Suffering through the pre-tween years

I don’t recall how I behaved at the age of nine, but if I were any where near as bad as my nine year old, I would hope someone would’ve put me in my place. I swear that you’re only warned about the issues of the teenager years, when your child is working on figuring out who they’ll be, struggling through becoming an adult and developing so many parts of their personality at the same time. APPARENTLY THOUGH this is something that happens throughout a child’s entire life. Apparently, I haven’t read nearly enough parenting books.

I honestly can’t sit and think of how much I’m failing as a parent, struggling as an adult and overall just failing him. How can I feel so much pressure to do something perfectly when no one else in the world has ever done it? I see their smiling faces and perfect outfits and amazing lives blasted all over Instagram. They make their lives seem so beautifully in place and, well, my life…? My life is dirty floors, dishes overflowing in the sink, disheveled children in unmatched clothing and myself just getting off the hot mess express. So why in the world would I think that I’m going to be able to raise tiny humans into decent human beings?

D and I struggle constantly. I can’t speak for him, but it seems as though he feels unwanted since the births of the younger two. And he seems to struggle a lot with feelings of inadequacy when it comes to his heritage. All I want in life is for him to be happy and to feel loved and accepted, but for some reason he doesn’t seem to get those things from my household or myself, regardless of how hard I try. It’s been a difficult stage and even more difficult to find the time that he needs alone with me.

Apparently he is going through a stage and there are other parents that are struggling with some of the same things I am. We have two big issues. The first is his intense emotions: he feels like everyone hates him one minute – crying and vulnerable – and the next minute he will hate everything and everyone in return – sometimes screaming at the top of his lungs. The second is the constant power struggle – he wants to be the one making the rules and will do anything he can to play everyone to get his way.

I’ve decided that the best thing I can do is meet him in the middle.

I need to make time for him. Time spent with just the two of us. Even if it’s just a quick trip to the store since we have such a busy schedule.

Work on helping him understand the emotions he’s feeling so that he doesn’t hate me and so that I don’t end up like Britney Spears circa 2007.

So I as I continue to understand this developmental stage, likely finally getting a grasp on it just as he enters a new stage, I have to wonder. How many others are experiencing heart break during this age?

 

 

 

Love Yourself

I’ve read a few of the popular personal growth books going around lately. They’re full of insight. They’re full of great advice. Hell, they inspire me to make a change in my life so that I too can wash my face and be a badass. But you know what? The number one thing that I actually pulled from me these books? LOVE YOURSELF.

All of the self-help books, personal coaching, vision boards, daily mantras… none of it means jack shit in the grand scheme of things if you don’t follow that essential rule. Love yourself. It seems simple enough, right? You’re probably thinking, I already do that. Of course I love myself. But do you?

I just finished reading You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life and I have to admit – I don’t love myself nearly enough as I should. I don’t put myself first – ever. She ended so many chapters with the same thing. Love yourself.

Love Yourself because it’s the Holy Grail of happiness.
Love Yourself no matter what anyone else thinks.
Love Yourself like you’re the only you there is.
Love Yourself no matter who you really are.
Love Yourself unless you have a better idea.
Love Yourself and the bluebirds of happiness will be your permanent backup singers.
Love Yourself be grateful for all you are and all that you’re becoming.
Love Yourself you deserve it.
Love Yourself and life becomes a party.
Love Yourself more than you love you drama.
Love Yourself right now, wherever you’re at.
Love Yourself you’re doing an awesome job.
Love Yourself and you’ll be invincible.
Love Yourself fiercely, loyally, unapologetically.
Love Yourself while you’ve still got the chance.
Love Yourself you can do anything.
Love Yourself and you will have it all.
Love Yourself and the Motherlode shall bestow her magic on you.
Love Yourself with a kung fu grip.
Love Yourself you are a badass.

So, while I learned so much from this book about being present, taking the steps necessary to be the future self I want to be and how to visualize it all into existence, the real thing that stood out to me the most of all was to love myself. Fiercely, loyally, unapologetically. There is a whole chapter dedicated solely to this idea, but I honestly love that she strings it throughout the book, reminding the reader of the importance of those two words.

So now what? I’ve finished another self-help/personal growth book. Is today the day that I actually put what I read into action? Will I be part of the 5 percent of people who actually do something with their lives after completing something that inspired them? God, I hope so. I’m off to do the things I’ve giggled at in the past. Creating a vision board and writing out affirmations. The coolest idea for affirmations that she gave was to ask your friends what they think of you and use those things as your daily affirmations. I’m going to use my friends love for me to help to love myself.

I’m going to project positivity into the world. I’m going to write down ten things I’m grateful for every day. I’m going to write some THING every day. I’m going to be a badass. I’m going to LOVE MYSELF.

Dear Santa…

I knew that, inevitably, my children would stop believing in Santa Claus. It’s just part of growing up. I, for some reason, didn’t think it would happen in the same year for my older two, but it did. Luckily, I only had to deal with explaining to one of them the reason behind the “lie.” d is very literal and didn’t take kindly to being lied to for so many years, especially since every time he asked I found a way around telling him the truth.

I let him know that the reason I continued this tradition with him is because of the magic behind it all. That there is so much bad in this world that a little bit of good – even if it was a story – makes things a little brighter for kids. The tradition of Santa helps teach kids to believe in the mystery and awe of the world, which hopefully in turn helps them believe in themselves and the good that still exists. So, even though I may have continued the story of Santa, it was all for a positive reason.

He didn’t quite appreciate my reasoning and swears that he won’t tell his kids about Santa.

Which leads me to my younger two. The continuation of the tradition of Santa Claus. Because even though I teach my children the story of Jesus and stress how important it is to remember that Christmas isn’t about the gifts but about the meaning behind the holiday, I still love to surprise them with the gifts from Santa. It’s been a hard decision that I’ve wrestled with. But to me the idea of Santa Claus is so much more than a big man dressed in a red suit, delivering presents all over the world. I really do believe that having that little something magical to hold onto helps keep kids younger for longer. In a world that is full of such sadness and darkness, where kids are growing up so much quicker and for such different reasons than those in the past, why not do everything we can to help them stay young?

I know that there are plenty of parents out there that don’t tell their kids about Santa Claus, and that’s totally fine. Because parenting is about making choices that work best for you. But I’m going to continue to play the role of Santa for my children. I’m going to continue to bring that little bit of magic into their lives. You’ve only got so much time with them as little kids, why not make the most of it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

The hardest part of parenting

I’m not sure when I decided or knew that I wanted kids. It’s one of those things that has been with me long enough that it just seems ingrained at this point. One thing I can tell you, is no amount of literature or blogs or popular opinion ever prepared me for the absolute hardest part of parenting.

It wasn’t pregnancy.

It wasn’t the childbirth.

It wasn’t the ever present debatable decision of breast or formula. Or how long to continue.

It’s not the sleepless nights, the sick days, the learning curve that comes with each child.

Nope.

The hardest part of parenting, if you ask me, is the kids themselves. The fact that they’re little individuals who form a personality and immediately begin testing their autonomy in this life. And it only gets harder and harder to navigate.

Maybe I’m alone on this. I see the perfect Instagram photos and videos on people’s Facebook stories. I know that those are only a fraction of people’s lives. But I have to know. Am I alone?

Am I the only parent out there struggling with their kids trying to become their own people? The personality clashes and the headbutting?

I have 4 kids. Some people might argue that because only 3 are biological – those people can shove it. The older two are a prime example of the clashing. It comes in waves. Sometimes we get along amazingly. Other times in their lives it’s been a constant struggle to understand each other. Adolescence is slowly driving me insane and making me feel like a terrible mother.

When he doesn’t feel a connection to me at the moment because he’s trying so hard to figure out his other heritage. Or when he tries to push boundaries so he can see what he can actually get away with – but unlike a toddler it isn’t as endearing.

I’m struggling in this chapter. Help a mama out and share some advice.

Balance isn’t Perfection

Do you ever sit and wonder how other mom’s are able to do ALL the things but you can barely get through your to-do list? They’re full of the Pinterest project parties and always dressed and looking amazing. You on the other hand are full of Pinterest fails and may or may not be on day 3 of those yoga pants. Take a deep breath mama. It’s alright. Life is about balance and sometimes that means that you don’t have to do it all – because frankly, if you try to do it all, you might just end up burnt out. And being balanced doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect. Those mama’s who look like they’ve got it perfectly together are likely choosing which items to prioritize and maybe looking put together is at the top of their list.

Sit down and come up with a list of things that you’d like to accomplish on a daily basis. Not a to-do list. Just the things you want to get done daily. Shower, maybe? Put on some mascara? Put the kids down for nap? Just small things. Got your list? Good. Now number those things in order of what’s most important to you. Don’t roll your eyes and think about how you don’t have time to use the bathroom, let alone get these things done. Now maybe getting these things done requires that you go to bed a little earlier and wake-up a little earlier. Maybe it means throwing your kids in front of the TV while you get yourself ready. Whatever it might be, take the time to do some things for you. And if you don’t get all the things on your to-do list done, but you feel better about yourself, well than you’re doing something right.

The problem is that we’re always comparing ourselves and our lives to those around us. Yet, we don’t know what their lives are really like. We see these beautiful family photos and the put together mom walking through Target and assume they have it all together and WE must be doing SOMETHING WRONG. Take a step back and remember that no one is perfect and we all struggle with something in our lives. The first step to having any type of balance in your life is to have compassion for yourself when things don’t go exactly as planned.

One way I’ve found to keep myself sane is to use a bullet journal – I track my meals, my water intake, my sleep and write down 10 I’m grateful for. Find something that works that way for you. Make a fresh to-do list every day instead of having one HUGE to-list that stares you down all week. Take baby steps to find your balance. But just remember, you don’t have to perfect. Perfection is an unattainable standard we’ve all created. Life is about being the best version of ourselves and being happy – stop reaching for that unattainable standard.

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.

mylist

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.