Category: Life

25 Reasons Why I Love My Life

25 Reasons Why I Love My Life

It’s easy to get caught up in all the stress and negativity that permeates our daily lives. Gut-wrenching news stories, family drama, financial struggles…the list of things that can drag us down is endless.

We’ve all heard about finding at least one thing you’re grateful for each day as an amazing way to counteract that. While I do find this exercise helpful, I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, so I thought it would be a good idea to make a longer list.

Originally, the list was just for me. However, as I read back through it, I thought it would be nice to share it here and maybe encourage others to do the same.

My life is far from perfect and struggles certainly abound, but it’s not all bad either. So without further ado (and in no particular order) here are the…

1. Morning snuggles with my daughter. She’s so busy now, it’s nice to have some quiet time with just the two of us. I know she’ll outgrow this routine eventually and I intend to soak it all in while I can!

2. My morning workout. It’s amazing how much more clear-headed and energetic I feel after I exercise. I never thought that I would be the kind of person who looks forward to a work-out session, but here I am!

3. This blog. While I do my fair share of complaining about the technical issues that crop up from time to time, this blog is what maintains my sanity. Having a space to explore my thoughts and engage with others is amazing. Writing is as essential to me as breathing, and having a place to share my work ensures that I keep at it!

4. My nearly completed novel. Okay, it’s a first draft…but it’s almost done! Knowing that I’m close to the finish line is a wonderful feeling and to be honest, I have had so much fun writing it that at times it has been hard to pull myself away from it to do other important tasks–like putting away the laundry!

5. Music time. Whether it’s helping out in the studio, playing my guitar, or just singing along with the radio, getting in some music time everyday is something that always makes me smile. Everything is better when the tunes are cranked up!

6. Lazy afternoons with my family. This may just be my very favorite thing.  Just lounging around with Almost-Husband and The Princess doing absolutely nothing is sheer bliss.

7, The new house. I never thought we would ever have a home as nice as the one we just purchased. I never thought we’d actually be able to purchase a home! The security of knowing that it is ours has taken a huge amount of stress off my shoulders, and the freedom to really make it our own is fantastic!

8, Our new puppy. Seriously, though. This guy.

He may be huge but he’s still a pup! Although he’s only been in our family a short time, he is already one of my best friends. He has done wonders for my anxiety level, and he makes me feel safer. He’s pretty much the coolest dog around!

9. Beatlefest is coming up! I am so excited to be counting down to a weekend of peace, love, and the company of my amazing family. It’s always the highlight of my year and I can’t wait to get away, relax, and recapture a bit of myself.

10. Electricity. I know it sounds hokey, but how often do we take things like this for granted? With all the financial problems we’ve had, knowing that we’ve never had to go without electricity is a blessing. Plus, it powers all our cool stuff!

11. Water. Honestly. How great is indoor plumbing? It’s another thing we take for granted, but I am thankful that we have this luxury when there are many people in the world who do not.

12. My partner. We’ve been through a lot in our 9 years together, both good and bad, and our relationship continues to grow stronger each day. As much as he can drive me nuts sometimes, he is also an amazing source of support, friendship, and love and is such a fantastic dad! I’m incredibly lucky that he supports our family and I’m sure I don’t thank him enough for what he does for us.

13. My ninjas. One of the perks of blogging is all the wonderful people you meet along the way. These 4 lovely ladies in particular have been a godsend. It’s amazing to me how the five of us can come from such different backgrounds and still be so similar. I’m thankful for the bond we’ve developed and the unwavering support we have for one another.

14. My besties. There’s nothing like sisterhood…especially when they’re sisters you got to choose for yourself! These two wonderful ladies (you know who you are!) have always had my back and have been there through thick and then. Knowing that I always have someone to turn to is invaluable. I love you both!

15. My Mommy. I could write a thousand words on why my mom is such a blessing. She’s been my teacher, my cheerleader, and one of my best friends from day one and I am incredibly lucky to have the bond we share.

16. My siblings. We may not see each other as often as I’d like, but we always remain close. Having people who can share in your earliest memories is something worth celebrating!

17. Hell, this could go on forever–all my friends and family. I am incredibly blessed to have such a rich network of people who care about me and my family and whom I love deeply. Thank you all for being there for us no matter what!

18. Shorts. I hate pants. I hate skirts. I hate the heat. Shorts solve all these problems.

19, Being barefoot. Nothing makes me happier than feeling the earth beneath my feet. It’s my favorite part of summer and I have been taking full advantage of that!

20. Good food every day. We may not be able to go on fancy vacations or buy ourselves a lot of “fun” stuff, but we always have good food. I love to cook and I love knowing that my family is never hungry. In a world where so many go to bed on empty stomachs, the fact that there is always food on the table is something to be grateful for.

21. Netflix binges. This is one of our few indulgences. Nothing beats re-watching your favorite show, beginning to end, over the course of a day or two.

22. Coca Cola. I can’t start my day without it! It may not be the healthiest beverage, but it puts a smile on my face. Not only does it taste good and give me my caffeine fix, but it also brings back many happy memories of my grandmother.

23. My cat. He may be antisocial and spend his days hiding from us, but that makes it all the more sweet when he finally decides to give us some attention!

24. My SUV. I love my 2003 Sante Fe. It’s the nicest vehicle we’ve ever owned, and the freedom to just pick up and go is awesome! After spending considerable amounts of time without a car, it is not something I take for granted!

25. My bed. Honestly, at the end of the day nothing is better than collapsing into my big comfy bed. It may be full, with 2 adults, a toddler, and a dog, but it’s one of the happiest places I’ve ever found. Falling asleep and waking up with my loved ones is truly a blessing!

If there’s a lesson to come from all of this, it’s that the key to happiness is learning to take pleasure in the simple things in life.  We only get one shot, why not enjoy it?

Ch-Ch-Changes (Adventures In Moving: Part Three)

Ch-Ch-Changes (Adventures In Moving: Part Three)

As I stare at the blinking cursor on my computer screen, my mind is filled with a million thoughts, most of which center around the pile of boxes across the room that still need unpacked and the stack of dishes sitting in the sink. I feel torn between writing about all the new changes taking place in my life and getting a handle on my never-ending to-do list.

After typing, deleting, and retyping the opening paragraph about 30 times, I almost give up. Maybe I just can’t write anymore. The thought is frustrating. There is so much I want to tell you, but I don’t even know where to start. 
The sound of Almost-Husband playing with our new dog on the living room floor is distracting. I think about heading up to my new office, then remember that there’s no air conditioning up there and it feels like a sauna. Still, the thought makes me smile. 
My own office. In our own house. Our own house!

After nearly 10 years of rentals, living with friends, living with parents, and more rentals…we finally have our own space. A place to call home. 

I’m not sure I can put into words how much a relief it is, especially after all the hoops we had to jump through to get here. A year of fixing our credit. Another year of looking for houses. And then weeks and weeks of sending paperwork, followed by a period of time where we were told the bank was backing out due to a bad landlord reference, which was eventually determined to be unfounded (as we knew it would be). 

With closing pushed back on us three times, when the actual day came we were more than a little nervous when they told us they needed even more paperwork and verification. We got that squared away quickly and we were told to meet them at 3 o’clock. 

Once we got there, we were told there was another issue and we had to run to our bank to get copies of a check and race back to the bank handling our loan, where we were told that it might have to be put off another day. At 4:55 PM, with five minutes to spare before the banks closed for the day, they called us back. They were willing to stay late to get us in. 

In the end, we wound up with no closing costs, no down payment, and actually walked away with a check. After all the craziness that it took to get us done, the outcome could not have been better!

It’s been 13 days now since we’ve moved into our home, but it feels like it was yesterday. I don’t think my mind has fully processed that it’s really ours. To have an entire house to ourselves is surreal. It’s so much nicer than anything I thought we would ever be able to afford, and there are a few times that I’ve found myself feeling as if we’ve stepped into someone else’s life. It’s a crazy feeling to go from a beat-up apartment with sewage in the basement, bats in the walls, and any number of other issues to a clean, safe, beautiful home in the blink of an eye.

The Princess has transitioned wonderfully, although we do need to get back to some sort of routine. She’s suddenly decided that it’s time to use the potty and to sleep in her own room, which is fantastic! She’s also started to play more independently, which is a godsend with all the work it’s taken to get the house in order. 
Saturday, we added a new member to our family, a one year old Akita/ German Shepard mix named Kuma.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried at first about bringing such a big boy home, but he just fit right in. It’s like he’s always been here! He’s already protective of The Princess and has been great playing with her. He’s already housebroken and knows a few commands, which eliminates most of the work I thought was ahead of us. And most importantly, he seems so happy here! I’m so glad we found this guy!

After all the ups and downs that life has thrown at us over the past few years, things finally seem to be evening out. I know the road ahead will still have a few bumps and unexpected curves, but it is also bound to be a beautiful path. Once we get our bearings, I have no doubt that this is the road that will take us to our dreams.

It’s The Little Things…

It’s The Little Things…

As many of you may remember, I have a ridiculous obsession with lists. In fact, on top of my binders full of various to-do lists, I keep a daily have-done list in my journal.

Every now and then as I go about my day I think about all the things that don’t get written down in my “have-done” list. Today, I thought I’d take a moment to acknowledge all the things that never seem big enough to bother keeping track of.

  1. Gave my daughter 6 sippy cups full of chocolate milk. Yes, I know it’s added sugar and calories and that it should probably be a special treat instead of a go-to beverage, but it makes her happy and a non-screaming toddler makes mama happy.
  2. Tried to get my daughter to use the potty approximately 900 times…without any success. 
  3. Gave my daughter 8 million snacks. Seriously, I don’t understand how such a tiny human can have such a big appetite!
  4. Cleaned up approximately 7 thousand spills. I’m not sure how it happens, but somehow there’s a new mess to clean up every five minutes or so. 
  5. Refolded the same pile of laundry 4 times. For some reason, my daughter loves to knock over the stacks of freshly folded clothes and watch me re-do them.
  6. Hid in the bathroom to squeeze in a few moments of sanity (at least twice). I don’t know why I continue to attempt this. It almost never works.
  7. Made two runs to the grocery store after realizing I forgot milk. Again. I wish someone would have warned me that “new mom brain” never really goes away.
  8. Switched out the Disney DVDs that are always droning on in the background (at least 6 times). Whatever allows me to get some housework done, right?
  9. Read “Green Eggs and Ham” no less than 7 times. I really need to hide this one and get her hooked on a new book. Also, has anyone else noticed that the message of the book is less “try new things” and more “give in to shut up incessant nagging”?
  10. Gave at least 20 piggy back rides. I don’t know why this is my child’s preferred mode of transport, but I’m sure it’s a good workout for mom.

I’m sure I could stretch this list out to include a hundred or more little things that I do–many of them repetitively–throughout the day, but I think you get the point. What’s crazy to me is I look at this list and I know that many days this is on top of several loads of laundry, dishes, cooking 3 meals, messing with this here blog, and so much more!

The other thing that sticks out to me is that there are many, many nights where I plop myself on the couch and I look at my short have-done list, feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing, yet my body is screaming at me to get some rest. It is in these moments that I wonder, “Why am I so tired? I didn’t do anything today!”

But I have. I’ve done a lot. I just don’t give myself credit for it. 

So, my fellow tired moms (and dads!), I issue you this challenge: really look at what you’ve done with your day. Allow yourself to acknowledge all those little tasks and feel accomplished. You’ve spent your day taking care of your child, as well as dealing with all the other tasks life throws at us. You’ve done a lot today! Take a moment to bask in that glory, and then do something to recharge your batteries. Read a chapter of that book, play that video game for a few minutes, call that friend–whatever it is that you’d like to do–and then get some of that sweet, sweet sleep.

Weathering The Storm

Weathering The Storm

Growing up, I never thought twice about tornado warnings. According to my dad’s favorite story, our hometown is protected from tornadoes. An Indian Chief stood “right here” and proclaimed that a tornado would never touch this land. It’s a story I’ve heard at least 800 times, and the stats seem to back it up. Our little town has had very little tornado activity compared to the surrounding areas.

This story came to mind as the sirens started blaring Monday afternoon. I no longer live in the protected area, a fact that became very clear when I received a text from Almost-Father-In-Law telling me to get to the basement.

I turned on the radio and listened to the reports. A tornado was spotted 8 miles away and was headed towards us at 20 miles an hour. We were advised to take shelter now.

I was rounding up The Princess when Almost-Husband rushed in the door, telling me that we needed to get the basement. Upon opening the door, we found it flooded out, which seems to be a recurring problem. He advised me to stay in the hallway, which runs through the middle of our apartment and has only one window at the far end.

So there I sat, phone in hand and daughter in lap, listening to the droning voices on the radio as they repeated their warnings and gave the latest updates. Damage was indeed occurring in our area.

The air went silent as darkness filled our home. The power was out and suddenly it all seemed very real.

A number of thoughts ran through my mind as we hunkered down in the hallway. Ranging from the practical to the ridiculous:

  • The house can blow down, as long as we’re safe and the box containing all my baby pictures and other family mementos doesn’t get destroyed.
  • Oh wait. My computer! 300 pages of my novel and countless other ramblings are on there! I’ve never backed it up anywhere else! Why haven’t I backed it up? If it’s destroyed all that work is gone forever…
  • I just spent all day cleaning this house. If this tornado ruins all that work I’m going to be pissed.
  • What about the new house? We close in three days…it would be just my luck if it get’s wiped out right before we get the keys.
  • Why did we ever move? We were safe from this tornado b.s. back home!
  • Does our car insurance cover acts of God?
  • I really need to steam clean this carpet again when this is over with.
  • We’ve only had our car for a month. I don’t want to car shop again.
  • Where’s my cat? Is he okay? Why won’t he stay in the damn hallway?!
  • I wish I was wearing real-person clothes. I don’t want to be rescued in my sweatpants. I at least should have put on a real bra. 
  • The Princess is naked. At least she has a pull-up on. From now on she’s wearing clothes, whether she likes it or not. You can’t be naked in an emergency.

Soon it had died down and it was safe to leave the hallway again. Almost-Husband returned to work and I set about finding candles, since the power was still out. The good thing about being Wiccan is you always have enough candles to light a small village. Unfortunately, 90% of my possessions are currently in boxes in preparation for the move, so I had to dig a little to find them.

Once I was sure we’d be able to see, I began worrying about the power being out. I was worried about the food in the fridge going bad. I was worried about the fact that our stove is electric and it was past dinner time. I was worried about not being able to listen to the radio for updates. I was worried about not being able to charge my phone and having an emergency pop up. I was worried about passing the time without my computer, which needed to be charged. I was worried about my schedule being thrown off. I was worried that the worst was yet to come.

I set about letting everyone know that I was safe and started making plans with what to do with the remainder of the night. A friend sent me a text telling me she’d heard that our grocery store had been leveled and the magnitude of the situation really set in.

Almost-Husband returned home shortly thereafter. The shop was closed since there was no power. We milled around the house, trying to decide if the rain had stopped long enough to get the grill going so we could have some dinner.

About an hour later, the power was back. The storm had passed. We hopped in the car and drove over to the new house to see if any damage had been done. A tree had come down in the yard, but it had missed the house and all else looked fine. We decided to head to the gas station and found that everything on that side of town was still without power. Roads were blocked off and there was no where to turn around. We drove out past the grocery store and saw that the diner area had been wiped out along with some other damage to the building.

We had to drive a bit to be able to turn around. The traffic was a bit heavier than normal and when we got back to our side of town, the two gas stations were jam packed. People were coming from surrounding towns to gas up and get whatever they needed, in addition to everyone in town.

As I sit here writing this post, it all seems very surreal. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everything is peaceful. Although there was significant damage to many buildings and homes, the damage wasn’t nearly as widespread as it could have been, which is something we should all be thankful for. To those who did endure property damage or had their place of business impacted, my heart goes out to you.

As for my family, I am extremely thankful that neither the apartment, nor the home we are purchasing, sustained any damage. We weathered the storm together. Despite my anxiety issues, I managed to stay relatively calm and collected, which is no small feat. And, although there was certainly some fear involved, we made some interesting family memories.

Today, I feel a new sense of clarity. Life is full of storms, and it seems to have been a rather rainy season for our family for a while now, but we always get through it. More importantly, we always come out stronger. There is always something to learn, even from the worst of times. As long as we have each other, what’s a little rain?

Yes, Her Shirt Is Backwards. No, I Do Not Care.

Yes, Her Shirt Is Backwards. No, I Do Not Care.

It may come as no surprise to most of you that independence is something I believe in fiercely. In fact, it was Almost-Husband’s non-conformist, free-thinking attitude that first attracted me to him upon our first meeting way back when I was 16.

It follows naturally then that now, at 28, it is a value we both wish to instill in our daughter. We also want her to have a sense of creativity, competency, and confidence. I’m assuming most of you feel the same to one degree or another.

The thing is, these are not lessons that can be taught with words alone, especially when your child is very young. Instead, they are taught not only by our actions, but by our reactions to daily occurrences. We must be mindful of the kind of messages we are sending if we want to raise children with a healthy sense of self.

To illustrate these types of non-verbal lessons, let’s look at the example that seems to be drawing the biggest reaction in my daughter’s life right now: dressing herself.

We let The Princess pick out her own clothes each day, the only exception being occasions where we are expected to dress up (weddings, holidays, etc), in which case she still gets to choose from pre-approved options. I want her to feel free to express herself in anyway she chooses and to develop her own sense of style, which often results in hilariously mismatched outfits, because let’s face it, 2 year olds don’t really care if vertical stripes go with horizontal stripes.

They also don’t care what the weather is like or whether their clothing is on backwards…

You may note that both her shirt and her shoes are on backwards. What you can’t see in this picture is that it was also 80-something degrees out. You also can’t see the attempts at getting her to at least put on shorts.

“Mommy’s wearing shorts. Daddy’s wearing shorts. Do you want shorts?” I ask, as my child runs up to me with a pair of long pants.

“No, just fine,” she replies.

“Are you sure? It’s hot out.”

“Just fine,” she repeats, a bit more emphatically.

I shrug and let her continue. When she starts sweating she’ll change her mind, or she’ll learn to deal with the consequences of her decisions. Either way, it’s her body, not mine.

As she puts her shirt on, I gently point out that it’s backwards. She does not care, once again replying with “just fine.” We do the whole dance again when she puts her shoes on the wrong feet. We point out what’s “wrong” and offer to help, but we don’t push the issue or force her to change. There is a reason for this. A few reasons, actually.

The first has to do with fostering independence. We don’t want her to feel like she absolutely has to do something one way simply because that’s how everyone else is doing it. We want her to know that it’s okay to think outside the box and march to the beat of her own drum. Just think of all the great inventions and advances we would have missed out on if no one dared to try anything different!

The second reason, which may be even more important, has to do with developing her inner voice and her sense of competency.  It’s the same reason I don’t refold the towels in front of her when she’s helping with the laundry. Or, for a more concrete example, if a child brings you a drawing that looks like this…

…and tells you that it’s a bird, you don’t say, “That looks like crap. You should have done it this way…”. You tell them it’s a very nice bird. She’s proud of accomplishing a task and I don’t want to trample on that. By constantly correcting a child, you’re giving them the message that they are always wrong. I don’t know about you, but I do not want my child’s inner voice to be one that says, “I never do anything right. I’m stupid. I fail at everything.” I want her to feel like she’s capable and to celebrate her accomplishments so that she keeps practicing those skills and naturally progressing, instead of giving up.

The third reason really comes down to a simple phrase I heard my grandmother use quite often, “pick your battles.” Why waste energy on something as silly as clothing? If you make everything a fight, kids learn to be secretive or combative. If they feel you are on their side, they are more willing to listen to you when you offer advice.

Whether it’s dressing herself or some other task, we help her when she asks for it and offer help when she looks like she’s struggling, but we don’t push or step in unless it is a health or safety concern. 

I believe children learn best through exploration and encouragement. I also believe it is my job to merely guide her as she develops at her own pace. To me, being a successful parent is raising a child into an adult who is capable of thinking for his or herself and running their own lives. To get there, we must begin with allowing them to master tasks on their own, started with the basics and increasing with difficulty as they grow mature.

Tomorrow it will be more household chores. In a few years, it will be schoolwork. Before I know it, it will be bigger decisions, like choosing the right career path. But today it is clothes, and I embrace her backwards shirt.

Homemade Hair Mask

Homemade Hair Mask

Before I became a mother, Sunday nights were “Spa Night”. With the help of some candles and incense, I’d transform my bathroom into an oasis. I’d put one of my many face masks, put some deep conditioner in my hair, and let it work it’s magic while I soaked in my lovely scented bath and read a good book with my favorite music playing in the background. After I was sufficiently pruny, I’d rinse off and slather on some luxurious lotions before painting my nails. It was my favorite part of the week and helped me feel ready to take on the days ahead.

As the proud parent of a two year old, I can’t remember the last time I had a true “Spa Night”. Whenever I’ve attempted to take a bath, it’s ended with my daughter in the tub with me. I’ve accepted that the days of pampering myself are long gone and have come to embrace the giggles that accompany our shared bath time.

That said, in my pursuit of more “me time”, I decided to attempt a mini-pampering session on my own while my daughter was watching “Frozen” for the millionth time. After reading a fantastic post about all natural treatments for your hair, I decided to whip up my own hair mask.

Instead of following one of the recipes in the original article, I sort of used it as I guide while I raided my kitchen for ingredients and came up with my own concoction.

What I did:

In a small bowl, I mixed together the following ingredients:

  • Half of a banana
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 egg yolk

It came out looking like this:

It smelled delicious and the texture was much more frothy and less goopy than I had anticipated, which was a major plus, in my book.

I worked it into my hair while it was still dry and let it sit for 20 minutes while I put on a face mask and painted my toes. Then, I rinsed it out and shampooed and conditioned like normal with my One N Only Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner.

How it worked:Before I did this treatment my hair was a frizzy mess that basically felt like straw.

Afterwords, my hair felt great! It’s a lot softer, a little shinier, and a lot less frizzy. What’s really amazing to me is that it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy, which has been a problem with some of the deep conditioners that I’ve bought in the past.

What I’d do different next time:As with most things life, there were a few downsides to this treatment. There were little gobs of banana that were difficult to rinse out of my hair (although, it may have been easier without a two year old trying to shove me out from under the water). After I got out of the shower, I had to brush them out, so next time I will definitely be putting the mixture through the food processor instead of mashing it up with a fork.

I did find that it started drying on my hair, so I rinsed it out after 20 minutes, although I had intended to leave it on for 30. Not really a big deal, but next time I will probably cover my head with a shower cap after I apply it to help hold in some of the moisture.

The Final Verdict:I will definitely be doing this treatment again! 

Next time, however, I may request that Almost-Husband takes The Princess to the park first so that I can have some time to indulge in a relaxing spa break without the fear of my toddler having a meltdown because I wiped some boogers off of her face. Now that would be bliss!

I would love to hear how this treatment works for you! If you have any tips or tricks that could improve this mask I’d love to hear that, too! Just leave me a comment below!

The Truth About…My Yoga Pants

The Truth About…My Yoga Pants

Yoga pants.

Every mom has at least one pair. I’m fairly certain they’re issued for free at the hospital when you receive your baby. Or maybe my memory of the day is a little hazy, it’s hard to tell at this point.

What I do know, is that I have 4 pairs of yoga pants (and an ungodly amount of leggings) in my dresser. I also know that these are the only pants I really wear. Unless I’m going somewhere that requires me to look like a real person, I change from my “pajama” yoga pants, to my “nice” yoga pants and that’s as good as it gets.

I also know that my yoga pants have been used for yoga exactly once: for a morning yoga session at Beatlefest last year.

Sure, they were purchased for the sheer comfort of the elastic waistband and the fact that they are the only “acceptable” form of not getting dressed in the morning, but I can’t help but feel a little guilty when I take my morning walk to the store up the road. To passers-by, I probably look like I’m walking for fitness. The truth is, I just need a soda to start my day because caffeine.

Somewhere along the line, I told myself that since I’m already wearing work-out attire when I wake up in the morning, I’d get up and work out before changing into real clothes. Every night I tell myself that this will happen. Then I put it off. After I load the dishwasher, I’ll work out. After I get Almost-Husband’s coffee ready, I’ll work out. After I make lunch for The Princess, I’ll work out. After she goes to sleep, I’ll work out.

Day after day, I promise myself that I’ll take time for fitness “later”. I can come up with a million excuses to keep myself from spending a half-hour working up a sweat and building a healthier body. It’s a hard cycle to break.

There’s quite a few changes I would like to make in my life, and because I am who I am, I feel the need to make them all at once. It’s extremely difficult to silence that little voice in my head that believes it has to be all or nothing, but that is what I’m attempting to do right now. A complete overhaul of my existence isn’t going to happen in one day. In fact, taking on too much at once is often what causes things to backfire and keeps me exactly where I started.

So, I’m picking some smaller, more achievable goals with the hopes of building on those accomplishments and making new changes as I adapt to these new habits. Among these goals, is putting my yoga pants to use.

In order to accomplish this, I’m setting my alarm a half-hour earlier than normal. I’ve even entered into an arrangement with my mother to stay on track. Using my extra time in the morning, I am building a new routine. After taking some time to welcome the day, I will be launching into one of my many work-out DVDs that have been gathering dust for the last who-knows-how-long. I’ve decided to do a different one every day to help alleviate boredom, and I am keeping my daily walk to the store in place.

I know I’ve mentioned my fitness hopes before, but I never really had a concrete plan. This time, I feel pretty confident this time around. Time will tell, but look forward to the day when I finally have a worthy fitness update!

Wish me luck! If you have any tips for starting a new regimen or a plan that has worked well for you, please feel free to let me know in the comments!

The Mother Of All Mommy Problems

The Mother Of All Mommy Problems

It’s ten o’clock at night. Your little one is in bed, undoubtedly dreaming up new ways to drive you crazy in the morning, and you’ve done all the housework you can possibly handle. You breath a sigh of relief, smiling at the beautiful silence that surrounds you. You’re free. You can do whatever you want.

All day long you’ve dreamed of this moment. You can finally read that book, watch that TV show, work on your future best-selling novel. You’re free to pee without an audience. You can finally sit down for more than 5 minutes without hearing, “Mom, I need…”. You can take a break from all the yelling that motherhood brings with it.

Then it hits you. You’re free…but all you can think about is sleep. Sweet, beautiful, hopefully uninterrupted sleep.

A familiar ache takes shape in your heart. There’s no time to do any of those things. Not tonight. Not with this exhaustion settling deep in your bones.

Tomorrow’s to-do list is long, after all. There’s dishes to wash, laundry to do, meals to cook. There’s diapers to change, books to read, time-outs to give. You’ve got errands to run, you’ve got appointments to keep, and you really ought to squeeze in a shower somewhere.

Tomorrow will take a lot of strength. Just like every day before it, and every day to come. You need your rest. With a heavy sigh, you head to bed. Maybe you’ll breeze through that list. Maybe you’ll find a way to squeeze in some time for yourself.

Sound familiar?

Recently, I’ve been locked in a fierce battle with this exhaustion. After spending every waking minute of my day catering to the needs of others, I find myself unable to expend the energy necessary to take care of myself.

After a particularly rough day, I found myself thinking about the importance of self-care. By neglecting my own needs, I have put a considerable amount of strain on my family. It’s very easy for a mother to feel as though she must always put herself last, even if she knows better. From a young age we are taught that “good” mothers sacrifice everything for the well-being of her family. It’s an extremely hard lesson to unlearn.

When it comes to my own self-care, I often find myself in the trap of putting it off until “later”. Then, when “later” finally arrives, I don’t have anything left to give–even to myself. This is a bad enough habit on it’s own, but when you are someone who struggles with depression, it’s a double-whammy.

As I thought about this, I began to wonder what I could change about my daily routine to allow me some more time for myself. Obviously, the precious time after my daughter goes to bed would be better suited to more relaxed activities. Mediation, some TV time, reading…those things that require very little energy would be best saved for this time. But what about all those other things I long to do?

Since my daughter no longer takes naps during the day, finding time for me during daylight hours has been a struggle. Even when she’s happily playing on her own or engrossed in a movie, I find it hard to use that time for myself. That good ol’ mom guilt kicks in and I tell myself to wait until she’s asleep. I wouldn’t want to be ignoring her after all!

There is also the matter of not wanting to start something that I know will be interrupted. It’s like waiting for a bomb to go off…very hard to relax!

Both of these things are self-defeating excuses. Sure, it would be nice to have a few hours a day to myself to focus on my hobbies and interests, but that’s just not feasible. Instead of sitting around wishing things were different, I need to get my butt in gear and focus on what I can change.

That little voice telling me that I’m ignoring her by working on something that’s important to me? It’s a liar. If she’s content on her own, I have nothing to worry about. In fact, it means I’m doing a good job as a mother. She feels safe and secure enough to enjoy her budding independence without me hovering over her. I should totally be using this time for myself. Instead of puttering around the house hating the fact that I’m not writing or reading or what-have-you, I should be doing those things.

As for the interruptions, knowing that my daughter is excellent at entertaining herself, I’ve decided to block off some time each day specifically for her to play by herself. She’s old enough to understand boundaries and that during this time, mommy is only available for things like potty breaks, pull-up changes, boo-boos, those sorts of things. I’m not talking long stretches of time here, just a half hour, twice a day. Then I’m free to play whatever game she chooses!

There are some things I do for me that she can easily become a part of that for some reason I find myself putting off. She can play the tambourine while I play my guitar, for example. She can color beside me if I get the urge to draw. We can do manicures and pedicures together. It’s endless really.

I am also reinstating my “no housework after 7” rule. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I found myself catching up housework after my little one went to bed. Looking back, I was a lot happier when I had a quitting time. Once 7pm hits, housework is off limits.

These are just a few of the small changes I have decided to make. It’s going to take work to stick to it, but it will definitely be worth it. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my life, it’s that balance is everything. As mother’s we cannot expect to feel fulfilled in our lives if we always put ourselves last. We cannot focus on caring for others when we feel empty.

I wholly expect a few setbacks as I work out the kinks in my life. Those setbacks are where we find growth. The road to happiness is full of twists and turns. Above all else, we must learn to enjoy the ride.

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!

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