Friday, August 22, 2014

Confessions and Reflections...

This is going to be a post that's really, really honest (not that they usually aren't honest ones, but some are "business" and this one isn't).

I have realized that life is moving along so quickly that even though I mean to, I forget to stop, think and reflect. If I "stop" it's always to check my phone or to read a snippet of something online, or to use the bathroom. Even though I love social media and the Internet and my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, I get annoyed sometimes because all of these things are just one huge distraction from a simple lifestyle. I love being in touch with friends via Instagram or Facebook, I love "following" my friends on Pinterest, and I love reading snippets of news, looking at videos on YouTube and keeping up with the times in these ways, but sometimes when I feel like something is missing in my life, I realize that what's missing is really something that is lost and needs to be found again. It is living in the moment, putting aside media, using the time I'm cooking dinner for thinking about myself and my day, and writing in a paper journal. All of these things add up to not only simplicity, but to so much more, too.

Back in the day when I was a teenager, I LOVED and I mean loooooved the show 7th Heaven. It's about a minister and his wife and their family of 7 children and it's really just about the ups and downs of life, and the highs and lows of being a minister's family. Now, this minister's name is Eric Camden. Let me tell you not about Eric though, but about his close-to-perfect wife, Annie. (Bear with me here even if you think i'm cheesy, like my hubby always says I am when I talk about this show!). Annie is always dressed nicely, and always, always modestly. She wears dress pants with a blouse and a long sweater very frequently...but other days, she chooses a comfy dress or a skirt/blouse combo. To church, she usually wears a suit. (After all, everyone is watching the minister's wife at all times!) She's always wearing her make-up and her hair is always neatly combed. Now. Annie is pretty much the perfect house wife. She loves to cook and she always has a freshly baked good ready made for her kids upon their return from school. Her kitchen is perfectly clean at the end of the night, and she has her kids help with chores. Her dinners are delectable and rarely does she call out for a pizza. The thing about Annie though, is that she loves her job and being at home, doing laundry and all those endless housework chores. She truly makes it all look so easy, but still manages to tend to her 5 and then 7 (after she births twins) children, and her extremely busy minister of a husband. (But look, Annie sometimes cooks with Campbell soup ;-))

Ok, so growing up I wanted to be Annie Camden. The minute I met my husband and knew I wanted to marry him, I dreamed that we'd be the Eric and Annie Camden of the Serbian Orthodox Church...we'd have this big and beautiful parish house, we'd have so many children, and most importantly, I would make my husband lunch every day and then a yummy, well-thought out, beautiful dinner for the whole family every evening. And of course, I'd have these beautiful cakes and cookies ready for my family to enjoy all the time. Let's not forget to mention, I'd always have modest but beautiful outfits with my hair and makeup perfect (and lipstick, too!!)


Well, let me tell you, five years in to this whole housewife thing, and 3.5 years into mamahood and I am sad to report that I have failed to be Annie Camden Jr. It's sad but it's true. Now, the comforting thing about this is that indeed, 7th Heaven is a TV show and TV shows are very rarely completely realistic. Secondly, we are a priest's family, but we're not yet on a parish, so my life is very different than the Camden's life. Third, I am still developing my motivation and my love for housework, and I have no real energy in me to be this rockstar Mama who has it all together. And I know I never really will have it ALL together, because I'm never going to be perfect. God made it that way for a reason, and that's what I have to remember. (By the way, Annie also had her less-than-perfect moments ;-)). My husband has always teased me that I will never be Annie Camden because she's an unrealistic, movie housewife and that I should know better than to be aspiring to be her, but I can dream...right? :) It's the idea of her role that I admire more than the actual unrealistic character of her.

The point here is, that it's not about being perfect but about trying my best (and you trying your best)! It's easy to make excuses. From being exhausted (the eternal excuse) to being overwhelmed (what Mama isn't overwhelmed though?!) to having inner temptations (like no one else has those?), it's easy to find ways to justify myself and "just get through the day" sometimes, without being fully present, but distracted instead. And I don't mean to sound like I or any other mom should always be super mom, because no mom is. What's important is that I be the mom that I want my kids to remember - the mom that is always there when they need her. To be less selfish and more selfless..but it takes a while to get there (if ever it's the right balance).

Disclaimer: I do think that Mamas need time to unwind, they need time to destress, think, etc WITHOUT their children around. So I am going to write into my calendar 2 days of the month that I can get to do this and that my hubby will stay with the kids for to give me this time.

BTW: I own the entire set of 7th Heaven, and I think I'll start re-watching the series tonight :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Preserving Memories

One of the things I have always been really into is making albums. In my teenage days, I'd print as many photos as possible, buy one of those magnetic albums, and make something between an album and a scrapbook. I never got too fancy, but I did use colored paper and write little labels with my pictures. I really loved doing this! With time though, these albums have gotten pretty discolored. Plus, now all I have are digital cameras, so printing photos doesn't happen often at all.

Somewhere in the time between finishing high school and getting married, I took thousands of photos that have never been put into albums. So for the past few years, I have been working on putting these into Shutterfly photo books. I have been trying to catch up on all the main events and trips I have taken so that I have a small photo book of each of these main events. Anyhow, since I had kids, I've been very focused on preserving memories that we all have to look back on. It's so easy to get lost in time due to sleepless nights, diapers, etc, but one thing I refuse to NOT have time for is my photo books.

Each year, I like to make one huge photo book from the whole year's photos. So I take time each week to upload photos to Shutterfly and choose the best ones to go into our family's photo album. At the end of each year, (usually in January though), I wait until Shutterfly has a 50% off sale, and I buy our photo book for the year. It's SO exciting to get it in the mail and look through it!!! I get the 12x12 size book. Even though these books are pricey, it really does make sense to splurge on them. By the time I were to print each photo and buy a nice album to put them into, I'd spend almost the same amount of money anyway. And for me, memories are worth preserving. I like to write little snippets on every page or so to remember major moments or feelings, so that is a nice addition, too.

Friday, August 15, 2014


I've been quiet mostly because we've been busy...but also because I have been in a state of complete and total exhaustion. I make notes of what to blog about, I take photos, and then I get too tired to sit down, take the photos from my phone or camera, download them, and put together a post.

This week I am attempting to sleep train my baby, who is already 7 months old and should definitely be able to sleep through the night, but won't... I feel very bad for her because she has reflux, so I constantly second-guess myself as to whether or not she needs to "learn how to sleep" or if she already knows how to, but is waking out of discomfort. Motherhood is such a challenge!!! Here's hoping that my baby is sleeping through the night soon, so that Mama can return to her normal self.

One thing I can share now is that this morning was just plain difficult and one of those mornings where you just want to give up. I took the three out for a walk around our lake here, and it was a complete and total disaster...I never thought a walk could be disastrous until today! The baby screamed through the ENTIRE walk...I tried everything..even stopped to nurse her, but she wouldn't be anywhere but my arms. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but when you're pushing a double stroller with another kid in it, and using only one hand b/c you're holding Baby in the other, it's a problem. I got a good workout , for sure. My oldest was on his bike and usually he's very good about waiting for me, not going too far ahead or falling behind, but today he truly had a plan of his own. He fell twice, too, so I had to tend to his tears on top of the baby's. When we got home, the baby was still screaming, and was way overdue for her nap, and the older two were screaming too, so I put everyone in their bedroom to rest quietly while I took care of the baby. I gave her Tylenol because I thought she was in pain (she's got 2 new teeth), and nursed her to sleep. Then, I took some time alone, had a cookie in the kitchen, and called the older two down to have their lunch. Now they are peacefully napping.

One very exciting package came today...a J. Crew Factory box that I have been waiting for! My sweet, sweet uncle has spoiled me for as long as I can remember whenever he sees me, and I saw him on our recent trip to NY. I took the gift he gave me and decided to use it on some new clothes, because I'm working on weeding out old clothes that I've worn since too long ago, and getting some nice new basics.

Always check for a coupon code before you press "Complete Order!". I got 25% off of everything, and most things were already on Final Sale. I got 2 long sleeved shirts, one baseball henley, 1 cute ruffle top, 2 t-shirts, a pair of pants, and a pair of Bermuda shorts, all for under $100.