Our Everyday Style | 10.10.14

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How’s everyone’s week been? Thank you to everyone who left a comment about their kid’s sleep habits on the last post. Loved reading everyone’s stories. Made me feel better about my early risers. Counting it a blessing they at least both finally sleep through the night. Lord knows we had a good almost 2 years of at least 3 wake ups from each of them through the night. Well, Finley finally (finally!) slept through the night at about 14 months. Perspective! Am I right?

I had a hard time narrowing down these pictures. I know we all think our kids are cute, but DANG! MY.KIDS.ARE.CUTE! Finley cracks me up. She is either laughing or hates life. For every one of these smiley pictures, there were about 15 where she looked like she wanted to hurt someone. That child. This is totally off topic and totally random but I just sneezed like 30 times in a row. What is happening? Do people have allergies in the Fall?

OK. Back to the pictures.

The girls are so fun to dress. I really quite enjoy myself getting them dressed every morning. I feel like boys would be pretty fun though too. More like a fun challenge- you know, trying to dress them cute without always having them in shirts with balls, trucks or dinosaurs on them. I keep thinking, what if we get placed with a boy? It all happens so quick, I would have nothing for them to wear at that moment. It’s such a silly thing to worry about but just something I thought of the other day. I mean my girls have their fair share of items from the boys section but… Where are your favorite places to shop for little boys?

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Jen’s Outfit:

Coated Denim: Madewell
White Lou & Grey Tee: LOFT (even all the Lou & Grey stuff is 50% off!)
Denim Shirt: LOFT (50% off!)
“be thankful” Necklace: Jess LC
Glasses: c/o Coastal
SK8-Hi Slim’ Hi-Top: Vans

Rowan’s Outfit:

Be Rad Tee: Geo Fox Apparel
Cardigan: Gap
Skirt: RUUM
Tights: H&M
Checkerboard Slip Ons: Vans

Finley’s Outfit:

Checkered Shirt: Gap
Cardigan: H&M (boys section)
Jeans: Gap
Leopard Half Cabs: Vans

American Flag: Urban Outfitters

p.s. when your hair is dyed lighter at the bottom it will always. always. look like a taupe (or in my case, a birds nest) on top of your head. What are ya going to do about it but embrace it? #birdsnestforlife

My Weekly Parenting Ups & Downs

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It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these posts. Trying to make it more of a regular kind of thing. I really like them. I also really like hearing from all of you as we share stories in the comments section. Nice to know we’re all going through this crazy motherhood journey together!

Ups:
1. I really feel like we are in a good groove lately. It’s a nice feeling. Of course, there are crazy moments (see “downs” below), but really, I know in the scheme of things they aren’t all that terrible. Everyone is at a super fun age (when they are in good moods, of course) and they make the best little buddies. They entertain each other like crazy and it makes my heart explode every time I hear them laughing together from another room. Siblings are seriously the best thing ever! I know some parents choose to only have one child and I totally think that’s great but I could not imagine our family with out these two. I can’t help but think about how differently Finley gets to grow up because she has Rowan around. I guess there is good and bad to that but the first person she calls for in the morning when she wakes up is “RORO”. Finley is fiercely loyal to her. Whenever Rowan leaves the room, within seconds Finley is searching for her saying “where RoRo go?”. Finley is also in a pretty intense Daddy stage. I don’t mind — there is nothing better than seeing your children madly in love with their Daddy.

2. Homeschooling is going so great. Of course, we are still working it all out and getting into the swing of it but each week is getting better and better. Rowan loves learning and it warms my heart to hear her tell people about the things she learned that week. Now, whenever she comes across something she doesn’t really know much about, she asks if we can learn about it in school. Umm? So Cute! She asked me the other day if we could learn french. We have a little learning area set up downstairs so that when we are working on school work, Finley can be down there with us playing in the play room. I am really, really loving it so far. We’re going to be taking it a year at a time but I am excited about the possibilities for our family to grow, learn, and hopefully travel together more often if we continue to homeschool.

3. Finley has been soooo into books lately. I LOVE it so much. As soon as you mention nap time or bed time she goes running to her room. She’ll grab her blanket, giraffe and then pull out piles of books. She laughs at every page, no matter what the book even says. She’s just over the moon sitting together and reading books. When we picked her up from the nursery the other day after church, one of the volunteers even said she just wanted to be read to the whole time she was in there. I hope we can continue to foster her love for reading as she gets older.

Downs:
1. Finley. hahaha. This girl is seriously the craziest little child I have ever seen. She is hilarious and so in love with her family but… If she doesn’t know you, hasn’t had a nap, or is in a mood. Oh boy. Watch out. I use to think Rowan was active but whew! I was wrong. Rowan is totally a first born (ever read one of those birth order books?). She loves to follow rules, gets very upset when she realizes she has done something wrong and has to take care of everyone. Finley on the other hand LOVES to cause trouble. And she does it with this mischievous little smile on her face that you can’t help but laugh under your breath at. She keeps me on my toes thats for sure. I’m not wishing away this age but I am looking forward to her being able to communicate just a little bit more so it’s not so frustrating for her. Almost 2 is a tough one.

2. The morning time. I am not a morning person. I’ve tried to be one for years, but I’m finally accepting that I am just not cut out for it. I’m a night owl through and through. Why don’t children sleep in? I’m not even talking super late. I would kill for like a 7:45am wake up time. I hear Moms saying they have to wake their kids up because it gets too late… Ahhh teach my your ways!!! No matter what time my kids go to bed, they wake up at the same exact minute every morning. If we get them to bed early that’s fine. They’re mostly rested and ready for the day (it’s still too early…) but, chances are we’re not getting them into bed at 7pm though. There is always stuff going on, or it’s just hard to rush through the evening when they don’t get to see Kev till like 6:00. They want to play with him and he wants to play with them. Rowan is finally at an age where I think she would sleep a little later but Finley is up at the crack of dawn screaming and crying for her. She always wakes Rowan up. They both have fans in their rooms for white noise and both the doors are closed but their rooms are right next to each other. Then Rowan is upset because Finley woke her up but won’t go back to sleep and Finley is tired and cranky because she still needs another hour as well. BUT NO ONE WILL GO BACK TO SLEEP. Why?!?!? Please tell me what time your kids go to bed and what time they get up. I am dying to know what everyone does.

Rowan: I am only good at one hiya ninja move
Me: What is a hiya ninja move?
Rowan: HIIIIIIIYAA! (as she jump and kicks her leg out).

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^^playing hide and seek in the maze garden at the park

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Living a Simple, Intentional Life | Pt.3 Clothing

I will be the first to admit I am a clothes hoarder. I love sales, the clearance rack and I keep clothes forever! I still have (had- just got rid of them) clothes in my closet from when I was in college (10 years ago). I just don’t like to let go of things. My closet started getting out of control though and really, I only wore such a small fraction of what was in there. I started questioning what I was keeping and why? My style has changed so much since becoming a Mom. Most of the stuff just sat in there because it was too dressy, to busy for my tastes now a days or I thought it had some sort of special meaning. My closet did not reflect the person I felt like on the inside. A girl who is much more confident in what she wears then her closet let on. I think if someone that didn’t know me opened my closet doors, they’d think the owner was all over the place, not knowing what she really liked at all. When I started cleaning out all our drawers, pantry, cupboards, basement, toys, and things else where in the house, my closet was no exception. I felt like Stacy and Clinton. I didn’t have anything that was terribly out of fashion like in that show, but I was harsh and got rid of everything that I didn’t currently wear. Have you read 7 by Jen Hatmaker? I just kept thinking of that chapter over and over. We really DO NOT need thousands of items in our closets. Next time you say “I don’t have anything to wear” go count how many items of clothing you have. I bet the number will make you cringe a little.

With a pretty much empty closet staring at me (I either donated or sold all old clothes), I decided it was time to invest in some good pieces to fill it partly back up. Pieces that would last more than one season. Pieces that could be mixed, matched and worn a hundred different ways. Pieces that wouldn’t go out of style in 6 months. No fast fashion. Every one is talking about a “capsule collection” in the blog world these days and I love the idea behind it, I do. I personally didn’t want to set up any strict rules for myself though. I want this to be something I stick with. More of a lifestyle change than just a season or say 40 days. I also wanted to be able to wear whatever items from my closet that I hadn’t gotten rid of. I made a list of items I thought I needed to add as we head into the dreaded Northeast winter. I told myself after I found those items that was it though, no more spending on random things here and there. I needed to know/believe I didn’t need anything else. It’s fun to window shop for sure but there is a difference between looking for fun and feeling like you need things when you don’t. I want to find that balance.

I saved up the last few months to invest in some of these items for fall/winter. When you aren’t buying clothes all season long, it allows you to save up and then wisely make choices for new items when the next season rolls around. Having a plan it key. Then you don’t end up with tons of random items that don’t match and you only wear once. Here are some items that will be getting me through this up coming winter.

Sweaters:

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Sweaters are a big one for me. It’s so dang cold, for so dang long here that it’s worth the money to buy some nice sweaters. I love cardigans because you can layers all your summer tees and tanks and make them last into the winter. Still obsessed with Everlane’s u neck white tee. I love thin slouchy sweaters that you can half tuck in the front of your jeans. I hand wash all my sweaters and line dry them so they keep their shape and don’t get all pilly.

Shirts:

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Keeping it simple here. A cream silk blouse, totally cool to wear with a pair of jeans and ankle boots. Can’t go wrong with a chambray shirt and ooooh I could have a hundred buffalo plaid shirts and it wouldn’t be enough (jk) but I kept it to two different colors this winter. Love the simple striped cotton tee from J.Crew but making it a little more interesting with 2 shoulder zippers. The ottoman striped popover from the Loft will definitely be my most worn item. I’ve already worn it like 2 times this week.

Pants & Jeans:pants

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I swear these are not all black. The coated racetrack jeans from Madewell are amazing! Oh Man! Such a good purchase. Love the high waisted grey BDG jeans from UO. I have them in ankle length and the longer length. Grey jeans are where it’s at this year. Goes with everything! The black ponte pants from the Loft are my alternative to leggings. I am just not a girl that feels comfortable wearing leggings out in public. They are pjs in my head and I feel weird wearing them out. So these pants are great. Soft, stretchy, but have butt pockets and a button to make me feel like they are actually pants. Cranberry colored cords just scream fall and winter to me. Love the fit of these ones. Also, the legging jeans from the Loft are amazing. Extra skinny, perfect rise, great color.

Skirts & Dresses:skirts+dresses

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Amazing all around. I can’t wait to wear all of these with thick tights, ankle boots and warm sweaters. Love the cranberry cord mini- so many outfits to make with it! I’ve been looking for a “leather” mini that is stylish with still being ladylike. This one fits the bill! Not to short, but with cute elastic waist and exposed zipper detail. I wore this striped black and cranberry dress to the conference this weekend.

Shoes & Boots:shoes

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I am kind of obsessed with my Vans high tops. LOVE THEM! Sneakers and ankle boots. My go to for everything.

You can read Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 of this journey here.

Loft is 40% off right now just so you know!

Stranded in Indianapolis

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I was supposed to hop a plane Sunday morning and be back to my family as soon as they had finished church. Unfortunately there were some very crazy/sad events that happened at the Chicago airport earlier in the weekend and basically shut it down. Doh! Thousands of flights were canceled and no one was going anywhere. Lucky for me, my roommate and dear friend Monica was also stranded for another night. We made the most of it and had the most wonderful day sleeping in, eating, shopping and exploring downtown Indianapolis. We had the most delicious breakfast (ok it was lunch time) at Cafe Patachou and some killer tacos and margaritas at Bakerfield’s on Mass Ave. We climbed to the top of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument- which my legs are still sore 2 days later. We hit up the 40% off sale on the LOFT (and they let me use my LOFT cash cards on top of that- it was like I hit the jackpot!). We also went to the coolest and I mean COOLEST toy store ever. Thanks to whoever recommend it on my instagram feed. It was called Mass Ave Toys. I got the girls all kinds of neat treats to bring home.

It was sad to be away from my family another day but I really loved the down time and quality hang out time with Monica that day!

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^^this guy was making a really awesome (wink, wink) music video

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IMG_6238^^not going to lie, this ridiculous traveling bar that you had to pedal all together looked like a lot of fun!

Till next time Indianapolis!

Influence Conference 2014

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^^a sunset bike ride with the fam a few weeks ago.

Hi Friends! It’s been a little while hasn’t it? Lot’s has been going on over here the last few weeks! We’ve had 2 birthdays, started home schooling, 4 foster care placement calls, traveled to Massachusetts, San Francisco, Indianapolis, had an art show, filled 3 large wholesale orders for necklaces, painted a wall mural at our church and worked my butt off for an hour long workshop I gave about working with brands for the Influence Conference. Whew! Not sure why things all come at once for me, but feeling like I am slowly coming up for air after a few very busy weeks.

I have lots of posts to share but today I am just trying to process thoughts from this past weekend at the Influence Conference. What an amazing weekend! I’ve been to blog conferences before and I’ve been to christian women’s conferences, but this 2 in 1 deal sort of blew my mind. These are women who love God and love the internet! All the speakers where so heartfelt and genuine. I felt like both Jess and Haley were speaking straight to me, even in a room full of 300 women.

It’s time to build.

That was the theme of the conference. It’s a sentence that can be very scary or very freeing. If you let yourself, it can be one that sweeps you up in what needs to be done and what you should be doing or even not doing. Even with the best intentions you can make it about yourself very quickly. That’s not the point though and the women at the conference spoke with such wisdom and truth to that. The work has already been done. God paved the way for us already. Our value is not in the things we do or the kingdoms we build for ourselves. Our value comes from Him alone. Why are we building (our blogs, our presences, our influence, our homes, or well kept lives, etc..)? For our own glory or Gods? Because if it’s for ourselves there is no lasting satisfaction in that. It’s a kingdom that won’t last. There will always be someone/something bigger, better, more beautiful out there. It will leave you feeling like you are not enough. But hear this truth… YOU ARE ENOUGH! You are enough in Christ.

So let your kingdom be built for Him. For His glory to shine . Let’s make more of our lives be less about ourselves.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

What are you making your treasure today?

My Everyday Style | 09.11.14

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I’ve been really working on scaling back my wardrobe lately. Sticking with items that fit more into the basics category (nothing fussy!). I’ve talked about it before but becoming a Mom has really given me a clearer sense of what my style is. It wasn’t an overnight thing but has developed over the last 4 years (ROWAN IS 4 TOMORROW! WHAT!?!?!). I really enjoy dressing much more laid back than I use to, with more neutral colors. More tomboy with a flair of femininity. How and why i’ve scaled back my closet is coming in the next Living A Simple, Intention Life post so I won’t go into great detail here but it’s actually been making picking out outfits and getting dressed even more fun. I’ve been really intrigued by the whole wardrobe capsule idea started over on Un-Fancy. It reminds me of Kendi’s 30×30. I don’t really feel the need to limit my closet to a certain number of items but I really like the whole idea of it. Keep things simple, intentional, and lots of remixing.

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IMG_6142 ^^cutest dang diaper bag out there! Perfect for fall and it doubles as a backpack!

OUTFIT DETAILS:

Lou & Grey Linen Romper: LOFT (on crazy sale! plus everything at LOFT is 40% off!)
Cardigan: Forever 21
Leopard Loafers: (similar)
Elizabeth Red Canvas Diaper Bag: c/o Lily Jade (on sale!)

And just because Rowan is awesome…
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p.s. should we talk about how ridiculous Finley is? Rowan was wearing a princess dress that morning so she had to as well. And as you can see in one of the pictures Rowan was wearing a hula hoop around her neck, so Finley had to find something to copy her and be just like big sister. What a ham.

Living a Simple, Intentional Life | Pt.2 Toys

Rowan's Nook | Jenloveskev.com

Ever since I wrote the post a few months back about living a simple, intentional life I’ve wanted to share more about how we’ve been working on that in our house. I was so encouraged by all the comments and emails I received from readers and friends (thank you!) striving for the same things in their own lives. It really seems like it’s a common goal for so many of us. Over the past 2 months I’ve majorly purged our house. There seriously has not been a drawer or closet untouched. We have a huge pile of things for a garage sale and have taken countless trips to the goodwill. Man I loved knick knacks a little too much. Anyways, I wanted to start a series on here talking about the different areas that I went through and purged/changed/reorganized to reach our idea of a simple, intentional life.

Today we will talk about toys, but over the next few weeks I would love to talk about the changes I made to our closets, our food choices, our calendar/time, and decorating. Hope you will join along and share your own tips in each of these categories.
First up:

TOYS!

Boy, Oh boy! I can’t escape a trip to target without having to bring Rowan up and down each of the toy aisles. She always asks me when we walk in, “Momma, can we just go check on the toys and make sure they are all still working?” Nice try kid. The reason I picked toys as something we needed to change was because I felt like they were taking over. I don’t say any of this as a way of passing judgement on anyone. This is just how I felt for our house. I don’t like getting caught up in the idea that kids need lots of toys. They don’t. At all. In fact, I believe that too many toys hinder how kids play. I also don’t want Rowan and Finley to think they need toys to have fun either. I’ve never been a big fan of the big ol’ plastic, loud noise making, breaking every 2 seconds, million of parts, fill your house with clutter kind of toys. I stood pretty firmly when Rowan was a baby but over time they just accumulated. You can’t help it. Birthdays, christmas, etc… Every time you turn around it’s another holiday that presents are being given. I am always grateful, but there comes a time when enough is enough in my opinion. I looked around our house at the beginning of the summer and thought we have waaaaay too many toys and the kids play with literally 20% of them. That’s when I went to town on the toy room, their bedrooms, our toy dresser and donated about 75% of everything.

Kev and I sat down and came up with a new game plan when it comes to toys in our house. We talked with each of our parents and asked that for Christmas and birthdays they really try to limit what they give the girls. We suggested that what we would really love is if they gave a gift of an “experience” instead. Bring Rowan to the science museum, Disney on Ice, or the ballet for example. Something that would create a wonderful special day for the grandparents and the girls to share together. Rowan will talk about something like that for months and months, when a toy would interest her for like a week maybe. Some of you may think that is harsh or no fun but I really just didn’t like our parents wasting money either.

As far as the toys I did keep, I narrowed down the toys to 5 different categories. If it didn’t fall into one of them, wasn’t well made, or well loved by the girls, or a toy that I felt enriched their play it was donated. Our toy categories are…

1. Dress Up/Imagination play:

I kept all our dress up clothes (Melissa and Doug have the cutest outfits) and I created a little dress up chest with all the accessories. We have the Melissa and Doug Puppet theatre that the girls love as well. They use all their stuffed animals as “puppets” and love to put on little shows. We have a cute B. Doctor set the girls love. We also have a great kitchen set with lots of Melissa and Doug food pieces. Rowan’s favorite is her Kid Kraft dollhouse, I feel like that is the one toy we’ve bought her that she still uses almost daily. I keep a little basket next to it that houses all the dolls, figurines and furniture. She doesn’t use any one set of dolls for the house. I’ve seen a big ol’ party up in there with Barbies, My Little Ponies, Princess Sophie and Minnie Mouse.

2. Art and Craft Supplies:

In my opinion you can never have enough art supplies. We have loads of markers, paper, coloring books, scissors, glue, glitter (ugh), goggly eyes, pipe cleaners, ribbon. etc… Don’t get scared if you are not a crafty person. If you have the supplies out for your little one to create- they will create! They are so creative without even trying. Sometimes I like to have a set craft in mind for the girls but most times I just let them go at it. Love seeing what Rowan will come up with. If you do feel like you need a lithe help in this area, we love the Alex Toys Craft boxes you can get. It’s a great place to start!

3. Puzzles/ Building

Rowan loves puzzles. We especially extra large floor puzzles, but man she is good at even teeny tiny piece puzzles. She works so hard at them, it’s pretty darn cute. We also love legos. I just bought her first set of real legos. We’ve moved on from duplos and we had the best time this morning building silly animals with them. We also love these bristle blocks and then my absolute favorite are the Haba blocks. Rowan has this Janod circus set and it’s about the cutest thing I have ever seen. We also love this Janod alphabet puzzle.

4. Musical Instruments

Any real musical instrument is ok in my book. I not a huge fan of the fake kid ones out there, I don’t mean a miniature version of the real one, I mean the ones were you press a button on a “guitar” and it plays music sort of thing. That’s not really teaching anything about music. One musical toy we do absolutely LOVE is this Symphony B. Music Toy. I find myself sitting and playing with it well after the girls are done. It’s so fun.

5. Books

Books! Books! Books! I will never say no to books. I always want our house to be full of books to read and look at. I want them out and accessible to the girls and not just tucked up in their rooms either. We have 2 separate areas for their books downstairs on our main floor. I always want them around as an option for something to do.

We organized all the toys and created a few little areas of play around our house. Our basement has most of the imagination play items. We do a lot of our art projects over at my craft table. We have Rowan’s Dollhouse set up in our living room. In the family room we have a little chalk drawing area as well as all the puzzles and blocks stored in the drawers of the dresser. Our goal was to have things accessible but to not take over the house. I wanted it all scaled back and for everything to have a home. And you know what? Removing more than half the toys actually has made the girls play with the toys more. They can find things, aren’t overwhelmed, know how to clean up better, and are more creative with less.

How to you handle toys in your house?

Here are some photos of our play areas. Nothing fancy or styled for pinterst just real life how we organize our kids toys.

Toy Dresser | Jenloveskev.com

Toy Baskets | Jenloveskev.com

Rowan's Dollhouse | Jenloveskev.com

Basement Play Area | Jenloveskev.com

Craft Room | Jenloveskev.com

p.s. I didn’t mention any super specific toys for Finley because she honestly doesn’t want to play with anything other than what Rowan is playing with. She loves all the toys mentioned above just as much as Rowan.

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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