Archive | family

what kind of family are you?

This is my big sister and her out-of-control-beautiful family:

She has always been my best friend {along with my little sister and bff K.C.} and I admire so many things about her.

My sister and brother-in-law are fun, outgoing, inclusive, fashionable, photogenic, lovers of the Lord. They are the best hosts, they have the perfect combination of honesty and silliness and are servants, through and through.

They also have two really great {and adorable} kids:

Out of all the wonderful qualities they have, my very favorite thing is what they have taught their children.

If you ask my niece {6 yrs} about her family, she will say {in her sweet, high-pitched voice}:

This is their family motto. It is what they are all about. It is what they want to be known for.

They want people to think of their family and automatically say, “Those Olason’s. They sure are a kind and generous family”.

I’m not sure why, but it sort of makes me cry.

Probably mainly because it is so true of them. They are kind. And they are very generous. Each one of them.

Since my sister was a young girl her dream was finding an orphaned baby in a dumpster. Sort of weird, but that is her heart. She wanted to care for a baby who needed it. They always invite friends to our family holidays who do not have a place to go, they open their home often to families who need a place to stay, they are generous with their stuff … the list goes on. Their motto is not just a cute saying; it is truly how they live.

It makes me think – what is our family motto? What are we all about? What do we want to be known for?

When all is said and done, what will people say about our family?

It is a great question to think about and one I ask you today as well …

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little pink toesies

It is a right of passage for every mommy of a daughter …

and one I’ve been waiting for for a long time.

Painting the toes of my baby girl.

It’s such a silly thing to be excited about, but I really have been looking forward to this moment in motherhood.

A few minutes with just me and my girl.  Being girls together.

Just the two of us. And our hot pink toes.

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on the hour

It’s InstaFriday at life rearranged and this week I decided to play a little game. I was curious what my day actually looks like from hour to hour and so instead of sharing the past week with you, I thought I’d show you a day in the life of Emily. Exciting stuff, I tell ya.

I snapped a photo each hour {the timer app came in handy!} with brief explanations below.

6:30 – wake unusually early. Lay in bed and think. Pray for my sugar daddy who was having surgery that morning {it went well}. Checked email on my phone {i heart you, iphone}.

7:30 – work out video with my friend Cathy Syphers on Fitness TV.

8:30 – older boys off to school

9:30 – carpool little boys to preschool

10:30 – toddler story time at the library with Audrey’s besties

11:30 – sip a latte, listen to hokey pokey over and over and over while we wait for preschool to get out

12:30 – lunch time

1:30 – little miss down for a nap, playdate for No. 3

2:30 – work

3:30 – after-school snack

4:30 – piano practice

5:30 – hair appointment

6:30 – looking good under the dryer

7:30 – new highlights! Summery and fresh.

8:30 – book time with the boys

9:30 – back to work

10:30 – still working

11:30 – ahhhhh. bedtime.

And that was my day. Not completely typical since I get my hair done about once a year, but mostly true-to-life.

This was a fun experiment. I highly recommend it. Made me think about where I spend my time, reminds me of what a good life I have and proves that my days are long and constant. No wonder I love my bed so much.

*** A few notes to add ***

1. yes, I eat breakfast & dinner – just not on the half hour, I guess. So no photos.

2. yes I have a husband and I like to hang out with him. He was at the fire station this day, so there was no hanging out.

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this week in photos {instagram is my new fave}

Well, I finally joined the twenty-first century.

I bought an iphone.

It was a long time coming and I’m sort of in love with it {even though I don’t know the half of what it can do}.

I’ve seen you all take artsy photos with your phones on instagram and I’ll admit there was a bit of jealousy.  The photos just looked so cool.

When I received my phone, instagram was the first app I installed. Fruit Ninja was the second {but that’s for a different post}.

Now that I’m all fancy with this phone that I don’t know how to use, I can at least take some fun pictures and link up with InstaFriday at Life Rearranged.

So here is my week in photos.

You know how they say the grass is not always greener on the other side? Well I’m here to say that in my world, it is actually greener on the other side.

The boys were sick all week so there was a lot of laying around snuggling.

And while they were doing that, I tackled this:


looks pretty fun, right?

and after

Why do closets collect junk so easily?

My mom & sugar daddy came over to visit our infirmary and sweet girl got a hair cut.

Lolly pops do wonders. So do grandmas and grandpas.

I am officially addicted to these:

My closet:

For a girl who is a little afraid of color, that sure is a lot of color. And stripes.

I took the kids out to our local pizza place. It is fun there because they give the kids pizza dough to play with.

We had a really great time until I knocked my root beer all down my lap.  I should have asked for a lid for mine too.

Am I the worst mommy ever for thinking Sorry is the most brutal Family Game Night game?

This is what my boys do {well, except for when they are begging to play Sorry}

Lego battles.  Its cute – in a violent, troubling sort of way.

Obnoxiously hot pink stubby little toes.

And one last one. Yesterday I browsed through my new Southern Living magazine and these pretty punch bowls caught my eye.

Until I saw that they were $1000. Are you kidding me? Do people pay $1000 for a punch bowl?

Who knew.

Well, now you know what we did this week. I hope you were entertained by the randomness.

I’m finally linking with InstaFriday.

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she’s two

In January 2010, this blog was born. It had been around for a few months prior, but it really came to life right around the new year. I was very, very pregnant with No.4 – our first girl – and those first few posts often centered around her. Her nursery, her name, girlie projects and sharing the emotions all mommies go through at the end of their pregnancies {excitement for the new babe, nervousness about change, impatience with just wanting to be done}.

The blog was started when she was growing inside me and in a weird way, I feel like she is what inspired it.  For some reason, having a daughter awoke a greater sense of creativity in me that I wanted to share.  I suddenly desired to expand beyond stationery design into sewing and crafting and creating as many flowers as I could figure out how to make.

I love this little girl and all the ways she has changed our family … and especially me.

Many of you have been here from the beginning. You remember those first posts, the frequent photos of our sweet newborn girl wearing yet another headband. You’ve heard stories about Audrey and watched her grow along side of us.

Every once in a while I meet a reader while out running errands. The way they recognize me is almost always because they recognized Audrey first. That makes me smile.  I like sharing her life here on the blog – someday she will protest, but for now she’s my little companion and muse and favorite spunky/sweet two-year-old and I just can’t resist sharing her with you.

Audrey-girl turned two a few weeks ago, which means the blog did as well.  They are both growing, changing, and bring me {and hopefully you!} such joy.

I thank you for being a part of our lives. It has been the best two years.



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on being a mother of four

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to have four children. I am one of three girls and we always wished we had one more sibling to round us out.  When I met Ryan, he had the same desire for a large family.  Among so many other things, I loved that we had similar ideas for our ideal family.

So here we are, 14 years later, with our precious family of six. To tell you the truth, we didn’t try for any of our kids, yet we feel so thankful for the perfect timing and blessing of all four of them.

But let me be honest with you …

Having four kids is hard.

I wouldn’t trade it. Never, ever. But sometimes {like right now} I just sit and cry from exhaustion, frustration, feeling like maybe I’m not well-enough equipped for this task of raising four little ones. FOUR! Sometimes it is just plain overwhelming.

Yesterday after church I needed to grab lunch for the kids on our way to visit Ryan who was working at the fire station.  The easiest thing would have been to go through a drive-thru, but we are trying to make healthy food choices and since I wasn’t in a major rush, I decided to stop into a sandwich shop instead.   I should have realized that a quick lunch place like this would be overflowing on a sunday afternoon, but by the time we parked and walked to the restaurant, it was too late.

First of all, let me say that I regularly have all four kids with me.  Ryan works for 24 hours at a time and so I’m on my own every couple of days. I take the kids to church by myself. We go out to eat. I take them with me on errands.  We frequent the post office, Costco, Target, our local Mexican restaurant.  While it is not always the easiest or most enjoyable way to dine or shop, it is the life of a mom with kids.

So taking the kids to lunch yesterday was normal for me.

We found our place in a long line behind an older woman in a hot pink sweater. She took notice of the kids and seemed friendly. #3 {4} went off climbing on some sign. I brought him back into line. Then Audrey {2} made her way over to the sign and I grabbed her too. At that point the lady turned to me and said,”are ALL of these YOURS?”.

“yep. All four of them”.

“Well, it looks like you finally got your girl.”

Let’s stop right here. This is just about the WORST thing you can say to a mom of three boys and a girl. Can you image what the boys think when they hear some stranger assume that his parents just weren’t satisfied with them and so they kept trying for a girl? I know they are too young to put this idea together, but someday soon, they won’t be. And NO, we did not keep trying for a girl. We didn’t even try. We just got her. Of course we were thankful. Of course I wanted a girl. But we would have been perfectly happy with our three boys.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard the finally-got-your-girl statement. I hear it regularly. Normally I just smile and nod. Or say something to turn it around like “Yes … she sure is lucky to have three big brothers to look after her.”  It normally doesn’t get to me too much. But for some reason, I was not in the mood for the statement from the hot-pink-sweater-lady.

She went on …

“I have three girls. We stopped after three because I did not want a boy”.

To which I just smiled.

Then #3 started pushing #1 who elbowed him back and she started shushing them and telling them to stand still and not hit.

She moved on to order her food at one register. I moved to the next.  It was chaos. I fully admit to that. Ordering for four kids who change their minds every three seconds is a challenge.  The whole process of choosing chips or an apple, whole wheat or sourdough, white or chocolate milk can fluster anyone, let alone a mom who is also trying to corral three boys, hold a squirmy toddler and find a wallet in a vast black hole of a purse.

As I was finishing up, hot-pink-lady tapped me on the shoulder and chuckled, “you sure are brave.”

Maybe she was just being funny. I don’t know. But it made me fume.

I wanted so much to turn around and say:

That is not helpful. Can’t you see that I am trying my best? Can’t you see that I love my kids and want to feed them healthy food and do fun things with them? I could have just gone through the drive-thru and I probably should have. But instead I decided to make a lunch date out of it and you are not helping. Can’t you remember when your three girls were little and what it was like to take them to a restaurant by yourself? It is not easy. But it is worth it. Because I want them to know how to act in public.  I want them to experience life outside of our home. Sometimes they misbehave, they climb on things they shouldn’t or elbow their brother or change their minds at the last second.  But they are BABIES. I’m trying lady.  I really am.  And your condescending tone telling me I’m brave is basically a cute way for you to say I’m a bad mom and that my kids are not welcome here. It is not helpful. 

Instead, I ignored her; I didn’t even turn around. I knew if I did I would say something snippy and that wouldn’t do any good.

We ate our lunch. Audrey spilled her yogurt down her shirt. #1′s sandwich dropped on the floor. #2 ate all the chips. #3 cried when we left because I couldn’t hold him.  It wasn’t a perfect lunch date. But we sat together at the table and enjoyed the few minutes of a tasty lunch.

When we got in the car and drove to the fire station, I fell apart. My feelings were so hurt by the lady with the hot pink sweater. I felt criticized, so looked-down on. There was no compassion in her tone of voice or the way she interacted with the kids.  She was mean. And she probably wasn’t even meaning to be.

I’m not sure why I’m writing all of this for the world to see. I think I just need to ‘journal’ this part of my life. I’m a mom of four kids and sometimes it is hard.

I try {as I’m sure most other adults do} to look right, act right, say the right thing when I’m out in public. I don’t want to be embarrassed. And yet I have these four little clueless children who seem to sabotage my appearance everywhere we go. They are good kids – they really are. But they don’t think the fabric store is all that fun and they take spools of thread out of its appropriate spot and leave it on the floor. That’s embarrassing. They throw fits in the toy aisle when we’re picking out a birthday gift and they don’t get something for themselves. That’s not how I’m raising them! They do that dreadful arched-back-so-buckling-is-impossible thing when getting in the car. Mortifying to think other people hear my sweet angel-baby sound like I’m torturing her when all I’m doing is trying to protect her by buckling her car seat.

Someone once said that parenting is not so much about teaching a child as it is about refining a parent. There is no one who can teach me more than my own children. I see my behavior, my words, my food preferences, my mannerisms reflected right back to me through them. And I don’t always like what I see.  I can try to look good on the outside, but my kids see the real me and its not always the patient, put-together, grace-filled, selfless person that I wish it was.

My kids embarrass me, they do. But no more than I should be embarrassed by my own ugliness that I so easily hide.  I may not leave spools of thread on the floor or throw myself on the ground when I don’t get what I want, but I sure do think some unloving thoughts or mumble under my breath when I don’t get my way.  I’m thankful to them for the ways they refine me, teaching me about grace and forgiveness and new mornings after particularly exhausting nights.

The speaker at church yesterday said there’s a funny thing that happens when you have children. You don’t need them to be complete. But once you have them, you can’t imagine being complete without them.

I love my kids. I learn from my kids. I can’t imagine my life without my kids.

I’m sure you feel the same if you have children of your own.

No matter how challenging they are, or how exhausted I may be, I would never trade this life.  I just wish there were fewer pink-sweater ladies who make me feel like I’m not doing a good enough job.

So here is what I want to say to wrap up this long-winded thing.

If you see a mom who looks like she needs help, HELP HER. Even if she says no.

If you see a mom who is doing a good job, ENCOURAGE HER. Even if it is awkward.

Whether you have little children, grown children or none at all, you can make such a difference to a young mom.

We’re all struggling through this thing called motherhood – some days are better than others – and we need each other. We need community.

I needed that Costco worker who distracted Audrey from her crying fit. I needed the man who held the door open for my entourage. I needed my best friend to watch the kids for an extra hour so I could enjoy a few minutes of free time. We needed the elderly couple at Starbucks who complimented Ryan and me on our well-behaved kids. These simple kind gestures made such a big difference to me.

I am thankful for the chance to raise four kids. I am so proud of who they each are and continue to find more things to love about each one. Yes, it can be hard. Yes, its chaotic and exhausting to keep up. Yes, I fail and will continue to make mistakes. I’ll probably run into more critical old ladies at restaurants and my kids will probably continue to elbow each other. I’ll probably be embarrassed and maybe even cry about it again.

That’s life.

That’s my life.

And I wouldn’t trade it.

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highs & lows

high: we took a quick family vacation to a little mountain resort this weekend with some friends to celebrate a birthday.

low: it was too quick – I could have stayed way longer.

high: packing up the six of us with all of our snow gear, clothes, blankies, snacks, waterbottles and gadgets {laptop, ipad, ipod, phones, video camera and regular camera – geesh!} went smoothly and relatively quickly on saturday morning.

low: while this packing was taking place, Audrey found a pair of scissors and gave her hair a trim. Two chunks of her beautiful blonde hair right from the front – now gone. Boo.

high: on the way up the mountain we ran into longtime friends who just had a baby. I got to meet {and hold} sweet Memphis. She has the most amazing thick head of hair. I hope she never finds scissors.

low: we don’t get to see those friends often enough.

high: hotel-stays are super fun for kids. And parents. Walking into a clean hotel room with crisp sheets knowing you don’t have to do a thing to clean it is the best.

low: we made a real mess of the place within minutes with our snow gear, clothes, blankies, snacks, waterbottles and gadgets. P.S. we didn’t even use half of the gadgets.

high: I ordered a salad from room service because I was so hungry and wanted something other than a granola bar or fruit leather.

low: it cost a small fortune.

high: it was really good.

low: i missed out on iceskating with the group to put a cranky almost two year old to bed.

high: I really love hanging out with that almost two year old.

low: she never went to sleep

high: the boys came back from skating and we ended up hanging out in our friends’ room until 11:00 and the kids were champs. I also love hanging out with our friends.

low: ate too much pizza + birthday treats and went to bed feeling blah.

high: best husband ever got up with the kids, took them to the lobby to drink coffee and play chess while I slept in until TEN O’CLOCK! Amazing.

low: I missed out on coffee and chess in the lobby

high: went sledding

low: we’re having a crazy winter here and there was barely any snow. What we had was crusty and slippery, but it was snow.

high: very few things are funnier than watching grown men throw themselves down a slippery, crusty hill on a small bright blue plastic saucer.

low: our lunch took a long time to make it to our table and we were a hungry group.

high: I had grilled flatbread, fancy cheese and a whole head of roasted garlic and it was worth the wait. Yum.

low: the 11:00 bedtime caught up with my littlest ones and so we had to take a distraction walks to keep from major restaurant meltdowns

high: we finished off our weekend with a quick swim in the pool {with a few runs down the water slides and mostly chilling in the hot tub}

low: we had to leave this dreamy place.

Family getaways are great. We should really do it more often.

And because a post is always better with a photo, here are a few of my favorites from our sledding extravaganza.

{do you see that chunk of super short hair right there in the front? Yep. That’s one of the chunks now missing}

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