Mar 022015
 

Angels really are all around us. Hearing my mother's voice as I go about my day has been such an incredible blessing. Grief over a loss or death is very difficult. Read about how I make sure my mom is still such a big part of our lives--and why it's so important. This idea might work for you too!It was three years ago today that my mom died. It’s been a pretty full time. Throw in all the missing, sweet remembering, anger, acceptance and a bunch of impossibly unfair questions like, “Why did you leave me?”, and there’s been a sizable emotional roller coaster looping around.

Mostly, though, these years have been full of things like diapers and preschool pick-ups and remembering to let the dog out. Because, you see, life doesn’t stop. While it would be gorgeous to hole up in grief and and allow it to swallow you at the times you need swallowing, it’s hasn’t been in the cards.

This continuance of daily life has taught me two truths: I am still here and so is she.

She is still here, not in a creepy Walking Dead way, but in the way that while she lived, her personality was so large it still prevails in her absence.  Growing up, I hated that my mother had an opinion about everything I did. Now, I couldn’t be more grateful for the vigor of thought and sentiment she poured into every corner of her life–and mine. Her energy for living was God’s prep work for allowing me to still carry her along after she’s gone.

There isn’t a day that goes by I can’t hear my mother chiming in on something. Going about my day-to-day, I find her voice; I know exactly what she would say and how she would say it. I can hear her laugh, echoing full and happy; my mom loved to laugh, to find humor in things, to smile.

It astounds me so very much that while she’s no longer on this earth, she’s still so present in all that we do. My mother always believed firmly in angels, and now she has become one–one who weighs in on a lot and laughs often.

Moving on after the death of someone you love is incredibly difficult. If you've lost a family member or friend, here are two very true things that haved helped me process my grief better than anything else. Simple and true, tune in and take steps to start healing.

She’s still here.

And so am I. My here is mostly filled up with the stuff of my own children. And while I wish she was here in a more in-person way to walk through it with me, it would be a loss to miss the present for the mourning. It’s a pretty beautiful present too. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love all the parts; I won’t be writing love poems about fighting through my son’s Kindergarten homework any time soon. But the best way I can honor my mom’s life is to throw myself into my own–all of it, the good, the bad, and the moments my daughter tells me my butt is “humongous” included.

It’s a sweet life, and I need to live it. Live it big enough and large enough that someday when I’m gone, I can still be so clearly present in my own kids’ lives.

In the meantime, my mom is dead, but she’s still very much here. And she’s probably scanning this post with loads of opinionated feedback to share, so I’d better go listen up.

****This post is dedicated to my beautiful new baby niece. While your grandmother never got to meet you, Peyton, she will always very much be part of your life and we’re all going to do our best to make sure you know her really, really well. She’d have it no other way. xoxoxo*****

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:22970718, copyright:arkusha

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:22785832, copyright:pavila1

Feb 262015
 

This post is sponsored by the band Simple Tenants.

This new band is an amazing way to connect with your faith while enjoying some sweet tunes and getting your groove on them! I love them, and with this sweet iTunes giveaway, you will be a fan too!

On so many of these desperate days of motherhood, when the backpacks are mysteriously lost and the toast is utterly burnt, the tether to my faith is the worship music blaring through my iPod. While my mind is scattered and our days crazed, the grounding beat of a tune can work wonders to remind me of who God is and the power He holds over All the Things–burnt toast included.

So when I find a new band that helps me connect with my God, even on the most chaotic of days? I fall hard and quickly.

This new band is an amazing way to connect with your faith while enjoying some sweet tunes and getting your groove on them! I love them, and with this sweet iTunes giveaway, you will be a fan too!

Enter Simple Tenants. Give them a listen and you will be fan-delighting in them right along with me!

In honor of their first single, Here to Worship, being released on iTunes this week, the brand new indie Christian rock band Simple Tenants is sponsoring a giveaway on several blogs.

One lucky reader will receive a $50 iTunes gift card. No strings attached. You do not even have to use it to download their music, you can use it to download whatever kind of songs or apps float your boat.

But Simple Tenants would love to have you check out their first single, so they are offering it to all of you for FREE.

Anyone who signs up for the Simple Tenants newsletter using their Facebook entry form will receive a free mp3 download via email. Just pop over and and make sure to like their Facebook page while you are there. 

For your chance to be entered to win the $50 iTunes gift card, fill out the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One winner will be chosen at random. Should the winner not respond within 48 hours of being notified, another winner will be chosen. Simple Tenants are responsible for prize shipment. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

This giveaway is sponsored by Simple Tenants, all opinions are my own.

Feb 202015
 

1000 voices are gathering together to promote goodness, kindness, compassion and support for others through this campaign. I'm honored to be part of it and read on to learn the single most pure way to support your friends in this life!I’m writing this post as part of the #1000Speak campaign, in which 1000 voices will be joining together today, February 20, 2015, to speak about compassion, kindness, and support for others in this world. Learn more about the campaign here and check in on some of the amazing words that are being shared to promote goodness.

I’m honored to have this chance to share my thoughts on how we can most purely offer loving compassion to those God has put in our lives!

************************************************************************

Sometimes (pretty often, to be honest), I look at my life and feel stymied by the weight of things. Of the busyness, the endless tasks, the remembering to send my son’s library book back on the proper day and review the new spelling words the optimal number of times each week.

It can be heavy. It can be groan-inducing. And while all the responsibilities come from a place of blessing, they don’t leave a whole lot leftover. Limited resources and the demands of young kids always get right of first refusal.

Being a true and real support to our friends is such a beautiful gift. Here's how do it with compassion and true grace. Friendship matters--do it the right way!

So you offer help in the corners–watching a friend’s kids when she has a doctor’s appointment, taking a meal to a neighbor, make sixteen notes to yourself to send a text to someone who needs some encouragement on an important day. It’s not ever pretty or smooth; the casserole you drop off will be slightly burned, your house will be a circus show with the extra kids vs. a calm, nurturing haven, and you will really, really wish you could be there to hug your friend in person instead of just sending a text.

But you will try because you care.

Yet more important than any of this tangible help, the one thing you can offer is a safe landing spot. You see, what we all really need in a friend is someone who gets it, who loves us as we are. Who takes our panicked random calls when we discover a weird rash on our ankle, who lets us cry when our son can’t learn to hold his pencil the right way in school, who will tell you that “no, you do not look like a ginormous cow”–for the sixth time in the same week (not that I speak from experience).

All we really want is a welcome place to fall, a haven in the midst of our floundering and full days.

Being a true and real support to our friends is such a beautiful gift. Here's how do it with compassion and true grace. Friendship matters--do it the right way!

For this reason, difficulties aren’t to be cursed. Nothing can better school us in genuine compassion than challenges, struggles, moments when we are pretty sure we are going to have to lock ourselves in a padded room vs. spending another minute with our very-three three year old…

It’s this living of such an imperfect life full of stuff that so perfectly equips us to be there for others. Our own tricky spots teach us firsthand how to best offer support and how to be real.  We can be a welcome hand for friends to grasp when things get tough because we get it, we’ve been there.

It may be ages before we can present gorgeous casseroles or have supportive phone conversations sans children screaming interruptions, but in the meantime, we can be a safe spot for others to land–one entirely filled with empathetic compassion.

And that is the true blessing.

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:11190135, copyright:Wavebreakmedia

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:2786756, copyright:Pakhnyushchyy

Jan 232015
 

Sick of being sick? Me too! Need help staying healthy and staving off illness during these winter months? I've created an ENTIRE MONTH'S WORTH of ideas for keeping your family well.  Try one simple suggestion each day and give the yucky germs the boot. Don't need 'em, don't want 'em!I’d chance it to say that winter and I are developing a non-compatible relationship. While the freezing temps, icy roads, and endless cabin fever are adorable in and of themselves, it’s their accompanying plague of sickness that thrills me less. The past two years, we’ve been hit, and hit hard. There was last Christmas in all its near-death in-law-visiting fun, and then this year my daughter celebrated her baby cousin’s birth with some emphatic grabs for the puke bag as we barrelled down the highway. It’s been great!

Our most recent bout with illness left me setting up week-long shop on our couch and begging my Facebook fans for suggestions with how to pacify a feverish 3 yr. old. Which they gave in gracious abundance as my readers are rockstars. Thank you and xo.

I’m also thankful for OTCSafety’s careful reminders to read the drug facts label and to never give oral cough/cold meds to kids under the age of 4. When you are in the thick of dealing with a sick kid, it can be easy to forget things like this.

Got the flu? You CAN survive! Use these tips and tricks to take care of yourself and your family, and healthy days will be here before you know it!

I know we’re not alone in all this illness. There is a lot of concern about the spread of the flu this year, and I’m sick of sickness. Encouraged by OTCSafety to help smartly tackle the flu during these cold months, so it’s time to try a different approach. A WAY different approach. The Let’s Not Get Sick in the First Place Approach. I know, it’s brilliant.

So how are we going to do that? I decided to ask some of the smartest ladies I know–fellow mom bloggers who have been there and who have some great ideas for staying healthy and staving off illness during these winter months. With their help, I’ve created an ENTIRE MONTH’S WORTH of ideas for keeping your family well.

Sick of being sick? Me too! Need help staying healthy and staving off illness during these winter months? I've created an ENTIRE MONTH'S WORTH of ideas for keeping your family well.  Try one simple suggestion each day and give the yucky germs the boot. Don't need 'em, don't want 'em!

A month of health with these tips and tricks is YOURS:

Day 1–Make sleep happen. It’s that important.

“I hibernate. Seriously, extra sleep helps me from getting the blahs.”–Funny is Family

“I highly recommend training the children to fetch their own frosted Pop-Tarts and leaving the Yoohoo on a low refrigerator shelf for weekend mornings when mommy and daddy need to catch up on their sleep!”–Dose of Reality

Day 2–Get your Vitamin D in, even if you can’t be out in the sunshine.

“At 10am every morning I take a Vitamin D to prevent S.A.D. from kicking in.”–Let Me Start By Saying

Day 3–You still need sunscreen!

Sunscreen. I might be the only person on earth who still gets sunburns in February.”–Binkies and Briefcases

Day 4–Laugh about it. It helps, really.

“I curse the gods for sub-zero temps and count the angry screaming as a calorie burn.”–Nicole Leigh Shaw: Ninja Mom

Day 5–Dress for the season

“I wear wool head to toe (that way I can park far from the door)”–Our Small Moments

Day 6–Staying active and exercising matters more than ever.

“Workout like a maniac during the winter”–It’s Fitting

Day 7–Get that Vitamin C in!

“I take extra C if I feel a funk coming on (also lots of gargling).”–Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva

I try to eat more oranges and citrus food/drinks for Vitamin C.”–Confessions of a Mommyaholic

Day 8–A healthy smoothie is a tasty way to sneak in a bunch of the good stuff.

“Every morning I make a small healthy smoothie.”–Let Me Start By Saying

Day 9–Even if it’s cold, going outside can do wonders.

“Breathe in and out fresh air after mingling with dirty people.”–Our Small Moments

Day 10–Avoid the junk foods (get creative if you have to!)

“Get your six and a half foot tall husband to move your secret stash of Cadbury Creme Eggs to the top shelf where you can’t reach them.”–Becoming SuperMommy

Day 11–Wash your hands. Endlessly.

“We wash our hands as soon as we get home”–Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine

Day 12–Probiotics are a really good thing!

“I take a probiotic and a powdered elderberry pill every single day. I’ve seen a big difference.”–Toulouse and Tonic

Day 13–Hot tea can do wonders.

“I drink lots of tea and take my vitamins.”–Frugalista Blog

Day 14–Happy Valentines! Love on yourself by doing something fun!

“Keep exercising, keep having FUN, and if you need it, take a sun-bed.”–Considerings: Life in Silver Linings

Sick of being sick? Me too! Need help staying healthy and staving off illness during these winter months? I've created an ENTIRE MONTH'S WORTH of ideas for keeping your family well.  Try one simple suggestion each day and give the yucky germs the boot. Don't need 'em, don't want 'em!

Day 15–You need to come in the house. Your shoes don’t.

“We take all shoes off at the door and backpacks never leave the entryway.”–The Not So Super Mom

Day 16–Keep your hands away from your face and mouth–it does make a difference.

“We avoid touching our faces as much as possible.”–Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine

Day 17–Turn the thermostat down when you go to bed.

“Turning down the heat after 9:00 so I don’t want to leave my snuggly bed for the kitchen. Also, the cold is good for the metabolism!”–My Dishwasher’s Possessed

Day 18–Veggies = a really good thing.

“Less in, more out. Hot, fresh, steamed vegetables to help you warm up.”–Considerings: Life in Silver Linings

Day 19–This brilliant concocotion from Meredith to Mommy knocks out colds with a punch!

“Knock out viruses quickly with apple cider vinegar, cinnamon and honey.”–Meredith to Mommy

Day 20–I love my sunlamp. I love, love, love my sunlamp.

“I take Vitamin D and use my “happy” light (broad spectrum lamp).”–Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Day 21–A glass of wine and a some unwinding? Super idea. And give yourself a little grace if things aren’t perfect.

“I drink at least one glass of wine before bed”–Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine

“I figure its healthy to put on 5-10 pounds in winter to stay warm. Just like the squirrels!”–Eubanks Eutopia

Day 22–You can’t avoid all the germs, but you can stay away from some of the epicenters.

“Stay away from the mall playgrounds. The end.”–When Crazy Meets Exhaustion

Day 23–Keeping that skin healthy is important!

“I moisture my hands constantly.”–Mommy Shorts

Day 24–Take time to grow yourself in unexpected ways.

“Chase after your dreams. I  know it only burns imaginary calories, but it’s exhausting, so it must be working.”–Elleroy Was Here

Day 25–I have been wanting to try acupuncture for forever.

I get regular acupuncture to keep my immunity strong.”–Frugalista Blog

Day 26–Your go-to best friend? Hand sanitizer

“We use antibacterial wipes on our hands before we eat anything when we’re out of the house, after leaving grocery stores and toy stores, etc.”–Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine

Day 27–Figure out sneaky ways to cut sugar.

“We cut the amount of cocoa we use per mug in half then add milk to keep it satisfying. It’s easier (and cheaper) to say yes to the daily requests for cocoa that way!”–Domestic Pirate

Day 28–Ginger. Get it in, however you can!

“Ginger. In tea. In food. Candy. Anywhere possible.”–Mom’s New Stage

Day 29–Supplements can be a wonderful solution.

“When we were all sick, my husband felt it coming on too, so he took this herbal supplement I got a free sample of. He never got sick.”–Kissing the Frog

Day 30–Relax with a bath.

Sure, getting clean is a good thing. The older I get, the more I understand the value of intentional relaxation. DO IT.

Day 31–Pick up a good book.

I make no secret of my love of reading, but the thing is, cozying up with a book isn’t only sweet down-time, but it stretches your mind and allows you to explore new worlds = a very good thing.

Sick of being sick? Me too! Need help staying healthy and staving off illness during these winter months? I've created an ENTIRE MONTH'S WORTH of ideas for keeping your family well.  Try one simple suggestion each day and give the yucky germs the boot. Don't need 'em, don't want 'em!

Try one simple suggestion each day and give those yucky winter germs the boot. Don’t need ‘em, don’t want ‘em!

****I am compensated as an OTCsafety blogging ambassador for this post, but my opinion are my own.****

Third image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:20053655, copyright:kalozzolak

Fourth image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:29201369, copyright:halfpoint

Jan 212015
 

Need to make a change in your life? Not sure where to start? Discovering life coaching was the friendliest way I found to make a healthy difference in my own life--check out these tips and get started!Having this blog allows me to do some really, really neat things. Things I would never otherwise do. Like sweat it out in hot yoga, get the most awesome family pics we’ve ever had taken, and plan fabulous blogging conferences. It’s fun, it stretches me, and challenges me to be my best person. I love it.

So when a friend, Julie Bel Connor, made the totally boss move of building her own Life Coaching business and was looking to promote her work, my mental thought train immediately started rolling, “Could I have a Life Coach? Should I have a Life Coach? WHAT IS A LIFE COACH?”.

Turns out, all my questioning set aside, life coaching with Julie Bel Connor is one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made. I’m going to let Julie describe her work in her own words below, but to me, after a couple months of first-hand experience, life coaching is best described as a tangible, hands-on approach to making active steps towards life improvement. As a licensed social worker myself, I definitely believe there is a time and a place for more in-depth therapy.  After working with Julie, I am now convinced there is also a time and place for life coaching.

I consider myself to be a relatively organized person aware of areas that require growth in her life.  I still need someone to help me identify and actually follow through with the things I must do to get to a better place. As much as I loathe accountability for it’s accountability-ness, I need it.

I need someone to ask me if I am actually making time each day to quiet my mind in the morning. If I am actually practicing the healthy sleep habits I need to embrace to tackle my chronic insomnia. If I am truly following through with the promises I make to myself to care for me.

With Julie, I never once felt judged or scared. I have a lot of issues, so this was very cool. The thing is, the relatively-recent death of my mother remains a very real looming cloud on my day-to-day. Given Julie’s personal experience with loss, it felt incredibly and unfamiliarly safe to acknowledge my grief and it’s ongoing impact. This was a tremendous blessing. Together, we worked through some healthy tangible steps I could take to help cope in a productive way.

Need to make a change in your life? Not sure where to start? Discovering life coaching was the friendliest way I found to make a healthy difference in my own life--check out these tips and get started!

As she wisely told me after one of my initial sessions, “I believe once you really start to heal some past things you will rest more easily and have more energy for your life in the moment.” Gah! So well said.

I have met with therapists in the past, and I will again, but I have never before felt the genuine acceptance of where I was in life that I felt with Julie. I have never before been given such a clear outline of what I am supposed to do to help make my life feel better. She sent me a recap and homework every week after our session and I LOVED it. My personality responds well to lists and checklists, and this is exactly what she gave me.

Julie gets you.

She cares.

And she wants to help.

USE HER.

************************************************************

Life coaching with Julie Bel Connor is one of the smartest moves I've made in ages! Check her out and go make a difference in your own life--ASAP!

Julie Bel Conner is an intuitive life coach focusing on parents. She is also a yoga and meditation teacher who stresses stress relief. She believes fully in our ability to live the lives we dream of by being true to who we are deep down in our souls. She loves helping people to find peace in their lives & finding balance between being a parent & being a regular human being. She believes that living in this way will transform the next generation of children, improving our world as a whole. She has completed author, Gabrielle Bernstein’s Spirit Junkie Masterclass and Amanda Frances McKinney’s Life Coaching Course.

Julie describes her experience:

I have spent a good part of my years on this planet in a fog of depression, anxiety and lack of self worth. It was sucky. At some point I was feeling ok about myself and crossed paths with my soulmate of a husband. It was awesome, beautiful and wonderful with all the trials and tribulations of having a relationship. Then – married, kids (now 3) BOOM – super fast. I quickly lost that feeling of happiness that temporarily had a hold on me. This slow downturn paired with the untimely death of my little brother, and living with many people addicted to substances in my life made me spiral deeper into depression. With therapy, some meds, and some books I slowly came out of this dark place.

But it wasn’t until I discovered a book called Spirit Junkie and a group of life coaches that I found my way into the light to live a life I actually liked. I realized through this time that no external “things” could make me happy, including but not limited to my husband, beautiful boys and a pretty home. That just plain sucked for awhile but having a life coach changed this. I learned that to make changes to make my life awesome I actually had to take action.

What? Ugh. It was challenging, but so rewarding. When I would change something small like, making time for 15 minutes of me time, even if it was in the bathroom hiding and breathing (yup – I had a “belly” ache a lot!) I became happier and had more energy. When I was able to pair this with my yoga and meditation training to improve my energy and the love for myself I knew that I wanted to coach people to have the same experience.

So here I am now, I coach people virtually and in person to work on what isn’t working in their lives and encourage big change to happen in small steps. I always wanted a quick fix, which of course never happens. But I found that when you take action and truly want to kick butt and make your life happier and healthier it will look exactly how you want it to look.

We all deserve a beautiful life and so do our children. And all us parents know that when you are happier your kids are happier. Often we lose our identities when we raise children, we forget the dreams we once had or that someday our kids will grow up and we will have time for us. But we don’t have to wait for that. My absolute favorite thing about coaching moms is that when they feel better and love their lives you can see it in their children. And this, simply put is truly making an impact on the next generation of happy, healthy, loving, energized individuals (and to-be parents someday too!). It really is all beautiful.

I’m not saying it’s easy but I am saying when you are ready and you feel it is your time – you will feel what happy feels like more often than not. I still get depressed and anxious but am blessed with the tools to get me back to me after a few hours or days and not weeks or months. It’s progress not perfection :)

************************************************

Need to make a change in your life? Not sure where to start? Discovering life coaching was the friendliest way I found to make a healthy difference in my own life--check out these tips and get started!

The best news for you, readers? Now you can use Julie’s savvy in your own life! Begin life coaching services with her; REALLY, you will thank me.  And also take advantage of the 4-week webinar, The Energized, Self Loved Parent she offers–what a sweet way to tackle the issues in your life from the convenience of your own home!

The webinar facts:

Starts Monday 2/9/15 @ 8:30pm EST and runs for 4 Weeks – if you miss a session the recording will be sent to you!

Price: $144 ((going up to $188 on 2/1/15) but if you e-mail Julie (julie.conner889@gmail.com) and let her know you are one of my readers, you can purchase it for 44% off!

The Energizing Self-Loving Topics:
*Perfection & Control: Letting Go
*Overwhelm & Anxiety: Focus on Gratitude
*Release the Mom Guilt: Communication Key
*Finding Space: Following Your Dreams

This course is for you if:
You are fed up with feeling like #2 or #5 in your own life.
You are ready to be present in the moment & awaken to the joys of parenthood.
You need to find you & be the you that you used to know.
You want to take that weight off your shoulders, wrinkles off your face & tension out of your head that make you feel way older than you are!

What you Get:
You will have this course forever – recorded and sent to your inbox
Open  Q&A
Weekly Actionable Homework & Tools Review

***The First 10 sign ups will get a FREE 1 hour coaching session with Julie!***

And, as another bonus for my readers, Julie is giving away a nifty package! Up for grabs is a free session via phone, Skype or in-person, a journal and a personalized recorded mediation (ie. for sleep or stress or getting in tune with your intuition). Enter below for your chance to win! As long as you are a resident of the continental U.S. and 18 year or older, you are eligible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Despite any initial skepticism over what life coaching is all about, I’m now sold. I love the way Julie has helped me sort and make sense of some things in my life, and I’m thrilled with the work she’s done. Use the gift she has to offer, friends!

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:12451276, copyright:kbuntu

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:10329216, copyright:Wavebreakmedia

Jan 072015
 

We all have THOSE moments in life when we feel snowed and overwhelmed. But keep this perspective and you'll get through!  True story of how the blessing really is right around the corner if you keep this in mind!I feel dishonest claiming these holidays were more harried than most. Let’s be real; I will always manage to work my panicky personality into a sizable tizzy come every end of December. But there were a few extras that added to the excitement this go around.

While we avoided the plague that touched down last Christmas, my husband caught a nasty cold on the eve of our ginormous holiday party…and didn’t get better for another 2 weeks. Oh what fun.

The Christmas tree spent some time hanging out on the floor, which, while a fun new take on the traditional upright stance, wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

My daughter celebrated Christmas Day itself with a sudden nasty stomach bug that left her puking…while we were riding in the minivan for 4 hrs. Over the river and through the woods…

Oh, and my sister had her baby. And I’m still beaming.

And I’m still tired, a little weary and surrounded by mountains of Christmas decorations. But you know what? Add all this stuff together and what do you have? The perfect Christmas.

What?? I know, but really…

You see, I can spend hours and days fretting over how we will conceivably get everything done, how impossible schedules will sort. But a while ago I learned the best way to know that you can walk through a fiery, challenging moment is to walk through it. Any burns you pick up along the way are boss reminders that you were strong–and that the love and blessings remain constant.

Our moment of trickiness began at 3am the day before my niece was born, the same day that my husband took ill and the day before our party. We got the call that my sister was in labor. Too hyped to go back to sleep, I got up. Determined to start tackling my day on the right foot, I took my vitamins. It was then I realized that in my blurry state I had mistakenly taken my sleep medication instead.

Super.

I now had a party to prep for, a sick husband, sleeping children, a sister in labor, and had just taken a sedative that would wear off in approximately 7 hours. I was DELIGHTED with myself.

And this is when my husband shone. This is where I saw strength shine in our moment.

Knowing I needed to be with my sister, we all packed up and went to the hospital. As it turns out, the poor dear found herself in a 30 hour labor, so we did have to make a few trips back and forth to home, but in the end, my niece was born, I was there, and my husband readied the entire house for the party himself. My hero.

In the midst of this, in the middle of the the second night, I heard him answer a call from my brother-in-law announcing that my sister’s labor was progressing. As I listened to my husband offer cheerful encouragement and support, artfully masking the tiredness in his voice, I felt so grateful to have this close family and for the love covering this moment.

People had fun at the party, shockingly despite my decision to abandon my fancy crab rolls (yes, I failed Pinterest that night). And when a very dear friend bailed me out by making amazing soft pretzels and others offered help and sweet congratulations on my new aunt status, I was surrounded by warmth in our moment.

As I cuddled the new baby on Christmas morning, my heart leapt with awe. When we finally landed at my father’s girlfriend’s house and all kindly welcomed my sick daughter cuddled up on the couch (nope, not awkward at all), I could have focused on the puke bucket sitting by the Christmas tree, but instead, I was simply blessed in our moment.

Feeling a bit stressed by life? Hang in there, the flipside is right around the corner. Keep the perspective outlined here and you're good to go!

I can often fuss over what my life is not or what we’re missing, but the truth is, through this Christmas, in all it’s chaotic mess, with the people I cherish most in this world, I felt strong. I felt loved. I felt warmth. I felt blessed.

Fiery moments aren’t really a bad thing at all; after the smoke clears, your vision is a whole lot clearer.

 

First image credit: image ID:28788529, copyright:Maridav

Dec 242014
 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”, Isaiah 9:6, NIV

One Holy Night long ago, the miracle of Jesus appeared on this earth. God's greatest gift to the world; the first Christmas, perfect and glorious.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'” Luke 2:10-14, NIV

This Christmas season, I remain stymied and blessed by the gift God lavished on the world by sending us His one and only son to save us from a life that was far, far less than perfect. God loves us so; I see it in the wonder in my children’s eyes and in the love that passes between friends and family as we celebrate this precious season.

This year, I most see it in the sweetness of my baby niece who was born four days ago to my sister, the most gorgeous soul I know on this earth.

Welcome, Peyton Ann! We love you so!

Could not be more excited to welcome my baby niece this Christmas season! To the miracle of babies!

And as a very, very special treat, my dear friend, the incredibly talented and acclaimed Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku, has written a tribute haiku to the Peytons of this world–my new favorite name as it now belongs to two very fabulous ladies.

An original haiku from the talented Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku about the greatest gift of all!

Thank you, Peyton Price, and xoxoxo (hint to readers: go buy her book–it’s fantastic)!

As for you, readers, wherever and however you find your joy this Christmas, know that you are loved and cherished–so very, very much.

First image credit: image ID:15824287, copyright:ginosphotos1

Nov 242014
 

Sometimes it feels like you are just going to snap. Keeping calm is not an easy thing, and motherhood can be so demanding. But if you allow the breaking to be cathartic, you may just be able to clean up the glass and move on.Sometimes it feels like you are just going to snap. Keeping calm is not an easy thing, and motherhood can be so demanding. But if you allow the breaking to be cathartic, you may just be able to clean up the glass and move on. It might even feel pretty amazing when you get all the tears out...I love my kids. I love the way my son works passionately to understand EVERYTHING and how he insists on praying for China at dinner because he is fascinated that it is already breakfast time there.

I love that the knees on all my daughter’s pants are stained and worn because she throws herself into playtime with vigor and how she gives me sweet little back pats when I hug her because it’s a Mommy-thing to do.

I love their laughs, their smiles and even their messy backpacks strewn all over the kitchen. It’s evidence that they are growing, learning, and thriving, right?

I think of making cut-out sugar Christmas cookies with them and the flour getting stuck into the wooden floor cracks for weeks, and I still love them. Right after I bang my head against the wall for a few minutes.

Despite all this loving, they wipe me.

Some days I don’t know what is up or what is down or which way to even start looking if I did have time between apple juice refills to figure it out.

This life is not an easy thing; it’s not supposed to be.

That’s okay.

But some days when the demands are raging, and the middle-of-the-night cries were plentiful, breathing in and out becomes a bit tricky. It’s a feeling of being swallowed into a complete loss of sanity, strength and self.

One day recently, my daughter was having A Day. You parents know what I mean. It can be tempting to check a child’s behavior as faulty discipline or poor boundaries, but after hanging out in motherhood for a few years now, I have learned that there are the children who break into an emphatic hour-long rolling tantrums because the color of the plastic Goldfish bowl they were handed is not pink and there are children who just eat the Goldfish.  There are children who can remain in a generally seated position throughout church and those who spontaneously turn into a wild climbing monkey as soon as the pastor begins speaking. I know, because I both types of children.

My daughter is more of the tantrum-ing monkey variety.

I do not want to point the finger at her exclusively. On this particular day, I was especially over-tired, my son was struggling with homework, and dinner was burning. In fact, I had already called my husband in tears twice that day, threatening to quit. Quit what, I’m not sure, as Motherhood allows no take-backs and my only boss is myself; I can’t imagine how pissed she would be if I handed in my resignation.

In any case, I sent the children out to play and decided to take one small productive step for my day; I would put away the dishes. I opened the cupboard and a glass flew out at me. It shattered all over the open dishwasher, counter, sink and floor.

It shattered all over my last tether to stability and I fell to the floor, sobbing. I crouched there, among the broken glass and just let the wails rack me, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this any more….Ican’tdothisanymoreIcan’tdothisanytmore…” Over and over and over again.

If anyone had been watching, it would have seemed a dramatic movie scene. The sheer, unprovoked action of the glass throwing itself out of the cupboard at me seemed horrifically cruel. It felt as the weight of a thousand impossibilities was exploded at me and were escaping through my my cries.

It felt cathartic.

It felt real.

And as some innate part of me found its way through my hysteria to carefully clean up all the glass shards before they met tiny little toes, I knew this one truth: I was right; I couldn’t do it any more.

For that day, it was too much. I had been stretched and pushed too much, and I broke. But in the breaking, the well of of all I was holding in found a way out. And that part? Felt wonderful.

I will always love and care for my children. Even when I think I can’t find a way to tidy up glass shards, I somehow will.

I will also break sometimes, and that will be okay. And on those days sobbing it out will feel pretty darn good.

And on those days I will quit. After I clean up the broken glass, of course.

 

Image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:2534803, copyright:sirylok

Nov 052014
 

I am always, always scared of taking big leaps, but I've learned this is the smartest thing we can do in this world. Be open to new things and go for it!It was typical Tuesday night. I was desperately trying to crank out some overdue blog work while hollering at my husband to just give up on the chicken nuggets and “get the kids in the bath already!”. Then my phone rang, and it was Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases, “Hey, do you want to go down to Texas and be on Glenn Beck with me?”

For those of you who don’t know Stephanie, here’s the short story: SHE IS ROCKING THE WORLD. Her recent post about the astounding inappropriateness of girls’ clothing on the mass market went beyond viral. While she’s busy managing the response to this, she’s also running full speed ahead with the Blog U 2015 conference (the second annual installment of the insanely successful conference she founded last summer), and oh, raising three young children.

So basically, when the scary-fantastic Stephanie asks, you say yes.

Glenn Beck wanted us to come on his show and discuss appropriate Halloween costumes from a mom’s POV. I could do this??

Forget the chicken nuggets; I called out to my husband, “Hey babe, how do you feel about me popping down to Texas?”

We live in Pennsylvania.

Fast forward three weeks and a lot of finagling, and I found myself on a plane. And then in a green room. Like, a legit green room–you’ll excuse me while I pee myself a bit here.

And while I was hanging out in the very green room, forcing myself not to on-air nervous puke, post-show pal-ing it up with Glenn Beck and his very sweet daughter (who thanked me for doing the show because it “meant a lot to her dad”) and then madly snatching souvenirs for my kiddos in the airport while we dashed to our plane, I had some important realizations.

I have people. Not as in a “my people will call your people” situation, but as in, I’m not alone in this world. When Steph first asked, I thought, “yeah, right–I could never actually pull this off”. And then my husband offered to take a day off work, my mother-in-law drove out to help with the kids for a night, and my friend jumped at my plea to pick my kids up from school. When I asked my dad for airport transport, he simply told me give him the times–of course he would do it. Another friend was willing to cover a few-hour gap in childcare if need be and yet another friend quickly started helping me research Glenn Beck and reviewing talking points.  Hundreds of people on Facebook took the time to weigh in and help me sort out attire dilemnas–the most import element of the entire trip, obviously. The support and encouragement of others as I prepped for and then went on this wild-to-me adventure blew me away. And that people actually took the time to tune into the show and then encourage me afterwards? My eyes welled with tears as I checked my phone that night.

I know this life can all too often feel lonely, but sometimes it’s when you most need people that you realize you aren’t alone. Through this trip, I felt caught. I felt blessed. I felt grateful.

This life can be so mundane...fantasizing about how the other half lives can be so fun...really fun! Hop over for a minute with me!

Jumping is ALWAYS boss. I was the kid in college who had to take Ativan before any presentation so I didn’t faint away in panic of public speaking. Needless to say, this appearance on Glenn Beck was NOT “right up my alley”. It was very far removed from my alley, several lanes over, in fact. That and despite the nerves that left me literally shaking a few days prior and post-show, I will never, ever regret that I did it. Truth told? The green room, private hotel room and car service were pretty sweet perks that just make me feel boss. I’m okay with that.

I know how hard it is to manage this life. But listen, carving out a few minutes for friendship is one thing you will never, ever regret.  Do it now! Trust me ;)Real friendships are good. Steph and I have done a lot of huge life experiences together–cranked out a blog conference, thrown book signings, hosted a ladies’ night out, family-timed it up on the Fourth of July, and endlessly supported each other online. She wows me, of which I’ve made no secret.

The thing that you may not know is that she’s terrified of flying.  And I’m not uber-touchy-feely. I love greeting with hugs and kisses, but beyond this, not so much…Steph and I held hands on every take-off (and with lay-overs, there were several). As soon as the cameras cut on the show, she walked across the stage and I squeezed her hand for dear life. I needed support–emotionally and so I didn’t fall over in my heels. We prayed together before we went on set, and I endlessly told her how proud I was of her for accomplishing all that she has. We shared a messy steak sub in the airport and ignored the crumbs on each other’s faces. When I froze on camera, I will never, ever forget her mouthing “Isaac’s costume” from across the set to cue my talking points and help encourage me.

And none of it felt weird.  At 35, I’m not sure I was supposed to meet a genuine real-for-life friend that I can totally be myself around. But I did. And I don’t have the words to express the realness of this blessing.

I am also realizing the value of full-on supporting someone else in this world. I am so proud of what Steph is doing, and the opportunity to be there for her and help her promote her message? A gift in its truest form.

Regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen going forth with this whole blogging business, I will forever be grateful for the time I hung out in the green room with Steph–and for all the too-important lessons I learned while we were there.

To Texas, Glenn Beck, and crazy life experiences you were never supposed to have.

You can catch a longer clip of the 10/28/14 show and read about it here, but please pay the $1 and subscribe to 30 days of The Blaze TV so you can watch the whole show–I say way more semi-intelligent things in the second half so I don’t look quite as vapid. xo ;)

Oct 272014
 

I spend so much time being scared of the next move I should make, when the truth is, I should channel the fearlessness of my daughter and just jump!A fan of change, I am not. I’m still working to wrap my mind around this whole Sunday package-delivery jazz, and my husband knows if WordPress updates to a new layout, it’s best to just pass me a paper bag and walk away.

To me, life is full enough as such; the added stress of adapting to new things only exhausts energy. Energy that I don’t have, and if I did have it, I’d rather spend it tackling that inane junk drawer. Or, let’s be honest, catching up with People Style Watch.

But the darnedest thing is that life doesn’t stop. God kind of designed it this way, an ongoing cycle of flux and flow. So the nasty beast of change crops up.

New things.

Firsts.

Being the calm, pulled-together mama that I am, I tend to handle any new event with a hefty dose of hysterical fuss. Consider this an open apology to my husband, family, friends and people I run into in the school parking lot for having to put up with me. I am really sorry.

It can be for big things. I was very open about how much the start of Kindergarten slayed me.

It can be for smaller things. I phoned three other moms last week begging them to explain proper Book Fair protocol.

You see, we had never done a Book Fair before. As it turns out, we survived. It was also not horrible, kind of fun, and next year I will likely spend less time the night before undue panicking over cash versus credit card. But for this year, it was new, and so it was scary.

I don’t think it matters if you have kids or not, or how old the kids are if you do have them. Or if you work outside the home or in it. Or if you are 5 or 65.  As long as you’re living and participating in this life, there is always going to be something new coming down the pike. A first. And if you have any measure of my nervousness in you, it might feel frightening, even overwhelming at times.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t do it.

It's scary to leap into the next part of life, but making that jump isn't only necessary, it's the smartest thing you can do for yourself. Take the jump!

Many firsts we don’t have a choice about–my son’s class was going to the Book Fair and I was expected to be there. Other firsts are fuzzier; agree to a national TV appearance? Burying self in hole under bed feels so much cozier.

Since my mother died, I’ve gotten better about pushing myself off the ledge and simply jumping. Part of it for me is that, in many ways, the worst already happened; The Horrible is no longer a first so I fear it less. The other part is the brevity of life became too real.

I highly doubt I will stop crowd-sourcing the merits of Dress A vs. Dress B on Facebook any time soon, but I do know I’m going to pick one of the dresses and just put it on. And go.

Go. Jump. Move. Staying in the same place is just so five minutes-ago.

 

First image credit: Thanks to Jen B. Studios for capturing my daughter’s fearlessness all in one picture!

Second image credit: Depositphotos.com, ID:4754565,copyright:monkeybusiness

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Floating Social Media Icons Powered by Acurax Blog Designing Company