17.4.18

Reading For Pleasure + How To Get There

 

Many of you have commented on how odd it seems that I read so much for a busy schedule, three kids, work, etc etc etc. The truth is, I haven't always been a reader. There was a time when I flipped through magazines at most and dreaded having to read for school - it was never something I'd have done as a hobby or by choice.  It wasn't until after Chloe was born when I had three kids under three that I became an avid reader. Which seems probably the least likely time in one's life to take on a time-consuming, concentration-demanding hobby. Here's how I became a passionate reader in recent years:
  1. Start with a GREAT book

    I had started and never finished many books before becoming a devoted reader. It's not easy to be passionate about reading when you don't have a few great books under your belt. I asked several friends who were avid readers for recommendations, and at the time the title All The Light We Cannot See repeatedly came up in conversation. Even though I found the first few chapters slow going, I pressed on and was rewarded with the first great book I'd read in years. Loving the book helped keep it a priority and when I finally finished it, I truly missed reading it. That kind of book is the best way to get started. 
  2. Stop watching TV!

    Plain and simple, the best reading hours tend to be the ones people are use watching television. I'm not against TV, but I've noticed that in the years since becoming an avid reader, I've cut down significantly. If you want to prioritize reading, and you're working or with your children during the day, then evenings (aka TV time!) are your best shot. Carve out that space and you'll see you have hours at your disposal if you're willing.
  3. Join/start a book club

    This was a great thing that has kept me going and introduced me to new titles I might not have chosen on my own. I started my book club by asking a few women from different social circles who I knew were avid readers if they were interested. Everyone was; it was so easy. We decided to delve into some classics, and in a few months, I'd read most of Jane Austen's novels. Discussing the book brought it back to life and gave me the extra push to finish if I was behind. With my book club we  read one book every month, then we discuss it over wine and snacks. Try it!
  4. Set a goal to finish within the month

    Finishing a book can be such an accomplishment, especially in the years with little children, or exhausting work. As difficult as it may seem, set the goal to finish your book within a month so the story is still well intact in your memory and you enjoy each chapter as linked to the previous one. I'm convinced that the books that lag on and I never get to finishing are the ones that I've read too slowly and lost interest in over time.
  5. Keep your book on hand

    This part is probably the most essential! We all have those moments in our day where we're waiting for something or doing nothing. What if we could have a book on hand during that time? Now, I almost always have my Kobo eReader, an audio book downloaded on my phone, or a physical book in my purse for those exact moments. Instead of checking my phone for meaningless content, I'm reading a great story in those tiny gaps of the day. 
I hope these help you get back into reading, or begin the journey to reading for pleasure! Reading is now a true joy for me and just a few years ago that would never have been the case! 

12.4.18

New Pictures of the Kid's Room (+ How Idols Thrive In Materialism and Minimalism)

Thanks everyone for their feedback on what storage shelving unit I should buy to house all of our newly acquired toys and books for the kid's room. In a recent post, I shared a few options that I was considering for our kid's mounting possessions, all the while blind to the real solution. Brad was happy to help me see where I'd wandered off, however. Might the real answer be that I re-embrace minimalism with our kid's toys and books and actually donate a significant amount of these items, instead of buying a new storage unit to store it all? Ahem. Right. Exactly. Why didn't I think of that?


 I'd like to say I responded humbly to Brad's obvious suggestion but I totally fought him. And I totally fight the deep seeded desire to always have new things. Even though my "new things" come from the thrift store 90% of the time, they're still new. It's still materialism, albeit budget-conscious and eco-friendly materialism. I love change and I love design and I love constantly re-creating our nest. I'm proud to say I'm consistently below budget in the realm of clothing and decor, because I love hunting down a good deal, and I'm not afraid (heck I prefer) to shop second hand. But here's where I get into trouble - my heart.


Honouring your family's budget and rescuing endless goods from landfills is great and I highly recommend it (and I love to show you how I do the same on this space and on Instagram), but at the end of the day, whether you spend thousands at Big Box stores, or $30 at Salvation Army, your heart can be in the exact same place - craving new and exciting things and believing the lie that acquiring more will bring you joy. Idols, which I'm suggesting are things we worship or look to for joy, thrive in materialism and minimalism. Whether we want more more more in a crowded space or that one perfect object in a sparse room, we can easily slip from appreciating God's good gifts to trusting that thing (or those things) to bring us joy. As a Christian, I believe Jesus is the only source of true and lasting joy, but I so often seek joy elsewhere, and I'm always eventually disappointed. A perfectly clean kid's room won't bring lasting joy, neither will new possessions whether they're bought secondhand or full price.


So how am I preaching this while sharing pictures of our kid's room? I feel the dissonance, too. I'm sharing because I was convinced that to make their room better, I needed this one shelf. I donated a lot of brain power and energy to finding the perfect shelf, only to be reminded by my wise husband that the shelf wasn't the need. Jesus was the need.  And I had bought a lot of stuff that my kid's didn't even love instead of being thrilled and satisfied by Him.


I still love design and decor, and I believe it's using a creative side that Jesus actually gave me, so I know there's a place to honour Him as I share my ideas for room sharing and minimalism. But please don't lose sight of the truth that Jesus is all your heart truly desires. Not the perfect capsule wardrobe or minimalism nursery or cart full of new things, used or fresh from the mall.


 I nearly fell off the minimalism bandwagon this winter, and I bought way too many things and even thought I needed to buy a huge shelf to accommodate it all, instead of realizing that my tendency is to search for the thrill of new things instead of being satisfied in Jesus. Well, that ended up being rather deep for a post promising new pictures of the kid's room, but I guess I couldn't have the latter realization without the former topic. I ended up, with the kid's help, collecting a garbage bag full of stuffed animals, blankets, books, and toys, and no longer need a shelf. But boy do I need Jesus!

SOURCES ///

white desk - side of the road (see transformation on Apartment Therapy)
bunk bed - IKEA, white washed
desk chair - Structube
reading couch - an old padded ottoman covered with a sheet
baskets - thrifted (Village des Valeurs, Renaissance, Armee du Salut)
digital clock - Target
books - 99% thrifted
white bookshelf, wooden side table - IKEA, second hand
stuffed animals - 99% thrifted
globe, brass piggy bank, Quebec flag, doll house, mini baskets - thrifted
Victroian man and woman cross stitch - road side find, frames painted
ABC print - Lili Graffiti
framed doily - thrifted
Lego bins, rug, closet organizers - IKEA
black out curtains - Walmart
Calico Critters tree house and animals - Kijiji find

10.4.18

mélange

For mélange posts from now on, not only am I going to be sharing articles, thoughts, and items I've been loving lately, but also a few girls on Instagram that I've found recently and enjoyed. For this week, I wanted to share Laura-Anne from @all.thats.pretty. Her grid isn't one that I'm particularly drawn to, but a friend and fellow Royal-lover told me to go watch her stories, and suddenly I was hooked. She's met Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle and lives in Northern Ireland with her small family. I love her cozy home, her silly nature, and ok, her accent! Her stories are just so hilarious. Her husband and two sons are surrounded by floral everything (which she calls Floral Guff) and she makes me want to visit Ireland big time. Now, onto some links!
via Little Green Notebook
  • This 3 piece outfit is basically my exact uniform as of last Fall. It's all I wore in London (except with my Stan Smiths instead of loafers), and all I plan to wear as soon as this Spring weather isn't so darn cold. 
  • LOL. Every church needs this
  • I'm really into Green Bowls for lunches. It's great fixing everything in advance and tossing it together each day for a quick and healthy lunch. 
via Love and Lemons
  • Our kids have never been exposed to contact sports in person, but have watched hockey games. Worth considering: would you let your children play contact sports? This article gives a strong opinion against tackle football for children. 
  • Being a cold Spring, I had to laugh at this.
  • I'm listening to this book on Audible and am absolutely enthralled. Also it's my first time listening to a full book, and I must say, I'm into it. I still prefer to cozy up on the couch with a real book, but I love that I can listen to an incredible story while folding laundry, doing groceries, picking up the kids, etc. The first month is free on Audible (1 book per month), so this one was free, but I think I'll keep it for Japan next month so I don't need to lug several books along with me.
via Travel Through Text
 Just a few links, thoughts, and pieces I've loved lately that I wanted to share. Hope you've enjoyed! What are you reading or loving online lately?

5.4.18

a day in HER Life - Manuela

 
Hi! 
 
I'm Manuela, a mother of two little wild beings, Luna  (a 20-month-old) and Pablo (a 3-year-old) and the soon-to-be wife of my kids dad and the love of my life. We live in a small apartment in the Plateau neighborhood in Montreal, Canada and we live a very happy and simple life. When we became parents, it was instinctively clear to us that we wanted to prioritize the time we spent with our kids so we decided I was only going to work part time doing something I love (taking pictures of kids and families) and that I was going to be with our kids and in our home as much as I could so we could have a peaceful and unhurried life. 
 
 
We are also very lucky to have my mom's daycare only a ten-minute walk from our place. They go there part-time and they love being with their grandmother and playing with their friends. I'm there very often too and I love being able to share all those beautiful moments with them. My boyfriend is an amazing portrait and advertising photographer and he's a living example of what hard work, faith and creativity can accomplish. I was born in Colombia so Pablo and Luna are half Colombian and half Canadian. I speak to them only in Spanish and their dad speaks to them in French. It is very important to me that they understand their roots. We've been to Colombia 3 times in the last 3 years and it is fantastic to see how much they learn and enjoy every trip. Being a mom is simply the most eye-opening, overwhelming and exciting adventure! 
 
 
Our morning routine is pretty similar every day. Pablo and Luna always wake up before the both of us at 7 a.m. We let them play with their toys and with each other and sometimes they do it for a bit but they always end up in our bed smiling and giving us hugs and kisses which is the BEST way to get up, really! Then I go make breakfast and while I do that they often make a fruit smoothie with dad (they love it!). We have breakfast together and then my boyfriend makes me the most important thing to start the day right, COFFEE! At that point I let them play again while I clean the kitchen a little bit and then dad goes to work and we shower and get dressed for the day! That's the part that's very similar each day but once that is done, the rest is always different. 
 
 
On the days they both go to their grandma's daycare, we walk together and get there around 9-10 am. I go back home and work for a while and then I go back around 3-4 p.m. and sometimes I stay for a little bit and do some kind of activity with them. On the days we stay home, we go play outside in the morning and we get back around 11 a.m. to start making dinner. Most of the time they're somewhere in the kitchen (they're never too far from me) and when it's ready, we eat and then we go to their room and we read stories until it's time for their nap. Pablo isn't napping everyday now, but we still lay down and if he doesn't want to sleep we knows he has to wait until Luna falls asleep and then he can go back to reading books or just resting for a bit. After their nap, around 3 p.m., they play again! They used to each have their separate room but it wasn't working well with both of them still waking up most nights so we decided they would share a room and it has been going very well! They now have a small playroom and a bedroom where they can rest and sleep. They're starting to play together a little bit more and they both love playing with their toys and making up stories.  We've moved a lot of furniture and the beds around since we moved but I think we finally found a way that works well for us. 
 
 
Once a week I have a day just with Pablo and on those days we often go for a croissant at a café in our neighborhood, we go play outside and we play a lot with LEGOs. We also go to the supermarket and/or the pharmacy together which is something I think is great to do with him and we talk, a lot! I also have one day just with Luna and we mostly play while doing the laundry and cleaning. We also play with dolls because it's her favourite game or with a spiderman figurine which she loves! Those days I get to spend with each of them are very special to me because I know it is an incredible opportunity and it's amazing how many good things come out from one-on-one time with your kids. 


That's what our different week days look like. Our week nights are pretty similar though.  Their dad gets home around 5h30 p.m. and their faces light up when he arrives! We always welcome him with kisses and we often talk way too much to him before he even gets the chance to take off his coat! After that I finish supper if I haven't already and we eat together around 6 p.m. We then run a bath for the kids and let them play there for a little bit. Around 7 p.m. it's story time! Pablo LOVES books, I could read 15 stories straight and he would still be listening!  After a couple of stories, we turn off the light and I stay with them until they fall asleep. I love that time with them. We hug and they often say beautiful things to me!


The weekends are their favourite time with dad! We visit our family or have friends over and it's always about enjoying our time together as a family. 

I've never been more tired, I often feel lost or scared but being a mom is best thing that ever happened to me. When I look at my kids, everything seems possible, life makes perfect sense and time slows down. I feel more present, whole and at peace than ever and that's the whole point, isn't it?  :)

Thanks Manuela! I'm so glad we're neighbours!
Instagram - @lelagomez