Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You've been called.

I know today is a bad day to ask for money. People work hard for it, and now is the time of year that we feel pulled in a million directions to spend and buy and donate. But, you guys, I need your help. Well, it's actually for a friend. You see, I chatted with this guy online last night and sensed a need. A need I couldn't meet alone. He was too proud at first. He wouldn't give me an inch, but because I would not let it go, he finally, hesitantly clued me in. He currently owns no items. No clothing. Nothing. The word "nothing" makes me uncomfortable, and I won't allow it.
He is a Christian. He has made a series of bad choices, but I think this could be any one of us. He is now sober, a Believer, and ready. However, after a long, honest conversation, he explained to me he feels trapped. He explained that everything he owned was in a storage unit, and now it's gone. He then stated,"It's pretty hard to do good things when you don't look the part." This is his truth, which means it is all of our truth. You see, this guy belongs to us. God created him the same way he did each of us. So we belong to him (our Earthly brother), just as we belong to Him (our Heavenly Father.). He is ours, and we are now his.We are in this together, and we are being called to help.

Now is our time. We can change this person's life so that he can begin to change his own life. We might not be able to fix every problem for every one, but we are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.  We absolutely can't allow the fact that we can’t do it all to keep us from doing something. Each and everyone of us has the power, the resources, and the capabilities to change a life right now. Here's your chance to live outside of yourself. I need you today, and so does he. With every single day we're given, and every word we utter, and every move we make or choose NOT to make- we are changing the world for better or worse. When we decide one day (today) to make a move of love, compassion, and a move outside of ourselves, we change what we know to be true. This life is not about me, or mine, it's about we and ours. When we move outside of ourselves and start touching others, we change our course of life... our way of thinking. We can inspire others to live in a way that blesses others. We can finally feel connected, encouraged, and moved to do more. When we decide today is the day to prove to other's that they deserve a chance.... we become the people we’ve always wanted to become, and we begin to live the way we’ve always wanted to live. We can show our children what it looks like to give, to rise up to the calling we've always known about. We can't imagine the power we've been given but rarely use. It's just so big and strong and can be used to show others that love wins.

Today I ask for your help. It will change a person's life which could end up changing your life. I need you to take a chance and prove that we can love bigger and better. 
Can you email me at rralstin@hotmail.com and ask for my home address? I will give it to you in exchange for a small donation to show a person he is worthy, he is loved, and that everyone deserves a chance to live better. $5, $10? Every single penny will be spent on clothing and essential items. This is urgent. My prayer is that if you've ever been blessed or wanted to bless another, that you will send a small check today. Do it without hesitation, without judgement, without a second thought other than it will be used for good.

Let's do this together. Show me whatcha got.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Random facts that will captivte and entertain the masses.

You've probably seen the "Things You May Not Know About Me" lists going around. Here's mine... because I know you've been waiting. Merp.

1. Scars totally gross me out.
2. I applied to one college. Only one. It was all or nothing.
3. I was in a sorority at Indiana University. It taught me a lot about girls which is weird since I am one.
4. I really don't like dolphin memorabilia- tattoos, t shirts, etc.
5. I don't like dogs, especially little ones that lick and jump.
6. I've never broken any bones besides my toes. I've broken six or seven of those though.
7. I HATE being pregnant.
8. If you snore while I'm trying to sleep, I want to punch your throat.
9. I am super impatient.
10. I failed skipping in Kindergarten.
11. I am a terrible speller.
12. I hate the smell of pee and ketchup.
13. I was a junior high school English teacher for five years and can barely remember any of it.
14. I never know what gifts to buy for people.
15. I worked at Wet Seal in high school.
16. I swear I've seen a UFO before. I was with my mom. She saw it too. (I know you don't believe me.)
17. I love Rebel Wilson.
18. I never feel organized. Or on time. Or like I'm doing enough.
19. I only drink beer when I'm hot, at a a sporting event, or when I'm eating pizza, wings, or nachos.
20. My fingers are super crooked.
21. There isn't ONE SINGLE SONG I know all the words to.
22. I go to sleep really late.
23. I would always rather go out to eat versus cooking.
24. Proper names for things weird me out. Calling a butt a behind, a shirt a blouse, a burp a belch, etc makes me feel uncomfortable.
25. I can be super awkward and talk too much when I feel like someone isn't having fun.
26. I never take my contacts out.
27. I have shopped on Black Friday for the past 20 years.
28. I had foot surgery eight years ago and still can't feel my second toe.
29. I know nothing about astrology and plan to keep it that way. When someone asks me about my sign or horoscope, I immediately know we don't have much in common.
30. I firmly believe Hot Box pizza has the best ranch dressing in the world.
31. When I was 16, I was riding in a car with my friend during a monsoon. Her car was swept completely underwater with both of us in it. We lived.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween.

These are our people day in and day out. On Halloween, for four years now, these are our Halloween people too. We've got a pretty perfect thing going. 

This year was extra special because we trick or treated in November! Thanks Mother Nature for that!

Hey look! It's matching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their embarrassing parents with matching hats because they've all but given up on trying to be stylish! Cute!

These kids will grow up with the most awesome memories of Halloween. They'll tell about the party at GG's house, and the scary house at the end of the street, and the amazing neighborhood they raced around, and how all of the neighbors had little bonfires and passed out awesome
candy, and how we were always, always together. Tradition wins.
Being together day after day, year after year wins. 

Sure, Regan cried because her "left cheek got too cold," Tyler wouldn't wear his mask because it kept pulling his lip so drool was getting in it, both of Nicholas' boots were lost, and I took off too fast with Ryan and Mike on the back of the truck and about broke their legs. I mean, has there ever really been a holiday without a few mishaps? What's wonderful is that the people you love let you be human. Even on Halloween.

Another night of family, and babies, and a borrowed neighborhood full of love has been written as a part of our story.

Monday, October 28, 2013


My child has her very first school project due soon. How do I have a child old enough, wise enough, strong enough to face these kinds of things? How did we get here? 
She's a perfectionist. I'm learning that this is a very difficult characteristic to parent. Sometimes I just want to scream, "Hurry up already!?!? Just spell the word wrong for all I care. Color outside the lines.  Stop crying and asking for white out or erasers or wanting to redo it all. Just make mistakes and quit covering them up!!!!" But, she's just like me. I can't make her not be. She is who she is all on her own, and she's beautiful, and frustrating, and exhausting, and emotional. She works so hard. I just can't believe we're here... Both of us old enough to be working on school projects. My job is to let her do it the way she wants... even if it takes all week, and her job is to remind me that it's not my project, and it will be perfect. 
This really isn't about a school project, even. It's about the girl doing it. She's just so precious. Sometimes I feel bad that she's so grown up for seven. Sometimes I wish she were more carefree, more childlike, more of a free spirit only because I know how hard she is on herself.
This child who made me a mama also made me the proudest mama. We've grown up together learning how to do these kinds of things. We're learning our roles, not only for school projects, but in the bigger picture that God has designed for us.

She reminds me to be softer. She reminds me not to rush. She reminds me that my words aren't just mine, and that people are affected by them. She shows me how much good there is in the world, and she looks at me with so much hope. Her eyes tell me she needs me to be tender with her even though she's a force to be reckoned with. She's had to show me more grace than anyone ever has, but she's done it with a heart wide open. I'm pretty sure I'm the hardest project she'll forever work on. I'll never be complete. She's making me better though, and I love her for that.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fresh highlights and a cheering section.

I had a hair appointment tonight. My highlights were grown out three inches, and I had two sad, sad blobs of grown out bangs hanging off the sides of my head like puppy ears. (Why won't they just grow out already?!?!) But, back to my appointment. I didn't go alone. You see, I have some people. My team. My cheering section. They show up whenever I ask them to. So tonight when I asked my friend who is a busy mama with her own full plate to drop what she was doing to just come sit next to me while I got my hair done... well, you better damn well believe that's what she did. She sat there for almost three hours just to be with me. Nothing to gain, no expectations. She just showed up.

Some may think, "Geez, that's so needy and pathetic. Who needs a friend to go with them for a highlight?" Well, girls, I think the answer is clear. I think sometimes, we all do. We're all the girl who needs a friend by her side here and there. We're all the girl who just doesn't want to do life alone some days. So many times, I think a lot of women LOVE being asked for help. We are naturally born with servant's hearts and encouraging our friends blesses us just as much as it does the other person. (If you don't know who you'd ask to be a part of your cheering section, I would love to help with that. email me)

And you know what? I hope my babes will grow up to learn about both sides of this game we play. I hope they know how to one day ask a friend to come to an appointment with them just because. But more importantly, I hope they will be the friend that goes. I hope they are a part of someone's cheering section. I hope Regan and Tyler show up for a friend and say,"I'm here. You don't owe me a thing. I wanted to do it."

Can you imagine what this world would look like if we all played both of these roles more often? What if we asked for support in both little and big things AND showed up to cheer each other on... I imagine that would look beautiful.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mom is the loneliest number.

A lot of people would probably describe me as a talker. Lately, it's been in overdrive. I've been talking, and talking, and talking. I've talked to Heather, Suni, Ashley, Amy, and Casey. These names may not mean a lot to you right now, but they're filling me up. They're telling me the fire God has set inside of me is about to spread. All this talking has led us to one thing: women need one another.

The days of competive and judgemental motherhood are done. It's weak. It looks ugly, it's isolating to everyone involved, and it certainly doesn't glorify God. A while back, I actually was told by a mama that it wasn't worth her time to have friends. No. God loves community. God loves when we come together to breathe life into one another. I will spend my life showing others (and my children) that people are worth it. God created us to love one another, just the way He loves us.

We need one another to feel encouraged, uplifted, empowered, and to glorify God. We need one another to create a community of believers who can serve as models of grace and real life-livers.

So, how do we get there? Well, that's the tricky part, huh?

-Please, please do NOT tell me to sign up for MOPS. I have done this before and while I do believe there are many beautiful parts of this program, there's just something unnatural for me about driving to a place, signing my kid in and giving him away, and then sitting at an assigned table for an hour to discuss an assigned topic. I KNOW this blesses many, many ladies around the world, but me? I need more grit. Something more authentic. A raw look inside. (I must note: I gained one of my most treasured friends from my MOPS expreience. Hi, Heather!)

-Do we ask each other out on mom dates?

-Do we compliment one another's yoga pants, and then go straight in for the kill? How do we bless one another?!?

-Do we walk around sad places like Monkey Joe's and look for moms with kids similar in our kids ages, and ask them if they like coffee?

-Do I stop a mom at Target who is obviously struggling and ask her how I can help?

How do I get inside? How do we get out there and encourage? I absolutely know the need is there. I hear it over and over. Mom is the loneliest number. Sure, we're constantly surrounded by kids, and people, and more people. But, do they KNOW us? Do they touch our hearts? Do they inspire us to be creative, or to go to church, or to love one another better? Probably not? So how do we create these relationships between women to build one another up? So we don't feel so isolated. So defeated. So alone. So inferior. You know, some days, may we even need someone around to celebrate our successes with us! To pray with us! To praise the good in our lives! Life isn't ALL doom and gloom, after all. ;)

I think what I've come up with so far is that we meet these ladies where they are. We go to their house and just show up. We say, "Here I am. What do you need?" We start small. We work within our circle that God has already blessed us with. We don't need to move mountains. We just need to remember not to take what we already have for granted. Look in front of you. THAT'S how you start, right? Also, we need to plan a party and drink wine together because that encourages us too.

Lady power and love (some days my lameness even surprises me),


We're planning. We're praying. We want to hear from you. Could you email me any ideas at rralstin@hotmail.com? Heck, if you know me, call me. (You know I love talking on the phone! I really do. So old school.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

One day.

Dear babies,

One day you're going to go into your own babies' rooms really late at night to put away some laundry, and you're going to catch a glimpse of a sleeping face. You'll drop the laundry and go straight to that face to memorize it again so that you will never forget that very moment. You'll feel like there's no possible way that God meant for you to have all of this.... You'll think, "Surely this face was meant for someone else, someone more deserving, someone who has a few more things put together because this is bigger and more beautiful than what I was supposed to get."
And then, you'll do what you always do. You'll promise yourself never to forget the very idea of how incredibly blessed you are, and you'll do your best with what you've been given because you'll swear those babies are better than you could ever be.
One day you'll know how loved you are tonight because one day you'll love that way too.

Friday, August 9, 2013

From a mama.

Last night, I posted on my Facebook wall that we struggled yesterday. It was one of those days that just didn't feel right, it didn't look right, and it ended with tears, early bedtimes and regret. The Facebook post, I believe, touched a few mamas who were feeling overworked, under appreciated, and questioning each and every one of their mama moves that day. I got texts, and private messages, and even a call saying, "I needed to hear that you struggled, because so did I."
It's just so easy to assume we're never doing enough, or the right thing, or that surely we're ruining these precious gifts we've been given and making a mess of it all. The thing of it is that we're not alone, we're actually all together. We're all rocking the screaming baby wishing it would maybe just disappear for a few minutes. We're all reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" for the millionth time wishing we were somewhere, anywhere else. We all are covered in spit up, have been wearing the same pants as we were yesterday, and wondering if this is as good as it gets. We feel trapped sometimes because THEY ARE ALWAYS HERE ASKING ME FOR MILK! We feel like we are missing out on something more because surely someone out there has a cleaner house, less laundry, happier kids, more crafts, more important jobs, sexier marriages, and less oily hair. But, it's just not true. We are all the same. We dust, and yell, and lose our patience, and drive to practices, and have oily hair because we love. We love so deep it hurts. God, it hurts. We matter. We're doing a job that no one else in the world could do. Even if it's messy, and ugly, and sad some days, the bigger picture is beautiful.
Mamas, we're all doing our best. All of our "bests" look different. Love isn't about what it looks like, it's about what it feels like so forget about keeping up with your neighbor. Build her up because you never know... behind her smile and put togetherness, she probably feels just the way you do. Love creates that bond, and that's just what we do. We love.

From one mama to the next, you're doing awesome. Keep it up. And Regan, if one day you read this and wonder if it's okay to feel like you're failing at motherhood some days, or saying "No" too much, or don't have it together as much as you had hoped you would, please know that it just feels that way sometimes to remind you of the other moments that don't feel that way. You're doing it right. I promise.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Things I heard today.

"I'm not kidding you, I'm just mocking you."
"Look Sissy, I only have one nipple."
"Can we take a sock bath?"
"Mommy, why do you eat so much?"
"Mommy, do some women shave their face 'cause I think I'm gonna be one of them if they do?"
"Is this yogurt organic?"
"Buddy, we need to have a no fight policy."

"Mommy, did you do Wacky Wednesday at school when you were young? If not, that's just sad."
"What time is tumbling? I have GOT to cut my fingernails before we go!"
"Can we cuddle and watch toon toons?"
"If you give the magic look, you'll get what you want."
"I'll wash your back, but you have to wash your own butt."
"You hit me right in the peanuts!"
"What do ants eat?"
"Why is Dr. Seuss so scary looking if he's for kids? That's not appropriate."

Friday, February 22, 2013


I hesitated to write this post. You know....because the people who aren't on my team could think it sounded too showy, or silly, or self-promoting. But, I'm learning to simply ignore the people who aren't on my team. So, I'm going to say it... My blog hit 25,000 visitors last night. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't think this more important than it is. Some blogs have millions of visitors everyday, and some have more important goals, and many, many people don't even know what a blog is and don't give two rips about them. But, to me, they are important. Mine is important and whether 25,000 hits were accidental or not, it means that a whole lot of times, various people wanted to hear what I had to say. I hope our story and my words have helped encourage, motivate, or connect.

I used to say I blogged because I was the author of our story, and if it wasn't written down it would begin to fade away. Well, throughout blogging, and living, and learning a few things, I still wholeheartedly believe it's important to keep a record of who you are, what you think about, and what's important to you. Every person, no matter what, has a story to tell. But, my tune has changed about being the author of our story. Our story was written a long, long time ago. I am not the author, I am simply the writer. I want my children to know that our God has our plan. He is our guide. Many times in the past, I've said that I am in charge of creating a beautiful story for my children to someday tell. Damn does it take a lot of pressure off of me to know that I'm not actually in charge of all that. My children's creator will handle that for me. I simply will do my best along the way and write about it as it comes. I will write so that they can look back and know how loved they always were. I will also write so that other's can stop by and take a peek. I think telling your story connects people. It says,"Hey, I'm feeling this way... Anyone else?" I want my words to inspire, not because I 'm anyone to get too excited about, but because I sometimes think my ideas can reflect how God works in me.

I could go on and on about how much your words of encouragement about my little corner of the Internet have meant. I've been brought to tears when a mama sends a message just to say thanks for the laugh or the encouragement to face the day. I think my favorite message to date said, "I was going to sit around today and yell at my kids, feed them cereal for lunch, and complain about laundry, but you made me feel like I should probably take to them the museum instead." While this text was hilarious, I think there's a very real truth to it. We look to other's (and to Him) for motivation and inspiration.

I know who I am. I'm just a mom who writes about nothing too big. I'm a mom who loves her kids something fierce. I'm a mom who fails, but tries. I'm a friend, and an aunt, and a wife, and a sister, and a daughter who sometimes fails, but tries. And, I know, these things are no different than all the other ladies who are all of these things too. That just proves that we all have a story worth telling. Mostly, I just want to thank you for listening.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Just 20 things.

1. We're having chicken fajitas for dinner tonight, and I've been thinking about them since breakfast.
2. I have been to more movies in the past few months than I have in the past five years.
3. Regan and I are both completely obsessed with Bruno Mars' new song, "When I Was Your Man."
4. I bought a bottle of B12 vitamins. I'm pretty sure I'd eat staples if they promised energy.
5. At the current rate, my hair is going to be completely grey by July.
6. We have walls in the house now.
7. Regan asked me today why the weather people don't "predict rainbows." I totally think they should.
8. Tyler is very much into break dancing lately. He puts on shows and uses props.
9. My laundry is so out of control. So, so out of control.
10. Regan's foot is a size 12. Tyler's is an 11.5. How in the world?
11. I am feeling very secure with who wants to be a part of my life and who doesn't.
12. I am now pouring my energies, time, and love into the people who deserve them. No one else.
13. I think I want blond hair again.
14. I need to stop drinking Coke. Again.
15. Regan has spring pictures tomorrow. Did you hear that? Spring is coming!!
16. G.G. and I are taking Regan to see the play "Pinkalicious" on Saturday.
17. I need new tennis shoes. And underwear.
18. Both kids start baseball soon. This gives me much joy. I LOVE watching my babies play!
19. Even though they are delicious, I can no longer eat Fiber One bars. Ever again. If you've ever had one, you'll understand why.
20. I just got a call from school. They called a two hour delay for tomorrow which means wine time. So, bye.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A new kind of love.

Valentine's Day has come and gone. As always, I hoped to create a day for my babies that was full of surprise, tradition, and magic. I knowingly get carried away and worry that I'm not delivering. In a world of Pinterest and room moms and Lexapro and 5 Hour Energy drinks and MORE, MORE, MORE, I worry that my best isn't enough. Honestly, in my mind and in my heart, I fear that the kids won't feel like I did enough to love, and create memories, or help them learn the lessons they need. It's easy to feel like enough is never enough. But, you guys, I'm realizing after a long, long time, that my kids don't need perfection. Actually, the more I try to make things "just right," the more anxious I am, and the unhappier I am. (Did it really take me more than two minutes to learn this?) And, if you want a happy child, be a happy mom. So, what does a happy mom even look like?

To me, she looks relaxed and balanced. She isn't sitting at the table by herself with glitter and a hot glue gun trying to make homemade valentine's cards FOR her kids while they are off doing something else. She isn't sitting at the computer or looking at her phone while her kids are playing alone. (GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND PHONE ALREADY!) She speaks to her kids with kindness. She builds her children up by speaking softly, slowly, and with respect. She gives her children time. She is loving and patient. A mom's job isn't to craft, or pin, or make oragami owls, or keep a perfect house, or buy extravagant gifts or clothes, or feed five course vegan meals. It simply is to love. So, this year, we bought Barbie and bug Valentine's Day cards from Target. (The horror!) We didn't make Valentine cupcakes, or any fancy cupid crafts, or buy any new Vanetine shirts. We cut out the extras.

I showed up at both kid's schools for their parties. I gave them my time. We ate pancakes for lunch and celebrated at Dairy Queen for family date night. And you know what? Those kids loved every damn minute. I'm pretty sure it had a bit to do with the fact that I wasn't scrambling around trying to create my vision of the perfect holiday. I focused more on them than what the day "should" look like.  I don't think they were too disappointed. :)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Monster Jam

Questions and Answers: Monster Jam Edition
Q: "Mommy, when will the trucks start wreckin'?"
A: "When the time trials are finished."

Q: "What are time trials?"
A: "The races at the beginning to see which truck is the fastest."
Q: "Well, aren't they all fast since they all have monsters in them?"
A: "Yes, but it's fun to see who's the fastest."
Q: "Mama, why does that man have a kid shirt on?"
A: "It's not a kid shirt, some grown ups just really like "The Gravedigger."
Q: "Well, why doesn't Daddy have that shirt? Doesn't he like monster trucks?"
A: "Probably not as much as the guy in The Gravedigger t-shirt."
Q: "Mama, why does that lady have three bellies?"
A: "Those aren't all bellies. BE QUIET!!!!"

Q: "Can I have a pack of the ($15) cotton candy?"
A: "Sure." (Before I knew that it was $15!!! That answer would have been different had I known.)
Q: "Why does it smell like pee in here?"
A: "Because the 14 year old sitting right next to us peed his pants, and now it's under my seat."
Q: "Why is that lady screaming at that truck?"
A: "She must love trucks even more than you."
Q: "Can we come back every year?
A: "Sure, kid. I'm glad you loved it."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I constantly remind myself that I am the author of our story, both literally (as I write this blog) and figuratively (as I help create memories and traditions that will be remembered and passed down). The job of writing, planning, and telling our story is sometimes overwhelming. But, what it offers me is the chance to evaluate how we spend our time, what we value, what we cherish, and what we can do without. Each day is a chance to create a piece of the story that's worth telling. What I've noticed lately is that a lot of extras can be cut from our days. I am finding that easy home days are often much better than busy play days. My babies are still young so all they still really need is for us to read with them, get on the floor and pretend with them, and to show them that simple fun is the best fun. So, suddenly "time" isn't quite as hard to find and more meaningful minutes are being spent. I've been asking, "It this worth my time? Am I willing to trade moments I cherish for this?" If the answer isn't clear, we don't do it. Suddenly, the day turns itself around. I have time to write, and read, and play, and see my family, and plan, and connect with the people who mean the most. Even my snapshots throughout the day are telling a different, slower kind of story.


I suppose what it all comes down to is this:
How we spend our time shows what we value.
So does who we spend our time with.
Use it wisely.
Pick your people wisely.

Time this week has been spent on:

Being adorable and girly.
 Grocery shopping with my three kids.
 Being adorable and girly.
 Loving on babies.
 Being adorable and girly.
 Getting haircuts.
 Writing books for Daddy's upcoming birthday.
And stepping it up a notch in the house planning...because it's true!! Someday soon, we're actually going to live there!
As I continue to make my way through the rest of this week, I will remember. This time is mine. I am in charge of it, and no one can take it from me unless I let them. I will protect it, use it wisely, and fill it with goodness.