Wednesday, September 11, 2013

the pull on resources

It's not hard to be busy, is it?

I always find I go through seasons... Sometimes I look around and and we don't have much on our figurative family plate. Then, it seems that the next time I look around, we are slammed and editing is needed. If everything else in life seems to ebb and flow, it only makes sense that schedules do as well.

And I tend to be pretty protective of our schedule; this season more than ever. With Jerr in grad school full time on top of working all day, Roman in preschool, church groups, friend time, choir, and me teaching private music lessons, finding something to do isn't hard. Finding a free day to spend together is. Finding a free day to spend with friends is, too. Balance is necessary.

A good friend of mine in Cali used to compare maintaining your personal schedule to eating at a buffet. The buffet is full of good food but you only have one plate; only so much room to fill. I'm sure you have no problem understanding the analogy but I'm going to keep walking it out because I think there are good nuggets. To continue: if the mashed potatoes fill the entire dish, you don't have room for anything else. So sometimes you need to take only small servings of the good things- harder yet, sometimes you need to choose NOT to put some good stuff on your plate at all. Because you prioritize and try to find a meal of healthy food to nourish your body.

For me, that means regularly keeping a finger on the pulse of our family and knowing what to let in, and what to keep out. There are many invites we have to turn away, in the name of protecting our family and making sure we get family time. Sundays, for example, are labeled "family day;"  we don't make plans with anyone else, except for special situations, and Jerry has all his homework done so we can all spend the day doing something fun together. That helps us breathe. That also means no phone calls at certain times- meals, kid-time, or couple-time.

You know, one of the things I find most challenging is to balance friendships. My entire life, teachers called me a "social butterfly." That's just a nice way of saying, "Lauren never shuts up." I'm not offended- it's really true! Ha! I'm still the one causing a ruckus in the back row during a meeting. Or baby shower. Or choir rehearsal. ;) But my love for enjoying relationships with people means that I have had the opportunity to know some pretty incredible ones. We are spread all over the US, with different job descriptions requiring our time at different parts of the day. And I had the hardest time keeping in touch with every person I have ever loved throughout my life. I don't have unrealistic expectations at all, do I?

The down side is that, in addition to feeling like I never had enough time in my day, I also found myself dropping the ball on a lot of friendships; missing important moments and hurting hearts when I missed a phone call or didn't help to carry the load in challenging moments of life. And my heart started to become heavy with regret that I wasn't being the friend I want to be.

So I was inspired when reading Real Marriage, by Mark Driscoll, to sit down and literally write out the short list, we're talking 2-3 here, of people that were allowed almost-unlimited access to my time and energy. These were the ones I make sure get cards during hard days, regular weekly contact in some form, who I will rearrange my schedule for, to whom I will commit my time/energy/emotions. I then wrote out a second list, another 6-7 friends, who I wanted to be specific about checking in occasionally, so that I could continue to know how they were doing and maintain some sort of friendship. I recognize that could sound prideful, but it doesn't look like that in my heart. It had to happen because I was becoming stressed when I didn't know how to be what my family needed me to be, NOR what my friends needed me to be. That condition required me to become specific about where my time goes. It's being selfish with my time so I can be unselfish with my time, if that makes sense.

Do you find yourself doing the same things? Are you protective with your time? Have you found a good balance?

I'm trying... I'm learning that being successful at anything in life means being purposeful about that success. Sometimes that's a friendship, sometimes a marriage, sometimes motherhood and sometimes a chocolate connoisseur. Because let's face it, that requires some serious bonding time, too! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

celebrate each other

While driving the boys to the park on Friday, I had a really cool opportunity to celebrate with a complete stranger. That's what makes being a part of humanity fun, right? When you can share moments with each other. I'll describe:

We were pulling out of our development and I see an older gentleman and his wife on their bicycles. I can only assume they had ridden some sort of personal record for themselves, because he was fist pumping the air. Not wanting them to be alone, I made eye contact with them and started fist pumping in my car, hooting and hollering! He looked like this: 


That's when I realized he was making a right turn.



Boy, do I wish I was kidding.....

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Boys....

Let's get one thing straight before I talk story with you- Roman can never know I shared this tale with you. Especially not when he is in high school. But golly, if kids don't come up with the craziest stuff...

Last night I walked into the bathroom to find Roman, undies to ankles, with boy-parts resting on the edge of the toilet. I stopped and gave him a very confused look, to which he says, "This way, I don't have to wash my hands!"

Work smarter, not harder, son. And then I laughed.

Don't worry, he still had to wash his hands ;)

Xoxo,
Lauren

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Preschool beginnings






My little turkey is in preschool.

This morning was a flurry of activity as breakfast was eaten earlier than usual, clothes picked the night before were put on, and the whole family headed out the door to take Roman to his first day of preschool. It was made extra-special by a daddy who chose to take the morning off work so we could all be there to watch him hang his little bag and find his name card. And the token photo holding the sign had to be done. And you know, I did alright!

I admit that I had a few moments of sad contemplation last night. I'm not sad he is growing- that excites me! As much as having babies brings me joy, the older they get the better! High schoolers are my favorite age, so the more independent they become, the more I enjoy life. For me, I feel joyful because we are moving! They are growing! And it's fun to watch! But last night I kept thinking about what a short time we have to mold these little people, before they have to fly on their own.

Yes, I know it's just preschool two days a week, and he is only 3. I'm not going to make it sound like a tragic "beginning-of-the-end" story like the first day of high school or something! But this is the first step. Now there are 6 hours a week where I'm not his teacher. Where he is spending it with someone else to correct him, cheer with him, equip him... And the hand-offs will continue growing.

That's what makes the first day of preschool hard. I feel the weight of the responsibility I have to raise him well increase. And in 2 years, I'll hand him off for 8 hours a day- when someone else will spend more waking hours with him than I do. And years after that, he'll go out and conquer the world or something! You see, it's the first step that has me observing with a solemn, understanding gaze.

So I take a small pause.

And then Liam and I high-five because we get to pal around like we never have, just mama and babe. And we shop. And we play. And we chum it up real nice. Because in only 3 short hours our comedy act returns to make the quiet spaces retreat once more.
And today, I was extra kinds of grateful for these two goobers. Because they are growing and they are joyful. And Roman is equipped well enough, at this point, to spread his wings and jump with smile, fearless and ready to take the next step however small it may be.

And that means I'm doing my job right.
Xoxo,
Lauren

Friday, August 30, 2013

i think i lost my mind for a minute

Remember THIS POST? Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking!!!!! I can't wait four more weeks to decorate with pumpkins and leaves!!! Sherry the Cherry tree won't allow it, what with her changing leaves that crunch and crinkle with each step you take across them. Nope, I just can't wait.

It WILL have to wait for Sept. 2, though, because my in-laws are coming and will be here during the 1st, and I just don't think they'd be jumping up and down when entrusted with the large responsibility of setting up my scarecrows "just so." Reasonable folk! So I'll postpone Fall Day....by one day. ;)

And if you don't know what Fall Day is about, it's the day when "You've Got Mail" plays on the tv, quickly followed by "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" as you swap all your summer scents in the Scentsy burner to pumpkin ones, you buy the largest mums you can find and set them by your front door, your berry wreaths come out to play, and two pumpkin pies go in the oven: stat. And if we're being honest, you're probably eating apple dumplings for dinner. (If you need more explanation of Fall Day festivities, the last two posts at the end of this are for you!)

Sooooooooooo, wanna come play, too? :)

And if you like fall time, here are a few more posts from the past, in celebration of all things autumnal:

Apple cider

Misadventures of pumpkin pie making

Why Fall Day is the 3rd best holiday ever: the original Fall Day post

Fall Day 2012: how to top this!?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

throw back thursday, blog style

In honor of "Throwback Thursday" I thought I'd take you back to my favorite blog post to have ever been inspired by our lives. It involves two boys and a baby walker...and makes me belly-laugh every time. Enjoy :)

Click HERE.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

the It's Becker Style fall wardrobe

Holy craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap do I love fall clothes shopping!
fgdhidngjvfksanlfhcxfvjdzxvn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
See. Can't contain it.

So finally, after much deliberating, below are some of the items I have chosen to drop into the mix.

1. a fitted, filled-with-spandex-so-it's-actually-comfortable jean jacket. NOT CROPPED. Cropped= too trendy. A standard-length jacket will see you through this season and all to come. And I chose to get the light wash. It's less 90's to mine ojos.
Link to mine HERE.

2. a green canvas military-inspired jacket. Good for layering when it's chilly and good alone during the transition.
Link to mine HERE.

3. a panama hat. because duh.


Link to mine HERE.

4. a white blazer.
Link to mine HERE.

5. a slouchy, pocketed, white tee. a basic for layering that i have been looking for.
Link to mine HERE.

6. tapered ankle pants. I got three because they were $25 each and fit like a dream: green, black, and navy with a black tuxedo stripe....which may be swapped out for the white pair with the black stripe.  Dear neighborhood Super Target, please get the white ones in so I can see whether they show my "girlie drawers."
Link to mine HERE.

I think the hardest thing when deciding what trends I would embrace this fall was identifying the pieces I loved and would wear well, from the pieces that just weren't realistic for my actual life. For example, I have a massive and almost uncontrollable desire for a pair of leather pants.

Pause. Your mind just went here, didn't it?  





If not, it really should have and I feel bad for you.


Moving on. Leather pants are amazing. And they need to be in my closet. The problem is, I don't live in the city and I have kids. That pretty much removes any opportunity for acceptable leather pant wearage. Tragedy. But since I know that, I won't be paying $115 at Express for them. Meanwhile, my city-living, child-free friends need to get a pair, pronto, and allow me to live vicariously through you. coughAndreaandNicolecough.

And "the one that got away"- a leather baseball hat. Like THIS ONE.

Because this is adorable:




I do, however, have a way around it: I plan on wearing Jerry's baseball hat with blazers and jeans while grocery shopping and preschool drop-offs. I have loved it since I scanned through the J.Crew catalog a few weeks ago. Can we say "Hello, easy hair day?" Why didn't I get the leather one? Because something had to give! I had a budget to stay in, and I wasn't willing to part with anything else. So the baseball hat had to go. waaaaaaah.

And finally- most importantly?- THE ITEM you're going to need for the fall/winter 2013 season if you don't already have it: a leather "moto jacket."

Pretend it's a blazer and wear it, peeps. Quilted, "blinged out," or not. Just get one, already!

Do you find yourself interested in them but don't know where to start? Click HERE for the h&m version, HERE for the Aeropostale jacket featured in InStyle, or HERE for Express' jacket. They're all at different price points, so you can pick the one you can afford.

So, now it's your turn. What did you get, or are you getting?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Terrorism

So. Life with two toddlers is easy. How easy? Allow me to give you a glimpse into the 10 minutes of my life- a mere glimpse into the day.

Everybody likes clean laundry. So while getting a clean, WHITE {this will be important later} load of laundry from the basement to fold, Roman decides life would be more fulfilling if he dumps his snack cup upside-down on the couch. I have goldfish in the crevices. Let me tell you something: the very people who enjoy loads of clean, white laundry are the very same folk who treasure couch cushions that are absent of orange cracker crumbles, glorious bounty though it may be.

After WE {boo-yah, son.} clean that up, I sit down to fold my clean, WHITE laundry. So naturally, Liam dumps my cup of ice water onto the tray sitting on my coffee table... Which of course spills out through the cutout handles in the sides and soaks into the fabric top of the ottoman below. Naturally.
I kid you not, I am IN THE VERY ACT of cleaning up the mess when I see Liam climb into the clean, WHIIIIIIIIIITE  load of laundry and smear his mouthful of dried cherries all over my used-to-be-white clothes, as I run like this toward him, to no avail:



(Seriously, guys, you've got to watch that video...)

So I scrubbed the cherry bloodshed out of the clothes, which I will relive in my dreams for years to come. And though the story should just end already, it's worth adding that I had just sat down again to fold clothes... when I see Liam grab the entire bag of those gosh-durn shiveled little suckers and dump them out, manna-from-heaven style.

I am a tired and weary woman.

And also, I think George Bush was right. I'm about to declare my own war on terror....
Xoxo,
Lauren

Monday, August 26, 2013

when the school year is both empty and full

This time of year has been hard on my heart the past 3 years. I am content to be a stay-at-home mom most of the time, but when I start reading the "back to school" facebook statuses, my heart twists a little bit. Okay, a lot. Last year, I walked around the house crying constantly for a good 48 hours. This year we are making progress- I have only had 4 tear-filled hours. That's progress.

Fact: It is a joy and a privilege to stay home to raise my chillens. I am aware that not everyone has this opportunity (nor does everyone want it!), and beyond that, I feel called to this for this season of life. I am often asked whether I think I'll return to teaching, and I have no idea what the answer is. I know 1)high schoolers MUST be a part of my life. My heart feels a little shriveled, a little raisin-y without them. And I know 2)singing must be a part of my life. This has been helped by teaching private voice lessons and singing in community choirs wherever I go. But there is something about conducting the music that is even more fulfilling... Part of me hopes that I can go back, and another part of me knows that life would be pretty sweet if I was able to continue being free to help in the classroom of my babes and go on field trips, and run in a change of clothes with no problem if they tore their jeans in gym class or forgot to have a form signed for class. My mom was available for me like that, and I would love to do the same. Who knows.

Roman, however, is enjoying his FIRST fall-triggered school beginning, and I am beyond excited for him. He tells me every day that in 3 weeks, he is going to school and "Mommy and Liam can't come with me. It's just me. And I'm going to learn and play and have snacks." I don't feel sad yet, but we'll see if a tear throws a surprise party in my eye when I'm driving away without my firstborn that first morning. Maybe I'll just plan on squeezing the stuffin's out of poor Liam. And then going to get a doughnut.

Let's be real, after all. You and I both know it's going to take some serious amounts of sugar and fats to cope with that leap.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

how to read the suckers

So I've been trudging skipping and dancing my way through a bazillion fashion magazines these past few weeks (Ok, technically only four. But Instyle was 716 pages and Vogue was 900+ so I think we can all agree that total is more like a bazillion and less like four.) and I've been thinking a lot about the ways one can read through the pages of these suckers and make it out alive.

With the release of every major season change, I inevitably read posts on fb about how people looked through the whole InStyle and didn't like one outfit- thereby assuming that either they, themselves, aren't very current in their style choices or that the fashion world has gone off its rocker. Understandably! And I'm totally not trying to make the reading of fashion magazines something profound, but I also think that one should walk away with some yield, some return on their investment of time and pennies.

So if you have always wondered what could possibly be worth your time inside those fashion mags, read on. And if you have anything to add, please! Add on!

1)Look at the adds/runway pics as art, not literal style demonstration. The runway is like an exaggeration of real life. If the point of the outfit is to say "leather is in" the model may come down wrapped in strips of leather like a mummy who belongs in the final scene of Grease. The point of the artistic demonstration is to say "Hey, leather is in. A leather baseball hat or motorcycle jacket will totally work for you."

2)Pay attention to the footwear in the ads, as well as in the articles. All mags have some to-the-point style tips, but you can also gather other stuff by looking at the ads. Like heel thickness (chunky heels are in this season- but so are pointy toe pumps, again.), eye shadow colors and nail polish colors (oxblood red for your nails and a good, smokey eye, like always.), and the fit of clothes (swingy skirts, a la 1940s.). Ads are art, also, so even those should be filtered with your best set of MoMA eyes.

3)It's all up to you to apply the current trends. For example, one hot color this season is a bright, deep blue. It can be a dress, a shirt, or even a pair of earrings. You do it the way it fits into your style. The point isn't to do what you're told, it's to take what's happening and make it personal.

You know, this whole time I can't help but remember a scene from Devil Wears Prada:


Miranda Priestly: [Miranda and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy sniggers because she thinks they look exactly the same] Something funny?
Andy Sachs: No. No, no. Nothing's... You know, it's just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. You know, I'm still learning about all this stuff and, uh...
Miranda Priestly: 'This... stuff'? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select... I don't know... that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean. And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent... wasn't it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff. {Italics mine.}

So read the articles, scan the ads, and giggle at the runway photos. I find it fun to personally translate current trends however the heck I please. And I'm not saying that being trendy is the end all, be all to life. I just figure that we are all going to dress in it eventually, whether it's full-price, or sale rack at the end of the season, or the second-hand store in a year or two. So we might as well make it good, right? ;)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

An uprising

You know it's bad when two children, ages 3 and 1.5, make fun of you. I'm talking full-out, make-an-exaggerated-face-while-mimicking-your-voice, comedic impersonations. The kind you do about your school teacher who just yelled at you for passing a note again but all you could see was the fury in their eyes and the bulging blood vessel in their forehead. Don't tell me I'm alone on this one, homie.
And I'm telling you- it has already begun. An uprising, you guys.

I'll set the scene: Last night, while at the dinner table, Liam begins shaking his (lidded, thankfully) milk cup up and down like a 5th grader trying to make a tornado from two soda bottles together. To which Jerry deepens his manly-man voice and says sternly, "Liam, do NOT spill your milk."

To which Roman furrows his brows, pushes out his lips, and says, "Liam, don't spill your milk!"

And Liam laaaaaaaaaughs.

And so the comedy continues. For five, whole minutes! For 300 seconds, people, Abbott and Costello go back and forth; Roman copying Jerry with a funny face and silly voice, and Liam rolling with the deepest of belly laughs.

YouTube Video



We couldn't decide whether to high-five the friendship that is victoriously blossoming between the two, scold them for making light of a serious rebuke, or go hide in a closet somewhere while hoping against hope to make it out alive in 16.5 years.

So we high-fived.

And then we laughed.

And then we laughed some more. Because if you can't beat them, you join them.
Xoxo,
Lauren

mind: blown

Hi, this is your neighborhood finger-pointer and I just need to make sure we all know: H&M HAS A HOME STORE ONLINE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Click HERE, with jaw hanging.



Holy baloney, Batman. This biz just. got. real.

Fall Day: postponed!??!

Sooooooooooooooo.

It's August 22nd.

Not that that's a big deal or anything, but it's almost September 1! And you know what that day is, right? All together now: FALL DAY!!!! 

Except, here's a thought...what if we postpone my fourth-favorite {and self-created) holiday until the first, real day of fall?? I know, I know, I just heard gasps. I think my scarecrows just disowned me. Sorry Andrew and Alex, I can explain. (shut up. normal people can name their scarecrows.)

I know there are some who think my early entrance into fall is silly, and so this consideration of making Fall Day the real first day of autumn seems finally realistic. But after careful analysis as to why my heart is content to wait a few more weeks, I've discovered it's because I actually get to enjoy a real, long fall again. Sweaters. Chilly weather that isn't too cold to keep you locked inside. Pumpkin everything. And ooooooooooh, the colors. Living in Cali, we had a real fall but it was shorter (it took longer for the cool breezes to blow) and more mild. And living in Hawaii meant no fall weather at all. So while I lived in those places, I embraced oranges, browns, pumpkin, and twigs with determination. In Hawaii, it also served to mark the year for me. I had a hard time with one, albeit glorious, temperature.

But now, I don't have to try so hard. Fall, with it's hay rides, pumpkin patches, spiraling leaves, and more will arrive when it's time.... and while I can't wait to get there, I am content to wait. Because I get to have a real, east coast fall again.

Oh, full heart of mine, be still. <3


And just in case you weren't aware.....fall, she is a'coming!!! Get ready. I know you can't see it well, but the yellow and red leaves are starting to appear on Sherry, the Cherry Tree..... and it's glorious!!










shut up. normal people can name their trees, too.....

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cats and kittens





As I wandered between the glossy pages of Vogue tonight, I ran across a spread of mothers. And I was grateful. I know it sounds corny, but I felt so much freedom looking at these women and their children.




Beautiful.




Stylish.




Captivating.




Raising others yet expressing themselves.
Maintaining identity.
Or perhaps finding a new identity.
***


I've been feeling, lately, the heavy, unspoken-yet-irreverent demand that you surrender yourself as a woman when you are also a mother. I feel it in my bones. I have seen its shadow creeping along the walls. And as I cling with bloodied nails to the resolution that I will both keep my own person AND raise humans, I acknowledge that the battle is bloody and the determination flickers and even wanes at times.


And tonight, between those slippery, style-filled pages of Vogue, I found my resolve again.
Mother and Lauren I will be.
Dear Vogue, I don't know if you meant to do it or not, but I needed you. "They've taken their toll, these latter days."
And it's nice to see these photos. They remind me what I am free to be, not only who I am blessed to be.


Which is good, because I just ordered this great Panama hat... You'll see.

Xoxo,
Lauren

Thursday, August 1, 2013

what the heck, social media!

You know, it's hard to be a good blogger.

There are all different kinds....food bloggers, fitness bloggers, style bloggers, parent bloggers, field-specialist bloggers, "mean girl" bloggers, bloggers who just use it as an outlet to voice their opinions about anything because no one can stop them, motivational bloggers. All kinds. And I have been having trouble blogging the past year or so- heck, even Facebooking!- because of a dilemma. I am conflicted about how to use social media. Like Blogger, Instagram, or Twitter.

Like Facebook.

I find myself conflicted because part of me thinks, "It's my page. I'll post what I think about ______ (pick any popular topic in the media)______ and screw it. I don't care if others like it. It's my page. Don't read my page if you don't like it. I am who I am. Take that!

But that particularly gravely voice has a mid-air collision with the angel on my left shoulder saying, "Dude, (Okay, well maybe the angel starts out by calling me "honey child" actually...) what a huge opportunity to make the world a better place. What a cool opportunity to live out grace and mercy. What a perfect way to bring humor to the days of others so that they can smile about something. What a way to live out a heart for others. What a way to live a testimony in a genuine way."

And I guess I've decided to live somewhere in between.

I think that Facebook/social media is a great way to, in a sense, control the media. I can help determine which stories get out by what I share. And I like to think that voicing my opinion in a respectful way could sometimes cause the people on my friends list to roll around issues they may have thought otherwise about. Because that's what I enjoy from others who have found the appropriate ways to communicate other viewpoints than my own!

It's also a way to better the world. And if we are so caught up in spewing opinions just because "It's my page, I can do what I want," then I think that's just a mean way to live. There are many people I like when face-to-face but cannot stand on a social media platform. More than just a few, actually! There is a respect missing. A censorship missing. A lack of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all."

And dang it! I want to make days brighter; not just add to the noise. 


I don't want to hide behind a misled, self-important cloak. I want to make life better.

Such a dreamer, yeah?

But I think that dreamy inspirational content has to be mixed with the real life stuff to actually BE inspirational. But the kind real. The gentle real. The considerate real. Because I want to be those things in person- where I'm forced to be real. Ya heard?

And I guess it's the jumble of all that which has kind of caused a dilemma in this-here piece of cyber space because I don't pretend to be a style demigod, nor do I want to get stuck on the merry-go-round of "talk just to fill the space." But seriously! I've been asking questions. When does a person blog? Why does a person blog? About what does a person blog? For whom does a person blog? I don't have a tragic story of beauty-from-ashes to walk through. Though I know the makings of great outfits, my daily outfits aren't always worthy of an instagram because sometimes my job requires that I dress to jump in puddles, or to be a superhero trying to destroy the world. (Side note: Why am I always the bad guy?? I always have to die! Trust me, when you die no less than 15 times a day, you start finding creative ways to bite the dust. I've gotten really good at kicking the bucket. "Keep the euphemisms coming," I always say.)  I don't ascribe to the hopes of passing this along to my children as a way to know their mother more intimately when I'm gone, as some daily-writer-bloggers I read do. And I don't want to write just to fill the space and have another entry posted. I write when I write because....well.... I really, stinking love to write!! I love grammar so much I should be embarrassed. I love the creativity of writing. I love the puzzle of finding a better way to say something. And I dream of inspiring. I long to impact, to encourage, to call us all to something Greater than ourselves. And so I blog. Sporadically, though it may be.

You see? I told you. Hot mess over here.

Who knows how we are to use social media. I doubt there is one answer that works for everybody. But snap, son, I want to do it right. I want to do it honorably. I want to still have friends when I'm 60! Not just "friends." And it would be icing on the cake if I could have made the days of others better.

Having said all that, I do know I'm sure about this: For the people who wonder, "Gosh, can't this chick talk about anything other than kids, food, and clothes" (because, let's face it, there have to be some who feel this way! That really is all I talk about... ) my answer will continue to be: "It's my page. This is who I am. You're welcome to not come back."

But I'll say it nicely....




......Does that help??? Even just a smidge?


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fashion Tuesday

I understand "Fashion Tuesday" isn't a thing. It doesn't have alliteration working for it, so access denied. But I'm making it a thing for today because the JCrew style guide for August came in. Let's girl talk. :)
Go get your glass of chilled anything and pull up a chair. I'm clinging to my iced coffee while this happens beside me:




God bless water.
So- what have we here?
If I were still teaching, this would be IT. <3 data-blogger-escaped-br="">



But since I'm at home most days, and out in town on errands when I'm not at home, I'm kind of loving this baseball-hat-meets-blazer thing that has been creeping the past few seasons. I think I'm ready to take it for a spin...




Also, I'm having a MAJOR crush on leather anythings right now. Shorts, skirts, leggings, sweaters and tees with leather detailing- doesn't matter. I want it all. I don't know why.




I know most will find this hideous but I can't take my eyes off of it or stop my mouth from drooling.
Maybe this is the apparel equivalent to an English Bulldog? Ugly beautiful?




Combine my sweatshirt and skirts? I think YES. This, I can do at home, even. Top knot instead of shaggy hair, though. I'm hoping that would clean it up a bit.




Inspired to roll my jeans differently because of this. Why not mix it up?




It's Becker Style fact: I have a thing for shirts that button. I want them all. ALL.




Haven't seen the fall InStyle yet but I'm saying here, loud and proud: I will have at least two brightly colored pairs of skinny cords in my closet this fall/winter. Must have.




And lastly, if i were rich, had no children, and had nothing to do all day but lounge on my yacht with perfectly-manicured nails.... This is what I'd be wearing.




Dreamy sigh.


Xoxo,
Lauren


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Stripes

It is my goal to never wear the same outfit twice. This doesn't mean I am constantly buying new clothes- it means I am challenged to find new combinations that work, and to buy pieces that are interchangeable. Both of these pieces are several years old and, for the life of me, I can't figure out why I have never done this before. Oh, stripes, how I love thee.










Apparently sun in the eyes really brings out the "mean eyes." Geeeerowl.

Xoxo,
Lauren

Monday, June 10, 2013

An ice breaker

Two truths and a lie:
1- On a biweekly basis, Liam teases death. Today he could have broken a leg and gotten a concussion. All in the same move! My mom heart cannot take it.
2- As a little girl, I was terrified to be the last one awake. I was convinced the monsters under beds and behind closet doors were going to come out as soon as the parental figures closed their eyes. As is customary, all appendages had to be under covers, lest the child-eaters grab for toes.
3- It rained 80" today, causing us to stay indoors. But it's all good. That's what finished basements and lots of bouncy balls, trucks, and.....dryers(?) are for.




The lie- #3. It rained 82". I swear. Still all good. :)




{Yes. Why allow the pillows and blankets to sit WITH you on the sofa? Sophie is exasperated.}
-------
So. This is the kind of blogging you do at 11pm. Apparently the fear of being the last one awake has completely dissolved. Bonus!
Nighty night, world.
Xoxo,
Lauren

Thursday, May 30, 2013

the tee

Let's play a word association game. I'm going to say a phrase and you say the first thing that pops in your heard. Ready?
"summer wardrobe staple."
So whatdya say? Sandals? Shorts? Maybe tanks? Definitely sunglasses. Tees are one of my favorites. And truth be told, they aren't a staple reserved for days filled with sprinklers and sunblock, but for colored leaves, snowmen, and beyond. Which proves my point even more: you better have a great tee in your closet. And not just one. Several. In all the basic colors {black, gray, and white} as well as a few fun ones.

(dang, phone, why do you suck when posting pics to the blog via the app?} I just happen to be wearing my black one as I write now- this is a Truly Madly Deeply one from Urban Outfitters. Link HERE.

I'll tell you what I, personally, look for in the "perfect tee." 1)I like a deep V or scoop neck- not enough to show any cleavage but enough to be a few inches below my collar bone. 2)I go for one that sits right on my hips, and 3)one that hangs loosely. I have learned through experience with my own body that a fitted tee is much trickier to successfully wear than a loose one. At first, I thought a loose tee would add pounds. Turns out, it is harder to look slimmer in tight clothes, sometimes. When a loose tee hits at the right places (see below) it will camouflage any tummy flab {thanks, babies I carried.}while flattering the boobs and slimming the upper arms. I am VERY picky about tees. Perhaps the only rival to a perfect tee is a perfect pair of jeans. I'm cutthroat when searching for either.

Generally speaking:
-the higher the neckline, the larger "the ladies" appear to be. Also, the more weight your top half appears to have. For most women, a lower neckline is more flattering.
-the shorter the sleeve, the more focus is placed on the upper arm. Cropped sleeves should be reserved for those who find their upper arms to be one of their strengths. Oh, you unicorns. The most flattering sleeves, generally speaking, are those that are at least 3-4" from shoulder seam to sleeve end.
       **a tip: when buying longer sleeves, make sure the arm hole is still correct. The bottom of your arm hole should sit just below your arm pit. If it's further down your side, your shirt just isn't fitting right. This, too, will add pounds or make "the girls" look saggy.
-the shorter the tee, the shorter your torso appears to be. The most universally flattering length for tees are those that hit below the belt line of your pants. If you have to tug and pull to keep your tee covering your belly or pull your shirt back when you bend over so you're not showing off the sexy undies you're sporting, it's too short.Both for class and flattering results.

In yesterday's blog post I talked about a few places I like to go for tees: JCrew and Urban Outfitters are the top two for my body type. If you don't have a favorite tee, just start. Walk into every store in the mall, grab one of each different style tee they have, and try them on. Be hard to please! Make the suckers work hard to earn your approval! They're not your children, you won't scar them. They're your employees- they are there to work hard for you. So make it good. If you find a perfect tee, even at $30 a pop, it will be the best money you have ever spent. And don't even get me started on cost per wear. ;)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

the ITSBECKERSTYLE summer style

I have been spending time looking at spring/summer style on Pinterest. Shocking, I know. But it's so gosh darn fun! Besides, I think finding inspiration is over half the battle. If you can find a picture of an outfit you like, you just copy it! Eventually you learn how to combine outfits you love just as much without copying a picture, but when you are trying to figure it out- because maybe you have a different body type to dress because of weight loss/gain or babies- and need a little help..... go to the mattresses. Or in this case, the world wide web.

Here are some of my favorites that are inspiring me right now:

 Obviously, we all know I love me a good top knot. Add lots of gold jewelry...heaven. And I already have a similar skirt/tank. {fist pump}


I love the way she tucked in the {very unbuttoned} button-down and the fact that she isn't wearing a belt. I know, that rubs some people the wrong way. It's a little sacrilegious in the face of "the rules." I don't like rules. Not really in life, but especially not in dressing.  And I'll take a big pair of sunglasses and messy hair any day.


Messy braid + jean vest + hoodie = perfect for those chilly summer nights. I'm smitten. And it helps that I own every piece needed. Can't see the bottom, but I'd wear it with a pair of cut-off jean shorts that are fitted and go to the knee. Shoes?....I could really like a pair of old work boots. ;) Or fine, cute metallic sandals. And if you happen to need a good jean vest, Target just happens to have them. Here.


Again, a long side braid. I must be jonesing for this- I had no idea. {that is a major bonus of putting together an inspiration board...you can find those things that you seem to be drawn to but hadn't yet identified!} I'll try to satisfy my subconscious desires for hair via 5th grade. In the meantime, these black skinnies, oversized purse, and sleeveless flowy tank are awesome for hot days. Oh, look, I just happen to have one in black and one in yellow. It was meant to be!


Dear scarves in the hair: I HEART YOU. I'd like to thank you ahead of time for the ways you will save me time and effort this summer. See you soon.


Cut off jean shorts and the most perfect casual, slouchy tee. This is the summer uniform of champions. My favorite places for tees that fit just like this are Urban Outfitters {I like the "Truly Madly Deeply line. Click HERE. I get a size small so they fit like this.} and J.Crew {I get the Tissue V-Neck Classic Tee. Click HERE.} Both happen to be on sale now. And even when they aren't on sale, a good tee is like a good pair of jeans: flattering and makes you feel good about yourself. A good tee will stay with  me the rest of my days. And for great tanks, I love Brandy Melville. Click HERE. {Thanks, Hawaii, for this little love affair.} They are one-size-fits-all usually, but have the most perfect fit, flow, and feel. The three Fs. You didn't even know that was a thing, did you? ;) {Me either. Until it just happened. But I'm going with it. It's going to be a thing from now on. Declaration made.}



Wanna be Pinterest friends? HERE I AM.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Good eats

You guys, I cannot get enough of this:




I know, it's hard to make oatmeal look pretty. But it tastes sooooooo gooooooood. I call this a "healthy snack" but that's not to be confused as a low calorie snack. Healthy because it's oatmeal, peanut butter, and raw honey. Not low calorie because you're looking at around 400 calories before adding the 10-or-so mini chocolate chips. (But for those who are calorie counting, that's good for a meal and half makes a great snack!)

I follow the cooking instructions for my oats as per the container then just stir in 1-2tbsp of peanut butter and a drizzle of honey. There is no foul in adding a few mini chocolate chips or banana chunks, either.

Just don't turn your back... Or you won't get any. Story of my life these days!!!!

(He has oatmeal cupped in his hands!! Turkey.)

Xoxo,
Lauren

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

when God doesn't seem good anymore

I've had a lot of friends and family who have been facing cancer lately, several others who are struggling with trying to add to their family but keep miscarrying, and have even waded through some crapola myself the past few months as we transitioned out of the military. I didn't write a lot about that there wasn't really anything flattering to write...I wasn't responding with a smile. And when you just feel like wailing on a punching bag for a while, with the name of your struggle posted in big, capital letters on the front of it, you don't feel like getting in touch with your heart. At least you don't when your name is Lauren.

The very, very short of it goes something like this: we emptied our savings and purchased a house and then went through two months of no paychecks. There were other things that happened to cost ridiculous amounts of money that we didn't have. We weren't sure IF there was a job or where the job was. Everything was changing constantly. We were in danger, several times, of losing the house we were going to buy and were then renting. And for the first few months it was easy, but then it wasn't any more. And we were tired. And when you don't know how you are going to take care of two little people entrusted to you, and as you watch your careful stewardship of finances disappear, you find yourself in a pretty dark hole.

So, of course I got to the point of saying "Okay, Lord. I gave you everything. I really, truly trusted you with EVERYTHING. And You're not providing a job. (Oh, sure, He was providing money in amazing ways, and provided our house when we should have lost it, and provided the job faster than it should have happened, we later found out. But that wasn't what I was interested in seeing at the time. I wanted the answer to be a job and a paycheck on time with no delays, and no hardships. Because if you trust God that means you get a free pass, right? Ha. No, very wrong. That's not the way it works.) I said, "I have given my life to You- why is this the way You're playing us?"

My friend, Debbie, is awesomely blogging her way through her experience with breast cancer HERE. And when I read her newest post today, I took a deep breath and nodded "yes." Yes. Yep.

If God is good, why do bad things happen?

Ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Big sigh.

I think we have all asked this question. Struggled with it. Wrestled and fought with it and kicked and spit and screamed at it.

(It's worth saying that the season when I found myself asking that question with my whole heart is also when I learned that worship is the most genuine when you're broken.)

And the conclusion that I got to (after figuratively pounding my fists on God's chest while sobbing and pleading and begging) was this: this world is a broken place with broken, mortal people. God had other plans- but it is what we made it. And being human means you WILL be broke, get sick, experience tragedy, and beyond. That's just life. The choice isn't "do you want pain or no pain?" The question is only "Do you want to do it alone or with God?" The kicker: Being His won't save you from the tragedy. But it will bring you peace, hope, and comfort in the midst of unavoidable tragedy.






I had heard that answer before but always felt it was trite and impersonal and too easy. When I asked that question myself, that answer became profound and strong and the truth I clung to. That paradigm shift, or change in thinking, took God from being the object of my frustration and anger, and allowed me understand His comfort and blessings. It brought a heart grateful for Arms that were carrying me when the journey was long and my legs collapsed underneath me.

You know what? I think it's sort of cool when people ask why God allows bad things to happen: it means they acknowledge He has the power to do something about it. (That's something some would previously have denied, ironically.) Think about it- if God isn't real, or if God is too weak to affect circumstances, we have no beef with Him. But if we believe God is big enough to stop our tragedy, if He is great enough to be Lord over his creation....the truth is that we also have a God bigger than we can understand, who doesn't answer to us, who uses all things to His glory, and who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. 

Could he stop it? Yep.

Does he stop it? Not always.

Why? That's not mine to answer. A guy named Job did once. God said THIS. (And that's only one chapter. He continues through chapter 41.)

Why this blog post now? Because I've finally had enough time to process it. Because I've finally found the words I want to use. Because a friend reminded me it was okay for Christians to ask that question. Because no question I'm going to ask, and no answer I'm going to find, is going to result in me finding God to be anything other than who He has already shown himself to be: my God, my Provider, my Comforter, my Friend, my Daddy.

And I'm sitting on the other side watching Him put pieces back together again faster than is logically possible.

God can handle our angry questions. Angry questions mean we're talking.

Ya got spunk, kid

Today we are headed to the park for kids music and fire trucks they can touch. Thinking it's going to rain, but we're the adventurous sort. Bring it on!


(whenever i attach pictures to posts using my blog app on the phone, they sometimes come out blurry. my apologies)

















But not without a hat.







Xoxo,
Lauren