Silver Lining

December 9, 2016

the "what's next?" phase


I n almost every possible way, our family is in a "what's next?" phase right now.

Sam will graduate in a few months, and his big "what's next?" is securing an awesome job. Corporate America, we're coming for you. Incidentally, if your company is looking for new employees, might I recommend one Sam Emery? He has a masters in business administration, a masters in information management, a freaking awesome work ethic, and sexy facial hair, although I couldn't get him to add that last one on LinkedIn.

Since it's still a bit too early for Sam to have accepted any offers, we're also in the "where next?" phase. Sometimes it's unsettling knowing that our lease is up this summer and we have zero clue where we'll move to, but mostly it's exciting. We'd love to put down roots and become homeowners one of these days, and we love to day dream about the awesome places we could be living.

About three times a day I go through an identity crisis (Sam will confirm - this is not an exaggeration). I'm constantly battling with my restless desire to do everything and be everywhere and learn all the things. First I'll swear I'm quitting my blog to have one more kid and happily stay at home with the munchkins for the rest of my days. Then I swear I'm going to business school to get myself a master's degree (or two!). Then I'm sure I'll go back to teaching and be an educator for the rest of my life. Then I think how much I love my blogging job right now and I'm convinced I'll never ever leave, even if I'm the last still-running blog out there.

A lot of my friends are in a "what's next?" phase right now too. My amazing nurse friend has risen to the top of her field, and is now thinking about what to do to advance and grow in her professional life. Lots of my friends are contemplating having a child. My pregnant friends and new mom friends are thinking about whether they want to work full-time or part-time or not at all when their babe comes along.

If you're also in a "what's next?" phase, know you're not alone. Sometimes not knowing the exact path you want to take is exciting and hopeful and full of possibility. Sometimes it's extremely scary and depressing and hard to not to be jealous of the people who have already found their path.

I wanted to take a good free online class that might help me narrow down my possibilities. And I found one with Concordia University Wisconsin's "How to Create Your Personal Place." It's a short online course delivered for free straight to your inbox. It only takes about three hours to complete, and can be very helpful in defining your goals for personal and professional development.

This course skims the surface of a lot of important tactical growth steps - analyzing where you are in your life, figuring out your strengths and weaknesses so you can play to your strengths, and recognizing opportunities you should fight for and those that won't be worth it in the long run. It's about growing, connecting, and encouraging. When you come to a point in your life where you deem yourself successful, you have discovered your personal space. It's an introduction to their 100% online one-year Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership and Administration (OLA) program, which acts as an alternative to an MBA.

You can learn more about the OLA program here, or sign up for the free course here.

Please tell me I'm not the only one whose future isn't totally clear?
Anyone else going through a "what's next?" phase?
It's always comforting to know I'm not the only one.

Thank you to Concordia University Wisconsin for sponsoring this post today.


December 7, 2016

family pictures 2016

The truth is I started crying the second I saw these pictures.

My awesome photographer, Chrissy, sent me a sneak peek one Friday morning, and as soon as I opened it up on my phone I just started crying.

This blog is a sunny-side-up affair. It's generally happy and upbeat and positive, and I intentionally keep it that way. I feel strongly that our attitude helps determine our circumstances, so I share the authentic happy parts of my life. It helps me be happier, and I hope it spreads happiness to others as well.

But the truth is life is just hard. Having a husband in grad school, and all the circumstances that come with it, is so hard. Having three kids in two years is so hard. Twins are so hard. Trying to be a great mom and a great wife and a great volunteer at church and everything else is so hard. Working part-time on top of that is so hard. Doing all this while being sleep deprived is so hard.

But as I sat there staring at the four-inch picture on my phone, I was flooded with an overwhelming sense of peace. It made me realize that hard things are good for us. That our life is so so rich and full and beautiful - sleepless nights included. And most of all I felt like there are things worth working hard for, and my family is worth every single second of work Sam and I have put into it.


And then I got the rest of the album later and just sat there, scrolling through the pictures on my computer with a smile on my face (and more tears on my cheeks), thinking how wonderful our life is, and how blessed we are to have something worth working hard for.



And that's the story of how a four-inch picture made me cry.






All pictures done by Let Me See You Sparkle Photography, and let me tell you, Chrissy is an absolute magician behind that camera.

P.S. Previous annual family pictures:

2015 - With just the prettiest light, taken right before we moved from Utah
2014 - When Claire was a tiny squishy thing
2013 - Looking at these makes me miss Jason so much!
2012 - Fall in the canyon
2011 - Wedding pictures (we were babies!)

December 5, 2016

around here lately

Sam's finals will be over by the end of the week and freedom is so close we can taste it. To say we are excited for a couple weeks of uninterrupted Sam time is an understatement. I can't wait for a few nights of watching movies or playing card games late into the night with this guy - even if he does count cards and win every single time.


I looked over in church yesterday and found him snuggling two kids simultaneously on our pew. He's definitely the favorite around here. And if you're reading this Monday morning, there's still a few hours to catch my sneaky church snapshots on my Instagram story.


Claire is obsessed with going outside these days, and with this gorgeous Arizona winter weather, I don't blame her. Our new thing is waiting until the twins are napping and playing right outside our front door with the baby monitor in hand. The first requirement of outside time, as anybody knows, is examining and moving rocks around for about 10 minutes (what is it with kids and rocks?). Then we usually move on to bubbles, or she'll ride her bicycle up and down the lane. Some of my best blog ideas have come while sitting on the front steps brainstorming while I feign interest in the rocks.
 Someone asked me a few months ago about a good detangler for Claire's hair. At first I had nothing to say. I had just purchased a kids detangler from a brand which shall remain nameless, and I HATED it. It left her hair looking greasy and stringy. Next I tried a spray-on detangler meant for adults, and it was okay, but left a weird smell. Finally I tried JOHNSON’S® NO MORE TANGLES detangling spray and that one did the trick. I'm serious when I say we use this almost every day and totally love it. It has a nice clean light smell, sprays on really evenly, and doesn't leave her hair greasy. We even brought it in the car on the way to family pictures for any last-minute detangling needs.

In other news, the twins are sleeping through the night. Repeat: The twins are sleeping through the night!!! Some moms are great at functioning without a full night's sleep for years, but I am not one of those people. I still get up once or twice a night to pop Addie's pacifier back in, but it takes 30 seconds and I'm back asleep 30 seconds later, so I am feeling GREAT. Although of course now I'm tired because I've reverted back to my bad habits of staying up too late...
We use these bandana bibs all the time. Addie is our little drooler and goes through two a day sometimes, but now she doesn't have a wet and cold shirt front all day long. Plus the twins are darn cute in them! We also love these JOHNSON’S® HEAD-TO-TOE™ baby cleansing cloths, which have been helping them stay clean without drying out their skin by bathing them every day in the dry winter. And when we do bathe them, we use JOHNSON’S BEDTIME® Moisture Wash, and I love the calming aromas of their entire purple-bottle bedtime line.


^^This picture cracks me up. Addison is crying, and Lincoln is looking so smug and happy. Probably because he woke his sister up from their nap, the little rascal.

And now I'm off to kiss Sam goodbye until Friday at four when it's officially winter break and we can party. 107 hours to go. Not that I'm counting.

Thank you to JOHNSON’S® for sponsoring this post (and for making products we really love and will use for years to come). I’m sharing #JOHNSONS in my life as part of a JOHNSON’S® sponsored series for Socialstars.™ Learn more about JOHNSONS by visiting their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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