> sixteen sunbuckles

Sunday, July 20, 2014

under construction

I've been very busy lately with a few brides and some other freelance work through church.  So thankful for all of you keeping me so busy!  I apologize for all of those that love reading what's going on around here.  I just don't have enough hours in the day.  I've been slashing and prioritizing.  I've made a rule that I will not work while Anna is awake.  That time is so precious to me.  She is growing up faster than I ever thought possible. 

Please stay tuned.  I'm burning the midnight oil here.  I'm rebranding, building a website, and snapping photos of completed work.  So excited to show you all but not quite ready yet to show you!  For now check out my instagram for little highlights of what's going on day to day or etsy for new listings!



Thursday, May 29, 2014

A life to hold my standards to, maya angelou

Maya Angelou will forever live on in our hearts and minds.  The world would be a better place if we all followed in her footsteps.

Love thy neighbor.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

finding balance in motherhood with Michelle Nikitaras



Michell and I met over five years ago through my best friend, Abby ( theturqoisepenguin).  Michelle is the wedding planner and designer of AKM Events.  I've been following her through  instagram and her work is brilliant.  (follow her!) She is also a wonderful mom of three.  So excited to introduce you all!   Ls

Hi Everyone!  My name is Michelle Nikitaras and I am a mom of three by day and a wedding planner by night (and in between my kids’ tantrums)!  Our household is usually pretty busy between raising our children, caring for two dogs, and trying to run a home business. Friends sometimes ask me how I manage to balance everything in my life.  My response is: If my life is not chaos, I don’t know what I am doing! Good chaos, of course.
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I love being a mom.  My oldest son, Aidan, is 11 and teaches me how to do things, such as high school math and problem solving, on a daily basis.  He is definitely a smart guy and I’m a super proud mama.  My two little ones are Noah, 2 yrs old, and Gianna, 9 months old.  This is where it gets tricky.  They keep me running all day long, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are the loves of my life.  But, let’s face it;  sometimes us moms need something outside the home to keep us sane! Whether it be an occasional mani/pedi or doing something we are passionate about.  It’s definitely a MUST to put away the sweat pants and have a little adult time once in a while.

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My passion is weddings.  I am so obsessed with the thought of two people falling in love and vowing to spend eternity together.  I am lucky enough to help them plan and prepare for one of the biggest days of their lives. It also gives me a chance to have a creative outlet that doesn’t involve glue and macaroni!
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It started as just a hobby back in 2000 and slowly took on a life of its own.  As a working mother, I have become a master at time management and organization.  These are two things that are very important to event planning and wedding design.  AKMEvents is now booming and, thank God, I work with some really awesome women.  I am super lucky to have the best of both worlds.  My kids don’t even miss me when I’m gone, and I miss them more until I come home.  

Being a mom is a full time, crazy, fun, exhausting, rewarding job all in itself.  We are all “Rock Star Moms” whether we work outside of the home or not! Here are a few tips that work for me to try to maintain balance.   When you think about it, all of life’s twists and turns is a balancing act so we might as well have fun doing it!  I hope you find balance in your life by trying some of these tips, or coming up with your own that work in your own situation.
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      Turn the music up!  Sometimes my kids are crying or just plain unhappy in the car.  Wouldn’t you be too if you were strapped into a car seat and forced to face the rear of the car when you obviously have ants in your pants?  Duh! We turn the music up and sing at the top of our lungs.  It’s a win- win.  I release some stress and my kids think it’s hilarious.  Don’t be afraid to act silly!  Your kids will love you for it.  

·         Pray/Meditate.  Take some time to thank God for all that you have.  Reflect on your day, on your loved ones, and on all of the good things that life has to offer. I usually do this when I’m in the shower since this is the longest period of quiet time I get in a day.

·         Drink Tea, Wine, or something special.  When my kids are snug in their bed, the first thing I do is make myself a cup of chamomile tea before I sit down in front of the computer. It relaxes me and makes me feel at ease while I go about the daunting task of catching up on emails or blog posts. On Fridays I substitute the tea for a glass of wine! J

·         Unplug once in a while.  Sundays are family day in our house.  We unplug! No Facebook, no phones, no tablets, no Xbox!  We take this time to enjoy each other and have a little fun.

·         Do something nice for yourself.  An occasional spa day or shopping day works wonders! My hubby and I try to have a date night once a month too. Working outside of the home when I have a wedding is super rewarding.  We all feel energized when we just get a break once in a while.  When we come back together as a family we appreciate each other that much more!

Good Luck to my fellow Rock Star Moms, and I hope this helps you to find your balance in your life.
xo Michelle
AKM Events

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photos courtesy of m rinaye

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I'm learning to have fun again.

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The past two weeks I've spent in a very small town of western Minnesota.  We are here visiting my husband while he is on temporary job assignment. A one bedroom apartment and a two year old makes for very long days.

Enter mom guilt here.

Very long days? No mother should be uttering such words. I should be embracing these two weeks with my child, right?  We have two weeks away from all distractions. No play dates.  No errands to run.  No appointments.  No responsibilities.  Only thing on the agenda all day everyday is to love this little one and play, play, play.  I should be grateful.

Why then is it so hard to spend the entire day playing?

As an adult we are so tied down to our responsibilities and obligations we've taken some of the fun out of everyday.  Maybe even all the fun! I'm a planner and live by my lists.  If I want to have fun I literally have to pencil it in.  And then it starts to feel like its a job as well.  "Must spend evening reading book everyone else has been raving about."  Check.

At what point in our lives did we lose ourselves in all the other stuff?

Everytime Anna and I get out the giant jug of bubbles we always end up making a mess.  She is at the point of independence where she wants to dunk the blow stick and blow her own bubbles.  What is my first response?  ICK!  And I go running for a baby wipe.  And then I want to take over the bubble blowing because its much cleaner if I do it.  When did the mess become more of a priority than the fun?
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I'm in awe of my child as her entire face lights up over a swing at the park.  Its a gorgeous day outside.  And I have to remind myself to soak up this moment.  As I push her she squeals "weee!"  And I am thinking "ok what's next, its getting hot out here.  Did we put on enough sunblock? (among other thoughts swirling around in my head)" I wish I would just embrace this happy moment instead of constantly reminding myself slow down.  Reminding myself to be thankful for all things big and small.

Reminding myself just to sit and be still.

At the end of this summer if you ask me what one word summed it up I would say "bubbles"  or "swing".  Those two words are yelled out with glee at least once a day at our house. I'm learning to bite my lip when we are covered in soapy bubbles or when Anna has buried herself in dirt from our backyard.   She is just being a two year old.  She is enjoying the moment of discovery and new adventures.  And more importantly I'm outside savoring these moments with her.

And hey,  you know what... I'm actually starting to have some fun!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

RECIPE BOX | cinnamon rolls

I wish I had a before picture of the ooey gooey deliciousness these rolls were made of.  However, I hope my after picture displays just how yummy they really are.  They didn't last long at our house or at MOPS brunch this past week.  I love a recipe that I can make most of it the night before.  I'm not a morning person so the less I have to do in the morning the better.  Enjoy my friends!


15 Rhodes frozen dinner rolls (half a bag ... or use the whole bag and double the recipe!)
1 stick melted butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamin
1 (3oz) vanilla pudding (not instant)
 
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Place frozen dinner rolls in pan. Mix butter, brown sugar & cinnamon together. Pour over dinner rolls, sprinkle dry pudding mix over top. Let rise overnight and in the morning bake at 350* for 20-25 min. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

ROCKSTAR MOM | seven ways to balance your own identity and motherhood



I'm so excited to have Jessica writing on the blog today.  Like me she decided to stay at home with your kids.  She is an amazing mama of one sweet little boy and runs her own ETSY shop, Eastwood Eclectic. Jessica is offering 15% off through the month of May so check out her shop.  Her printable party decorations are a favorite of mine. Use BLOGLOVE15 at checkout.

Ls

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Whether we work outside the home and feel like we miss out on time with our kids, stay at home with the kids but feel like we dont contribute enough to society, or try to juggle working from home and simultaneously caring for children, theres always the mom guilt, isnt there? Whos with me?

Why do we do that to ourselves? Worse, why do we judge our friends and acquaintances who may be doing the mom thing a little differently? Whether you have one child or five, you know that being a mom is the toughest (and most wonderful and rewarding) job there is. I am such a firm believer in each mother doing whats best for her (and her family) when it comes to balancing life, and I think that you, your spouse, and God are the only ones who deserve a say in those choices.

Then it became real when we found out we were pregnant in my fifth year of teaching, and we needed to make a decision if I would continue working or stay home. I wont get into how we made it, the financial discussions, or all the pros and cons we weighed; Ill just say that it was the right choice for us, and I cant imagine anything different now.
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Every womans life changes drastically when she becomes a mother, but I think that a stay-at-home mom who was previously career-oriented experiences a significant culture shock.

I did, anyway. I went from teaching (and talking to and caring about) over 100 teenagers each day to staying at home with one little baby. My days looked so different there was less running around, being on my feet for 8 hours, always planning and grading, bringing work home each evening, and just general volume (both literal and figurative). But it wasnt that being a mom was easier. It was just different. It was harder, definitely more emotional, in many ways, especially since my son had some health issues that added stress and worry in the early months. Despite the importance of the job, though, I was working for only one, tiny little person, and I found myself struggling with that question above,

 Do I do enough?

Gradually, after the initial days of new motherhood that are a blissful and beautiful but sleepless and anxiety-ridden blur, I began to do other things besides be mommy. That is still my favorite and most-important job, but Ive realized its good to have some additional priorities. My son just turned two and is the light of my life! Part of why I feel I need to stay at home with him is my own wiring I have cherished being able to witness each moment of his baby and toddlerhood and cant imagine my anxiety and disappointment if I were not privy to every first, every illness, every new experience, etc. At the same time, I eventually realized that I would lose some of myself if I were focused only on him (and any additional children we may be blessed with). 

I strongly believe in every mom doing whats best for herself and her family; our families work differently, so Im just offering ideas that have worked for me :)

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1.     DO SOMETHING, EVEN JUST ONE THING, THAT IS JUST FOR YOU.

For me, this was opening my Etsy shop (Eastwood Eclectic). I didnt plan on it, but I designed invitations for my sont first birthday party a little over a year ago, and I loved it! Still, I dont have a degree in graphic design (or any type of art or design), but I decided to go for it! It has been a great way to do something I enjoy, make a little extra money, feel like Im using my other, non-mommy skills.

2. CONTINUE TO DO THINGS THAT ARE EITHER RELATED TO YOUR CAREER/EDUCATION OR THAT ARE RELATED TO A JOB YOU MAY WANT TO HAVE SOME DAY.

It might be taking classes (towards a degree or just for fun), keeping up with your field through professional development, or learning something entirely new! For me, the design work has fit into this category, even though its a different direction than my education and early career. I like it so much that I hope to continue to develop my skills and expand my shop. Also, Im going to make sure to keep my teachers license up to date (must remember to renew that this summer!), so that I dont close that door. You never know what youll want (or need) to do in the future.

3. SPEND A LITTLE BIT OF TIME AWAY FROM THE KID(S) EACH WEEK. AND IF YOU LIVE NEAR FAMILY, USE THEM!

Im very blessed here. My in-laws live ten minutes away, and Jacob spends the day with Grandma each Wednesday. Although my mother-in-law was always helpful and willing to watch him from the start, we didnt make this a weekly thing until sometime late in his first year. When we did, I wondered why I hadnt done that sooner! If you are lucky enough to have family nearby who are willing and able to watch (and love!) your child(ren), please please take advantage of it. Its so freeing to have a few hours each week to clean the house in peace, get errands done, and make doctors appointments without having to first set up a babysitter. He adores those days, too. My parents are amazing with Jacob as well, and I wish that we lived closer than two hours apart. They are so helpful in keeping him for a few hours or even overnight whenever we visit, so that we are able to have a date night or a night out with friends. These times are so important, and Im thankful for our families.

4. DO SOMETHING FOR OTHERS (OUTSIDE YOUR FAMILY).

I mentor a kindergarten girl at our local elementary school an hour each week, as a part of the national mentoring program Kids Hope USA I have to admit that while this was the perfect volunteer opportunity for this former-teacher, I was hesitant to say yes. It was daunting to think about adding this to my plate with a one-year-old, the desire for more children, the Etsy shop, a husband who was finishing his MBA and working crazy hours, etc. But there will always be excuses. Always reasons to say no. Say yes to some kind of volunteer work, and you will be blessed and rewarded more than you would have imagined!

4. USE PLANNING TOOLS TO HELP KEEP HOUSEHOLD TASKS MANAGEABLE.

Im a list person. Im old school, with my pencil and planner always nearby.This may or may not be true for you, but Im sure there are some organizational tools, whether high or low tech, that are helpful for you! One new one that has been awesome for our family is a weekly menu board.  I designed this little chalkboard printable, printed and framed it, and bought a couple of chalkboard markers to write directly on the glass. Its amazing! It helps me make a more efficient grocery list, ensure that we eat a variety of foods and are eating well balanced.

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5. FIND OTHER MOMS TO SOCIALIZE WITH.

Even if you talk to your childless best friend or your mom on the phone every day, or if you have a small group at church, or whatever, Ive found that its really great to have play dates with other moms and their kids. This allows for social time for both you and your child, and moms in a similar situation are great for discussing all that baby and kid stuff on your mind! The kids form great bonds with their play date buddies and build social skills, like sharing, and you get to enjoy seeing them in action while chatting about when to introduce a new food, the latest baby product recall, etc. These other moms will quickly become your confidants and close friends, too. Where do you meet said moms? Try library story time, music or little gymclasses, or the park down the street be open to forming new relationships whenever you see another mom-child pair who enjoy the same things as you and your child.

6. DON'T FORGET ABOUT YOUR MARRIAGE.

Have date nights. If you can go out to dinner while family or friends enjoy special time with your child, great! If you need to have at-home date nights after the kids are in bed, that works, too. Just make fun and relaxing time with your spouse a priority. Make real conversation (preferably not about the kids) a priority! We try to go out for an evening about once a month, and we also try to sit down and have a conversation (without the TV or other distractions) at least a couple of nights a week after Jacob is asleep. And I cherish those moments.

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7. REMEMBER THAT EVERYONE HAS WEAKNESSES AND NO ONE CAN TRULY DO IT ALL!

Its a no-brainer, really, but remember that mom guilt? Dont let it tell you that you should always be balanced, or that you should be able to do everything (and do it all well)! We have to recognize our own limitations and work around them. The menu board is a good example for me; Im not a bad cook, but Im not exactly a chef, and cooking dinner is not my favorite thing to do. Thus, it often becomes a low priority and might otherwise be forgotten. The menu board helps me remember that I need to have a meal plan (my family has to eat, after all), and it also makes it more manageable, so I have time to focus on my strengths. We all have natural inclinations, and we should allow ourselves to accept the things were not-so-amazing at right along with areas where we know we shine  :)