Thursday, July 19, 2018

Let's Talk Goals


We are half way through 2018.  Midway through is a good time to take a look any goals that you set at the start of the year.

How do you set your goals?  Track them?  How often do they get forgotten about? 

I will admit, I set goals.  It is what I do.  I like to see my progress and like to check things off lists sometimes.  But I also have to admit, as the days go by, some of the goals get set aside.  Why?  Because sometimes circumstances change and the goal just doesn't fit, sometimes I forget about it, and sometimes I find that it just doesn't fit as I am going along.

The bigger goals I break out a little into mini goals to help keep moving forward.  Sometimes I set rewards to keep motivated and sometimes I just let reaching the goal be the reward.  It all depends on how long it will take to reach the goal.

This year I decided to try and set some goals in most areas of my life.  Physical health goals, emotional, spiritual, mental, dreams, business, writing, reading, lifestyle.  I also added some much need to-do list projects to my goal list in hopes that they would get done.

When I set them at the beginning of the year I also set the intent to re-evaluate in March.  Well, March came and went, now it is July and I decided to look at what I wrote.

I realized I failed.  I didn't re-evaluate.  I didn't meet a bunch of them because, well, because I forgot about a lot of them or was actually further behind than forward on some.  Had I checked in in March would I have been further along on them?  Maybe, maybe not.

There are some that I have been working on, sometimes battling, for a while now.  But it wasn't until recently that stuff aligned to give me that swift kick in the butt I needed. 

About a week I ago, I pulled the papers out where I wrote them.  A little uncertain because I knew things weren't quite where I had hoped for back when I had written them.

As it turned out, there were quite a few I could actually check off because they were done and I didn't realize it.  Some I could just cross off entirely because it wasn't a part of my journey any more.  Some I started out strong on and then when I wasn't seeing results I let them go.   And some didn't fully begin to even start working until I got the swift kick in the butt (so to speak).

Chances are, had I re-evaluated in March, some of them may have been crossed off too soon because I wasn't seeing the results .  So there is some good in waiting, but also to keep putting certain goals back in because down the road may be better timing.

I believe that I am in a much better spot, inside and out, today than I was when I first made the goals to re-evaluate than I was in March.

I feel I can tackle these with more focus and more intensity where I need to.

So, have you checked in with your goals recently? 

One of the things I took away from me from a workshop I went to four years ago was the idea of an end goal.  What do I want it to look like at the end of a certain goal.  Then I can set the pieces in motion or break them out as needed to be able to work towards them.

Time to look at mine and do some re-evaluating, resetting, and putting the pieces into motion that are needed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Forgiveness & Grace ~ Apologizing to Your Kids


For the longest time, when we work through apologies with our kids we try to work through them in the following way:
  • Say I am sorry and sorry for what
  • How can I fix it?
  • Do you forgive me
I have come to realize as well, that this is something I need to do as well.  So when I err, let my frustration or impatience get the better of me, have to change plans quickly I offer my apologize.  It isn't always easy, especially to admit we were wrong.  But even as parents, as adults, we too make mistakes and sometimes we need to apologize.

Last night was one those moments.

Last night, I was tired.  I have not being sleeping well again.  When I don't have restful sleep often enough, my patience is less and my frustration goes up more quickly.  I was tired and by the end of the day, after my kids were in bed, my patience was gone.

So when my oldest came out of his room, after being tucked in and told goodnight to, for the third time I was a bit irritated.  Why?  Not because he came out, but because he decided at that moment he was incapable of closing his bedroom door after having gone to the bathroom.  He battled me on it, begged me, told me he couldn't do it, but he wanted me to do it, but he didn't want to all from the top of the stairs which are right under his brother's room.

I lost what little patience I had mustered and I yelled.  Yes, I yelled.  I don't yell often, but it does happen.  I don't like it and neither does anyone else around me at the time. 

I told him that I was not going to close his door for him because he was perfectly capable of doing it himself.  He told me yes.  After the back and forth I told him to go to bed and if he didn't want to close the door himself it would just stay open for the night.  I was not going to close it.  After a bit more I yelled, he stomped back to his room and closed his door (nicely surprisingly).

Fortunately my youngest remained asleep during this whole time.

As I sat on the couch, letting things go and letting calm in, I knew what I had to do.  I had to apologize and ask for forgiveness.  I knew he wasn't asleep yet (I could hear him playing with stuffies in his room).  So I took a deep breathe, went in, and chatted with him.

I chatted with him like it was no big deal.  I apologized and told him why I yelled, that it wasn't the right thing.  Before I got to asking for forgiveness, he looked at me with a smile and said "I forgive you mom".  Laid down and said goodnight.

I was in awe of how much grace this 5 year old had just given me.  We had the conversation with such ease. 

Apologize and ask for forgiveness.  Such a little thing, but can make a huge difference in the way things go.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Nurture ~ Acrostic Poem


NURTURE

Never forget to nurture yourself & your needs

Unraveling the stresses, the guilt, the negative emotions, letting yourself

Release, rest, rejuvenate and be able to rise, feeling full after

Taking time to trust, to talk, to do the things you enjoy,

Utilizing the things that fill you up & nourish you, bring you the energy you need

Readying you to rise to face the day

Each day ~ enlightened, energized, and ready to embrace what is in front of you

Friday, July 13, 2018

Health, Fitenss, Diet ~ Sharing My Journey with You


I have been asked several times what my "secrets" are for my weight loss and diet journey.   I haven't said much, just a few things here and there.  I have been thinking about writing on this topic for awhile now, but just haven't seem to be able to always find the words.

You see, health, fitness, and diet are as unique as the individual going through it.  But there are some things that can be learned to help one grow in their knowledge that does cover all.

I am going to share with you my journey up until now and keep adding to it as I continue down this path.

Some of you may be able to relate, some may not.  But I hope there is something you can take away from it all somewhere along the way.

This journey really ramped up about 2 1/2 years ago, but it goes back further than that.  So I am going to use one day during the week to talk about this topic from my own personal experience and journey.

I encourage you to follow along and to share your thoughts and experiences along the way.

For the time being, the titles for these posts will start off with Health, Fitness, Diet and follow up with what the main theme is from the post.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Saying Yes to You ~It's Hard Sometimes, But Worth It


Recently I wrote about taking time for one of the pieces in your life's puzzle, your marriage.  Another piece I made mention of is the piece that is you.  Remember, it started as you.  Then got married.  Then grew your family.

Sometimes in the mix of all that, well, we sometimes loose sight of who we are and taking care of ourselves gets placed on the back burner while we take of the others around us and the other responsibilities we have. 

You need to take care of you.  Yup, you heard me.  You need to take care of you.  It is an important piece to the puzzle.  You can't fuel others up and fill them up without taking time to fuel you and fill yourself up.

How many times do we make excuses to set us aside?  I don't have the time, our schedules are always busy, no one to watch the kids, and so on.

Did you know you can still take care of yourself even if the kids are around?  You can say yes to you, the things you enjoy.  Of course it is easier to do sometimes when you are alone.  But think about it.  During the day, where are times you can say yes to you and your time that is needed?

It doesn't have to be long.  Sometimes 5 minutes is all it takes.  It may mean that you have to put the remote down, the social media down, the online games down.  I know, it's easy, accessible, and just sort of becomes habit.  I have been known to zone out to a couple hours at nap time or in the evening watching NCIS reruns. 

While yes, this is nice sometimes, aren't there other things that you enjoy?  What gives you energy?  Make a list.  And while you are at it, divide your page into two columns.  Write the things that give you energy in one and in the other, write the things that zap your energy.  I know, laundry and dishes aren't always energy boosts for most people, but there are just some things that have to get done.

I got the idea to write out the things that give me energy and the things that zap it from an Abundant Mama Project activity.  After writing my lists out, I decided to take it one step further.  I decided to find ways to decrease the amount of time on those energy zappers to the point where the task is done more quickly, I don't do it, or have changed my perspective on the activity.  As for those things that give me energy, I made the decision to set a time in the week for them.

I also listed out the chores while I was at it, because for me, while they don't give me energy, they also don't zap it either.  But gone left undone for too long can cause issues in itself.

I put all into a schedule.  I took the things that give me energy and put something to each day of the week, at least Monday through Friday.  I figure I would leave the weekends open and see where they lead.  The chores, I did the same thing.  I broke them out and gave them a schedule for a day during the week.

By doing this, it helps me fuel up and fill my tank each day.  It also has helped cleaning and chores to get done weekly, but not feel like a struggle.  Though I do laundry on the weekend, I try to have it washed early in the week and pick a night or nap time while watching TV to fold it.  Now, I have to admit, the kids stuff gets put away rather quickly, however I have a tendency to leave the basket full of my own and hubby's stuff in our room.  At least it is clean, out of the basement, folded.

None of this is a fool proof method.  There are some days where I just set it all aside and zone out to TV and social media during my downtime.  There are also some days where I try to incorporate what fuels me into the activities we are doing as a family or the activities I am doing with kids.  Added bonus, both my kids love to just sit and color.  Both also love to be outside.  A lot of times they want to create their own world, which means I get some time to do my own thing.  So either I join in or I do a chore that needs to be done or I find some way I can yes to me during that time.  Even if it means a few sips from the now cold coffee that I have given up on trying to reheat and drop a few ice cubes in it to make it an iced coffee.

Saying yes to you can be an activity that has a cost, like a coffee shop stop, purchasing something you've wanted, or pedicure type things or it can just simply be sitting on the porch while the kids play happily and you do your own thing.  It doesn't always have to come with a price tag. 

For now: reading, being outside, creative time, writing, exercising are a few things that fuel me.  So those are the things I try to incorporate each day of the week.  Not necessarily all of them every day, but they all get added into my week.

Since doing this I have noticed a lot of things.  I have noticed my attitude has begun to change, more positive.  I, most nights, sleep better.  I feel more connected, more grounded.  My perspective has shifted, I get to have me time (even with kids in tow).

How about you?  What brings you energy?  What drains it?  How can you find time for yourself each day, even if it is only 5 minutes (down the road, try to add more time on to it)?  What do you do for you to take care of the you piece to the puzzle?

Take the time because you deserve it.  You are worth it.  Take the time because it will benefit everyone.  Make it a priority, even if you have to schedule it.  Down the road, it will become natural and a part of your daily flow and balance.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ease ~ Acrostic Poem


 

EASE

Each day you

Awake, take a deep breath in,

Set yourself for the day, and

Embrace what is to come

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Life is Like Puddle



Life is like a puddle, you can either:

Carefully, strategically walk or step around it,
Sometimes staying dry and in the clear, sometimes leading to sinking in the mud

Try to leap over it as far as you can, maybe missing it completely or catching just the edge

Just walk right on through and continue on

Slow down, get your footing, and step where you easily can

Run through it with a big splash, turn around and do it again

It all depends on the moment, the season we are in, the path we are on

Making Mistakes, Learning, & Letting Go of Perfect ~ In Ourselves & Our Kids


We all mistakes.  It doesn't matter how young or old we are, we all make them.  These are the words I was saying to my oldest.

Sometimes it may be one mistake in a moment, sometimes many in that moment.  But we all make them.  Why? Because we are always learning and growing.  Mistakes are a part of that process.  What matters is how we handle those mistakes.

What do we do with them?  How do we respond?  What can we learn from them? How do we move forward?  How do we take what is needed from the experience, learn from, and let it go?

All the mistakes, along with the successes, are what make up our journey.  We can either pile them up on our shoulders or lay them down as stones on our path.

If we choose to place them on our shoulders, then one of two things can happen.  If we pile only mistakes on our shoulders then we begin to feel weighted, unworthy, undervalued.  We begin to let more fear, guilt, worry, anxiety in and our inner negative self critic begins to get too strong a foothold and won't let go easily.

Or if it is only successes we pile up, then we begin to have an unrealistic view of reality.  Our ego gets a bit of a big head and pride rears it's head.

So, instead, let's place them all...all the mistakes...all the successes....under our feet, helping to guide us on this journey.

Not always easy, I know.  But this all got me thinking or well, what my oldest said to me got me thinking.  You see, he told me he doesn't want to make mistakes, hates them, and won't make them anymore.  Which then lead to him saying he wanted things to be perfect.

For a moment, I wondered where he picked this up.  I know I try to make things perfect, but I am learning that perfect doesn't really exist in the sense of our expectations and to be okay with that.  We can plan, dream, try to set things up to be "perfect" but in the end, there are things that don't go quite right and we need to be okay with that sometimes.  Now, that is not to say that there aren't moments that are perfect, where everything seems to come together just right, have a good flow, good timing and in any other circumstances wouldn't have happened.  But to have everything be "perfect" all of the time, for everything, in every way, that just isn't how it goes.

I don't like making mistakes I told him.  No one does.  But what matters is what we do when they happen.  Because you know what, it is going to happen.

He told me he still doesn't like when they happen.  

I know, neither do it.  What is important is that we really try our best.  If we make a mistake, we fix it.

This, for the time being, ended our conversation. But I know the topic will come back around again.  It is my hope that I can help teach my sons to lay down their success and mistakes under their feet and help guide them over this terrain, so that one day they can look at those spots in their lives and see how far they have come.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Take the Time ~ Savor the Moment ~ Go on the Adventure


My kiddos knew strawberry season was coming up and were looking forward to the chance to go and pick our own.  We were able to go this past weekend.  Saturday, the day was hot and opted for an adventure to Sillwater because of timing once everyone was ready for the day.  So Sunday looked more promising.

We told the kids if it is raining we may have to find something else to do.  Well, it was raining, but the berry line said they were still open.  Despite the rain and the voice in the back of my head telling me we should just change our plans to avoid disappointment and the fits that succumb to that disappointment usually, we agreed to give it a try.

And like my youngest said, "if we can't because of the rain, no biggie.  We will find something else to do".  A few weeks back we had been invited to go berry picking with friends, but opted to pass as I didn't want to navigate two kiddos picking by myself (A's first time actually picking) or the mud from the day of rain before.  At that point the kids said that was fine, A wanted to stay home anyways, and they both wanted to go when we could go with daddy.

The gates were still open when we arrived and the rain was starting to pick up.  We got ourselves set up for picking in the rain and head to the entrance in hopes we could still sneak in before they closed up due to rain.  As luck would have it, we were the last group of to get to go out in the field.  Smiles and all we road the tractor ride.
We made quick work of picking just in time to start heading back as the rain really began to pick up.  Second to last tractor ride group back and a decent amount of delicious strawberries in our baskets.

Despite the rain, we still tried anyways.  I don't know what the kids liked more, picking berries or riding on the tractor ride.  But what I do know is that both kids were thankful for it that night when we did prayers. 
Sometimes we just have to take in the moment and savor it.  We knew going in plans could change if they closed before we got there.  But we got to pick berries and even had time to make shortcake to enjoy with them when we got home. 

Added bonus, a day later, despite the heat, we went for a short walk around our block to check out the blackberries in our backyard.  There was enough ready to fill a couple of small containers and there are still many left to ripen for picking later in the week. 
Sometimes we just need to lay things aside: the chores, to do lists, etc. and just take in the moment.  Take in the timing of nature, the timing of the season.

Take the time.

Recharge ~ Acrostic Poem



RECHARGE

Release, and find rest & rejuvenation

Ease emotion, enter energy

Change control, become more centered

Have hope

AMP it up, become alive again

Revamp by recreating rituals & routines

Give grace, get gratitude

Each day's end begins anew, envelope yourself with excitement

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Invest in Your Marriage ~ Keep Dating Your Spouse, Even After Kids


So back in February, I did the Abundant Mama Program.  It has taking me on a journey of reflecting where I came from and how far along I have come.  It has allowed me to reflect while digging in deep, showing me where things needed to change going forward.

There are tough days in life, there always will be.  In motherhood, we face them more often it seems. It may be a day, it may just be a moment, or it may be a season or a phase.  It seems easy to balance you and your marriage, but when you add in kiddos, you are facing a whole different balance needed.

Often once kids are in the picture a lot of things get pushed aside.  Which completely makes sense.  They are totally dependent on those who are taking care of them.  But it is a phase.  They will grow out of it and things will change again.

Again and again we ride this wave.  Priorities shift and number one today maybe not be the same tomorrow, or next week, or next month.  Heck, it may not even be the same in the next minute or hour.

What happens over time when we keep it going that way?  Giving less and less to the other areas of our lives?  Yes, I know with changes, some stuff gets let go of because it has to.

But on a basic level, lets remember something.  There is you.  You got married.  Congrats!  Now you are a spouse.  Then you decide to grow your family.  Aw, such amazing, beautiful little miracles begin to be added to your family.

Now what?  Yes, it is the decisions you made.  But who says that once you have kids your marriage should get pushed to the side?  Yes, I know, you ask, how do I find time for my marriage? For myself?  For my career?  My hobbies?  And the list goes on and on.  There are many pieces to this life puzzle.

But, what happens when you don't keep connecting the pieces every so often?  Remember, it's you. then you added a spouse, then you added growing your family.

Kids need to see what marriage is.  How do mom and dad take care for each other?  How do they show love?  With a solid marriage, kids will feel safe, loved, and will thrive.

But how do we keep our marriage solid and still raise a family?  It's not as easy to go on a date night, or just have couple time often.  I will admit, my kids talk...a lot.  When we are all home, the two of them are going nonstop.  It is hard for my hubby and I to usually get a conversation in, let alone finish a sentence sometimes.  Doesn't matter where we are, what we are doing, or even in the car.  The kids voices are heard over everything, all the time.

How do you take time for your marriage at all stages so that when the kids are grown and moved out, you can still know each other, have a conversation, spend time as a couple, and continue your marriage?  Even if you can't get out of the house?

Do you remember before marriage?  Do you remember dating your spouse?  Once married, in a way you still continued to date each other.  You would find time for your work, yourself, and your spouse. 

When you have kids, you still need to continue this.  Even if that means finding a way to do date nights at home for awhile.  Still flirting.  Still leaving notes for each other.  Talk to each other when you can, snuggle too.  Give affection, hugs and kisses even when kiddos can see.

Keep dating.  Keep flirting.  Keep that spark going. 

At the end last year in the focus group I am a part of with author and speaker Jill Savage, we helped create an awesome resource called flirt alert.  They are simple messages or things you can do for your spouse.  You can print off the pdf list, pick which one you want to do, and when.  You can receive daily emails, which is a great way to then easily pass along to your spouse.  Or even sign up for texts.  Just copy and past and pass along.   You can find Flirt Alert here: https://www.jillsavage.org/flirt-alert/.  Maybe it give you inspiration and help create your own.

Another idea, because sometimes coordinating schedules, finding a babysitter, and trying to make things budget friendly is hard to do sometimes, is date nights in.

My hubby and I had one of these recently.  We sat on the porch, ate custard, and chatted.  I realized how important it is to give ourselves time to chat more often when we were in the car just ourselves.  The silence was different, as I have gotten used to having the kids chatting, music going.  But this time it was just us for a longer drive on a beautiful evening on the way to dinner.  The kids were riding in my parent's car.  At first, the silence was nice.  But then felt a little awkward as it was like, what can or should we talk about while we can have an actual conversation.

As hard as it is to let others watch our kiddos, it is what we need, our spouse needs, and our kids too.  I know, I have a hard time with letting go of control.  Letting others watch my kids.  Missing the bedtime rituals we have created, like rocking, snuggling, reading, singing.  It's hard.  I know it is.  It is something I am still working on, but I am getting better with it.

Just like you need to continue to invest into yourself and your kids, you need to keep investing into your marriage.  Because just like any investment, it takes time, patience, and consistency, but the reward later on down the road is well worth it, for everyone.

How do you spend time with your spouse since having kids?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Finding a New Way to Write ~ Acrostic Poem Style


I have been enjoying some creative poem writing lately.  I have found a joy in creating acrostic poems.

The idea came to me through the Abundant Mama Program and Peace Circle.  Each month there is a theme and we are given a word to turn into an acrostic poem.

It can be as simple as finding one word that starts with each letter of the main word. Think of different words that start with each letter.  Then pick the ones that resonate most with you.

For example, let's take the word Smile. See, More, Intrigue, Loving, Everyday

Another way is to make it into sentences with each letter of the main word at the start.  Let's take the word smile again. Seeing myself stretching, Moving mindfully, Into the space around me, Letting myself listen and learn, Enveloping myself in the moment.

It is a fun way to write and let your mind create a flow with words.  As I create the poems I am going to share with you what I write.  If you want to join in, try creating your own acrostic poem and leave it in the comments using the word that I use in the post.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Seperation Anxiety, Toddlers, & Only Wanting Mama


My youngest has been going through a separation anxiety phase.  I didn't realize that at this age they would still have phases like this.  I will be honest, I don't remember my oldest going through it, but then again we had just moved and had a newborn.

I was still possible he went through it, but it wasn't to the same degree and didn't last long.  My youngest has been dappling in this phase for about 6 months.  It started back in February.  Now, granted, it was more easy to take in stride and more easy to help him move past it in the moment.

But about a month ago, it seemed to hit it's peak.  We were full on in, I want mama and only mama, mama has to do it - wash hands, put shoes on, and the list goes on.  From the time he was up and until he fell asleep for bed, it was all mama, all the time or there were major melt downs and lots of tears.

After calling his pediatrician, we determined that yup, this was just a phase.  A little light clicked on and it started, and now we just had to wait for it to click again and it will be done.  Do we have an idea of when?  Nope, not a clue.  At least we know it's not do to getting sick or teething.  He is done teething and he is healthy as can be.

She told us to keep the same schedule and routines, especially at bedtime and it will get better and easier at some point.

It is hard and tiring, draining too to be in this spot.  While I am enjoying the extra snuggles, longer hugs, and rocking with him, the meltdowns, impatience, and only mama all day every day has begun to drain me.

While at this point, we aren't quite through it all the way, I am finding we are on the downside of this phase and almost done.

How can I tell? 
*On a recent trip to visit family he let grandpa take him out of the car seat.  Normally while on road trips (for, like forever) he won't let anyone take him out of the car other dad or me.
*He asked for grandpa to sit next to him at dinner instead of me.
*My car had to go in for repairs while visiting and he kept right on playing when I had to take the car in and he stayed with grandma and his brother.
*One night my parents went to pick up pizza for dinner and he asked to go with to help.

And just today we were visiting a friend and he kept going to her to talk, to show his colorings, and for help like cleaning up his hands.

The hardest part of it all really?  It is the transition time of going down for naps and bedtime.  They are rough.  There are usually lots more I need mama, I want mama, One more hug, as well as some tears.  But he is starting to get back into a normal sleep schedule.  Even going to bed has gotten easier and more smooth.  Nap time, we are still working on, but I also think some of it is due to too early of a start time.  Once we get the timing right, the rest of the pieces will fall into place.

After doing a little research and talking more with his pediatrician I learned that at 2 1/2 kids are becoming more aware of their surroundings.  They are realizing that there are still things going on even when they have to go to sleep and they don't want to miss out.  They are beginning to test the boundaries and see where they can push.  They are more active during the awake hours and that sometimes leads to not playing right next to us but nearby instead (within sight lines) and so when they are taking out of the play and moved into sleeping mode they just need a little more one on one time.

So, we are tweaking his nap start time, keeping routines and schedules consistent (especially bedtime and nap time), getting a little more play time in, getting a little more rocking and snuggles in, and seeing where it goes.

Also, the pediatrician had recommend at his wellness visit to start only having his nuk during sleep times as it would mostly likely help with the going to sleep part making it more smooth, but also help during the day as well.  Well, we found he wasn't ready yet for it only just at nap and bed.  I found that not having it as much seemed to add to the anxiety instead.

So now he still gets to have it when he used to, but we put some boundaries on it.  Like if we are playing outside or on certain adventures it stays out of his mouth or if he is going to talk it needs to be out so we can better understand him.  He is beginning to keep it out of his mouth longer and longer on his own.  Sometimes we have to remind him of the boundaries, but more often than not he remembers.

Separation anxiety is hard for all around.  I will tell you that yes it wears on you, it seems to come out of nowhere and before you know it it is gone, but you will make it through this phase just like you did the others.

Is your kiddo facing separation anxiety?  How is it going?  What tips and tricks have you found to help work through it?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Making Your Own Height Chart


I started a themed height chart for each kiddo that went along with their nursery decor.  I marked it after each wellness visit for the first year.  Then I decided to do something that I could mark both kiddos down on for height.

I say the tape measure type height chart on a board and loved the look, but not the price.  I looked at it and decided it was something I could recreate.

It turned out easier than I thought.  The hardest part?  Drawing all those inch lines.  I know, it may not look perfect like the store bought one or be exact, but it is close enough.

I bought a piece of 8 foot cedar board and cut it down to just a little over 6 feet.  The numbers I bought at a local craft store.  They are wood and can be easily painted.  Originally I had started doing the lines with washi tape, but I didn't like the look as I went along.  So I took a black sharpie and started drawing lines.  To record the kid's heights I use a silver sharpie.

Hung it up on the wall and we were all set.  My oldest likes to stand by it often just to see how much he is grown.  About every 6 months we measure and mark

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Toddlers, Travel, Sleep & Simplifying


When you overthink things and it gets more complicated sometimes you just need to listen to a 2 1/2 year old to simplify things.

You see my youngest is still in a crib at home.  He has plenty of space in it and still sleeps well.  Our hope and intent is to use it until he is too big or he starts climbing out.  The problem is, at 2 1/2 he doesn't fit in the pack and play any more.

We knew the time was coming, but we didn't know what to do to transition from using it.  We didn't have to with my oldest.  He slept one last time in the pack and play at 2 1/2 before we moved, but the next time we traveled he was using a mattress on the floor at home, so we set up some blankets like a bed on the floor for him.  Worked great.  But he was a pro at sleeping in something bigger by the time we traveled.

My youngest, well a combination of separation anxiety, knowing how to open doors, and not having been in anything other than a crib or pack and play, this was going to be interesting. 

Our first attempt was trying out an air mattress with sides at a hotel recently was a total flop.  After repeated attempts of trying to get him to use the air mattress we put the pack and play up so everyone could hopefully get some sleep.  Not a great night sleep, or nap, or the next night without being near me or me being in the same room. 

So when we planned on traveling again to my parents' lake house, I just took the pack and play. I had purchased a cot for our other trip, but decided to return it after realizing we had the air mattress and wanting him closer to the floor to start.  I prepared myself and everyone else for rough starts to sleep and shorter length.  I knew that he didn't like the pack and play anymore and just couldn't get comfortable.

While at the lake, I decided to give sleeping out of the pack and play a try.  It was a good time to try it and see if we could figure out a solution.  So I set up a twin mattress on the floor next to the wall and box spring.  At least it would still feel like there was sides I figured.  Problem was, he still wouldn't lay down.  He kept getting up.

Eventually he fell asleep, right next to door on the carpet.  Okay, I thought, I will just set up some blankets on the floor for bed and see how it goes.  It took him a bit, but he slept on those.  Then I decided for nap time the next day, I would put things back.  I moved the twin mattress back onto the box spring and opened up floor space.  I picked up the pack and play, but left the mattress on the floor.  I set up an area near a closet door and wall with a few extra blankets in hopes he would sleep there.

Nope, he still ended up sleeping by the door to the room.  So for bedtime, I gave up.  Cleaned up the rest of the pack and play and extra blankets.  I asked him where he wanted to sleep.  He pointed and said "right there, on the carpet"

Here I was, trying to figure out the best solution, the right one.  All I needed to do was listen to my 2 1/2 year old.  Other than wanting his big bed at home, he just wanted to sleep by the door on the carpet.

The rest of the week he slept fine.  I figured this was a good trial run for when we travel and for down the road when he sleeps in a regular bed.

What tips and tricks do you have for traveling with a kiddo who still sleeps in a crib at home, but doesn't fit in a pack and play?

I have no issue with him deciding to sleep on the floor at family and friends houses for nap and overnight.  But what about in a hotel room?  The floor isn't exactly known for being the cleanest.  Hopefully by the time we stay in a hotel again I will have a better answer. 

But for now, I guess when we travel, I need to listen better and simplify things. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Rock Dragonfly



On a recent trip up to the North Shore along Lake Superior I had a focus of collecting rocks to make a dragonfly out of. I got the idea from my hubby who shared a picture with me of one done that was big enough to put in a garden.

I don’t have the garden space, but I liked the idea. So I got enough rocks to create two different size dragonflies, one to put outside and one to keep inside.

The small one I painted canvas and hot glued the stones on. The bigger one, I painted and sealed plywood and used a stronger outdoor glue to hold the rocks on.

And the end result are two rock dragonflies for a quick and simple project.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Making More of My Morning Ritual



 I have been working on finding a morning ritual that works well with the season I am in.  One that allows me to dig in deeper, connect with God, and carry with me through the day.  Something that works with my own natural flow and rhythm.

My morning ritual is something that I want to keep simple, can let it take 5 minutes or 15 or more depending how much time I have, and can travel with me easily.

So what is a morning ritual?  It is time set aside in the morning, during the quiet and a way to set yourself for the day. 

Do you have morning ritual?  What is?  What have you found to work?  Not work?  If you don't have a morning ritual, have you thought of creating one? 

My morning ritual involves the items in my butterfly box.  I have the current devotion that I working through, a bible, journal, simple clarity cards, and post it notes. 
  • My current devotional is "Ponder the Path", a 30 devotional that works you through Proverbs, has a personal story to relate to a verse within that days Proverbs, and space to write notes.  
  • The journal is simply that, a journal.  A place for me to write out my thoughts from the devotional or any other thoughts. 
  • The bible is so I can read the whole proverb for the day.
  • The simple clarity cards are cards that I learn to make through Abundant Mama & Peace Circle.  They have one word on them to be used as a focus word for the day, intention, or even something to help open your mind & heart.  They have a picture on them as well that brings that feeling of the word to life.  I have been picking a new one each day.
  • Post it notes are just for me to write down other things going on my mind so I can focus my attention to the morning ritual time.  I write down the to list of things for the day.
You can make this time whatever you want.  Fill it with the things that fill you up for the day, the things that boost your energy, the things that get you ready for the day...make it your own.  I know it will change over time, it will change when I finish this devotion, of if a more pressing need or priority comes up it will be there to fall back on.

The morning ritual is just a part of my morning routine. But that small part has helped me grow, dig deep, and feel more ready for the day.  The thing that I like about my morning ritual is that it is something that even if the kids are awake, we are on vacation, or everyone is still asleep I can still have those 5 or 10 minutes.  My kiddos will hopefully learn from it too.

What can you do today to build a morning ritual?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Handprint Garden

My kids love to be creative.  Sometimes they grab supplies and just go.  Other times I have a project in mind to try to make with them.  Some of the projects I pick because it saves the moment in time.  I love seeing hand print and footprint art, especially over time.  You get to see how much they have grown.

This canvas idea was fairly simple to put together.  But I will admit, I had my hubby help with my youngest to help make it go more smoothly.  He was still pretty little to do this on his own like my oldest, so we tag teamed to make it go quicker with less mess.

You can do this in any size that works for you.  You can add as many or as few flowers as you want.  I added a few extra bug details and some grass to finish off the flowers after adding stems and leaves.  My kids enjoyed painting their hands and creating the flower buds of the garden.

You can use paint on the hands to make the hand print or washable ink pads work too.

We even made one as a gift to give.  Every Spring it comes out as part of our decor adding some bright pops of color in the room.  I love it!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Need for a Schedule




I have always been a planner and an organizer.  I have my pen and paper calendar that goes with me in the diaper bag.  I have my wall calendar for all to see.  I even have a weekly activities calendar and menu on the fridge.

When my oldest was born we fell into a routine and schedule fairly easily.  As he grew and seasons changed, we tweaked the schedule.  We tried for awhile to keep with it once my youngest was born.  But as time passed by, the schedule became non-existent.

After digging in deeper into this month's Peace Circle theme, Yes to Ease, I began to remember that I thrive on having a schedule and so does my oldest.  It doesn't have to be filled so much that life just seems busy and chaotic.  It just needs to be more consistent.

Like, Wednesday's are Swim Lessons every week until we decide to take a break.  But I realized recently that having the same or similar activity on a certain day of the week each week can help everyone find their flow and things seem feel more natural.

So for my kids, certain days of the week are filled with a certain activity each week.  So we are picking which days will be days to visit nature centers, do forest school, visit the zoos, playgrounds, splash pads and pools, etc.  I am taking a list of activities my kiddos want to do and putting them onto a calendar.  Some activities will be a once or a once in awhile, while others will still be weekly.  This also allows us to easily change if something comes up, or friends want to get together, or if anything give us a list of ideas of what to do when we get together with friends.

For myself, that meant looking at my quiet time and down times and breaking them down by the half hour, then filling those spaces with the things I need to get done, want to get done, energy boosters, self-care.  This allows me to get to the things that are priority for me and not feeling overwhelmed.  It also gives me the flexibility to shift things a little, do them in a different order, or spend more time in one area if needed.  I also left time slots open.  What it really is is a written out to list for every day that helps keep me accountable.

So this is what it looks like:

Morning Time: this is before the kids wake.  On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I workout to a cardio workout video and then get ready for the day.  After which, I do some stretches and then have my morning ritual.  My morning ritual is reading a devotion, then journaling, and then picking a simple clarity card for the day.  On Tuesday and Thursday, the focus is on Peace Circle work or reading my current book.  Then getting ready for the day and doing stretches.  And finishing with my morning ritual.

Nap Time: On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I continue my workout focus - Leg Day, Core Day, Arms & Back Day.  Then chores and any prep needed for dinner or the next day.  On Tuesday and Thursday I have my blog and writing time, as well as creative time.  And finishing with any prep needed.

After kids go to bed, it is my hope to just rest and relax before I head to bed.

I couldn't find pre-made calendar and schedule set up that I like or a template or something that wasn't bulky and expensive with too much other filler I knew I wouldn't use.  So I ended up created my own.  I took and printed out a blank 2018 calendar for the rest of the months of the year.  For my schedule, I took a word template and changed it to fit what I was looking for. Then I bought a report cover with pockets inside and place all the papers in it.  It sits on my coffee table and I am okay with that. 

Now, granted we are still in the beginning state for these schedules, so there will be tweaking done and some adjusting.  But so far, it has worked well.

I know, for some this may seem over the top or maybe even not enough.  But for us, it is working.  I have began to stop fighting the concept of the schedule and making excuses.  I feel more at ease as I am finding my natural rhythm again and thereby the kids are finding theirs.  The flow in our day is smoother generally.  I am finding myself more filled mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually instead of constantly drained.  I can fill my cup, so that I can fill the cup of those around me.

Planning and scheduling is a part of me, so instead of resenting it or pushing it away I am letting it back in again.

What do you do to find more ease and flow in the day?

Click here if you want to see my template schedule

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Cute Rock Cacti


I found this fun idea to make a cactus from a rock on one of the pages I follow on Facebook.  As soon as I showed my kids they were all in and had rocks in mind they wanted to use.  And besides, who doesn't like to paint.

They started by painting their rocks with acrylic paints.  Once dry we added a few white lines and some google eyes, as well as a smile.  We put foam circles in the bottom of the flower pot to fill some of the space and give the cactus rock something to sit on.  Then we filled with some rocks we found that we liked, but you could fill with sand or an idea of your own.  Then I took E600 transparent glue and coated all the rocks and filled in any open areas.  After it dried, I sprayed the cactus rock with an outdoor spray sealant. 

We place two of them outside on our porch and the other two are inside.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Losing Your Identity in Motherhood

Before we had kids I was a wife, a teacher, and me.  I knew who I was, where I was, and where I was headed.  I also knew that one day, we wanted to grow our family. 


When you bring kids into the picture things change within you.  Maybe you don't notice it right away, but at some point, to some, it feels like we loose ourselves, our identity of who we are.  Maybe this has happened to you, maybe not.
When you have a clear perspective and knowledge of your purpose, gifts, strengths it helps.  But after so many sleepless nights, all the diaper changes, loads of laundry, and more it seems that all too often we just become so in so's mom.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I like being a mom.  It is what I wanted.  What I didn't realize was that for a period of time, I would loose sight of who I am.

We give and give until the day is done, often little to no time for ourselves.  At what point does filling up everyone around you begin to leave you drained?  You can't fill from an empty cup as the saying goes.  If you are always on empty, how can you continually fill everyone else?  Truthfully, you can't.  You do your best and just carry on.  But at some point you need to stop, slow down, and refuel.

It is through the filling up everyone else around and forgetting about yourself that we begin to loose some of who we are.  What are your passions?  What are you dreams?  What fuels you up?  What do you need?  Who are you as a person?

These are just some questions that have run through my mind over the years.  You see, I have always wondered what my strengths are, what are my hobbies, if I didn't teach what would I do, and the questions just keep going.  Rolling around in my mind.

I had lost my sense of me, who I was.  All to often, I would be the person that those around me wanted me to be (or I perceived they wanted).  Hiding me, placing a facade on.  And when becoming a mom, I began to wonder more who I was.  Why?  Because so many times I would start talking with other moms and they would introduce themselves as a (fill in the blank) mom: crunchy mom, helicopter mom, and the list goes on.  I began to compare myself, my parenting, where I was at to those around me.  Comparing my inside, to their outside while trying to find and build connections, friendships with others - for my kids and for myself.

Through it all I began to lay aside the things that really made me who I was and I missed doing.  Like photography, being creative, writing.  As time has gone by, I was beginning to realize that I was not the mom I wanted to be.  Too much yelling in the house, too much overwhelm trying to get to do lists done, too much trying to fill the schedule busy because I saw that worked for others, too much just hoping and waiting for the next nap time the next bedtime, too much loss (in my mind) of self worth and value.

As I began to feel less value, my impatience and frustration grew.  Always exhausted from keeping up with two kids and changing seasons in parenthood, lack of quality sleep, feeling like I had an every mounting to do list,  carrying the weight of my many emotions and those around me (especially my kids) I began to feel depleted in all areas of life.  And it started to show.

I knew something needed to change and it had to start with me.  So I decided to take an Abundant Mama Project course.  It had been on my bucket list since I started following Shawn through Facebook and her blog.  But I had always kept putting it off and finding excuses.  In February when I hit my breaking point of needing to change something, this course came back into mind.  At the time when I signed up, there was also a bonus trial couple of months in the Peace Circle that she created to continue the work from the Abundant Mama course.

Each day I was emailed that day's lesson and activity to work on.  I will admit, some days I didn't get the work done, but that was okay because at some point I would catch up and continue to work through it.  After completing it, the work continued in the Peace Circle where the year has an overall theme to it, as well as a monthly theme.  Abundant Mama had me digging in and opening up, but I knew that I needed to go deeper, open up more.  So I have been a part of Peace Circle for two months at this point.

Things have began to fall into place, I am more ease and flow in the day.  I can be more flexible and bendy.  I am taking who I am and incorporating it into my day to day, finding dreams, and still going on adventures.  I am able to refuel and help refuel those around me, especially my family.  I can teach and still be a mom.  I can do my writing, my photography, my creative projects and help my kids grow their passions to as they see me grown mine.  I can treat myself and my health as a priority, and keep the kids health a priority.  I can find a better balance in my day, so that I can help create a better balance and flow in our days.

Sure, I am still working on it.  Just like knowledge, we are never done learning.  But I also know I can take a solid step forward, knowing who I am and who I am is okay.

If you are interested in the Abundant Mama Project course, you can find out more about it here: https://www.abundantmama.com/abundant-mama-project/

Just know that it is home study now.  So, you get all the lessons at once to work through, instead of it being emailed to you daily.  It is still worth the investment in you.  Like it says, motherhood can be overwhelming.  But you can find a good solid footing to start where you are, move forward, and always have a spot to come back to if needed to reset.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Combining the Love of the North Shore With a Rock Collection



My kids love rocks. Rocks to climb on, rocks to hold, rocks to load, rocks to save, rocks to try to skip across the water.  Any size, color, shape.  It doesn't matter, they love rocks and our collection in the house keeps growing.

My oldest has random rocks he has collected on a shelf in his room that generally sit there.  But every now and then he pulls down his favorites to look at them or place in it's own spot in a different area of his room.  He has such a fascination for rocks.

My youngest has some he has collected.  One he calls his turtle rock because it reminds him of a turtle shell and a penguin because well, it is shaped like a penguin.  He generally picks up a rock and either plays with it outside or brings one into the house every now and then.

Both kids have jars from a trip last Summer of rocks they collected along Lake Huron.  I have rocks set out near the kitchen sink and in my room that were given as gifts to me from oldest.

On a recent trip to the North Shore we walked along one of the beaches in hopes of finding some neat rocks, maybe some sea glass, and just be closer to the water.  My oldest enjoyed looking at rocks, tossing them into the lake and trying his hand at creating his own rock stack.  He kept a few that he like most.  My youngest just picked some as he went along and filled a bag until I said enough, tossing rocks in the water, and touching the water.  I gathered some because they look unusual or like ones I hadn't seen before, and also looked for rocks to create a couple of dragonfly projects.

So now, we are left with a bunch of rocks.  Some smaller we have decided to polish up and see what happens.  But the bigger ones and the rest of the little, what to do?  We decided on the ones too small from the kids' collections to get a cool jar to hold them for in their rooms.  The bigger ones we used to make rock stacks.  Each kiddo has one and I have a couple too.

We placed the kids' rocks outside to see when we come and leave, mine are in our bathroom.  It is a fun way to connect the love of rocks, the North Shore, our memories from the trip, and our day to day.


It is a quick and easy project to put together too.  All I did was use hot glue to hold them together.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Seasons Change, I Changed, & Reminders From a 5 Year Old

So as February began to come to close I started realizing some things.

My attitude and mood most days was landing me promptly on my butt in the land of bitter and sour.  When my wake up started out there, it was hard to climb out of that.  Most days I was hovering near that close edge, that line of in-between.  The one where even the simplest thing could make thoughts and attitudes sway way to quickly. 

I have come to understand that I do not like all aspects that come with motherhood.  I do love my kids and what they bring to our family and my life.  But there are just some aspects I don't like.  I had been under the impression for too long that by not liking the aspects meant that I was not good a being a mom. 

I have been given this job, this job of of being a mom.  Just like with other areas of life, we like certain things and we dislike other things.  This is a part of who we are.  And just because we may not like a part of something of the bigger picture, doesn't mean a whole we love it any less.

I knew some things needed to change and those changes first had to start with me.  I tend to get too inside my head and loose sight of what is in front of me.  I tell myself something over and over, it becomes so real to me, but in the grand scheme of things, it is just not the case.

I am my own worse critic.  Truly, I am.  I see all the mistakes, failures, expectations not met, dreams fall flat, and so on.  Sometimes those things, well those things become my inner voice...good or bad, that is what seems to happen.  And then I compare me to what I see on the outside of others around me.

I have lost sight of me...Liz.  I have lost sight of Liz.  My purpose, my value, my worth.  Who I am, where I am supposed to, is it all enough, am I enough, what are my strengths (yes, I know there are weaknesses too, but I tend to focus all to much on those lately.). 

Most days I feel like I can't even put two thoughts together let along get two words into a conversation before something pulls my attention away.  I haven't gotten my fingers to the keys to write often.  I get ideas of what to write or post about, but by the time I can actually get to it, the moment has passed and it seems to late.  Even then, I sometimes still go back and try to play catch up on ideas and posts because it doesn't feel right to let them blow away in the wind.

I add on stress load after stress load onto myself.  And then it becomes that everything feels like a stress load.  Oh, and if I have to lay something down I feel so much guilt from it.

Add in the seemingly long Winter weather already and the need for green and warm breezes.

All these things have added up.  I knew it was time to take a step in a different direction and really begin to dig down deep.  Dig deep and begin to release.  Not an easy task sometimes.

But with the help of taking the Abundant Mama Program, I began to build a toolbox to help me work through all this and more.  The course was three weeks long.  I will tell you that it is just what I needed to help reset my direction, perspective, and it has given me so much more.

I am going to begin to share about it all, along with hopefully much more in other areas of life from creative projects, adventures, day to day life, and whatever else this new season brings.

My son helped me remember the other day that there are some things we are good at and some things we aren't.  We are always learning, no matter our age.  We need to keep trying and despite the hard things and the mistakes, we can still focus on the good parts too.

All this from a 5 year old.  Sometimes, we just need to have a long talk with a kiddo to be reminded of the important things. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ X


 Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • I will be honest, I was not able to come up with a place to visit that started with the letter X.  But maybe near you there is a fun adventure place waiting for you to try out.
Art
  • X-Ray
    • Trace your kiddo's arm and hand onto black paper
    • Glue on q tips on the fingers and wrist area
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ Y


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Yard~ go play outside in the yard.  I know, it sounds simple, but we are finally getting snow away and we can play more longer outside in the warm sun and not be in snow.
Art
  • Yellow Collage
    • My oldest's favorite color is yellow, so we collected yellow things and added them to a paper.
    • You could cut out a y letter shape and glue on to the letter
    • Or you could put the items in between two pieces of contact paper, squish it together, hang up in the window for a stain glass.
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ V


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Vacation!  I add this because even if it's a stay-cation, you can still create a mini vacation.  I also know that it's Spring Break time and people are traveling more.
    • Visit someplace new
Art
  • Volcano
    • Cut out brown bottom part of volcano from paper
    • Add lava colors out the top and down the sides...for added fun, use glue and add glitter or glitter glue
    • Using cotton balls blue above to look like cloud of smoke
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ W


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Walks ~ finally getting into more Spring like weather, so we are going on more walks again
Art
  • Watermelon
    • Using have a sheet of paper, draw outlines of a giant watermelon slice
    • Let the kiddos color it in, add seeds by cutting out seed shapes from black paper
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ F


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Farm
    • Forests
    • Fort Building
Art
  • Flower Gardens
    • Give a blank piece of paper and have the kiddos draw a flower garden
    • Make flowers using coffee filters and using pipe cleaners for the stems
    You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

    Thursday, April 5, 2018

    A Change, A Catalyst, A Step Forward

     
    7 years ago I found myself at a spot that I never thought I would be.  We wanted to start a family.  I found out just before Christmas 2010 that I was pregnant.  At the end of January we lost our daughter, 17 weeks into the pregnancy. 

    No sooner had we found out and started dreaming on being a family of three, names, nursery stuff, went maternity shopping with my mom, even received a few baby items at Christmas, found out we were due within one day of my brother and sister in law...we found no heart beat and the doctor told me our baby had expired.

    Those words, that day, will forever will be imprinted in my mind, in my heart.  So will the following Friday, my birthday.  For every birthday card I opened, I opened a sympathy card.  The next day, we had a service and burial for our daughter.

    I turned to writing.  Just in a journal, but it was my outlet, my way of trying to work through all that was happening.  From that came My Infant Loss.  A site I created filled with resources I found helpful throughout my journey and my writings on the blog part.

    From it all, Samantha has been a catalyst for many things.  Samantha's Dragonfly was created from it and has since been passed onto 100s of other people.  She taught me a lot about life, a lot about death, a lot about my husband, my marriage, friendship, and myself. 

    As time went by, I wrote less and less on the site.  Then, I got pregnant again and had our first son in 2013.  After that, I didn't go back to the site and moved my writings over to here, My Mama Side.  It seemed to a better fit for the direction my path was heading.

    Some of what I learned had gotten placed far back after having one son and even more so after having our second son.  After my second son I faced high anxiety and post-partum depression.  My doctor (not the one we had when we were pregnant with Samantha) said it was no wonder.  With all that we had been through with pregnancies, c-sections, being a mom of two little kiddos, and all the other twists and turns life sends your way, it all made sense to her.  She said it was okay.

    Even up until more recent, I haven't felt much myself.  The one I knew deep down.  Always hard on myself and it starting to rub off on those around me.  I was frustrated with myself and impatient, so I began to get impatient with those around me as well.  The constant louder volume led to more raised voices and yelling at times.  Any little trip up I felt I faced led me to eating my emotions and inner self negative talk, never feeling good enough. 

    I have tried many things since the Fall.  Attempting to take the things I make creatively and sell them, even creating websites and Facebook pages to go with them.  Starting a group on Facebook for other moms and us to build connections through meeting up a different places around the city.  Reading books on specific topics in relation to what I was thinking and feeling.  Trying to figure out other's perception of me to figure out myself better.  Spending money when I probably shouldn't have.  Stepping out and joining a focus group of a favorite author of mine.  Being a part of a book launch team.

    If I am to be honest....it all has flopped.  I closed down those businesses I tried to get going.  I closed down the mom's group on Facebook after repeatedly posting activities and meet ups only to find that it was just my kiddos and I that would show up.  The  books, while good, I can't remember a whole lot from them...partially because it would take me so long to read one and partially because it was only dealing with the surface of things.  I wasn't looking truly at what was right in front of me.  The focus group has been hit or miss, a great experience to go through and got to help create some cool things (like Flirt Alert).  But I realized that I didn't really have much value added into the group most of the time.  Oh, and the book launch?  Great book, but the only reason I am guessing that I was a part of that was because the more people on the team, the more the book would get out there and noticed.

    From it all, I learned I needed to work on my prayer and quiet time.  But it still wasn't enough.  I was in a spot, that I don't know how I got to, where most days I couldn't wait for bedtime to come, that I needed to be out of the house with the kids, all things led to battles and negative behaviors seemed to be growing as quickly as the yelling was increasing.  It felt like so much was just unraveling and I didn't know where to start or how to get things back to an overall peace.

    I realized that so much of it and the dynamics stemmed from me.  The lack of sleep, strong emotions, carrying my own load and the load of everyone around me, striving for the unrealistic perfect, bad eating habits, and an entirely too long Winter all added to the constant spiral I was in.

    But how do you get out?  I have been creating a mental bucket list.  Things I want to do, classes I want to take, places to visit, sights to see, etc.  Do you have a bucket list?  What is on yours?

    One of the things that has been on my bucket list for awhile and kept being put on the, well, someday list, was a class called "The Abundant Mama Project" by Shawn Fink.  I have started her book "Savoring Slow" and liked what I read, but have not actually managed to finish it yet.  I have followed her on her blog through email and Facebook.  Her class has been something I wanted to sign up for. 

    With all that I have had going on and through my mind, I decided that someday needed to happen sooner.  I signed up for the class at the end of February.  I am so glad that I have and going forward I will write more about it.  I would highly recommend signing up for it, but at the end of March, she retired the program.  But hopefully something is in the works so that going forward, the lessons are still accessible to other moms, in a different format. 

    I learned a lot about myself going through the class, remember some of the stuff I learned after we lost Samantha, and found me.  I found the me that I know, the one that deep down had gotten left behind, forgotten about, the one God made me to be.

    Through it all, things have changed and a newer perspective is emerging.  There is more peace within me and more peace around me.  No life isn't calm and sure there is stuff that still needs work, but things are changing and going more smoothly (usually).

    I mentioned that Samantha was a catalyst earlier.  While going through the Abundant Mama Project, I found this come back to me again.  You see, the My Infant Loss side of stuff was coming due for renewal.  I had some decisions to make about what direction to go with it and what direction I wanted to go in.  For nearly 5 years I had been renewing the site without thought, just because I felt I should.

    She is my daughter, always will be and I love her and nothing will change that.  A part of me had thought that by giving up the site I was giving up on her.  With a new perspective, I understand and realize that she is the reason for the site, the site is not her and letting go of the site doesn't mean I am letting go of her.  I can set the site down and take a step forward on this path using what I know from it, what I learned and give myself a firmer footing on the ground. 

    Laying down some of the load that I have been carrying has been a blessing beyond words and they are the stepping stones that make up my life.  Working through the Abundant Mama Project is the beginning of the work I needed to move forward, instead of treading water.  I am not sure where this will all lead,  and I do know there is more I need to continue to do, but I do feel a peacefulness within me that I haven't felt for a very, very long time.

    Friday, March 30, 2018

    Letter of the Week ~ L


    Recognize upper and lower case letter
    • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
    Activity
    • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
    • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
    Adventure
    • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
      • Library ~ so many to choose from, such a great resource, go for a story time or to just explore and maybe find some new books to read
    Art
    • Ladybugs
      • Using coffee filters color on them using washable markers.  You can do read, or think outside the box and make other colors or tie dyed.
      • Spritz with water until colors start to run.
      • Let dry and add details the black head, the line down the middle and black spots.  Add google eyes too if you have them for a little more fun.
    You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

    Wednesday, March 28, 2018

    Mom ~ A Mix of Motherhood and Love


     
    When the quiet is defining and you get lost in your thoughts, listening to your heart and your inner you...

    My youngest, still asleep. My oldest, playing in his room.

    I stand in relative quiet in the kitchen. The only sounds I can hear...the fridge, the clock, the birds, and the cars

    Outside is snowing

    I listen and watch the birds

    Looking around the house are pops of Spring color.

    I get to thinking and listening to my heart...

    I am a mom...motherhood is hard, messy, and imperfect, but has a lot of fun, adventure, and wonderful moments too.  My personality has a hard time with the messy and imperfect side of things.

    Through it all, I still love my kids and I wouldn't trade what I have for anything.  I am blessed to be able to stay home with my kiddos.  To watch them grow, to learn, to be the awesome kids that they are.

    A friend of mine once said, "there are two parts to being a mom...Motherhood and the love for your kids".  You can watch her video on it over on YouTube at https://youtu.be/s8bnP1S-XPo

    Here's my take away from it and what got me thinking more on this whole parenting thing.

    Your love for you kids will never, ever change.  No matter how tough things get, no matter their age, no matter the life season you are in...it will not change the love you have for your kids.

    Motherhood~ all the ups, downs, and in-between, the good days the tough days, the simple days the busy days, the positive behaviors the negative, the successes and wins, the mistakes and failures, the discipline, the smiles the tears ~ all of that and more ~ the day to day.

    Two parts with an easy line in between that gets blurred sometimes, especially when you add in emotions, energy, sleep (or lack there of), and more. We moms know that we love our kids and we know that sometimes we don't like parts of motherhood.  Though, most of us will not say anything about the parts we don't like. On the surface it feels like if there is some aspect of motherhood we dislike than it is a reflection on our love for our kids.  But deep down and in reality, that is not the case.  Motherhood and our love for our kids can be separated into two parts.  And it is okay to not like motherhood at times sometimes.

    We love our kids.  We always have, always will, always do.  We may not love some of their choices, behaviors, aspects of motherhood, but our love for our kids will still be there.  If we can find a way to recognize these two pieces of being a mom, we can attempt to separate them into the areas they are for what they are. 

    Easy?  No, not always.  But with time and practice, we can begin to recognize the difference.  We can learn to accept that motherhood isn't always something that we like, but through it all we love our kids.   Our love remains strong, we learn more about our kids, and we can connect more deeply.  But also we can lay down some of the weight on our shoulders.

    Life is messy and imperfect.  There are going to be days that run smoothly and days that run rough, and days that run somewhere in between.  We may not like some parts of motherhood some days, but love it later or look back on it fondly or accept it as something we don't like.  And that is okay.  All of it.

    Through it all, we love our children for who they are and who they are becoming.  They are forever a part of us, no matter how old they are.

    You got this mama!