Learning How To Give Yourself Grace

Learning to Give Yourself Grace:

I am my own worst critic… Anyone else out there love to just beat themselves up?  As in, you tell yourself all these lies about how you don’t live up to people’s expectations and you’re horrible at this, that and such-in-such?

Seriously, my husband is constantly having to lift me back up after I have pulled myself down and convinced myself that I am just no good.  It’s a viscous cycle.

I briefly mentioned this in my letter to my past self.  Before I was married I would make all these proclamations as to the type of wife I would become.  I would make all these declarations as to the type of mother I would become.  There was this belief that becoming a wife or mother would force me to be this person that I envisioned or wanted to be.

I would not be a “crunchy” mom but I would exclusively breast feed.  I would always wear my babies and they would never watch TV.  We’d stay away from bright, loud, plastic toys and have classic wooden toys that inspire imagination.  I would stick to a schedule because babies and toddlers thrive when in a routine.

You get the picture.  Any mommas laughing right about now?

Then, I had my baby and realized… I can’t do this.  Seriously.  Like, I am just barely hanging on to this wild ride and the one thing I need more than anything (more than caffeine) is GRACE.

Grace upon Grace upon Grace.

I couldn’t breastfeed my baby so by eight weeks old she was fully on formula.
I had to give Grace.

Sometimes the wrap takes too long to put on.  Or Gemma falls asleep in her carseat.  It is easier to just let her sleep and click that carseat into the stroller than risk waking her up to carry her in a baby carrier.  She also only tolerates those when I am standing and walking around.
I had to give Grace

As for no TV… yesterday I let Gemma watch TWO movies… as in full length feature films because she is teething and has a diaper rash and wanted nothing to do with anything except laying in our arms and zoning out to the brightly lit screen.
I had to give Grace

We have an exersaucer and play mat and Gemma’s favorite toys are her bright fisher price rattles and the baby Einstein radio that plays music and lights up.
I had to give Grace.

As for the schedule… Somedays I have to toss our schedule out the window and just make it through the day without losing my cool.  Dallas makes it home after work and I’m wearing the same clothes I slept in, our house looks like it’s imploded and when he asks what I did for the day I can’t remember.  I, uh, made it to six o’clock.  That’s what I did.
I have to give Grace.

It has been the hardest most crucial lesson I’ve had to learn.  I am in desperate need of grace.  I will never live up to the perfect bar that I have set for myself.  You know what?  That is okay.

Because my daughter does not need a perfect mother.  She needs a mom who is honest about her short comings.  A mom who shows her that no one is perfect.  Everyone is human and every single person is in need of grace.  And there is grace to be found at the foot of the cross.

Praise the Lord.

So, if you feel like you are overwhelmingly inadequate, just take a step back and give yourself some grace.  Know that no one is perfect and every one has moments of extreme shortcoming.  That’s what makes us human.

If you don’t know how to give yourself or others grace, I would suggest starting at the wonderful, abundant grace we’ve been given through Jesus.

Happy Monday Friends.

-Brittany Smith-

 

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A Letter to my Past Self: Single & Childless

It’s hard to comprehend but just over three years ago I was very much single and free. No kids, No husband, No boyfriend. To get even more real, I had been recently dumped. I was feeling hurt, unworthy, frustrated and a whole slew of emotions. As I sit here now, a wife and mother I write a letter back to my old self:

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Tips and Tricks for Creating a Family Budget

Budgeting… a dreaded word for some.  I’m going to take a minute and show you how I created the very first Smith Family Budget that’s currently taped to our refrigerator.

Before we start a little back story:

I was a girl who had no clue how to handle her finances.  Before getting married I took out student loans, financed a car AND used a credit card to buy things I wanted but didn’t have the money for.  Then I married a man who was a little better with his money… but not much.

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Focusing on your Marriage after having a Baby

Recently I had someone ask me how my marriage was doing after having a baby.  I answered them really without thinking much about their question.  But then the question lingered with me.  I was touched in a way.  After having a baby people will ask you how you’re doing all the time.  They will ask how the baby is sleeping, or how you’re handling being a mother, or just how you’re coping. But no one had intentionally asked about my marriage.

Ya’ll.  Being a brand new parent is hard and if you’re not careful your marriage can get tossed to the back burner.  My husband and I had some dark moments those first two weeks Gemma was out in the world.  But we also had some of the most intimate moments.  Our marriage is stronger now.  I love my husband deeper after weathering through those first weeks and after seeing him love our daughter so deeply.  But it didn’t happen by accident.  We didn’t coast into a stronger and happier marriage.  We worked for it, day by day, choosing to make sacrifices for each other.

Here are five ways you can intentionally focus on your marriage after having a baby.

PRAY TOGETHER.

There is something powerful and intimate and about prayer.  It brings you to your knees and into a place of humility.  In a time when emotions run high and arguments can spring up out of nowhere it’s important to remember to pray.  And specifically pray together.  Praying together allows you to see each other’s heart.

{RELATED: Prayer for my Daughter}

SPEND TIME ALONE.

Get away together.  Now, I don’t mean go on vacation.  I just think you and your husband should have intentional time with the two of you.  It might have to happen on baby’s schedule.  Dallas and I would always try to give each other attention once Gemma would fall asleep.  Even a few minutes a day could make a big difference in those first few weeks.

LIST OUT REASONS WHY YOU LOVE YOUR SPOUSE

Okay, this is going to sound horrible (unless you’ve just had a baby) but in those first few weeks I needed continual reminders as to WHY I loved and married Dallas.  Yeah.  Post Partum hormones are NO JOKE.  I couldn’t control them and sometimes when I was hurt or jealous or sad or mad or a million other emotions, I needed to take a deep breathe and write out or repeat to myself why I loved my husband.

But the same went for Dallas as well.  In his words, I was a “handful”.  He needed reminders that the emotions would pass, that he would have his wife back.  So there were times that he had to tell himself all the good things about me.  Even when I wasn’t acting any of those things out.

TRY AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU’RE FEELING
& LISTEN WHEN IT’S THEIR TURN.

This is going to sound crazy but it’s honestly how I felt.  In the pits of breastfeeding, when I was crying from pain and stress, Dallas would try to encourage me.  He would tell me how good breastmilk was for our baby, he would encourage me to push through and be strong for our Little One.  And you know what?  Instead of feeling encouraged and confident, I felt jealous.  I was jealous for my husband’s love.  I wanted him to be focused on MY feelings and MY pain… ME.  HIS WIFE.  Seriously, I was jealous of his love and wanted him to give it to me over Gemma.

As shameful as it was to admit that to Dallas, and even though he couldn’t really understand it at the time, it helped.  Speaking it out loud allowed me to hear how crazy it sounded.  But it also gave Dallas a tiny glimpse into the magnitude of my emotions.

And when he would tell me that my attitude was wearing him down, when he would admit how hard it was for him.  I would listen.  I had to.  Even if I ended up crying and needing him to comfort me afterward.

We had to continually let each other know how we were feeling and offer grace to each other.

THINK OF EACH OTHER.

Last thing.  Try, to the best of your ability, to keep your spouse and what they’re going through at the forefront of your mind.  I did my best to include Dallas in every aspect of taking care of Gemma those first few weeks because I know that’s what he wanted.

Dallas would stay up with me at night while I fed Gemma because he knew I needed that support.  I would grow bitter seeing him sleep when I had to get up to feed our baby.  So there were many nights that he would be up as well keeping me company.

 

The truth is having a baby is difficult but it is also so worth it.  I can not describe how much more I love my husband.  I hope these tips can help you through those rough few weeks with a baby!  Let me know of any great advice that you heard or practiced in those first weeks of parenthood.

-Brittany Smith-

Date Night Ideas

How can it be that I only have EIGHT WEEKS until Gemma’s due date!?!  Time needs to slow down now.  Seriously.  Don’t get me wrong.  I can not wait to finally hold my baby girl.  I want to see her little face and I want to see her in Dallas’s arms.  That being said, I know that our lives our about to change DRASTICALLY.

 

Date Nights Before Baby

Right now, Dallas and I can have date night pretty much any and every night.  It’s just us.  Yes, we still like to schedule out special dates and we still set aside specific times to make sure we don’t get too busy.  With work and school our lives can feel so fast paced sometimes and if we aren’t intentional we’ll realize that a week’s gone by without us making time for each other.

However, we have the freedom to make every night date night if we wanted to.  After work and school (most nights of the week) we are together from when dinner is being cooked and consumed until bedtime.  Only us two.  It’s lovely and a privilege.  One we won’t have for much longer.  Pretty soon our sweet Gemma will make her grand debut and we will have a tiny little human that will get the majority of our focus.

Date Nights After Baby

Now I can’t actually give you a run down of what dating looks like post baby… well, because I’m not post baby yet.  The only thing I can share with you is my thoughts on the matter.  *If you are marred with kids, I would LOVE to hear any and all advice concerning dating your spouse after the baby comes*

Dallas and I really want to make sure our marriage is still getting the focus it deserves once Gemma is here.  We want to make time for *us* and we want to continue going on dates.  So, just in time for Valentine’s Day, I have created a list of 28 date ideas.  These ideas are not necessarily a check list but more of a brainstorming list to help us be intentional about dating once we have our baby.

28 Date Ideas
  1. Movie Marathon – I don’t really know how this will work post baby but we’ve always wanted to take a weekend and watch the Lord of the Rings or other movie series.  Bust out the popcorn and we’re ready to roll.
  2. Dream of the Future – This is always fun for us.  Add some coffee or ice cream to the mix and we can talk about our ideas for the future for hours.
  3. Plant a Garden – okay, this is already on our to-do list… however, if we’re doing it together it counts as a date, right?
  4. Yard Sales – Wake up early one Saturday and scope out some yard sales.  Believe it our not Dallas has asked to do this a few times already.
  5. Draw or Paint Something Together – I’ve seen a Painting with a Twist couples group where one person paints the Dallas Skyline and the other paints the Fort Worth Skyline.  It would be perfect for us!!  I’m determined to do it one day… Or attempt to do it on our own.
  6. Questionnaire – Come up with a list of questions to ask each other.  Serious, Personal, Funny etc. It’s always crazy how you can still learn things about your spouse when you feel like you know them so well already!
  7. Game Night – bust out some two player games and let your competitive sides loose.
  8. Learn a New Hobby – juggling, sewing, a magic trick, playing the ukulele… The hobby doesn’t matter, just choose one, watch some YouTube videos and start learning together!
  9. Farmer’s Market – Another Saturday morning date.  Hit up the local farmer’s market for some fresh herbs and veggies.  Take your time and stroll around enjoying each others company.
  10. Volunteer– I know it doesn’t sound like a date but seeing you significant other show generosity and selflessness is definitely a turn on!  Do something good TOGETHER.
  11. Hiking– This is a personal favorite of ours.  We also plan to do this a lot with Gemma as well.  Get outside and walk a trail or around a park.  Enjoy nature and each other, as well as getting good exercise.
  12. Bookstore– There’s something magical about a good bookstore.  We could spend an hour or more in a good bookstore.  We tend to like different types of books so we can easily get separated.  However we enjoy telling each other about the fascinating books we’ve found.
  13. Drive-in Movie – a twist to the normal movie date night.
  14. Puzzle – I really love puzzles, but I’ve haven’t done one in years!
  15. Tourist Spot– We live in a city with tons of tourist locations and we’ve never visited any of them!  Just be sure to do you research to find the discount days.
  16. Bake Something New – We found this really cool apple pie bite recipe while we were engaged and baked them together.  It was so fun and they turned out delicious!  We definitely need to try it again sometime.  There are so many great places to find recipes now a days.
  17. Photoshoot – I’m talking set up the tripod and get some photos of us together!  We both really enjoy photography and neither one of us mind being in front of the camera either.
  18. Roadtrip – whether it’s twenty minutes or two hours away just get in the car and go someplace new.  It doesn’t matter where!
  19. At Home Spa Night – candles, music, oil… need I say more?
  20. Coffee and Dessert – Some of our favorite dates are just to a new or local coffee shop or out to get ice cream.
  21. Eat outside – Maybe it’s a picnic, homemade dinner on the back porch or the local food trucks.  There’s something so fun about eating outside!
  22. Double Date – Split the cost of a babysitter and go out with another couple!
  23. New Restaurant – Take a look at nearby restaurants that you’ve never been to and choose one to venture out to.
  24. Science Experiment– Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher but doing science experiments together is always so much fun!  Dallas and I had a blast creating and testing out circuits before I taught them to my students.
  25. Exchange Love Letters– There’s something so rejuvenating about writing a love letter to the love of your life and then reading one written to you!
  26. Go Dancing – Take dance lessons or just turn on the music and dance at home.
  27. Explore the Neighborhoods – take a drive and check out the surrounding neighborhoods.
  28. Go to a Play – It could be a fancy play, a local play or even a high school play.  Doesn’t matter!

So there you have it! Just a few ideas to hopefully help out when you’re unsure of what to do on a date night.  Just remember to be intentional about date nights!  I have a FREE printable of the dates listed above that you can download here.  Also, you can check out my Pinterest for even more date night ideas!

28 date ideas to fall back on
28 date night ideas from Tale of Two Smiths Blog

-Brittany

February Love Challenge

How is it already almost February?  The new year is going way too fast!  Seriously, it’s tripping me out.  I have so many different goals and plans for 2017.  There’s so much that I want to do.  One of the biggest is to make sure I take the time to really let others know how much I care, appreciate and love them!!

I’m going to be honest here… I don’t love very well.  It’s a challenge fore me.  However, it is something that I want to get better at.  Jesus calls us to love and I want to be obedient to that calling.  What a better time than the month that holds Valentine’s Day!?!

I know there’s a lot of different perspectives on this interesting holiday.  It can be romantic, depressing, sappy, caring.  Some people love the holiday, some people hate it, some people want to love it but feel like they can’t because they’re not in a relationship and some people probably don’t even care one way or the other.

I like Valentine’s Day and I believe it’s a holiday that holds a lot of potential.  I’m excited to celebrate it fully this year, and not with a romantic dinner with my husband (not that I’m refusing that!).  I just want to celebrate this Valentine’s Day a little differently.  I want to celebrate love, appreciation, thankfulness and the like.

So why limit that to one day when we can use the whole month of February!?  I’ve made a list of 28 ways I can show the people around me that I love them, I care for them, and I’m thinking of them.  Instead of documenting my whole month of love in a series of blog posts I thought instead I would offer the same list to you all!  Whether you’re like me and have a hard time expressing love or whether you throw love around like confetti and are just looking for more ways to do it, I’d love for you to get some use out of this challenge.

Introducing the February Love Challenge!

I didn’t break the tasks down by day.  Instead this is a list of things I want to try and do this month.  Almost like a February Bucket List.  I’m excited and I’m also nervous.  I am an emotional person yet I don’t like showing the emotion very often.  Expressing my love towards others makes me very uncomfortable so this will be a fun challenge to tackle this month.  It comes just in time to help me prepare for our little LoveBug’s arrival.  I want to set an example for our sweet Gemma Girl of how to love others well.

Download the February Love Challenge Here!!

FebruaryLoveChallenge

I hope you enjoy taking on this challenge with me!  Don’t feel pressured to check everything off this list.  My hope is that by using this list and others as a guideline we can intentionally live this February with a little more love.

Don’t be shy, leave a comment!!

Brittany-

Portrait Photography of the Week [1/52]

One of the photography challenges I’m taking over the new year is to capture a portrait of someone in my family every week for the whole year of 2017. I’m also taking my pictures in manual mode and plan on doing a post on that sometime in the future. It definitely wasn’t as difficult as I thought to learn my way around manual! (And that’s coming from someone who didn’t understand why anyone would shoot in manual when the cameras now-a-days are designed to do all the work for you!)

So here is my first project for week one of 2017. I couldn’t help myself and posted THREE pictures but honestly I want this to be a one picture per person type project. I’ll need to get better at choosing!

Dallas [1/52]

Info

| Canon ESO 60D | ISO: 800 | Aperture (F-Stop): 4.5 | Shutter Speed: 1/25 |

Info

| Canon ESO 60 D | ISO: 1,000 | Aperture (F-Stop): 4.5 | Shutter Speed: 1/125 |

 

Info

| Canon ESO 60 D | ISO: 1,600 | Aperture (F-Stop): 7.1 | Shutter Speed: 1/15 |

I can not wait to see how my photography improves as I embark on this challenge for 2017.  I’d love to hear from anyone doing a photography challenge in 2017!  Don’t forget to check out my Pinterest account to  see more photography inspiration!!

-Brittany-