A Simple, Intentional Life.

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I’m not quite sure how to start this post. There have been so many thoughts running through my mind lately. Plans for our future. Goals for our family. Reasons why I blog. I’ve just been feeling unsettled. I keep coming back to this idea of a “simple life” but I am not quite sure what that is yet. I know I feel most at peace when I am away from my phone, this computer, enjoying life with my family. We sat the other night in the darkness of the Adirondacks, in front of the warmth and crackle of a fire. We were hand in hand talking about our day hiking and being all together as one and I thought, “how do I take this home with me?” I don’t want to leave this moment. It felt simple. It felt real. It felt like what I have been longing for. I don’t think the answer though is to sell everything, swear off technology and move to the woods. It sounds appealing but a little unrealistic for us. So how DO you find this simpleness right where you’re at? I don’t have the answer yet, but I do have some thoughts on how I hope to work towards that. I’ve been pulling away a bit from social media. I see the fun in it, I do, but at this stage in life I just don’t need the distraction. I’ve cleared out my Feedly account as well. Left only who is uplifting, inspiring and who I truly love. And really, this is where the internet can shine in my opinion. I love reading blogs with heart, worth and something to say. 2 blog posts that have really hit home for me lately (and were oh-so timely) were by my dear friends Monica and Lesley. Ooooh those posts were meant for me to read. I love those ladies so much.

I’ve also been reading Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider and I really love what she has to say so far.

“Living slower requires living with intention. And to live with intention means to make little daily choices that resonate deeply in our souls-that make sense deep in our being and ring true.”

Even the forward is good (of course, hello Ann Voskamp):
“Simplicity is never a matter of circumstances; simplicity is always a matter of focus…To realize that the real hidden cost of everything you buy- is how much life it cost you to get it. That life is not an emergency but a gift to slow down and savor. That it glorifies God to spend your extraordinary life paying attention enough to the moments you enjoy God. That the moments all matter. The daily decisions add up to the sum of your life. And a pail with a pinhole loses as much as the pail pushed right over. A whole life can be lost in minutes wasted, small moments missed.”

Word. Doesn’t that just stop you in your tracks?

I want to live with intention and I don’t want to waste moments. I don’t want to be jealous of what others have or achieved. I don’t want to multitask my way to the top while pushing everything else that matters to the side. I want to be present in the tiny moments with my husband and children. Now granted, I know that we all need to work to make money. We can’t escape that fact but I think there are ways to live simple, work hard and be successful too (although success may be different than what the world sees as successful). Kev has worked so hard over the years for our family, but he has also worked real hard at letting work just be work. When he is home, he is physically and mentally here with us. He loves what he does but he loves us more. A job is not what defines you. And for me, I’ve always had very big dreams for this blog. It’s taken me since Rowan was born to realize my job as being a stay at home Mom is much more important than my goals for this blog/business. Letting go of that internal struggle is very freeing.

Tonight I got to swing on a swing (one of my most favorite things) by myself for like 15 mins while Kev and the girls played on the playground. I didn’t check my phone, I wasn’t counting down the minutes till we had to leave for the next thing, I was just there. Swinging in the setting sun, watching the girls laugh as Kev chased them. The breeze felt warm and I prayed that God would help us find our way. That He would lead us into more of these simple moments and that I would appreciate them. Because I think that is a key piece to all of this. I think we need to be grateful for the things we already have, the places we already are and the moments we already live out. I think we need to start with thankfulness. I also prayed that God would help keep my focus on Him. Jesus is what truly matters at the end of the day anyway, focusing on him will always lead your path straight.

So. I don’t really have an ending to this post. It was more like a stream of conscience of what I’ve been thinking about/working on lately. The girls are going to have a sleepover with their grandparents this weekend and Kev and I have big plans of cleaning out/simplifying the house. Garage sale here we come! To end this all- Here are a few pictures of a day this past weekend where I had that same “at peace” feeling. Being on top of a mountain can really clear your mind and put a lot of things in perspective. Whiteface mountain you were good to us!

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8 Tips For Camping With Kids

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I was for sure nervous about bringing the kids camping. I worried if they would sleep good, would someone fall in the fire (it’s like my biggest fear in life), eat good, or just all around hate it? All in all though, we had a pretty successful and super fun weekend away in Lake Placid. We booked 3 nights but because it was suppose to rain all night the first night and we weren’t going to get up there till late anyway, we decided to just head up early Friday morning instead. 2 nights ended up being a good amount for a first time camping with the girls. I will admit they were beat by the 3rd day. I think we could have gone another night if we had planned for that 3rd day being super chill and relaxed, with some actual naps and downtime for the both of them. The other days there were go, go, go. Lots of hiking, friends, swimming, late nights, early mornings and no naps for Miss Finley except in the stroller, car seat or backpack. Our kids are really go with the flow and are used to mixed up schedules and late nights so it wasn’t too big of a deal. They were generally in good spirits having so much fun.

On the second night as I was putting Rowan to bed, she told me she didn’t want to sleep outside anymore. I said that was ok and that we would be going home in the morning. Then she started crying because she didn’t want to go home. hahaha. Go figure. Both kids slept really well for the most part. Both slept through the night and woke up around the normal time they get up at home. Maybe just a tad bit earlier. Once one is up though, everyone is up. Our tent is a larger tent that you can put up 2 dividers in to create 3 tiny rooms. This was super helpful. We used one of them to create a little room for Finley. She was the one I was worried about not going to sleep if she could see everyone else. It was always well past their bedtimes each night so that was helpful. Everyone was very tired and ready to sleep. We would put Finley to bed first. Let her fall asleep while we quietly got Rowan ready and brought her down to bathrooms to brush her teeth and go potty. Once Finley was asleep, in Rowan would go. Her and I shared the air mattress because she can not keep a sleeping bag on her and would wake up balled up in the corner of the tent with no blankets. Kev or I would just lie with her till she fell asleep and then it was campfire, drinks, and late night chats for Kev and I (my favorite part). When the fire would die out off to bed we would go. We brought our trusty 4moms Breeze playard for Finley to sleep in. Man, I love that thing. So easy to set up and travel with. The only thing that was a bit difficult was keeping Finley covered up. I should have brought a heavy sleep sack for her so I didn’t have to worry about her all night. The first night it got down below 50. I kept waking in a panic that she was freezing. She moves around all night, so it’s impossible to keep her covered. Lots of layers that is all I can say.

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We didn’t cook all our meals because there are some awesome restaurants around Lake Placid, but we did bring a cooler with some food. We cooked breakfast, brought items for lunch, and food for one campfire dinner. Our cooler had milk, eggs, cheese sticks, yogurt, a bag of cut up veggies, apples, cherries, hummus, veggie burgers (and a real burger for Kev), ketchup and sweet potatoes. We also brought paper plates, bowls, utensils, cups, cereal, honey, bread, peanut butter, olive oil, grater, knives, apple sauce, 1 frying pan.
Breakfast: Cereal & milk, scrambled eggs, sweet potato hash.
Lunch: Packed for hiking. pb&honey sandwiches, veggies and fruit
Dinner: Veggie burgers, chips, veggies and hummus

I think anyone can do it! It really is a lot of fun and your kids will think it’s pretty dang cool. The girls thought it was awesome to cook the food over the fire. They loved all the exploring and I loved building family memories together. I just kept thinking about being able to show them these pictures when they get older and tell them stories of our first camping trip together. It felt really special to me. I think if you go with no expectations you will be better prepared. You really do have to just roll with the punches and have fun. And be prepared for all the laundry when you get home. Oooooh the laundry.

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Here are my take away tips….

1. Like I just said… Try to just roll with the punches. Nature, kids and camping can all be unpredictable. You will have more fun if you don’t set up expectations of how it will all go. Just have fun, enjoy your kids, let them get dirty, stay up late, really live the experience.

2. Pack lots of layers for everyone. If you are camping up north like us, the weather can be unpredictable. Hot during the day, super cool during the night. Lots of blankets and light layers to wear.

3. Pack simple but healthy food. Things that are easy to prepare, cook and clean up. Prep as much as you can before hand. Cut up veggies and bring them in a ziplock bag, etc… I found lots of great options of things to bring at Trader Joes. Lots of great snacks and packaged food (veggies burgers, salads) for meals.

4. Start small. If you are feeling nervous don’t dive in head first. Try a night in your back yard first, or even one night close by. It will give you the confidence you need to take a longer trip. It will also help you figure out exactly what you might need to bring.

5. This light up ladybug was an AWESOME addition to our tent. It was the perfect night light for the girls when they fell asleep but also it was a great light to turn on when kev and I got into the tent. Not too bright, didn’t wake up the girls but also let us see what we needed to get.

6. Be prepared for everything. I MEAN EVERYTHING! to smell like campfire. I just threw in another load of laundry and it was like a campfire punched me in the face. hahhaha. Man, that smell is strong. It’s great when you are beside one but at home, ugh! You will have to pretty much wash everything that you bring camping with you. So… because you now know that, just let your kids re-wear clothes. If they aren’t terribly dirty than I just let them wear items again the next day. Why make something else dirty? They don’t care. Neither do the woods.

7. Bug Spray. Sun Screen. Socks. First Aid kit. Tylenol. Matches. Wipes. You may not need it but at least you will have it.

8. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Really! If it doesn’t go smooth the first time around, don’t give up. Try again another year. Maybe the next time it will be better.

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Random Pictures, Random Thoughts

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1. I have super bad eye sight (like -6.25). I used to just wear my contacts daily, but I’ve been leaning more and more towards glasses lately to give my eyes a break. I will be honest and say, I do love my trendy, cheap eyewear but I’ve found that with constant wear they’re starting to feel stretched out and too big. They’re always sliding down my face. The lens aren’t the best either. They always feel like there is a slight film over them. I’ve been looking for something more high end and was excited when DAVID KIND eyewear approached me to try out their home try on service. You fill out a style questionnaire and then they’ll send you this lovely case of glasses to try on. What really caught my attention was their commitment to quality lenses. It really makes a difference for someone who is going to wear their glasses a lot. You should definitely try them out!! I loved almost all the glasses they picked out for me.

2. Ballet. Ballet. Ballet. Rowan loves ballet. We like to watch ballet videos on You Tube and Netflix and then dance along with them. Anyone know of cute ballet lesson type videos? She takes ballet but not during the summer and I think she misses it so much. How cute was she at her recital?

3. These mosaic kits (above) are like the best thing ever. They are made by a bunch of different companies and in a bunch of different styles but Rowan just loves them. She will sit for like an hour putting all the stickers on. It’s really cute and a total life saver on the plane! Here are a bunch we like on Amazon.

4. We’ve been keeping life pretty busy around here. I think it’s so we don’t sit around stressing about all the changes that lie ahead. Everything is done on our end for the foster care certification. We are just waiting on our social worker to finish writing our home study. Being in the limbo stage is weird and if I find myself sitting around too long, I start letting my mind wander to all the “what if’s”. Keeping busy with fun adventures has been a great distraction. Also, I just love spending time with my family.

5. Grocery shopping has been such a bummer for me lately. I have favorites from a bunch of stores and I try to buy organic and unprocessed as much as I can, but there isn’t just a one-stop shop to get all these items at a good price. I am spread out over Trader Joes, Whole Foods, BJ’s, weekend farmers market and our normal grocery store. The problem is that I hate getting the kids in and out of the car all day long. It’s exhausting driving all over town with them just to get our grocery shopping done. How do I figure out a better plan? Just go grocery shopping at night when Kev gets home? Just suck it up, pay more and shop at one place? Whole Foods would be the most well rounded place to get all the things I need I guess. There is only one Whole Foods in our area and it just opened. It kind of makes me all ragey on the inside when I am in there though. It’s packed, the aisles are too small and some people are just wackos. Hahaha. This really isn’t a real problem, I am just venting because we literally spent ALL DAY trying to get all the items we needed for the week. It just feels like a waste of time. Can we please make eating healthier less of a hassle?

6. Camping this past weekend was so fun! I have a whole post planned with some pictures but also tips on what worked for us with the kids. Is there anything better than being away from it all? No service on your phone, lots of stars, a good beer and a roaring campfire? I think not.

7. Why are decisions on where your kids go to school so difficult? Oh boy! I’ve struggled with what to do for Rowan next year for PreK. Mornings? afternoons? 4 days? 3 days? closer school? better program? The list goes on and on. And don’t get me started on kindergarten. Anyway, seeing her graduate preschool was about the cutest (and most ridiculous) thing ever. The family picture up top is from her graduation a few weeks back.

Cheers to a random post on a random Tuesday night in July.

Monday Morning Links

Ever since I worked with Lou & Grey I kind of can’t get enough. I added a few new pieces to my wardrobe the other weekend. They are just so easy and chic. Here is what I got…

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Linen Romper | Striped Maxi | Striped Chambray Dress | Chambray Zip-Pocket Pants

The week back from vacation is always a little tough. Back in routine. Lots of laundry. Kev back at work. Ugh. Hoping this week is a little better than last. Happy Monday everyone! Here are a few of my favorite things around the internet lately…

1. Naomi was sweet enough to order a necklace from my instagram flash sale the other week. Doesn’t she look fabulous wearing it in her most recent post? You can purchase all necklaces from my etsy shop now if you are interested.

2. A few people asked about my black strappy back bathing suit top from the Costa Rica post. I got it at Pac Sun but it’s not on their website anymore. I found this one which is very similar. It looks reversible so you could wear it on the black side for a similar look. I love that top! Speaking of suits… How cute is this Pina Colada suit? Also, READ THIS ARTICLE!

3. These Raspberry Lemon Yogurt popsicles look amazing. We will definitely be making these this summer!

4. Julie look so beautiful in this dress. Perfect outfit for summer. And goodness Andrea is a babe! Love the white tank and leather skirt.

5. These yellow wedges are about the cutest thing ever! How sweet would they look with a pretty summer dress? This dress would be perfect.

6. We had plans to meet up with Drea and Marlowe when we were in FL, but unfortunately some plane issues made me have to cancel (major sad face!) but I wish we could have hula hooped with those two. They are just too cute!!

7. Have you ever tried homemade granola bars? In an effort to be less processed in our house I have been trying a bunch of recipes. This one looks delicious!

8. I’ve been looking for the perfect chambray skirt for summer and I am pretty sure this is it!

9. Congrats to Melissa on the new blog/blog name. Dearbaby was one of the very first motherhood blogs I followed. I have so much love for her and her family.

10. And lastly the sweetest little ice cream sundae shirt for Rowan.

Celebrating 8 Years in Costa Rica

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Last week Kev and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary and what better way to celebrate than hopping a plane to Costa Rica for a long weekend together. It was a quick flight from FL to the Liberia airport in Costa Rica. We stayed at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort. Let’s just say it was by far the nicest, most beautiful hotel we’ve ever stayed in. There was a huge shower that had sliding glass doors that opened up to the balcony, making it an awesome outdoor shower overlooking the jungle and the bay. Poured cement floors, lots of natural wood and light. It was like they knew the way to my heart. There were monkey’s right outside our balcony! We just fell in love with the country. With only 2 full days there, we didn’t get to explore a whole lot (which we would have loved to do) but instead decided to just relax and enjoy the beauty of the Papagayo Peninsula with hopes of returning on a longer trip one day.

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We didn’t need a long time away from the kids (we’d miss them waaay too much) but having 2 days of one on one time together was so important for our relationship. After 8 years we are more bonded, more in love, better friends than ever. It is work, don’t get me wrong. We have to be conscious to feed our relationship- and that can be very hard with small children. I am so very thankful we got this time away. I’ve been reading a book called Home Making (thanks Lesley) by J.R. Miller. It was written in 1882 and I had my doubts about it before I started. I wasn’t sure I would like what he had to say about being a wife and motherhood from a perspecitve so long ago. I honestly have never underlined and dog-eared more pages of a book ever! I just loved it. There is a whole chapter about married life which really struck a chord with me. There was so much simple truth to what he wrote. I loved that he listed out these things as most important 1. loving patience 2. courtesy 3. unity of interests 4. guarding against misunderstandings (there is no room for pride) and 5. presence of Christ. I couldn’t agree more. They are all simple things but I feel like they are usually the first to be forgotten as the years on go. I love these sections of the book about marriage…

“The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions, the little soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and countless infinitesimals of pleasurable thought and genial feeling. These may seem trifles, and the omission of them may be deemed unworthy of thought, but they are the daily bread of love, and hearts go hungry when they are omitted. It may only be carelessness at first in a busy husband or a weary wife- which fails in these small, sweet courtesies, and it may seem a little matter- but in the end the result may be a growing far apart of two lives which might have been forever very happy in each other- had their early love but been cherished and nourished.”

“Love is always ready to deny itself, to give, sacrifice, just in the measure of its sincerity and intensity. Perfect love is perfect self-forgetfulness. Hence where there is love in a home, unselfishness is the law. Each forgets self and lives for others.But where there is selfishness it mars joy. One selfish soul will destroy the sweetness of life in any home. It is like an ugly bush in the midst of a garden of flowers. It was selfishness that destroyed the first home and blighted all the loveliness of Paradise; and it has been blighting lovely things in earth’s home ever since. We need to guard against this spirit.”

Sometimes I think it’s so easy to focus on the negative things about our spouse. What they are doing wrong, what they aren’t doing to help, etc… but you will be surprised the change of attitude that can happen and the change in your spouse actually when you really start examining yourself instead. That last quote about being less selfish is one I am really trying to pray over more these days. Kev is a wonderful man and husband. He loves the Lord, he works hard and he loves unconditionally. He is the boy I fell in love with over 10 years ago. The one I want to travel and explore the world with, to be neck deep in this parenting adventure with and the person who knows my every hurt, joy, dream and sorrow. He is my everything. It’s such an honor to live this life alongside him. He’s my best friend and hands down favorite person on earth. These past 8 years have shaped us into who we are today. I am excited to see how another 8, than another 8 will change us as well.

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Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev
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