Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One Little Word 2016: Planning

Have you heard of the One Little Word concept?  If not, you can read about my discovery of it here.  Then come back and find out the next step to help you nurture your word.
 
If you don't plan your actions, then you usually end up not achieving your goals, and living emotionally instead of intentionally. For example, if I don't plan what I am going to do in the evening, I get home, eat dinner, and start to feel tired. I sit on the couch and stare at my phone, or watch DVR. If I plan my evening, I have written goals, and I am more motivated to do them because I have purpose. And I want to check off the things on my list. So even though I know the laundry needs to be folded and put away, and technically, I don't need to "plan" for that in my planner, if I don't write it down, then it doesn't happen!
 
The same thing goes for your One Little Word. In order to have continued focus on your word, grab a sheet of paper, a notebook, diary, etc., and start thinking about the following. Write it down, keep it with you, add to it, refer to it. It will help you be successful in making this word count in 2016.

Your Word

Why is your OLW important to you? Why does this matter? Write it down so you don’t forget.

 How will your OLW affect you and others?

Four mini goals: Break down your OLW into steps. How will you accomplish this? What are the pieces you need to include? This takes your overall word into small, manageable parts.
 
Here is mine:
 
CALM

Why is your OLW important to you? Being calm is important because I waste so much of my life worrying, and being anxious about things I cannot even control. When I am not calm, I am not the best wife, mother, or friend.

Why does this matter? This matters to me because I see my son being anxious. I realize that this is partially due to genetics for both of us, so it may never completely go away. At least, not without a LOT of daily intentional behavior modification. However, it can be minimized. I want to be a good example to him. I hope that he will mimic the behaviors he sees in me. I am also doing this to become a better version of myself.

How will your OLW affect you and others? Our household will have less tears, less anger, less regret. My relationship with my husband and my children will improve. I will feel less anxiety.

Four mini goals:

Mini Goal #1: Be present. By living in the now, I cannot focus on the past or the future. Intentionally take each moment as it comes. When worry or other negative thoughts creep in, let them go. If something is important enough that it will matter one year from now, address it with thoughtfulness in order to come to a resolution.

Mini Goal #2: Lower the bar. Practice, not perfection. Promising to wake up early each day, or end each day with yoga is ideal, but not realistic. My goal is to do yoga three times per week. Yoga brings meditation and peace. Another goal is to draw once a week. Drawing will provide a visual reminder of my OLW.

Mini Goal #3: Remove anxiety triggers from my lifestyle. When I consume sugar and caffeine, I find myself becoming more anxious. Going to bed on time, even when my husband is not home, is important. Getting rid of clutter will allow me to feel calm.

Mini Goal #4: Unplug. Being away from social media will allow me to accomplish the first three goals. If my face is not in my phone, I will have time to express gratitude, perform self care, enjoy my family, etc. The time between work and bed time will be spent away from electronics.
 
Share yours!  Comment, or link to your blog!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Spread: Breakfast

As we head into 2016, I think many of us intend to better ourselves in some way - emotionally, financially, physically.  Even if we don't officially say, "I am making XYZ my New Year's Resolution", the new year is always a good time for a fresh start.

I get a lot of questions about my "diet".  I put it in quotations because it is not any particular diet plan.  The way I eat is truly a lifestyle.  I have done diets - I think Atkins was my first one.  I have seen my mom and my girlfriends do diets.  None of them stuck.  Mine didn't either.  When I stopped eating gluten, it finally clicked for me that any change in my nutritional habits would have to be permanent.  It was just a switch that turned off (or on?), and now saying no to gluten is not difficult at all.  People say, "Oh, you're so good to not eat that brownie."  Um, no.  It's poison for my body.

Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol have not been as easy of a switch.  But I am working on it, and that is my intention for 2016.

Anyway, I am not in shape at all, cardio-speaking (is that a word?).  Or weights.  Another intention.

However, even without exercise, my body stays fairly average/slim.  This could be attributed to some good metabolic genetics, but I believe it is mainly due to my food intake.  Many are surprised to find out that I do not work out, and then they immediately want to know what I eat (or don't eat) in order to keep the weight off.  When, honestly, I'm not necessarily trying to eat a specific way for weight loss.  I'm just eating healthy overall.

The other day, one co-worker asked me for my specific meal plan.  I shared with her, and she was determined to follow this so that she could lose a few pounds. However, the next day, she brought in similar items to what I had mentioned, but the absolute poorest choices!  It never ceases to amaze me that people do not know the difference between healthy food and unhealthy food.  They think that because something is a fruit that it is healthy.  This is not so!  We really need to educate ourselves more about the ingredients in our food.

What I would like to do is share with you what I do eat, and then share examples of good and bad alternatives.  If you ever have a question, I would love to answer, so feel free to comment or send me a message.  However, disclaimer:  I am not a professional dietitian/nutritionist/health care provider.  This is just what I do based on my own Google research.

I will break down each meal into one post so that you aren't overwhelmed by the information.  Today we will talk about breakfast.

During the week, my breakfast is the same:  plain greek yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts.  On the weekend, I put yogurt into little containers and bag up nuts (meal prepping!).  Then the night before, I just grab a container of yogurt, a bag of nuts, and a fruit and throw them in my lunch bag.  It's super easy.

On the weekend, it can vary, but not much:  tortilla (gluten free), egg, avocado, salsa.  Things that require a little more prep work and are not ideal for rushed weekday mornings.

After our conversation where I discussed my breakfast meal, my co-worker brought in:  canned fruit cocktail and sweetened fruit yogurt.  I almost died.  She is probably consuming more than her daily recommendation for sugar during breakfast alone!  Yet she has no idea and believes she is being healthy because she's eating "like" me.

Let's break down the weekday breakfast.  All options are things I would consider eating for breakfast.  Other options will be mentioned under other meals posts.

I have a dairy, a fruit, and a protein.  Dairy can be tricky, it's not my favorite as far as being the healthiest.  You can read why I think this here.  But I do eat it.

Also note that serving size does matter.  You can't eat five eggs at breakfast and say it's healthy.  To determine what you desire your calorie intake to be and to discover what each food item's calorie count is, check out Lose It.  I used this until I got into a routine and then I memorized what I needed to consume each day.  Much of my food is repetitive, so I don't need to record each day.  If you like variety and change your meals often, their tracking program is awesome to keep your calories in check.  And it's free!

Having a routine helps keep me on track as well.  If I decide to have pancakes and bacon for breakfast on a special occasion, I don't then continue to make poor choices for the rest of the day (at least, I try not to, although sometimes #pmsbelike gimme some chocolate and wine).  When I have purchased the food I normally eat, it is easy for me to go back to my routine next meal after a splurge.  This may not work for everyone.  Some people just spiral out of control.  You have to know yourself.

Good dairy options:  plain cottage cheese, sliced cheese (cheddar, provolone, etc.), eggs, sour cream, cream cheese, butter.  I consume full fat products, not low fat or non fat.  But this is a very small portion of my meal.  One serving or less.

Bad dairy options:  ice cream, American cheese, any flavored yogurt, including flavored greek yogurt.  These ALL have unnecessary sugar added, or fake sugar.  I don't care what the packaging says.  This includes "vanilla" yogurt.  You need plain.  PLAIN.  Add your own fresh or frozen fruit for flavor.  Then you are in control of what is in your food.

Good fruit options:  fresh fruit or frozen fruit.  Check the ingredients to make sure the only thing listed is fruit.  If you are concerned about cost, find out what produce is in season and those will usually be less expensive than out of season produce.

Bad fruit options:  canned fruit of any kind, juice, jelly/jam, dried fruit (including raisins), candied fruit, fruit snacks, smoothies.

Good protein options:  eggs, ham (not deli meat), chicken, salmon, quinoa, seeds, beans, natural peanut butter or almond butter.

Bad protein options:  candied nuts, bacon (I know, boo), sausage.

The weekend breakfast is more of a splurge.  I try to stay away from consuming a lot of carbs, as they usually come in the form of processed foods.  But this is about balance.  This is why "diets" don't work long term.  My lifestyle overall is healthy.  So a splurge here and there are acceptable for me. Tortilla (gluten free), egg, avocado, salsa.

Carbs, dairy, and veggies.  We already went over the dairy.

Good carb options:  corn tortillas, half a slice of whole wheat or seeded bread, sweet potato, pretzels.  You are looking for things that are as natural as possible, which is difficult to find in carbs.  That is why I like to stay away from them.

Bad carb options:  white bread, cereal, cream of wheat, donuts, muffins, oatmeal.

Good veggie options:  fresh veggies!  The possibilities are endless!  Spinach, zucchini, cucumber, squash, mushrooms, celery, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, etc.  You could make an amazing frittata with tons of veggies.  And frozen veggies, but just like the fruit, check the ingredients list.  This should not include any sauces, butter, or cheese.

Bad veggie options:  white potatoes, corn.


I hope these tips help you come up with some healthy breakfast ideas.  Next time I will talk about lunch options!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Craft: Hand Ring Holder

Making Christmas crafts with my kids is one of my favorite things to do.  They make the best gifts for grandparents, and it is a terrific way to connect and engage with your kids.

Last year, I had them make hand shaped ring dishes.  I found this idea on Pinterest (obv).

Following the directions, I picked up the air drying clay from Michael's Craft Store.  I had them lay their hands on the clay and used a plastic knife to make indentations around their fingers.  Then I pulled their hand off and finished cutting out the shape.  I molded the hand around my son's Pokeballs!

After a couple of days, I pulled the hands off and had the girls paint them.  This was their favorite part, as they love painting!


Do you ever have leftover paper plate or bowls from birthday parties?  This is perfect for dropping a few dabs of paint for this kind of project.  Easy cleanup - just throw away the plate when you are done!

Another tip - use an old fitted sheet over your kitchen table.  It will (mostly) protect your table, you can throw it in the washer when you are done, and it is reusable!


I used miniature twine to wrap a note on a tag around one of the fingers.  I don't remember what I said, but something like, "Grandmas hold our tiny hands for a little while, but our hearts forever."  Wrap it up, and you're all set!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Party Planning: 2 Year Old Kitty Birthday Party

I absolutely love party planning.  I want to share some of my party planning themes with you.  I always use my Ultimate Party Planner to plan out my party.  You can check it out here.

When my youngest daughter turned two, she really wanted a kitty.  She was obsessed with cats.  We decided it was the right time for our family to get a cat, and a friend's cat was having kittens, so it was meant to be!

I toyed with the color purple as the theme color, but I wasn't loving it, and then I came across this kitty dress and tshirt.  So coral and lavender became the colors!

 


I designed the invitations.  I printed them two sided and then cut the cardstock in half.  I folded them and sealed them with coordinating colored washi tape.



Next was the cake.  I love ombre.  #ombreallthethings  I chose a simple round cake with ombre airspray, and then I made these tiny balls of yarn and attached them to some paper straws in coordinating colors.


 I found these great plates, napkins, and cups in similar colors.  I also purchased a lavender tablecloth and orange table runner.  I found wooden utensils and paper straws with coordinating color stripes on them.

 

 
  
For the decor, I opted for kitty litter and cat food. Everyone got a kick out of this!


I also found these tiny kitty figures.  I spelled out "CAT" with blocks, and placed some Swedish Fish in an apothecary container.   I also made more yarn balls.


I read "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake" during the party.


The time of this party allowed for light refreshments, just punch and cake.  I served a coral drink (peach mint tea), and a lavender drink (blueberry spritzer).  Garnished with fresh mint and blueberries.


I also served strawberry, chocolate, and regular milk in these milk bottles, tied with yarn.


Each child adopted a kitty.  They named their new friend and received an adoption certificate.  They were sent home with their new kitty, a feeding dish, kitty stickers, Swedish Fish, a KitKAT, and goldfish crackers, all in a cute little basket.

 


 

This was one of my favorite parties to plan!  It was unique and fun!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

One Little Word: 2016

Have you heard of the One Little Word concept?  Ali Edwards is where I first heard of this.  I started doing this during the middle of 2015.  My word was "Present".  I wanted to be more present in my life.  I didn't truly immerse myself into my word the way I plan to in 2016, and yet it still made a huge impact on my daily life.  I am so excited to see how my life will change in 2016 when I am actually focusing on my word on a regular basis!


When I present this idea to my friends, the first thing I often hear is, "I don't even know where to start."  Considering the amount of words we have available to us, this does not come as a surprise.  We want our word to make a difference.  We want it to mean something.  It's overwhelming to narrow it down to just one word.  I felt the same way when I started thinking about my word.

Here are some tips on how to arrive at your word, as well as some information of how I came to my word.

1.  There is no right or wrong way to choose a word.  When you hear "your" word, you will know in your heart.

2.  Think about what you want to intentionally focus on in 2016.  Work?  Home?  Health?  Marriage?  Kids?  Of course, after you choose your word, it can, and often times will, spill over into every area of your life.

3.  Be selfish.  This word is for you, and you only.  You don't have to share it with your kids, your spouse, your dog.  This is just for you (or at least, it can be).

4.  Do you struggle with something in life?  What is the exact opposite of that struggle?  Is that something you want to work on next year?

5.  What inspires you?  What gives your tummy butterflies?  Do you need a word that will challenge you?



The word I have chosen for 2016 is "Calm".

When I began to think about my word, I thought about my struggles. I am an anxious person.  For various reasons, my anxiety has gotten worse over the past few years.  I see it affect the people in my life who I love so dearly.  I can do, and have done, things to work on this anxiety, and I do see it improving.  I want to continue this in 2016.  Some words that came to me when I thought about the opposite of anxiety were:  peace, tranquility, composed, happy, content.  And calm.  When I thought of the word calm, it really struck a chord for me.  I knew that would be my word.

Later, I will talk about how I am going to incorporate this word into my life.  One thing that my girlfriend and I have done (her genius idea), was create a Facebook group.  In this group, we will have prompts to encourage you to focus on your word.  We will support, brainstorm, and celebrate together.

If you'd like to join, click on the link, and we would love to have you!  Meet some new people, have a new experience. And choose your word.

What is your word in 2016? What will you meditate on? How will move forward with purpose? What word will you choose to live in 2016?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Disneyland Planning: Part Three

My favorite part!  Here is where I tell you my favorite tips for a trip away from home.  Be sure to also read Part One and Part Two.

Did you know that your olfactory sense is very closely related to your memory?  When I smell moth balls, I am instantly transported to my great grandma's farm house in Nebraska.  I can see the rhubarb growing beneath the kitchen window.  There was a white wooden staircase leading from the side of the house to the backyard.  I can see the clothes blowing on the clothing line outside in the hot, muggy wind.  The house had four floors - basement, first floor, second floor, and the attic.  The kids went to the attic to look through her treasures.  This is where the moth balls were.  I haven't been to that house in over twenty years, and yet the smell of moth balls makes it seem like I was there yesterday.  The sense of smell is very powerful.

Therefore, Tip #1:  before you leave on your trip, pick up a new air freshener for your car, and a matching scent air freshener for your hotel.  Get a scent you don't normally use.  If you use pumpkin in your house, your brain won't solely associate pumpkin with your vacation.  Put your new air freshener in your car before you leave.  And when you get to the hotel, set up your air freshener.  Your brain will associate this smell with these experiences, and when you smell it again, you will be transported back to your fond family vacation memories.  Wild, right?

Tip #2:  Child carriers.  Disneyland rents strollers for a very reasonable price.  If your children don't normally use strollers, but are still too young to walk all day, renting a stroller each day won't break the bank.  And, it's one less thing to purchase and/or pack.  Another item I would bring is a carrier.  If you are into babywearing, you will love this.  If you haven't heard of babywearing, Google it.  NOW.  It is the most amazing concept ever for mommies.  I borrowed an SCC (soft structured carrier) from my AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL girlfriend.  Here are several options, and completely worth the investment, because you will use this after you return home.  My favorite is the Boba.  If you have a child that still naps, they will most likely snooze in this thing, allowing you to stay at the park for the entire day.

Bonus Tip:  If you bring or rent a stroller, bring a bike lock.  The first time I went to Disneyland, our stroller was stolen (or mistakenly taken).  I was really upset, and determined to not let this happen again.  We used the bike lock to secure the stroller to a post.

Tip #3:  If you wish to partake in a special meal at the park (Blue Bayou or a character meal), only eat one meal per day at Disneyland.  Their food is expensive, and some of the food is not that great.  Each day, we had breakfast at the hotel in the morning, filled our insulated backpack with snacks (beef jerky, fruit, carrots, nuts, protein bars), and sandwiches.  Bonus was that we could eat meals while waiting in line, so the kids were distracted!  Most restaurants require a reservation - you will need to make these reservations well in advance of your trip.  At least 30 days.  I recommend making lunch the meal you have at a restaurant.  Plan to have your reservation around 11-11:30 so that you are eating by noon.  You will eat the most food during this meal, so your tummies will remain full for most of the afternoon.  It is also a nice way to break up the walking and waiting in line.

Bonus Tip:  If you have a dietary restriction, do not be afraid to mention it.  My son and I are gluten free, and everywhere we went provided us with a separate menu.  There were tons of gluten free options (including desserts and yummy bread rolls!).  I dislike making a big deal of being gluten free because it is such a "fad" right now.  Usually I just look for something that will work for me on the regular menu.  But it is a real thing, and someone told me that Disneyland had great GF options.  I was very happy to see my son scarf down his rolls and desserts, something he doesn't usually get to do when we eat out.

 Root beer float with Mickey sprinkles!

Tip #4:  If you go in October, buy a Halloween Party ticket.  You could do this a couple of days, actually.  Relax in the morning (go swimming, walk Downtown Disney, have lunch, take naps, etc.), then go to the park (I think they start letting you in at 3 p.m., BE SURE TO CHECK THAT INFO).  This is a special event.  They only sell a certain number of tickets, so there aren't as many people in the park as usual.  Also, they have several Trick or Treat stations throughout the park, and when the people are in line for this, there are no lines for the rides.  We went on every ride we wanted to go on, some more than once!

Halloween decor was amazing!

Halloween Party bracelet.

Tip #5:  This is a how to for the peek-a-boo rice game I made before the trip.  I took a heavy duty plastic bag, and filled it half way with rice.  Then I went around the house and found small items to add.  This one included a clothes pin, a green wooden triangle block, a bracelet, a piece of candy, a lego, a toy apple, and I'm sure a few other things.  Then I zipped it up and taped the top of the bag shut with washi tape.  I asked the kids to find items based on color, size, shape.  It was great entertainment for them!



Tip #6:  Download the Disneyland app.  This benefits you two ways.  First, it's an instant map of the park, and it shows you exactly where you are in the park.  Even though I did print the Disneyland map, and they hand them out like crazy in the park, the map is really busy and can be confusing when two children are running circles around you.  Second, it tells you how long the wait is for rides!

Tip #7:  Put your phone on battery save mode, and trade off phone usage.  For example, I keep my phone on for the first half of the day (still with battery save on), and Mr. Perfect turns his off until the afternoon.  Then we switch.  This can save a lot of battery life.  A long day at Disneyland using your camera, posting to Facebook, texting photos to your family, will drain your battery very quickly.  There aren't a ton of places to charge your phone, nor is that how you want to spend your time at Disneyland!  Here are more tips on how to prolong your battery life.

Finally, Tip #8:  Make a book of your adventure!  I love Blurb.  Each year I make a photo book of our year for the grandparents.  This year, our Disneyland photos will have their own separate book.

I hope these tips and the other information I have provided helps you have an organized and successful family vacation, either to Disneyland or elsewhere.  Happy Organizing!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday Musings: Life Well Lived

What does a life well lived mean for you?  I read this question on a blog recently, and it caused me to pause.  Having dealt with depression and anxiety, sometimes it can feel like nothing is being well lived.

Recently, life has been truly wonderful.  My husband's work schedule has been very, very good, which is a rarity.  It has allowed us to spend a lot of time together (my love language).  We have done a lot of work on the house, enjoyed home cooked meals, and I have felt less stressed.

His schedule is changing next week.  This is common in his line of work, and we have just been really lucky that his schedule was constant for a few months (his schedule can potentially change each week!).  I am anxious about the change that is coming, and it puts me on edge about other simple changes.  In addition, holiday time makes me anxious.  The anxiety can make it difficult for me to see the positive.

I am trying to focus on all of the positive things that I have been enjoying, as well as the pros to his new schedule.  I will have more time to watch "my" shows, more one on one time with all three kids, and more time to myself.

A life well lived can evolve.  In high school, you may have had dreams of what your life would be like as a "grown up".  Based on people in your path and your life experience, these dreams may change.  What you imagined before may need to be adjusted.  This is not to say that you should ever stop reaching for goals.  But to not find happiness and contentment in your current life is tragic.

My life well lived was once to marry, have three children (boy, girl, boy, all three years apart, obvi), career satisfaction (or maybe a SAHM), a house, a dog, a cat, and live happily ever after.  What I have is a divorce, remarriage, 12 year old boy, 5 year old girl, 3 year old girl, and an unsettled feeling about my career choice.  I do have the house, dog, and cat.  I also have an incredible husband (even though he takes Ibuprofen), three beautiful, smart, and healthy children, and I am blessed to have a stable job.  Honestly, that's enough for me.  Right there, my life is well lived.

For the rest of this year, I want to enjoy Fall and Winter, my two favorite seasons.  I know Thanksgiving hasn't happened yet, but the kids and I decorated for Christmas this weekend.  Even if my husband's work schedule interferes with the holiday dates on the calendar, we are going to make our own holidays (and be thankful my littles can't read a calendar this year!).

I am taking this phase as it is now, and when the next phase presents itself, I will adjust accordingly (maybe after some grouchiness), and have a life well lived in a different way.

How do you adjust to life's changes?  What is your definition of a life well lived?  I want to hear from you!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Disneyland Planner: Part Two

Did you read Part One of my Disneyland Planner series?  If not, go here first, then come back here.  Today we will talk about the packing lists, how I packed the car, and what we did for entertainment for the kids.

I made a separate packing list for each person in the family, a packing list of "general" items, and a packing list of food.  I placed a check mark next to the item when I initially packed it, and then another when I packed it at the end of the trip.  This way nothing gets left behind!

Here are my lists:

General packing:  stuff that everyone uses.  I thought I had a shout pen/wipe, but I didn't, so that went off the list.  And the adults used the kid floss.  When I went to Disneyland in 2005, the stroller we had was either stolen or someone mistook it for theirs.  This year, I took a bike lock, and we attached it to a post or sign.  Problem solved.


One of the girls' lists.


My 12 year old son's list.  He packed this and I checked it.


This is meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.


Mr. Perfect (minus the Ibuprofen, see below).


The food list.  We had a coffee maker in our room and coffee in the lobby, so I was covered there.


Last minute To Do list before we left.

 

I would like to add that no matter how much you plan, no matter how many lists you make, you are likely to forget something.

Mr. Perfect is an amazing husband.  He works very hard for our family, and he does so much around the house.  However, and he may disagree, I did the majority of the planning, purchasing, packing, etc. for this trip.  I think if it was left in his hands, he would have worn the same outfit every day and bought new underwear when he got down there.  On the other hand, I basically packed our entire house.  There is probably a middle ground somewhere that is a healthier version of both of our styles.

I only use Tylenol.  Even though we have been married for five years, apparently I DON'T EVEN KNOW MY HUSBAND, YOU GUISE.  He only uses Ibuprofen.  I was unaware of this Very Important Fact.  Somehow, when he came to me looking for the Ibuprofen, I felt guilty, even though the only thing left in our home, was in fact, Ibuprofen.  I packed everything.  EVERYTHING, except for Ibuprofen.  Why don't you pack your own f#@&ing Ibuprofen, I wanted to say.  Instead, I smiled sweetly, and suggested that we pick some up at the store.  Or, I made a passive aggressive remark and he dealt with it.  Samesies.

Having said that, unless it's a prescription medication or other specialized/expensive/irreplaceable item, you can buy anything you forget.  There are Targets in Southern California.  You'll be fine.  Pick up some page flags while you're there.

How I packed the car.  Stuff we wouldn't need (clothes for the trip, hygeine items, towels, pillows, etc.) went in the trunk.  Food went between the kids' seats.  Entertainment baskets went beneath their feet.  I could easily reach everything we would need during the drive.

Entertainment for the kids.  My 12 year old was easy.  He either read, drew, listened to podcasts, or played on his DS the entire way there.  I don't know that he made a peep the entire way.

The girls were a bit more challenging.  Honestly, the drive home was much more stressful for me, even though the three year old and myself ended up sleeping through most of it.  The drive down was filled with excitement, and we were all fresh.  The drive home was tiring, and I am glad the three year old was able to sleep through most of it.  We brought one new movie, other DVDs to watch, special snacks, Target Dollar Spot coloring books and pens, books, and a peek a boo rice game (check back for Part Three for details on that).  We stopped once on the way there and the way back for gas/food/potty breaks.  All in all, not too shabby.

I think the next part will be the last part.  I will share my tips and must haves for your trip.  I can't wait!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Musings: Cancer Diagnosis and Friendship

One of my best friends lives in another state.  We text almost daily, we visit in person once a year, and one of our #lifegoals is to do a family vacation together.  I love her more than I think I would love a sister, and I love her kids pretty dang close to how much I love my own kids.  Maybe even the same, or more, because her kids have never screamed at me for giving them a plate that is not purple.

I met her parents the last time I visited her, at the home where she grew up.  It was bittersweet.  I loved seeing where she grew up and visualizing the stories she told me.  But, her parents were relocating, and the house has just sold.

Her dad was sociable and friendly, but did the man thing and was in the garage for the majority of the time I was there (he was looking for something…I don’t remember what it was).  I didn’t take offense to this, but chuckled at this typical man behavior.

As soon as we walked in the house, her mom welcomed us, and was the perfect hostess.  She offered us snacks and drinks.  The kids took the snacks and ran off, running around the house.  They were obviously comfortable in this home.  We chatted in the kitchen and loosely checked in on the kids by peeking in the other room.  I think at one point we had to redirect her four year old son to “stop trying to reach the ceiling fan with the light saber”.  Her mom is feisty and witty.  I enjoyed watching her interact with everyone.

Many, many years ago (but not so many to imply that her mom is old…she’s clearly not a day over 29), my friend’s mom had a heart transplant.  My friend was young when this happened, and, with good reason, has always had a fear of losing her mom.  I’m not sure if her mom was expected to live as long as she has.  Either way, my friend’s fear is certainly valid.  This one event, granted a major event, gave her such a fear of losing her mom, that it has shaped how she views every single person who crosses her path in life.  She is one who will never, ever cut people out of her life.  EVER.  You could murder the family dog, and she would still keep you in her life.  Maybe at a distance.  But not cut out for eternity.

I saw her parents one more time before we left, and I hugged her mom good-bye.  I really liked her, and like so many times when we have long distance relationships with someone, I was so sad that they did not live closer so that I could experience more time with her.

That visit occurred in April of this year.  About two weeks ago, my friend text me and said her mom had a lump that she was getting tested.  I tried to make her feel better by brushing it off, saying it was probably nothing.  Then the doctors wanted to see a specialist right away for another appointment.  This was more alarming, and I didn’t feel like it was nothing anymore.  I was thankful for the geographical distance between us at this point, so that she couldn’t see my face or feel my anxiety.  I was officially worried for her mom.

If you ever need a distraction while you wait for doctor’s results, let me know.  Here’s what you’ll get:


^True friendship, dude. 

You know what’s coming next.  It’s cancer.  I’m in shock.  My friend is angry.  Her mom is angry.  There are only so many options she has, being a transplant patient.  However, it is treatable.

About a week later, and I’m over the shock, and I’m feeling a heavy weight on my heart.  I didn’t think I would feel this way about someone I met twice.  But, like I said, I love my friend fiercely.  Although I do not pretend to understand how she feels, her pain is my pain.  Her mom has been through so much in life already, and yet, here is more for her to take on.  She is a loving wife, mother, grandmother.  She doesn’t deserve this, and neither does my friend.  They both deserve some worry free time.

Now what?  They live three hours away from each other.  She is going with her mom to doctor appointments each week.  School is being missed, traveling three hours each way with three young kids is not ideal.  When she is with her mom, although it’s familiar, it’s not home.  Nothing beats sleeping in your own bed.  Routines are disrupted.  And yet, she makes it work.  She just makes things happen.  She still works on her house, she still gets up every day (and probably makes whatever bed she has slept in), she still feeds her kids.

What do you do for a friend who has a family member with cancer?  You’re just there for her.  You understand when she doesn’t respond as quickly to your texts about how to decorate the backyard.  You don’t get upset when she doesn’t ask how you are (although she’s so awesome that she still asks me).  You listen to them rant, cry, talk to herself.  Don’t say everything will be okay.  Validate the seriousness, and validate her feelings.  You offer inappropriate jokes to make her laugh.  You encourage her and pray for her.  You ask how she’s doing, because she’s selflessly thinking only of everyone but herself.

You are her place to lean on so that she can be strong for her mom.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Disneyland Planner: Part One

I have been absent because we took a trip to Disneyland two weeks ago!  I have been busy planning, packing, driving, having FUN!, unpacking, doing laundry, and then getting back into our routine.

This trip was flawlessly organized, and I am excited to share my steps with you so that you can benefit from all of my research!  Of course I googled EV-ER-Y-THING in order to make sure I had as much knowledge as possible before the trip.  This is Part One.  Check back next week for Part Two.

The first thing I did was dedicate a notebook just for Disneyland.  I hoard collect have a small stash of extra notebooks, and I chose this cute peacock notebook (picked it up from Walmart).



I began with a table of contents, which was a list of things I wanted to include in the notebook.  If you wanted to be really organized, you should make your list on a separate piece of paper first, then organize what order you want the items to be in, then write it in your notebook.  I am on medication have relaxed as I have gotten older, so I wrote everything in the notebook the first round.  Here was my list (in the order I wish it had been in):

Itinerary
Hotel Address and Phone/Reservation #
Driving Directions
Map
What to Buy Ahead of Time
Packing Lists
Park Hours

Rides
Meal Planning and Reservations
To Do
Shopping Lists
What to Buy at Disneyland
Memories



Then I flipped to the next page and wrote out our itinerary:

Sunday:  Pack
Monday:  Drive
Tuesday: Magic Kingdom
Wednesday:  Downtown Disney/Halloween Party
Thursday:  CA Adventure
Friday:  Beach
Saturday:  Drive
Sunday:  Unpack/Laundry



Next is the hotel address and phone where we were staying, along with the reservation number.  Of course this information could be kept elsewhere (it was also in my phone in the form of an e-mail).  But what if my phone died, or glued to my child's hands, or there was a zombie apocalypse.  Better to be safe and have it in (at least) two places.  I also included check in and check out times.




Driving directions - again, I could use my phone for this.  But just in case my phone was not available to me, I printed the directions and taped them into my notebook.  I did directions to the hotel from our house, and to our house from the hotel.



Maps - I printed the Magic Kingdom and CA Adventures maps and taped them into the notebook.



The "What to Buy Ahead of Time" came from my endless research on Google.  I already had some of the items in my Google searches, but here are the items I did end up buying.  I will try to let you know everything I brought in case you don't have something that I found to be very useful.  Please note the links below are not affiliate links.



Umbrella stroller.  Our youngest daughter is three, and definitely needed to be worn or ride in a stroller.  We only have a bulky double stroller - fine for regular life, but no good for crowds.  Our five year old probably would have been okay without a stroller, but since we had it, she did sit in it.  The stroller rentals at Disneyland are not outrageous ($12 per day), so if you forgo purchasing a stroller before the trip, your budget won't be blown should you decide to rent one.

Ponchos.  We did not use these.  I would recommend them, though, because weather can be unpredictable, and they are inexpensive.  You could also wear them on Splash Mountain.

Portable fans.  We did use these.  Loved them.  Recommend them.  I brought extra batteries, but did not need them.

Moisture wick socks.  Even if you don't get these, get new socks.  You deserve them anyway.  I did not get any blisters on the trip, and ironically got one my first day back at work from wearing a pair of new shoes.  These socks are sooooo comfy.

Moleskin.  We did not use this, although I think my mother-in-law could have used it as she did get a blister.  She said a band-aid would suffice.

Hat.  I did bring a hat, but ended up wearing my Minnie ear hat.  I also always apply sunblock on my part, as peeling skin in your scalp is not attractive (or healthy).

Insulated backpack.  If you are going to be bringing meals into Disneyland (which they do allow), this is a must have.  This was a fantastic suggestion and purchase.  It worked very well and kept our food super cold throughout the warm days.

Hand sanitizer.  I am not a believer in hand sanitizer, but I had to bring some for this trip.  I was going to do anything I could to protect everyone from germs.  This is a lot for just our trip, but it was a good deal, it won't go bad, and it will be used again.

Check back next week, where I will continue with Part Two and discuss the packing lists, how I packed the car, and what we did for entertainment for the kids!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tidy Tuesday: How To Conquer An Overwhelming House

Is your entire house a disaster?  Do you like to hoard things like a squirrel about to go into hibernation?  Do you get a panic attack when you think about tackling just one room?

I'm here to help.  Go grab half a Xanax and keep reading.

Yesterday we talked about how to manage your schedule.  Now that you have your lists of things you want to do (i.e., ORGANIZE ENTIRE HOUSE) broken down into manageable bite sized pieces of paper, let's get started on the first room.

Pick the worst room first.  Because no other room is going to seem as bad once you have conquered Everest.

The first thing you need to do is make certain you have enough time to do the entire project, or be okay with having a messy hallway or a super messy room for awhile.  This is not something we tackle Monday morning before work.  This is not a task for a weekend filled with sports events and birthday parties.  This is a project you will set aside for a Saturday/Sunday that is free of commitments.  Feel free to use the iPad as a babysitter.  Or candy.  They'll be FINE.

When organizing a room or closet, I remove every. single. thing. from the room/closet.  Take drawers out of dressers, books out of bookcases, etc.  Dump everything onto a bed or into a hallway.  Yes, this makes a huge mess.  That's okay.  Sometimes we have to make an even bigger mess to clean up a mess.

Then line up three paper bags/garbage bags/baskets.  Label them.  One is trash/recycling, one is give away, and one is garage sale.  Unless you don't want to do a garage sale, because they suck.  Then just the give away is fine.  Next, clean the empty room.  Vacuum, dust, mop, deweb the corners, dust the baseboards, etc.  Doesn't that feel so good?!?  It's perfectly clean!

Now you will go through each item in the hallway, and either put it in one of the three baskets, or clean it and return it back in the room.  This can take a few days.  Or weeks.  Months?  It really depends on the size of the room and how long you have been hoarding shit.

How to decide where something belongs?  Does it serve a purpose for you?  Do you use the item on a regular basis?  Is there a better location for this item in your home?  Does it need to be replaced?  If you don't use it, but it has sentimental value, can you store it in the attic?  Is it for display purposes?  Does it fit?  Do you wear it?  Questions like these are what need to be going through your head.  Really evaluate and make sure you are keeping things that have a purposeful function for you.  If you decide to keep it, then you will clean it (usually dusting it, clothes can go back without being washed, unless they were already dirty), and put it away where it belongs.  Where is the best location for this, where I can easily access it and it makes sense for the flow of the room?  For example, I'm not going to put my hair straightener in my nightstand if I use it in the bathroom.  If you trash it and need to replace it, add it to a list of things to get next time you are at the store.

Once everything is put back into the room, or in the proper basket, keep it up on a daily basis.  Go through your house before bed and pick up the stray items.  Put them away there they belong.  Your house will not get out of hand if you are able to do this daily.  If you have to miss a day because of your schedule or illness, that's okay.  One day is not so bad.  Only go a week if you have to, and you had better have a doctor's note for me, none of this Man Cold nonsense.

Sometimes it feels pointless to keep the playroom picked up each day.  I'm not about perfectionism and a white gloved playroom at the end of each day.  If I know my kids are going to be home and playing in the playroom the next day, I will leave the room as is, regarding toys.  If I see a cup, shoes, clothes, etc., that don't belong, I will pick those up and take them to the kitchen and hamper.  And toys in the living room can be picked up and placed on the floor in the playroom.  The toys in the playroom can stay messy.  Then perhaps once a week you can actually put away all of the toys (engage the kiddos for help).  See how we compromise?

After you do this in each room of your house, you will find it is very easy to keep up, and you will be motivated to keep it this way.  Nobody wants to pick up a few things if the entire house is a disaster.  What's the point?  But once it's tidy, taking the time to pick up is worth it to keep it from getting out of control.

I hope this helps!  Happy organizing!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Musings: What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

How was your weekend, Goddesses?  Even though Mr. Perfect worked all weekend (hello, 14 and 18 hour back to back shifts!!!), the kids and I had a really good weekend.

A recurring question I have been getting lately is "I am so overwhelmed.  Where do I start?"  This is an excellent question.  Often times, when we have a lot going on, our brains can spin and we can avoid working on the things that need to get done because we just plain don't know where to begin.  So we get "busy" doing other things, that don't truly accomplish anything.

Today, I will be discussing how to organize your schedule.  Check back tomorrow for Tidy Tuesday to see how I organize an overwhelming room in the house (This may apply to your entire house.  It happens).

As for my daily schedule, I like to use pen and paper.  Some prefer electronic lists, and as a techie nerd, I am all for that if it works for you.  What I am about to explain will easily translate for you, just think of a piece of paper as one of your "Notes" pages, or whatever To Do List app you use.

You can use a planner, a notebook, beautiful stationery, or plain binder paper.  I use my planner to organize my personal schedule, which includes hubby's shift and kid's activities.  At work, I use a notebook with tabs.

Personal planner:

Work notebook:



Here are the steps to organizing your schedule:

1. Take a piece of paper for each category in your life.  For some this might be each of your kids, yourself, vehicles, home repairs.  It could be work, personal, kids, finances, meal planning.  Maybe you have a different page for each room in your house.  At work I manage properties, so I have a different paper for each property.  Whatever you have going on, grab a piece of paper for it and label each paper as such.

2. Brain dump everything you need to do for each area. Just write until you can't come up with anything else. Don't worry about order or priority. Just get it all down on paper.

3. Get a new sheet of paper for each category and label again. Itemize each task from the previous paper in order of importance, or put like items together (like all phone calls together, all errands together). Cross off the items on the first sheet of paper as you write down. Once everything is crossed off, you can discard that first set of lists.


4. You can use a binder, or even just a paperclip, but keep the lists together, and carry them with you. Place a piece of paper in front to brain dump. As you remember more items, or new tasks come up, write them down on this brain dump page.

Brain dump page:



Each different category (for work, this means each property):



5.  At the end of each day (or beginning, whichever works best for you), add the tasks to the appropriate list.

6. On the very top of your collection of papers, add one paper. This paper will change daily. For now, choose the Top Three Most Important To Do Today. Any more than three and you will begin to feel overwhelmed and lose motivation. You can always do more, but for sure you will do these Top Three.  Choose the most important tasks from any of your lists and make three check boxes with those tasks listed. Once you have completed the tasks, check them off, both on your Top Three, and in your list. If you still have time, or the desire, you can go into your lists and choose three more items.

This is my Top Three Most Important To Do Today.  I have the Top Three from several of my lists, which is why there are Ten Items.  Read #7 as to why I do this...



7. As you start to get things under control, you can do a Top Three for each category.

Some people like to "Eat the Frog", meaning do the tasks you dislike first as motivation to get to the stuff you enjoy. That may or may not work for you, but wanted to suggest it in case you like the idea.
I would also strongly suggest doing a list of things you want to do. Like yoga, coffee with a friend, date night, writing, drawing, etc. Keep this list in the back of your packet and refer to it when you are organizing your day. It is important to take care of yourself, even more so when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

I hope these things helps. Let me know if you have any questions, or if something doesn't work for you and we can try to tweak or come up with another idea.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Birdhouse: Silhouette Bathroom Art

We live on a street named after a bird, so I started referring to our home as The Birdhouse.  We purchased our home in January 2013, and have been working on home improvements ever since.  I cannot wait to share our kitchen and the master closet with you, but today I am sharing an art piece I made for the kids' bathroom.

The first thing I did was take this frame with three spaces already cut out.  You could look at a thrift shop or garage sale for something like this.  My husband already had this when we met, so it was free for us!


Next, I removed the paper backing.  It was fastened with staples, which I removed with needle nose pliers.  I left the cardboard that was holding in the photo and matte.



Next, I printed profile photos of the kids and cut them out.  I traced them onto cardstock and cut them out as well.


I had the kids paint another piece of cardstock, then I painted the silhouettes.  I modge podged the silhouettes onto the cardstock.




I wrote their names beneath their images, placed them in the frame, and hung it over their towel rack!






It brings great color and a personal touch into the bathroom.  If you wanted to, you could also sand and paint the frame.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Musings: Instagram

I am sick today.  I really hate being sick.  It's not sick enough to stay home, but not well enough to be very productive at work.

I have been sharing my weekly layouts on Instagram.  Be sure to take a peek!

Who are your favorite Instagram planner accounts to follow?  See my favorites below!


The CC Collection
Filo Cuteness
Filo Eye Candi
My Purpley Life
Emily Ley
Alexandra Shaw 76

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Whip Into Shape Wednesdays: Organized Workout

Did you enjoy your Labor Day weekend?  I had a wonderful weekend - our family spent time together, we got some sunshine, and my husband and I had a little date.

Just like menu planning, working out is very personal based on your needs, desires, and your schedule.  What I do won't work for everyone, but you can use my thought process to come up with something that will work for you.

I have a girlfriend who is into body building.  She watches her macros (I don't even know what that means...*takes notes to Google later*), and she is really bulking up her arms and legs.  She looks amazing!  More importantly, she is happy and healthy.  But her lifestyle doesn't work for me.  That doesn't make one of our journeys more or less healthy than the other, it just makes them different.

My fitness journey is equally related to mental health, food nutrition.  If am not emotionally healthy, I am less motivated to work out.  If I am not feeding my body good fuel, I don't have the energy to work out.


The first step in organizing your work out is figuring out a time of day that works for you.  Should you exercise first thing in the morning?  Or would you be more successful going straight to the gym after work?  I either set my alarm for 5 a.m., or do it right after the younger kids are in bed.

The second step is looking at your weekly schedule.  Is Monday a really busy day?  Let's just do 30 min that day.  Wednesday is free?  Let's do an hour that day.  Write down your weekly schedule and add your work out plan to the schedule.  If you write it down like an appointment, you will be more likely to keep that commitment.  You don't have to make time to exercise every day.  20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week for cardio and 20-30 minutes 2-3 times per week of weight training is a solid plan.  However, if you think you will flake on yourself, write in exercise options for every day, and then if you skip one or two, you can see where it will still fit into the remainder of your week.

The third step is to decide what it is you want to accomplish.  Do you just want to do cardio?  Do you want to do weights?  I don't go to the gym, so I do yoga and body weight training (which also doubles as my cardio).  Do you have a pool?  Swim!  Run around the block!  Follow a video on YouTube!  There are many options when it comes to getting a good work out.

Here is what my sessions look like right now:

Sunday morning:  Yoga
Sunday evening:  Whole body circuit

Monday evening:  Yoga

Tuesday morning:  Arm circuit

Wednesday evening:  Leg circuit

Thursday morning:  Yoga

Friday morning:  Chest and ab circuit

Saturday morning:  Yoga
Saturday evening:  Shoulder and back circuit

Sometimes I do skip the yoga, but it's my favorite, so I put it on days when I know I won't feel like working out (because I will be sore), so that I am more motivated to follow through.

I hope this helps you put together a system that works for you!  Don't forget to warm up and cool down!  You don't want to pull a muscle.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Musings: Art

As you read, part of my self care is art.  I don't just color, I also draw and work on my script.  Today I am sharing some of my recent artwork.  I need to specify that I do use other people's artwork to inspire my own.  I have not gotten to a point where I am creative enough to design my own script.  One day!

I love the colors in this one, and that I was able to do the ampersand. They're difficult!


  
This one is magical.  I would like to try it again when I have more practice under my belt.
 

I did NOT like the way this one turned out, but oh well.  Progress, not perfection.


I am using this one as my new cover photo on my FB page.  Feel free to use it as well!

This is a great saying, but I might try it in color next time.

Love this little guy.

 

And OH MY GOSH, this one is my absolute favorite.  I had no idea it would come out so well!



That is it for me today.  Short and sweet, I have been jam packed busy at my day job.