Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Fear of Staying Home

I am a stay at home mom.  I made the decision before we had kids.  I am so blessed to be able to do it and wouldn't change it for anything.  But what does it mean to be a stay at home mom?

This was easy to figure out early on while in the newborn stage and sleeping a lot.  My day was filled with feeding, diapering, sleeping, trying to figure out this whole parenting thing.  If I remembered to eat I would and if I got the chance I might have tried to clean something or taken a nap myself. The thought of leaving the house was not in my mind nor did I have the energy.

Then we got past that stage and things became more routine.  I wanted to get out and did here and there.  Once we went from three naps to two, wow did that open up the possibilities.  I would find stuff for us to do most days that I could.  Though it was short outings generally, we got out.

When nursing ended and we settled into the new routine, going out became a breeze.  So much so, that I didn't want to stay home during the day.  But I kept running into the issue where there wasn't much going on during the open time we had.  Sure, we could stay home and just hang out around the house, but something was keeping me from wanting to do that most days.

The time came when we went down to one nap.  Yes, I was sad to loose the extra nap time.  However, I then saw all the possibilities we could do during the morning now.  There were the story times, the museums, going to play dates, errands to run, and so much more.  All the things I thought that a stay at home mom was supposed to do, should do.

My fear was becoming more understandable.  I had created an expectation for myself to live up to.  One that I thought that other moms were holding me to.  One that society said we had to do.  It got to a point where I would find something to do in the morning, even if only for an hour or so, just to be out of the house.  We would usually end up at Target.

How can we stay home?  That wouldn't be enough for my son.  It couldn't be.  Then it hit me while we were at Target.  I realized how much time we were spending out and how much of it was really meaningless.  You know you go shopping too much when your son, at 18 months, tries to use the credit card payment thing the way you do.

It took until my husband stayed home with our son for two days during the day while I went to a conference.  Did they go anywhere?  Nope.  Did my son have fun?  Yup.  So, the problem lied within me.

I had a fear of staying home.  That I would be letting my son down and failing as a mom.  I was letting others' opinions (or at least what I thought they were) get the best of me.  Instead of my son getting the best of me.

I sometimes have a hard time when I don't have something going on and filling my day.  So, I thought that I needed to fill the day with stuff for my son.  In all honesty, I didn't need to.  We could do stuff around the house and he would be just as happy.  We could go out and do something, and he would still be happy.

We now stay home and we still go out.  I don't fear it as much, but I do look for fun and new activities to add to the day.  He does his own thing, I do my own.  I get chores done around the house and he helps sometimes.  We do stuff together.

Either way, we go through our day and make the best of it.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

939 days, 6,574 days

18 years 0 months 0 days
or 216 months 0 days
or 939 weeks 1 days
or 6,574 days
or 157,776 hours
or 9,466,560 minutes
or 567,993,600 seconds 

I have had some idea of how precious life is, but haven't always lived my life in a way that makes the most of out of the time.  Sure, certain times of year I have lived with more intent, savoring the moments, but over the long its few and far between.

When we lost our daughter the reality of life and just how short it could be really hit home.  And it hit hard.  But then like most things, I got myself busy again and lost in the daily grind so to speak.  Then our son arrived.

Once we were past the newborn stage, where I like many others, really couldn't tell you the day because of being sleep deprived.  When asked what I did for the day it consisted of, feed the baby, change the baby, let the baby sleep.

As time went by, I began to look for forward in the weeks, months, and year.  Planning things out, creating my own inner stories of how things would go.  Sometimes, letting the fear and worry get the best of me.  I knew I needed to slow down, focus on the day, live with intent, and really live in the days moments.

Sure, I still plan, but I try to not let it play over and over in my head the outcome possibilities.  I try to let negative, the worry, the fear lift up to God.  Then, I focus on what is right in front of me and being present.  Yes, I do tune out and yes I do my own thing.  When my son is happy playing on his own, I do my own thing.  But I am not afraid to put what I am doing down to take in whatever the moment may present.

I have heard the, there are only this many Saturdays until your little one turns 18 and is out own on their own.  But it didn't really hit home until I read "How 936 Pennies Will Forever Change How You Parent".  (

In the author's words: "This is when I realize something monumental to motherhood– that as I withdraw those pennies from that jar on my desk, they are not being lost, misplaced, or tossed out to never see again. They are being invested. They are creating something new, something of great beauty, bravery, and Kingdom importance."

So, it's not that you have that much time left, so make the most of them as you can before they are lost, gone forever.  Instead, it's an investment.  Just think, what kind of impact you can have when you invest.  Create the moments, build the memories, share the stories, live in the present, savor the slow.

18 years 0 months 0 days
or 216 months 0 days
or 939 weeks 1 days
or 6,574 days
or 157,776 hours
or 9,466,560 minutes
or 567,993,600 seconds

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Homemade Window Clings

I am trying to do my best with sticking to our budget and not spending extra on a whim while out shopping.  Darn Target makes it tough, but I am getting better.  There are just some things that are so much more convenient to buy though.  I love the idea of window clings.

There are so many cute ones out there and you can dress up the windows for the seasons and holidays.  I love it because it brings in fun and color, especially in the colder months.  My son has so much fun touching them and looking at them on the windows.

I am too cheap to spend the money on pre-made ones usually.  I usually end up buying something else for my son to use or play with, like bath tub paint.  But this year I wanted to try something different.  I enjoy being creative, so I keep an eye out for fun ways to be crafty and creative.

The idea of window clings came across my facebook feed.  My thought was I would be able to make some and maybe my son might be able to help.  Well, at 19 months you can guess the kind of help I got.  While I did most of the work, he did put forth a few suggestions like which colors to use or to make a certain shape.  Maybe next year he will help decorate them more.  Either way, we had lots of fun and are enjoying the fun colors they bring into the day.

They are so easy to make.  All you need is puffy paint, a surface you can peal them off of, and templates (unless you want to do them freehand).  By the way, most craft stores don't call it puffy paint anymore. They call it 3D fabric paint.  As for the surface to paint on, I highly recommend wax paper.  However, if you are like me and don't have any on hand, you can use a zip lock bag instead.  Whatever you decide to paint on, just make sure that you put the paint on thick, make sure all lines are connected, and you let dry overnight.

I found this amazing idea at Club Chica Circle.  Here is the link for the Puffy Paint Window Clings that I used:

She also has the templates there and more ideas.  I did the snowflakes first and they sort of worked out.  I had a hard time peeling them as they were so intricate.  I also did the ornaments and those worked out awesome. 

So, if you want to do a fun art project with your kiddos and have some brightly colored window decorations this is a great way to do that.  I will tell you, I used an entire six pack of puffy paints to make them.  I do plan on doing more throughout the year.  They are so much fun!

A Lesson in Gratitude

In late Summer I began to feel very drained.  Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and most days physically.  I couldn't seem to figure out a way through it.  Then I came across Abundant Mama.  I have found that I can relate to what she writes, how she writes, and the deeper level it goes to.

I wanted so much to give the early to rise challenge a try.  I first tried Andy Andrews, but failed miserably by the second day.  I tried the Abundant Mama one, but failed miserably as well.  What was I doing wrong?  Why couldn't I get myself out of bed early, hopefully before my son, and at least get myself ready for the day?  This is when the drain seemed to be at it's strongest.

So, I stepped back for a moment to try to figure things out.  I knew I needed to get myself into some type of normal rhythm and routine.  I dug deeper.  Using Abundant Mama's ideas on creating a bedtime routine and morning routine, I slowly began to get back on track.  I also began to feel less drained with each day.

Odd, I never thought about having a bedtime routine for myself.  We have one for my son and has since the day he was born.  I think as adults we just keep going and going, then at the end of the day we crash.  It is always, just one more thing and then I will go to bed.  We forget to let ourselves unwind and unplug.

I began my bedtime routine in the begging of September.  I started with this first, because for me it seemed the easiest to do.  I had decided that I would create a morning one after I settled into something that felt right and worked for my bedtime one.

Here is where the lesson in gratitude comes into play.  I usually would say my prayers before falling asleep and would include some of the things I was thankful for from the day.  Nothing wrong with this, but I needed to do more.  I needed to dig deeper into me and deeper into my day.  I needed a change of perspective and focus.

I began to journal every night (part of my bedtime routine).  I started with listing five things I was grateful for from the day and then a to do list for the next day.  As time went by things began to change.  They changed with what I wrote in my journal and even more so, they changed with me. After a couple of weeks I went from writing a list of five things to ten.  Now, I start at the beginning of the day, review it in my head and write as I go along the things I am grateful for.  Sure there is repetition, but it doesn't change the fact that I am grateful to have them while they last.

I also noticed a change in my to do list.  It used to be specific items or task for the next day like vacuum, dust, run errands.  The list still includes those, but they also include things I need to remember to do like breath, slow down, listen, patience.  They are things that I struggled with in the day or where I felt at my lowest point.

The change in me was even bigger.  I began to feel ready for bed, slept better, and woke ready the day.  I was even beginning to feel less drained.  It was time to start a morning routine, my rise early me time.  I figured most mornings I was mostly awake just after my hubby got up, so I might as well just get up and get ready for the day.

The initial shock of getting up early didn't seem too bad and I adjusted to it quite quickly.  Unless it is the weekend and on a few other occasions, I get up when my alarm goes off at 5:30.  What was different this time that made me stick to it?

I had created a morning routine.  I would get up, get myself ready (you know, wash face, brush teeth, etc.), read through emails and facebook, get prepped for the day any thing I hadn't prepped the night before, have some down time, and do some yoga meditation.  This is my routine Monday through Friday.  Honestly, I am thinking of doing it on the weekends now as well.

I love my little routines and they help me feel more ready to go. They give me a sense of peace and calm.  They also allow me to be more flexible, go through the day with more intention, and to be able to slow down when needed.  While I do need to tweak a few things with both routines, I am feeling grateful for finally getting into gear and just doing it.

Early to rise and ready for bed.  My day begins the night before allowing me to be ready for the next day.  Take the time to plan things out, write them down, and give yourself the you time you need.  Focusing on the grateful things from the day can go a long way in improving all areas of your life as well.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reflecting on Thanksgiving

Today, is the day after Thanksgiving.  For our family yesterday, it was just the three of us.  Some years we have traveled to spend it with extended family or stayed local and spend it with grandparents.  While I enjoy seeing family, spending time with them, and the wonderful conversations, I am happy to not travel as well sometimes.  When we stay home, we keep it low key and just spend the extra time together.

However we spend it, I am just thankful to have the extra time with family.  And the day after I enjoy taking the time to think on our blessings of the previous day's festivities, as well as the blessings of the year so far.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This is What We Do & That's Okay

When you become a parent, even while you are pregnant, there are so many ideas out there.  So many how to and how not to.  Oh, and don't forget, everyone has their opinion of how to do stuff and are so willing to share (even when they don't have kids of their own).  The Internet, books, and people have so much to offer that sometimes it feels like we are failing or how we go about raising our kids is wrong.

It's not an all or nothing type of parenting.  It's parenting in the moment, while parenting in the long run.  While you may have the end goal in mind, like raising awesome adults, when you are in the moment you have to do what will work.  In the long run, it all works out anyways.  And deep down, you are a great parent and doing a good job.  Just listen to your gut and your heart and they will help guide you.

Here is a little something that I hope will help you feel more confident about your parenting skills.

Home birth or Hospital, Doctor or Midwife
If it works for you, that's okay
Cesarean or Natural delivery, Epidural or Nothing
If it works for you, that's okay
Co-sleeping or Crib
If it works for you, that's okay
Swaddling or Not
If it works for you, that's okay
Wearing your baby or Carrying your baby or Both
If it works for you, that's okay
Breast milk or Formula
If it works for you, that's okay
Purees, Baby led weaning, or Tiny bits of food
If it works for you, that's okay
Daycare or Stay at home
If it works for you, that's okay
Sleep training, CIO, or It's only a phase
If it works for you, that's okay
Cloth Diapers or Disposable
If it works for you, that's okay
TV or No TV
If it works for you, that's okay

I am sure the list can keep going.  Whatever you decide, decide what works for you, your little one, and your family.  Yes, they are only this little for so long and yes, this is only a phase, but try to get the most out of every day that you can in whatever way that you can. Try to end your day looking at what the good things from the day were.  Even though we make mistakes, take them, learn from them and grow.

The Mom I Thought I Would Be

When I was a teacher it gave me a glimpse into what having my own kids could be like.  I set it in my mind things I would do, wouldn't do, and what I would like to give a try.  Then, I had my own child.  While some of those things still come into play, there is a lot that has changed...mostly me.

For us, we knew that I was going to stay home.  Unless, once the time came and we either couldn't swing it financially or if it really didn't work for me and I wanted to work instead.  After we lost our daughter there was no question in my mind that I wouldn't let finances be a factor.  I wanted give it a try when we had our son.  And you know what? I wouldn't change it for the world.

For some though, they would rather stay in the workforce or they really can't swing it financially.  That is okay.  You do what works for you.  Me staying home works for us.

I had gotten myself on the hook of I have to make all the baby food purees.  Which you know, I did actually do it.  However, on occasion we did have jar food on hand because when you travel its way easier to dish up the stuff from a jar verses having frozen cubes of puree.  Not that we didn't try it that route the first time we traveled.

Thankfully, my son didn't stick with purees for very long as I am not sure how long I would have or could have gone making our own.  But I will tell you when you are working with a budget, it is very cost effective.  This making my own purees then led to making my own food pouches.  I would make them up ahead of time and freeze them.

I lasted for a few months doing this, but at last I lost my creative ideas for combinations, I was getting tired of spending several days prepping them, steaming, and putting the pouches together.  My son used to eat through two of them in day because I was the only way I could get him to eat veggies.  So, I went against my need for making my own, got back my time, and started buying them.  In the long run, not as cost effective, but hey, it meant that they were done and truly ready to go at any point.

After one of his wellness visits and the pediatrician reassuring us that he will get his need for vegetables in and we have to look beyond the day.  Over the course of the month, he will be fine.  Plus, he was entering the food stage of, sure I like it today, but no way will I be eating it tomorrow.  Then I realized how many servings he was really getting in a day when he had a pouch.  Way more than he needed, but lesson learned.

While on the topic of food, I had told myself we would not let him have fast food for as long as possible.  Yeah, that went out the window pretty quick when we visited dad for lunch and my son wanted to eat his dad's hamburger more than what I had made up for him.  Then Summer came and it was softball season.  So, every other week we were meeting dad for dinner and my son would have fast food.  Oh well, at least we got to spend time together as a family, it was only for the Summer, and we got some pretty cool books in the kid's meals.

This only scratches the surface.  We are only 19 months in, so there is more to come down the road.  What I do know is that no matter how much you prep or think about it, you have to be in the moment to really get an idea.  While I may have had all these big ideas, some may not work for us or some will change, and I won't know it until we get there.  Parenting is about flexibility where you can be and sticking to your guns when you need to. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Yup, it's snowing

It has been awhile since I have put my fingers to the keyboard to write.  Honestly, I have been wanting to write and been searching my brain for ideas.  So, I finally let go and decided to wait.  Sometimes, that is just the inspiration I need.

Today, is the first snowfall of the season.  We live in Minnesota and you never really know when the snow will start to come.  This year, we are lucky, it's almost the middle of November, and this is our first snow of the season.

When it comes, most Minnesotans aren't really happy, but they accept it.  Living in this state you know it's going to happen, but you are never really ready for it when it does.  Me, I don't mind the snow.  I just don't like the cold.  Last Winter was brutally cold more days than not.  This year, I am hoping for the snow, just not as many extremely cold days.

When it snows, to me, it always seems pretty.  While I may not be out in it, looking through the window watching it fall just mesmerizes me.  My favorite snow is when it gently falls and you can go outside, stand in the middle of the yard, and feel like you are in a snow globe.

I remember taking my little guy out in the first snowfall last year.  It was about this time, maybe a week or so earlier.  We watched out the backdoor at the snow gently falling.  His eyes lit up a little, so we bundled up and went out.  He was just mesmerized by it.  He was only 7 months at the time.

Each time we would go back inside, he wanted to go back out.  So, in and out we went for a half hour or so.  Then, I decided to bring a bucket full of the snow into the house for him to play.  He quite enjoyed it.

I often look at my son watching the world and wonder what it is like through his eyes to see things.  Sometimes for the first time ever and sometimes with knowing eyes.  And his sheer excitement at it all.  I think to myself, what happens to us as we get older that so many of us loose the joy and wonder.

Today, we will go out in the snow...that is if my son lets me get him all dressed for it. Last year I got one of my favorite pictures of him in the snow and just looking at it in awe. I wonder what this year will bring.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Your question, My Answer

October is a month filled with awareness and remembrance days.  A lot of us have been touched by cancer throughout our lives as we see it happen in loved ones and friends.  I know breast cancer awareness is a big one that is pumped through the entire month of October to the point where is shows in major league sports.  However, there is something else a lot of us have been touched by, whether it be in our own lives directly, through a family member, or friend.  Pregnancy and Infant loss.

Yes, I know, this taboo subject to many and a subject we shouldn't talk about is starting to break through the walls of silence.  What used to be taboo and kept silent is starting to make waves.  People from all around the world are sharing their stories, opening up their hearts, and helping others who are walking this similar path.  Today, I am going to break the silence as well.

Three years ago we faced and are still facing an experience that you never want to go through and really most of the time seems to come out of now where.  We lost our daughter Samantha.  If you want to get technical, it was at 17 weeks and it was a miscarriage.  I know some feel that it shouldn't be a big deal and that someone that small really was much of anything.  It was a miscarriage.  I can tell you today, that I still remember that dreadful day and every detail that goes with it.

It wasn't just a miscarriage, I delivered my daughter.  Sure, I may not have gone through hours of labor and delivered a living breathing being, but I did delivered my daughter.  She had ten fingers and ten toes.  You could see her cute little ears and nose.  Her hand, no bigger than my index finger.  She weighed in at 2.5 ounces.  She fit completely in my hand. She may have breathed outside in our world, but she danced and squirmed inside of me.  She brought life and taught me a lot about life.

I have met some amazing people on my path.  The further along I go, the more people I meet who have lost their little ones way to soon.  These people are courageous, strong, awesome parents.  Do I wish that I could hold my daughter in my arms, read to her at night, and chase her around the yard?  Every minute of every day.

I may not be able to do that with her, but I know I have a lot of family up there with her that can do that with her.  I also have a lot of friends who have little ones up there too that she can play chase with.  Down here, right in front of me, every day is another miracle.  My son.  So, while I get to hold him in my arms, read stories with him, and chase him around, God & family get to do that with our daughter.  No matter where your children are, how big they have gotten, who they are with you are still a mom and dad.

Aww, such a sweet time vs. How old? Have Fun with That

All to often I get asked, "how old is your son?" I reply with his age and I get one of several responses..."such a fun age", "good luck with that age or stage", "oh the things you have coming ahead of you with that age".  My thought to it all? Every stage and every age has it awesomeness and struggles.

My son hit toddler age and people warned me about the tantrums, struggles, them saying no.  All the struggles and not so good side of it all. What I have found is that my little toddler has an ever blossoming personality.  He is so affectionate, loves to help, and has a lot to say.  Sure, there are some struggles, but the fun and awesomeness far out weigh those struggles.

It's all about perspective.  If we constantly focus on the negatives of an age, then we miss out on so much of the other stuff going on.  Likewise, if focus on the negative, then our moods tank and we complain all the time, and we end up bitter about the situation.  Most of the time, the struggle is just a phase.  While in the midst of it, it seems like it is going on forever.  But before we know it we will look back and see that it passed rather quickly, and we all survived.

Why not focus on the positive as much as we can?  That way when the struggles or the negatives come around we can easily take them in stride.  Sure, we may turn to other moms to open up and that is okay.  Sometimes we just need the reassurance that everything will be okay and we aren't a terrible parent.  Its not always easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And talking with someone who has maneuvered through the tunnel fairly unscathed helps us get a glimpse of that light.

I have heard ages phrased like this: terrible twos, troublesome threes, frustrating fours, and so on.  What if we thought of the ages a little different. What if we thought of it more like this: tremendous twos, terrific threes, fabulous fours, fantastic fives, and so.  Interestingly enough, I can come up with those phrases a lot easier than the others ones.

I have known adults who set up a motto or mantra for the day, week, month, or year.  I have done yearly ones.  Well, imagine how the year could look if we did that for or with our children (depending on how old they are).  My son will turn 2 next year.  My thought is to put a sign up somewhere that says TREMENDOUS TWOS.  Sometimes we need a reminder, especially on those tougher days. Then we can focus our attitudes and efforts on all the tremendous things going on.

What fabulous age is your child or are your children?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fill Your Bucket with Intention

The idea of living intentionally has been something I have typically have done through the years.   But I know that with the increase in things like social media, that I have sometimes gotten sucked into that world only to find that two hours just passed me by.

After having our son, any moments I could sneak in to check things out I would.  I will admit, there were times when I was trying to look at something only to have him take over the screen and I would be frustrated.  Why?  I really have know idea.  I just know that it can be tough to put the phone, tablet, or computer down...especially once you get started.

I realized that, a few months ago, that if I wanted to be more present (a goal of mine) that I would need to put the technology down more.  Sure, I would go a week at a time every so often where I would limit my usage during the day.  Sometimes it worked well for the week, other times not so much.  And it never failed, at the end of the week I would go back to the way I was doing things.  Not all bad, but not great either.

A combination of blogs & books I read, podcasts I listen to, and the SimpleRev Conference that I attended have made me reevaluate how I am going about in my daily life.  Also, now that my son is older he is more receptive and its has become clear that he is watching me more.  So it is also about what do I want him to learn.

The idea of living simply scares a lot of people.  But I like to think of it as living with intention. Whatever comes in must have a purpose, function, and be something you enjoy.  It can work in all areas of your life, including social media.  If something is bringing you down, causing frustration, or making you miss out on what is important than it is time to evaluate that thing and decide if must stay, go, or be re-purposed some how.

The other side of it is that things have become routine or habit and we don't realize we are sometimes doing it.  In order to undo the things we want, we have to create a routine that works and make habits that are more in line with where we are and where we want to go. The best part about life as Andy Andrew says, "the bad news we were in control of our past, the good news we are in control of our future".  Yes, there are some things we cannot control and those are things we need to just accept.  However, where we can control we need to hold those reigns with courage and strength.

I personally like David Delp's thought on it.  You take a look at your roles in life, create goals in each of those areas (think before I die, I want to...), and then create a weekly plan for each of them.  What are the steps you can take now to get closer to your end goal.  End goal, such an awesome concept (thanks Dan & Vanessa Hayes for that one).  Think about first where you want to end up and how you want things to look.  Then, figure out the steps necessary to get to that.  And most importantly, take those steps.

Oh, and its okay to fail and okay to make mistakes.  I have a hard time accepting this sometimes.  Failing and making mistakes means we took risks and we are learning.  As David said, stand up with your arms up to the sky and say "I Failed" like its no big deal.  Say that often enough, and things begin to seem lighter and funnier.  Do that with a large of group of people like I did at SimpleRev and its even better.  Its okay to admit that we failed.  But we survived and took a risk.

So, open your eyes and look around.  Take in the beauty that is in front of you.  Be happy with where things are at  as well instead of waiting for the perfect time. Take risks and stand tall when there is failure.  Slow down, breath, and keep a smiling.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Joy of Meal Planning

I know, this seems like an odd title.  The joy of meal planning, how can this bring joy?  I am telling you its great!  It relives stress, saves money, gives a chance for creativity, and it really is fun.  I used to not meal plan at all. But after having my son, I have realized how helpful it really has been.

Before kids we would just go grocery shopping regularly and buy the usual staples with a few extras here and there.  Then one of us would throw something together in whatever fashion we so chose.  No big deal, though we would sometimes fall into a routine of what we would eat and wouldn't expand our horizons.

Since having a son, and only more on the recent side, I decided to start meal planning.  It began with the start of the week and writing a few ideas on the calendar.  Worked fine, but at times I would find myself stuck.  I wanted to make something, had a pantry and fridge full of something, but would proclaim we had nothing to eat.  So, we would eat out.  Not good for the budget, especially when we had stuff in the house.  Some of it was that I was getting tired of trying to have dinner ready for when my hubby walked through the door, some of it was I just didn't have the energy or desire to cook, and some of it I was bored with food.  There were also weeks where I didn't write anything.

With having my son, who loves to eat, but also isn't very patient at times we found that this was not going to work.  I needed to have a list of ideas, the ingredients on hand, and even more so I needed to be able to make it 30 minutes or less (emphasis on the less side if possible).  So, the crockpot began to play a bigger role in our cooking.  But I still wanted to have something to go to for ideas.

I began to plan the whole month out.  I know, this seems like a huge thing and a task that seems daunting.  Really, it was just writing in stuff we already did, putting ideas down that started off simple like crockpot chicken (then on that day I could decide what all I wanted to dump in there with it), and of course having leftover nights (where we ate what was in there or re-purposed it to create something knew. Those nights are called surprise nights.  You never know what you will get, but hope its at least halfway decent).

Just because I put the idea on a specific date on the calendar, doesn't mean that is what we have to do.  Though, generally it does work that way in our house.  There are days that I will look on the calendar and think, "nope not going to happen, what other ideas are there".  I just have to scan over the month and I feel inspired to cook and have an idea.

Another benefit of meal planning is that after I do that, I create the grocery list and we are ready to roll.  It has helped to trim down some of the extra shopping trips, which has also helped improved our grocery budget.

I am trying to be intentional about other areas of my life, so why not do it with cooking.  Now I just have to figure out other things my son will eat for lunch and things that make great on the go lunches.  Not that mac & cheese or hot dogs is all bad, but a little variety is good too.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Early to Rise

Before having a child I would sleep in as late as I could.  That being said, I was usually up by 7:30 most days that I didn't have to be into work.  I was up early, well sort of, and would begin my day with the usual get ready and proceed with the day.  Looking back, the problem with this was that stuff was left undone most days and I was generally okay with that.  Then my hubby, who had to leave for work by 6:30 at the time, began to rise early.  You know the phrase, "the early bird gets the worm" right.  Well, I was seeing how true that statement was becoming, I just didn't realize it.

In my mind, I thought, what could you possibly do for the hour and a half earlier you get up?  I was quickly beginning to realize that it was his sacred time and he would get done some of the things he found important so that he could use the time when he returned from work for us to spend together.  My mind kept circling this idea and I would keep trying it out for myself, but in the end the giant snooze button got hit every morning and sleep prevailed.

Then, we had our son.  When that happens you are on a different schedule all together, at least while they are a newborn.  But as he got older, sleep would still prevail and I would try as hard as I could just to get an extra few minutes in in the morning or wake up grumbling (telling the truth here) because I wasn't really ready for the day yet.  The idea of early to rise kept coming back to me and showing up in the books I read, blogs I followed, and seeing it right in my own home.

What was I to do?  I kept trying to do it.  I even tried a 30 day early to rise challenged and a 10 day one.  Neither ended with me consistently rising early.  One of the concepts was to rise before anyone in the house.  Honestly, 4:30 or even earlier was just too early for me.  I was trying to find a time that worked with my body clock, but also allowed a least some amount of time to actually accomplish something.  While away with just my son and I visiting family, I was actually able to do this.  I rose before everyone in the house!  And I tell you it was amazing.  The first thing I did was grab the camera (and monitor too) and walk down to the lake.  Then I realized, how beautiful and refreshing it would be to do my yoga on the end of the dock.  Self meditation was a great way to start the day.

Then we came home and I fell back into the old routine.  I kept trying and trying, but was facing no success at it.  Until I went to the SimpleRev conference.  I had to be up early because I had to drive and be ready for the day ahead.  It wasn't until the second day when arrived early and was able to walk around in mostly silence.  It was Saturday and the skyway wasn't busy with people yet.  It gave me the chance to walk around, think, be quiet, be still, and take in the view.  I realized how nice it was to be up before othersand why so many people do it.

I figured I typically hear my hubby wake anyways and then the sleep quality until I would normally get up (at the sounds of my son) was no benefit to me.  Plus, scrambling to quickly to get ready was adding stress to the morning when it didn't need to be that way.  Three days after the conference, I finally managed to rise early. No, it wasn't before my hubby, but it was before my son.  I was able to basically get ready, do a quick peruse through social media, and now write.  I feel more ready for the day today than I have for awhile.  Who knows, maybe I will even get to sneak in a little yoga and meditation.

Monday, October 6, 2014

SimpleRev Reving it Up

So a few posts back I put up a picture of why I need simple.  It had to do with my toddler, but after some thought and some learning, it was really an internal thing I needed.  Yes, there are things I could do to simplify my surroundings, but there was and is some much needed work that needs to get done on the inside as well.

As luck would have it, I won a free ticket to the SimpleRev conference.  First ever, two day conference with 46 individuals and some amazing speakers.  There were tears, laughter, lots of hugs, and more importantly, lots of sharing.  I learned much both at the conference and at home while talking with my hubby.

As time goes by, I will post more about the conference and some of the things I took way from it.  But I want to leave you with this thought, life doesn't have to be complicated and simple doesn't have mean bare bones.  Just being present, realizing that you already have enough in front of you to be happy, and being grateful.  You don't need stuff to fill those spaces that are better suited for a change of heart, a change of mind, and a change of attitude.  Being simple is simply living life with intention and to fullest that you can.  So smile, take a deep breath, look around you, and firmly plant your foot in a direction of happiness.  The rest of the steps will fall into place.

The Art of Slowing Down

It's been right in front of me all along and I have heard about it in many ways, many forms, and from many people.  Busy is a relative term and busy for me may seem like nothing to you.  I am trying to take the word busy out of my vocabulary and the feel of busy out of my life.  Over the past few months there have been thoughts that have across my computer screen causing me to think.  Not only to think, but really look at my life and make some decisions.

I recently came to the conclusion that I want to slow things down, be more present in my situation, move past some fears, and have some fun.  I have an awesome hubby, a fun loving toddler, and live in an amazing city full of some wonderful opportunities.  I can't bubble wrap my life any more than I can bubble wrap my toddler, who mind you is in the stage of "how many heart attacks can I give mommy in the next five minutes".  And just like I can't helicopter around him, I shouldn't do it in my life.

There is multitasking and then there is mega multitasking.  I consider mega multitasking to be doing more than three things at once, while being closely connected to technology, and having multiple forms of technology running at the same time.  I have gotten good at the mega, too good that it began to create a fear.  The fear?  The fear of missing out or fomo to those in the technology and social media realm.

I had a fear of missing out on what was going on with my social media, with my family and home life, and all other activities I wanted to be a part of (some because I wanted to and some because I thought I should).  The problem with this, I was still missing out.  Somewhere and in some way, I was still missing out.  I had to decide then what was the most important to me and what I really don't want to miss out on.  Like, missing my toddler discovering something new while I felt the need to go back 1000 messages in a message conversation I was a part of.  Deep down I knew I wouldn't catch up, nor did I want to.  The only way for me to walk away was to leave the conversation.

In the long run, it has been one of the best decisions I have made in awhile.  Not only did this fear arise in my social media outlets, but also into the daily home life stuff.  I wanted to be a part of everything that just taking time for myself was even stressful.

Of course, it was stress I put onto my self.  You see, in the 17 months that I have had my son I have only missed him going down for bed twice since he was (meaning I haven't not been home), I have missed half a day with him (thank you God for my parents offering to babysit him, but I was still an emotional mess.  Not going to lie, that drink helped smooth things out a little bit), and have missed two full days (thank you God for my awesome hubby who let me do that) in all the months that have gone by.  Sure, I've missed an hour or two here and there, but never have I been gone from before he woke until he was in bed.  But I survived, so did he, and though my hubby aged three years and gained a few more gray hairs survived too.

I have been able to help push past some of these things by looking at the positives.  My folks got to spend half a day just them with their grandson.  My hubby got to have two full days of daddy and son time.  I got to expand my horizons, learn a lot, and then learn even more.  It has also helped that I have begun to be more intentional about my time and focus.

I am trying to slow down and take things in more.  I am trying to clear out extra clutter in my life and in my body.  I am shutting things off, walking away of things so I can walk towards where I really truly need to be.  The art of slowing down.  I may not be a snails pace, but I no longer at a gazelles pace either.  Just finding the happy medium that works me and my family.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Awesome Conference

I am trying to win a free ticket to this awesome conference on living simple. Through SimpleRev, I am hoping this picture will win a ticket. You can find out more at (#SimpleREV)

Why I need simple?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sitting at a Stoplight

Sitting at a stoplight, it finally hit me…this is where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing.  I’ve been struggling lately with who I am, what I am supposed to be doing that best utilizes the strengths and talents that God gave me, and where I am headed.  I haven’t been able to search deep into my heart, because I have been filled with so many different emotions that I can’t listen to my own inner voice, let alone clear out the foggy mind.  For whatever reason, while sitting at a stoplight things cleared, for a moment, and I began to understand a little bit better.

At that point in the week, I was feeling so many emotions, topped with exhaustion, and being overwhelmed I felt deflated.  You see, the week started out with my son refusing to nurse.  So after every attempt I had to pump, creating one more thing to add to the to do list.  While, in a way I thought, this might be a good thing maybe we are moving away from this whole nursing thing and have a little more freedom, I also felt discouraged because after ten months it could all just be done…just like that, without warning.  

Without warning, that brings me to the next thing.  We sold my car and upgraded to a minivan.  While I am excited about it now, the day it all happened just added even more to the mountain.  Now we were two days into no nursing, we were way past our little guys bedtime as we waited for all the stuff to be finalized for the car, I was saying goodbye to my first car (had it for 10 years) and as for me…I was just done for the day.  We’d been looking at getting a minivan and I had an inclining it would happen sooner rather than later, but I just wasn’t ready for the change right at that point.  But I have to say, I love my minivan.

This brings me to sitting at the stoplight when things finally began to make some sense.  I had come to terms with the fact that I may be done nursing, but that didn’t mean my son still couldn’t have breast milk.  It was just going to be in a sippy cup.  We were getting out of the house.  I was beginning to enjoy the new van and how it really will be a great benefit.   

While waiting for the green light, it hit me…this is where I am supposed to be.  I am a mom, to an amazing, energetic little guy who brings me such joy and laughter.  I am a wife, to a wonderful husband, who works so I can stay home, understands me better than anyone else, and is my best friend.  So there it is, I am a wife and mom, with a creative side that I express through photography, crafty projects, and writing. 

Mommy McGyver

I came up with this thought while on a long distance road trip "McGyver Mom".  It's a part of the job title that seems to go with being a mom.  On several occasions quick thinking and using items that one has at their fingertips, a mom can get pretty creative.

For instance, we were traveling in the car and the sun was shinning in on T.  I tried using the canopy of his carseat, only to have him find it more fun to play with.  He was still getting annoyed with the sun in his face, but refused to give up playing with the canopy.  We have a window shade thing, but it was absolutely useless.  I was left with his fabric carseat canopy cover and safety pins from the sign I had pinned to it letting others know he was sleeping (more on that crafty project later).  So I took the pins out of the sign and pinned the canopy to the roof of the car.

It worked great!  That is until the tail end of the trip when someone was well beyond done with being in a car (7 hours is a long time!) and gave it one big yank, thus pulling it down from the ceiling.  Oh well, it served it's purpose well enough and long enough. 

This, however, is not the only time I had to get creative in the moment.  The great thing is, they always pop up out of nowhere, these lovely moments.  And more often then not they catch us by surprise for a brief moment.  That is, until the McGyver Mommy kicks in.  No matter how prepared I am, or at least think I am, it always nice to have this instinct go into gear when necessary...even if it is on short notice.

As for the signs I made, I decided to prepare ahead of time and make signs for our road trip.  I knew we'd be staying in a hotel and I knew we'd be around a lot of people.  Occasionally T will fall asleep in his carseat and then we have to move him inside.  I don't know what it is, but when people see a sleeping baby, their voices seem to get louder.  So, I made a sign I could pin to his fabric carseat canopy that read "Please do not disturb, I am sleeping in here".  

I also made one that we attached the door at the hotel, something more noticble then the ones you put into the key spot.  And it was great to really let people know why we were not wanting to be disturbed.  The one for the door read "Please do not disturb, our little one is sleeping".  Of course on both, I type "Thanks!" really big.  We didn't have to use the canopy one at all, but we did use the door one.  It seemed to work out well, as our little guy napped longer naps than he does at home.

I guess it was a little bit of my Mommy McGyver kicking in, only this time, I could be better prepared.