about just free play.  It is one of the most rejuvenating things to watch a little kid freely play.  It gets me every time.  Quite honestly, watching Hudson and his own creativity develop, pushes me to continue to lean into my own creative passions.

7. Water

Water makes everything better.  We are really thankful to have a pool.  It has been a blessing in this time stuck at home.  This has been a source of abundant entertainment and energy release for our active, water-obsessed boy.  It also has been a joy to lounge out by the water and watch H splash around with his daddy and Nala, who is also water-obsessed.  

8. Creativity

Sunday was a day that just kept on giving.  I felt like I got to dabble in every single one of my creative passions.  I knitted.  I scrapbooked a few memories from last fall.  I read a book just for fun. 

I feel so much more fulfilled even when I give myself ten minutes away in the bedroom to knit a couple rows.  By the way, things are not going well there.  There is a giant hole, but I am determined to finish.  Like, I wrote about last week, I am choosing to embrace the process over the outcome.  Knitted hat with holes is greater than not ever trying.

9. Books

Lots of words were consumed this weekend.  Some spent near the pool as I listened to giggles from H, and some spent in my Sunday Bath.  Water and words just go together.  Last month, I did a couple audiobooks, but this weekend I was reminded that nothing beats having a book in hand.  

10. More Sunshine

Vitamin D was in no shortage this weekend.  We seemed to be outside soaking up all the sunshine for the majority of the weekend.  It made for some burnt and happy faces.   

11. Banana Bread

Part of what made this weekend feel so lovely is that Hudson actually took really nice long naps.  I am convinced that is thanks to the water + sunshine.  In this long nap time, Lance and I had the sweet leisure to make banana bread together.  This might seem like a small thing, but it is so contrary to our normal hustle and bustle, that it felt like sweet time together.  Lance mashed bananas, and I measured out ingredients. 

12. A little Netflix

Emphasis here on a little.  I never feel great after hours spent on Netflix mindlessly consuming tv.  That is definitely not life-giving for me.  This weekend, we had the perfect sprinkling of Netflix.  We giggled and rested as we watched our new favorite series.  But we did this for only the length of the show, 20-minutes.  It was the perfect little break and the right amount of time to then continue on little projects that brought us more joy, like that banana bread I mentioned above.

13. Unplug 

The days always feel longer (in a good way) when I am not constantly checking my phone.  Sundays are my much needed day away from social media and email.  It is a rule and I respect it.  It allows for greater presence and greater joy and ultimately allows for long days filled with lovely things, like knitting a few stitches and holding actual photos in my hands.  

14. Spontaneous Drives 

It feels like most of our days revolve around obligation.  The things we have to do.  Up until this pandemic, we never made enough margin for spontaneous things that had no purpose or plan.  Not to say this has happened frequently, but there have been a couple evenings after dinner that we decided to take a drive.  Not to any particular place.  Not to see any particular person, but just because we had the time and curiosity to do so. 

There it is. 14 ingredients to help craft a perfect weekend even amidst pandemic and quarantine.  There might not be many options when it comes to weekend plans, but with some intentionality and creativity, the weekend can have its own rhythm set apart. And it can still be lovely.

Embracing Process Over Outcome

Last Monday, Hudson and I attempted to make homemade noodles. Like a lot of things in my life, I had a picture of what the outcome would look like. In my head, it looked almost identical to the perfect noodles pictured in Joanna Gaines’ cookbook. Let’s just say they looked nothing like the picture. While her’s actually looked like noodles you would have bought from the store; mine looked strange and unnameable. I couldn’t even will myself to post a picture of the outcome because they looked so strange. Something clearly went awry. This was not the outcome I was expecting.

All week I have been thinking about this soup.  I have been thinking about if my mindset was merely outcome driven, I would have been pretty disappointed.  And here’s the thing, I usually am outcome driven.  I am all about a clear measurable.  My heart rests a bit easier when I can see a spreadsheet of all the things I did accomplish in a day.  That is one of the reasons I love training for a marathon.  I love the outcome of high mileage.  Even if I produce nothing else the rest of the day, it feels good to know that I ran 20 miles.  That is an outcome I can be proud of.  But here’s the thing, what about the seasons where you are not training for anything? What about the seasons that do not have a clear goal or some outcome that can be measured?  What is the indicator of success?  

Those noodles the other night were not my definition of success.  However, Lance did snap a few quick photos of Hudson and I making those noodles.  And when I look at those photos, I see success.  I see happy faces and floured noses.  I see time well spent in the kitchen. 

There are a handful of lessons this season of quarantine is teaching me.  One is this: the process is always sweeter than the outcome.  In times where we do not have races, or stages, or arenas to display our outcomes, the process becomes essential.  We must lean in and embrace the sweet process of things and not be quite as concerned with the outcome.  

For me, personally embracing the process looks a bit like this: 

  1. Getting out to run with zero expectations on mileage and pace.
  2. Making noodles for the sake of spending quality time with my son with zero expectations that it will look like Joanna’s.
  3. Writing words for the sake of creativity and the fact that I am a better person when I am creating + vulnerable.
  4. Sending bold emails. There are lots of no’s, but I am embracing this process of putting myself out there.
  5. Trying new activities with Hudson and being absolutely okay when they do not look like Pinterest.
  6. Taking photos and capturing moments that are not perfect.
  7. Journaling. This is one of the best ways I can look back on the process of my life + see the Lord’s kindness.
  8. Prayer. This outcome-oriented girl needs a lot of help from the Lord to see new vision and embrace the process of things more.

Process over outcome.  It is freeing.  It allows room for grace.  It allows you to sit down at the dinner table still smiling as you eat noodles that look nothing like Joanna’s. It allows you to create, run, write, love, and step out in boldness because it is not about the outcome. It is something more. Something greater. It is about who you are becoming in the process.

Small Joys in Quarantine Pt. 2

I found the process of naming the little things in my day that are bringing the joy to be incredibly helpful. It reminds me. It points me to the blessings all around me. It grounds me. Naming the ordinary joys I interact with on a daily basis grounds my head and heart from the ever-present temptation to complain and grumble. And let me tell you, I am an excellent grumbler. Instead of grumbling, I am doing my best to name the small joys. So, here are 5 more:

6. Knitting

Just like running, I am finding a deep sense of comfort in the repetitive nature of knitting. I am no master, literally just beginning.  I have already messed up a handful of times, and I am pretty sure the hat will likely have a few random holes, but still, I am doing it.  I am a knitter. 

This is actually my second time picking up yarn and knitting needles. The first was my sophomore year in college. One afternoon I had the sudden urge to knit, so I drove myself to the closest Joanne’s near LMU. I knitted on the 20-minute van rides over to the track for workouts. Amidst the blasting music and chatter of how painful the intervals would be, I kept my hands and mind steady on the stitches. During that season of sophomore year, I had fallen into a bit of a slump and picking up knitting brought steadiness that I desperately needed.

Nothing really came from these van rides of knitting on the way to the track. I quickly put it down as I became again distracted, but that season planted a seed. And I sense it pulling me back in. This time around, I have an actual pattern I am following. I have a clear goal of creating a hat. I even semi-figured out how to cable. I love re-entering this phase of knitting because already in this beginning stage, I sense a deep commitment to actually figuring it out. I sense a deeper maturity and patience. I sense progress, even if the outcome is an oddly-shaped hat.

7. Memory Keeping

Scrapbooking is that thing I always want to do, but it never seems to fit in my days.  Now it does.  And not only does it feel nice to catch up on Hudson’s first year scrapbook, it feels nice to look back at happy times.  Not that these are not happy times, but most of our current pictures are within our backyard. It feels refreshing to see all the places and people and things that our lives a few months ago held.  I am enjoying this process of not only looking back, but preserving all these memories by cutting out, taping in, and making a little remark with my pen about that particular moment.  This work seems important, valuable, and I often picture my grandkids and great-grandkids flipping through and enjoying it. And that brings me a lot of joy.

On a quick tangent, most of my photos are all on my phone, but the process of scrapbooking actually forces me to get certain photos printed. There is something about actually being able to tangibly hold the memory. To me, it is like actually reading a book. The act of flipping through pages simply does not compare to reading the words digitally.

There is something about actually being able to hold that 4×6 moment in your hands. The smell of ink. The way they come shipped in those little paper envelopes. I love this process. It is also fun to slip a few of the extra copies into a card and send it the people in the photos. There is nothing quite like opening mail with a beautiful memory carefully placed inside.

8. Running Through Sprinklers 

I woke up last Thursday feeling uninspired and unmotivated.  And then, we turned on the oven, made delicious cookies, and ran through the sprinklers in our backyard.  And things were good.  I was hit with inspiration, and motivation came crawling back to me.  Isn’t it amazing what some cookies and a little bit of water and laughter will do? 

Also, walnuts, oats, and chocolate are my new fav cookie combo.

9. Trash Trucks 

Beep!  Beep! Trash truck!  These have been Hudson’s words all last week since two amazing trash truck drivers honked and waved at him.  This made such an impression on him.  He has been talking about the beep, beep all week.  And let me tell you, it has brought some major perspective. 

These trash truck drivers have no idea the positive impact they made on a little toddler boy that dreams about trash truck Mondays.  They have no idea that the simple act of honking their horn has made them seem magical and heroic all at once.  This is making me want to honk my metaphorical horn a bit more often & not be afraid of doing the small and simple acts of kindness. 

I want to mother and live my life in such a way that embodies the trash truck drivers.

10. Earl Grey Tea

Afternoons are really hard for me. I have my most inspiration and motivation right around 6 am. In this place of silence and caffeine and scripture my mind is sharp and my heart is open. From 6 am to 1 pm, something happens. Maybe it is the loads of laundry. Maybe it is that careless driver that nearly hit me as I was running. Maybe it is the constant “mommy, mommy, mommy.” Whatever it is, by 1 pm I feel tapped out. Even more so since quarantine.

So once Hudson is down for a nap, I go to the kitchen, turn on the tea kettle and I make myself a cup of earl grey tea. I let the tea bag steep a bit and then a splash in some almond milk and shake in a spoonful of sugar. There is something about earl grey tea. I am a fully committed black coffee drinker, but when it comes to earl grey, I always add some milk + sugar. Kind of like the burnt marshmallow situation I mentioned last time, it just tastes better.

Then, I bring my cup of earl grey tea to my little desk and begin to write. And every single time, the words come easier when I have my friend earl grey next to me.

Easter 2020 Reflections

I woke up Easter morning feeling a bit sad.  I was sad because I knew we would not be going to Easter church service.  I was sad to not see extended family. I was just generally sad that Easter could not be celebrated in the way we normally would.  And so the first couple hours of Easter morning I had a bit of a pouty attitude. I was mopey and down as I whipped up pancake batter and failed at hash browns.  Side note: if anyone knows the secret to getting really crispy hash browns, please let me know. Mine always turn out drenched in oil and soggy.

This is the true picture of how our Easter morning started.  I write this because this is just further evidence of how special and beautiful Easter truly is.  This girl, who still manages to get in a slump on the most joyous day when we celebrate the Risen King, this girl, needs grace every moment.  Left on my own, I will quickly lose sight of the big picture.

Praise God that he chose to love us forever and to sacrifice his one and only son.  This is truly good news! If it were not for this radical act of love, I would be stuck in my misery over soggy hash browns and changed plans. Thanks to Jesus our day of Easter celebration was not ruined by my poor attitude.  Grace filled in. And our Easter was not like any Easter previous, but it was quiet, intimate, and full of worship. And it was good.

Egg hunt all to himself!

The quarantine is showing me a lot of my shortcomings.  One of them is how dependent I have come to the hustle and bustle of life.  While we sometimes complain about it, I have realized I love a full calendar.  I love rushing from one place to the next and stuffing our days with as much experience, people, food, and laughter.  This is especially true when it comes to holidays. As much as we sometimes dream about a quiet holiday at home, the reality is I love the rush of a full day of celebration and people.  

While there is nothing inherently wrong in this, over the years, it has made my heart numb to why we are celebrating in the first place.  We say Happy Birthday, Jesus and He is Risen! but our hearts and minds are easily distracted by the feasts, gifts, and people all around us.  At least that is the case with my own heart.

This year there were zero distractions.  And initially, my heart could not handle it.  There was no rush to get out the door. No need to iron the dress.  There was no pressure to make some elaborate meal because it was just the three of us.  And with all the normal busyness that typically fills days of celebration, our small family of three was left in our pajamas on the couch in quiet and peaceful worship. 

We were not checking our watches to make sure we made the family Easter brunch in time. We were not scrambling in the kitchen. We were present and at peace and in full awe.  The words of worship felt more crisp. The faces of my husband and son were in clear focus. The truth of the gospel has never felt more real.

This Easter will not be another blur of a holiday full of too many things and obligations, no, Easter 2020 will be the one where we really allowed ourselves the quiet space to sit in the emptiness of the tomb and truly feel the joy of what that means.  

It will be the one where we worshipped on the couch.

The one with the big brunch.

The one where Hudson had an egg hunt all to himself.

The one where we all napped and then soaked in all the amazing online church services we could.

The one where we Face-timed and zoomed with family.

The one where we just sat out at our new fire pit and watched Hudson play.

The one where we ate too much candy and had a simple dinner. 

This Easter I am thankful for the quiet, the extra time, and mostly I am thankful that Jesus rose for us. Even on mornings when we wake up with bad moods and eyes fixed on earthly expectations, God is gracious and loving and meets us where we are.  

Happy Easter! He is Risen! Thankful that this truth remains just as true, regardless of the state of the world. And for that we have a lot to celebrate.

5 Easter At-Home Activities Your Toddler Will Love

Easter celebrations are likely going to feel quite different for most of this year.  There will be no bunny photos or large egg hunts or dressing up in our Sunday’s best for Easter service.  In a lot of ways, Easter this year will be quite simple. They will be quiet, without the rush and bustle and people that usually surround all of our favorite holidays.  And while in some ways this disappoints me; in a lot of ways it is allowing my heart to be even more focused on the reason we celebrate Easter in the first place.  

Taking away the external elements of Easter, we are left with the one thing that truly matters and is forever unchanging: a cross and an empty tomb.  Jesus is alive and we get to be with Him forever! That will never be taken away. That is just as true now during a pandemic as it was before. That will never change.  In a time where everything seems to feel different, this Easter, we have even greater reason to celebrate our great, unchanging Father that loves us SO much. 

Even though things feel so different, I am very much in the Easter-spirit!  To me, this is what Easter is all about. It is about facing the darkness of the cross, but then it is also about looking past it and seeing the light and hope that lies beyond it.  Jesus’ resurrection is one of the greatest reminders that death and darkness DO NOT get the final word. Death is defeated. There is hope. We will get through this.

This may sound silly to you, but one thing that has helped me to be more focused on the hope of Easter is a week full of Easter-centric activities and crafts with Hudson Boy (21-months)!  Each day this week we did an Easter-themed activity. All of them were very simple and with materials that can mostly be found around the house. These activities absolutely brought some joy to our indoor days & reminded us both of the great hope we have in Jesus! 

With Easter just about a week away, these activities could be a great way to count down the days to Easter Sunday with your kiddos.

Quick side-note: we packed a lot of fun intentional activities into our week, but if you look at all my pictures in this post, you will easily find dust all over our floors. To the mom that struggles with a comparative heart (ME!), don’t worry if it was a week with less hands-on activities. It is all about give and take. This week we did a lot together, but my kitchen and floors and whole house for that matter is a bit of a disaster.

1. WATERCOLOR CROSS ART

I was inspired by the  Resourceful Mama’s tape Resist Cross.  We did not have painter’s tape on hand, so I cut out a cross with construction paper and taped it to the card stock.  Obviously painter’s tape is ideal, but it still worked out for us! This is a great project to do on Good Friday to focus and teach on Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection.  This project is simple and the result is really beautiful with the watercolors. I have ours on our mantle. It has been a really powerful reminder to me all week about how the dark cross does not get the final word.  There are beautiful colors on the other side.  

2. INDOOR EASTER EGG HUNT 

After this egg hunt, all Hudson seems to be able to say is “eg, eg, eg!”  I had saved a handful of plastic eggs from last year’s Easter egg hunt, so used these.  If you are feeling stumped with what to hide in the egg for this random, indoor hunt, you could do a “Resurrection Egg Hunt.”  There are ideas for this type of egg hunt all over, but I was specifically inspired by Meredith over at the blog, Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home

For Hudson’s egg hunt, I quickly wrote down what each item represented, along with the correlating Bible verses.  As Hudson gets older, I will use this activity to go through scripture and have a more in-depth discussion on Jesus’ resurrection.  For my 21-month old, it was still a good activity for him to hold each item and for me, in a few, simple words explain to him what the item represented.  This was a great activity that helped make a random indoor egg hunt feel a bit more meaningful.  

Since this one hunt, we have done a few.  Usually with empty eggs. He is obsessed with it and it is a fun way to pass some time. 

3. POM POMS + EGG COLOR SORTING

With those same eggs, we did this color sorting activity.  So simple and great for practicing colors with toddlers! Also, great for fine motor skills, as Hudson tried to pack as many pom poms as he could in a single egg.  We just used our hands to sort pom poms by color, but you could also use plastic tongs or a spoon to really work on those fine motor skills.  

4. CHRIST-CENTERED COLORING PAGES

My favorite resource for free, Christian coloring pages is Christian Preschool Printables.  It is an amazing site with some wonderful + free printables.  I look forward to using this resource even more as Hudson gets more into the preschool years.  He really enjoyed coloring these crosses and immediately started to run out the door to give it to someone.  Coloring pages, like these, are a great thing to have on hand, especially when someone wakes up way too early from their nap!  Coloring in the afternoon with a few snacks seems to sit well with Hudson as a solid afternoon activity. 

5. EGG + BUNNY EARS COOKIE BAKING

To end the week, we spent time with auntie and made Easter sugar cookies.  At this point, I am convinced that Sally’s Baking Addiction has the very best sugar cookie recipe.  I made this same recipe for Valentine’s Day and these Easter ones were just as delicious.  I was totally inspired by the way she used the same cookie cutter to make both eggs and bunny ears. How cute!

Our cookies, look NOTHING like hers, but we all had a lot of fun making them!  I set up Hudson’s own little decorating station with wax paper and a few cookies already frosted in white for him. This allowed him to spoon some color on to each cookie and shake some sprinkles on.  He was a happy camper with this set up. I intentionally made a really small egg that he called “baby.” This was a fun one for him to decorate and I didn’t mind him eating the whole thing since it was so tiny!! 

There are a few things we did not get to and are hoping to fit in next week!

Other Easter Things To-Do with with Kiddos

  • Dye Easter Eggs! (Excited to try these PAAS Marble ones).  If your Target has a Drive-Up, you should utilize it!  I just made a Target trip the other night and it increased my anxiety times 10. 
  • Easter Photos! No mall bunny photos this year, so hoping to make a spring little set-up in our backyard to get some cute Easter photos of Hudson! 
  • Write Easter Cards to Family!  Holidays are my favorite times to write words of gratitude to those we love most.  I have a mild obsession with Trader Joe’s seasonal cards. Picked these up the other day and I am excited to spend time with Hudson pouring love into each card.  We might not be able to see all of our family members this Easter, but we certainly can show them we are thinking of them. 
  • Easter Play-dough Play!  Planning to make a new batch of play-dough.  I will dye half orange and the other half light pink, so we can use our carrot and bunny cookie cutters! 

And of course, we will be reading all the Easter books on our shelves.  A couple weeks ago, I put a list of our favorite Easter books.  Another one that is not on that list that we have been reading constantly is Here Comes Peter Cottontail!  We have Hudson’s grammy’s version and I love this edition’s illustrations.  This week would also be a great time to delve into the Easter stories in The Jesus Storybook Bible. We keep reading the story, “God’s Wonderful Surprise,” over and over again.  It has been a comfort to both of us this week.  

What are some simple things you are doing with your kids and family this coming week to celebrate the coming hope & joy of Easter?  I would love to get some more ideas + inspiration!

Finding Peace in Sabbath during Uncertain Time

For all those that say they don’t have time to have a day of rest or sabbath, there is no better time than now to intentionally create a sabbath day for you and your whole family.  With the world shut down right now, this is the very best time to set some new healthy rhythms into your typical chaotic and busy schedule.  

Sabbath is a gift and it is my favorite day of the whole week.  It is the one day, we sleep in. The one day, I ignore the dishes and the laundry and the dust.  The work can wait. I do enough of that during the week. This is a day set apart and it is sacred.  Last summer, I put together a post full of explaining the importance of honoring the sabbath and some practical tips to incorporate this weekly day of rest in your own life.  You can go back and read it here.

“To Hell with the Hustle”

I just finished reading Jefferson Bethke’s book To Hell with the HustleIt is such a great read and a really great book to add to your list, especially if you are a hustler and struggle incorporating rest and margin into your days.  

There was a lot of really insightful wisdom packed into the pages, but the thing that stuck with me the most was actually quite simple: be faithful.

Not just a faithfulness when God is pouring you with blessings upon blessings, but in the seasons of your life that feel more barren and ordinary.  This is true faithfulness. A commitment to living your life faithfully to God, your spouse, your kids, your church, your neighbors in the ordinary days. 

Bethke puts it best in the epilogue:

“I think we hate faithfulness so much because at its root it’s obscurity and ordinariness, which is the biggest cultural curse we have today.  There is a certain paradox in making changes and choices that don’t seem to have obvious benefits. It’ll feel uncomfortable to resist technological advancements. To rethink how we communicate.  To question the noise all around us. To not hustle to get ahead, but to rest to be human. The more I root myself in a place, in a job, in mundane repetition of my life with love, the more I find joy springing up all over the place.”

(Bethke 182-183)

I don’t know about you, but my soul feels a peace and joy that has been missing for a while.  Don’t get me wrong, there is also a lot of anxiety and uncertainty and fear melted in there, but as a whole, my head feels more clear and my heart feels more open.  And I think a large part of it is because the extra noise has paused for a bit.

The morning rush of throwing things into my bag and quickly getting Hudson into his carseat has ceased.  There is no pressing timeline. We are home and for the first time in a while, I am truly thankful for the very mundane elements of my day. I am thankful for fresh air outside. I am thankful for the ability to take a long walk with my family. 

I am seeing things with a new vision. I see the beauty in the ordinary.

To give you an idea of what I am trying to convey, this is a little glimpse of what sabbath looked like for the Capel fam last Sunday:

Last Sunday’s Sabbath

  • Drinking coffee and just watching Hudson play
  • Worshipping on the couch 
  • Watching our pastor teach on the biblical concept of work.  Our church’s online sermons can be found here
  • Packing a lunch picnic of bread, turkey, cheese, figs, and slices of cara cara oranges
  • A drive on an empty 405 freeway
  • A beautiful family walk 
  • Picnic on a big grass field 
  • Baseball and soccer play with Hudson
  • A nap
  • Book reading
  • Knitting (a new thing. I am trying to make a hat, so far it is a struggle). 
  • Backyard sunbathing 
  • Bubble wands
  • Lounging in beach chairs while Hudson and Nala entertained each other 
  • Zooming with dear friends 
  • Steak on the barbecue 
  • Apple crisp in the oven
  • Scoops of vanilla ice cream 
  • Dreaming about that Stanford baseball scholarship as we watch Hudson hit on his tee before bed (kidding…kind of).
  • Bedtime books, mostly reading Stormy Night on repeat.  His current obsession because of the page that says “BOOM!” 
  • The Sunday Bath.  If you don’t do this, oh, you really should.  It is one of my favorite sabbath elements.  
  • A little more knitting
  • Time with Lance and talking about what the week ahead looks like
  • Sleep 

Peace in the Ordinary

I wanted to list all of that out because I wanted to show how ordinary it is.  Nothing spectacular, but it was a new favorite day in my book. It was simple and rich and meaningful.  This is sabbath to me. A day where the blessings of my life are in full-picture. With perfect clarity and the tender whispers of God, I see with new vision that this is exactly where he wants me.  He wants me present with open hands and an open heart for all that he is showing and teaching me through these simple days at home.

So, in the midst of uncertainty and fear as the number of coronavirus cases seem to keep getting higher and higher, I am finding a whole lot of comfort and peace in just focusing on the here and now and leaning into this day of Sabbath that will never be cancelled or taken away from us.  It is a gift given to us with open hands by a Father that loves us so dearly.

Will you accept it and step into this sacred place of rest? There is no better time than now.  

12 Things to Do at Home with an Active Toddler

I know we each are affected by the coronavirus in very different ways.  Some in life-changing types of ways, and others in smaller disappointments.  I know there is this temptation to down-play our own feelings right now, with the preface of with everything going on, it feels silly to… or I know others have it a lot worse, but… 

I know that temptation well because I have most certainly felt it in the past couple weeks.  It feels silly to complain about a postponed marathon, when others are losing jobs, weddings, graduations.  It feels silly to complain about not getting to play at the park when we have a cozy house full of toys to play with. It feels silly to feel the pressure of keeping up with all the other moms that appear on social media to be handling it so much better than you. 

All of it can feel silly, especially in the face of death and unemployment.  But, it is your feelings and your situation, and it is okay to feel real sadness, disappointment, and anxiety over things that may feel small in comparison with everything else that is going on.  It is okay to own our struggles, even if they may be small.

With that said, in the past couple weeks my emotions have been all over the map.  I have felt a whole lot of disappointment. Disappointment over the marathon.  Disappointment in not being able to attend church in person. Disappointment over not being able to go that basketball game or have that couple over for dinner or attend that birthday party.

Then, I went from disappointment to determination.  Last week, especially, I was determined to make the best of these situations.  This means keeping my whole routine as normal as possible. These choices have helped the initial disappointment to fade, but it also has created some unrealistic expectations. 

The fact of the matter is that we are living in a global pandemic. This is new territory for all of us. It is new, weird, strange, scary, confusing, and uncertain. While I still stand on the fact that it is important to keep things as normal as possible and still goal-set and look ahead to the future, I am learning I need to add room for grace.  

To give you an idea of how my brain works… 

Circumstance: Race postponed.

Response: Keep training hard and run a sub-80 minute virtual half-marathon.

Circumstance: All classes, parks, museums, and stores closed.

Response: Be the best Pinterest-worthy mom.  Do ALL the sensory bin activities. Do a craft every day.  Read ALL the books on the shelves. Create fun learning experiences.  Avoid screens at all costs.

Circumstance: All restaurants are closed, except for takeout.

Response: Bake and cook gourmet recipes for every meal.  

Circumstance: Quarantined.

Response: I must learn to knit, organize every cabinet/drawer in the house, and finally finish Hudson’s baby scrapbook.  

Get the picture? 

Not a whole lot of room for grace.  This is new. This is weird. I am doing my best and God will fill all of the holes.  He always does. I don’t need to put added pressure on myself to be super-mom, super-wife, super-human. This pandemic alone is pressure enough.

Before getting into ideas to keep an active toddler busy at home (I promise, we are still heading in that direction), I wanted to preface it with the fact that I too am struggling and feel this weird sense of pressure to do all the things. I am learning daily that the mundane elements of our day: taking a bath, watering the grass, calling a grandparent are enough. We don’t need to get crazy.

We Are Still…

We are still good runners during a pandemic if our mileage suddenly drops drastically.

We are still good moms during a pandemic if we do not always have a scheduled craft for the day.

We are still good wives during a pandemic if we become a bit more reliant on frozen pizzas than we did pre-pandemic.

We are still good productive humans during a pandemic if we have not acquired a new skill and the junk drawer is still full of junk.  

Let God’s grace enter.  You don’t need to be all the things or do all the things or learn all the things.  Keep it simple. Keep folding the laundry, washing the dishes, reading bedtime stories, running, and cooking.  In other words, keep doing the normal life stuff you would do all the time, no need to add the pressure to become a gourmet chef, a Pinterest-perfect mother, or super fit.  

With all that said, here are some very simple things I am doing with my very, active, almost-2-year old that is keeping us both sane and happy, mostly.

1. Keep a routine

Keep waking up at similar times, keep changing out of pajamas, keep snacks, lunches, and dinners at normal times.

2. Walk/Run Outside 

Take the jogger out for a short run or walk around the block.  The days we go out for a morning run always seem better because it really breaks up the day.  We have been calling our runs around our neighborhood, “dinosaur runs” because we stop by a nursery with giant, metallic dinosaurs and Hudson gets to roar at them. It is the small things!

Also, the sunshine and fresh air does a whole lot of good for the both of us. If you’re new to the baby jogger, I have some tips on running with the stroller, you can find here.

3. Take Long Baths 

We now take baths in the morning and the evening.  If Hudson is acting crazy, the bath is always a sure way to calm him down and get some sensory play as he plays with the bubbles and his bath toys.  Typically, we will take a quick shower and rush out the door to our scheduled outing. It has actually been a real joy to embrace these slower, bubble bath type of mornings.  If you are looking for more bath activities, here are some of my favorite products that always make bath time more fun:

4. Chores Around the House 

There is always a chunk of our day scheduled for getting things done around the house.  I try to always incorporate Hudson. Sometimes he just watches me or wanders off to play independently in the playroom, but sometimes he grabs the broom or his pretend lawn mower and goes around the house “working.”  This is a win-win because I get things done around the house, while he imagines and helps me through play.

5. Bounce House

Set up something fun in your living room or playroom that is typically not up.  It could be a tent, a fort, a ball pit, or a bounce house.  We have this bounce house.  It is not very big, but it already has been a well-worth it investment.  As a family, we seem to always end up hanging out in the bounce house after dinner.  In these scary and uncertain times, I feel pretty certain I will look back to our evenings spent in the bounce house with great fondness. There has been a whole lot of laughter happening in that little house- Nala (our 80 lb. golden) even joins and things get real crazy.

6. Songs + Dance 

We usually break out the Greg & Steve tunes midmorning.  This is a fun way to transition between activities and is a great way to burn off some extra energy before nap time.  Here are a few songs, that are especially great for dancing with your toddlers:

7. Leave Things Out 

Here’s the honest truth, our house currently is chaos.  And this is entirely intentional. Part of it is laziness, but part of it is strategic.  There are TONS of invitations to play all over our house for Hudson. He can jump in his bounce house, he can color on his chalk board, he can pretend play with his trains, he can practice his baseball swing on his tee.  I am simply leaving things out all over to invite him to play. This creates a very messy house, but it is not like we are having guests over anytime soon and it takes the pressure off of me to constantly entertain.

8. FaceTime Family/Friends

This has been a great way for him to still have social interactions and see the people he loves most!  We have been doing this almost daily. It has been the perfect way for both of us to feel more connected. Not to mention, great for him to practice names.

9. Make Cards

So far, we have made 2 birthday cards and one thank-you card to our amazing pool man.  This is an easy “art project” and Hudson is at the age where he LOVES giving things to people he cares about.  We don’t have a ton of art supplies, so I have kept it really simple with crayons and card stock. For auntie’s birthday card, we even broke out the water colors.  I am not very creative or artsy, so making cards is a great way to incorporate some art + also teach Hudson the importance of appreciating those we care and love for.  

10. Scooter 

Self-explanatory. Lots of indoor and outdoor scootering happening over here.  

11. Mud Play

I will be honest, I have been on Pinterest more than ever recently.  And it gets pretty overwhelming. I am all about simple activities with few supplies and ingredients needed.  When I saw this mud play recipe, I knew it was perfect.  You just combine water, flour, and cocoa powder.  And there you go, the best smelling mud ever. It was perfect for creating dinosaur and truck tracks on paper.  

12. Window Clings 

If you are able to make a quick trip to the dollar store, they have really cute Easter window clings.  This was very entertaining for Hudson.  He especially likes the gel clings, which I am not crazy about because it attracts dog hair and H always ends up ripping them.  But it is just $1 and entertains him, so still worth it in my book. The day we brought them out, he kept going back to the window to rearrange the bunny and the chick. 

Okay, I am going to stop here. This is becoming too long.  Here is the bottomline: use this time wisely. Soak it in and appreciate it for what it is.  Sit in the quiet, the slow, the mundane. Don’t feel like you need to do all things.  Keep it simple. Invite your little ones along in your ordinary days and take lots and lots of bubble baths. 

Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston Pt. 6

7 Mondays Until Boston! 

Another week of training in the books.  This week did not feel particularly good, but I hit most weekly mileage for this training block, made it into 2 strength classes with Petra, and had a solid 20-miler.  So while things did not feel great (low energy, throbbing legs, tender toenails), hard things still got done. This past week felt like an important week of pushing through and getting some solid work in.  I know there are really only a few solid more weeks left of really hard training before the taper will begin. I want to take full advantage of this time to push myself and run hard and long.  

Even as I type up this recap, I can tell my enthusiasm and motivation to do so is a bit lower than it was last week.  Last week, I just wrapped up a great week of training where I felt amazing. This week is a different story. My toenails feel like they are going to fall off.  My head feels foggy and tired. The fatigue is really beginning to set in. With that said, I am going to keep this short and sweet so I can maybe lay down for a few minutes before Hudson wakes up!

These easy sunrise runs are some of my favorite miles of the week.

The Miles

  • 8 miles on the strand with jogger
  • 7 solo park loop miles
  • 10 miles with a workout (3 miles of slightly faster than goal race pace, 6:15ish + 4 x 1 K, these were supposed to be 5:40ish pace, but I was dying and did not hit pace) 
  • 8 miles on the strand with jogger
  • 6 solo park loop miles 
  • 20 miles! Solo.  Headphones made it a bit less lonely. This one hurt, but after the fact, I was pleased when I saw overall stats for the run.  More on this at the end!

The only part I want to expand on is that Wednesday workout.  I am the type of person that hates changing a workout. I am pretty determined to hit all my splits and finish a workout in its entirety.  This was not the case for that Wednesday. It was supposed to be 5 Ks, but I texted Lance after 3 and asked him what I should do since I was dying.  I was already way off pace and felt empty.  I ended up doing one more and calling it a day after 4.  This is so not me to cut it short, but I also know my body really well and on that day, my body was done.  There was nothing left. After recovering for a couple miles on the way home, I tried doing some pick-up 100 meters to make for the shortened workout, but even that felt hard.  

Besides the fact that my body is still adjusting to more mileage, it was also super hot out (hello, February in Southern California) and I am not very good at changing pace.  The 3 mile tempo part felt totally fine. It was right when I started the thousands that my legs felt like bricks. I need to work on getting better at changing gears.

What I am Listening To 

I listened to a lot of different interviews this past week.  There were a lot of solo miles with headphones. Of everything I listened to there was only one episode that really stuck with me and inspired me.  It was an interview with Veronica Jackson and Alex Bernardi on the Ali on the Run Show.  They both ran at the trials! They are two friends that pushed each other to believe in this shared goal of qualifying amidst full-time jobs and families.  I love their story. I love their dedication to dream big together. This episode was a treat to listen to and it made me really want to find a group like the women that run at 5:45 in Central Park.  Maybe, we just need to move to New York.  

How I am Fueling

Really it is all the same.  The only thing I need to add is Trader Joe’s cold brew latte dessert bars made the perfect mid-afternoon pick me up as my energy was really dragging in this hot week of training. 

Also, salt sticks, which I mentioned last week, has been a real game changer for me on my long runs.

Bowling with family really was the perfect way to spend our 20 miler.

Recovery

  • Sunday Nap 
  • Stretching at parks, while Hudson plays
  • Bowling? After our 20 miler, we bowled with Grandma Jo! It was a good reminder why I run and I don’t bowl.
  • Clearly, not a whole lot of recovery being done.  I really need to commit to rolling before bed. 

Cross-Training

  • 2 strength classes with Petra.  This will probably be my last week of these classes, since my membership just ended. I am likely not going to renew it.  I am going to have to figure out a way to supplement these classes in the weeks of training ahead.  This will probably involve some creativity and planks in our living room.

What I Keep Telling Myself 

You will eventually feel good.

This was not my week.  Things are hurting. The workout nearly killed me.  However, I still have confidence that fitness will come together in the remaining weeks and I will eventually wake up actually feeling good!  The time will come.  

Also, telling myself that the whole Boston experience is going to be so much fun.  It is beginning to feel closer and both Lance and I are getting more excited. We both will have family coming to watch, which is super special and just last week, we all got tickets to a Red Sox game.  Maybe not the best pre-race activity for a pro, but hey, that is not us, so anything goes, really.  

High + Low

HIGH

  • Hudson has finally gotten used to being back in the jogger and he has been an angel on our 8 milers.  My pace has been real SLOW on these jogger runs, so he has been extra patient to hang out in jogger for a bit over an hour.  
  • 20 miles! It did not feel perfect, but 20 miles is 20 miles.  It always feels like an accomplishment to get these 20 miler training runs in.  

Low

  • So tired!
  • The workout 

The Long Run

Thankful to have a community of loving family and friends that help out with Hudson so we can get our long runs in! Also, Hudson learned to say “Google.”

This long run was a bit different from the typical one.  Since family friends were watching Hudson, we decided to save a bit of time and run from their place in Hermosa Beach and just go out 10 miles and back 10 miles.  From Hermosa, we both made it pretty far into Palos Verdes.  

The run itself was a good mixture of flat, road surfaces and hilly trails.  It was a bit lonely, since we both did the run solo, but I think it built some good mental toughness.  

The last few miles were definitely a bit painful.  My hips felt like they were on fire. I pushed through and even got some faster mile splits in as I was on a flat surface.  While, I chose to not do an intentional workout, I did focus on staying as controlled as possible and getting faster in the last half.  

Here are the stats: 

  • 2 hours 31 minutes
  • 20 miles
  • 7:34 minutes/mile average.  
  • Fastest mile was the 19th mile at 6:36.  

Okay, I am exhausted.  This is all I got for this week.  Hopefully next week I can report with a bit more energy and enthusiasm!

20-Month Old Update

How is our baby already 20-months old?  In 4-months, we have a 2-year old! Time, you can slow down just a tad.  

It has been 20-months of being a mama.  20-months of baby snuggles and broken sleep.  20-months of falling in love with our crazy, baseball-loving, cookie-obsessed toddler, who feels more like a boy and less like a baby with each passing day.  It has been 20 beautiful, life-changing months.  

I don’t even know where to begin!  It has been a while since I gave an update on Hudson.  You can go back and read my 6-month update, where I include 6 major lessons I learned in those first 6 months.  I also posted for his 1st year birthday with 6 more lessons.  For the sake of time and your sanity, I am not going to list out 20 lessons in 20-months, even though I totally could.

To keep it brief, these past 20 months have taught me the importance of seasons.  That hard seasons do not last forever. It has taught me to own who I am as a mom and to embrace these beautiful and simple days.  I am finally beginning to really own these days of backyard bubble blowing and boo-boo kissing.  Side-note: there is nothing quite as cute as watching a toddler blow bubbles. Or when that same toddler falls and immediately runs to you to heal the boo-boo with kisses.  It will melt your heart in all kinds of ways.

I am really loving this season with Hudson.  It is no secret that the newborn days were not my jam.  I struggled. Not to say, I don’t struggle now, because I definitely am hit with those days of doubt and insecurity, but as a whole things feel more calm and confident and controlled (even when the tantrums and crying roll in).  I am more secure in my identity in Christ and this pours out into motherhood. I was made for this. I was made for these days.  

See his sweet scar? It has been just a week and it has healed so well!

Things feel so much lighter than they did even a year ago.  My bag is lighter. Now as long as I have wipes and a snack, I know we will be fine.  My heart is lighter. Things are less serious. I can’t control everything. He will get hurt, get stitches (a lesson we unfortunately just learned), get bumps and bruises.  And here’s the big lesson: that stuff doesn’t make me a bad mom. I used to take every bump and scape so personally. Not to say, I did not feel terrible about Hudson’s recent visit to the ER and his 5 stitches smack dab in the middle of his forehead.  Of course, I felt terrible, but I didn’t feel like a bad mom. This stuff will happen again and again. I will do my very best to protect, love, and guide him, but I trust God’s plans and perfect timing for Hudson’s life.  

My arms are also much lighter as I no longer am constantly holding and nursing and rocking.  It has been a really fun season of getting to just watch him do his thing. I love the way he walks out in the morning ready to start his day.  I love the way he runs in circles when he gets extra excited. I love the way he holds my hand as we walk outside. It was a special season to have him so close and needing me for nourishment the first year of his life, but this new season of independence is such a joy.  

Like I said, I am not going to give 20 lessons, so instead I thought I would make a list of the 20 things Hudson is currently loving at 20-months!

20 Things Hudson is Currently Loving:

  1. Balls
  2. Trash trucks
  3. Any other type of truck, another fav is the street cleaning truck
  4. Dinosaur rain-boots
  5. Dino chicken nuggets 
  6. Morning smoothies made by daddy
  7. All of his blankies, especially ones with silk that he can rub on his face
  8. Running!  
  9. Daddy and Mum (as he calls me) 
  10. ALL of his loving family
  11. Morning walks with Nala and bird watching 
  12. His red VW car that he can “drive” really well 
  13. His scooter and his Paw Patrol helmet.  He loves wearing the helmet, but has not quite gotten the scootering part down.
  14. Hide-n-seek with DADDY
  15. Teacher Lynn 
  16. Reading a million books before bed
  17. The ocean- there is no fear with this one 
  18. Signing “more” 
  19. Playing “baseball” in our living room 
  20. Picking flowers 

Happy 20-months, H-man! We love you so much!