May 1, 2017

10 Things I Love About Kendall

It's been a while since I've written any updates on my kiddos. It's been a while since I've written much of anything but we are in such an awesome phase of life right now.   Both kids are more independent as each day passes.  They've finally gotten to the ages where they will actually play together {something I never thought would happen}.  They love each other something fierce and I love watching their relationship.  With that being said I want to share some things I love about each one of them at this age {mainly so I never forget}.

Today we're starting with Kendall.  She is almost 7 {August} and is finishing up 1st grade.  She plays soccer in the fall and does Girl Scouts as her extracurricular activities.  She loves all animals and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.  She's the perfect combination of a girly girl and a tomboy.  She would prefer playing outside to playing dress-up.  She loves math and reading {chapter books especially}.  Her favorite color is green, favorite movie is Moana or the new Beauty and the Beast, favorite song is How Far It Goes {from Moana- any version}, favorite food is pizza and if you ask her who her best friend is she'll name of no less than ten people.  She's shaping up to be such a fun, cool, smart little girl and I'm going to try to narrow it down to just 10 reasons why I love her.

1.  Her personality is the type that everyone wants to be around.  Her teachers love her and since she was in preschool they have raved about how well-behaved she is.  When I drop her off at school I see kids running up and hugging her.  Even though she's a bit shy and reserved she's always getting invited to play/be included.  She's just got that infectious positivity that you are drawn to.

2.  She always gives 110%.  There have been many times where she's given a task to do and even though it's completed she keeps going.  Her teacher told me a story of them doing a writing assignment and Kendall had done what was required of her and even when all of the other kids were done she kept writing, putting in her finishing touches.  She is always striving to be better and give it her all {she gets it from her daddy}.

3.  She has a kind heart.  She's always thinking about others.  Like last week we were at a Girl Scouts meeting and she made James one of their treats to bring home for him.  She knew he'd like it and didn't want him feeling left out.  She does that kind of stuff all the time and it makes me feel like I'm doing something right with her.

4.  She's a good artist and loves to create.  I prayed that our kids would get Jimmy's artistic abilities and it looks like she has. She loves to color, draw, write, paint, you name it.  Crafting is her love language and its so fun to watch her imagination when she's making something.  I could dedicate an
entire room in our house just to display her artwork.

5.  Girlfriend has amazing hair!  I have been jealous of her perfect beachy waves for years now.  I constantly tell her that people pay good money to have a head of hair like hers.  She loves it too and hates to get even a trim and, for the most part, likes to wear it down.

6.  I love and admire how brave she is.  She isn't afraid of the things most kids are.  She went zip-lining when she was five with no hesitation.  She doesn't get grossed out by bugs.  She isn't afraid to play in the dirt/mud/sand and get dirty.  She is pretty much always up for anything and I hope she always stays that way.

7.  I could listen to her tell stories all day.  She is so animated and her facial expressions are simply the best.  When she tells a story, especially a more exciting one, she tells it with every ounce of her being.

8.  She is such a good listener, almost too much of a good listener at times ;-). When I tell her she can/can't do something until ______ she does just that.  She can remember conversations we had weeks, even months, ago because she's truly paying attention and listening.

9.  I love her green eyes.  She got them from my mom and my grandma and I love that she managed to get that over my brown or Jimmy's blue eyes.  Green is her favorite color so she absolutely loves having green eyes.  They totally change depending on the day or what she's wearing but there's no doubt that they're staying green.

10.  I love watching her think.  She will sometimes bite her bottom lip and other times she will have her eyes completely rolled back in her head.  Watching her brain work is one of my favorite things to observe.

As most moms could, I could go on for days about the reasons I love her but I'll narrow it down to these ten.  She caught a glimpse of me writing this and I saw her smile as she read the words on the screen.  I hope that one day when she's older she can come back to this and reread it and know just how much I love her.

April 21, 2017

Wonderfully Ordinary

I'm not always a fun mom. In fact I'm not more than I am. I do what's easy vs what's best. I don't cuddle or play with my kids enough. I have very little patience and get annoyed easily. I crave "me time" and get bent out of shape if that gets disrupted because someone can't sleep past 6 am.  I'm not saying this to be self deprecating or for head pats, these are true flaws of mine that have me doing some major reflecting these days.

Lately I'm feeling a pull into a more simplistic lifestyle. I even said to Jimmy, "I just want to be a 'normal' mom". I don't want to be the mom who's so interested in everyone else's lives she can't realize her own is pretty damn good. I want to look my kids in the eyes when they share stories with me. I want to stop worrying about the dishes in the sink and sit down and read a book with my family. I don't want to feel this need to constantly be involved with something (social media, business, blogging, extracurriculars, etc). I want to quit feeling like I constantly have to prove myself (to who?).  I want to be ordinary.

I feel like that word, ordinary, comes with a negative connotation. What's wrong with ordinary?

I've never been a competitive person. I've never had the desire to be/do more. I've always been fine with somewhere in the middle.  I don't have the drive most do and that's OK.  It's just my DNA.  While I believe we are put on this earth to make a difference I don't think that it has to come from a place of more.  What's the saying, sometimes less is more?  For me that couldn't be truer {that's a word, right?}.

I decided I need to pull back on aspects of my life that don't serve me in order to make time for what does.  I want to get back to basics.  Things that I put more effort into than I get out of it have to go.  My fitness coach business has nearly drained me of my motivation so I'm pulling back on that.  I've been dreading my workouts lately so I went back to my love, yoga, and have felt so much more empowered since.  I've been waking up at 5 am to ensure a good hour, hour and a  half, to myself to practice and I can't tell you how much that has changed my life.  My kids wake up to a mom who is fulfilled and pleasant to greet them every morning.  My kids have been more plugged into their tablets than their imaginations so those are gone.  For months Jimmy and I spent our alone time, after the kids are in bed, binge watching ________ but we've traded that for a glass of wine/whiskey on the deck actually having conversations.  Hell even our diets have changed to a more basic way of eating so much so that I'm thinking of starting my first garden.

I feel a little hippie dippy in a way but maybe wonderfully ordinary is a more appropriate term because I am far from a flower child.  I also know that this is a process and I'm not going to magically change overnight.  I can say, however, I've already seen a positive shift in our every day life.  This morning, for example, I was making breakfast, Kendall was reading a book, James was playing with his Power Rangers {always} and I had soft music on in the background-the sun was casting a yellow glow over he kitchen, it was beautiful.  I even sent Jimmy a text, "this morning has been so peaceful".

Kids pick up and respond to the vibe we give them so if we are stressed out, mad, yelling, crazy people {guilty as charged} they become stressed out, mad, yelling, crazy people.  Since I've been more calm with them the tantrums have been few and far between.  They notice that I'm not reacting in a hyper manner and that has made them realize that they don't need to do that in order to get my attention.  They have been more loving towards each other and the fighting has considerably decreased in frequency because I have been more compassionate towards them.  It's a total win/win situation.

I know it's the end of April but in a way it seems like the first of the year for me.  It's not easy to self reflect, especially when you don't like the reflection, but that's where growth comes from.  I feel like I have been renewed and my true New Years Resolution has finally been set in place.  An ordinary lifestyle is the life for me, wonderfully ordinary.

January 20, 2017

Life As A Hunters Wife 2016/17 Edition

Every year my Life As A Hunters Wife posts get more attention than anything else I write all year. Months after writing them I get comments from fellow hunters wives/girlfriends sharing their stories of being  hunting widow.  Some offer encouragement to others but most talk of the awful loneliness they feel from their significant other during hunting season.

I read each comment that comes through and some downright break my heart.  Stories of husbands not attending family functions, missing out on their child's milestones, choosing hunting over a date night, and the list goes on.  I think people get confused about my posts, and maybe that's my fault, but this is NOT the type of hunter my husband is.

Hunting is important to Jimmy the same as working out is important to me.  He loves it, he's good at it, he's passionate about it, and it brings him great joy.  However, he would NEVER miss out on family time to go hunting.  Not only would he never do it because he values family and friends above all else but I would never tolerate such selfishness.

I've learned a lot over the years of being a hunters wife.  I used to get angry and bitter and jealous.  I used to whine or roll my eyes anytime that he left the house before sunrise on a Saturday.  I remember crying on the couch one day when Jimmy got home from hunting and he asked me what was wrong and I couldn't even tell him.  I didn't know why I was crying but after a good heart-to-heart about it I realized it was jealousy.  I didn't have something of my own and I was jealous that Jimmy did.  He encouraged me to find something that I could pour myself into and be passionate about.

Now when he leaves to go hunting I kiss him and wish him good luck.  I pray for him to see a monster buck when he goes out.  The kids and I usually take that time to go visit my parents or have a doughnut breakfast date.  He's usually home by lunch time so then we do something together as a family.

I get lots of comments from friends and family members along the lines of, "I don't know how you do it! I wouldn't put up with that." It's really not a big deal and it's no different than husbands who golf every weekend over the summer or meet their buddies for a beer every Thursday after work.  It's not that big of a deal, honestly.  I think it sends a great message to the kids about patience and determination.  I could never hunt because I would sit out in the cold, on a tiny tree stand seat for one hour and if I didn't see anything I'd be done.  Nope, not for me.

Since I know a lot of "hunting widows" will stumble across this post at some point I want to offer you hope during hunting season.  Take this time to find something YOU really love.  Maybe it's a Soul Cycle class every Saturday morning or you learn a new hobby like crochet or meet a girlfriend for a coffee date.  If you have kids, make this time special where they get to do something with just you that they can look forward to.  Jimmy goes to South Dakota with his dad and brothers every year and that week I always let Kendall sleep in bed with me, something she really looks forward to.  And, above all else, communicate with your man!  Does he know how you feel?  Have you voiced your disapproval of him missing out on things that are important to you?

Hunting season doesn't have to be dreaded.  It can be a time for real growth both individually and as a couple.  Special memories can be made during this season.  If nothing else it can make you really appreciate the time you do spend together.  What's the saying?  Distance makes the heart grow fonder?  And, if nothing else, be thankful that hunting season is only a couple months long 😉.

January 9, 2017

My New Years Resolution

Happy New Year!

Seeing as we are a little over a week into the new year I thought maybe I should start thinking about my resolution/word of the year.  Most of you are probably thinking I should have come up with one by now, it's not like I didn't know this time of year was coming.  It's true, New Years was no surprise, I should have been prepared.

In my defense, I want this year to be GOOD.  I mean real good, ya feel?  I didn't want some arbitrary word that made me feel good in the moment but fizzled out come March {as most resolutions do}.  I also didn't want something generic like, "reduce debt" or "be a better mom" either.  I need more concrete things- a challenge, if you will. I do well with challenges, I've realized.

So this year I'm going to do a little less and a little more because there is more than one area I can improve on and I realize that.  I don't think that resolutions, or any goals, need to be narrowed down to one aspect of life, right?

In 2017 I will do/have/be/say/etc LESS

  • phone time
  • selfishness
  • complaining
  • "no"
  • comparing
  • critical {of myself and others}
  • spending
  • distractions
  • clutter
  • yelling
  • mindless/reality TV
  • empty promises
And I will do/have/be/say/etc MORE
  • reading
  • considerate
  • intentional
  • water
  • personal development 
  • praying
  • saving
  • writing
  • vacations
  • "yes"
  • self love
  • connecting
  • listening
  • inspiring
I think that about covers it 😉.  It looks like 2017 is going to be a good year full of simplifying, awareness, and love.  I think the overall theme, and if I had to pick a specific word for this year, is growth.  I want to come out of 2017 a completely different person than when I started it.

It all starts today.

January 7, 2017

Family Time

I think the thing I love {and already miss} most about the time between Thanksgiving and New Years is all the time spent with family. Not just my family but my in-laws and my friends {they're family too}. I am Kendall's Girl Scout troop {co} leader now and this week I went around the table and asked the girls what their favorite thing they did over winter break was and I couldn't believe how many of them said, "spending time with my family".  Warmed my heart.

Some people might argue that all the family time is the thing that stresses them out the most during the holidays but I love it, can't get enough of it.  In fact, my dad and cousin have birthdays in the mix and I love that that means we have two more opportunities to get together during this time.

Whether we are sitting around my aunts kitchen island, spoiling our dinner with appetizers, or having a big family movie night at my in-laws home theater we always have a great time, a lot of laughs and leave feeling full.

Every year we try to come up with one new thing to do in addition to all the fun traditions we carry out.  One thing Jimmy and I started doing with our own little family is to introduce a new Christmas movie each year.  I thought we'd run out of movies by year two, it seems like we've seen them all, but there are TONS of Christmas movies, tons.  We love movie nights.  We pop popcorn, get out a bunch of candy {pictured},  Jimmy always builds the kids a fort and it's one of our favorite pastimes.  

Last year we watched It's a Wonderful Life for the first time and, while I was a little bit embarrassed that I was 32-years-old when I first saw this classic I was glad I waited till I was an adult because WOW!  What a message.  That is now on rotation during the holidays for us because I don't think I'll ever get tired of that story.  This year we introduced Kendall {James had no interest} to The Santa Clause, one of  Jimmy and my favorites!  I wasn't sure how she'd take it, since she's still not really into movies that aren't animated yet, but she LOVED it and asked to watch it again the next night.

I'm already thinking of what movie we'll watch for next year, any suggestions?

December 22, 2016

10 Stocking Stuffers For Her

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

Anyone else a super last minute shopper this year?

Normally I like to have everything done by the week of Christmas but this year I'm finding myself out in the hustle and bustle just a few days before Christmas.  Honestly, it's not that bad.  I thought it was going to be crazy busy, people were going to be rude and grumpy and I was going to come home completely drained of Christmas cheer.  I've been pleasantly surprised at the general mood this year, everyone seems a little more laid back and friendly {minus the young men who refused to open or hold open a door for me but that's another story for another day}.

Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite things to shop for, STOCKING STUFFERS!  I love stocking stuffers because we do them last so just when you think the presents are over...nope, STOCKING STUFFERS!  As a kid, my mom always wrapped stocking stuffers and sometimes my dad would surprise me and I'd have real {small} presents in there so and I loved knowing that I wasn't quite done opening gifts.

When Organic Doctor asked if I'd be willing to share some stocking stuffer ideas, including their naturally inspired products, I immediately said, "YES!"  I love beauty and skincare products just as much as the next girl and I would love to receive all or any of these things in my stocking this year.

1.  Aveda Volumizing Tonic.  I have tried lots of volumizers over the year thanks to flat,fine hair and I have loved none until I started using this.  I love that it smells amazing {duh, all Aveda products do} and it doesn't leave my hair feeling weighed down or like there's build up at my roots.

2.  Organic Doctor {available at your local CVS}.

  • Organic Rose Otto Facial Serum.   This is a light serum designed to renew elasticity, restore skin integrity and leave your skin feeling soft and toned.
  • Organic Snail Gel.  This moisturizing, anti-aging gel will soothe and hydrate skin in these harsh winter months.
  • Organic Olive Oil Skin Lotion.  Help moisture dry, flaking winter skin with this all-over body lotion that will leave skin feeling softer and smoother all day long.
3.  Philosophy Amazing Grace.  If you ever wondered what I smell like {I know you do} this is it.  I've been wearing this, exclusively, since college {or maybe before}.  I'm obsessed and it's the only perfume I've ever finished a bottle of.

4.  NARS blush {orgasm}.  I'm sure you've all heard of {and probably use} this universal blush.  It's my go-to and, even though I feel naughty about the color, it really is perfection.

5.  Makeup Brushes.  After scouring the Internet and reading reviews till I went cross-eyed, I finally added these to my wishlist this year.

6.  COVERGIRL Outlast.  I've never tried Lip Sense {too expensive for my taste} but this stuff is the same concept.  I have two colors and both have lasted me 8+ hours and less than $10!

7.  Not Your Mothers Dry Shampoo.  I've tried more expensive brands like Living Proof and I just keep coming back to this one.  It smells good, won't break the bank and {coming from a girl with EXTREMELY oily hair} works amazing.

8.  Urban Decay Naked Basics.  Call me crazy but the Naked palettes give me anxiety, too many options.  I have this one and it's perfect and you can still create a lot of pretty looks with fewer options.  

9.  Essie nail color in Chinchilly.  This color is not new and I don't do my nails often but this is my go-to fall/winter color.  I still love it all these years later.

10.  Headbands and hair ties.  I'm partial to Brady Bands and wear nothing else.  Nonslip headbands for the fitness lover or maybe something a little dressier for the girly girl in your life.

There you have it!  Now all you last-minute-shoppers tell me what you're shopping for!

December 13, 2016

Holiday Traditions

My all-time favorite holiday tradition is my family's annual cookie exchange.  We've been doing it as long as I can remember and even before that.  What started out as a way for my mom, aunt and grandma to gift their love of baking to friends and family has turned into a more simple family get-together.  We no longer bake millions of cookies in every variety you can imagine.  There's no more burnt hands from making hard candies.  Gone are our standard assortment of cookies and now everyone kind of makes what they want.  One thing that has remained the same throughout all these years are the cutout sugar cookies.

As much as everyone loves to complain about icing the cookies, it really is our most fun time together.  We get silly with our decorating, we eat more than we ice, we laugh, we listen to Christmas music and it's just good old fashion family fun.  Now that I have kids of my own I am so happy to be passing this tradition onto them.

This year I wanted to make a little something different than the standard "Christmas cookie" so when the folks at Honey Bunches of Oats® asked me to come up with a holiday treat I was up for the challenge and quickly ran to Kroger for my ingredients.  I decided on a peanut butter, chocolate treat bar that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars {featuring Honey Bunches of Oats® }

  • 1-1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 cups Honey Bunches of Oats® Cereal {I used Honey Roasted}
  • 2 milk chocolate bars

  • Microwave the peanut butter, syrup and sugar in a microwave safe bowl for 3 minutes. Stir every 30 seconds to one minute to avoid burning make sure it's melted all the way through.
  • In a large bowl mix the cereal and your melted ingredients to coat
  • Pour the mixture into a 9x9 baking dish and pack firmly
  • Melt the chocolate bars
  • Pour and spread the melted chocolate evenly over the cereal
  • Let it firm up and once bars have set cut into squares and ENJOY!
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NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Promotion starts 11/1/16 at 12:00 PM (noon) ET and ends 3/31/2017 at 11:59:59 PM ET. Open only to legal residents of the 50 US/DC, 18 years of age or older. See Official Rules for instructions on how to enter, how to obtain codes without purchase, prize details, restrictions, odds of winning, etc. Void where prohibited by law. Sponsor:  Post Consumer Brands, LLC.