In the Land of Louis and Lulu

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I live in Hoity Toity Ville USA.  You could call it the land of Louis and Lulu too.  I would venture to say almost half of the women carry a Louis Vuitton hand bag and at any given time at least 50% of the moms at the park are sporting their Lululemon gear with their perky bums on display.  I am part of a Facebook group that basically the whole town is part of and the things that people are looking to hire for I didn’t even know people did.  I can’t tell you the amount of people who hired a COMPANY to come do their Christmas lights.  There is literally a Christmas light company, no clue what they do for the other 11 months of the year, but perhaps they make enough money during that one month that they can take the rest of the year off.  Almost every single day someone is asking for a cleaning person referral.  Where I come from I maybe know 2 people who hire someone to clean their house.  This is not to say that someday I don’t hope to be one of these people who has their home cleaned by a professional, it’s just strange to now live somewhere that it’s the norm to have this service done.  There is a whole lotta money in this town and it’s evident everywhere you look.

But you know where else I live?  I live in a place where a brand new local business owner posted that they were really struggling and you know what happened?  My town rallied together and literally bought all the food they had in their restaurant.  I also live in an area where a group of moms get together every week and let their kids run free in the park, be kids, get dirty, play pretend, cover the picnic table in snacks for grazing and these ladies genuinely ask how you are doing and encourage you when they are a bit beyond you in this parenting thing.  There is also a weekly moms night out meet up with seriously genuine women, who come and share their imperfections and struggles and it’s maybe the most real group I’ve ever been a part of.  I also live next door to a couple who would drop everything for us if we needed something.  I called in a panic a couple weeks ago because we had a travel emergency and it was a without question “my husband will leave work and help you” response.  I love them and we are lucky to have them next to us.

I may not carry a Louis Vuitton bag (nor do I ever plan on it), and I haven’t yet purchased my first pair of bum raising Lulu pants (it’s on my list), but I have found my people and for that I’m really grateful.  I want to encourage each and every person out there to find their people wherever you live.  I feel like the women I have met and clicked with over the past 5 months are pretty counter culture to the town, but they exist in little pockets here and there and if you talk to enough people at the park and step out of your comfort zone and go to enough meetups and just put yourself out there you will start to get your group.

And now I leave you to enjoy another play date with another mama at the park on this gorgeous 72 degree Austin day.  Enjoy your weekend!

HAPPY THIRTIETH

To my Best Friend in the Whole Wide World on her 30th Birthday!!!

Oh Boy!  How did this happen?  How are we possibly 30 already?  We met when we were 8.  My family was visiting church and you befriended me the very first week we came.  You tried to convince me to help you tape a magazine picture of a baby on the back of our Sunday school teacher Bob.  You have always been a good dose of “rebel” in my incredibly rigid rule following life.  The first 8 years of our friendship were spent begging our parents to drive us “all the way across town” to hang out, turning 16 was quite thrilling since we could finally hang out any time we wanted!  Shopping with you was always amazing for the soul, and horrible for the wallet, I can’t even count how many times I bought something because you told me “I couldn’t afford not to.”  We’ve seen each other through our first pretty much everything: crush, boyfriend, kiss, period, heartbreak, college, moves, pregnancies, babies.  And we’ve walked alongside each other through all the good times and the bad.  You have been a constant in my life for the past 22 years.  You are the most loyal friend I could ever ask for and have seriously faced some intense situations over the past few years with such incredible integrity and grace.  I admire you for the way you have listened to God when all you’ve wanted to do is complain to Him.  We are raising our sweet little girls together (and thanks to technology it still feels like we are doing this together).  SO lucky to have you to share the rawness of motherhood, no need to sugar coat my day with you.  Your thirties are going to be amazing and I look forward to being beside you through all the changes this decade will bring.  You are a shining star, fabulous mama, and the best friend a girl could ask for!

Love you and can’t WAIT to celebrate you next weekend!!!!!!

Laura

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P.S. Seriously in need of some pictures of us (this was the only recent one I could find!)

 

Spending Freeze February

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Last year (and maybe even the year before that) we did a spending freeze February.  I wish we could take a break from all our bills, mortgage, buying gas & groceries, and that we would have a guaranteed month free of house repairs, but that is not gonna happen.  So when I say we freeze our spending for the month of February we just take a month to peel back and not fund our expendable income budget accounts.  So that means we don’t fund, Andrew, Ellery, Vaughn or Laura’s spending accounts.  We don’t fund any money into eating out (we do usually give ourselves enough to eat out cheap twice in February), home improvements, haircuts, chiropractor, gifts, Christmas, Entertainment, Emergency Fund or Vacation.

And guess what???  When we don’t fund ourselves the money an incredible thing happens…….. we don’t spend the money.  Somehow I can go without clothes for the month, the kids can go without special activities or new clothes, we find things to do that don’t cost money, we eat at home around our dinner table or get invited to eat at friend’s houses.  I also find that I commit much harder to using cloth diapers since technically purchasing diapers are an extra expense for us that isn’t necessary.

Last year we were able to put a nice chunk of money on our student loans by doing this and I’m hoping we can do the same this year.  I will say that this year, I will majorly have to cheat the first week because of a trip I am making with the girls, but I will try to be really conscientious about my spending where perhaps I would have splurged a bit more.

So why do we choose February?  The first obvious reason is it’s the shortest month (although this year it’s 29 days!).  Also it’s the month after we have finished up holidays and traveling.  We’ve had a little boost in our spending money thanks to Christmas money from family, and in our family it turns out that we do not need to purchase any gifts for birthdays in February, so that’s nice to use our gifts fund for debt.  You may be surprised to see how much you can save in a month if you stop and ask yourself “do I really need this?”

Anyone wanna join us this year??  Leave a comment on my facebook link (I disabled comments on the blog due to an insane amount of spam) and I’ll try to check in with you during the month to hold you accountable!

To My 3.5 Year Old

To my gorgeous growing girl Ellery Wynn,

About a month ago someone asked if you were about 3.5.  I responded, oh no, she actually just turned 3 in July. Then it hit me that you were in fact pretty close to 3.5.  It’s amazing how much a kid changes in 6 months.  If adults changed this rapidly they wouldn’t be able to maintain friendships because they would literally be unrecognizable every single year.  I don’t just mean you’ve changed a lot physically in the past 6 months, but emotionally you are so incredibly more mature.  I’m not sure if it’s school, your age, or the way we have been working to grow you emotionally (it’s probably a combination of all three), but I REALLY like the person you are becoming and I rarely count the minutes until your bedtime anymore.  You are so much fun, you have a fantastic sense of humor, you are so very loving, and I’m not sure if you could be any more independent.  I enjoy spending time with you alone so much that I actually bribed you to go to the grocery store with me the other day (which used to be my one escape to spend time alone).  The other night I overheard Nana ask you “What your favorite thing to do is now that you are a big girl,” your response, “working out with my mom” (heart explosion).  We obviously still have our moments, brushing your hair still has a 50/50 chance of a total melt down, transitioning from one thing to the next can be really hard, and being tired or hungry can throw you into an epic tantrum.  Since I threw away my perfection expectation about 3 days into motherhood I have learned to just roll with all these ups and downs and enjoy the ups that much more because the downs are so challenging.  I was never a sentimental person, and then I became a mother and I am always one commercial, book (thanks Nancy Tillman), or memory away from a teary eye.  I have been thinking back so fondly on the days when it was just me and you all day everyday, when we would sometimes not leave the house for a week (Illinois winters were brutal).  I wish back then I would have realized how temporary that period of time was.  Now our days are filled with school, playdates, errand runs, meeting people for meals, going to church and hosting small group.  While I wouldn’t change it at all (it’s so much less lonely, and so much more fun), I do sometimes miss the days of me and you snuggling, watching Daniel Tiger, eating our lunch together while listening to baby tunes, reading countless books, and enjoying literally just watching you discover the World.  These past 3.5 years have been some of the best in my life.  I adore you so much and enjoy you more than I ever thought possible.

Love you forever!!

Mama

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STAY

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It’s become kind of a “thing” at least in my friend group and facebook feed to have a word for your year as your “New Years Resolution.”  It’s usually something you pray about and then see if you feel like God is summing up your coming year into a word to focus on.  In years past I had LESS and MORE, but this year I feel like my word is STAY.

This isn’t like a super spiritual thing.  I didn’t mediate on this for days or pray over and over to receive a word.  I was actually just washing dishes one day and said, “God, do you have a word for my coming year?”  The first word that popped in my head was stay and then the word has come up over and over again this whole week so I am assuming that is the word for me.

I’ve been trying to discern why this word is mine this year and I am finding that it’s just what I need.  2015 was a year of major change.  We moved across the country, I accepted a new role at church (yeah I am the kid’s director now on top of my other jobs- surprise), I changed my lifestyle to be more healthy (working out 6-7 days a week, eating healthy and losing 25 pounds), and we are working to make new friendships, meet our neighbors, etc, etc, etc.  So when God just simply said STAY I can cling to that.  Ok, I’m going to stay the course this year.  I’m going to continue getting up every morning to work out even though I’m not sleeping much, I’m going to continue to give kids ministry my all (my time, energy and attention), I’m going to continue to dig my roots deep into Austin (forging friendships and making our house into our home).  I’m simply going to stay.

I will admit at first this word was a little disappointing.  I love new years resolutions, I really like making new goals and I like to prove to myself that I can stick to something if I decide I’m going to.  Then I thought about how much life changed in 2015 and I was relieved that my goal for this year is to just do what I’m doing and keep moving forward enjoying the ride.  I’m proud of who I became this past year (on many different levels) and I’m excited to live my life as this person who I now am.  Bring it 2016!!!

Coming Up For Air

Lately I have felt like I’m drowning in motherhood a little bit.  I have said to Andrew several times lately, “I adore our kids between the hours of 8AM-8PM, but I don’t feel that adoration from 8PM-8AM.  Vaughn has been waking up and wanting to hang out in the middle of the night lately, like several times a week.  On the nights that Vaughn sleeps through the night Ellery, of course, wakes up with some nightmare scenario.  About once per week both the girls sleep through the night, and for that one night I am thankful.

We have been needing to come up for air, to take a big deep breath and just be married for 24 hours, not married with children, JUST MARRIED.  My parents came down for Christmas and were able to stay for a bit, we asked a month or so ago if we could plan a night away when they were here and they were totally on board.  We started planning and looking into good deals in San Antonio and then ultimately decided we had no desire to go anywhere, but we would love to hang out in Austin.  My brother told us about this great deal The Hotel Van Zandt was running and we snatched it up.  Gorgeous hotel, stunning lobby, sweet cafe, and swanky restaurant.  I highly recommend staying here if you ever come to Austin and want to stay at a great boutique hotel.  I would skip the restaurant, but everything else was stellar (and I’m sure for a foodie the restaurant would probably be great too).

We spent the day shopping for house stuff at the outlets, bought ourselves some new clothes, and ran errands that would have been much more challenging with two littles in tow.  We ate lunch and didn’t have to feed anyone, we listened to the new Serial podcasts as we drove around town, and we just got to talk and listen to each other without constant interruptions.  I was reminded all day long who we were before we were a family of three and then four.  I was reminded of who we were when we were just an US.  i must admit I really like my husband.  Yes I love him, but I actually still like him and I really love the person he is becoming too.  One of the hardest parts about marriage is we, as humans, are forever changing and you just have to hope and pray that you like the person your spouse is becoming.  I adore my man and I am so lucky that I am tied to him because he pushes me, encourages me, understands me and loves me even with all my faults (and there are quite a few).

The one downside of coming up for air is you are then aware of how amazing it feels to breathe and the drowning hurts that much more.  I know this phase will end.  We will sleep through the night again, but man oh man I’m struggling to keep a positive attitude right now.  Andrew and I agree that we could use 24 hours kids free every month, probably not going to happen, but we gotta commit to get away more than once a year.  A week later I can still see the positive affects of the time investment we made.  Looking forward to a trip to New England soon and letting Nana take kid duty for a bit!

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