I am so sick today. My head feels like it's full of concrete, my sinuses are stuffed beyond capacity, and my body feels like it weighs 10 tons. It's not a good day for Momma. On the other hand, my kids, (who lovingly passed this gem of a virus on to me), have recuperated from their weekend of sickness and are at the top of their games. They are both bouncing off the walls and itching for excitement- something I just can't give today. However, Miss Abigail seemed up to the challenge, so I let her feed herself her bottle for the very first time today. She did great! Milestones milestones milestones.
I know a girl who hates everything in her closet. She wakes up dreading the ritual of getting dressed. And don't even get me started on how much she hates getting ready for a special event. It always ends in tears and chocolate. There are a few reasons for this:
She buys cheap stuff.
She buys without a plan or goal in mind.
She thinks she can only afford ugly stuff.
She's been overweight for years, and, although she hates to admit it, doesn't really think she deserves nice stuff.
She's on a budget, so she can't buy all the stuff she really wants.
She's a stay at home mom, and to her, somehow her daily schedule of laundry, dishes and getting puked on doesn't quite warrant a sexy pair of jeans.
Here comes the big one: Even if she thought her day DID warrant a sexy pair of jeans, she questions if she could possibly look sexy in them.
She's lost 37 pounds in the last four months, has another 90 to go until her goal is met, and doesn't feel like buying tons of stuff before then.
I. Am. That. Girl.
Low self-esteem? Check. Low budget? Check. Closet full of clearance rack business attire from my working days and maternity t-shirts from the more recent days? Check. Plus sized jeans that I took in myself because I lost almost 40 pounds and am too cheap to go buy a pair that actually fits? Check. Zero jewelry? Check.
Obviously, I've got a problem. It's a clothes problem. It's a mirror problem. It's an me problem.
But like the majority of problems, thank God, there's a solution. Or, in this case, many small solutions. Really, what better time to start revamping my closet and finding my style than when I'm 1/3 of the way towards my goal weight? Now is the time for change.
Which is why I couldn't have been more thrilled when my good friend Jenna wrote a post TO ME about MY wardrobe and how to revamp it. I mean yes, she posted it on her blog and other people will undoubtedly read it and be changed for life, but let's be honest, it was written to ME. My name is in it and everything.
A few notes about Jenna and I: We met because we both blog about food. She, about Paleo living, and I, about the importance and benefits of cooking for your family at home, formed a coalition of sorts when we blogged together for a time. (and it was a good partnership, wasn't it Jenna?) Also important to note: Jenna and I could not be more different. She is petite, 5' 5'', gorgeous, has a boyfriend, dresses impeccably, and has a little bit of a potty mouth when she gets excited. (It's true.) I am, um, not petite, 5'11'', pretty, have a husband and two kids, I dress like I'm embarrassed of my body, and I use words like "merciful heavens" and "frickin' frackin'" when I get excited. (It's true.) Despite our differences, though, we've got a mutual respect for one another that is priceless, and she knows I'll always be an avid reader of The Paleo Project. It's a great thing we've got going.
Which is why I studied the post she wrote in response to my question: "So, I hate my wardrobe. I don’t have the money to revamp the whole thing
at once- what are some good tips to boost my style-points without
busting the bank?"
Some people would be totally freaked by this question. Some people would skip over it and pretend they never got the email. Some people would give a half-baked answer like "buy a belt" and call it good. Jenna is not "some people". Nuh uh. Jenna is fearless. Jenna is dedicated. And, you guys, Jenna is brilliant. In a post dedicated to me and my troubles, (I am just so blown away that my name is on her blog!), she spelled out to me exactly what I need to know to slowly transform my closet into something to be proud of.
What I learned from Jenna and discovered in myself along the way:
I need to stop being so hard on myself. I mean really, I've lost almost 40 pounds. I started running. RUNNING. Yeah, be impressed, because it's impressive. I'm well on my way to looking like how I feel: healthy, vibrant and alive. I'm pretty much awesome.
Because I'm awesome, I deserve to look awesome.
I don't have to spend a million dollars on a wardrobe. I do have to shop with a plan in mind, though. No more going to the store and buying whatever fits off the clearance rack. For example, I need a blazer. So, when the money is there, I'm going to go to the mall, and I'm going to buy a frickin' frackin' blazer. I'm not going to buy the first one I find, I'm not going to to buy a t-shirt instead because it's cheap. I'm going to find a blazer that looks good on me, that makes me feel good, that is of quality craftsmanship and construction so it lasts, and that would make Jenna proud. Why? Because I deserve it, that's why. And then? Then I'm going to save up for a pair of jeans. And then a pair of boots. It might take me 5 years, but I'm going to be proud of my wardrobe.
I can wear jewelry. Now, you guys, this is a scary thing for me. I feel dumb in jewelry. It makes me feel like I've got a sign on me that says, "hey, look at me!" Up until today, the last thing I wanted was for people to look at me. No more of that. Yes, look at me, I'm empowered and beautiful.
It's not rocket science. It's not difficult to build a wardrobe you like. Have a plan. Know the basics. Be creative. Then wake up in the morning excited to wear your clothes because they're awesome.
Today was an "Aha!" moment for sure- a day of encouragement, enlightenment and excitement.
Today was the day I realized I'm worth the effort.
Sometimes, my kids make me want to pull my hair out. It can feel like when I finally get one happy, the other is screaming. Sometimes, I want a break.
But then there are moments like these, when they're both calm, both peaceful. This moment lasted about 3 seconds before big brother was ready to be done with the cuddling (see second photo) but while it lasted, I was one happy momma.
I food journal, and I truly believe it’s like the best thing ever.
first let me say this: (and please, still love me after) I have an
addiction to food. No, I’m not saying “I’m addicted” in the cute way
that food bloggers say it. I really, truly, terrifyingly, am addicted to
food. It FEELS good to eat it. It improves my mood. It’s how I handle
emotions. Bottom line: my relationship with food is unhealthy.
I’ve got that on the table, I can explain why food journaling helps me.
It keeps me from eating so damn much. It’s not about guilt, it’s about
honesty. With myself. How many times have I said to myself, “I didn’t
eat that many cheetos, I’m still good on calories for the day” without
counting or measuring or writing it down, when in reality if I had
actually paid attention, I would see that I ate close to three cups of
cheetos, and gained a butt-ton of weight in the process. (dramatization,
but you get the point).
So for me, journaling keeps me honest. It keeps
me aware. It keeps me healthy. But let’s say a healthy person, with
healthy eating habits, and a lack of self-lying habits- let’s say they
want to know if they should food journal. My answer: whatever is right
for you is right for you.
Does it feel good to write it down? Sweet. No?
This photo has a special place in my heart. It shows my dear husband, Mike, standing next to his amazing freestyle handiwork. Now, you should know, my husband used to build houses for a living. The man built me a house in our first year of marriage, and has continued to blow my mind with his mad skills (with a hammer) ever since. There are times, though, like today, when Mike doesn't feel like helping me out. It's times like these that I treasure- a moment for me to point out to him just how clearly his negative attitude is showing through his work. Needless to say, he was unimpressed. He was even more pleased with me when I begged him to smile for my photo-of-the-day!
This photo marks the end of the third week of 2012!
This little angel face is deceiving; you would never guess she single-handedly gave the whole house her chest cold, and somehow is the only person feeling good today. It's all worth it to see her feeling better, though, after a week of watching her feel miserable. C'est la vie.
When you're eating healthy in the winter, eating cold salads and fruit medleys can get kind of... chilly. At least for me, when it's 9 degrees outside, I want something HOT, but I don't want to waste a ton of calories. It's times like these I turn to "zero point soup"- a Weight Watchers delicacy. Take broth (any), veggies (any, except the starchies like corn and peas), and some spices (any), throw it all together in a pot, simmer until veggies are tender, and devour. Warm, diet friendly comfort food even your personal trainer can get behind.
Since having my Aaron in August of 2008, there are many things I have done that I never imagined myself doing. For example, this morning, he wanted to play with his race track. So, before a shower, before make-up, before my morning coffee, I spent 20 minutes putting together the coolest racetrack ever (a little self-encouragement never hurts, right?) according to his exacting specifications. And I liked it. Nope, never thought I would do that in a million years, but now it's my everyday. So thankful for this little one.
This time of year, our family is pretty much desperate for warmth. Here in Minnesota, January has been historically the worst and coldest winter month of the year. Today, though, it was a "warm" 35 degrees! We felt so spoiled. We walked to the park with the kiddos, played for a while, and then rushed home to thaw out. Part of the thawing process includes eating a snack- and what better than the taste of sunshine and summer!
Soon, these photos will all be switched out with more current ones
(we're now a family of four, for example). But today, it's still a
wall-sized scrapbook of a very memorable period in our lives- not better
or worse, just very memorable.
My little girl is growing up. Today, she sat unsupported for the first time ever. Yesterday, stood, (holding onto a laundry basket), without my hands keeping her steady. Has it really been almost five months since she was born? Does time really move that quickly?
I recieved a very loving message from my dear friend Olivia today, and it inspired me to ramble on forever in a reply message that ended up being very therapeutic. I decided I'd share.
"It is amazing, isn't it, how happy and beautiful my son is? I am just so
so so relieved by that fact every day. Somehow, through the frustration
and fear and struggles he's got on his plate right now, he smiles every
day. He hugs me every day. He kisses Mike goodbye when he leaves for
work every day. He is funny every day. I'm repetitive, but this child is
so many levels of blessing EVERY DAY that I just can't say enough. He
is an amazing, smart, loving, brilliant ray of sunshine in my life.
"Right now, he needs a little more love, attention, help, and patience
from me, and that's ok. We're going to walk this road- this bumpy,
windy, where-the-hell-is-it-heading road- and see where it goes. Like I
encouraged you a minute ago, we're just riding the tide.
"Coming to terms with fear is a hard thing. I've been afraid of this
(this diagnosis, this struggle, etc) since Aaron was 18 months old. Now
it's here, staring me in the face. I am happily surprised to find that
I'm not in a crying heap on the floor (or at least I wasn't for very
long). I realized how brave I can be this week. That's so valuable. I
learned the meaning of unconditional love this week. That's
immeasurable. And I was reminded that I am not alone- my husband, my
family, my precious and generous friends like you... I'm overwhelmed by
it all. How for every second of fear, I've gotten double the love. Mind
I wrote more stuff to just her, but this was the real meat and
potatoes of my sort-it-out reply. I came to a good, healthy, loving and
peaceful place tonight.
With a three year old, there's a limited window of opportunity to snap
that adorable photo. There's about 10 seconds of cute smiles, and then
the window closes. When I miss it, (and I say "when" because I usually
do miss it), this is what I get. Snark. Pure snark.
My life sometimes feels like a tower built of wooden blocks.
Strange thing to say, huh? Bear with me.
I work really hard, every day, to build my "tower of blocks". Building upon a foundation of hope and trust, I do dishes, read books to my kids, make dinner, balance our budget, find creative ways to interact as a family, keep the house in some semblance of order, and pray (often); I do whatever I can to ensure a stable and comfortable environment for my family. Most of the time, I'm successful. We are generally happy and comfortable. It feels good. With every little thing I do, I add another block to the top of my "tower". And it's a nice tower. It is strong and is built with love. I love that tower (security) (are you following the analogy here?)
It never ceases to amaze me, though, how quickly my tower of blocks can be leveled. In the span of 3 seconds, (the approximate amount of time it takes for a speech therapist to say, "Your son has been diagnosed with the inability to process speech," for example), my tower comes tumbling to the ground. In an instant, I feel insecure, alone and afraid. I find myself wishing, however futile my wishing might be, that I didn't just hear what I heard. I question myself, my husband, my capabilities as a parent and my ability to make a positive difference. I stare at the pile of fallen blocks before me and wonder how I'll ever build it back up again. How will I ever feel secure or protected again? I pray, cry and share my fear and sadness with those I love.
And then, slowly, I realize that I was wrong. My tower isn't leveled. Sure, the fancy spires and towers have fallen, but the foundation remains. Firm and strong, my hope and resolve are still there. The faith upon which I had built my tower in the first place still stands, and it fills me with the strength to start rebuilding.
My mom once told me that there was a point in her life where she was faced with a choice: she could give up, lay down, and let her life direct her, or she could get up, take a shower, and choose to direct her life. Today, I'm making the choice to direct my life. I'm going to start rebuilding my confidence, restructuring our strategies and reinforcing my faith in in a firm foundation that can withstand the worst.
The prompt from captureyour365.com today was "Inspired by". What am I inspired by? I thought about my mom, music, my husband, heck, I even thought about Ikea. (I'm inspired by their design style, mmk?) But then I stepped back for a minute and thought about inspiration on a spiritual level. What inspires me to be who I am? What is the impetus behind the way I live my life- that affects every area of my life?
God. His promise of eternal life, His everlasting forgiveness, His huge sacrifice of His son on my behalf. There is no end to the list of why I am inspired by God. My life is forever changed because of His intervention.
But how do you photograph the Lord? I mean, really. Is He in a tree? In my children's faces? In the sunrise? Yes, yes and yes. But I couldn't figure out how to photograph a barren tree in my backyard attractively, I've got numerous photos of my kids in my P365 file already, and honestly, I woke up too late to catch the sunrise. So here I was, standing in my kitchen in my pj's, holding a rapidly cooling cup of coffee, ignoring the constant "Mom Mom Mom Mom Mom Mom" coming from the dining room, trying to figure out how to capture God on film. It sounds weird, but it was a moment, people. A big moment. An existential moment.
Okay that's a little dramatic but I really was thinking deeply about it.
And then it hit me: God has generously given me a tangible reflection of Himself- in fact, it is His own word. The bible. Now, I know it is cliche. I know it has been done a million kajillion times before. But this is MY interpretation- my inspiration. God explains clearly what a wife should aspire to be, and when in doubt, this is my go-to-template for my life and desires:
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10[b]A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her women servants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Aaron can be difficult to photograph. I get a lot of "snarky" faces, a lot of running away, a lot of complaining. But sometimes, he smiles (and says 'cheese!') in that adorable way that three year old boys do, and my heart melts. These are the moments mommas remember forever, the photos that make us say "awww" and put our hands over our hearts, and the snapshots that make all the other difficult photos worth it.
It is so like me to write about a million (okay, it was only 13) thank-you notes the day after Christmas, seal them up, label them, and then let them sit for over a week because I'm too lazy to address them and go get stamps. Seriously. Story of my life.
3/365: Close, But No Cigar
(click to enlarge, but really, it's just a stack of unsent thank-you cards)
Every year during the holidays, I put away our normal mugs and bring out the Christmas tree ones. They sit so beautifully in my hutch, reminding me with every morning cup of coffee that the holidays have arrived. They are a charming accent to my favorite time of year. They remind me that the time for relaxing and enjoying family has come. They make me happy. Trouble is, they really, really bug my husband. No, he doesn't have a personal vendetta against Christmas or Christmas mugs. He even agrees that they're cute. His issue, however, is that they're too small. You see, our regular mugs are HUGE. They hold 10 steaming ounces of caffeine. He's so used to having a truck load of coffee from a single mug poured down his gullet every morning that it is incredibly difficult for him to adjust when the holidays arrive- I mean, you guys, for the same effect with the small mugs, he has to get up and pour himself another cup! (Oh, the humanity!) So yesterday, when I packed up the adorable Christmas mugs and brought back out the old faithfuls, the hubbster rejoiced. (Literally- he breathed a sigh of relief and exclaimed his excitement to have them back.) But for me, it was bittersweet. Putting away the holiday mugs means no more more baking cookies every week. It means no more wrapping presents, no more holiday music, no more warm fuzzies with the kiddos watching The Grinch as the tree glows softly in the background. Bringing out the big mugs means we're back to normal, back to work, and back to the necessity of 10 ounces of coffee every morning. It means I've got a whole 'nother year until my favorite time of year. Boo. (Is there a "bah humbug" exclamation for the non-holiday season?) But you know, it's not all bad. There are little glints of joy along the way to Christmas again. For example, my normal mug has pictures of my darling son on it, making for a lovey-dovey-caffeine-rush like no other. I guess getting back to normal isn't so bad.