Girls & Swimsuits

Girls & Swimsuits

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetY’all, I’m done with the ice. Maybe if it was pretty, fluffy, white snow, but this gray, dull ice–no, thank you. I bought some tulips Saturday with the goal of willing spring to Memphis. So far, it’s done nothing, but at least they are pretty to look at. But, Lord willing, warm weather will soon be here, and that means swimsuits. Ah, swimsuits. I took advantage of the silver lining to a five day stomach bug (a few pounds lighter) and went swimsuit shopping last Saturday. If someone could come up with a more flattering light bulb to put in those dressing rooms, I think that person would be rich. And adored. Kind of like the angel/genius who created Spanx. But I digress…

I’ve been looking for swimsuits for my girls too. Lyd is moving out of the toddler section and into the big girls’ section. Good gravy, I was not ready for that. I texted my mom a little while ago to apologize for the grief I gave her as a kid when it came to swimsuits. Finding something that is both cute and modest is not easy. After several days of searching online, I ordered the girls’ swimsuits from Hanna Andersson. I’ve gotten several HA dresses for them from Costco, and I’ve been impressed with the quality. Knowing how hard my girls are on swimsuits, I need something that lasts. (Lottie wore hers from last summer inside out and backwards all day Thanksgiving. So, not only does it need to be able to stand up to sun and chlorine but also turkey and sweet potato casserole.) The HA ones were on the expensive side, but I found a promo code that saved me a little, and I just got two for each girl. When we are at the beach one can be drying while the other is being worn. HA had some cute Rash Guard baby suits too that cut down on the amount of sunblock I have to slather on Peach. (Squirmy baby plus trying to get sunblock in all those little baby rolls equals mom that needs a fruity drink. Am I right?)

During my search I found some other places that had promising possibilities as well. Look at the reviews yourself, but Lands End and LL Bean had some options that looked nice too. Old Navy online had some modest choices, but the patterns weren’t quite bold enough for Lyd’s liking. I’m sure there are department stores that have good choices, but getting three littles out in this weather sounded ludicrous, so I opted to search online.

Being the mom of three girls, modesty is hugely important to me, but I don’t want to just force them to wear something because I said so. I want to train them to choose modesty, not just acquiesce. (Although–in case my girls read this later–Matt and I aren’t afraid to use that deadbolt on the front door if we have to.) I searched online and found a few options that seemed appropriate and showed them to her while we talked about each one. While scrolling she pointed out another one and asked about it. I explained that the top looked like it might ride up when she was playing or swimming and potentially expose her chest. This gave us a good opportunity to talk once more about respecting our bodies. In the end she liked a couple from Hanna Andersson. (I was happy because they had matching ones for all three girls. I know the matching days are nearly over, but while she still thinks it’s cool I’m totally doing it.) I know modesty will be something we talk about a lot, especially as they get older. Matt and I have firm expectations for what the girls wear, but I’m hopeful that training them how to choose modesty now will help them make wise choices on their own as they get older. Of course, when it comes time for formal dresses, I might need a sedative or a burrito–or both–because I’m doubtful polar bear suits will be in style.

Oh, and if your child wears the swimsuit backwards, all modesty is lost. Just FYI.

Table Manners

Table Manners

At some point last week, I looked at Matt and said, “I feel like I’m raising savages.” I believe it was when one child had her naked booty on the dining room table–during dinner mind you–and one was wiping her booger underneath the same table. (Said table has since been cleaned but fair warning if you come over here–it’s an eat at your own risk type situation most days. Don’t judge.)

And I can’t even remember the last time we went to eat at a restaurant. I probably blocked it from memory as a coping mechanism. All that to say, I’m raising three girls who I want to one day become ladies. (And I’d like to eat dinner without gagging.) So, we have some things to work on. My goal for homeschool this semester and even more for our family story is that we have fun. With that in mind, we had a tea party today. The Downton Abbey crew would disown us, what with our oatmeal and orange juice in lieu of scones and tea, but it’s what we had. (And I wasn’t going to share my iced tea because I used my last two tea bags to make the current pitcher yesterday and Momma needs her caffeine. Or otherwise I’ll be the savage.)

We made our little motley set up with mismatched cups and bowls and the little honey pot my mom gave me years ago. We practiced letting others go before us, waiting to eat until everyone was seated and ready, saying please and thank you. Now, one of us was still naked because one of us is potty training and thinks if she isn’t going to wear bottoms then why bother with a top. (Clearly, we have other things to work on as well–modesty and the need to clothe oneself being high on the list.) But as in all things learning is about progress and not perfection.

The girls had a blast and–maybe just maybe–learned something too. Because even pink musketeers need to practice their manners.

Pink Laundry

Pink Laundry

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI do entire loads of pink laundry. And not because I accidentally got a red shirt in with my whites. It’s ironic since I was never a “pink” person before kids. Now, I love it. I even caved last year and painted the girls’ bathroom the palest shade of coral-pink, the color of ballet slippers.

We have been asked (Matt especially) if we were disappointed when we had a third girl. We stare dumbfounded at these people and think to ourselves, “You obviously don’t know our girls.” Every single time Matt has brought a pink shirt to the hospital to wear home because he just “knew” we were having a girl. And every time he has been right.

So, girls, here’s what I want you to know. We wanted you. Your daddy wanted you. I wanted you. We were over-the-moon-squeal-with-excitement-cry-tears-of-joy happy when we heard “It’s a girl!” each time. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t smile because God has entrusted us with three daughters. We pray you’ll be best friends and trusted confidantes. We pray specific prayers for each of you based on the gifts we see in you, but we pray for all of you that you’ll love God with your whole heart and that you’ll serve Him with your whole life. (We also pray you’ll want to spend every holiday–including Groundhog Day and Arbor Day–with us once you’re grown, but we’ll try to be understanding if that doesn’t happen.)

I won’t lie. It’s somewhat daunting to think of raising three daughters because it means I must model for you what it looks like to be brave and trusting, gentle and strong, vulnerable and courageous. That is not an easy calling, and I will certainly continue to mess it up. But I promise you I will give my whole life to loving God and loving my husband so fiercely that you might one day be compelled to do the same. I hope you see in me many traits you want to emulate. I know you’ll see some you’d rather not. But more than anything I hope you see love. Lots and lots of love.

I love you each, and I love you together–my three pink musketeers.

Friday Fun

Friday Fun

photo (55)It’s been a fun, productive week. On our way back to Memphis from New Orleans last Sunday, we dropped the girls off with grandparents and they’ve been having a blast all week with them eating vast quantities of sugar and being spoiled completely I’m sure. What are grandparents for, right? Meanwhile, I’ve been able to get a lot of projects done around the house, have lunch with girlfriends and even sneak in a couple afternoons at the pool. At night, Matt and I have gotten to eat out, go on long walks on the Greenway and have lots of date nights. We do this every few months, and it’s always a great time of rest and fun for the two of us. Meanwhile, the girls get to spend lots of alone time with their grandparents.

I had several projects I wanted to tackle around the house–projects that take far less time when little hands aren’t nearby. My favorite project was finishing Charlotte’s wall in the girls’ shared room. I only purchased two things for the all. Everything else we already had on hand. I love the adorable Lindsay Letters canvas that reads, “Sweet as S’mores. Feisty as Fire.” That sums up our Lottie perfectly. The picture frames and gold “C” came from her nursery. Matt’s mom made that vintage frame with the chicken wire, and little clothespins hold up a couple pictures and her birth announcement. The pumpkin hat she wore home from the hospital because we called her “Pumpkin” since she was due in October and we didn’t find out gender before hand. The Charlotte’s Web book was mine as a child, and it’s resting on a piece of driftwood that I found on the beach from Charlotte’s first trip when she was six months old. I wanted a fun little something to cap it all off, and the gold dots were perfect because we call her Lottie Dot as a nick name. The hardest part of the whole project was putting the dots up in a “random” pattern. Random is hard for this perfectionist girl. Fortunately, they are peel and stick and easy to move. I got them from wallsneedlove.com. I love how the wall turned out. I also got all her clothes and toys moved over and organized too, so I guess next week we’ll move Charlotte from the nursery to the big girl room. Eek!!!

Let’s talk about running during pregnancy. Several people have asked questions, and I need to go ahead and let you know I am NO expert. This is my first pregnancy to run, so I’m a novice all the way. First, definitely talk to your doctor. Every check-up I ask Dr. Miller again if it’s still okay to run. She’s probably getting tired of the question, but my first priority is healthy baby. She has given me the go-ahead with a couple of cautions. I have to drink lots of water, and I have to make sure I don’t get overheated. The former is not a problem because aside from the occasional iced tea water is all I drink, and I’m part camel. The latter Matt took care of. Immediately upon finding out I was pregnant, he went to our local YMCA and got us a family membership. Sweet man wanted me running in the AC and not in the Memphis summer heat and humidity. So, aside from a couple of rare cool mornings I’ve been running on the treadmill since March. The view isn’t nearly as great on the treadmill, but they do have cable which we don’t have at home so that’s a plus. I’m 21 weeks now, and I’m running 3-5 miles four times a week. So, no long distances and my pace is much slower than normal. I also have a water bottle with me and drink water all throughout the run. As soon as I finish my run, I eat a snack with carbs and protein to refuel. I am a big believer in eating bananas every day to curb muscle cramps. On days I run I eat a whole banana, and on rest days I eat a half. I’ve been able to wear my normal running shirts up until the last few weeks, but now I’ve switched to wearing t-shirts because they are looser. They make maternity running shirts, but I haven’t bought one yet. My running shorts have an elastic waist, so they still fit just fine. I actually live in running shorts most days, so they get lots of wear. I think the running has helped with sleeping better, eating healthier and preventing swelling during pregnancy, so those are definite perks. Plus, I get to watch the Today show. 🙂

Have you had a KIND bar? I’m always on the lookout for things that are easy to throw in a diaper bag since I try to eat every few hours. My favorite go-to snacks are a mozzarella stick and apple, a handful of walnuts and banana, and recently I tried a KIND bar and loved it. My favorite flavor is the dark chocolate sea salt. They are very low in sugar and high in protein with no GMO ingredients. It’s always nice to have something fresh, but when I’m running errands or away from the house this is great to have on hand.

It’s rainy here today, so I see some Scrabble and Netflix in our future. Happy Friday!

 

 

Love Language

Love Language

photo (45)If you thought this was going to be a post about marriage and communication and deep, important things like that I’m afraid you might be disappointed. Really, it’s about pizza. Last night most of the girls from my beloved Bible study gathered around the table to say goodbye to Lisa as she prepares to move back to Texas in a couple weeks. Three-and-a-half hours later, we were still around the table, a table now littered with empty plates and a few crumbs of chocolate cake. We had originally planned to make it a Mexican affair with Cinco de Mayo and all, but we weren’t sure about crowds and impatient servers. So, we switched to Old Venice Pizza Company. Pizza. My love language. I had the Daddy Crawdaddy pizza which has cream cheese, mozzarella and crawfish so really there’s no way to go wrong in my book. We ate pizza and breadsticks and chocolate cake and laughed so much I had to wipe the tears from my eyes with my napkin. We are an eclectic group, our little Bible study. All moms, some having been mom for years, others for only six weeks. We love talking and eating and laughing and we especially like to do all three at the same time. We don’t always stay on topic, and we don’t have a problem speaking our minds. We are always late and usually breaking some rule. But that group of girls has shown me love and community and sisterhood in a new way. We won’t be the same without Lisa. That’s what I love about a really great group of girls. Each girl adds something unique. And Lisa definitely adds something special. I’ll always remember last night and hours around the table eating pizza and chocolate cake and laughing. And waking up the next morning knowing what we had was something truly special.

I take my love language seriously, and I’ve done extensive research in the field. As soon as we get to Rosemary Beach, I want to stop by Bruno’s and get their Ultimate Veggie to go. I could eat Memphis Pizza Cafe’s Greek pizza every day, and Trolley Stop Market’s Margharita pizza is loaded with fresh mozzarella and big chunks of tomato and basil. And Aldo’s vodka cream pie–spicy and creamy–yes, Memphis has some good pizza. And I don’t know how many pieces of Lou Malnati’s Chicago Classic we ate the week we spent in the Windy City for Matt’s 30th birthday, but that pizza lived up to all the hype. We love to make pizza at home too. My favorite crust is Ina Garten’s from her White Pizza recipe. That white pizza is amazing, but the crust works for any type of pizza. It is easy and only has to rise for 30 minutes. A couple things–I split the batch into two balls and make two pizzas instead of six individual pizzas and the temperature is crucial. Bake at no less than 475 or the crust won’t be crispy like it should be.

Now, what to put on top. We love BBQ chicken pizza. Throw some chicken and water in a crock pot until it shreds easily. Add some BBQ sauce to it. Stretch out your crust on the pizza stone. Smear a thin layer of BBQ sauce on top. Layer on the BBQ chicken, fresh mozzarella and diced red onion. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top and bake. Or a summer favorite is Bruschetta pizza. Stretch out your crust and sprinkle salt and red pepper flakes on top. Smear a thin layer of pesto on top. Layer fresh diced tomatoes (try and get as much water out of the tomatoes with a towel first) and feta cheese on top. It’s a great way to use summer tomatoes and basil. The white pizza is a winner too. When I make Ina Garten’s white pizza, I use feta, mozzarella and goat cheese and leave off the arugula. I prefer my salad on the side.

Matt and I joke that my love language is pizza, but really it’s what pizza represents to me. It’s one of those foods that puts people at ease. You can eat it with your hands and get messy. You can make it yours with a limitless combination of toppings. My favorite people are the same–comfortable in their own skin, not afraid to get messy and okay being unique. I love the pizza, but really I love the people sitting around the table with me.

To my Bible study girls, you are all of those things. What we have is something special.

And to Lisa, thank you for the fashion advice, that pink champagne cake, the running tips and all the laughs about certain “running ailments.” Thank you for making every Wednesday a little more fun and for never being afraid to say what you think. Texas is lucky to have you coming home, and we’ll be heading out for a road trip and that Cinco de Mayo Mexican food we missed very soon. We love you, and we’ll miss you like crazy!

 

 

Girls, Clothes & Modesty

Girls, Clothes & Modesty

IMG_2108Last year I wrote a blog for our church’s parenting blog 7000Days.org. With the warmer weather, I’ve had several friends ask me where I get the white shorts I referenced in my blog. While we were at Target today, I picked up a couple more because they were on sale for $5. You can order them online or find them at Children’s Place too. Lydia wears these under all her skirts and tutus (she considers tutus casual attire) and all her dresses. I teach first graders at our church, and every Sunday they are running around playing games or sitting on the floor criss-cross-applesauce a lot. For girls wearing dresses or skirts that presents a problem. The shorts provide a ton of modesty, and they aren’t bulky or expensive. My wise and wonderful friend Martha passed this idea on to me, and it’s one of my favorites if you’re the momma of girls!

Below is the blog I wrote for 7000Days.org. It includes more ideas moms have shared with me, and I’d love to hear your ideas too…

When our daughter Lydia was younger, after bath time we would dry her off and stand her on the bathroom rug while we went to her room to retrieve her diaper and pajamas. The moment her feet hit the rug, she would start her jaunt around the living room, into the kitchen, back through the living room and fling herself onto her bed. The whole time she would yell at the top of her lungs, “I’m a nakey boo boo!” Matt and I got a laugh at her innocence and lack of modesty, but we knew one of our roles as parents of two daughters would be to teach them what it means to be modest.

Even though my girls are still quite young, I know I must instill in them early what modesty is. It only takes a quick glance at pop culture to see the “standards” my girls will be inundated with. How do I train them to guard and respect their hearts and bodies? I’ve talked to several moms who are further down the parenting road than me, and they’ve shared great wisdom. Here are a few things to remember…

Determine Appropriate: Part of being modest is simply making sure certain areas are covered and that clothes possess a certain square footage to them. I remember my parents being strict on how long my shorts had to be or how high the neckline on my shirts needed to hit. I rolled my eyes, frustrated at the time, but, of course, now I’m extremely grateful. I remember some fights with my mom over this issue, but she never backed down. And now that I’m a mom, I know why she fought so hard. She wasn’t just fighting for a neckline. She was fighting for my purity, my innocence.

Get Involved: My husband, Matt, is mentored by a wonderful man and he and his wife have a daughter who will soon graduate high school. This girl’s mom once told me her husband takes their daughter clothes shopping. The mom doesn’t particularly like to shop, so even at a young age the dad would take their daughter to search for clothes. He even goes with her to pick out swimsuits! When she told me this, I was so impressed. What an amazing investment this dad is making in his daughter, and it definitely shows in their daughter’s modesty and respect for herself and the body God has given her.

Cover Up: I have another great friend who passed along a practical idea for younger girls. She buys multiple pairs of white bicycle shorts for each of her daughters, and the girls wear those shorts under all their dresses, skirts and even loose shorts. I love this idea, and as soon as Lydia was out of diapers and no longer wearing her little monogrammed bloomers (a sad day for this Mississippi girl) I bought a slew of bicycle shorts. My oldest girl favors sparkly tutus as everyday attire, and this keeps her underwear from showing when she’s running around at the park or dancing in the aisles at the grocery store.

Choose Wisely: Another reminder, this one from a friend with pre-teen girls, is to avoid t-shirts with negative or disrespectful messages on them. What do messages like, “Born to wear diamonds” or “I’m too pretty for homework” say to our girls? It might seem like a trivial thing, but words are powerful, and they shape our beliefs.

Set the Standard: As important as these practical ideas are, more than anything else, we train our daughters to be modest by modeling modesty for them. We know more is “caught than taught” so we must live before them a life of modesty. Yes, ladies, it will probably take us three times longer to find a swimsuit and there may be some trends we just have to say no to, but we must remember this isn’t just about clothes. This is about training our daughters to respect their bodies and to establish a boundary that demands others do the same. This is also about understanding the way boys and men are wired to be visually stimulated and assisting them in their efforts to remain pure. If we want men to still be chivalrous, then, as women, we must still be modest. The two go hand-in-hand, and both demonstrate a respect for ourselves and the opposite gender.

If you have struggled with modesty in the past, don’t let guilt or shame weigh you down. Start fresh today modeling modesty for your daughters. When you’re shopping for clothes or choosing something from your closet, if you feel like something is “iffy” put it back. There’s more at stake than just style, and it’s not worth the possible cost of innocence, respect and purity. If you are the mom of sons, give them a model of what to look for in a young lady. And for all the dads of daughters, speak life into your girls. Your words mean more than anyone else’s.