When I Feel Pretty

18th January 2016


Last Friday I was getting ready for my riding lesson while Topher played with his Leappad in our bed.  “You look pretty, Mommy!” he said, looking up just as I finished pulling my hair into a ponytail.  I was wearing an ancient pair of breeches, boot socks that went up to my knees, and a ratty hoody.  “Thanks, bud!” I said, dismissing the compliment as nothing more than Topher trying to be extra sweet so I would bring him to the barn with me.  I didn’t feel particularly pretty.  Happy, yes – I love going to the barn! – but pretty?  Not so much.

Later that evening – after the kids had been tucked into bed and I had had a rather luxurious shower to warm myself up – Nathan complimented me.  “You look pretty!” he said when I joined him on the couch.  Or maybe he said I smelled pretty? Either way – I immediately dismissed the compliment as nothing more than my husband being nice.  I was wearing Christmas tree pajama pants and a tank top, with my hair in a braid and glasses instead of contacts.  I didn’t feel particularly pretty.  Happy, yes – I was warm and clean! – but pretty?  Not so much.

I’ve been thinking about beauty ever since, trying to remember the last time I felt pretty.

* * * *

I was in my best friend’s wedding earlier this year. It was a fancy affair: She hired a professional hair stylist and a make-up artist for the day, and I spent almost half as much on my bridesmaid dress as I did for my own wedding dress.   When she tagged me in pictures from the wedding that she had posted on Facebook I got dozens of likes within minutes. “You look amazing!” “You look beautiful!” “You’re so pretty!”

I was confused by the response. I don’t get those sorts of comments when I post regular pictures of myself, the everyday “mom” version of me in jeans and a t-shirt and glasses, with my hair pulled back in a ponytail. I don’t wear make-up on a regular basis and if my hair isn’t up it’s probably because my daughter has pulled the elastic out. So many people thought I was pretty at the wedding … Does that mean that I’m not pretty when I’m not all dolled up?

The thing is, I didn’t feel pretty that day. I felt sick. I had been fighting a stomach bug all week and hadn’t had anything to eat or drink all day. My dress was so tight that I couldn’t stand up straight for fear of ripping it, and I was so worried about the kids and how they would behave that apart from the pictures, I don’t think I smiled all day.

* * * *

I’ve spent the past several months learning how to wear make-up. I’ve scoured Pinterest, I’ve watched YouTube videos, I’ve even watched make-over shows!

For my birthday my sister gave me money designated specifically for make-up, directing me to ask the experts at Sephora so I could learn how to apply it properly.

My new make-up kit is almost as big as my son’s backpack.   It’s filled with moisturizer and toner and primers and concealers and foundation and blush and eye liners and eye shadow and lipstick and lip gloss and more tools and brushes than I can remember the proper use for.

I’ve been practicing, and I’m trying to wear make-up on a regular basis.

Friends and family and even other moms in the pick-up line at school compliment me on how I look now.

* * * *

I like wearing make-up. I like the way I look, and I feel more comfortable facing the world without enormous dark circles under my eyes.

I have confidence.

But I’ve learned something more important than contouring techniques; something my husband and my five-year-old son – the two boys whose opinions mean more to me than anybody else’s – already knew:

The packaging doesn’t change who I am on the inside.

Audrey Hepburn put it best:  “Happy girls are the prettiest.”


When do you feel pretty?

Around Here

13th January 2016

I finally took the Christmas tree down – much to everyone else’s disappointment!  I love Christmas, but I love having my house back to normal too!  We’ve decided (once again!) to list our condo, so I’ve spent the past few weeks purging, organizing, and cleaning.  I’m going to tackle the kitchen next, then the kids’ room.  Is it horrible that I’m planning to get rid of a lot of toys while Topher is at school?


I spent an entire Saturday evening sorting through my clothes so I could make more room in my dresser for books.  Amazon is my weakness.


I found a lump on Chloe’s right hip back in October.  She’s had lumps before that never amounted to anything so I didn’t think much of it – until it started to grow.  She had it aspirated last week and we found out that it’s not cancerous, but there are inflammatory cells so she needs surgery.  She’s due for a dental at the same time – poor, sad pup.


We’re bracing for another cold snap this weekend.  I think it’s supposed to be -21 on Saturday, plus windchill.  I was planning to get my hair cut but if it’s going to be that cold I might just spend the day under a pile of blankets on the couch!  I’m sure I can convince the kids to help me build a fort …


What have you been up to lately? 

One Little Word

6th January 2016


Every January I try to come up with one little word – a theme, if you will – to represent the upcoming year.

And every February it completely slips my mind.

By the time December rolls around, when I’m flipping through the pages of my journal and scrolling through blog posts, reviewing the year, I feel like a failure.

So this year I’m trying something different.

My one little word is actually the theme of the last few months of 2015:  SMALL.

“These days I’m careful not to colour the world “small” in negative shades, as if it were something to run from or escape.  I want to start small because I’m human and dependent, not in hopes that my small will grow into something bigger.  Jesus will give me the grace to stay there even when it hurts and even when it’s hard.  I want to stay small in his presence, not because I’m scared, but because I’m his.  I want this to be a relief rather than a frustration.  Small things don’t always turn into big things.  But all big things begin small, especially in the Kingdom of God.”  (Simply Tuesday, Emily P. Freeman).

2015 in Review

31st December 2015

I let my faith be bigger than my fear.

I felt helpless, and I learned about dependence.

I started subtracting.

I said thanks.

I wrote a love letter to myself.

I said good-bye to Target.

I told the voice in my head to shut up.  Often.

Nathan and I celebrated eight years together.

I wrote about goats and growing up.

I threw together a last minute birthday party.

I was grateful for my neighbourhood.

I celebrated my  ten year Albertaversary.

I travelled to Winnipeg for my best friend’s wedding, and wrote a maid of honour speech about how marriage is like Star Wars.

Topher turned our bathroom into an art gallery.

I was brave.

We bought a second vehicle.

Topher started kindergarten.

I nearly died at Wal-Mart.

I became a stay at home mom.

Things That Changed My Life This Year

29th December 2015

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1.  The Message.  I used to be a real snob about The Message.  I mean, I went to Bible college, I’ve been told a million times “It’s not the Bible, it’s a paraphrase …”  Every now and then I would look up a verse in the Message just to see what it said, but this year I started reading the Message in its entirety – mostly because a lot of the Christian authors I’ve been reading lately have been citing from the Message almost more frequently than other versions of the Bible and I was curious.  Whoa.  Talk about life changing.  I’ve read the Bible in its entirety more than a few times in my life (I do a “Read the Bible in a Year” plan as well as a “Read a Book in the Bible at a Time” plan) but reading it in contemporary language really brings it to life.   I’m still reading my NLT but I even ventured so far as to cite from the Message myself when I wrote my Advent Reflection for A Little Light.  (Shhh.  Don’t tell my college professors!)

2.  Keeping a Gratitude Journal.  I’ve always been a journaler but this summer I started keeping a gratitude journal in addition to my regular, everyday-random thoughts-journal.  I write  down three things I’m grateful for every single day – and it’s a game changer!  It’s a great way to change my perspective.  This morning I sat at the kitchen table to write, gazing into the living room filled with blankets, pillows, bags, boxes, and toys galore (the grandparents spoil the kids at Christmas, what can I say?) – and instead of feeling frustrated with the mess, I was able to be grateful for my children and the chaos they bring to my life!  I love how creative they are, making hideouts and forts – I would much rather have days filled with their squeals and laughter than days filled with silence.  (But honestly, if I step on one more piece of lego …. )

3.  Taking Hannah Brencher‘s Writing Intensive.  I took Hannah’s first Writing Intensive in November and it was AMAZING.  It was exactly what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it – the kick in the pants I needed to get back to writing consistently, regardless of my audience.  I’ll definitely share more about this in the weeks to come – I learned so much, I’m still processing some of it!

4.  Ebates.  I do a lot of shopping online so this one was pretty much a no-brainer.  Sign up (if you use my referral link I get cash back!), go to the Ebates website, and click through from there to any of the websites you usually shop at.  There are over 650 on there, I’m sure you’ll find at least a couple that you frequent!   Make a purchase and get cash back – a cheque in the mail, an Amazon gift card, or donate it to a charity of your choice.  I’ve been a member since October and I’ve already made more than $50, buying things I was going to buy anyway.

5. Slow Cooker Mondays.  This fall Topher and Ellie had swimming lessons on Monday evenings.   Nathan and I both wanted to be at the pool, which meant we either had to pick up take-out on the way home (ugh!) or have something already prepared and waiting for us when we got home.  So we started Slow Cooker Mondays – I would throw something in the slow cooker in the morning and ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, it would be ready (and smell fantastic!) when we walked in the door at six o’clock.  Definitely life-changing.

6.  Having a capsule wardrobe.  If you want to know the truth, I’ve always thought capsule wardrobes were kind of silly.  I’m the sort of girl who wears the same faded jeans, tank tops, and hoodies all year long.  I might switch up my sneakers for a pair of boots if the weather requires, and of course I wear a winter jacket (I alternate between four, depending on the temperature and the occasion!) but other than that, the same clothes stay in my closet year round. But after reading  Ahslee’s post  on five benefits from capsule wardrobe, the wheels started turning, and I drank the kool-aid!  I’ve never blogged about it (because seriously, who wants to hear about somebody’s wardrobe that contains 14 different colours of Old Navy’s perfect fit tank top?) – but I’ve created a capsule wardrobe for summer, fall and winter and I love it.  I have way less clothes in my closet, I spend way less time and money shopping, and I can’t remember the last time I had a meltdown because I didn’t have anything to wear.  (Ask my husband, those used to be a regular Sunday morning occurrence in our house!)

7.  Make Over Your Mornings.  I already blogged about this one here, but to recap (or,uh, copy & paste!): I used to crawl out of bed, pull on my hoodie, and walk around the kitchen in a fog for the first hours of my day while the kids (and dog) ran wild.  Now I get out of bed with the first alarm – often before Nathan is even stirring! – and head outside for an early morning walk with Chloe.  Then we curl up on the couch – me with my Bible and my journal, her with a dog biscuit – and wait for the rest of the house to wake up.  Mornings are now the time of day that I most look forward to!

*I stopped waking up early since I was sick for the entire month of November and half of December and I needed all the rest I could get (!!) –  but I’m going through the course a second time to motivate me to get back into my early morning routine.

What changed your life this year?