Friday, August 21, 2015

I'm Doing Pretty Good. How are you?

So, here I sit. FINALLY writing a blog post again.  We have moved all over the Eastern half of the nation, quite literally, since my last post more than 3 years ago (Ohio to Alabama to Virginia).  I cannot believe I haven't written on here for 3 YEARS!  And, true to my natural propensity, the first thing I do is feel guilty about that.  I tell myself not to, but that really does nothing.  Then I look at the margin of the page where "The Blogs I Follow" are listed.  Ahhh, now I feel better!  My friends, authors of listed blogs, have also found other things to do in time ranging anywhere from a few weeks ago to six years ago, so I feel better about the distraction of life that has kept me from blogging.  The crazy thing is, I really enjoy writing this blog, but for some reason I just haven't done it.  Originally, I began this blog for my kids.  I thought it would be neat to be able to compile posts about them throughout the years and present the written collection to them as some fabulous gift when they each turn 18.  And while that may still happen, although I doubt it, over time, my reasons for blogging became more about me.  I enjoy it.  I like to write.  There is something meaningful and clarifying about it for me.  I like sharing my experiences as a woman, wife and mother during this fun, hectic and sometimes very difficult season of life.  I like finding my voice through writing and enjoy thinking that someone, somewhere "out there" reads it and relates to it. That somehow, something that I have to say makes someone smile, laugh or just feel better about the struggles they are experiencing.  I like sharing my personal interests, battles and obsessions: ranging anywhere from my cute kids to my handsome hubby, to my frustrating dilemmas to my exciting accomplishments, to my really cute outfit to my Stella & Dot jewelry, to my favorite shade of nail polish to a beauty hack I just saw online, to a disconcerting world event or political situation to fun thing I just heard about.  You get the idea; I'm all over the place!  But so is life, right?  I mean one week, I'm a great cook diligently planning meals made from only whole foods; the next, I'm mother of the year, making one-on-one time for each of my kids doing enjoyable, learning activities of their choosing.  In another week, I  have my house completely cleaned and organized without a single stack of clutter. The next week, I am an exercise enthusiast, faithfully wearing my fitbit, actually doing the workouts I eagerly "pinned" however many months ago, posting details of my daily sweat session, complete with a picture, for all of Facebook to read and not care about, and drinking half my body weight in water. And some weeks, I am a fierce fashionista with trendy, well-accessorized outfits, looking perfectly polished for each day's events, wowing my instagram followers with my #ootd.  In another week, I have my political views firmly in place and have appropriately selected our next President through the debate in my brain which was thoughtfully informed by reading a well-balanced compilation of news sources.  But most weeks, I am none of those things, or maybe a small part of each of those things.  And, I am coming to terms with that.  It is OK to be OK at something.  In fact, many would call that being "well-rounded," and that is a very good thing to be.  Sometimes I think we have disengaged with the notion of being a "Jack of all trades; master of none."  We think we need to be the "Master of all trades or have 'jack' to do with it."  I used to let the notion of having to be perfect prevent me from trying a lot of things.  But somewhere along the line I gave myself permission to be "pretty good" rather than attempting to be perfect. Perfection is REALLY hard, unrealistic and unsustainable.  And, in my pursuit of being a recovering perfectionist, I have found, that "pretty good" is pretty awesome!  We can't let the need for perfection prevent us from trying.  Over time, we may find that practice does make perfect, but even if not, at least we are DOING something through the practice.  But we must BEGIN in order to get any practice.  So, to all of you who pressure yourselves with the strive for perfection, I give you permission to stop.  Just be pretty good because that is pretty awesome too!  And, while I would like to be able to say that I will heretofore write in this blog faithfully each week from now until the end of time, I know that won't likely be the case, so I won't even put that pressure on myself. What I do know, is that when I have the time, I will take it and share my thoughts openly and honestly while continuing to strive for "pretty good."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Who Knew?!?

Some interesting random facts I've learned today whether I wanted to or not...

    • It definitely does matter to Asher which string cheese I put in his lunch! 
    • I need to specify that Sophia is to brush her hair AND get all the snarls out.
    • Poop is a perfectly acceptable alternative to finger paint for Eva.
    • Frankie can do a darn good job cleaning windows with very little instruction. 
    • Eva is not scared to go to the neighborhood park without me. 
    • A three year old can, in fact, successfully share a popsicle with a dog. 
    • Answering a question for a toddler will not mean that they won't ask the exact same question again and again. 
    • When given the choice from a HUGE basket of shoes from which to chose, Jude will inevitably choose my designer ballet flats, always. 
    • Frankie really cannot stand the wrinkle that has formed on the lining of the inside of her shoe! And it is a BIG deal. HUGE!
    • My vacuum will pick up a penny and not break... immediately.
    • Frankie can do a pretty good Yogi Bear impression. 
    • I may never have a private phone conversation ever again. 
    • Peanut Butter and Jelly pairs quite nicely with Pinot Noir! 

    Sunday, March 3, 2013

    Confessions of a Sleepyhead

    "My name is Katie and I am not a morning person."

    "Hi Katie."

    Sometimes I feel like this confession is my dirty little secret, especially as a mom.  But I am here to tell you, I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON.  I am a night owl.  I can get so much accomplished in the midnight hours with no one and nothing around to distract me. It is about the only time I can get any time to myself.  I clean the house; I do laundry; I talk on the phone and I waste time on the computer.  I stay up far too late and then despise getting out of bed in the mornings.  I always have.  As a high-schooler, my dear mom would wake me up every single morning with her soft tone and gentle smile.  She would have a night light on in the bathroom for me so I didn't have to shower in the "harsh" overhead light.  I would return to my room with a made bed and my bedside lamp on.  I was so spoiled!  I didn't wake up to an alarm until I went away to college.  As a teacher in my early 20's, I slept until the last possible moment and arrived at school with moments to spare sporting wet hair that was placed in a ponytail or wrapped around pencil in a french twist"ish" bun by 2nd period when it had air dried.   When Zach and I were newlyweds, he drove me crazy in the mornings with his perky positivity.  One day he lovingly said, "Honey, mornings aren't going to go away."  To which I snapped, "I know, but we don't have to celebrate them!"  Now, being a mom with young children, there are very few nights that I get uninterrupted sleep.  It seems as though I am either feeding a newborn, soothing a teething baby, aiding a potty-training toddler, calming fears from bad dreams, nursing fevers or other ailments, etc.  I have been sleep deprived for the better part of a decade, and that does little to help my already firmly in-place dislike of mornings.  

    Now, with school-aged children, I am responsible to not only get myself up in the morning, but to get them out the door in a timely manner.  They need to have a calm and consistent start to their day. This is something that I still struggle with especially since I refuse to go to bed early or can't ever seem to despite my best intentions.  There are those moms that somehow manage to get up well before anyone in the house and get themselves ready for the day before greeting their family in true Beaver Cleaver fashion, but I will most likely never be one of those moms. [If you are one of those moms, my hat's off to you!  You can stop reading this post; you don't need it. :) ] In the past week, I have had a handful of friends comment about the chaos morning brings to their home on their Facebook page or ask how to get their kids on their way in the mornings.  This confirms for me that I am not alone in my struggle.  I don't claim to have all of the answers, but I thought with so many friends sharing in my struggle, I would pass along a few bits of advice that have helped mornings become a bit more sane in our house. 
    • Do what you can the night before.  I usually set out the kids' clothes for the next day.  I make sure they have what they need in their backpacks, i.e. library books, gym shoes, etc.  I often pack lunches the night before (unless I am making Soph her favorite turkey and mayo sandwich because it gets soggy and that's just gross).  Zach usually preps the coffee the night before for me since he knows how much I detest mornings and how much I adore my morning java! When he is flying, I do this for myself.  Side note- If you are a coffee drinker and don't have a coffee pot with an auto setting, get one! 
    • Have clear morning expectations.  I expect Soph and Asher to dress before they arrive at the table for their breakfast.  They know this is their responsibility.  This allows me time to deal with Frankie and Eva and get them to the table for breakfast too.  Sophia and Asher are old enough that they can dress easily since we have set their clothes out the night before and they know what they are wearing.  They know they are to eat and then brush their teeth and comb their hair (if they didn't already do this when getting dressed).  It is their responsibility to get their backpack and lunch to the car.  They don their shoes and coats and we are on our way out the door.  
    • Don't save tasks for the morning.  Get homework finished the night before.  It seemingly never works to have time to finish things in the morning. We simply don't seem to wake up early enough or have the time.  Saving work to be finished in the morning just creates stress and anxiety for everyone whenever we do it so we don't.
    • Teach the children to occupy themselves in their rooms until a certain time.  Once kids are old enough to know their numbers, tell them not to leave their rooms until there is a 7 in the first place on their clock for example.  They even make "stoplight" clocks that have a green light or a red light letting the child know when they can get up and out of bed.  Asher has always been an early riser, but he knows that he is to stay in his room and play until 7:00.  I wake almost every morning after him to find him dressed and playing Legos in his room. 
    • Don't allow the children to sleep past a certain time.  You know how long you need to feed everyone breakfast, get dressed and get out the door, so don't let your child sleep into the time he or she will need to do that.  While Asher is our early riser, Soph is our sleepyhead.  I know I have to wake her by 7:20 or she won't have time to get ready, have her breakfast and be out the door on time. 
    • Keep things in the same place to avoid the morning scavenger hunt.  My kids know that they keep their backpacks in the laundry room.  They know exactly where to get them when it is time to leave.  Their shoes are in the shoe basket right by the door, and nowhere else.  Their hats and gloves are in the baskets of a bench we have in the entryway.  This helps reduce last minute scrambling to find things. 
    • Give rewards for good mornings.  Whether its a sticker on a chart or a little treat after school, I find that providing positive reinforcement for getting out the door in the mornings efficiently is very motivating for the kids.  They self correct when they find themselves getting distracted in the morning time because they want that reward, they learn personal responsibility for getting ready, and they stay motivated to make good time management decisions in the before school time at home.
    •  Don't beat yourself up with guilt if you aren't an early riser. If you simply can't find the energy or desire to celebrate mornings, that's okay.  Lord knows I can't!  I had to let go of the guilt that I am not chipper in the morning like my mom was and that my kids often wake up before me.  I'm not a bad mom because they may wake up 20 minutes before I do.  Stop putting pressure on yourself to be like "those moms" that seem like they are put together by school drop off.  I'm sure they suck at something else that you rock at anyway! ;)  Some mornings I am showered and dressed at school drop off, but most mornings I am wearing yoga pants and one of Zach's sweatshirts and have mascara smeared under my eyes from the day before. Who cares.  I do a lot of other stuff really well, mornings just don't happen to be one of those things.
    Hopefully some of these tips will resonate with you and help make your mornings easier.  We are still tardy to school about once a week due to unforeseen and unavoidable setbacks (For example, Eva poops her diaper as we are preparing to leave and I have to change her, the ice scraper breaks as I am clearing off the car-this just happened last week, Frankie opens her sippy cup and dumps juice all over- this also happened recently, and the list goes on) but we do our best. Sometimes my best is sleeping until the last possible minute I can and dumping cereal in a bowl for everyone; sometimes its getting up at 6:00 and preparing a breakfast feast for everyone, but its always my best.  And my best is good enough.  So is yours!  Having a routine helps me not be the crazy, yelling, beast of a mom that rears its ugly head when we don't follow the routine.  Having a consistently calmer and less stressed start to the day will do everybody's body (and mind) a lot of good! 

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Friday Fixations

    Requested by a few friends, here is a list of my most recent obsessions.  Some are products; some are practices.  Some even have a link. Check 'em out!

    Colored Denim.  I cannot get enough of this fashion trend!  My collection includes yellow, mint, pink, and emerald green.  I plan to wear this trend to death this upcoming Spring as much as I did this Fall and Winter.  My obsession also spills over onto Soph's wardrobe. She currently has teal, royal blue, and lavender jeans.  You can shop this trend virtually anywhere, but might I suggest hitting up Teal Boutique.  They have a wide variety of colors available for only $52!  If you don't live in the Charleston area, find them on Facebook and ask to be friends.  The girls there are super nice and will send you anything you want!

    Washing my Suburban.  There are a variety of reasons for this obsession.  My vehicle is black.  The salt on the road is a mess.  I am anal retentive.  My children are slobs.  Anyway, there is this car wash place here in Dayton called Mike's.  It is, IMO, ridiculously expensive ($15 a wash).  However, they also have a "$25/ month for unlimited washes" deal that I love!  I don't have to feel guilty if I want my car washed and it rains 5 and a half minutes after I am through the darn thing.  If Asher decides to demonstrate his writing skills in the salt filth that has accumulated on the side of the truck, off we go to Mike's.  It's great!  If you live in Indiana or Ohio, you should definitely visit.  I get my money's worth (and more) every month.  The workers even draw funny faces on the windows of the vehicle to make the baby girls smile when we go through.  So nice.

    Rodan + Fields skincare.  I started using their products a few months back.  I ordered the anti-age line from my friend Alyssa.  I signed up to be a "Preferred Customer" which allows me to save %10 each time I order and auto-ships me products of my choosing every two months.  I have tried a variety of the products, and I love this stuff!  Just ordered my Macro Exfoliator the other day and can't wait to get it and use it.

    Our puppy.  Born in October and given to our family by Santa, Jude Dayton Hall has brought a lot of fun into our home!  He is playful, yet gentle with the kids.  He is obedient and seems to be catching onto the whole "house training thing" pretty well.  He has reminded us what a "dog" family we are and we are so happy to have him as part of our family!  What's more?  The breeder is so nice and very helpful.  She contacts me periodically to see how Jude is doing.  Love that!  And, one of her labs just had pups.  If you are near the Indianapolis area and are looking for a Labrador retriever (yellow, chocolate, and black) you should use this breeder.  You can find them on Facebook too.

    Stella & Dot's 2013 Spring Collection.  As many of you know, I am an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot.  They have recently released their Spring Collection, and it is so lovely!  I am ob-sessed! The pieces are affordable and totally on trend, two qualities I love in my accessories.  The customer service is second to none. And the stylists are A-mazing! ;) My experience with this company (and the jewelry) just keeps getting better.  I also have a Facebook page.  You should find it and "like" it; I currently have a giveaway going on.

    Using Turmeric.  This spice was shoved on introduced to me by my BFF, Kathy, when I went to visit her last month.   She told me I had to start using it.  So, when I returned home, I did some research, and she was right.  It does have a variety of medicinal properties.  It can supposedly help/prevent a myriad of things from skin issues to atherosclerosis to liver problems to dementia.  It doesn't really change the flavor of the food, so I figure it can't hurt. I add this stuff to basically everything these days.  Just had it in our scrambled eggs yesterday morning and spaghetti sauce last night.  It is available at the grocery store and costs around $4.  Not a bad investment for such a potentially high payoff.

    Nut butters.  My apologies to all of my "nut allergy" friends, but I. LOVE. PEANUT BUTTER!  Recently, I have begun to buy almond and cashew butter instead of peanut butter.  It is so delicious!  I spread it on pancakes, put it in my protein shakes, eat it with chocolate, dunk my pretzels in it.  I mean, you just can't go wrong with this stuff.  The kids love it too! It is a little pricier than peanut butter, but worth every penny.

    Marc Jacobs perfume.  This has been my daily fragrance for about seven years.  I think this perfume smells so nice!  It is not heavy, yet strong enough that people comment on it.  It is not the only fragrance I wear, but definitely the one I wear the most frequently.  Love it!

    Entering the HGTV Dream Home giveaway.  Laugh if you like, but I am convinced that I am going to win the HGTV Dream Home this year!  I have entered the sweepstakes almost everyday since it began in late December.  (I have made Zach enter daily as well.  And, for the record, he thinks I am nuts, but has willingly complied with my zany request. What a great hubby!)  The sweepstakes ends today, and I cannot wait to receive the news that we have won!  If you have no idea what I am talking about, you have to check out this house.  It is in Kiawah Island, SC, a place Zach and I would love to own a home, and this one would be perfect!  Plus, we'll win $500,000 and a brand new GMC Acadia Denali to keep in the garage there for all of our friends to drive when they visit.  I know, so nice of us.  Stay tuned for news of the big reveal when we find out we win!

    Well, that about covers it.  Stay tuned for future Friday fixations; I will try to make this a monthly post.  If you try any of these products or practices, let me know what you think.  Additionally, if you want to share some of your favs, please do so; I am always interested in the fixations of my friends!

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    Put It On a High Shelf

         Those words are said in our house, sometimes audibly, sometimes not, for a variety of reasons. As I gaze around at all of the "high shelves" in our home, I see a myriad of things: medication that we don't want the children to have access to; cleaning products that could be dangerous; scissors and Sharpies, both of which could do untold damage.  We say those words to the "big kids" to keep prized drawings and Lego creations safe from destruction, to place small objects out of reach from the "baby girls," and to protect favorite toys from puppy drool.
         I thought about this today as I looked around at the bookcases containing a random assortment of the aforementioned items. Does that belong there? Is that the best place for that? What is THAT doing THERE?!? As I pondered this and attempted to prevent my anal retentive tendencies from kicking into overdrive, I thought about the metaphorical appropriateness of the "high shelf." 
         Our children are growing, day by day, little by little, being exposed to harmful and potentially damaging tantalizing "things." We are trying to shelter Sophia from exclusive "friends" she encounters at school; we are encouraging Asher to be obedient even when it is difficult; we protect Frankie and Eva from influences that they are too young to comprehend. Oh to have a "higher shelf." Life is becoming more complicated than keeping scissors out of our youngsters hands and toxic chemicals beyond their reach, more complex than dealing with the heartache that follows the demolition of a perfect Lego spacecraft or creative drawing of our family.
         Today, and everyday, I am thankful for a supportive family that helps us raise our children "in the way that they should go." (Proverbs 22:6) I am thankful for positive friends that find the honesty,purity, and beauty in life and encourage our children to "think on these things." (Phillippians 4:8)  What a challenge it is, and will become even more, to shield our kids from the hardships, trials and struggles this life will bring, and to equip them with the appropriate skills when they must tackle them head on.I am thankful today, for my Savior, that, through His grace, has redeemed us from it all and promises that He "will not give us more than we can bear." (1 Corinithians  10:13) Thankful today for the "high shelves" in my life and the perseverance to be faithful to the "The Highest Shelf."

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Partners in Crime

    Francesca and Evangeline, more commonly known as Frankie D. and Eva B. can melt my heart then raise my blood pressure all in the span of 2 minutes.  I have the joy of spending my days at home with these two beauties.  They are my shopping buddies, little helpers, and play mates.  And together, they can create a mess more quickly than anything I have ever witnessed in my life.  (Although, if truth be told, most times, I do not witness them making the mess, simply the aftermath.)  Fortunately, they have never been hurt (badly) in their mess-making frenzies or broken anything (too valuable).  And, while I am usually annoyed or frustrated by their messes and the subsequent expenditure of time to clean up said mess that is then afforded to me, my laughter usually overrides the frustration.

    Last week, I got the "baby girls" (as we often refer to them as), all set with a snack, juice, and a show- a titilating compilation of Little Einsteins episdoes to buy myself 10-15 minutes to shower.  Surprisingly, I had no visitors inquiring as to what I was doing or offering to help while I showered.  Neither one wandered into my bathroom to go through the cabinets and drawers or sit on the potty and ask one question after the other.  Fearing that silence was not a good sign, I quickly dressed and came downstairs.  A little part of me naively thought I would find them still seated on the sofa, watching their show enjoying their snack.  But, I knew better.  I descended the stairs and heard giggles coming from behind the closed door of the 1/2 bathroom. I opened the door to find the girls sitting amongst an entire roll of unrolled toilet paper playing with decorative stones that had been emptied from a container on the corner cabinet.  So, "we" picked everything up, and moved on with our day.

    Later that same day, I was upstairs putting folded laundry away.  I came downstairs and thought, "That's weird; it smells like strawberries in here."  I walked into the kitchen to find Eva on her hands and knees, lapping spilled juice up off the floor.  Her pajamas were soaked along with the kitchen rug.  Her pigtails were literally dripping with strawberry/banana V8 Fusion, a bottle I had just opened that morning.  The juice had apparently been taken from the refrigerator by Frankie, because Eva is too weak to open the refrigerator door, and dropped, causing the cap the break into three pieces.  The entire contents of the bottle spilled onto the floor.  Not having a sippy cup, Eva helped herself in the only way she knew how. I bathed Eva, washed the rug, wiped the mess and mopped the floor.  Frankie enjoyed some time in the frequently-visited time-out chair.

    Today, I was helping Asher practice his piano lessons and asked Sophia to stay in the nursery with the baby girls so they would not be a distraction to him.  Approximately 3 minutes into practicing, Sophia said, "Mom, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is Frankie is doing a poopy on the potty.  The bad news is that she had the pacifier to the Cabbage Patch doll in her mouth, and it dropped in the toilet.  Now I don't know what to do.  I don't want to reach in and get it and I don't want to flush because I am afraid it may break the toilet."  Hmmm.  What a predicament.  While I was looking in the garage for something to use to retrieve said play pacifier out of the toilet, Asher apparently had to go potty.  He used the same toilet.  I re-entered the bathroom to find him just finishing.  I said, "Asher!  Don't flush!  Frankie dropped a play pacifier in the toilet!"  He replied, "I know Mom, I got it out."  So, that problem was solved and we used A LOT of soap before returning to the piano. (I opted not to include a photo of this incident for obvious reasons.)

    When the practice session was over, I informed the girls that they could come downstairs to play.  Frankie, who had been dressed in a skirt and shirt, descended the stairs wearing only a swimsuit bikini bottom holding a sling shot.  I didn't even ask why or where she found those items.  Any "weird" situation that does not create some sort of mess, usually goes unquestioned by me. Typically, it isn't long before a new one that does, happens.

    These instances are just a small sampling of the variety of chaos these little girls create on a regular basis.  For those of you that are parents,  especially moms, you can likely relate to the amount of time you spend cleaning up messes that are peculiar in nature and typically undesirable to deal with.  They almost always happen at inconvenient times, and somehow, you find the patience to just roll with it.  They happen so regularly, that they actually become the norm, and it seems odd if you have two consecutive days void of any crazy "situations." Despite the wasted hours cleaning up after these two little ladies and the number of gross situations they have thrust me into without my permission, no amount of any inconvenience would convince me to want it any other way.  They bring me indescribable joy and unexpected laughs every. single. day.  I can only imagine the trouble these two partners in crime will get themselves into in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    Catching up

    In the 8-9 months that have passed since I last made a post, I have gotten behind on a variety of things: blogging, housekeeping, sleeping, to name a few.  However, the good news is, that in that same time frame, I have "caught up" on many (more important) things too!  We have seen our family more in the nine months that we have lived in Ohio than we had in the preceding nine years.  Zach and I have had more dates than we have had in a really long time.  We have had more family time playing games with the kids, watching movies, and just hanging out. We get to be together every day!  While this transition was a bit tricky for us to get used to at first,  it has been really wonderful!  I feel like this time with Zach in school is our chance to be like a "normal" family when Daddy isn't gone more days of the year than he is home.  AND, what's more?!? We will have Zach home one more year.  He was selected for an advanced school assignment, so, although that requires a move from Dayton, OH to Montgomery, AL, we are super excited!  As we look forward to this move and next assignment beginning in July, we are also working to enjoy "the moment."  I encourage you to take a minute and "catch up" on what really matters to you; it will refresh your spirit!