This Time Around…

Open mouth, insert foot. Face palm. Just imagine me being embarrassingly humbled. Why? I tried to give you advice on how to navigate your summer…when I was the one who desperately needed it. 

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At the beginning of last summer, I wrote a blog post about how teachers can survive the summer. And the summer of 2017 was indeed one of the hardest summers of my life. I couldn’t WAIT for August to roll around. If you want a little eye roll action, read it HERE.

So I’m going to start THIS post by saying that I don’t have all of the answers. But what I can share with you is what I plan to do differently. It’s two-fold, really: perhaps what I’m writing about here can help you as a mama navigating the summer. And perhaps writing this post and checking in with you periodically will help to keep me accountable. 

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This photo was taken of me at the beginning of last summer…I remember telling myself that I wanted to put myself together every morning. Spoiler alert: That SO did not happen.

A typical question I get when I meet someone new: “So what do you do?” I answer, “I teach high school English.” And it’s usually one of two responses: “Ugh. I don’t know how you do that.” or “Well, I bet you sure enjoy those summers off!” 

Yeah…how about NO?! 

Here’s why: I THRIVE on routine. I thrive on having a plan and executing it. I don’t know how to handle life when there is nothing to write down in my planner. Sad but true. Summertime breeds a lack of routine, and it drives me absolutely nuts. 

So I’m vowing to do better, and here’s how:

  1. Send in the reinforcements. I plan on hiring a babysitter once a week. I also am considering restarting my YMCA membership so I can both work out and have two hours of child care provided. The kids LOVED going last summer, and I loved getting my workout in.
  2. Loosely schedule every day. I would like to better execute a plan for each day. Last summer, I tried to implement the “no plan” plan, and I hated it. The kids were bored, and so was I. Also, I was sitting in my sweats at like 10 A.M., and it made me feel icky. Now I’m not judging if that’s your thing…it’s definitely not mine, though.
  3. Bucket list. Make a list of things we can do this summer, and involve the kids! Ask them what they want to do…now that they’re older, they can give great feedback. Shockingly…I’ve never done this.
  4. Institute quiet time. Everyone needs a break from each other, so I plan on instituting at least an hour a day where everyone chills by themselves and reads or plays quietly.
  5. Do something I love to do every day. Summer is about having a little bit more free time, so I want to spend my days pursuing my passions and hobbies: working out, writing, reading, empowering women through fashion, Instagramming….you know, nothing crazy.
  6. Actually keep some parts of my “school routine.” Getting up before everyone and having an hour of prayer and journaling time has done wonders for my sanity as the school year draws to a close. I plan on keeping up with that routine.
  7. Dependence on God. I know summer is a time when I am just emotionally weak. I need to depend on the One who gives me strength when I have none. I actually signed up for Jess Connolly’s SUMMER TO THRIVE SUPPORT GROUP to keep myself accountable for staying in The Word AND learning other ways to find joy in my least favorite season.

I’m sure I will add to this list as I learn and grow over the next few weeks. What steps will you take to ensure that you find joy in your summer?

Mother’s Day: The True Gift

The idea of a Mother’s Day post has been a thought in my mind for weeks. But I’ve been stuck in a bad case of writer’s block. What is everyone writing about in the blogging word? Answer: Mother’s Day gifts. And I love those posts. I read pretty much every single one to find out what I “need” in my closet. But I wanted to go a different direction this year. I want to share my heart, how for a part of my life, I didn’t know if I would become a mother. Mother’s Day is a beautiful time of year to celebrate the gift of motherhood and the women who deserve our love…our moms. But it’s not a beautiful time of year for everyone. 

About eight years ago, ANYTHING that had to do with motherhood made my heart sink. I would tear up with every pregnancy announcement on Facebook. Sometimes I could muster up a “congratulations,” and honestly, sometimes I couldn’t. That’s because I couldn’t become a mother when I wanted to. 

The year of 2010 began with such excitement and promise. Jordan and I decided we were ready to start a family. But month after month of negative pregnancy tests tossed me into the darkest state of life I’ve ever known. I could not get pregnant. Every test at the OBGYN office came back “normal.” (Writer’s note: never tell a woman trying to get pregnant to relax. That is actually about a million times worse than not saying anything at all.) I took so many tests there (no meds, just check-ups to ensure everything was functioning normally…it was) that in September 2010, my OBGYN said that he was referring me to a Fertility Clinic. But the fertility clinic could not see me until January 2011. 

A really important part to this story: I was not walking with Jesus. We had stopped going to church. As a child who was forced to go to church, I wanted freedom to NOT go as an adult, to sleep in on Sundays. 

One day in October, one of my students/volleyball players walked up to my desk after school. She told me that she had a vision of me and that God wanted her to share that picture. She saw me holding a baby boy and crying. (SAY WHAT?! Come again?!) I had told only family and close friends of my struggle. I actually had to tell my boss at the time as well because I was struggling so hard to keep it together at work. 

My student then told me about the Vineyard Church and invited me to come. At the time, like I said, I was what is known as a “Chr-Easter” Christian… I would go to church only on Christmas and Easter. 

That afternoon after my sweet student shared her vision, I sat in my car and prayed aloud for the first time in my life, like a real, raw personal prayer. God. I want to control my life so badly, like I’ve always had. But I’m finally giving you control. If you want me to be a mom, I guess I have to trust that you will make it happen. 

The release and peace I felt sitting in my car was like nothing I had ever known. Though I attended church all throughout my childhood, I never felt like God was accessible. I didn’t know that He wanted to be in personal relationship with me. 

Jordan and I made a New Year’s Resolution in 2011 to go back to church. We began attending church at the Vineyard in Sullivan, Illinois. After attending our first service, we went out to dinner with my family for my mom’s birthday, and we were telling everyone about our experience, how we’d never been to a contemporary service before…and that we were for sure going back the next week. But there was this underlying feeling inside of me that something was different. 

I went home that Sunday and took a nap. (Duh. That’s what Sundays are for.) I woke up with this urging, this need to take another pregnancy test. Five minutes later…positive. The joy I felt that day in January 2011 gives me chills to this day. 

We were supposed to go to the Fertility Clinic two days later. That phone call was the most joyous cancelation phone call I’ve ever made in my life. 

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My first picture as a mother

Jackson Drake Lindenmeyer was born on September 20, 2011, all 10 pounds, 1 ounce of him. 

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Lindenmeyer, party of 3!

When we decided to add a second child to our family, I prayed again. This time, my prayer was different. I asked God to prepare my heart for what was to come, that emotional rollercoaster I once experienced before and had not fully healed from. 

Two months later, I became pregnant with our daughter, Johanna Drew Lindenmeyer, who was born on April 17, 2014…all 10 pounds, 9 ounces. 

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Lindenmeyer, party of 4!

I hope that by sharing my story, you find peace and comfort in the truth: God wants to perform miracles and give you the desires of your heart, if you are living in a season of uncertainty. Mamas, those of you reading my story…we are on the toughest journey of our lives, no doubt. But please don’t ever take that precious baby (or babies) you have for granted. Motherhood is a gift that is unfortunately not extended to all who want it. 

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On this Mother’s Day, when I give my kids a kiss upon their sweaty heads, I will say a prayer for the women still waiting patiently for the ultimate gift. I hope you do, too. 

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Your New Spring/Summer Go-To Outfit: Graphic Tank + Midi Skirt

When I find an outfit combo that is on repeat for me, I love sharing it with you. Think of it as one hot mess mom trying to help out another.

And a working hot mess mom at that. It’s the end of the school year for us teachers, and our patience for taxing tasks is like slim to none. That’s why “momiforms” are such an integral part of my wardrobe. I don’t want to think too much about getting dressed, but at the same time, I have a bad day when I don’t like my outfit. It’s quite the problem…

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Enter graphic tank/tee + midi skirt + mules combo. It’s the perfect dressy casual look that works for so many occasions.

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OLD NAVY tank, LULAROE Lola skirt, LUCKY BRAND mules, STELLA & DOT necklace

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To make the look even more casual, I may try knotting the tank. And seriously, an outfit combo that makes me feel like a million bucks AND is this comfy? Sign me up.

That One Time I Spent $119 on Pants

Guys, admittedly…most of my pants are cheap. Case in point: every single pair of jeans I have on heavy rotation cost me less than $40. And quite honestly, I’m not absolutely in love with any of them, but they do the job.

But recently, I have discovered Evereve (late to the party, I know…), and my opinions on pants have changed. I actually tried their Trendsend service recently, and if you follow me on Instagram, you saw through my stories what I was sent and what I ended up keeping. One such pair of pants were utility camo pants: the Sanctuary Pull On Trooper. I’ve linked them HERE. I’m a size six, and the medium is a great fit for me.

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I initially had sticker shock. Like what? $119? But as I get older, I realize there is so much value in investing in basics that you know you can style in multiple ways. The fit in these pants is amazing, and as I talked about on Instagram recently, my number one body insecurity is how big my legs are. These pants are actually quite flattering to my leg line and slim me out. SCORE.

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Here are some questions I ask myself before I invest in a piece for my wardrobe (jacket, pants, top, whatever):

  1. Can this piece work for nearly all occasions I could dress for? I could easily wear these pants for a casual look or dressed up for work. It’s all about styling and accessorizing. 
  2. Do I have pieces in my closet RIGHT NOW that I could pair with it to create at least three outfits? The answer for me was yes. As you see in this post, I styled them with a denim top, but a basic tee or graphic tee are other options. 
  3. Do I absolutely love the fit? Yes, I do. I loathe pants shopping, so that is why Trendsend appealed to me. I like how they’re both figure-flattering and slightly loose. 
  4. If I could find the cheaper version, would I be as excited about it? Am I truly gaining something by investing in quality? For me, I have never found a more budget-friendly utility pant option that was as flattering on me. Most of them cling to my thighs and no…just no. 
  5. Would I be sad if I did not purchase this piece? Oh yeah. You’ve got to snag those pants that make you feel like a million bucks. 

I find asking myself these questions has helped me really curate a wardrobe that works for me. I hope these questions will help you, too. All the best, dear friends!

The Closet Staple Most Everyone Needs

The Closet Staple Most Everyone Needs

When I have downtime, my brain just CANNOT focus. I always tell myself now is the time to focus. But then I start thinking about every little question that has popped into my mind over the last three months. I wonder what personality type I am on the enneagram. How do I style that blazer? Is it time to get rid of that jacket? Ooh…that Tarte mermaid eyeshadow palette is so pretty. What should the kids and I do this summer? Should I give macro counting another go? And this is just like a 10-second snippet.

Obviously, I am living my best life on spring break right now…and that for me involves reading, writing, and online shopping in sweats, all while sitting by the fire. Spring seems to be fashionably late.

My spring break has freed up more time for me to write and to think about my personal style. Yes, I do think about style a lot, for many reasons: 1. I try to blog about it every so often when I can; 2. I do quite a bit of styling in my side gig; 3. Having a firm understanding of my personal style makes getting dressed a whole lot easier in the morning; and 4. Feeling good about what I’m wearing = confidence.

One aspect of my style I know to be tried and true is my love for jackets. I LOVE a structured jacket more than anyone you probably know. There is something about them that just works. But more specifically, blazers have actually caught my attention lately.

Blazers used to be synonymous with shoulder pads and ’80s for me. But blazers have come a long way, my friends. Get this: they can actually be really versatile and flattering.

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BLAZER: Free People, TEE: LuLaRoe Christy, NECKLACE: Stella & Dot Rebel Pendant, JEANS: Old Navy mid-rise Rockstar (unavailable online right now), BOOTIES: Target (old)

I recently bought two blazers on sale at Nordstrom, and my favorite of the two is this FREE PEOPLE UPTOWN GIRL BLAZER, pictured above. I am a major fan of a black blazer, too, but having more feminine options allows you to play with styling a bit more. To me, this blazer’s color (a dusty rose) makes it a great feminine option to add to your closet. I also like the menswear cut. It’s longer and covers my hip, which I really appreciate. I am a pear shape, and the longer length creates a more flattering silhouette, concealing my biggest problem area.

Adding a few blazers to your closet is not a bad idea. I love a blazer over a dress for a job interview. Teachers, that’s also a great look (blazer + dress) for supervising school dances. I also like to dress a blazer down by adding a graphic tee and jeans.

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In my look pictured above, I found a middle road for Easter Sunday…I added a gray LuLaRoe Christy Tee and black denim (Old Navy Rockstar…the perfect jeans for moms on a budget who still want to be cool). No Easter dress for this girl since it was FREEZING, and we got like 4 INCHES of SNOW that day.

Side note: Yes, this blazer is pricey. But it happened to be 30 percent off when I bought it, and honestly, when you see unique pieces that you love, it isn’t the worst thing to splurge every now and then. I fell in love with the colors, stripes, and cut of this one and knew I’d be disappointed if it went out of stock. It works for a few occasions I would need to dress for: job (I’m a high school English teacher), church, date night…and probably more I’m not thinking of right now.

So here’s your assignment: find a blazer that works for your body type and the occasions you need to dress for….before you get distracted. I know. That may be hard to do, but it’s worth a try.