I’m Back.

I’ve been terrible at getting back on track with my writing since our move. Life is just as hectic and insane as before but I just havent been able to get back in to the groove of things.

My 9 year old is currently acting like an angsty teenager.

My 3 year old is currently acting like an angsty teenager.

I can not wait for them to be teenagers. I am going to embarrass the ever loving daylights out of them. Payback my dears. I’m not a petty person, I swear, but it’s going to be so fun. Hahaha

I promise to get back to writing more blogs. I’ve got some great recipes I could share, some product reviews and even some stories of how my kids are bouncing off the walls mad.

Stay tuned.

An Open Letter to My Friends…

To my friends: 

I’m sorry for my absence. and I don’t just mean the last couple of months, which have been filled with moving, school starting, working more hours and having more appointments scheduled. When the world seems to be closing in on me, I have this tendency to withdraw into my shell. What a shitty thing to do. I become so preoccupied with my own whirlwind of life, I forget to reach out to those that are there for me through all of it. 

Please, don’t for a second, believe that I’m not thinking about you. I am. Daily, if not more. I get the thought into my head to call you or text you to check in… and then something spills, someone screams, the house falls into a sinkhole. OK. Maybe not the last one. But you get the idea. I promise to never ignore the phone when you pick it up to call me though. I might not be able to answer, but it will never be a deliberate ignore. 

To my oldest friends – thank you for knowing me better than myself and knowing that it doesn’t have anything to do with you personally when I go MIA. Thank you for always being there for me and for somehow knowing when I need you even if I don’t know that I do. I hope you never forget the amazing times we’ve had together and that you know that the hiccups we’ve experienced were just part of our friendship growing even stronger. 

To my new friends – thank you for wanting to be my friend despite my crazy. You see that my life is a crazy whirlwind and you do everything you can to try to make it more bearable. For that I am eternally grateful. I hope that my kindness is anywhere as comparable to yours. 

To my ex friends – you’re still on my mind and helped shape me into the person I am and I promise that I turned out pretty decent and am a pretty good person in general. Because of you, I made it through that time in my life that you were a part of and have used it to shape me into an even better person now. 

This letter isn’t a promise to you that I’m going to magically be a better friend. I’m going to keep trying my best to be as good of a friend as I can be. I hope that you feel the love I have for you and that you continue to remember that I am here for you for anything you might need. 

Thanks for being a friend. 

Xoxo, 

Me.

 

Changing a Life

Have you heard the University of Texas at Austin graduation commencement address given by Admiral William H. McRaven? If you haven’t I suggest you take the time to. I know a lot of people have focused on his number one lesson of start the day by making your bed. It’s a great take away. In fact, all ten of his lessons that stuck with him from Navy SEAL training are absolutely amazing and definitely noteworthy. However, there was something else that stuck out to me.

Admiral McRaven quotes Ask.com saying that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime. And if each person changed the lives of just ten people – and those ten people changed the lives of 10 people – then in five generations that graduating class will have changed the lives of 800 million people. This simple fact jumped out at me. The huge impact of changing ten people’s lives can make on the world.

And I started thinking about it. Have I changed the lives of people in my life? Have I done enough to make that kind of impact on the lives of people that I have met?

Did the bag full of groceries I brought to the homeless man and his dog impact his life enough to make a change?
Did the time I paid for someone’s groceries in front of me impact their life enough to cause a change?
Does the coffee I pay for the car behind me every time I get coffee impact that person’s day enough to change the outcome of their day?
When I’ve bought memorial jewelry for my friends who have suffered a loss or a note of encouragement changed the lives of the friends that they’ve gone to?
Did the inspirational cards I sent to a group of amazing women change their outlook on themselves and their lives?

When I’ve done things for people I’ve never considered that it could change their lives. I firmly hoped that it would brighten their lives even if only for a day but never thought for a second that it would change their lives.

So now I have a goal: to change someone’s life for the better. I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to do this or how I’m going to do this, but I do know that if I can change just one person’s life in an impactful way, I’ll not only change their life but my own. I hope that I can be the change in at least one person’s life.

But more than changing a stranger’s life, I hope that my children seeing the acts of kindness I perform will change their lives. I hope that they will see the way I treat strangers and that they will do the same in their lives. I love to tell the story of when D was about four years old and gave his silver dollar from the bank to a homeless woman because I didn’t have any cash and he wanted to help her. I hope his heart remains big and he remains generous because in this world we need more people like that.

Won’t you join me in spreading the good? Even if it’s a small gesture, like buying coffee for the person behind you in the drive thru line. I hope that one day I have the ability to make one giant change…. But for now I’m going to keep doing the little things for people and hope that I can be the change in one person’s life.

Cinde-who?

As a mom, I feel like the majority of my day consists of cleaning up after everyone else. Toys. Dishes. Crumbs. Their bodies! At times you can feel like Cinderella – everyone pulling you in a million directions all the time. I’ve found that there is only ONE way for me to not get overwhelmed by all of the cleaning hoopla. A list.

Now, if I don’t have a list, there are several ways I handle cleaning.

  1. Ignore it. I simply pretend like my house is clean. You don’t do that? I always think of the cute little signs you see on Pinterest or Etsy. Like this one from Laura’s Rustic Creations – I prefer the honesty behind this one. Some days it’s just mentally easier to let the mess go… our mental health is just as important as our home.memories
  2. Constantly follow your children. This one is the most anxiety causing. If you have children at all you know that they will follow you as you clean and immediately destroy your progress. This method of cleaning will drive you absolutely insane and ruin any good day within a short amount of time. I will pick up the toys, place them neatly in their respective places and the children will immediately go to that spot and remove all the toys from that spot.
  3. The “company is coming scramble.” This happens to be one of my favorites because the house gets a good cleaning. Everyone knows my home is lived in and my definition of dirty is a lot different than others BUT even I do the “company is coming scramble.” Every little thing that was out of place, finds its way home. It’s miraculous but short lived.
  4. MAKE A LIST. This is obviously what the blog post is about, right? My list. There are a thousand different cleaning lists that you can pull right from the internet and immediately begin implementing in your home. I’ve done it. Used other people’s lists. It can be a true lifesaver. I have my own now.

I’ve finally come up with my own cleaning list. I love it. The thing I’ve noticed the most about my cleaning list? I end up cleaning stuff that wouldn’t get cleaned otherwise – either they aren’t on my list or if I wasn’t using a list I wouldn’t have the time to get to it. I notice so many more items that need to be done – things that need to be dusted, items that are out of place, items that were missed last time.

My list also helps me with my ADHD cleaning ways. I’m like the dogs in UP. I see something (“squirrel”) and instantly lose my train of thought. Thank God I can go back to my list and see where I left off and what is left to do.

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Now, my list is probably not going to be awesome for everyone else. But I’ll tell you that it definitely works for me and if you want to use it for yourself, by all means, please download it! Print it! Maybe make your life easier too.

Each day, I do the same things. And then each day of the week, I have a part of the house that I focus on to deep clean. And then each week of the month, I actually deep clean something that needs to be done. Seems so simple, right? But if I don’t have the list out and a pen to cross things off as I go, then it doesn’t all get done. The house gets picked up, but it never actually gets CLEAN.

I’ve also begun to try to switch over to all natural cleaning products. Mister O loves to put all of my cleaning stuff in his mouth and I figure making the switch will prevent a number of calls to poison control. So far I’ve been getting my stuff from Grove Collaborative and love all of the things that I’ve gotten from there. I’m excited to continue to swap out products with what they sell on their website.

So, together with all my new cleaning supplies and my new cleaning list, my house is getting cleaner… it isn’t staying clean obviously, because kids, but it’s getting done. So I hope that my list might help you out as well.

Groovin’ in the Garden

I was so excited for this experience. I had read that there would be a rock climbing wall and a bouncy house for the kids to play in while we listened to the music of a local band and figured that G would get a kick out of the bouncy house at least.

We arrived late – when am I not late nowadays – and were able to find a decent parking spot right in the area the concert is held. After finagling the stroller out of the car and getting both of the kids strapped in I walked over to the conservatory lawn. There was still ample space to spread out our blanket and I snagged a spot next to the bouncy house since I knew that’s where G would want to spend most of his time.

The band continued to play and the crowd continued to grow. Apparently I wasn’t the only person who didn’t show up right at 6. The concert’s take place between 6 and 8 p.m. I know for our family this is a difficult time to do much. We typically have dinner, do bath time (obviously not every day – haha) and get ready for bed during that time. I think that it might be a difficult time for other families as well – a lot seemed to show up at 7 and many families were picnicking during the concert.

Due to the crowds the bounce house timed waves of children for about a minute worth of jumping before ushering in the next crowd and repeated this throughout the event. At one point they lost power to the bounce houses air supply and it collapsed on a group of children including G. The employees handled the situation calmly and quickly and had the children out in a very timely matter. The bounce house was back up and running in a timely manner as well, which kept the kiddos happy.

We didn’t bother standing in line for the rock climbing wall as I suspect G is too young to participate anyway, but it did draw quite the crowd of older kids.

The band, The April Fools, played a blend of rock, country and pop. The music was great, even though for me it was background music to a jumping toddler.

I wasn’t able to locate the concessions, mostly out of lack of trying because it wasn’t right in plain sight and G wouldn’t leave the line for the bounce house except to use the restroom.

This is definitely a favorite of mine, as I love music. Unfortunately, I’ll probably only attend one more this summer with the timing and my kiddos bedtimes. Definitely recommend though.

Choo Choo Bob’s Story Time

I added Choo Choo Bob’s story time to my summer bucket list because toddlers and trains seem to go together like cake and ice cream… besides that though, it seemed like every mom blogger in the cities had written about it at some point. Most of these blogs are at least a couple of years old, so maybe things are different now, but I was underwhelmed by the whole experience. While story time itself has all the makings of a wonderful experience, the store itself left me wondering when they would be closing down.

We entered the store about 10:05 and story time begins at 10 and it had already begun. Normally promptness is admirable but for some reason when toddlers are involved, having a little wiggle room in your start time seems appropriate. The seating area, while adorable and well decorated for a train store, could definitely use more seating. Every seat was filled with plenty of people standing. Engineer Paul was reading a story book related to trains though I didn’t catch the name as he was already into the story when we were able to finally get settled standing at the back of the crowd.

G became bored rather quickly so we headed over to where they have the train tables set up. The concept is fantastic and the kids seem to really enjoy playing with the trains. Sharing can get a bit dicey but most figure it out without too many tantrums ensuing.

The store itself was full of empty shelves and toys that felt overpriced – used trains seemed to be marked rather high. I do know that the train sets themselves tend to be a bit spendy… it was the used toys that took me by surprise.

And as a warning to those with toddlers that enjoy touching everything that they shouldn’t – there is a fantastic electric train in the shops front window that explicitly states DO NOT TOUCH. I bet you can guess how many kiddos can actually read that and heed its warning. Just keep an eye out for your kiddo knocking the train off its track.

Overall, a decent experience… G didn’t want to leave when it was time to go. I was expecting so much more for some reason, but the story time itself – although in need of more seating in my opinion – was cute and interactive and definitely worth at least one visit while your kids still like trains. I won’t be making this one of our regular stops but I’m glad we got to experience something together, even if it left a bit to be desired on my end.

Lash Lift and Tint

I’m not the girliest of girls. Hell. I didn’t even know how to curl my hair until a couple years ago. I still will only do my makeup for special occasions and possibly when the mood strikes for me to put my best foot forward. So… when the opportunity arose for me to try a Lift and Tint, I couldn’t say no.

I’ve had eyelash extensions done once before. I went in and let someone “practice” on me and while I loved the results, I knew that upkeep was out of my price range and just not something that would fit in ny lifestyle. So off fell the extensions with no fill ins and me looking fabulous for a couple of weeks.

My dramatic extensions.

My very close friend just started up her own business – Fresh & Flawless MN – and one of her newest services includes the Lift and Tint. When I saw the before and after she posted, I knew I had to give it a try.

The service is described on her site as “a chemical process that is used to change the texture and structure of the lashes. A
lash lift is a modern version of a lash perm without the perming rods. A lash tint is darkening of the lashes, it will make your eyes pop! No need for mascara.” No mascara? Definitely my kind of service.

I arrived at her studio inside of Salons by JC in Woodbury ready for a brand new experience. It’s seriously so cute and everything is very clean and professional.

She started by using makeup remover on my eyes – you are supposed to come makeup free though. After thoroughly cleaning my lashes she began the lifting process by curling my eyelashes. She then applied a silicone pad to hold my lower lashes down and help plump my upper lashes up.

Next she began sweeping my lashes up, setting them in place with a lash glue to attach to a rod. After the glue was applied she began to apply a fixing serum and left that in place for about 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes was up she removed the serum and applied a lash tint, darkening my eyelashes enough to look like I have mascara on.

Here’s a before and after:

It was seriously one of the easiest processes ever. I have some stubborn lashes so it took a little longer for my application than for other people but I was impressed. The lift is supposed to last 6-8 weeks with no upkeep in between.

When I had lash extensions done I knew that upkeep wasn’t in the books for me. My eyelashes ended up looking even thinner and sparse after they fell out. This process makes my lashes look and feel healthier and fuller. I can’t wait to have them done again.

This is 2 days later with no macara.

Boudoir. Just do it.

I’ve strived to be candid in my blogs. Honest. So here I go again.

I have been struggling with myself for the last couple of months. It has not been going well, at all. I’ve had to take the focus off of my physical journey – weight loss – and put it back on to my mental health. This has caused a shift that has made me self-conscious and more often than not, self-deprecating.  As mother’s, I feel like, more often than not, it is so easy to let the focus fall off of ourselves and entirely on to our children, our partners and our jobs/households. I, for one, tend to do this over and over again. I forget who I am.

It can be so difficult not to when you can’t remember the last time you washed your hair and you’re wearing the same coffee/spit up/food stained yoga pants for who knows how many days.

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There are so many ways we can make time for ourselves and finding a way that is rejuvenating is going to be different for each of us. This blog post though is going to be about one you’ve probably never even considered. Boudoir photos. I realize that having these photos done is not something you can do every time you start to lose your sense of self, but let me tell you, being able to look at them any time you’re feeling the way I’ve been feeling can be so uplifting.

I actually have been lucky enough to have had two separate experiences with boudoir photography. My first experience was with Blooming Portraits Photography Studio and the other, much more recent shoot, was with 4 Girls Glamour. A close friend of mine nominated me to win a photo shoot with 4 Girls Glamour and I was beyond shocked when I actually won. Shocked and terrified. Even though I had photos taken before, they were done by someone who had taken a TON of family photos and even photographed the birth of my son. She did my makeup and made me look phenomenal shortly after having G.

After seeing me give birth there isn’t much more to be self-conscious about.

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Going in to a studio to have “sexy” photos taken by someone I don’t know? That was terrifying.

I walked into the studio and was immediately directed to the makeup artist Jen Des Lauriers of High Brow Minneapolis. She got to work giving me a soft, yet bold look that would absolutely pull everything together. I even had false lashes which I always feel awkward in but she managed to make me feel completely comfortable and absolutely stunning.

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Next came the issue of what to wear. My lingerie isn’t exactly the sexiest stuff you can own and for some reason I hadn’t been smart enough to buy something new. No worries though. Elizabeth and Aaron – owners of 4 Girls Glamour – came through in the clutch with some of the most amazingly beautiful lingerie, shoes and jewelry I could have asked for. I even mustered up the courage to wear something that I would never be caught dead in. And I looked GREAT in it.

Elizabeth and Aaron are seriously the chilliest couple and so easy to work with. They know how to make you feel completely comfortable all while making you look your absolute best. They’re the kind of folks you can picture hanging out with on a patio somewhere, having drinks and talking about your kids. They did an amazing job of explaining how to pose and how to position myself to get the best angle. AND they made me laugh and have fun while doing it. AND they made me feel like a total hottie. As a mom of four, three that I birthed, who definitely has the mom bod going on, I wasn’t sure if the outfits I had chosen would look good or the poses they were choosing would look good. But holy hell. When I finally got to see the proofs I was in absolute shock that I could look as amazing as I did.

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I will 110% always recommend that a woman get boudoir photos done. Not just for her partner, but for herself. I’ve heard all of the excuses and I can guarantee that you are perfect just the way you are. These photographers are skilled at making you look your absolute best. Why not embrace the beauty that your partner and everyone else can see and finally see it yourself?!  Wear as much or as little as your comfortable with and know that once the photos come back your confidence is going to soar.

And while I’m still struggling with all of my everyday things and my mental health issues – I get to look at these photos and know that there is so much more to me than meets the eye. There is sass, beauty, confidence, sexiness and so much more. If it takes these photos to remind me, then so be it.

Summer Bucket List

It’s approaching July which means that summer is a third of the way done. I have a list of things that I’ve been meaning to bring the kids to do – a very small bucket list of items that I want to do with my kids. And yet … my good intentions have brought nothing to fruition. The items on my list aren’t anything significant or spectacular but I think that if I post it here maybe I’ll be held accountable to actually DO THEM.

Choo Choo Bob’s Storytime, Choo Choo Bob’s, 2050 Marshall Avenue, St Paul, MN 55104
Tuesday’s at 10 a.m.
You get to go and sing songs and hear stories about trains. Seems like something fun for kids of all ages.

Tots and Trains, Jackson Street Roadhouse and Museum, 193 E. Pennsylvania Ave., St Paul, MN 55130
Every Wednesday June-August, 10 a.m.
There’s a transportation story, craft time and lots of play areas to explore. Plus, coffee for the adults. Sounds like my kind of fun.

Groovin in the Garden, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, 1225 Estabrook Drive, St Paul, MN 55103
Wednesday’s 6:00-8:00 p.m. through August 1
This seriously seems like one of the more fun items on my list. Live bands for everyone to enjoy plus there’s a ton of activities for the kids including a climbing wall and bounce house. Bring your own picnic or purchase an array of snacks, beer and wine.

Ice Cream Sunday’s at Gibbs Farm, Gibbs Farm, 2097 W Larpenteur Ave, St Paul, MN 55113
Sunday’s 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Explore the Gibbs Farm and all they have to offer while enjoying homemade ice cream.

Riverfront Quest Family Walking Tour, Mill City Museum, 704 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55407
July 14 and August 11, 10:30 a.m. – noon
For this, you get to explore along the riverfront on a treasure hunt geared towards families. From 10:30-11 you make a quest journal to keep notes along the way. Plus, admission to the museum is included in the price.

Hanging with Heroes, Mounds Park Academy, 2051 Larpenteur Ave E, St Paul, MN 55109
July 21, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Tickets for the 3rd annual Hanging with Heroes includes activities, snacks and desserts and a good bag that the kiddos get to bring home with them. Everything is superhero themed, so even the older kids can enjoy.

Fawn-Doe-Rosa, 2131 US-8, St Croix Falls, WI 54024
open 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. during the week and 10:00 a.m. – 6 p.m. on weekends
I’ve known about this cool little park for awhile now and still haven’t gotten my butt into gear to see it. There’s a deer yard, a petting area, a farmyard, pony rides and educational tours. Everyone I know that’s been absolutely loves it.

Movie in the Park, Various Parks
Various Dates/Typically starting at dusk
I plan on attending the Movies in the Park in the St Paul area. They are free and open to the public. Some of them have pre-movie activities. I really think that this could be a ton of fun. The kids always love the drive-in so this could have the potential of being just as exciting. It could also pose the possibility of being a crazed mess with the toddler. Only time will tell.

My list is pretty short and sweet, I know. But with all of the intentions I have to get these fun things done, I never seem to manage getting it all done. We made a long list of items to do last year and got through a weekend before it was forgotten about. I’m really hoping that in the next two months we can figure out a way to do all of these things. I’m hoping that after attending, I can blog about it, which will help keep me a little more accountable.