Monday, December 31, 2012

saying farewell to 2012

You know it will be a tough year when you're counting down "7......6......5" as the ball drops, while being held up by a nurse because you haven't gotten your "land legs" back from labor, as you try to gingerly use the restroom, gown flapping uselessly around you. And moments later your new, tiny baby gets wheeled away. Not one of my favorite life moments.

Oh, 2012, you had your enjoyable moments but as a whole you sure weren't easy. It was a year kicked off by having my newborn baby stay in the NICU for the first 7 days of his life...something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. And the year that followed was a year of waiting. It was our last year in Hawaii and our last year as a military family. And the time seemed to not. move. I felt like we were hanging in limbo- seeing the new chapter that lay ahead and not being able to get there fast enough. It was also a year of painful goodbyes. Many, many good friends left within weeks of each other, dramatically changing our social life and support system for our last 6 months- several of whom were part of the small, core group of "best friends." Not to mention raising two boys very close in age without family to be a part of the crucial support system. 2012 was a lonely, hard, slow moment in time.

I'm grateful to not have to repeat this year.

But if I'm going to be honest with myself, it held some beautiful moments, too- redemption of some precious friendships, reconciling with the fact that life that looked a little different than I wanted it to, being able to put into practice FAITH unlike I've ever had before, and expanding our family to become a family of 4...and the joys that come with raising kids. I love watching the "firsts." Or watching any moment of growth- and knowing that I was a part of it. It's fulfilling. And while I miss my teaching career very, very much, I'm grateful beyond words to have this season of raising my children. I remind myself often that there will be other seasons for me to teach; there won't be seasons that can repeat these days in life. Days of babies, little hands, slobbery kisses, growing conversations, and awe for life around them. Thanks, Lord, for this opportunity. I'm aware that it is precious.

So it is with open arms that I welcome 2013! Bring it on. We are out of the military, back on the mainland, and the second day of the new year holds a home inspection. A year of friends/family, new jobs, and buying our first house looks pretty stinking great from here. I can't wait to get a closer look. :):)

Sending love from our family to yours!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

the more you give

I'm learning the more generous I am with my finances, the more I end up having when it's all said and done. Figure that out.

I haven't always been very generous with my money, but the past 6 months or so I've been convicted to step up the way I give. Not just tithing at church but in the way I bless others, the way I support good causes <--all of it. Granted, living debt-free gives a lot more freedom... it's hard to give money to others when you have money you owe others. And so that's probably the reason for having to wait for this lesson. We had to get our finances under control first. But now even with the crunch of getting out of the military, the extra expenses of moving, and the question mark of finding another job and wondering how long it will take- even now I feel as though I'm being called to give. It's a trust thing.

"Yes, God, I trust that you will provide for me. Yes, Lord, I will bless those you call me to bless. When you put it on my heart to be generous to someone, I will do it. Even though I'm not sure what I will need for the future. Because I trust that You will take care of me then as You are now."

And you know what blows my mind? The more we give our money away as we are called, the more money mysteriously ends up in our checking account. I kid you not, the past two or three paychecks we have ended up with a greater positive balance in our checking account than I can figure out. Our money is going further than it makes sense to. But that's just the way God works.

Malachi 3:10
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
 
If God promises this when we tithe to Him, will He not also bless when we give to others? I'm learning that the answer is "yes."

Monday, December 3, 2012

a little love affair

Okay, so we made it to the hotel! The word for that is surreal. I have been looking at this moment on the calendar but to actually be here? Surreal. And after a month of living in a house with the very, very basics (think 4 dinner plates, air mattress, one suitcase of toys kind of basics) we are sleeping on a king sized bed that I swear is made of dreams with clouds for pillows. Is it inappropriate to say that the noises we made when climbing into bed last night would have led one to believe other things were occurring? Dreams and clouds, people.



 Our lanai (balcony/porch for you mainlanders) has views of the ocean and downtown, both.






And I spent the morning walking around downtown Waikiki, going in and out of shops while sipping coffee, pushing two boys in a stroller who were happy to be out. I even picked up this lovely scarf from Lucky. Who, of course, was having a great sale. Because the day is just. that. good.


 Is it bad that I'm falling in love a little bit with this city? Newsflash: Life the past 3.5 years has been NOTHING like the past 24 hours of vacationing. So to those of you who think life here is a never-ending vacation, you are dead wrong. Ha! But a stay-cay is the way to make a grand exit. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that we were roughing it the past month; there's nothing like getting down to the basics to appreciate the abundant. You know, when responsibilities are lessened and the Navy is picking up the tab, it sure is nice to spend some good ole' Q-T ["quality time" for those of you who don't know gangsta speak] with Waikiki!

And FYInformation, I have made some decisions: 1) I will never again carry bags up to a hotel room. [Especially when it requires three trips for the bellhop to take our 8 suitcases, 4 carry-ons, 2 pack-n-plays plus bed lovies, snacks, strollers, kitchen stuff and more!] And, 2)When valet parking is offered, I will use it. Because a tip is so small compared to the convenience it serves and the stress it removes.

God bless Google, which allowed us to research hotel tipping! Sometimes "first times" are grand. ;)


Sunday, November 25, 2012

absence makes the heart grow fonder

It has been almost a month since my last post. Quite a stretch from the daily posting days before Liam and the usually-once-a-week posting since then. Life has been busy. And life has been changing. And my heart isn't very stable, often changing from "I can't stand to spend one more day here," [because that's what happens to me once I'm close to a change...I get so antsy I stop appreciating where I am, regardless of the change- high school, college, pre-marriage, pre-childbirth, moves, etc!] to "I just need to freeze life! Mental pictures "click"ing constantly so that I can freeze time and never forget these days. And waaaaaah, my baby is barely a baby any more!" In fact, the closer we get to the next big step, the more I find myself withdrawing from all social media, period. The more I'm thinking and feeling, the less I want to share it for the world to see. But I can sum up these last four weeks in six words: I can't wait to go home. Now repeat. Ad nauseam.

Oh, look! We're all caught up. ;)

I'm kind of gearing up, though, for copious amounts of outfit posts once I hit cold weather. So give me ONE WEEK AND SIX DAYS and I'll work on that. We have our plane tickets, we've set up the rental car, and I am booking my calendar full of dates with friends and family that we'll finally get to see again. It's been a long six years away from friends/family/northeastern coast and I'm ready to return and never have to leave again.

It won't be long now. I'm going home.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

when a stylist packs

"Time to pack now, Lauren."

"You are allowed to have two suitcases, Lauren."

"You will need to dress for one month in summer temps and one month in winter temps and all clothing must fit in these two suitcases, Lauren."

HA!









Thank you, kind and manly man o' mine, for making it close. Though I'm not sure I'll ever be brave enough to open it, lest the impending snakes-in-a-can explosion send me flying back into a wall.....


Packing tip: Packing? There is an app for that. Seriously. It's meant for daily dressing and not packing, but I used it anyway. I'm a rebel, I know. It's called "Cloth" and is used for you to store pics of every outfit you wear so that you can slide through each pic and decide which outfit of yours you want to wear that day. If you like a step-by-step map to getting dressed in the mornings, this would be genius. For packing, I took a picture of EVERY. PIECE. of clothing/shoes/hats/accessories/etc going into the suitcases so that I could flip through the pics on my phone and put together an outfit in my brain before I go digging through to the bottom. {pretty sure this took longer than actually packing...}You saw what went in one of those bad boys!!! There is no way I'll remember the shirt at the bottom left corner unless I had it documented. And so I do. :) Dressing will, in theory, be easier..... Stay tuned. I'll let you know. If you see me in the same pair of jeans and v-neck tee every day, my great plan obviously failed.

I'm prepared for such a thing.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

october in pictures

 Not much longer in this uniform. Daddy and his 10 month old stud muffin.

Got them separation orders! We have since used them to give housing our intent to vacate paperwork, set up the move of our household goods, book plane tickets, and more.

Still taking style pics but I feel like there is no point posting warm-weather pics when most live in cooler-weather places. Give me 6 weeks.... 

 I'm too sexy for....my mustache pants.

I love me a silly baby. Liam's smiles now involve nose scrunches, fast and repeated breaths through the nose, and sparkling eyes.

Typical man...taking up as much space as possible. 

 This guy doesn't let any opportunity slip by him. Roman left his tiny cup of whipped cream sitting on the ottoman...I turned around to find Liam eye-lash-deep in homemade maple whipped cream. New eye lash treatment??

I grew a mustache for a birthday party. Apparently I'm French?  

 Ro has learned to protect his toes

Jerr and I were washing dishes after dinner last night and heard "Mommy, Daddy, look at this!" This is what we saw. 

Life has been busy these days; full of packing, un-decorating, cleaning, and starting to tie up some ends. Our household goods get packed up this Tuesday and Wednesday and will begin their journey to VA, so each day feels like a tornado of activity. Because of that, there's definitely not much time to blog- and when I do have the time, all I want to talk about is the details about moving...which probably doesn't interest anyone other than me! Hence the silence. But these pictures should give you a good summary. And after Wednesday things will slow down for 3-4 weeks, so perhaps we can get re-acquainted then. I'd love that! Until then, I'm just trying to hang on to my britches.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

the hard truth

I don't know of a picture appropriate for this post so I'm going to rock and roll without one.

 ****

One of the things I love most about the increase in styling gigs lately is the learning I am doing. Constantly. And I have noticed something that seems to make an incredible difference in the success of personal style and success in shopping. Does your personal style best flatter your body? If not, there is a collision.

The way I see it, dressing has two goals: 1)to express personal style and 2)to make you look as good as you can. And clothes can work miracles. They conceal bothersome "body flaws." [Disclaimer: I do not believe in such a thing, but most people seem to and that's another blog post.] Clothes can make legs look longer, busts look bigger (or smaller!), midsections look leaner, curves appear, curves disappear!, make eyes look bluer/greener/deeper/, and beyond. And I think wearing the right thing can help you accept yourself. The things you don't like about yourself, that stand out with flashing red lights saying "warning! warning!" in the mirror, can be hidden. Your outfit can free you from spending the day feeling self-conscious or berating yourself if you know how to equip you closet.

But here's the thing: you have to wear the clothes that work to your benefit. Because the other side of that truth is that you can also wear clothes that add pounds, make you look frumpy, style-less, draw attention to lumpy knees, create muffin tops, or eliminate curves. Which means that disregarding the effect of clothes can leave you looking less-than-flattered. Which also means, if I may suggest something, your personal style needs to come second to the work order placed on your closet.

To say that another way, it doesn't matter if skinny jeans are in style. It doesn't matter if skinny jeans are YOUR style. If they don't flatter your legs, you will look worse for wearing them. And if I may be blunt for a second, I'm going to say something that could, potentially, step on toes. {Who am I?? lol} I know there are some who hide behind wild displays of self-expression, but I think that's often an attempt to hide the dissatisfaction about themselves. I tend to believe that if you feel good about yourself, you present yourself at your best. And when we, as humans, don't feel good about ourselves, we either kick it into overdrive to change those things, or we use apathy as a defense mechanism and decide that we just don't care. Because not caring is easier than caring and feeling horrible day after day.

Side note: That is actually one major reason why I believe you do yourself a disservice refusing to buy that pretty shirt until you loose another 10 lbs. I understand not wanting to waste money or feeling like the purchase of the shirt may seem like an acceptance of where you don't want to stay, but when you feel embarrassed about yourself, it's too easy to walk into the apathy room and close the door. Buy the cute sweater (or it's almost-as-cute sister from Forever21 for cheaper) to get you from Point A to Point B. When you feel good, it's that much easier to continue to be motivated for the change. When you feel good, you encourage your soul. And that way, if it takes you a few months longer than you hoped to lose the last few pounds, you still look good while you wait and work.

Anyway, back to the original point. My new realization is that personal style is an even greater, even stronger phenomenon when it comes in second place to making flattering decisions. And there IS a way to take your unique personal style and interpret it using the pieces that flatter you! {That's what I can help with! Just ask!} You may like the low-cut jeans but the muffin top is nobody's friend. You may like loose, flowy tops but if they add pounds, your personal style isn't a positive thing. And who cares if fur vests are the thing to wear? If you look like a woolly mammoth, you aren't going to feel good about yourself. And no one deserves to be knocked around by their love for faux fur.

So that's the challenge, then. Let's go through our closets and stand in front of the dressing room mirrors and ask ourselves whether it is the most flattering thing you can put on. Let's go to the store and walk around asking "what looks best on me?" not "what shirt do I like most?" If What Not To Wear is any proof, wearing what makes us look our best is a far more powerful, more positive thing than wearing what we thing says something about ourselves. Wearing a big panda bear on your shirt isn't the only way to say you are a fun-loving person. And wearing a pair of skinny jeans isn't the only way to dress fashionably. I don't believe anyone ever looks at themselves wearing an over-sized tee and thinks "Gee, the fact that I don't have a waist really makes me feel good about myself." But I do believe a defined waist, elongated legs, and a fashionable necklace makes one a little more content to be who they are; a little more at peace with the shape of their body. And that is a very, very powerful thing.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

flannel fabulosity

Go on, say that three times fast.

Yep, I know. Didn't work for me either...




You know those days when you realize that attempts to make an ordinary life seem even remotely fabulous are in vain? And at the end of the day you're still just wearing flannel, with baby face smooshes visible on your mirror, while toddlers and slobbery bulldogs play at your ankles?








And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

normal days and toddler eyes

Just a normal afternoon around these parts, but I explained the need to step up the everyday attire in my previous post. If you were to stop by today, this is what you'd find.




And a photo shoot. Because certain toddlers don't like to watch pictures be taken and miss out on the action.







And if you were to ask me what THE HECK said toddler is wearing, I'd tell you I am not responsible for his look. From here on out. He is Mr. Independent now in every. single. part of life and these are the pajamas he picked. And so these are the pajamas he wore. It could be worse. At least he's clothed!

Just remember this little talk when you see him in ridiculous things....and don't point your fingers at this girl. At his father, possibly, but I am taking noooo responsibility for the green cotton polo {with popped collar??} and multi-colored dino pants he decided to wear to bed tonight.

This kid.

Monday, September 17, 2012

front row seat

I think baby walkers should come with warning statements. You know, other than the traditional "don't let babies use this near the stairs or you'll see them do better flips than Olympic gymnasts" kind of stuff. It seems these four-wheeled devices are more dangerous than they appear. Warnings that caution "Do not underestimate the cruising speed of one of these suckers, lest they remove your ankles from your body." wouldn't be unreasonable. It would be nice to know such things before you're laying prone on the kitchen floor.

Roman made the mistake of innocently standing in the kitchen yesterday when Liam smashed into the back of his legs, making Ro freak out, frantically demanding to be picked up, and realizing that his home is no longer safe. That's the kind of mistake you don't make twice in life. Today, when the speeding bullet came hurtling his direction, he screamed, "Liam, watch out!!! Liam, watch out!!! No, Liam!!!" And took off running. We're talking sprinting. From one side of the kitchen to the other, down hallways and behind the island, finally finding solace perched on the second level of my kitchen shelves.



Sometimes Liam reminds me of the guy from Goonies.... "Heeeeey you guuuuuuys!" Hands held in the vertical position while his legs run Flinstone-style under him, propelling his walker at the speed of light and a grin on his face. It's really awesome. I think the detail that propelled the situation to levels of hilarity is the large Fridge Farm magnet that got stuck behind Liam and the walker back, so that a mechanical rendition of "Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou" became the theme song of terror.

And today I wondered, from my perch at the sink where I was washing dishes, whether I was obligated to do more than stand there laughing hysterically at the terrorist bouncing around my kitchen. I'm thinking- no. It comes down to two words: free. entertainment. I've come to the conclusion that being a mother simply means you have front row seats to the best comic show in town. And the tickets aren't cheap or easy to get, but you better believe they're worth it.
Holy moley.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

sunday groceries

Sunday around these parts is really pretty simple: church, lunch, naps, the family grocery run, dinner, baths, and bed. It's not fancy but it's a break from the norm and it feels good. 

And a little baby lovin' in the parking lot never hurt anyone. ;)



necklace: forever21, glasses: ray ban, shirt: target, chinos and loafers: jcrew


As I'm writing this blog post there is a big pot of homemade french onion soup cooking, waiting to be united with a glass of red wine and slices of fresh baguette. Sunday night, you couldn't get much better than this!

the anniversary, revisited

I know, I didn't give much detail in the previous anniversary post. I thought I'd let those ridiculous pictures do the talking. And they did, didn't they?? I don't think I could have summed up "us" any better.

Our anniversary was perfect. Jerr spoiled me with the traditional 5th year anniversary gifts of daisies and wood in the form of a jewelry box, came home from work early, we made a family trip to Target {which we really enjoy and do weekly as a family excursion together, for some sick reason...?} came home and did the nightly dinner/bathtime/bedtime routine, and then my sister-friend Rachel and her husband came over to hold down the fort while Jerr and I went for a dinner out to a phenomenal French restaurant. Hands down, one of the BEST evenings in Hawaii. Bar none. Du Vin, you are my newest love.

Dinner = a lemon-ginger martini for me and a Jerry's standard Old Fashioned, meat/cheese/pate app; a bowl of artichoke and prosciutto soup, shared; grilled lamb chops with fingerling potatoes and cauliflower, roasted duck breast on a bed of arugula and pureed parsnips and shallots; with vanilla bean creme brulee for dessert.

Happy, happy girl.

And listen, I know the pictures below are pretty crappy in terms of lighting, but that's because we were in a rush to get out the door and I just wasn't thinking "Oh, wait, let's take pictures for the blog." I was more concerned about a successful anniversary date night. And when you get home at 10:00 you're not about to go stand outside, or near an open window, for daylight. So they are what they are! I can tell you that the dress was a lemon-y yellow, the belt was glittering gold, and the shoes were a Tiffany-ish blue. ;)






And then I went to put on my pajamas.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

love, the Beckers

Today was our 5th anniversary and it was perfect.









5 years and a hundred more.<3

Friday, September 14, 2012

it's about to get real up in here

Tuesday evening I went to style a client on the other side of the mountains who lived in a GORGEOUS high rise overlooking the ocean. {It is worth mentioning that if I could live my Hawaii years all over again I would be doing it from that apartment. I stood there with my jaw on the floor for a good year or so.} As I stepped out of the elevators I noticed a giant floor-to-ceiling mirror. Convenient for bloggers who style and realize they never took a picture of the chosen evening's attire, no? So, I figured I'd grab a pic.

The caption for this photo reads, "Oh darn. I left the flash on from last night when I was stalking Roman while he slept, taking creeper pictures that would so terrify him that, should he wake up during the ninja mission, he would forever be afraid of the dark. Thus eliminating a possible career in spelunking forever."


Caption reads, "Blurry. Because as I was pushing the button I heard a door in the hallway and promptly bailed- dropping my phone while the picture-taking was in motion- and walked nonchalantly down the hall lest I look like a crazy in a hallway who attacks her victims using bad photography and rocking boots. Yes, that's right, Mr. Apartment Guy. I was just strolling off the elevator- whose door is definitely not just closing the way it should be if this story were really true- on my way to something very important and am in no way vain enough to glance in a mirror on my way. I am especially not taking a picture of myself while striking my own personal Blue Steele pose.... What are you looking at??"


____________________________________________

The caption of the next picture will read, "This is what it looks like when one gets arrested in silk and leather. Dear Jerry: Help. Love, me."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

glasses

A good pair of glasses is like a good friend. A good pair of sunnies, when living in Hawaii, is like family. And both are changing in my world. One for the better and one for the sad.

My glasses are getting an upgrade. I've had the same pair of glasses for the past four years and it was high time I changed them out. I have been wearing my non-prescription glasses for fun:


But now it's time to upgrade to the real thing:




And my sunnies....my other half. My special thing I bought to remember Roman's pregnancy- saving for months since there was no point buying clothes for an ever-growing belly. Huge sigh. They're gone, guys. :( The worst part is- I don't even know where! I can't remember having them one minute and not having them the next. I can't trace it. I just know I reached into their case to get them one day and they were gone. Not in the car, not in my purse, not in my house...just gone. I still haven't accepted it. And it may sound dumb but they were really special to me and they were the most perfect pair of sunglasses I've ever had. And there is no way I can just go out and buy a replacement pair now, with a huge move on the horizon and my monthly budget gone through the year. I'll get Chanel 5154s again some day, but for now a pair of Ray Ban "Jackie-O's" will have to get me through these hard, lonely, lost days.....



So long, Chanels.... you were perfect. I'm sorry.  :(