Thursday, April 27, 2017

What is this work / life balance that you speak of...?

I'm not a working mom. And by that I mean I don't work outside the home or have a full time job outside of raising my monkeys. But to those mamas who do... WOW. You. Are. Amazing.

People seem to always be talking about how busy they are, even the stay-at-home moms. Play dates, meal prepping, workouts, date nights (when we're lucky), mom groups, church and church events, time for self care, kids' sports and extra curriculars, etc, etc, etc. It's so hard not to look at the mom bloggers on Instagram and Pinterest and think, "Whoa. My life sure has a lot more sticky than that lady's life. And more day-old makeup. And some clothes with kids' mystery stains on them (marker? blueberry? who knows anymore)." 

But we can't all do it all. Not everything can be 100% all of the time. I might need to sacrifice a nap or a clean floor to get a workout in. I might need to pass on a social function to watch a movie with the hubs. I might need to push the kids' bath another night because I need to bathe myself (with smelly candles, podcasts, and bath salts). And that's just fine. Life doesn't always look like Pinterest. You just need to pick, at each hour of the day, "what is my #1 priority right now?"

I've found myself checking in as the clock tick-tick-ticks along (tick-tick-tick? My clock is weird. What clocks say 'tick-tick?'). I write my to-do list for the day every morning on my white board. Yes, I do need to actually write "shower" and "make bed" on there. The more specific you can get, the better. But as the day goes on, sometimes the order of importance changes.

For example: I started today thinking I need to 1. find time to work on the blog 2. get the defrosted meat cooked, and 3. end up with a mostly tidy house. When the girls were occupied, I snuck away to make the bed, prep a sausage egg bake (thank you Mom for the idea to pre-cook the sausage before freezing). When I had a REALLY quiet moment (aka, nap time), I had time to sit at the computer and chip away at that list.

But, in the afternoon, as much as I had made some progress, I was dying for some fun time with the kiddos. The dishwasher, broom, and phone calls were moved to the bottom of the list so we could get some belly laughs in. And it was so worth it.

I'm still pooped at the end of the day. I still want to plant myself on the couch downstairs with some cheesy TV (Felicity reruns, anyone?) and not make my brain work. And guess what? That's totally fine. My kitchen isn't totally spotless, I still haven't showered, and I still have a massive pile of clothes in my room. But... it's more important to take care of me. There's always going to be one more thing to do, one more thing to clean, and one more thing to cross off the list. But there won't always be nights I can sit down on the couch with my computer and a glass of wine and watch my baby boy sleep.

And also I need to feed him. Currently moving that to priority 1. 

I just want to wrap up with this little diddy: Balance isn't something that's going to happen overnight. Our lives are constantly going to be shifting and changing, so we might not ever get to a place where things seem finally balanced. But there can be joy in the process, by just taking each season day by day, even hour by hour. We're all going to get there, but you will be happiest if you give yourself the freedom to move things around a bit to get you all through the day. You do you.

And here's a smiling baby. :)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Master Bedroom Reveal!

Our bedroom has gone through quite the transformation, and I don't mean just in this house. When Joel first moved into the apartment we eventually shared after our honeymoon, he slept on a mattress on the floor. He had one dresser and a rabbit in the room with him. Oh, and a lamp (also on the floor). Since then, we have slowly accumulated hand-me-down or free furniture. It was great at the time, given we were spending the little money we had on more important things. However, we definitely kept the college dorm vibe alive. Now that we are in our own home, with kids and all, we decided it might be time for our taste to graduate. We started to become a little bit more picky about what we decided to take in, and what we did accept we made to fit our own style and space.

It has been so fun to watch our tastes evolve over the last couple of years and form into our "couple taste" versus something each of us would have picked on our own. Joel gave me free reign upstairs if he could have all of the say downstairs (fine by me), but of course I wasn't going to decorate a room that he would hate. Our bedroom has been my favorite part of our ideas coming together.

Here are a few pictures of the room when we got it, painted it, and added the carpet...

Seriously, this carpet is SO SOFT.
We made do with what we had around for nightstands, given the fact that until the move, we had been using outdoor end tables. I'm not sure if these are an upgrade or not. But at least they matched!

I was also too lazy to get more tissues, hence the TP on my "nightstand." I'll blame the summer pregnancy.
It worked, but it didn't necessarily say "master bedroom" to me.



green blanket (handed down) / comforter / gold pillow 
geometric pillow covers / headboard (DIY) / frames / mirror (thrifted)

lamps (garage sale) / flower / milk bottle (Frappacino!) / end tables / knobs

The curtains are a little hard to see, but those were a DIY from this fabric. I made them when we moved into our first apartment together, but they're obviously too long now. Hemming them is... well, somewhere on the to do list.

We were inspired by a couple Pinterest makeovers of the Ikea Rast dressers, so we took a chance and made over a couple to use as end tables for a date night at home. We painted the outside with Sherwin Williams "Alabaster" white, then used a dark stain on the front of the drawers (I can't remember specifically what we used and I can't find it in all of Joel's things... oh well. There's pictures.). We upgraded the knobs to these Hobby Lobby finds (50% off!) and I love the way they turned out. Our bed has an extra 4" of foam on top, so we needed something higher than the standard end table and these were an affordable answer AND a date night activity, so big smiles all around.

This is also the space the Rock N' Play usually goes at night so I have easy access to baby for nursing. It makes the space a little snug, but his smiles make it more tolerable until he graduates to a bigger bed :)

We have so many wedding pictures that are frame-worthy, but I always felt weird hanging up a billion pictures of us all over the house, so this set of three was a great solution. I can always switch them out for different ones without feeling too narcissistic. ;) The frames are just snap-in ones from Walmart but I love the clean lines without making it too dark. 

Tote bag / pillow (similar) / framed dates (wedding gift) / sheepskin (handed down) / quilt (DIY with this and this fabric / changing table (thrifted)
We actually found this changing table at a thrift store at a steal. In the past we just used command strips to attach the changing pad to the top of a dresser, but we've since re-purposed said dresser (see below). I made the quilt that is covering it for Clive to use as he gets older. I was going for a kind of subtle woodland theme, which was hard to pull off when I was trying to stick to black, white, and gold. The pillow adds a lot though ;) 

This bag has been my catchall when I'm not using it out and a lifesaver when I have to grab extra non-diaper bag items for the girls when we're out and about (extra burp cloths, water bottles, toys, spare clothes, books, etc). Joel calls it my "Mom-mom-mom" bag. I love making other parents smile when they read it. ;) It's out of stock now, but the shop is here!

shadow box (TJMaxx) / dresser (thrifted) / birch tree art

We're finally using this antique store dresser as a dresser! When it doesn't have lots of random laundry on it or Joel's clothes for the next day, I keep the shadow box of our wedding invitation and program, a dish for emptying pockets, St. Thérèse statue, and a little frame with a Winnie the Pooh friendship quote (you know, for the baby... or something). The box is actually a cigar box made over into a valet box. It's so cool! He received it as a Christmas gift but I think they have similar ones on Etsy.

Don't mind the pack n' play in the corner... the girls can't nap in the same room, so Monica still sleeps in here during the day. Clive will eventually move over there overnight once he starts consistently sleeping through. C'mon, little buddy!

Stay tuned for more room reveals (and partial room reveals) as we slowly make this house into our home!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Alleluia is our song

Happy Easter Monday!! I hope everyone had a blessed Holy Week leading up to a joyful beginning to this beautiful Easter season!

This holiday was a little different for us. Normally, we'd take whatever extended weekend or vacation time we had to get together with as much family as possible, have a massive brunch, hang out all day, snack for lunch, enjoy a massive dinner, put the kids to bed, and play games and talk until past our bedtimes. However, with Joel's new work schedule and most of the family being too far of a drive away for the weekend, we celebrated solo.

And I'm so incredibly thankful for a wonderful Lord's day.

Saturday I spent the day making sandwiches and baking for our tea party brunch. I filled my evening with decorating, laying our mass clothes, and repeating our plan for the next day to Joel and myself. Everyone was bathed, menu and schedule was set, and we were good to go to 8:00 AM Easter mass with three little kids (we're ambitious like that). Usually our Sunday mass is at 9:00 and we're booking it to get out the door and still miss half of the opening song. This was not going to be that day.

And then we overslept (face palm). It was a mad dash morning, but with very few tears and every one's correct clothes on and hair done, we made it 20 minutes early! The timing worked out perfect, because we sat right up front with a great view of all of the flowers and the bell choir, and the girls ate it up. We'd been prepping them as much as we could with the meaning of Easter (still not sure how to teach that to a 2 year old, but I tried), so randomly through mass Celine would hear the music and excitedly tell us, "Look! Alleluia!" Heart melting.

Not our best effort, but everyone peaced out of these fast so we had to get ourselves photo ready fast. I think it worked out in the end ;)
The girls behaved mostly well, so we came home and feasted on our surprisingly filling tea party sandwiches, scones, and eggs.

The girls provided Clive with some brunch too. He was apparently unimpressed.
Brief intermission of the Easter festivities for some free play time and naps so Joel and I could tidy up the basement and set up our next event:

Us: trying to explain how an Easter egg hunt works.
Them: having no idea what's going on; just excited to use the stairs.

I'm super good at hiding. So is Clive.

Enter phase 3: dinner. 

We busted out some indie folk revival on Pandora, a rainbow quilt (so Biblical of us, with God fulfilling his promises and all), had some wine (just me... also a Biblical move), and savored the gorgeous, non-humid, bug free day we were blessed with. 

Our sweet friends and neighbors hooked us up with this baby bubble thing and it is the BOMB.



We found a jet. They were excited.

I promise that wasn't my actual ratio of meat to veggies.
We wrapped everything up with some wind-down inside time, adding "Alleluia" to our prayers, and Joel and I got to celebrate the end of Lent with the screen time we gave up. We still found some time to dream about our plans for the house, our family, and some other projects. All in all, it was an awesome holiday. We missed having the family nearby, but sometimes quality time with our tribe is just what the doctor ordered. 

I hope everyone had an awesome weekend and I'll be back with more photo dumps and recaps soon!

We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song! -St. John Paul II

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pouring from an empty cup

I've been going back and forth about whether or not to share this here. And here we are.

You set a table before me / in front of my enemies. / You anoint my head with oil; / my cup overflows." Psalm 23:5

Lately I've been feeling pulled in a lot of directions. Quality, educational play time with my three young children, making time with my husband intentional, reading for my #12in12bookchallenge, helping with my local MOPS group, getting exercise daily, maintaining my home, scheduling time with friends, blogging, and of course, time in prayer. My third pregnancy really wiped me out (who saw that coming ha ha) and over the past few months, I've been feeling more drained than ever.

I keep reading and hearing about how important it is to make time for yourself. To have things that give you energy, center you, and fill you up. As I write this I can almost hear Mrs. Huxtable's voice saying "All I do is give!" I'm not as selfless as that might come off. I just don't think I've been putting my focus or energy in places that are going to fill me up energy-wise, thus leaving me empty and struggling to keep up with each day.

I've prayerfully decided to step back in a few ways and shift my focus around. I'm moving prayer and exercise to the top of my list. Prayer, because He is the one from whom all blessings flow. I am small and weak, but I know that through Christ I can accomplish anything. This is the crux of the little way of holiness, put into words by my beautiful patron, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I need to start from the inside. Exercise, because when I take the time to get my blood flowing, get my steps in, and drink plenty of water, I will physically have more energy to power me through the day.

Backing off the evening glass of wine will probably help in that arena too, but let's just take this one step at a time.

I'm taking on less responsibility outside of the home. I'm looking for more ways to be efficient with my tasks here, even if that means putting the kids to work. :) Hey, if they can pick up their own toys more often, they'll learn to be better stewards of their gifts, it'll be a lesson in responsibility and respect, and we'll all be less likely to trip over them. I can take an hour or less a week to meal plan, using our local grocery's online delivery service (praise the Lord!!) while at the same time not over-buying and prepping healthy meals for my family, which will make the 4:00 PM hour much less stressful.

I'll be spending less time in front of the TV and more time with activities that are fruitful for me creatively: reading and writing. Browsing pins probably falls into that category too... there are so many beautiful things that are inspiring!

I'm sharing all of this as a way to open my life to all of you dear followers, and as a sort of accountability to stick to my new goals. I won't be leaving blogging behind anytime soon, but it'll be refreshing to take a step back and remember who I am outside of being a mother and a homemaker. (Speaking of, if anyone is looking for an unpaid Domestic Engineering internship, let me know. I know someone who's looking. Spoiler alert: it's me.)

SO, my friends, with a new energy and conviction, I invite you to follow along with me. This time will be for re-prioritizing, finding joy in my passions, and letting the Lord fill my cup!

Oh, fill my cup, let it overflow! Let it overflow with joy!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Clive Anthony: 2 Months

My sweet, sweet son is laying here next to me as I finally get a quiet moment to put this together:

He is probably the happiest baby I have ever met. I always get the biggest smiles and it is SO FUN to be the fun parent for a change ;) He still smiles quite a bit for Joel, though... and the girls, and his Nona. He's a chatty little guy, and certainly gets excited when he has undivided attention. He gears up to coo and squeak as much as he can, with big smiles the whole time.

His eyes are starting to change color and they're looking increasingly brown every day, just like his momma. He hasn't lost any of this thick brown hair yet, which is great news for when I comb it over nicely for mass on Sundays (all the heart eyes!). His facial features and squinty eyes when he smiles make him look just like baby Joel and I am loving every minute of it.

Clive is sleeping in longer stretches now. I know that the girls spoiled us when they started sleeping through the night at 6 and 8 weeks, so we were expecting to really struggle with number three. However, as long as I keep up with feeding him every 2-3 hours during the day he can manage 5-6 hour stretches between 10 PM and 8 AM, which isn't bad! He's a trooper, that's for sure. He also likes to sleep with his hands by his face and without blankets and DEFINITELY without a swaddle. None of that nonsense, apparently.

He's clearly into this photo shoot... she would hold him all day if I let her

Sweet sister "sharing" toys with baby brother

He certainly gets a lot of loving around here. The girls are more than happy to smother him with toys and kisses all day long (I'm working on getting them to reign in the energy a little bit). They're starting to take more of a vested interest in helping Clive-related situations though... now 4/5 of the Rauches in this house know how to give Clive his pacifier. The only one left to learn this skill is the man of the hour himself.

Tummy time is still probably one of his least favorite things. I think it's mostly because he gets bored and can't see much from down there, because when I'm leaning back and he's on my chest he can push up with his arms and hold his head steady to see all around the room and smile at any faces he can recognize. Maybe we'll just have to start getting some exercise together ;)


Your smiles are enough to lift me through my darkest moments as a mother. I've only known you a little while, but you've already made me better. I don't know what I'd do without your love. My love for you is so different from anything I've ever experienced. I am honored that God blessed us with you. Please be patient with me when I can't help you right away or when it takes me a bit to figure out what's making you upset. As excited as I am to see that man that you become, I am soaking up every moment with you until then. You are my son, and I am your mom. I love you.



And just for fun, here's a peek back at Celine and Monica at two months. :)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Stripes for days

When I attended the hospital birthing class, I was given little coupons for free baby gear. The shipping ended up being almost the cost of the products themselves (that's where they getcha), but I still received my canopy nursing cover. It worked for a while, but as the girls got bigger they tolerated it less and less, so with a swift kick (or a slight gust of wind), it ended up being a little pointless. Granted, I'm all for normalizing breastfeeding, but I'm just uncomfortable with that kind of... exposure.

I also ordered a car seat cover from the same peeps. It was a canopy style with fleece underneath, so I figured it'd do the trick to store some heat during the cold Iowa winter while still allowing for a little circulation. I did not, however, account for the wind. Mom fail.

So there I was, expecting my little boy and pulling out all of my trusty baby stuff, and out comes this gray, feminine printed nursing cover. I mean, I'd be the one wearing it and all, but it was time to switch it up.

Enter MilkSnob. I had seen these all over Instagram, with the covers that doubled as car seat covers (or even covers for shopping carts!). They were getting rave reviews and they were even on Shark Tank... how cool is that?! After going all googley-eyed over the classic stripes, it was time to give it a try.

I'm not going to lie, it took a little getting used to. It provides 360 coverage, which is perfect for mommas like me who aren't quite ready to bare it all (see what I did there). The cover comes all the way down to my elbows, so if I needed to reach up high for something (not sure why I'd need to do that while breastfeeding, but I'm sure the situation would arise) the coverage isn't quite all there. Also, when getting the little one to latch, if I had one arm under him, I was either holding the cover to see him or going in blind trying to help him out. Now that he's almost 2 months (gah!!!) he's got the hang of things, so it's way easier.

HOWEVER, the fabric is SUPER soft and stretchy (which is the same kind of fabric that makes up 90% of my most comfortable clothes ha ha). It's just thick enough to keep baby cozy but light enough to allow for some circulation so he doesn't get too warm. The Midwest is a weather roller coaster in the spring especially, so this was a big help as I tried to keep him at a comfortable temperature.

I knew the stripes were something I would live with forever; everyone loves a classic stripe. And besides, he looks so good in stripes, amiright?

All in all, the cover is a WIN. Every cover has it's pros and cons, but the MilkSnob had far more pros than cons when it came to meeting our needs.

Do/Did you have any trusty baby gear? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great day everyone! :D