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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Eve of a New Chapter

It is currently 10:21 pm on the eve of my very first official day as a homeschooling mom. My thoughts aren't coming very clearly due to the hour and the overall business of the day, but I realize that I will only be at this moment once in my life, so I have to write about it now before the opportunity passes by.
Tomorrow I am planning to start homeschooling Ryenne. While I have been very intentional about teaching her when we are home together through play, I could tell that Ryenne was at a point where she seemed to be needing a bit more of a challenge, more structure to her day, and a general goal and plan of action for her learning. I floundered around a bit, thinking at first that I wanted to try more of a "unit study" approach, but that quickly died out and we were back to square one with Ryenne on the brink of more learning but without any sort of bridge to get there. As a preschool teacher, I could recognize this need and sought to challenge her learning by offering more of a variety of activities for her. She loved this, of course, but I still felt like we were lacking an actual schedule and rhythm for her day.
Providentially, God lead us to a wonderful curriculum that seems to be exactly what we have been looking for for our bright little 2-year-old. I have only shared with my mom and one other person that we are planning to go ahead with this curriculum as I know that Ryenne is still so young and frankly I am afraid of people judging us as being overly-ambitious for starting her so early. I also didn't want the added pressure of people asking me questions and wanting to know how things were working out just in case they weren't! The Peaceful Preschool is the curriculum we have chosen to go with, and the plan is to give this year at age 2 a "trial run," with the hope that next year we will do it again and hopefully she will be able to glean even more from it. This "Montessori-meets-Reggio-Emilia-meets-Charlotte-Mason" approach focuses a great deal on exposing children to literature, intentional play and experiences, practical life skills, and phonics. I am uncertain about how Ryenne will respond to phonics as she has never really been exposed to that concept before, but I am very excited about the rest of what the curriculum has to offer.
It is so nice to have a week-by-week, day-by-day plan. It feels good to be able to look ahead in my calendar and know what we will be learning about in a couple of weeks, and plan field trips for Ryenne that will coincide with her learning.
In all honesty, I did wrestle a bit with purchasing a curriculum when I know that as a preschool teacher I could come up with my own sort of curriculum myself. But as my husband pointed out, this is going to save me so much time and effort, and I can still choose to add activities or change up things to meet Ryenne's needs. It is really a "no pressure" sort of thing. If Ryenne does not take to this whole "school" idea at 2 years of age, then we can revisit in 6 months or a year and see where she is at at that point. We are in no rush. But at the same time, if we see a need in our daughter where she seems to be needing more of a routine and challenge, then we are going to try to meet that need and this is one of the first ways that we are going to try to do that.
I hope to come back here and write about how our first day goes tomorrow. We are so thankful for this bright, smart little girl that God has given us and we pray that He continues to give us guidance in how best to train her up in the way that she should go.

Monday, October 19, 2015

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lessons Learned from my One-Year-Old

Ryenne has been growing like crazy these days. While we were on a recent vacation to Kauai spanning a little over a week, she out-ate both of her cousins (3 years old and almost 2), and put on two or three pounds during! She is the friendliest toddler you'll ever meet - waving and smiling at children, little old ladies, teenagers, grouchy looking old men, and even homeless people! She has absolutely no prejudice towards any person at this point in her life. And that's such a beautiful thing.
Ryenne has also been quite the jabber mouth lately. She is really into imitating sounds and intonation, and has been able to put more and more words together. Lately a phrase that you'll hear her say quite often these days sounds something like "Mah-mah, Mama." As a professional Ryenne-Ashley-language-interpretor, I have deciphered this little phrase to mean, "Help me, Mama." It's something that I've been saying for her in an attempt to model what the proper way of communicating her needs was rather than whining or crying or pointing when she would get stuck or her toy would fall over or her food would drop to the floor from the table. It's so amazing to me how quickly she picks up on things and how much she wants to learn. She tries desperately to communicate with us all the time, and we do our very best to understand her and respond as quickly as possible so as not to discourage those attempts. It's so important to listen to your child when she expresses a need because that is going to build so much trust and security into your relationship. A parent who ignores their child as she tries to communicate her needs is teaching their child that her needs are not important, that the parent does not understand her, and that ultimately whatever the parent is consumed with is more important than the child. While I, too, have been guilty of staring at my phone or computer rather than trying to meet the needs of my child, I do try so hard everyday to show Ryenne that she is my priority.
And I don't mean to say that Ryenne is the center of the universe. In reality, God is always going to be number one and pleasing Him is what is most important to me. Second to that is always going to be her daddy, David, and she comes next. In the context of communication though, David and I both feel that it is of utmost importance to do our best to listen to our daughter as she attempts to vocalize her needs, thoughts, feelings, or wants. But, it is still up to us as the parents to decide how best to respond - and sometimes that means having to say "no."
Anyway! Back to my story. This new phrase of Ryenne's ("Help me, mama") has me completely melted just about every time she says it. There is something so precious about that little voice asking me for help. I would do just about anything, as long as it was in her best interest, to meet whatever her need is when she asks me in such a sweet way. My heart overflows with joy to help her in any way I can.
This tender example of my own child asking me, the parent, for whatever it is she needs, has got me thinking often about the way my Heavenly Father looks at me.
A passage in particular that is very dear to my heart comes from Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV):

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"

You are probably able to guess by now where I am going with this story. As a parent, when Ryenne asks me for help, I would do anything in the world to meet that need as long as I was able and it was in her best interest. And when I am able to meet that need, it brings me so much joy. So, how much more does God delight to answer me when I ask Him for help? He may not always answer me in the way that I am asking Him to, but that is only ever because it is in my very best interest. Sometimes I have to try to explain to Ryenne why I am not able to fulfill the need she is expressing. She doesn't understand for the most part yet, other than knowing that she's not getting what she asked for, but over time, she will hopefully be able to see why it is that sometimes I must say "no" to her. The same thing with me as a child of God. I may not always understand why God is not answering me in the way that I want Him to, but without fail, His reasoning is always in my best interest.
And what about the times where He does grant my request? That doesn't mean that He is answering my request because I've done anything right to earn it as a reward. It actually means the same exact thing as when He says "no:" it's because it's in my best interest. And if I receive so much joy in helping my daughter and giving her the things that she asks for, then how much more does it delight my Heavenly Father to help me and grant my requests!!! And oh, how much greater is His love for me than the love that I have for my little girl.

I am so thankful for the privilege it is to have my wonderful husband and my precious daughter as God's two greatest means of revealing Himself to me in new and beautiful ways. I have never felt more valued, cherished, protected, and loved by God as I do now, and I am so so thankful for the lessons He teaches me daily through my duties as a child of God, wife to David, and mama to Ryenne.

Randie Megan

Friday, August 14, 2015

Move over, Pinterest

Every night after Ryenne Ashley goes down to sleep I close her bedroom door, walk out to the living room, and am met with one of my favorite views as a mother and wife. No, it's not a Pinterest-worthy room with white walls, geometric shapes, modern furniture, and a vast array of trendy artwork hanging on the walls. The scene that I am usually greeted with consists of baby toys scattered about the room, a little shoe here and there, my husband's lunch containers sitting on an end table, board books scattered far from their place on the bookshelf, David's work uniform crumpled in a heap on the floor... a room very much lived-in. Many people might actually describe this sight as a complete mess (and on more than one occasion I admit that I would have agreed), but I look at it and it is the most beautiful home in the world to me. Tonight it finally hit me - why it's so beautiful to me:
What a blessing and privilege it is to have a husband and a baby to clean up after!
Those scattered toys and books strewn across the room? That means there was a little person who played and read and discovered today. The dirty lunch tupperware? That means there was a husband who enjoyed a good meal today. Those little shoes sitting in random places on the floor? They belong to a pair of adorable little feet that are not only walking all over the place, but growing way too fast! And the dirty pile of laundry? That means that there's a hard-working man in the house who ran, sweated, and worked in that uniform all day to provide for his family.
How could I see these things and not feel grateful?? The absence of them would possibly mean that that room could have the potential to be pinned on Pinterest, but oh how empty my life would feel without the laundry, the dishes, the little shoes, the toys, and the books to bring purpose and fulfillment to my life! There is no other title in the world that I'd rather have than "Wife" and "Mama." I know I didn't do anything to deserve either of those titles, but God in His sweet grace chose me to be wife to David and mama to RyeRye nonetheless.
And so it brings me great joy to clean up after my two precious charges every night. Goodness knows where I'd be without them :)
The most Pinterest-looking part of my home currently haha
David brought me these beautiful roses just because....
just because I'm a lucky girl :)
Randie Megan

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Mom Hairstyles (That Don't Look Like Mom Hairstyles)

This is a simple enough post - My Top 10 Favorite Mom Hairstyles (That Don't Look Like Mom Hairstyles). The second part of the title is key - no mama wants to look like she hasn't had time to do her hair. No mama wants to look like she is secretly balding after all her crazy postpartum hormones are all whack. No mama wants to look like she is sporting greasy hair because she hasn't been able to shower for three days straight.
So, my saving grace in the hair department comes from 3 amazing bloggers. Let me introduce you!

Bethany // former Treasures & Travels contributor
My all-time favorite blogger would be Bethany Menzel who used to be a contributor blogger to the Treasures and Travels blog. However, because she is a mommy herself, she ended up leaving the T&T blog in order to focus more on her mommy and wife roles. While I LOVE her for that, I also hate her for it because she was basically my sole reason for perusing through Treasures and Travels so faithfully! I love Tegan and Lindsay (the other two bloggers), but Bethany was definitely my favorite ;) My love for her started when I discovered that she has the exact same hair type as me. Exact! When you find someone who has amazing hair and has the same hair type as you, you simply must stalk them because if their hair looks good sporting a certain style, so will yours! I've spent most of my life trying to get great hair like people in magazines or movies, but the truth is, your hair will never look exactly the same as those people's unless you have the same hair type. Bethany Menzel is the only other person in the world of bloggers who seems to have my hair type. So! There you have it. Bethany is my hair idol :) I now creepily stalk her on her personal blog and Instagram since she no longer contributes to Treasures and Travels.

Emily // The Freckled Fox
My next favorite blogger would have to be Emily from The Freckled Fox. When you look at her blog, you will probably think "right, how could I ever have gorgeous mermaid hair like THAT???" BUT! Emily swears that her hair is just normal and relatively thin like the rest of us normal people! Her secret is just making it look like her hair has tons of body and volume. Her hair tutorials are fun because she can basically do anything with her hair. She is seriously incredibly talented!!

Amber // Barefoot Blonde

Last but not least is the gorgeous Amber from Barefoot Blonde :) Anything related to braids - Amber is your girl. This girl will open your eyes to the wonderful world of BRAIDS. She can show you how to do a French braid or fishtail in a hundred different ways. Plus she goes on incredible adventures all over the world with her adorable little family!

Alright, now that I've introduced you to my top 3 favorite bloggers, I give you:

(that don't look like Mom Hairstyles)

1) The Top Knot <<<<<<<<<
Courtesy of Treasures & Travels Blog
Alright- before you scroll ahead - hold up a second. This is not just ANY top knot. This is a textured, funky spin on the classic top knot, which puts it in its very own category. This hairstyle is perfect for rocking 3-day-old oily hair (let's be honest - that happens a lot!) or fresh, out of the shower wet hair (like that ever happens)!

2) The Headscarf Roll <<<<<<<<<
Courtesy of The Freckled Fox
I used to see college girls sporting this hairstyle in Chicago and assume it was way out of my hair league. It just looks so chic and hipster - it's impossible that it could actually take less than one minute to do...right? WRONG! Grab a headband or hair scarf and have fun looking like you actually had time to spend on your hair for once. Because who says moms can't be chic and adorable too??

3) The Front Row Braid <<<<<<<<<
Courtesy of Barefoot Blonde
Another hairstyle that may seem basic but I promise you that if you check it out, it won't disappoint. Amber lets you in on a few secrets to making your front row braid thick even when you don't have thick hair ;) 

4) The Sleek Pony <<<<<<<<<
Courtesy of The Freckled Fox
I think that high pony tails are entirely underrated. To me they turn a boring mom into a spunky one - but only if they're done right! Check out Emily's tutorial on the sleek pony!

5) The Half-Up Top Knot <<<<<<<<<
Courtesy of Treasures & Travels Blog
This is my go-to hairstyle when I actually want to feel feminine and girly and wear my hair down for once. The best thing about this hairstyle is that it allows me to do that while still keeping my hair off my face. Bonus: this tutorial is for long OR short hair!
Courtesy of Barefoot Blonde
I know, I know. This one looks pretty extravagant. But I promise it's a lot easier than it looks! Which is one of the secrets to being a hair savvy mommy, right?? I LOVE this gorgeous fishtail halo braid. A new spin on a timeless look.

7) The Side Braid <<<<<<<<<
Courtesy of Barefoot Blonde
Okay, even though this girl looks like she seriously has Disney princess hair, I promise she is human and that this look is actually attainable for normal people like us! This braid is basic, basic, basic, but it totally gives the impression that you 1) have a lot more hair than you actually do and 2) have a lot more time than you actually have. Win-win!

8) The Hair Roll <<<<<<<<<
Courtesy of Treasures & Travels Blog
This hairstyle is so easy it's crazy. Similar to the headscarf roll, this look is both feminine and flattering! When I first attempted it, it literally took me less than 2 minutes. And I only had to read the tutorial once. That's how easy it was.

9) The Textured Sock Bun <<<<<<<<<
Courtesy of The Freckled Fox
Sock buns are pretty popular and there really isn't any secret to the perfectly round buns that you see hundreds of women sporting these days - but Emily makes this look her own by adding some texture which I love!! Makes it more of an everyday look in my opinion, rather than a fancy-occasion-only option.

10) The Braided Crown <<<<<<<<<
Courtesy of Treasures & Travels blog
I like Bethany's version of this look because she leaves out little strands of hair around her face which keeps it from looking like a Heidi-inspired look. Again, SUPER easy and feminine - a combo I really love in case you couldn't tell.

Well, there you have it! My top ten favorite mom hairstyles - and do you agree that they don't at all look like typical mom hairstyles??? Right??!?! Well get this - each of these women are actually... you guessed it... MOMS!
Emily // The Freckled Fox // Mama to 5
Amber // Barefoot Blonde // Mama to 1.5
Bethany // Treasures & Travels, BethanyMenzel // Mama to 2 (one in heaven)

I hope you take some time to read about each of them because they are truly beautiful women inside AND out.

What is YOUR favorite go-to mommy-hairstyle? Comment below!
Randie Megan

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Comparison: Ergobaby Carrier vs. Sakura Bloom Ring Sling

It's been some time since writing my last comparison entry on baby carriers. Since then, my daughter has grown quite a bit what with turning 1 and all, and as a result I have found myself reaching for different carriers than I used to! Like I said before in my comparison between a Bibetts and Sakura Bloom ring sling, I don't have nearly the elaborate stash that you'll find many mamas have, but I do have a Bibetts ring sling, a Sakura Bloom ring sling, an Ergobaby carrier, and a Mei Tai.
Before I get to which carrier is my absolute favorite, let me make a short list of my favorite things about each, starting with the Sakura Bloom.

Ryenne (~6 months here) & I at the Farmer's Market
"Kangaroo Carry"

Sakura Bloom Ring Sling (Classic) in Acadia
  • completely adjustable
  • lightweight and non-bulky - easy to keep in the diaper bag
  • linen
  • machine washable
  • the Classic version is a single layer of linen which allows for a front carry, kangaroo carry (front forward facing), and hip carry
We like to use it for:
  • shorter walks
  • "emergency" situations (aka my child only wants to be held and my arms are about to fall off)
  • since it is so lightweight and non-bulky, we keep it in the diaper bag at all times so that we always have a carrier on hand

Ryenne (~6 months) & David
"Front Carry"
Original Ergobaby Carrier in Aussie Khaki
  • more of a "backpack style" carrier
  • includes a hood
  • 2 pockets
  • ergonomic (meaning that it keeps the baby's legs spread apart in a natural "froggy" fashion rather than holding up the baby by the crotch - a known cause of hip dysplasia in babies)
  • cotton
  • all straps are adjustable (even the hood)
  • 3 carry positions - back, hip, and front
  • machine washable

We like to use it for:

  • hiking
  • shopping trips
  • going on walks
  • putting her to sleep - it's the only carrier she will sleep in (and she falls asleep FAST)
  • anything and everything

Based on that last point, you are probably already guessing which carrier is my favorite. The Ergobaby. As much as I do LOVE that I am able to stow away the ring sling so easily (and, let's be honest, it's so pretttttyyyy), the Ergobaby is much more comfortable on a long-term basis now that my daughter is bigger and heavier and longer. Maybe if I wore the ring sling enough I would develop better back and shoulder muscles in the right places, but the thing I love about the Ergo is that my daughter is basically one with me! It's like being pregnant again... sort of. Her weight is evenly dispersed between my shoulders and my hips - with NO strain whatsoever to my back. Even my mom, who has back issues (sciatica and an inflamed disc), was perfectly comfortable carrying my daughter in the Ergo.
Bonus: my husband prefers the Ergo as he feels it is more "masculine" than the ring sling - although he has worn the ring sling before too ;) (Real men do it).
And if you have read my comparison between Bibetts and Sakura Bloom, you'll note that I had mentioned that my daughter did not like the Ergo. Well, one day she just decided that it didn't bother her anymore, and now she loves it. I think it had something to do with her finally being able to peer over the back of the carrier instead of being tucked away deep inside. That being said, I do think that if we ever had another baby that the ring sling would once again be my go-to as baby would be much less heavy as a newborn, and you really can't beat the convenience and ease of toting around a light piece of fabric that magically transforms into a baby carrier.
So, I guess the real answer is that BOTH are my favorites - but at different stages of my baby's life! I loved the Sakura Bloom for her infancy, but the Ergo is unbeatable for carrying a toddler. Currently my (and my husband's) favorite baby carrier is the Ergo. It comes along with us pretty much everywhere despite the awkward shape and bulkiness. The comfort of the fit when it's on totally outweighs the hassle of lugging it around.
Which carrier do you prefer? Do you have an Ergobaby or a Sakura Bloom?
Thanks for reading!!
Randie Megan
And an extra picture just for kicks:
Ryenne Ashley knocked out on Daddy's
back during a family walk one day haha

Thursday, July 23, 2015


That dream within a dream.
Okay, enough with the Princess Bride quotes. I knew this post was going to be about our marriage and so that was just the first thing that started running through my mind...
David and I have been married for nearly 2 years now - 2 years on August 9th! I remember when we were arriving in Chicago in the summer of 2013 - engaged and so ready to be married in about 2 months - a friend picked us up at the airport and as we chatted, she mentioned that she and her husband had been married for two years. I thought that sounded SO LONG. To me it seemed like she was making it sound as if they were newlyweds, but obviously they were basically a seasoned couple, right?? Well, let me just tell ya - at ALMOST two years of marriage, it DOES seem like we are still newlyweds. And I don't meant that because we are still living life in a honeymoon haze - reality has definitely set in, probably along the same time as when it came time to birth my daughter last summer. I just mean that I still remember with such clarity our wedding day and our honeymoon and moving to our first home together. In one sense, it really does seem like it was just a month ago that we got married.
In another sense, though...
It seems as if we have been married for 40 years. And again, just to clarify - I don't mean that it feels like 40 years because I am so sick of my husband. On the contrary, I am just as dependent on him as ever - we just have SO MUCH HISTORY together in our mere 2 years of marriage.
In two years, we have somehow managed to get married, go on a honeymoon to Kauai, move to Chicago, get pregnant, have a baby, move to a new apartment, graduate from college, move to Hawaii, have our very first house, and start a new job. Not to mention the 598 things that happened in between (like me learning how to play Settlers of Catan or David changing his very first diaper). It's no wonder that it feels like we've been married so long. We've had a very full life together thus far! So much so that it feels like we've spent a lifetime together.
(I can just hear the people who have been married for 5+ years chuckling at me and muttering "that little newlywed...")
All that said. There is a thing or two that I have learned through being married to my hunk. Here are a few of my top "Husband Observations:"
- Not all men leave the toilet seat up! Crazy, right?? I had mentally prepared myself to accept that I would have to beg my husband to remember to put the toilet seat down, but lo and behold, he did it without being asked! His mama done raise him right!
- David could kiss me ALL DAY if I let him... and sometimes, I need to let him :) 
- David is a creature of habit. If he could, he would eat cereal for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and burgers for dinner every. single. day.
- My hubby is unbelievably strong. Seriously, WHO else could watch a baby make its way into the world and not go running in the opposite direction?? I would much rather birth a child than be the one having to helplessly watch it happen.
- David is painstakingly patient. He goes above and beyond what is necessary to keep calm and let it go, whatever "it" is. He has put up with period-related emotional roller coaster rides, pregnancy-related emotional roller coaster rides, post-pardum-related emotional roller coaster rides, motherhood-related emotional roller coaster rides, and plain old woman-related emotional roller coaster rides. This guy is in it for the long run!
- David's clothes drawers will ALWAYS be unfolded and unorganized.
- He will win ALL tickle fights and water fights... unless he lets me win.
- No matter how much I may think I am self-reliant or independent, when it all comes down to it, my husband is my ROCK. I don't know what I would do without him. There could be a tornado heading our way and if David was with me, I would be calm. 

There are about 5,978,223 more things that I've learned throughout the past 2 years, but those are the few that come to mind at the moment that are worth sharing ;)
How long have you been married? And what are some things that you've learned about your husband in the years you've been together?

Thanks for stopping by!
Randie Megan