Month: April 2015

The Truth About…Beach Bodies

The Truth About…Beach Bodies

With summer just around the corner, there’s a lot of talk about getting your body “beach ready”. Workout regimens, diet plans, and weight loss supplements are being pitched every where you turn, promising to help you fit into that bikini. 

Before I had my daughter, I would give into this every year. I’d take the pills, change my eating, workout every day and still not feel good enough about my body to be comfortable in my swimsuit, regardless of how much weight I lost. When summer was over, I’d inevitably give up and find myself in the same shape I was before my “summer diet”. 

Once I became a mom, however, my focus has shifted. I’m no longer looking for quick and easy results, I’m looking for long lasting effects. This of course, means making permanent changes in the way I eat and the amount of exercise I get. I’ll admit, this is something I’ve struggled with, but I’m getting closer to my goals, one small step at a time.

Aside from achieving the “perfect” body, however, there is something much more important that I’m looking for this summer: confidence. 

Instead of trying to shove my body into my pre-baby swimsuit again this year, I decided to order a new one that better fit my body type. 

After scouring the internet, I found an amazing suit on the Sears website…which was way outside my budget. I was incredibly shocked when I found the same suit at a much, much lower price from Rosegal.com. 

I decided to go with a vintage style high-waisted bikini in the hopes of camouflaging the floppiness of my tummy. I love pin-up art, so I thought that this style would make me feel pretty. I was right!

I was a little nervous at first, because low prices can often mean low quality, however I was pleasantly surprised when my package arrived in the mail. 

It is absolutely gorgeous and well constructed. I had had it in my head that the buttons were printed on the fabric, but they are real, plastic buttons, which I thought was pretty cool. The neck strap is optional, which is great. I personally like to leave it on, but you can go without if you choose. It is just a little small, so I would recommend ordering the next size up from your measurements if you order from this site. 

For the first time in maybe ever, I am excited to put on my swimsuit this year. My advice to you is to remember that you are beautiful just the way you are. Find something that complements your body as it is and don’t let the beauty ideals of others dictate how you feel. Keep your head held high and own this summer…because the truth is, you already have a beach body!

5 Things I’ll Miss About Winter

5 Things I’ll Miss About Winter

Spring is here. The flowers are blooming, the grass is once again green, and the sun is shining…most days. As summer approaches I find myself thinking of all the wonderful things to come: barbecues, camping, swimming, long days in the sun, and nights spent on the porch. Like most of you, I love summer. However, there are definitely some things I will miss about winter.

I won’t miss the cold, or the busy holiday season, or falling on my behind when I slip on a patch of ice, but I will miss the following:

1. Going bra-less. Winter coats, heavy sweat shirts, and long days being snowed in mean that for most of the snowy season we can forgo the bra without anyone being the wiser. With the weather warming up, it becomes harder to get away with this (unless you were blessed with a small enough chest for those adorable strapless tops!). Summer means months of keeping the girls bound up…which is no picnic when the temps climb closer to the 100s!

2. Not shaving. My favorite part of winter? Being able to skip a date with the razor every now and then! This has never been more true than it is now. With a toddler who always insists on showering with me, shaving can be a major hassle! For the last few months I could hurry through my shower with no worries, knowing my legs and armpits wouldn’t be seen by anyone who isn’t required to overlook such a faux pas. Summer wear offers no such coverage, making shaving a daily chore. Yuck.

3. The bad road excuse. I’m a bit of a hermit. I love to hunker down in my hidey-hole with some warm blankets and good book, effectively shutting out the world around me. Social situations drain me quickly, and as much as I love spending time with family and friends, sometimes I just don’t want to leave the comfort of home. I’m not the kind of person who is good at saying “no”, so winter affords me the opportunity to back out of social obligations with grace. “Sorry, the roads are kind of icky and I don’t want to chance it,” is a perfectly acceptable excuse to get out of anything–and not have to get out of your pajamas!

4. Soups, stews, and chillis.  There is nothing better than coming in from the cold to enjoy a warm bowl of one of these wonderful winter dishes while curled up on the couch in your favorite jammies and watching some old movie on the TV. That right there is ultimate comfort (are you sensing a theme here?). I imagine the awesomeness of this scenario could only be improved with the addition of a roaring fire. I love hearty, filling meals and as summer approaches the fare gets a bit lighter. This is definitely a part of winter I cherish!

5. Long sleeve shirts…and not sweating my make-up off. Okay, this one’s a twofer. I don’t know why, but all my favorite shirts are long-sleeved. Actually, now that I think of it, I prefer long pants too, and not only because of the no-shave coverage mentioned above. I just feel more put together. I don’t generally wear make-up unless I’m going to a big get together or something, but when I do, I don’t like to worry about sweating it all off…especially because I never take the time to touch-up or reapply. 

As much as I will miss these amazing parts of winter, I’m looking forward to the relaxed pace of summer. Bring on the bathing suits, tanning oils, and flip flops, winter will return soon enough!

Silver Linings

Silver Linings

Last Sunday, I was driving along a darkened highway with my family on our way back home. The weekend had been absolutely fantastic and I was babbling away about how I wished life could always be this way. I glanced away from the road for a split second and when I looked back, a semi was drifting into our lane.

I swerved to avoid him and my car careened into a ditch, landing nose first in a ravine. “Get The Princess and get out of the car,” I ordered shakily as I struggled to take in the situation. Almost-Husband obliged while I grabbed my nearly-dead cell phone and climbed out via the passenger side door.

Thankfully, none of us sustained any injuries. The truck hadn’t stopped. There was no one around. We called Almost-Husband’s parents straight-away, let them know our phone was only at 4% battery and waited for help to arrive.

It was midnight before we got home. As soon as we were in the door, the three of us snuggled up on the couch in complete silence. The sound of the rain outside was soothing and I imagined it washing away all the negativity. I focused on the positives. No one was hurt. We had good insurance. Somehow this would work out for the best.

All three of us fell asleep like this. When I awoke, I heard a dripping sound as well as a very distinctive popping. I went in search of the leak and found no water. As I walked under one of the light fixtures, the popping got louder and was joined by a faint buzz.

I woke Almost-Husband up immediately and he went to investigate. He asked me to switch off the lights. I did, and the buzzing stopped. The buzzing resumed when we flipped it on and we exchanged a look of dread and disbelief. We turned the lights back off and he removed the bulb. It was soaking wet.

A car crash and a fire hazard in one night. Fan-freaking-tastic.

For the past several days this has been weighing on me. As I may have mentioned before, things are a little tight around here. We were already convinced to move out of the apartment due to these sorts of issues (which always seem to go unaddressed) and now we had to worry about the car. On top of 2 short checks due to Almost-Husband taking time off for a funeral.

Still, I tried to focus on the positive. I just knew that all of this had happened for a reason. Something good had to come out of all this.

Finally, I heard back from the insurance company. They determined that the car was a total loss, which we kind of saw coming. As I listened to the lady explain how they arrived at their figures, my heart skipped a beat. They had valued the car at more than we had paid. Not only would our loan be paid off, but we would be receiving a rather sizable check.

Combined with some other money saving measures we had put in place (such as cutting cable), we are finally back on (somewhat) even ground! If we can find a slightly cheaper car, things should be smooth sailing. We’ll still be far from steak and caviar, but we’ll finally be able to breath. We can continue our hunt for a new home and take the next step forward.

I cannot tell you how much lighter I feel. As my dad told me the other day, “Good stuff happens all the time, bad stuff just happens every once in a while. It’s what you do with it that matters.” I kept my eyes open for a silver lining, and I found it. We can use this as a stepping stone to a better life for our little family.

I can’t wait to see what’s around the bend. Our string of bad luck may finally be–scratch that–is coming to an end!

My Practice Baby Is 8 Years Old!

My Practice Baby Is 8 Years Old!

8 years ago today, I was lying on my bed in my first apartment enjoying a snuggle with Almost-Husband. The phone rang, interrupting our lazy morning. It was my mother calling to tell me that she was in labor. She told me not to head directly out to the hospital and that she’d call me when it was time.

I remember the rush of excitement that I felt. At 20 years old, I was becoming a big sister for the second time and I was more than thrilled. It wasn’t long before I got out of bed and dragged myself down the street to the Wal-Greens to get some milk.

As I was in the store, I got the call. It was go time.

I hurriedly made my purchase and hopped in my car. In my excitement, I backed out of my parking spot in more of a rush than necessary…and hit the car behind me. There was no real damage, and the owner of the car was more than irate.

I remember telling the woman that I was sorry and that I was trying to get to the hospital because my mom was in labor. She did not believe me. Despite the fact that neither care had a single scratch, she insisted on calling the police. As we waited, I called my grandmother to tell her what was going on so no one would worry. She came straight away and as soon as I was done dealing with that situation she took me out to the hospital while Almost-Husband drove the car home.

I’ll never forget the rush of love I felt when I held that little guy for the first time. I cried tears of joy as I snuggled my new baby brother. “Hi Brother Bear,” I cooed. “I’m your sister. I love you so much!”

I don’t know why the name popped out of my mouth, but it stuck. He’ll always be my Brother Bear. Brother Bear my Practice Baby.

Unfortunately, all of my old pictures are either packed away or on an old computer that is currently unusable, but I did manage to find one from when he was around 1 and a half.

I’ve watched this little guy grow from a little baby, to a mischievous toddler, to a sweet preschooler. I remember taking him to school and picking him up and listening to him tell me about his day. I even got to go with him on a field trip to a local farm. So many wonderful memories from that time. When I was “Mommy Sissy”.

He was 5 years old when I got pregnant with The Princess. I remember when we told him that I was going to have a baby. He was SO excited and made up his mind that she was “his”. For nine months he rubbed my belly, kissed my belly, talked to my belly and told us how the baby was going to live with him. We had all been worried that he would be jealous, but he loved her right from the start!

He was fascinated with her! That summer I watched him a lot while my mom was at work and he was always such a big helper! The minute she cried he’d be right there, hovering over her as I took care of her. He’d even climb in the playpen with her!

He is still very protective of her. They bicker like siblings and get on each other’s nerves, but they also play really well. I love seeing the two of them together and hope that they always remain close.

I am amazed at how much this little boy has changed. It blows my mind to see a big boy, when my brain still thinks of the little baby I once knew. At 8 years old he is one of the smartest, funniest, kindest people I’ve ever known. He’s creativity and level of insight amazes me. He may be a little booger sometimes, but he really is the greatest and I feel so lucky to have him in my life. 

I don’t know where the last 8 years went, but I can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

Happy birthday, Brother Bear. I love you!

How Revamping A Dresser Changed My Outlook On Life

How Revamping A Dresser Changed My Outlook On Life

Every now and then, I find myself battling envy as I’m confronted with photos of beautiful homes, expertly decorated with the latest trends. I look around my home and dream of the day when I can afford to choose the things I surround myself with. Nearly everything we own has been a curb find, thrift store bargain, or a hand-me-down. There is no “theme” to speak of in any room in our house and our worn-out furnishings serve as a constant reminder that we’re not quite there yet.

A few weeks ago, I was in one of these funks. For days all I could see was the negative. I was fixated on all the things that were wrong. All the dilapidated furniture, the leaky ceiling, the dryer that has to be run 3 times per load, the bills that are always stacking up…all of it was just eating away at me. I felt stuck. Trapped.

As I was wallowing in self-pity, I looked at my beat-up dresser and began to imagine what it would look like with a few modifications. Soon, the thought occurred to me to stop complaining and do something about it. We may not be able to buy new things, but we can certainly make the things we have better!

I became fixated on this idea. Suddenly, the project took on a sense of urgency. The only thing that I needed to figure out was how much it would cost to get the necessary materials.

Luckily, I happened upon some adorable contact paper for a little less than $3 at Dollar General while I was picking up pull-ups for my daughter. I snatched it up immediately and began formulating my plan.

About a week later I picked up some blue spray paint and a small bottle of gray craft paint at Wal-Mart, bringing my project total to just under 10 dollars!

I had Almost-Husband scrape off all the old, cracked wood veneer while I painted the knobs gray. While he was working on the top of the dresser, I spray painted the drawers. There was a little ridge around the drawers, so I taped that off before we sprayed it, then I painted it the same color as the knobs. Finally, we lined the drawers and top of the dresser with the contact paper.

It turned out even better than I had envisioned it! I finally have something in our home that I can be proud of!

So many good things came out of this simple project. I had a blast working alongside Almost-Husband while our daughter ran around the yard, and it was amazing to see one of my many ideas finally come to fruition. I had previously believed that I had no eye for design, but I managed to create something I love!

If I could take an eyesore like that and turn it into something beautiful, then I can do the same with anything in my life. Starting with all our run-down furniture! It may sound superficial at first, but I feel like surrounding ourselves with nice things will motivate us to keep working our way up. Each project we complete will serve as a reminder of what we are capable of and that if you put in the effort, you’ll see results.

Making do with what you have doesn’t have to mean settling!

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Cape Town, South Africa