What I’m Loving {4}

Hey friends, Happy Friday!!!

Hope y’all have had a good week! I for one am glad the weekend is upon us. We are traveling to the great state of Oklahoma this weekend to visit the best school in all the land – Oklahoma State University, naturally.  We haven’t been in almost THREE years, which is insane, so we’re taking the boys to show them what it’s all about – and since it’s a game day we know it’ll be a blast.

Here’s a little bit of what I’m loving lately:

What I'm Loving {4} | Haven Gray {the blog}

Athleta Capri Pants

I am a pretty frugal girl when it comes to clothing usually, but Arsen got me started on these and now I can’t stop! They are SO comfy and crazy flattering, and they’re also made out of super durable, nice quality fabric. I’ve got several pairs of the Chaturanga ™ Capris and I’ve been wearing these babies nonstop, even though it’s a million degrees outside. When the weather finally cools down in Texas I’m pretty sure I won’t take them off.

Bible Study

A few weeks ago I started leading a table at the Women’s Bible Study at my church, and I am LOVING it! I was a little (a lot) hesitant at first, because this is so far from something I ever thought I would be doing, but after a lot (a lot) of prayer, I knew it was the right step. And man, God has used it to bless me big time, because the girls at my table – pretty much none of us knew each other beforehand! –  feel like they were hand picked especially to be in this group together. I just love when he coordinates my life in such a fun, unexpected way!

My Little Family

I always love my boys (all three of ’em), but lately I have been pretty much obsessed with how great they all are. I feel like we’re in a bit of sweet spot right now, and we’re having a lot of really good family time. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the kids drive us absolutely bonkers a large portion of the time – especially the tiny one, he is CRAZY – but their relationship is becoming cuter, they’re easier to communicate with, and the husband and I seem to have found a good balance with this parenting thing. Kind of madly in love with the family we’ve created right now.

“Fall”

Or more accurately, the idea of fall. Texas usually barely gets a fall, and this year is proving to be totally predictable. It was at least 95 degrees outside today, which is horrendous when all you see everywhere are pumpkins and halloween decor and boots and sweaters. I swear I’m meant to live somewhere that gets a true four seasons – but no, somehow I’m in the hottest state on the planet. Nonetheless, I’m loving the fact that our version of fall is just around the corner, which means the holidays will be close behind. The next few months are my FAVORITE time of the year!

Alright friend of mine, tell me – what are you loving??

 

Finding the Beauty in Motherhood

Finding the Beauty in MotherhoodI think it is slightly hilarious that I felt led to start a blog and then I felt led to stop writing. That God is a tricky guy sometimes. I’m feeling the itch to get back here, so maybe that means something is coming. We all know I clearly have no idea.

However, I wanted to come back, at least for today, and take a second to recognize Mother’s Day. Because for some reason this Mother’s Day weekend, I’m having alllllll the feelings. I think a lot of it is because of the season that I just went through, that I’m pretty sure occurred so that I could learn to enjoy and embrace every aspect of motherhood. Before I went through my little journey of refinement, of stepping away and stepping back, of looking deep inside myself at all the yuck, before coming out on the other side, motherhood wasn’t the blessing to me that it should have been.

It felt all-consuming, and not in a good way. It felt overwhelming. It felt suffocating. It felt like it was slowly stealing away every bit of identity outside of “mama”, every bit of Celeste, that it could. I didn’t see the joy, the beauty, the insanely chaotic, hilarious, pure happiness that I can now find in the every day. I felt burdened. I felt held back. I wasn’t near as happy as I wanted to be, especially since I knew how lucky I truly was.

Of course I loved my boys more than life itself, but I couldn’t feel all of the other beautiful feelings that go along with the love. I was too overwhelmed by it all, by my desire for more more more, more things that were for me and didn’t include them. I wanted something, anything, just for me, but they consumed me. I was drowning, even though I didn’t realize it.

But then I went on a really hard, painful, exhausting, uncomfortable journey of pulling back from EVERYTHING except for being a mama. I did not want to, but God made it crystal clear that I had to. I fought it, I tried to rationalize my way out of it, but he said nope. Let it go. Let it allllll go. So I did.

After two months of walking through that, I’m on the other side. I don’t know what’s next for me, but I do know that everything about motherhood has changed for me.

I see the beauty. I see the joy. I FEEL it down to my very core. I crawl on the floor like a dinosaur, I tickle bellies, I cuddle in bed, I rock to sleep, I read stories, I blow bubbles, I race, I give endless kisses and hugs, I praise and shower them with words of affirmation, I listen, I look, I study baby faces and chubby hands that are quickly turning into little boy hands, I answer endless questions, I watch sleeping boys and kiss their closed eyes. Of course I’ve always done all of these things, but it’s different now. I feel every beautiful bit of the love I have for these boys, and I feel it down deep into my soul. I LOVE them. I LOVE being their mama. I breathe it in, cherish it, try to capture it, because it’s fleeting. They’re growing, they’re so big, they’re so funny and smart, and where are my babies? How is it going so fast? How can I keep all of these beautiful memories inside my head and my heart forever?

Motherhood is different now. It’s the same, as in I’ve always loved and cherished my boys, but it’s different in the fact that now it is everything to me. I may still have hopes and dreams and aspirations, but THIS is where it’s at. I’m so thankful that God made me pause and dig down and find the joy in the mundane every day, because without that breaking down, I would have missed it. I would have MISSED all of this. And I can’t imagine missing a moment.

So Happy Mother’s Day mamas. We have the most amazing, wonderful, blessed job in the entire world. We have the honor and privilege of shaping our babies into human beings. We get the sticky kisses and the “I love you so much Mommy”s and the suffocating hugs and the knowledge that we are, for a few short years, their entire world. So even though I’m exhausted, even though I deal with more tantrums than any human should ever have to, even though my one year old won’t sleep and my four year old whines endlessly, even though I would kill for a shower without someone banging on the door or to sit down for a meal that is still warm – I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the entire world.

Staying Organized With Small Children

Organization is an area I’ve always struggled with. I have A LOT of stuff – my husband thinks I’m a hoarder, although I think I’m pretty good about tossing stuff I don’t need anymore – so I always feel like my house is cluttered, no matter how “picked up” it may be. I feel like I spend 90% of my time cleaning and straightening up, but somehow things always feel a little out of order. It’s like I just can’t get organized enough.

Now that we’ve got two little guys running around the place, staying clean and organized has become a much bigger challenge. Especially now that Gavin is mobile – his speciality is taking items from one room and moving them to a drawer, cabinet, or hidden corner in another room. I found Grayson’s shoe that had been missing for a week in Gavin’s blanket drawer yesterday, so needless to say, there’s only so much that can be done. All this to say – mamas, I understand the struggle. So today I’m sharing my favorite ways to stay organized – or as close to organized as we can manage – with small kids.

Staying Organized With Small Children | Haven Gray {The Blog}

  • Establish Routines

The older Grayson gets, the more I implement this one family-wide. I’ve done this a bit for myself, obviously – we have a morning “routine” on preschool days or any other time we need to be up and out of the house quickly that we pretty much always stick with, and if we stray too far from this routine, things get a little chaotic.

I’ve also started working on an after school routine with Grayson – take off your shoes and take them to your shoe basket in your room, take out lunch from backpack and empty the container, hang your backpack on the hook in your room. It takes a lot of prodding and reminding, but I’m hoping the more “routine” it becomes, the better things will go.

We also do a nightly clean up of the living room (most nights). We have the boys gather allllll the toys that have been strung out from the kitchen to the back door and put them all in the basket. If there are things that obviously go in the playroom or in their bedrooms, then I make a pile and make it a game “I bet you can’t take five things to your bedroom all at once!” or “I bet I get the laundry folded before you can get all these toys to the playroom!”. Grayson is HIGHLY motivated by any type of competition, so he will do anything if he thinks he can win.

  • Everything Has a Place

Literally everything in our house has a place that it belongs (although some days I’m convinced I’m the only one who knows this). Now, I mentioned Gavin’s new favorite game of “take this thing and put it in the LAST place it should go”, so not much is actually in its place these days, but in theory this works. We have a million books, and they go one of three places: the bookshelf in either the playroom, Grayson’s room, or Gavin’s room. We have one small basket for toys in the living room. Aside from that, toys need to be in the playroom or in the toy box in either boys room. Even in the playroom I have a system for how I like things to be organized, but that happens typically about once a week when I go in and spend about half an hour putting everything back in its place, and the rest of the time it’s mass chaos in there.

  • Baskets Baskets Baskets! 

You probably noticed above that I mentioned a shoe basket and a toy basket – we have so many baskets in our house you guys. In the front room there’s a basket where I collect all things husband related – his mail, his random things that he leaves around the house, etc. In the kitchen, each boy has their own snack basket that I keep in the pantry stocked with their favorite snacks. In the living room we have the toy basket and a little basket-like container for the 500 remotes. In their bedrooms, shoe baskets, book baskets, toy baskets, etc. In my bedroom, I’ve got a basket for magazines and a random catch-all for my stuff like I have for the husband. In our bathroom, a basket for all the lotions and potions that we had to move up and out of Gavin’s reach. In our closet, I have a basket for clutches, our medicine is in two baskets, there’s a basket for my sandals – seriously, I could go on. And don’t EVEN get me started on the playroom.

This should give you an idea of just how highly I value a good basket. If all else fails, buy a basket and give that thing you can’t find a place for its very own place! And a major plus is that they’re a cute way to stay organized. Win-win!

  • Plan Ahead

I already went into more detail about this in my post 5 Things That Make My Days Less Stressful, but planning ahead is huge for staying on top of things when you’re responsible for not only yourself but little ones as well. One of the most important things I do (when I’m being a good organized responsible mommy) is get ready for the next day the night before. Plan outfits, pack lunch, stock the diaper bag (and the snack bags inside) – basically ensure that all we have to do is get up and get ourselves ready and we can head out the door.

Another huge thing for our family is our family calendar. I bought this big dry erase calendar at Target, and the husband hung it on the inside of our pantry door. Every month I fill out my personal planner and then put all of the important activities on this calendar where he and I can both see it. This helps SO MUCH when it comes to he or I planning date nights, meeting up with our friends, his work dinners, weekend activities – before we plan anything, we know we can see our entire schedule here at a glance so we don’t double-book ourselves.

  • Let It Go

This may be the most important thing on the list, and the one I have the hardest time with. When you’ve done all you can do and things are still a hot mess around your house, it’s time to let it go. Just for awhile – maybe just until bedtime or until the next day. But sometimes I will do all I can to keep the house picked up and organized, literally all day long, and still by the time Daddy walks in the door it looks like a bomb went off. All you mamas know that by dinner time you are usually DONE, so the last thing I want to do is clean up another mess. Like I mentioned above, we usually have them pick up the main areas before bed, but some nights that is just a dent in the chaos. So sometimes I really just have to let it go and say I’ll tackle it in the morning. As long as I know the basic organization is taken care of – hence everything having a place and all my many baskets – I know the actual cleaning up won’t be that big of a deal once I’ve gotten a fresh start the next day.

If you’re someone who thrives on staying organized and in control (I can maybe relate), having children can be a super frustrating challenge sometimes – I mean, why do they LOVE to cause so much destruction? Can’t they see how much nicer life would be if everything were just neat and tidy all the time?!? But, we know that the odds of them coming around to our way of thinking are not likely to happen anytime before their 18th birthday, so we can only do so much. Take care of the basic organization around your house, and let the rest go. I promise this is the healthiest approach for maintaining your sanity.

10 Things

You guys. My brain is fried. Like, I’m not totally confident that I can form enough competent sentences to actually complete a blog post, if I’m being honest. So you know what I decided to do? The easiest blog post ever known to man. A “random facts about me” post. Is it unique? No. Is it original in any way? No. Is it pretty basic and a little uninspired? Why yes, yes it is. But I’m honestly just a little too tired to care, so here we go….hope you’ll hang with me anyway!

Celeste Aslanyants | Haven Gray {the blog}That’s me up there, with all my fellas 

  • I’m an only child

I’m pretty confident that this is why I want three kids. Being an only has its perks for sure, but I always wanted siblings and I want that so badly for my boys. I just feel like three babies would feel complete, know what I mean? (Husband, are you reading this?!)

  • I was a dancer for years

I started dancing (tap and ballet) in kindergarten, and danced consistently for the next 10 years. We drove over an hour each direction several nights a week to my dance studio, and I had competitions or shows most weekends. I did it all – tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical – even clogging. Still wish I wouldn’t have given it up.

  • I’m super short…with huge feet, apparently

I’m 5’2″, which I don’t think is too crazy short, but then again I always think people are the same height as me and then am told they’re like 5’7″, so my perception may be off a little. I also wear a size 8-8 1/2 shoe, which has been pointed out numerous times as being “huge” for someone my size. I know, I have clown feet!

  • I’m addicted to Coke (coca-cola that is, let’s be clear)

I honestly cannot stop drinking the stuff. I know it’s awful for you, I know it can like, remove toxic chemicals from things or something, I’ve seen the videos and read the articles but I just. can’t. stop. I try to limit it to one a day. Unless I’m eating out, then I can have another one. Or unless I get Mexican food, then I can have more. I have a lot of “unless” cases, let’s be real.

  • I’m a “baby” Christian

Up until just about a year ago if you would have asked me if I were a Christian I would have said no. Well, more accurately I would have probably shrugged and made a face and then said something like “Well, I mean, I guess? I used to consider myself a Christian…I mean, I probably believe in God, so I mean, maybe? Not really.” At that point, I basically hated Christians and anything they touched. The thought of church made me a little nauseous, and I wanted nothing to do with any of that “God stuff”. Well, needless to say something happened in my life – still not totally sure what – and God was like Oh hey girl, I’mma need you to change EVERYTHING about what you believe and dive on in and become ultra-Christian. It was shocking and completely and totally unexpected and the best thing that has ever happened to me. Life changing, no lie.

  • I had two weddings, both to the same guy

My husband is Armenian, and I’m not (can’t you tell by the photo up top?). His family wanted more of a traditional Armenian wedding, and I was pretty set on the wedding I’d been dreaming of. We tried to incorporate everything into one wedding, but it just got too complicated, so we ended up having an Armenian wedding at the Armenian church here in Dallas, and then two weeks later we had our American wedding at the venue that we chose. We celebrate our anniversary on the date of our American wedding, but both weddings were truly AMAZING.

  • I had a VBAC with my second baby

I had a c-section with my first son, something I swore up and down I would only do in an emergency situation. Somehow, I was convinced to be induced at 38 weeks, 6 days, then after 12 hours convinced that I needed a c-section because it just “wasn’t going to happen”. I had a LOT of remorse over that decision, so with my second son I was determined to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). My (new and truly amazing) doctor allowed me to go into labor naturally, so at 41 weeks, 2 days I went into labor – and Gavin was born 52 (!) short hours later. It was the hardest thing I’ve EVER done, but I’m so thankful I got the chance and would do it again in a heartbeat.

  • I lived in Los Angeles for a year

When I was 20 years old I somehow convinced my parents that allowing me to move to LA to pursue my dream of becoming an actress was a good idea. Not only did they allow it, but they funded it. I moved out there basically alone – I met a girl once through an introduction, we made a plan, and we moved into a one bedroom apartment in Studio City a couple months later. Obviously things didn’t go according to plan since I’m not a mega-famous actress, but I would say things definitely worked out for the best.

  • I’m from a super small town

Before I moved to one of the largest cities in America, I spent nearly 18 years of my life living in a town in Oklahoma with around 3,000 people. I graduated with 56 people, and I knew nearly everyone in my class, as well as the classes above and below me. My hometown doesn’t even have a stoplight, although I believe they do have a Sonic and a Subway now, which is huge.

  • I love food more than is acceptable. Or healthy. 

Just like my addiction to Coke, I’m pretty sure I have an addiction to food. And the bigger issue is that my husband does, too. We love to eat more than any humans should, and the awful thing is that he watches all those food channels and gets crazy ideas and then starts cooking things in my house that make me gain like 5 pounds. Like raclette. It’s some crazy cheese that you melt over a little grill thing then scrape onto potatoes, prosciutto, salami, peppers, whatever else – and it is amazing and like 7000 calories. And he cooks this for me regularly. We have no willpower, someone help us!

So there you have it. So much randomness I bet you don’t even know what to do with it. I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little bit better….no? Yes? If you stuck through it, thank you – and let me hear some randomness about you in the comments!