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

Monday, May 20, 2013

the other four-letter "f word"

So I've been thinking....


FAIR.
I hate that word.
What I mean is, I love the real meaning of the word but hate the way we, as humanity, tend to understand that concept. I think oftentimes the word fair and the word equal are understood to be the same thing. Or are misunderstood to mean the same thing, rather. In reality, they have about as much in common as the word "wood" and "cornucopia." Two different things. In fact, often times true fairness is anything BUT equal.
If I give my my boys and I serving sizes of chocolate for a treat in a way that is fair, Liam would get a small piece, Roman a slightly larger one, and myself a much larger chunk. {Duh. Note to self: I always get the largest chunk of chocolate, boys. Life survival lessons 101.) If I'm being fair, I would give portion sizes that are in direct proportion to each of our sizes. Liam shouldn't have the same amount of chocolate that I do! Not only would it be unhealthy for his little body, it would be unhealthy for him...if you see where I'm going with that. (If you don't, I mean I'd take him out. Brotha won't be havin' nunna mama's brown magic.)
But it's so easy to think that fair means "the same." It's easy to fall into that trap! My mom heart wants Roman to know I love him as much as I love Liam, which means my instinct is to spend the same amount of money on them at Christmas or give the same gift, etc. But that's setting them up for failure!
If we believe fair to mean equal, I know from personal experience that it messes with our understanding of the way God gives gifts. I know from personal experience that it can steal joy when watching a friend be blessed with something we aren't. It can mess with our marriage if we are frustrated feeling our day was more challenging, or that we can't enjoy receiving gifts of time/money/etc from our spouse because we didn't do it for them....     Fair. It gets so ugly.
I am working hard to teach my children that fair means getting what is best for them, not what is equal to others. And darn it, I hope they learn it.
Actually, maybe I should steal ALL of the chocolate in the spirit of teaching .... I think yes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Put on your Sunday clothes

It's a rainy Sunday and a cutoff jean vest adds just enough "rough" to the classy stripes to make it Becker Style. By now you know me well enough to know it can't be too refined. I need just enough grit to keep it real. I guess I like some piece of the outfit that says "even though I'm wearing a fitted skirt and heels, you don't want to mug me. I'll take you out." ;)
























Xoxo,
Lauren

Saturday, May 18, 2013

how to: the top knot

Someone is a fancy Nancy up in here! (This girl. what, what!!)

Below is a little video "how to" on the top knot, a la Its Becker Style. There is really a ton of variations on the answer for "how to" but I brought you along while I did mine today, in case you have a hankerin' to try it out!



HERE is the link for the dry shampoo I mentioned.


Enjoy it! And feel free to pass along any ways you do things differently, if you already rock the top knot. I would love to have a few more tricks up my sleeve. :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

a little philly in fredericksburg

Lately I have been enjoying the crap out of Roman and Liam.

Okay, I acknowledge I could have found a much classier way to express those sentiments.... you get what you get.

But really- I feel like we have made "the transition." I was warned that having two so close in age (17 months apart! I I look at 17-month old Liam right now and say "what were we thinking!?") made for a really challenging first year or two, but then it would be easier than having just one. And a few months ago, around the time Roman was two and a half and Liam was a month or two past the one year mark, things just evened out. They go off and play together often, they are each the other person's favorite person in the world, and they rarely exibit jealousy toward another. They're human, so there are definitely moments where one pulls toys from his brother's hands, but 90% of the time they are buddies and are happy to share things with their built-in best friend.

I've just been smiling a lot.

This is "it" when you're a parent, I think. When you watch your children enjoy each other as much as you enjoy them, it makes any sacrifice undeniably worth it. And it makes me glad we had them so close in age; glad that we decided to have more than one! We felt called to it- not all are!- and I'm glad we listened. As I watch my mom and her siblings rally around my grandfather as his health fails him, I see them relying on each other for support of all kinds and feel glad that my kids will have the same support system in their lives. As I enjoy my special relationship with my sister more and more, the older we get, I appreciate that there is someone who had the same home experience I had. I don't have to explain why I am the way I am because there is someone who walked with me through every day of that. I think lately, I'm just appreciating how important family is. And I am loving my little family of four an extra amount.

And that darn brotherly love is one of the coolest things happening in my world during this season. I'll take it. :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

in shape

Me: (while talking to Roman as he rode his bike up a steep hill) "Wow, Ro, you're so strong. You're very in shape to ride up such a big hill!"

Roman: "I am in shape, Mommy. My head is a circle.

Me: "Ha!! Why... Yes. Yes it is, son. Yes it is."




Xoxo,
Lauren

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Edward Scissorhands

This past weekend, my mom came down to watch the boys so Jerr and I could go to closing- and decided to stay all weekend. It was good for everyone to have some Mimi time. Especially for two little guys I know. :)
And while she was here, I picked her brain about flowers and all things green. She is a flower magician and I have killed every plant I have ever owned. I kid you not.
So, with my newly-acquired pruning skills, I spent today dodging raindrops, doing yard work, and showing lil' fellas worms. I mulched around the trees, got new house numbers and nailed them to the mailbox stand, I weeded every bed, planted red hibiscuses in new pots to flank the front door, and went to town with pruning shears on the front flower beds. (I know you're not interested in every task I did, but when I read this in a year as I stay up late at night getting reacquainted with the Lauren of days past, I will want to know what I did. So tough luck!)
I've still got a looooong way to go before I'm done. Checklist for future me to remember what i want to do: install a lamp post, make some new flower beds, pull out all the old, scraggly bushes along the front of the house and replace them with young, full bushes, and line the tree beds and driveway with stone. No problem, right? I'll get right on that... As soon as my hands regain their brute strength.
For now, I'll lay on the couch with body aching from hard labor, and wear a tired grin. Bushes look better because I was there, today. And I'm not white sure why, but that feels pretty stinking great!












And I'm thankful beyond words that our Mimi (and Pappa!) is only a quick car ride away.
Xoxo,
Lauren

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Please, come in (pt.1)

Well, since we are finally homeowners it would be rude to not have a virtual open house, right?! (The pictures are fuzzy because I blew them up larger than the photos wanted to be...deal with it!) ;) We have so many friends and family that live far away and can't just swing by. So this is for you! Pretend I have some good snacks and a pretty, summery punch in a bowl and come on in. You don't even have to take your off your shoes for this. ;)

What you'll see as you come in the front door:

I have since turned the boots around to face forward. *sigh* Amateur. -points to self-)


To the right, you'll see our office:

(Wallpaper will come down. Sooner rather than later. As will those Roman shields(?) sitting above the bay window.)


And to the left you will walk into our formal dining room:




(hi.)


But if you walk straight back the hallway, past a powder room on your right, you get to the open area that includes our kitchen:

(see what i mean? waaaaaaaaaay too much natural wood happening. cabinets will be painted, as will the stools and perhaps one of the two islands....for starters.)


Our living room:

(Goodbye, green walls. Goodbye, carpet. Hello, graphic black and white striped rug sitting on more beautiful hardwood. Planning a homeowner's DIY extravaganza. Those with hardwood-laying experience, please inquire within.)


(Dear curtains, I'm coming to get you. Soon!)


(Because a white rhino makes anybody's day better. Come on.)

And the morning room:

(Curtains needed. but white, whispy ones that hang between every window. Goal: nothing but light; a room where dreams are breathed and planned.)


(Going to bring in a rug for the boys' area to define the space.)

As with any new house you just bought, most of this is COMPLETELY different than the way I see it in my head... Give me a few years and then come back. THEN you'll see the house I envision for us, in terms of design. But for now, this feels like home. And I don't foresee that feeling getting old any time soon. :)

(There are two more levels to the house. I'll try to get those pictures sometime in the next several years. "Set realistic goals!" I always say!)

Xoxo,
Lauren

Friday, May 3, 2013

HOME.

It's Friday. TODAY IS HOME-CLOSING DAY!!!!!!!!!!!
Finally, after months of waiting and uncertainty on an almost-daily basis, we get to stop hoping and start breathing in relief. Now, this baby is ours:




I love her. 3,000 square feet on a quarter of an acre. Great neighbors that we already know and love. Fenced-in backyard with a swing set built straight from a child's dream, and a pergola currently being swallowed by the vines of pink roses. 5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms. Kitchen, living room, dining room, office, "morning room" (sunroom), finished basement that includes a pool table and an in-the-wall beer fridge. And my lovers; those two blossoming trees in my front yard.
Oh, these roots they will grow deep. And that's a good thing because I've been itching, WAITING to plant them for years.
Oh, God is so good.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

oh, pinterest

Oh, Pinterest, you time-sucker, you. You dream-causer. You o-PIN-er of my eyes. (Get it? Oh, come on...That was a good one. Take your eye roll back.) You changer of decorating plans. You inspirational portal to the soul.....

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

And I don't care who knows it!!

I had plans, GRAND plans, for my master bedroom. And then I saw this and it changed everything. I don't usually like canopy bed frames. (Though I will say, I think the mind changing began when I slept in my sister-in-law's canopy bed....you sort of feel like a queen when you are in one the middle of the surrounding estate. It's like a throne. A metal throne. Heck, why has it taken me this long to embrace the love, really?) I don't even usually like when beds are in front of windows. And I had plans to put my bed on another wall. And I didn't think I was going to include much color. I had been thinking tons of white, linens, grays....

But THIS happened.



THIS changed everything. THIS is now my inspiration picture for my bedroom. The seating, the way it still shows off the window, the way it uses all of the space in a long room without two separate areas; one for sleeping and one for sitting. I love the flow! And I think I love the nick knacks most of all. Of course it's going to take a while to make this happen, but it's nice to have a game plan.


Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Pinterest bedroom, you're beautiful,
and I'm coming after you!!!!!!!
-by anon.