My big sister: Mommy & Me photo session

Love. My sister, Rhonalyn, loves loves her family. When we were little, we used to race off the school bus to see who could get to the house the fastest to hold our new baby brother (I was 6 and she was 9 when he was born). We’d say, “I get to hold him first!” She always won. 😉

She is the kind of sister who worries about you when you’re away. Brings a gift for you when she sees you. Is extremely compassionate and very hard working. She has two teenage step-sons who were at school when we did this shoot, but they are like her own. And we love that they are a part of our family now too! But these girls. Lily and Ellie. They light up my sister’s world. These are a few photos we snapped when Elizabeth and I recently visited!

You hear my sister often before you see her. Her laugh precedes her.

She is the motorbike sister, I am the moped.

She is the spice, I am the sugar.

She says hot, I’d say cold. We couldn’t be more different, yet we love each other to bits, and are thrilled to be new mammas at the same time!

Sister, I love you. I know these aren’t the kind of photos you frame. They are the kind you keep tucked away in a book. And 20 years from now, when these girls are grown up and off to university or wherever… these are the kinds of photos you will look back on and think, “Those were our days that no one else saw. Just us. They were often hard. Joyful. Frustrating and noisy. Full of kisses and dirty diapers and talking to Jesus. But those days were worth it. Oh so worth it.”

Here’s to motherhood and the gifts from heaven our littles ones are xo

And then there’s real life… 😉

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17 ways to save money and live healthier at home: Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s post about ways to save money and live healthier at home, here are a few more ideas…

  • Buy reusable squeeze packs for healthy on-the-go snacks for babies and toddlers. I just bought these ones off Amazon, in the hopes that I could trick, ‘er, get Elizabeth to start liking vegetables again. Seriously, she’s suddenly HATES them!  That girl could live on dairy, avocado and oatmeal. These squeeze packs will come in handy for yogourt, smoothies, etc as she gets older. One friend said these work great for picnics in the summer!
  •  Take leftovers for lunch. When Troy doesn’t have access to a microwave for his lunch, he takes wraps, a banana, peanut butter and/or honey and makes a simple protein wrap. Either that, or we will hard boil some eggs for quick protein.
  •  Buy just the greenery in the floral section, instead of frequent bouquets. I love flowers or any plant, but have had a hard time keeping them alive in our home. Buying flowers for our table on a weekly basis just isn’t an option! One thing you can do to get your pretty ‘fix’,  is to buy the greenery in the floral section at Safeway, and stick that in a vase on your table. I find the variety they carry varies, but for $10-12 you’ll have greenery on your table for literally months if you keep refreshing the water! They often have anything from eucalyptus to fern, to larger leaves, which offers you a variety to choose from. It’s much cheaper than weekly flowers, won’t die like plants do, and you still have something alive and pretty to enjoy!
  •  Just don’t buy pop and you’ll get used to not drinking it or wanting it. Enough said, for health and budget reasons  😉 If you need to for a party, buy no name brand.
  • Buy a package of bulk blank cards and use them for birthdays, thank you’s, thinking of you, etc. Homesense often has beautiful cards to choose from, in 20 packs, for around $8. I’m not a big cards person, as I’d rather spend money on the gift, and don’t tend to keep cards unless the words in them are super meaningful! With an average of $5 a card normally, you’re saving yourself A LOT and still have something on hand when you want to share a sweet note (because it’s still good to be thoughtful and prepared!)
  • Shop Facebook swap sites or thrift store for clothing for your family. There is no shame in used clothing! Just watch for stains and quality. I have found some adorable sweaters and jackets for Elizabeth at Value Village!
    1. Keep your wardrobe simple. One mom friend said she has two Lululemon Wunder Under pants that she uses as her basic wardrobe. Since she takes good care of them in the wash, they will last for years. There are also multiple Pinterest posts on ‘capsule wardrobes’ and how to keep your closet simple and lovable.
    2. Shop in thrift stores in higher end regions of your city, as you will find even better treasures based on the socio-economic status of that region.
  • To save on hair care, go to a home-salon, as they have less overhead, and prices are always cheaper.
    1. Buy shampoo/conditioner in bulk, as this is usually cheaper (depending on brand)
    2. Dye your own hair, rather than the salon. My hair grows SO quick, that I only have it professionally done 1-2 times a year, and I do my own roots the rest of the year!
  • When hosting friends, keep it simple, and ask them to bring something. It’s okay to do a simple meal like spaghetti or chilli rather than that fancy, multi-ingredient Jamie Oliver meal you’ve been aching to try. People just want your company anyway, and you don’t want to give up community!

I hope that list was helpful and sparks some thoughts for you and your home and family. It’s certainly not exhaustive, and I would love to hear some suggestions you might have! Feel free to comment below so others can see your ideas!

Thanks for popping by!

 

Bedtime letters and the One Who hung the moon

 

You’ve all gone to bed. All of you. Even you, Pippa. It was a night of breakfast for supper. Daddy bathing Baby. Baby peeing on Daddy. Mommy quickly shampooing carpet while it was okay to be noisy. Baby smiling her heart out for Daddy. And Mommy and Baby closing out the night with snuggles and a song.

And here I am, wanting to use the present quiet for something productive. Useful. Maybe write something New York Times worthy. Or dream of what to cook for my family tomorrow. Yet nothing comes. No great words. No three-step plan on how to accomplish the hidden things in my heart. Nothing beautiful. Nothing noteworthy or insta-happy. And it’s frustrating. I want to make the most of the moments I have on my own. Yet I am lost in the quiet of the night as the tick-tock of the clock overhead drifts the family into dreamland. All but me. I am not in dreamland. I am in the land of, “I want to use this quiet hour to myself to do something useful. Accomplished. Something I can be proud of.”

And then I remember that person I follow on Instagram who is about to be a mother after 10 years of waiting for their miracle. And how she is starting a journal of letters for her babe that he can have when he is 18. And I think, “Aw, I should do that.”

But in all honesty, baby girl, it is not because I want to dote on you with love letters, though I do. Oh how I do. I check my heart. In all honesty, I want to be the best. At everything. Even if it’s not my thing. Accomplish lots in a day so that I can lay my head on my pillow and feel proud. But darling, this mommy-ing thing takes all my time and thoughts. Meal planning. Meal trying. Laundry. Cleaning. Bathing. Dreaming of our next home. Shopping for us. Scheduling, oh the scheduling. I get lost in loving you. And there’s only the three of us! Baby girl, I love hearing your voice come alive. *wipe the tears* I love the way you kiss my face and gaze at me as though I hung the moon for you. Oh, don’t you worry, you’ll meet the One who hung the moon. I will do my best to show you Him.

So when the stillness comes and the day draws to a close, I almost don’t know what to do. Because I get lost in loving you. But the good kind of lost, sweetheart. The kind that takes you down a better road than you could pick for yourself. The kind that has sweet surprises and redemption written all over it. This kind of road is good. It’s called adventure.

This mommying thing is changing me. And I’m so thankful. But somedays, I need to remember, that the most productive thing I am to do is not to fill every waking moment (though that is sometimes necessary). But to let Jesus, the Moon-Hanger, love me, and love the gifts He has given me. You and Daddy are the best ones. xo

Love,

Mommy

Our sweet little girl has arrived: Elizabeth Grace

Just a short post to say … we are parents!

Elizabeth (“pledged to God) Grace Lupul
March 23, 2016
10:50pm | 8lb 3oz

Troy and I are just over two weeks into parenthood, and loving our little girl to bits. With all the friends we’ve had go before us as parents, there really is nothing you can do to prepare for what delivery is like emotionally and how you’ll feel when you see your very own child for the first time. Troy and I both cried, of course, but I think it was the afternoon we brought her home when it hit us – we’re parents! As we entered the elevator, a giddy excitement filled my heart. We stopped for smoothies on the way home, and Lizzie started to fuss and wail in the back seat. Knowing she was likely just hungry, I tried to buy some time by singing You are my sunshine… and it worked! New mom for the win! As we had our first evening at home, we felt such peace and thankfulness that delivery was over, she was healthy, I was fine (well, healing 😉 ), and we were now at that ‘next stage’. Troy is the proudest Daddy ever, he could pop a button every time he looks at her. It’s pretty adorable I must say 😉 Love you babe, and am so excited to do this journey of parenting with you!

When we get our newborn photos back I will share, but here is a look back at my pregnancy with Elizabeth Grace, and a few first sneak peeks at our little girl and new life together…

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We love you Elizabeth Grace and thank God for the gift that you are to us! xo

~ Mommy & Daddy

 

Dear sweet baby

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Dear sweet baby, I hope you know that your mamma loves you. That we can hardly wait to meet you.

We so wanted you, and God has given us such a gift in you, we know it! And as we become parents, we are sure there will be challenges, joys, and a huge learning curve.

But may this picture be a reminder to you and I: that as we grow together, I am committed to throwing my hair up, and embracing the “something new” in every season. We can’t wait to discover who you are.

Mommy + Daddy xo