October 13, 2015

Sleep Tight, Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite

That's what I used to say to Jimmy back when we were dating and we'd talk on the phone till we just couldn't stay awake any longer. Now, some 8 years later, I say it to both of our babies every night when I tuck them in.

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Mom It Forward Blogger Network and Sleep Number but all my opinions are my own.

Bedtime is one of my most favorite times of day with my kids.  The house is dark, quiet, everyone is relaxed and calm.  The kids easily go to bed at 7 on the dot, without a fight even!  Ha!  Who am I kidding.  Our house is just as crazy, if not crazier, at bed time.  By then Jimmy and I are ready to just unwind, have some husband-wife time and unwind.  Our kids, mostly the older one, think it's time to watch "one more show" or read "one more story".  Between the protests, the teeth that need brushed, the stories to be read and prayers to be said, sometimes I'm ready for bed once it's all said and done.

Sleep Number wants to #stopthestall with their new SleepIQ Kids Bed and they asked me to share my tips on creating a bedtime routine and why sleep in important to us.  I am no sleep expert but here's a few things that work for us.

1.  Let them know what to expect.  With Kendall I've found that if she knows that bedtime is approaching and we give her a "warning" she's much more compliant once bedtime actually rolls around.  We've set a time at the 30 minute mark and when the timer goes off she knows it's time to go to bed.  The same approach applies when it comes to the actual bed time routine.  She knows before we even get started that she gets one book, one prayer and one song and then it's lights out.  This has been her routine for at least 3.5 years and it works.  Of course we have nights where she asks for more and some nights we let her have more but generally speaking she knows what to expect before we even get to the bedroom and doing so has allowed for a much smoother bedtime.

2.  Let them chose.  Kendall gets to pick out the book we read every night.  Some nights I cringe when she picks up Cat in the Hat or One Fish, Two Fish because "WHYYYYYYY do you have to pick such a long book!?" but she picks what she picks and I don't throw a fit.  The nights where I have chosen the book the routine doesn't go so well because she's still wanting to read her book.  So we let her scour the shelves of the playroom and pick out thee perfect book and all is good.

3.  Wind down time.  About 30 minutes before bedtime we let Kendall chose {see above} one show to watch to wind down for the night.  No judging.  Sometimes she will ask for "a little snack" which is either a string cheese, yogurt or oatmeal, and she'll relax quietly on the couch with Jimmy while I put James to bed.  Many times she has fallen asleep during this "step" eliminating the bedtime battle altogether!

4.  Connect.  During prayers each night we all thank God for something or ask him to help us in a certain area of our lives.  Some days Kendall's "special prayer" is as simple as "thank you for letting me have ice cream" and other times she blows me away with the heartfelt ones like, "please keep daddy safe on his trip".  I love this part of our routine because even if we don't get to "connect" during the day I can always count on this time to learn something about my little lady and what's important to her.

Sleep Number knows how important a good night sleep is to a child's success in school and extra-curricular activities.  That is why they developed the SleepIQ Kids Bed.  The SleepIQ Kids bed features eight smart solutions that improve sleep for both parents and children:

 Family Connected, Sleep PerfectedSM: The SleepIQ® technology dashboard lets you see how the
whole family is sleeping. Powered by Bam® Labs, SleepIQ tracks your sleep and helps you optimize it.  
 Know the comfort they’re getting: The bed adjusts and grows with them; they can adjust the firmness of the bed for comfort and support – their Sleep Number setting.
 Lifts them up when they’re down: Head-tilt feature is for reading in bed or comforting stuffy heads. I think this is so cool because there have been many times when Kendall has had a stuffy nose and I pile pillows under her head only to have her roll off of them the minute she falls into a deep sleep.
 No more kiddos jumping out of bed: Alerts you when your child is out of bed or restless.
 Stars for young dreamers: Make bedtime fun again with rewards for good sleep.
 Night bright, night light: You can turn lights off remotely – when they’re sleeping tight.
 Twinkle, tinkle: Soft under-bed light guides them when they get up during the night.
 Monsters be gone!: Sleepyheads rest easy with a fearless monster detector.  We have yet to battle the "monsters under the bed" but I absolutely love this and think it is genius and adorable.

Do you have a bedtime routine with your littles?  What does it look like?  What about this super cool bed from Sleep Number?  I kinda sorta want to run right out and buy two for my kids today!  I just love that monster detector!

October 12, 2015

Breakfast With The Dews

*Disclaimer:  While I don't follow a strictly paleo diet/lifestyle but I do find a lot of delicious paleo recipes that I like to incorporate into our rotation every once in a while.  

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  I love everything breakfast related.  Coffee, pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast, sausage, cereal, bagels, you name it, I love it.  Once for my birthday I even did a breakfast theme and it was glorious {must remember that again this year}.

I don't make waffles very often because, honestly, I hate to get out the waffle maker.  It's so hard to clean, I always overfill it causing the waffle to spill over the edges, it's just a mess.  Jimmy doesn't really care for sweet breakfasts, he much prefers something hearty like sausage gravy & biscuits, and the kids can't ever finish a whole waffle between the two of them.  So when we have waffles I go all out.

Which brings me to these apple & sweet potato paleo waffles.

I didn't know what I was doing.  I had eggs, too many sweet potatoes and more apples than I knew what to do with so I figured I could make something happen. I've made paleo pancakes with a smashed banana and egg before so I figured this would be the same concept.

1 sweet potato
1 large apple {any kind would work}
2 whole eggs
Dash of cinnamon
Grade A maple syrup

Shred the sweet potato, you could pulse it in a food processor but I just used a vegetable peeler, and dice the apple. Mix together with eggs and a dash of cinnamon.  Pour into your waffle maker and wait until the eggs cook all the way through.  Remove, drizzle with syrup {or you could use honey}and enjoy!

Super easy, super delicious!

October 8, 2015

When Blogging Isn't Fun Anymore

Back in the day I couldn't wait to flip open my laptop screen and pull up blogger.com on my browser. I couldn't wait to put my fingers to the keys and type away the days latest. There were times when I was just full of ideas and things to talk about. Sometimes I'd have a week or more of scheduled posts waiting to be published. I shared everything and everything and it was fun.  I liked over-sharing even if, looking back, maybe I shouldn't have shared so much.

I prided myself on being honest and authentic with my readers.  I wanted people who met me to say that I was the same in person as I was on my blog and for the most part I think I was.  I said I didn't care what people thought of me and I believed that to be true.  I said I wasn't blogging for the comments or the follows but that was only half true.

I have thick skin but at the same time I'm human.  I have feelings and while it takes a lot to tear me
down it does happen and it did. I hate to even give these people the time of day but oh well.  Here goes...

The haters got to me. At one point I remember {jokingly} saying, "Oh I'm not on GOMI yet so I guess I haven't made it".  And then BAM!  One day I was.  Three pages bashing me, criticizing my parenting, questioning my decisions to have a second baby, name calling, you name it.  It stung a little a lot.  And then the nasty comments on my blog posts were coming in more frequently and I didn't know how to handle it.

I'm not saying everyone has to like me or agree with my decisions but I do like to abide by the "if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all" rule.  It's simple, don't read my posts.  Don't follow me on FB, IG, Pinterest or Twitter if you don't like me or what I have to say.  Or if you do have constructive criticism {ha!} I'm happy to chat.  But saying things like I'm an alcoholic or that I only decided to have another baby because other bloggers were doing so {I can't make this up}, or that my kid is a brat is just ignorant, hurtful and rude.

I let it affect me and I shouldn't have.  I should have held my head high, stayed true to myself {and my blog} and kept trucking along.  I got to the point where I didn't want to write, I didn't want to put myself out there anymore because I didn't want to hear/read it.  I think the reason it got to me was because my kids were involved and that I will not tolerate.  I should have stuck up for myself and them but instead I let it shut me down, the exact thing they were trying to do.  I hate that.

I hate that cyber bullying exists and I believe that's what this is.  I hate to even use the term "bully" because I think it gets overused in today's society but it is what it is. But no more will I be a victim.  I've come to accept the fact that people will say what they want regardless of what I do.  Even if I stop blogging there is FB, IG, Twitter and Pinterest so they will find something there to hate on.  I refuse to let them have that sort of control over me.

I feel like I needed to take some time, to step away and reevaluate myself and what I wanted to put out there for the world.  So in a way I thank the "haters" for forcing me to do just that.  I didn't need to be sharing some of the topics that I did years ago.  I didn't need to post as much nonsense on IG as I once did.  It took a {somewhat} blogging break for me to realize that about myself.

I feel like more needs to be done to protect bloggers and others on social media from cyber bullying but I'm just not sure what that is yet.  If I could figure out a way to shut down nasty sites like GOMI I would.  People have killed themselves over things they read about themselves on the Internet and that is just not OK, ever.  I will  not stand for it anymore and I will not let them tear me down one more day.

So I'm back.  My goal with blogging has changed a bit and I have too.  I hope to inspire, support, and motivate other women.  I want to create a positive place for people to come and feel safe.  I want to have a judgment free zone on this blog.  Whether you are looking for fitness tips, a place to feel normal while raising little kids, workout motivation, or even a laugh here and there I want you to find it on my blog.

Stay tuned :-).

October 7, 2015

A Calm Life

Sometimes, you know- when I'm scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I see people, families, lives who are busy.  They have school, swim lessons, work, sports, church, music lessons, homework, gym, etc.  The list goes on.  People are very involved and I started to wonder why we weren't so involved.

At one point, actually earlier this summer, I was extremely jealous of busy people.  I wanted to have
places to be, people to see, things to do.  I was angry that our schedule consisted of waking up.  Why didn't we have more to do?  Was I doing my kids a disservice by not having them involved in more?   Were we ::gasp:: boring!?  What could I do about it?

So I enrolled Kendall in swimming lessons.  I planned numerous camping trips.  We had three out of state trips. There were birthday parties, play dates and there was nothing I said "no" to.  We were BUSY!  There was actually one stretch of time where we were gone, away from home, for six weekends in a row.  And we wondered why our yard always looked like crap...

We had lots of fun, of course.  We made a ton of memories with our kids.  We spent every weekend together as a family.  We tried new things.  Saw new places.  This summer was one for the record books and I'm not sure any summer after is going to ever live up.  This summer was epic.

It was exhausting.  By the time that sixth weekend rolled around I didn't even want to do whatever we had planned.  We were stressed and stretched way too thin.  I just wanted to stay home and BE home.  I wanted to sleep in my own bed.  I actually wanted to do laundry!  I was clearly not designed to be a busy person because once I became one, I didn't like it.  And you know what?  I think being busy made my summer go by even faster and that's something I never want.  I wanted my normal aka "boring" life back.

Then it dawned on me, just because we aren't busy doesn't mean we are boring.  We are living a calm life, and that's okay.  Our kids are still involved and social.  Kendall is currently playing soccer Wednesdays and Saturdays.  James gets to go to story time once a week and toddler time/open gym every Friday.  We go to church every Sunday.  I have bible study every Thursday.  We are still together as a family {most weekends}and we are still, most importantly, having fun!

I don't know why I put so much importance on being busy.  In my mind busy=important.  Busy=fun.  Busy=living life to the fullest.  Everyone around me seems busy so it must be "right".  What a silly way to think.  What a silly way to measure life.

So now we live a calm life and I am 100% a-OK with that.  We have many years ahead of us that are going to be busy all on their own so I am going to enjoy this time where we are moving a little more slowly.  I know the older my kids get the more involved they are going to become.  Who knows?  Maybe one day I will go back to work and then that will bring on it's own "busyness".  But for now we are calm and, most importantly, we are happy.

October 5, 2015

Cheers to Six Years

Dear Us,

Happy Anniversary!

This weekend you celebrated six years of marriage.  In some way six seems like a lot and in other ways you know that you still have forever to look forward to so that's exciting.  Six years, one house and two kids later, you have everything you ever dreamed of.

Six years ago you woke up on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico still on that wedding high.  You couldn't have been more in love with each other, or at least that's what you thought at the time.  You also didn't know that this would be your last vacation together for at least five years.  You drank rum drinks in the middle of the day with no fear of a hangover.  You took naps and didn't eat dinner until it was dark outside.  Life six years ago sure looked a lot different than it does now.

People told you on your wedding day, "over the years you'll fall more in love" and you scoffed, how is that even possible?  But then babies come and serious life things happen that force you to rely and lean on each other and you finally get it.  Going through the tough times and knowing you have each other's back makes you realize how lucky you are and yes, you fall more in love.

Your wedding will be the most fun one you've attended and you're going to have all of your guests tell you the same.  You kinda got married right before Pinterest blew up so you will want to do it all over again because mason jars!  But you can never recreate the moment you kissed at the alter before the pastor even said "dearly beloved".  Or the moment Jimmy karaoke'd Ice Ice Baby at the end of your reception.  It was a great day, even without Pinterest-y decorations.

You'll have your first baby before your first wedding anniversary, she will be the best decision you've ever made.  Yes "it didn't take long" and no you shouldn't have waited.  Three years after that gorgeous girl makes you parents you will welcome her little brother.  He will be the polar opposite of his sister but he will make your family complete.  But your rolls will change drastically and some days it will be hard to remember to love your spouse.  I know you don't believe me right now because "you're so in love" but it's true.  Kids change you and they change your relationship.  Make time for each other, plan date nights and trips away.  Kiss each other daily.  Connect after the kids go to bed {because your kids will go to bed pretty early ;-)}.

Your financial state will go from OK to bad to worse and that will be hard.  That is going to be the only thing that really causes stress on your marriage.  Don't compare your house, your cars, your clothes, your life to others.  You just do you.  You don't need the biggest house, fanciest car, or name brand clothes because you have everything you could possibly want {and more} under your roof.  Arguing over money will not solve the problem and is really a silly thing to get upset over anyway.  Move on.

Some of the people in your wedding party you will become even closer to, while others will drift away.  It's OK.  Have them in your wedding party anyway.  Even when you don't talk as often or see each other more than once a year you will always carry them in your heart and memories.  The ones you draw closer to will love you unconditionally, will be your biggest supporters and the ones you can count on through thick and thin.  Nurture those relationships.

Even though six years may seem like no time has passed at all some days and like an eternity others know that you are each others best friend.  You can trust, love, support, lift up, encourage each other like no one can.  You are blessed beyond measure.  You have everything you've ever wanted.

Cheers to six years!

October 2, 2015

I Was Ready For Kids, I Wasn't Ready To Be A Parent

One thing I hear from childless people is "we want to do/have x, y, z before we have kids" or "we're not ready yet".  I wasn't ready to be a parent five years and two kids ago either.  I wanted kids, sure, but I wasn't ready to be a parent.

When we were "trying" to get pregnant with Kendall I remember being really upset when it didn't happen month one aka on our honeymoon.  I vividly remember having a conversation that went something like, "wah wah boohoo poor me I WANT A BABY!!!!!!!!" or something like that.  Jimmy probably thought, "who is this crazy person that I just married?!" but instead he reassured me and the next month we were pregnant.

I was so over the moon excited, as most expectant mothers are.  I couldn't wait to buy my first baby item.  I immediately started researching baby names.  I couldn't wait to plan a nursery.  I loved looking at registries.  You could say I was obsessed.

A lot of my friends had babies by the time we got pregnant and I knew that I wanted a baby more than anything in life.  I didn't care that we lived in a two bedroom condo at that time.  I didn't know what we would do for childcare or how we would even afford any of it but I didn't care.  I wanted a baby, I was ready for a baby.

But I wasn't ready to be a parent.

There's a difference, you see.  Having babies and buying all the cutesy stuff and oohing and ahhing over their every little move is fun.  It's adorable.  It'll make your heart want to burst into a million and one pieces.  You'll be so proud when they poop, I swear it.  Then they say, "I lub mama" and you will swear you've never heard sweeter words.  It's this whole whirlwind of emotions and there is no other feeling like it.

Having babies will change you.

Having kids means saying good-bye to trips alone with your husband. Heck, even going out to dinner becomes a thing of the past once The Terrible Twos roll in.  Gone are the days of frivolous spending because you have doctor bills rolling in or someone needs a new pair of shoes.  The house you saved for and poured your heart and souls into will become messy, full of toys and the walls will have applesauce splattered on them.  Sleepless nights lead to tired mornings and some days you won't even get a shower.  You'll do things you swore you'd never do like leave the house in a baseball cap, no makeup and sweats.  Once you become a parent projects that took 30 minutes will take 3 days.

You won't be ready for any of that.  I promise.  I know I wasn't.

But I'm here to tell you something, have those babies anyway!

There's never an ideal time.  If you wait for that next vacation, job promotion, till you lose ___lbs, buy that house, etc the time will never be right.  There will always be something, always.  And just when you think you've got everything in order something else will pop up.  That's just how it goes.

You will never regret having kids.  There will be times when you will lose your cool and think, "I just want to run away from it all".  Some days being a parent feels like a thankless job.  Some days I wish, so bad, that I could just call Jimmy up and tell him to meet me somewhere for a beer and be carefree like we once were.  I can't even believe I'm admitting this but sometimes I miss my job.  Not the work itself but the interaction with other adults was nice, in hindsight.  I miss a clean house.

Those times will be few and far between and I would venture to say you would have those moments with or without kids.  At least when you have kids you have cute, smiling {most of the time}faces to remind you that it's all worth it.  Every sleepless night, every trip missed, every penny spent, every shower not taken will be worth it because being a parent is the best gift you can give yourself.

Some days I need to remind myself of these things too.

September 14, 2015

Because, Pictures

Everyone loves a post with pictures, right?  I mean back in the day it was taboo to write a post and NOT include pictures.  But times are a changing so maybe it's cool NOT to put pictures in a post.  What do I know?

I still love pictures and I wanted to share a few of my favorites from this summer because we had a pretty great one!

Yep, we had a pretty good summer.  I'm going to miss the sunshine, warm air, carefree pool days.  Until next year...