Saturday, June 25, 2016

Monica Jane: 9 Months

My sweet babe,

You have officially been out as long as you have been in. I guess that's a milestone in itself or something. So hooray!

You are constantly surprising us. I know this is cliche, but I think there is so much going on around here that I can't seem to keep up with how fast you are growing. One minute you are inchworm-crawling across the floor and the next you are pulling yourself up to standing (!!!!!!) and reaching everything on the coffee table and TV stand. You are so observant and grabby; nothing gets past you. Even the occasional ant that sneaks in the front door. They have no idea how fast you are!

Your crawl has changed now, usually depending on your mood. When you are upset, you usually revert to the inchworm, when you're pensive and studying you crawl with your knees, but when you're really excited you move on your hands and feet like a spider or a gorilla. My favorite is when you combine different crawls like you're trying to keep us guessing. Like I said, full of surprises. ;)

I LOVE how much of your personality we can see now. You just learned "so big," clapping, kisses (as of today), and when you are especially happy, you scrunch up your nose and mouth into a perfect little happy face. It is the best.

You are loving baby food and puffs but you're still trying to get the hang of your tippy cup. We just had to make the switch over to formula, so thank goodness you FINALLY figured out how to drink out of a bottle. I love being the one to feed you, but at the same time, it's nice that Daddy can help you out now at 6:00 AM (when you normally wake up). Celine is also VERY excited about being able to help out where she can.

You get super excited to see us every morning, and I'm not going to lie, we get super excited to see you waiting patiently for us to come and get you up. You have a clear view of where Daddy reaches to turn off his alarm and peek at you, so you wait, sitting up, with a huge smile until he looks at you... and then you kick your legs, scrunch your nose, and do this perfect pant/hypervantalate thing. It's the best. YOU are the best.

I love you so much sweet girl. We have a lot coming our way soon (including your first 18 hour road trip!) so buckle up sweetheart (literally); this is going to be a blast. Thank you for bringing so much light to our lives.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I may not ever be "Pinterest-worthy" and I'm ok with that.

Comparison. BOOM. There it is.

I've been reflecting recently on how difficult it is NOT to compare. Back in the dark ages before Facebook had pages and Instagram was a thing and "pin-spiration" was a nonsense word, we only looked around to the the people in our lives as examples and to give us ideas for what we should/could be doing. Or Ask Jeeves for advice.

But now, we are surrounded by staged food photos, beautiful feeds with immaculate kitchens, and everyone and their mother's opinion plastered everywhere with super clickbait-y titles. Mom guilt, health guilt, career guilt, xyz guilt, etc, is worse than ever. Why? Because now we are looking at EVERYONE's internet-worthy lives.

And I don't fit in a pin.

I LOVE beautiful blogs and I am WAY out of control with my Pinterest usage. I love the ideas and the DIY's and the outfits and the everything. But I need to remind myself constantly that what we see online isn't always the whole picture and my life is going to be different from said pictures.

And that's ok.

How I feel the majority of the time. LAWLZ.

I can do my best to replicate what I find online and make it my own. I can do my version of polyvore outfits and show my hairstylist EXACTLY what I want my hair to look like. BUT there's still the dirty, messy, sticky, and imperfection that keeps me grounded. Mostly thanks to my sticky toddler and baby who is determined to rip all of my hair out. Kids, I love you both, thanks for keeping Mommy from getting lost in the clouds.

I have dreams, aspirations, and as I've touched on before, I'm an underachieving perfectionist. I want to have everything JUST SO and be the best, and if I know it won't be, I don't try (or give up as soon as a project doesn't meet the standard in my head). I just need to remember that I am not going to be naturally gifted at everything I attempt, I haven't invested a lot of time and effort into every hobby or aspect of my life, so it's not going to look like someone who has. Even if I did, it would still look different.

And that's fine by me. Because I am different.

Image via
Any pin, post, tweet, snap, and so on, comes from me. It comes from my background, my temperament, my love language, my strengths, my brokenness, and my heart. There will always be someone with better pictures, better writing, more detailed but simple DIY's, more everything than me. But that should never, ever, stop me from being profoundly, fiercely, myself.

I take my photos on my cracked iPhone and a borrowed DSLR I use as a point-and-shoot (basically I take 1 billionish pictures and I'm bound to end up with one good one). My room makeovers are 85% done at best and I haven't spent more than 3 minutes on my hair in the last few months. But that's Justine, and I'm nailing that better than anyone else could.

So keep your chin up, fellow persons. You are you better than anyone else could be. No matter what else you accomplish today, you're already killing it.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The sounds of summer

Summer is officially unofficially upon us, and one of our busiest summers yet is in full swing. Well, busy compared to last summer, when I spent the majority of the time on the couch because of my uber-pregnant-ness, humid heat, and the move/home reno, which proved surprisingly more difficult for me to participate.

NONETHELESS, we are spending as much time as we can outside before the weather gets icky (#iowalife).

(1) Joel and I have lofty plans for landscaping, backyard recreational areas, and upping our curb appeal. We're running with it while we have the momentum, which is fine by me.

(2) I made the girls a make shift water table, a.k.a., a shallow tub with water in it. So far it has been a hit! We even pulled it out with the mini pool for a cousin's pool day, and the water table ended up being the perfect baby tub for Monners to play without getting overwhelmed by the big kids. Glorious!!

(3) I've also been on a hat kick lately, which could partially be because of the period books I've been reading and shows I've been watching. I'm running with it anyways, and it's finally getting to the point for the girls where it isn't unnatural to see me wearing a hat. I've always wanted to be one of those women, and now I am. Next up: hat + breaking in my gardening gloves (too bad I'm such a wimp about skeeters... hopefully they'll lighten up soon). Currently wearing this beauty from JCP.

(4) We spent the long weekend at home, with some much needed quality time. We went to mass, entertained the kiddos and worked on DIY projects during the day, and by night watched Captain America movies (love that dude). The girls were great on our home improvement store trips, so we treated ourselves them to ice cream aaaaaand it was adorable (until we took the leftover melty cone away, but let's keep this upbeat).

(5) I've been working on a sensory board for the girls, inspired by this and this and this. I've mostly been waiting to be inspired for what specifically to put on it and/or collecting things from around the house. I've made tons of progress thus far, obviously.

(6) I'd also like to shout out to my new niece!! Joel's brother and his wife just welcomed their second daughter, Aurora Josephine, and we are over the moon. Celine wants to look at pictures and videos of her constantly and she is absolutely precious. We can't wait to meet her!!

(7) We tried this recipe for breakfast casserole muffins, and they're WONDERFUL. Celine gobbles them up (which is rare nowadays) and they're so easy to make. If you have busy mornings and/or picky toddlers, I highly recommend them. Easy, healthy, portable, delicious.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

12 in 12 Book Challenge - Year 2!

It's finally June, so naturally this is when I provide and update (all call to arms!) for my second annual #12in12bookchallenge. For those of you who don't know, I am a terrible reader and a wonderful TV addict, so I'm trying to curb one addiction with a more healthy activity. I loved finishing the first year, so I'm back again in the middle of the second.

The premise is this: You can read any book, any genre, any length. Want to go big? Pick up some classics. Feel like starting small? Try some young adult novels (The Hunger Games was the closest I got to binge reading. I could NOT put them down!). You can make a list for the year, take it month by month, or make a list and change it as you want, which is primarily what I have been doing.

Audiobooks DO count (because kids are crazy busy and chores have to get done at some point), but children's books do NOT count. Cookbooks probably shouldn't count either. You get it. You can read books you have already read, but part of the reasoning behind the challenge is to stretch yourself, so new-to-you books are preferred.

This is my 2016 book list (thus far):

January - Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (audiobook) - We listened to this one on our way back from an Ohio trip and it was perfect for being in the car with 2 little kids. You can't go wrong with a Catholic family man comedian.

February - Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - Cute novel about misfits in a beauty pageant and finding comfort in your own skin. I heard about this one and my March book from Grace at Camp Patton and I am so so glad.

March - What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (audiobook) - Fun fact: soon to be a major motion picture starring Jennifer Aniston. You can be one of those people who has already read the book.

April - The Soul of a Lion by Dietrich Von Hildebrand (in progress) - I am a huge fan of Dietrich and Alice von Hildebrand, but this book is a little harder to work through than I imagined. It's full of details on his life and insights on how he became the great man and philosopher he was, but it's not nearly as entertaining as the other books I've been reading. I'll get through it though... hopefully.

May - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer (audiobook) - WWII England friends make a book club. Sounds lame when I sum it up, but good read. Loved the story, the life of the group, and made me want to drink tea.

June - The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson (in progress) - If you like Downton Abbey, you might like this book. Set in England at the start of WWI, this one is witty and full of snobbery and gossip and banter. Yes please.

July - With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin - I'm on a wartime love story kick right now and I'm 100% ok with that. Haven't picked this one up yet (I need to finish my June book by Saturday!).

August - Divergent by Veronica Roth- I'm told if I liked the Maze Runner books (yes) and The Hunger Games series (YES) then I'll like these...

September - Insurgent by Veronica Roth

October - Allegiant by Veronica Roth

November - Persuasion? Maybe? by Jane Austen - I've had this book for at least 10 years and in said decade I haven't been able to work past maaaaaybe 100 pages. I love the story (which I know from seeing the movie) but I'm not too big to say I don't like her writing style. I know it's a classic, I know she's amazing and her love stories are perfect (I love all of the movies!!) but I just can't read it. So sue me (don't please).

December - ____(fill in the blank)_____

What are you reading this year? Anything worth sharing? If you're up for the challenge (even this late in the game) or you'd like to connect, make sure to use the hashtag #12in12bookchallege :)