August 30, 2013

messy and beautiful

one of the wisest lessons i learned in college was that the human heart is capable of holding all the feelings at the same time. "if a heart is rightly disposed, sorrow and joy must have a place in it," writes dietrich bonhoeffer in my much-underlined copy of letters and papers from prison. in my own small life, it's been a master-class in swinging from frustration to elation. there are tantrums and accidents and babies who only sleep when held, but then God swoops in and gives me happiness and joy that i do not deserve. yesterday at our neighborhood pool, another boy took cruz's toys about five minutes after he first stepped into the water. i got ready for hot tears to start spilling down his cheeks and i cringed at the yelling that was about to happen. but all he did was look longingly back at the yellow cup, and walked over to sit with me. i wrapped him up, we shared a granola bar, and counted london's "piggies" together. i leaned over and gave him a kiss. "you're my own special boy," i whisper. "cruz is not a boy," he says back. "you're my own special elephant." he nods, and gives me a raised-arm elephant salute. these days are so messy and beautiful that it makes my heart ache.

August 25, 2013

potty training and the gospel

we've been potty training for the last week, and i have to tell you, potty training is my parenting krytonite. it is hard. work. it has required a laser-like focus on cruz, which has left little time for work or london or showering. it has required constant creativity, as i try reward after reward to find something that will motivate cruz to actually put down his basketball and run to the potty. it has required a lot of cleaning.

during this week, tovi was finishing up the last week of soccer training camp, and as we expected him to be, was gone from the house all day every day. so for the last week, i have been stuck in the house with two kids, nursing one constantly, and hovering over the other. "remember to tell mommy if you need to use the potty." i have said this phrase no less than one thousand times, and it has worn thin with repetition. after a few very frustrating days of this, combined with a busy work week, a broken breast pump, late nights and early mornings, and just a lot of time alone with the kids, i finally exploded, "i am looking out for everyone and no one is looking out for me!"

but the beautiful Gospel truth is that God is always, always, always looking out for me. He knows when i'm tired, and He can give me energy and strength. He is with me when i'm lonely. when my child is baffling to me, he is not baffling to God. He even knows every single hair on my head (and the thousands that are falling out because that's what happens when your baby is three months old; He knows all about that too). if He knows that, how much more does He know the needs of my spirit. He knows me. He loves me. He is looking out for me.

August 16, 2013

what {we} wore on wednesday

good morning, friends! tovi has been off at soccer training camp about a million hours a day. it's getting grim around here, i'm going to be honest. i have been spoiled like nothing else by having a husband that mostly works from home! i've been praying that God would help me rise to the occasion. i need the daily reminder that i can do this, i am made for this, and if no one ever naps in this house again... well, that's why we have a keurig. 
^^ cruz's imagination has been growing by leaps and bounds! he has been wanting to do a lot of office work next to me. this sweet little desk is right next to mine.
^^ can i brag on my kid for a second? he knows how to spell. SPELL! out of the blue, he started spelling words. "babar. b-a-b-a-r." so i asked, "how do you spell 'mommy'? "m-m-m-m-y." "and 'dada'?" "d-a-d-a." "and 'london'?" "l-o-n-d-o-n." you guyyyyssssss. this is what i need in life.
 ^^ sometimes it's hard work waking up! baby london is rocking her hanna andersen jams which are my faves. it's the best brand of pjs i've ever come across. she wear cruz's hannas all the time, and these are her own sweet girly pair.
 ^^ speaking of sweet... freshly bathed babe!
^^ i loved every single one of these pictures so much i just had to use them all. cruz is looking like such a big kid these days. let's never talk about how he'll soon turn three. weatherwise, i cannot dress him correctly. it's the middle of august, and apparently on the central coast of california, that means it's already fall. long sleeved shirt and shorts? why not. it's 68 degrees and cloudy. i don't know how to handle this. (let me tell you what's going to happen-- it's going to be 85 in october when all i want is hot cider and pumpkin pie. ugh. i'm already mad about it)
^^ love. this. girl. i am adoring her squishy baby stage so much that i almost forget that babies just keep getting better! six months? out of this world fun! one year olds? delightful! outfit details: it is probably not a trendy blogger popular opinion, but i love getting her clothes from carters. yes, carters! the cheapest brand out there! (i cannot spend $38 on hipster baby leggings, i cannot) every item she's wearing today was gifted to us from three different people, all carters, brand, and it all mixes and matches. if only my clothes were like this! today she's wearing a birdy onesie, striped leggings, and...
^^ ruffle cardi! this is not london's best picture ever, but i had to include it because ruffle cardi.
and while my kids were wearing their cute, cute outfits...
^^ told you it was getting grim around here. when i snapped this pic, i literally could not remember the last time i'd showered. so that was our wednesday. xo//becca

August 13, 2013


this is a season of real-deal parenting, you guys. back when i was a little baby mama, i could leave cruz to his own devises, and he would bop around outside. whether he was playing basketball, chasing our dog, or even digging in the dirt. i never worried about what he would get into. never. he loved if i played with him, but he also enjoyed playing alone. our days were very easy. but for all of you out there who might be a little jealous, relax. those days are done.
i don't want to say that cruz needs attention because he's not begging for me to watch him or entertain him. he doesn't need an audience, but right now he needs me to be engaged. so i put away my agenda, i multitask less, i invite him into my to-do list. when we're together, we're together and it's resulted in some pretty sweet moments. a dance party in the kitchen. pretending to be elephants all-the-live-long-day. sampling his imaginary soups. every moment of my day is spent parenting, in easy lovely moments and hard tantrumy moments. i have not found the balance between staying super engaged and getting everything done that i need to, but i'm trusting that i will never regret pouring more and more into this soul. i love this little man with my whole heart.

August 8, 2013


this is what we were up to in july... at least according to instagram (you can find me 'grammin' @beccaeliasen)
^^^ july is a big big month for us! in the span of one week, we celebrate tovi's birthday, our anniversary, and my birthday. i don't really know what it was, but all three of those occasions felt so special this year. for my birthday, tovi left little notes all over the house to remind me of why he loves me. #keeper #becca+tovi4eva
^^^ our friends helped us celebrate turning 30!! so thankful to have these great peeps in our lives.
 ^^^ june was rough. there was a lot of transition for us becoming a family of four. july felt a lot calmer. there was a great deal more structure and way fewer meltdowns.
 ^^^ headbands were worn with varying degrees of appreciation.
 ^^^ about one thousand people have told me that london looks exactly like tovi. but in a girly way, right, you guys??? (ps: please pause and reflect on that arm chub. lo, you are one delicious baby)
^^^ this little lady continues to delight us. it's hard to believe that she's only been here for two months!

and that was july. can't wait to see what august has in store for us! xo/becca

August 6, 2013

Mother of Action: A Little Update

do you remember back in june when i decided to become a mother of action? even in the midst of a busy season, i want my parenting to be intentional. here's a little update on how it is all going:

1. more hand-on activities for cruz
the first step in accomplishing this goal is to get yourself an aunt carol. oh, aunt carol. she is my dad's youngest sister (all three are incredible-- dad lucked out in the sister department) and someone that i have always looked up to. our family moved from indiana to seattle when i was seven years old. we packed up our small car and drove through the endless cornfields of america. aunt carol made us activity books and gave us gifts to open every day of the trip. after reading my blog post, she became an "aunt of action" and sent cruz ten amazing hands-on activities. i try to pull these games out when cruz really needs some one-on-one mama time or if i'm nursing london. here's just a little peek at what he's been up to:
- hammering golf tees into foamboard and then balancing marbles on top
- using tongs to sort "fuzzies" into a muffin tin by color or number
- beading cheerios onto pipe cleaners and hanging them in the yard for birds 
2. establish morning and evening routines for cruz
i have learned so much about cruz in the last two months, and one of those realizations has been that my child is a creature of habit. i should have remembered-- even when i was pregnant with him, he thrived on routine. if i happened to run late and we didn't eat breakfast at our normal time, i would be treated to a lively round of in-the-tummy-karate-chopping. so it shouldn't have surprised me that bringing home a tiny person with a lot of needs was going to throw cruz off his game. establishing morning and evening routines has been key to getting cruz functioning again. and i did it all with a whiteboard and a checklist.
our most common checklist is the bedtime checklist, but we've been using it less as cruz now knows what to expect from us. bath, put on jams, brush teeth, read two stories, prayers. he loves checking off each box and it motivates him to go on to the next activity. i even use a checklist during mealtimes to prompt him to try a little of everything (more on that in our next goal!).
one day while i worked at my desk, cruz pulled out an old calendar page and started checking off the boxes, "next is bath. check it off! next is jams. check it off!" i'm going to consider this one a success.
3. expand cruz's food palate
as i started to write out my august goals, tovi asked me what new foods cruz was eating. "um... carrots? and he's eaten meat a couple of times..." so clearly we need to continue working on this goal. all i've really accomplished is making a couple of checklists for cruz that he needs to complete before he gets down from the table. i'm going to give myself a lot of grace on this one, because i'm often trying to get his food together while simultaneously nursing a baby. so there.

onto august!

1. continue trying new foods
mom upon mom has raved about the book french kids eat everything. i've put off reading this for about two years because i think that in general the attitude of american-moms-are-doing-everything-wrong is unhelpful (can anyone feel me??). but moms that i like and know and trust also like this book and right now my kid is insisting on subsisting on cereal bars. it's not good. so i've ordered this book for a little inspiration. i'm also going to be tracking cruz's meals on a spreadsheet (nerd alert) and really try serving a new food seven times before giving up on it (unless the book tells me not too. i should read this thing).

2. running
this goal is for me, not cruz. i've been feeling very self-conscious and sensitive about the baby weight that's hanging around and i want to do something about it other than wallowing. i get it-- i don't really have that much extra weight, but i find myself thinking about it a lot, and it's caused some bursting into tears on more than one occasion (including an ugly cry at church), so it's time to take some action. i've signed up for robin's run club and the 5k. both are really healthy places to invest my time and money and energy. i am a little worried about finding the time to run, but tovi is so supportive of me taking this time for myself, and i know he'll be a big motivator and helper.

3. potty training
we've been trying to potty train for awhile. it's just not clicking and is frustrating for everyone. tovi starts soccer training camp this week and i think we'll be hanging out at the house all day every day while he's gone. this just might be the month that we get this potty thing under control. any advice out there?

so that's that for august! xo//becca

August 1, 2013

being london's mama

i've been london's mama for two months now. in the strange way that time passes, it's both hard to believe that she's already two months old and that we've only known her for two months. there is deep satisfaction is knowing that she is mine, as if she were always in our family.

being london's mama means being ready to hold her all. the. times. she doesn't ask for much, but if you could also give her a firm pat on the bum, it would be much appreciated, thank you. my firstborn darling son has never been a snuggler, so even though my arms are tired from holding this chunky monkey and my things-to-do-with-one-hand repertoire has expanded, i don't mind it one bit.
now that's she more aware and awake, we've been spending a lot of time outside. london loves to sit under our trellis and enjoy the high contrast view. sometimes i sit her in the bouncer just outside the kitchen door while i'm cooking or helping cruz. she gets so still and occasionally gives out an appreciative coo.

being london's mama means that baths are often needed and always appreciated. i've never met a baby who was so calm in the water. she sits in the sink, big belly jutting forward, all soapy and wet with the greatest look of peace on her face. i pull her out of the tub and brush her hair. i love being a mom to a girl.

being london's mama once again teaches me about the depth of love my own mama has for me.

being london's mama means that i wait until she falls asleep before i slip a headband on because she won't know it's there when she wakes up. i didn't throw up a thousand times during pregnancy just to give birth to a girl who won't wear headbands.
being london's mama means that once again, as a gift of pure grace, i have been entrusted with another beautiful soul. london, i promise to shepherd you, nurture you, and love you all the days of my life.

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