Easter 2014 + Sending Pictures to Family

We had a sweet, filled Easter Sunday. Lots of stops, from our church's first Easter service, to potlucks with our church family and then dinner with neighbors. A few more activities were planned, and then skipped thanks to epic naps. But it was probably for the better. Throughout the day, we quietly reflected on how our every day points to both our need for a savior and his triumphant resurrection.

These two, they look like they are in cahoots with one another!

Over the years, the idea of creating tradition has been belabored here on the blog. We've had fits and starts, but may finally be settling into routines that suits our family. We've settled on some books we read throughout lent, keeping them on our coffee table instead of the book shelf. This is our third year having a low-key Easter egg hunt out front (see 2013, still pregnant with Hudson & 2012). We make an egg casserole the night before so cooking is minimal in the morning -- reducing this helps me be calmer, everyone gets to eat sooner, and as parents, we can be more present with the boys. We also keep our egg hunt simple and try to time it based on when everyone seems to be in a good happy, well-fed state, rather than squeeze it in before church or before naps.

Behr has been telling people there are race cars in Easter eggs, because that is what we did last year. Memory of an elephant, I tell you. To his disappointment, we moved away from the race cars. He loves his race cars, but there isn't much to distinguish between them, and there is even less that points back to God. We opted for Schleich farm animals. The boys were both thrilled by these, and Behr has already been talking about Noah's Ark, God making the rain forests and the jungles and the farms, and how animals have babies too. I am hopeful that over the years as this animal collection will lead to both imaginative play and opportunities for conversation.

A bit about how we keep family in the loop with growing boys on our hands:

I recently realize I am sorely behind in sending letters to the boys grandparents and great-grandparents. Since Behr was little, I have purchased photo cards from Shutterfly to serve as updates with both pictures and a few details about our happenings. Since Hudson joined the party, this has been lacking. But I am picking it up again! Now through Wednesday (4/23) photo cards are on sale from 30-50% off. My favorite is to use the picture folded cards (available in portrait or landscape) so the only design or text on the card is what I choose to add. The quality is great, the grandparents love them. They are easy to share. I order enough for all the family, one for each of the boys "baby boxes" and for Mark and I to each put on on our desks. For ~$1.50 each, they are a huge win for everyone who doesn't get to see the boys every day.

I would love to hear from you. How was your Easter?
Have for formed any new traditions or are you carrying on some from your own childhood?
And if you have kids, how do you keep the extended family in the loop? (especially those not on social media)
Disclaimer: compensated affiliate links may be used in this post.

Cherry Blossoms mean Springtime

Life is full of expectation and waiting. 

Waiting for a friend's train to arrive, for dinner to be ready, for leaves to turn color in the fall, for a baby to make its debut in the world. Just as Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start to summer across the country, the first sign of cherry blossoms blooming along the streets of Washington, DC is accompanied by joyful giddiness. Spring has arrived. Picnic blankets emerge, evening strolls become a daily activity, and alfresco dining tables pop up along even the tiniest slivers of sidewalk. DC has fully embraced the new season. 

Now, a few weeks after the first blooms, and since these pictures were taken, all but a few have turned bright springy green. The flowers may be gone, but their promise of better weather, coming summer, the unofficial changing of seasons remains. 

Are you in a season of expectation or waiting? Of feeling stuck in the in-between? Do you know that whatever is next, there is a perfect plan? Jesus promises new life, like the beautiful spring green that follows cherry blossoms. I am trying to rest in this promise, embrace each day as it comes, and worry less about the next steps. I don't live well in the waiting periods. Knowing this is half the battle, right?

For our family, spring means picnics and bike rides.

One afternoon, we packed dinner and blankets and water bottles, put on sneakers and jackets and helmets and waited for Mark to get home from work. Yes, it literally took us all afternoon. Getting out of the house is never easy with kids. Adventures are often few and far between., but when the moment arises, we try to jump. As soon as he walked in the door, we hit the ground running, loading up the bikes (this takes a bit longer with kids in tow) and set off for a family adventure by the tidal basin.

Behr and Hudson were thrilled to be back outside at dinnertime.

Mark and I were happy to be stretching our legs instead of our patience.

It was a bit windy, fresh pollen had us sniffling, and the boys hardly ate, but we are making memories.

We are making memories, day by day.

More cherry blossoms posts:

2008 with Amanda
2012 (in March!)
2012 with my sisters
2013 (with baby Hudson)

My Unexpected Challenge in Motherhood

This post is a counterpart to Lindsey Kubly's post, shared last week. I was so inspired by her writing, I asked for permission to outline similar strategies from my high-energy, 100% extroverted approach to life.

When I first became a mom, I continued to work full time in my office job, juggling presentations, daycare pick up and dinner time, among countless other things moms juggle. I alternated my lunch breaks between power meetings with coworkers and play dates in Behr's class room. I grabbed coffee once or twice a day with friends to catch up. I spent most of my days surrounded by people and I thrived. I am an extrovert in every sense of the word.

Transitioning to life with two kids and working from home has had challenges I didn't expect. After reading Lindsey's post, I took a hard look at how things have changed for me in the past year. We welcomed a second son into our family and I transitioned out of the fast-paced, ladder climbing executive world into a work at home job requiring 20-30 hours a week. Below are a few strategies I am continuing to learn as I navigate this transition to working at home. (Read: being alone at home without natural adult interaction) Ironically, the more I thought about Lindsey's post, the more I realized that many of the tools I utilize as an extrovert are strikingly similar to her approach as an introvert. I encourage you to read both posts and let me know what you think.

1. Assess your available outlets.
In the beginning, I struggled with relying on my husband and my mom to fill all the hours of socialization I craved. I spent hours talking to, or worse at them, sometimes disrupting their work day with a phone call just to hear myself speak. At the mom's group I attended, I needed to hold back from speaking between every other person. It became obvious that I needed more interaction, I needed other outlets. I began to take the boys with me to Costco, the trip is long and slow, but we talk to nearly every employee along the way. We are pouring into their day and they are helping to fill ours. Now that Behr is in pre-school, I utilize drop off and pick up time more strategically. We arrive early and chat with folks until the end of drop off. This allows me to get conversations in and be energized before heading home to work alone for the next few hours while Hudson naps. Readjusting a few of our regular routines in a way that serves as an outlet means I no longer weigh down my family with the responsibility of being my sole source of interactions. Time spent with acquaintances help me as an extrovert so that time spent with those closest to me can move to deeper relationships.

I have also found an incredible community of online friends both via instagram and The Influence Network. These outlet are rewarding and leading to deeper relationships.

2. Focus on meaningful conversations.
This appears to be counter-intuitive to the first point. However, it is a continual lesson for me. Living in a big city, I am surrounded by people and there is always someone to talk to at the park or at a street corner. Pushing a stroller makes you an immediate target for conversation. But just because I might be lonely, doesn't mean I need to talk to everyone. Similarly, just because I talk to numerous people in a day, doesn't mean I am refilling my need for energy. Exasperated one week I realized that I had tens of conversations that didn't move beyond, the ages of my boys, their blue eyes, and yes, my hair was lighter as a kid too. Repeating the same chatter doesn't serve anyone. Now at the park, I do a quick survey to see if I recognize anyone where I can follow up from a previous conversations. At the street corners, instead of going on auto-pilot, I use these basic conversations to teach Behr social cues. Drawing a distinction between small talk and true conversation has left me more strategic, and better fulfilled.

I have signed up for newsletters from Thrive Moms and The MOB Society. These emails, provide direct encouragement, but also serve as a excellent conversation probes, key in developing meaningful conversations.

3. Save energy for motherhood. 
This is the same third strategy as Lindsey's. I echo her sentiments about the role of mom being priority number one right now. Behr is an active three year old and Hudson is on the verge of walking. If I am not giving them my attention first, our day goes downhill fast. If I ignore them, it usually leads to someone getting stuck in a precarious position. My children require my energy and attention. Even as an extrovert, I need to make sure I have energy for them in reserve. I need to be able to pour into my boys without needing them to the source of my social interaction. Expecting my kids to meet and fill my needs is unrealistic and inconsiderate. However, when I have the energy saved for being a mom, we are more likely to engage in activities that serve us all well, like reading out loud, playing thinking games such as "I notice_____, I wonder why?" and cooking together.

4. Set boundaries.
My first few weeks home I packed our schedule so full, no one was happy. I was getting stuck meeting a deadline for work before our first play group and trying to rush lunch before we are off to our second event of the day. I have set a few hard boundaries to make sure I am able to better implement the first three strategies.

  • Boundary: One play date per day. If I schedule any more, I am forcing us through the motions instead of enjoying our company. 
  • Boundary: No more than one new friend (family) per week. We don't always meet new friends, but when we do, I have found that we all do better in smaller doses. If we have friends visiting from out of town over the weekend, I try not to meet up with other new friends on either side. Meeting and engaging with new faces is hard at any age and can be overwhelming. Even as an extrovert, limited the number of new encounters is helpful. 
  • Boundary: One coffee/lunch date per week. Again, this boundary is about the schedule. If we are so jam packed, our time with friends is less fruitful. (The college econ major in me wants to tell you about diminishing margins of return...) But I also know that having this adult conversation is incredible helpful for me. While the boys are usually in tow, we pick places with room to roam or outdoor seating and the boys get play while I dig deep with friends. More than one date per week leaves me frantic. This is the hardest boundary for me to keep, but likely the most crucial for our family.
  • Boundary: Ask before speaking. This is a whole life story boundary. But as an extrovert, I often need to process aloud. My husband and I try to simply approach one another with a question first, "Can I talk about my work problem with you?" "Do you have time to listen to me for a few minutes?" Ir prepares the other person, and leads to a better conversation. 

A huge theme of these strategies is developing better conversations. I've been mulling over this topic, how it impacts my activities on social media, how it helps and hinders community, and whether or not you can speed up the space between small talk and deep meaningful conversation. You can certainly expect to hear more from me on this topic in the coming months. I would love to hear you thoughts, both on conversation and community as well as the challenges of motherhood, and how personality types/tendencies impact all of the above.

Finally, wether you are an extrovert or not, I found Lindey's post very helpful. Go ahead and take a read and while you are there, girl has some killer mom style. Check it out.

Boston Back Bay

Last week, we took a family road trip to Boston. Straight out of the car we hit the ground running. We met one of my oldest dearest friends for an all day jaunt in the Back Bay. First stop lunch at flour, where even Behr and Hudson enjoyed every last crumb then across the street for running around the playground. Traveling and days out in the city have a new look with kids in tow. I can tell you the best parks and play grounds in every city since Behr was born. Letting the boys play is the best way to squeeze in some additional activities. After the park we strolled to the Boston Public Library. Similar to our walks in DC, we found every "balance beam" along the way. Behr and I toured the library solo and we could have spent the entire day there. I've got a budding reader on my hands, and libraries are high on his list of places to see. The highlight of the library for Behr was the reading room, while I was taken aback by the incredible Marathon exhibit. We rounded out the day with cupcakes of course.
Boston Public Library
Georgetown Cupcake
If you get a day in Boston, what would you put on your must-see list?

Disclaimer: compensated affiliate links may be used in this post.


Related Posts with Thumbnails
Pin It button on image hover