Saturday, December 28, 2013

Challenge Accepted

I am super excited about this next year. I feel like this year has been a rollercoaster. From an unexpected death in the family to job loss, moving, bed bugs (I still squirm thinking about it…), an allergic reaction to a mediation that landed me in the emergency room, a car accident and just every day drama, i
t’s been chaotic.  I’ve also started getting my writing out there. I have more people reading my writing than ever before. It’s scary and exciting.

I feel like something inside my brain finally snapped into place and I cannot even express how much I am looking forward to challenging myself this next year. I am choosing to LIVE and to be happy. Now, I need a little bit of help. I have already come up with a list of things I want to do this year. Things that will push me, things that will force be to take a step back and just enjoy being and things that will help me open up to next experiences. I want more!

In order to get into the grove of this life-changing, quest for fulfilling my inner-rebel/realizing 30 isn’t old year I need ideas! Every week I’ll approach a new challenge and blog about it, maybe with photos! I want you to see that if I can survive the things that scare me—you can too!

So here is what I have so far (some of these are long-term goals and I’ll write about them as I mark them off my list).

Explore somewhere in Utah I have never been

 I only have 25 goals and I need at least 52 so shoot me an email ( or comment below and send me your ideas. I’ll post this list on the sidebar so you can keep up!

As a side note, I’m conservative and although I’m looking to go outside my comfort zone, I will not be doing anything illegal or immoral. Also… I’ll cop to being a major wuss with heights so no jumping or being catapulted from disturbingly high locations!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Stepping out of the Light

Yesterday I was sitting in my living looking around. I started thinking about my year and about the next year and what I would like to do differently. I realized that my entire life, I have been playing it safe.

 I can easily say that the most rebellious thing I have really ever done was sneak to a party in high school.

 The best part: I never even got into the party because a friend and I ran into the group we were meeting up with and they told us a bunch of the seniors were drinking alcohol and being idiots so we left. I still was grounded (rightfully so) for lying.

Even during college my idea of rebelling was coming in more than 10 minutes late for curfew, (our university had a curfew for students to keep troublemaking to the minimum.) I have never even colored my hair any shade of unnatural color.  

I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs and I dress conservatively, and I am happy with that. I am happy being a mom and a wife. I love my family… they are my happiness. I am not looking to jump ship and flip my life into some irresponsible course of debauchery chaos. I am just not satisfied with me. I don’t want my girls growing up without a sense of adventure. I have always found joy in reading and writing and I think, at some point, I started hiding in my books and papers. I am always thinking about the result instead of just doing something and waiting to see what happens next.

My kids and I really enjoy watching the movie “The Croods.” In one scene, the oldest daughter (Eep) is arguing with her dad (Grug) about her decision to leave their cave and explore the world. This is the conversation they have:

Eep: Dad, you have to stop worrying about us.
Grug: But it's my job to worry! It's my job to follow the rules.
Eep: The rules don't work out here.
Grug: They kept us alive.
Eep: That wasn't LIVING! That was just.... "Not Dying"! There's a difference.

I feel like I am in a constant state of just “not dying.” I’m too afraid to take risks, too afraid to do anything and too afraid to live. I have been struggling with my weight for a few years and I think that part of the reason is because I’m afraid to lose weight. What if I lose weight and I’m not happy? What if giving up my favorite foods is too hard? What if … what if… what if… 

I finished a novel two years ago but I never edited it and never sent it in. Why would I do that? I tell people it’s because I don’t have time but that’s an excuse. What I really should say is that I don’t edit it because if I did, I’d have no reason not to submit it to an editor. And, if I turn it into an editor, I’ll have to deal with possible rejection… or worse success. Success means more unknown factors more potential changes and that’s scary.

So my big goal for the year is to stop being afraid. I am so tired of just not dying. I want to really live. I want to make BIG goals and finish them because it is hard. I want to do something a little off kilter just to see what happens. I want to try something new and embrace the fear that comes with being the new one in the room.

My first item on the to-do list this next year: I’m going to do something out of character with my hair. Yes, I am 30 and I probably should have tackled this baby step in my teens or 20s, but I’m embracing the too-old-to-be-cool-with-purple-hair and I’m going to do it.

What else do you think I should try this year? 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Silly Mommy Moments

Sleep. It's a precious commodity worth more than gold once you have kids. I feel like I've been exhausted since the day I gave birth to my oldest, almost seven years ago. Not getting enough sleep is bad for your health, promotes weight gain and can cause delays in reaction time as well as comprehension. I can attest that this delay in reaction time and comprehension can be dangerous, and even embarrassing. Let me illustrate:
My oldest was not a sleeper. She hated to sleep. The first week we brought her home, I was tempted on multiple occasions to return her. She cried all the time. When she wasn't nursing or staring aimlessly around, she cried. We started out with her bassinet next to our bed to make getting to her easier. Within in a few months she was cozily snoozing along side us, both of us too exhausted to put up much of a fight. After one particularly bad night, I was exhausted. I had barely gotten three hours of sleep and we'd finally gotten our little one to really sleep around 5 a.m. 

At that time my husband worked early morning shifts as a janitor on the college campus. This meant that he was usually up and gone by 4:30 or 5 a.m., which also meant he had an alarm set for around 4 a.m.. One early Saturday morning, my husband had the day off. Unfortunately he had forgotten to shut the alarm on his phone off and he'd left it in the living room the night before. When it went off the first time, I hustled out of bed to the living room, hit snooze and came back to bed, shutting the door on my way back in. My sleep induced brain did not think to shut the alarm off or bring it back to the room. For some reason ,shutting the door so it wouldn't be as loud, was my brilliant plan. 

The alarm went off again about 15 minutes later. I could hear it through the door which meant my peacefully sleeping 6 month old could too. I jumped out of bed and ran towards the living room. In my haste, and exhaustion, I forgot that I had shut the bedroom door. My forehead became very well acquainted with our bedroom door, as I slammed face first into it, landing on my back on the floor. The resulting slam was followed by my husband's confused "What are you doing" and the wails of a now not-sleeping infant. Unfortunately my husband's brain caught up with him much faster than mine and he spent the rest of the morning reenacting my graceful morning wakeup call. 

Then there's the time I left the car keys in my daughter's hands and tried to start our car with a plastic set of toy keys, going to church without a bra on (and not realizing it until I started to change afterwards) and tripping down stairs while holding the hand of our oldest, taking her down with me.

I'd like to think that my brain has gotten a little less fogged as my children have gotten a little bigger. But, distractions of older childhood serve as just a powerful brain killer as dealing with a newborn. 

Last year I was at home with my oldest (I feel like I blame a lot of my klutzy moments on her....) she spilled something on the floor. It wasn't a big deal, but I was in the middle of working and a little irritated. So I stomped over to the hallway closet to grab her a towel. I was in such a tizzy that I yanked the door open. grabbed the towel and slammed the closet door--- into my face. 

The resounding crack and then the thump of me hitting the floor ,with my face cradled in my hands, brought my daughter into the hallway.She just stood there and stared as blood poured between my fingers. I'm pretty sure I traumatized her for life.I finally managed to snag a towel from the closet and get it over my face, so that I could get her to call her dad on the phone. I jacked up my nose pretty good and not have a scar to prove it. 

Being a mom is hazardous. Not only do we have to deal with the basic parenting trials, but there are physical dangers that result as we get less sleep, eat less and lose our tempers more. I'd like to include a motivational picker-upper, but I fear that there's little hope for eliminating the physical scars that come from parenting, and I'm not sure I'd want to totally eliminate the risk. They make for funny stories and great ways to get your kids to do something for you. Keep that "I carried you around for nine months' speech in your pocket and pull out the trusty, "You know I used to spend most of my nights awake rocking you! One time I was so tired...." It makes for a much better story (0= 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Best and Worst Christmas Music

I love Christmas. I love the trees, the decorations, the hot chocolate and the lights. I love putting up our Christmas tree and then sitting on our couch with a book after the kids go to bed. I shut all the lights off except the tree and read by the light of the glowing lights. It is relaxing and beautiful and I cannot quite get that feeling any other time of the year. Christmas makes winter more bearable and the gray days less dreary. I especially love Christmas music. There is something about listening to the crooning of these special songs once a year that makes Christmas that much more fun.

I listen to Christmas music a lot. I flip it on as soon as Halloween is over. Yes, I am one of those people. I cannot help it. Christmas music makes me smile and with the days growing shorter and darker, I need every reason to smile. Because I listen to Christmas a lot, I have developed a few favorite songs. And a few … not so favorite songs. So… here is my rather biased list of best and worst Christmas songs:

The Best of the Best:

White Christmas, Bing Crosby: This is the best version of my favorite Christmas song. I love the song, I love Bing’s old-school tone that makes me long to live in the 1940s. I grew up watching the movie “White Christmas” which makes this version of this song even more meaningful.

O Holy Night, Josh Groban:  It’s possible that I could sit and listen to this song all day long. No one sings this song quite like Groban- except maybe Celine Dion.  I am sucker for a guy who can belt out a good high note and Groban does it better than anyone else I’ve ever heard.

We Need a Little Christmas:  This song is terribly cheesy and perky and I LOVE it. I blast the radio every time it comes on because it is so much fun to sing.

Mary Did You Know?, Kenny Rogers:  I’ve never actually heard a bad version of this song but Kenny’s version is raspy. This song gives me chills. I love the though-provoking lyrics. The words are beautiful. The song makes me look at my girls and think about how it would feel to watch my kids grow up and go through everything Jesus Christ did. It reminds me to give a little respect to the strength she must have had to be able to survive that.

The Worst:

 As much as I like Christmas music there are a few songs that make me change the channel every time they come on.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas:  This song is just annoying and ignorant. In particular the second verse which demands: “Now bring us some figgy pudding, now bring us some figgy pudding and bring it right here.” Then the singers refuse to leave until their host gives them food. Seriously? Who actually eats figgy pudding... and I find it rude that these carolers are demanding free food.

Carol of the Bells: I have a very good reason for not liking this song, it just creeps me out.  When I was a kid I accidentally discovered this “Killer-Barney” game on the computer. If you got caught by Barney a giant purple face would fill the screen with pointy, bloody teeth…. And the theme song to the game was Carol of the Bells.

Do They Know it’s Christmas: I know this makes me a terrible person because the song is meant as a tribute to the suffering in Africa. The song is just very overplayed. It is not a stretch to say I hear the song at least four or five times a day… at least.

Last Christmas: I will admit to being a little partial to Taylor Swift’s version of this song but again, it is overplayed. It has a catchy tune, which is why this one barely made the list of songs I do not like.

What makes you list of favorite or not so favorite Christmas tunes?


Monday, December 2, 2013

Free Day at the Spa

Whoop. My readers. I am a finalist in a blog contest. I was asked to write a blog post about why I am grateful to be a woman. The prize is a free spa treatment. The idea of even just a few hours of solitude and a facial is dreamlike. Enticing. So I wrote. The thing with writing about being a woman is that if feels so complex to me. There's a lot of reasons I'm thankful to be a woman. I only had a few hundred words to express myself so I did the best I could. I wrote what felt right at the time.

I love being a woman. I love wearing pretty clothes and makeup. I love looking at shoes I can't afford and drooling over handbags I'd never dare purchase because I would taint them with gum wrappers, happy meal toys and forgotten snacks. Mostly, I love feeling like a woman. I love that I'm sensitive and emotional. I love that my children come to me for snuggles because they think my skin is soft.

Being a woman is great. It's hard but it's worth it. There are days that I think it would be far simpler to be a man, slap on jeans and a polo and head out the door, but there is a secret power to being a woman. To taking the time to glam up, feel good and just absorb the beautiful that simply comes from being woman. For me the power of womanhood is far beyond the clothing and the hair (though obviously I enjoy both), it's in just being.

Feel free to check out my post about why I am grateful to be a woman. Here  Take the time to like my photo (The brunette holding the baby) and I'll be eternally thankful!!

Why are you grateful to be a woman or what do you think women have that makes them special?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Oh My Bedbugs!

I would just like to state for the record: bedbugs bite. Really. They bite. And it's annoying! We're clean people. Our house gets messy because we have two young kids, a working husband and me who writes, takes care the kids, tries to volunteer in the school and spends time with the kids. It's a lot and sometimes the housecleaning gets shoved aside. But we aren't gross. We don't have piles of junk lying around and we're careful about the used items we bring into our home.

We bought a set of bunk beds after our last move and somehow ended up with a voracious case of bedbugs.  One infected bite landed me at the doctor's office for a prescription which I am apparently allergic to (the things you learn...) , which in turn landed me in the ER. It made for an interesting month.

Worse than that was sending my girls to school with bites on their arms and just feeling gross. We've finally (knock on wood) successfully nipped them in the bud. So, as someone who has experience dealing with bedbugs, here are a few tips to help you get rid of them before they take over your life:

Deny the presence of bed bugs: Ignore the fact that you brought new furniture into your new apartment and start blaming dust mites or allergies to the wood the new beds are made from. Stay in denial for at least a month before you actually start looking for bed bugs. Use a flashlight and look for the little creepers that like to hide in the seams of the mattress. On the plus side, don't expect a huge swarm of bugs, you likely won't find that.

Soak the buggers in alcohol:  It kills them and after you've been bitten a dozen times you will get a sort of satisfaction from wiping the little vipers from the earth. Note: you will walk around smelling like rubbing alcohol for weeks. Also, if you have wood beds the alcohol will stain the wood, which is of little consequence when you just want to sleep a full night without being noshed on by a bunch of blood suckers.

Wash all your fabrics and store them in the depths of despair: Go on Cinderella, put on your big girl pants and get to work. You'll have to wash ALL of your clothes, towels, bedding, curtains and stuffed animals. At the very least you'll have to roast them in dryers with temperatures high enough to melt gold. Don't forget to spray your drawers with alcohol before you put your clothes back in... just in case.

Note: Your clothes will all shrink because you aren't supposed to dry all of your clothes. So you'll either need to lose weight or buy new clothes. In which case, just chuck everything you ruined, it'll save you a bundle on having to buy those airtight storage bags.

You should only keep out a week's worth of clothes and towels. You'll be sick of seeing your kids in the same clothes after the first two weeks. So you suck it up, you only have a week to go.

Have someone spray your house three times:  The first two times you'll be convinced they've disappeared. So you start to pull out your clothes and such from those giant storage bags only to realize they were just hiding. So go back to step one and start over. Twice.

Rip the beds apart and dance on it's ashes: You'll finally realize that those wood bunk beds you bought have someone become home to a bedbug family. They have found the smallest crevices and moved in. It doesn't matter how many of their relatives you kill or how many times you are grateful your daughter peed the bed again so you can convince yourself you are washing the sheets AGAIN for a good reason, they'll come back. They don't die!

So with the mercy of Atilla the Hun you'll tear the beds apart limb from limb. Draw funny pictures all over them so no fool is unfortunate enough to think they scored a perfectly good bed from the trash can and celebrate as bedbug haven is relocated to trashville. Have your apartment sprayed one more time and continue paying for the brand new bunk beds that have made a home in the landfill.

If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you may consider buying stock in the laundry mat industry because you'll be spending a lot of time there.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Enjoying my Spoonful of Sugar

Photo via Inscrib'd
I had an experience the other day that changed my outlook on life a little. Our family is going through a bit of a rough patch right now, but really who isn't. The economy kinda stinks and there always seem to be too many bills. Some very kind people have offered help and we've graciously accepted what we need and people have generally been polite and very nice about everything.

And then... I found myself being screamed at by someone who had good intentions but wasn't very considerate of me or my time. I was called "ungrateful" and "rude." I can assure you I was neither. It's truly not in my nature to be like that. To make matters worse, my six-year old daughter was standing there watching this person go bonkers at me. She also witnessed my complete melt down after she left and quietly excused herself to another room.

Now, the situation has been handled and I was informed that there are some other issues that may have impacted this person's response, and while it was completely inappropriate, I can empathize with reacting emotionally rather than rationally.

As I was thinking about this incident I thought about how bad it made me feel. I didn't like feeling like less of a person because I am not. As I thought about this, I started paying attention to things I do, like getting testy at silly drivers on the road or groaning at the very long line at the pharmacy or feeling frustration at difficulties but not taking enough credit for my own contribution to the mess. And sometimes, I even judge people in my mind when I really have no idea what I'm talking/thinking about.

So, I decided to make a goal: I'm going to adjust my personality. When people are really friendly to me, I get a buzz or adrenaline. Good customer service makes me feel really good. But, I also noticed that when I'm truly friendly to someone, when I take the time to look at them and offer a genuine smile and a real "Thank you." It feels good. It feels good to be nice, to have the confidence to really pay attention to someone and acknowledge their helpfulness or their presence.

It may also be a little entertaining to see the shock flicker across someone's face when you are genuinely kind. I can't decide if it should make me laugh or cry when someone seems taken aback at kindness. Are that many people rude, or even just neutral?

More than anything, I want my girls to be happy and to be good, kind people. No matter how I'm feeling about myself of about how crappy things seem to be going, I feel good when I am able to lift someone else and for those few moments I actually feel content.

So, Piglet, thank you for the advice: "Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."(Winnie The Pooh)

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Art of Driving (Me Insane!!)

Everyone who knows me would say I'm a nice driver, a patient driver, a forgiving driver. Not. I'll admit I get a tad stressed when I'm on the road. I'll be honest, I didn't even get my driver's license until I was 22 and the only reason I got my license was because I was getting married and there was no way I was getting married without a driver's license. It just didn't seem right. 

I've been driving for a while now and I've overcome some major obstacles. I learned to drive a stick shift (ask my sister how well I did when her head stops bobbing from all the jerks and stalls), adapted to driving in a bigger city and made it through last winter without keeping my kids home from school all winter simply because I LOATHE driving in the snow.

Now, I've only been driving for eight years but I've gotten through mostly incident free. I don't count the time I took a friends side-mirror off with a pole (it wasn't my car- so it doesn't count).  I also don't count the time I forgot there was a parking barrier in front of me (there was a road on the other side and I couldn't see the barrier from the driver's seat... plus I was tired from working out) and ended up straddling it like a turtle on it's back, when I gunned the car. 

As I was saying: I'm a mostly-incident free driver so I think I can safely assume I know some basic driving etiquette. Now, I understand that most road rules go out the door in the school parking lot but there should be some sense of "hello I have basic parking knowledge." It's a free for all when when that final bell rings. So I'm generally forgiving (or I at least mutter under my breath) when a car drives the wrong way through the parking lot (it's marked by arrows, hello!), parks in a handicapped spot or darts across the front of my car like a jackrabbit and expects me to stop on a dime. But, I don't forgive parking spot hogs. 

There are a limited number of parking spots at the school. It's like winning a lottery to snag a spot. I have to get to the school 10 minutes early on a sunny day to get a spot and in the winter- I show up 30 minutes early (note that I hate driving in the snow so I take my time). How hard is it to park your car in ONE spot. When you get out of the car and notice you are sitting squarely in two spots, it's time to hop back in and repark. 

I was sorely tempted to write a thank-you note to the guy hogging two spaces after I rolled around the parking lot three times waiting for spot to magically appear but I didn't have a piece of paper, plus I wasn't feeling very kind and you know what Thumper always says... "If you can't say something nice..." 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Special Kind of Crazy

My life is a special kind of crazy. Today I needed to get my youngest into the shower. Usually, she loves taking a bath. She'll play in the tub for hours. There are days she begs for three or four baths. But, seeing as we were running late for preschool, a quick shower was on the menu. After several minutes of begging her to "please take her clothes off," I tossed her over my shoulder, tickled her feet and headed back to the bathroom.

I managed to wrangle her shirt off when my oldest, who is home from school with a sore throat, called for my attention. In the 30 seconds it took me to look around the corner and address her, my four year old managed to put her shirt back on. It was inside out and backward, but it was on and she was happy. She then darted between my legs and back into the living room.

It's hard to get mad when she's laughing. So I tackled her, tickled her and told her if she didn't come voluntarily we'd get in the shower fully dressed. This seemed to amuse her, and I actually don't think she believed I would do it. So I tossed her over my shoulder (again) and walked her straight to the bathroom. Needless to say, she was more than happy to strip for her shower.

I was thinking about this, rather typical occurrence, I realized my family is a special kind of crazy. Our favorite friday night activity is pulling the mattresses out of our bedrooms and camping in the living room. Just the other day we spent well over an hour shooting each other with nerf guns and playing "Don't throw me in the hot lava."

Our car trips typically consist of listening to the "Now That's What I Call Disney" album (usually the same four songs over and over), a myriad of "Are we there yet," and "Stop yelling or I'm going to stop this car and we'll go straight back home." It's not always pretty, but it's always pretty awesome. It's just that sometimes the awesome sort of looks like an unbelievable disaster.

I watched this video on YouTube today and I laughed so hard I was crying. Why? Because quite honestly, I think he sums up life as a parent much better than I ever could.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Do you see what I see?

I ran into a charming ( I use that term very lightly in this case) gentlemen tonight when I took my girls to play on the McDonald's Play Place . As I was standing in line to grab a snack, I could hear quite a few shrieks from the play area. No big deal, it's a playground for kids. The guy in front of me huffed and puffed every time a particularly loud shriek rang out. My first thought was that he must not have kids.

And then my four-year-old came prancing out with her pants half down on her way to the bathroom. Now, I realize this isn't sanitary, appetizing or particularly appropriate behavior. Believe me I know. She knows. The whole family knows. Once when she was three, she even disappeared on me in the library only to show back up a few minutes later pants completely around her ankles. I was so proud that she went to the bathroom on her own that I sucked up the embarrassment. But now, she's almost five so really she needs to stop dropping trou all the time.

I leaned over and firmly told her to keep her pants up, she's a big girl and she needed to keep her pants up on her way to the bathroom. The guy in front of me (Sir. Moans and Groans), snickered and then commented that his kids used to do that (my bad for my initial mis-judgement.) I commented that it was something we were working on, to which he replied: "Yeah. I've learned that most of the faults kids have are a result of their parents."

I was little taken aback. I mean, do I honestly look like the kind of girl who drops her drawers in the middle of a restaurant as I head to the bathroom? I should hope not. And then I thought, that was a little cynical... wasn't it? But as I pondered his seemingly insulting comment, I realized he had a point, except I'm not sure if it's the one he was trying to make.

I think I apologize for my kids too much. I mean, they are kids after all. Am I shoving "faults" or bad behaviors on their head simply because I see what they are doing as unacceptable from an adult's perspective. Obviously, I don't condone seriously inappropriate behavior and I do believe children should be taught manners and how to behave.

But, how often are we guilty of quickly getting out kids to button up and shut up because we worry what other people think? Kids will do silly things, things that may embarrass us but otherwise cause no harm. I think for me, the lesson was do I need to be correcting their behavior all the time? No. If they are a little loud in the library I don't need to walk behind them hissing for silence. Kids are kids. They are allowed to be a little loud, a little messy and a lot of fun.

I want my kids to grow up to be normal, fully-clothed adults. But I don't want them to grow up to be uptight and overly concerned about pleasing everyone around them. Maybe, the faults in my kids aren't really faults, just a result of blind parenting.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Little Drama Queen

I am directionally impaired. To utilize an old cliche: I couldn't find my way out of a paper bag. Seriously, I still get lost at church and I'm there every week. (To be fair, the building is a ridiculous maze of hallways). So driving new places, especially at night, makes me a little tense. Last night my daughter had a skating party at a fun center I'd never been to before. Add in the fact that it was at 5:30 p.m. and I knew the area it was in well enough to know that traffic was going to be insane, and you have a recipe for an Angela Surprise.

The night started out so well. We got on the road, I was getting through the traffic with only a few honks and muttered words under my breath. And then, I realized I was lost. I thought I was going the right way, so I was focusing on not dying in the mad rush of traffic and not paying attention to the street signs. Turns out, I had gone just a few blocks too far, not a big deal, but traffic was nuts and I was stressed. So I turned quickly, thinking I would be able to find a street that cut off and take me where I needed to go with little fuss. Not so. I drove for another 15 minutes before I finally pulled over and yanked out my GPS. Mind you, I had already been hollering at anyone that cut me off or tried to talk to me for the last 10. My poor kids.

In total the trip took about an hour, when it should have taken 25 minutes. And.... the mood was set. The kids had a good time skating and climbing through a gargantuan play area. I had a good time averting a migraine, sneaking in a game of skee ball and people watching. When it was time to go, it got ugly. "Wait," you say. "But, the trip there was ugly, surely going home couldn't have been worse." But, you'd be wrong.

I am pretty aware that my oldest is a little bit of a drama queen. She's one of the sweetest kids and really well behaved....except sometimes she's not. I'm grown up enough to admit that while I think my kids are the most amazing kids on the planet, they have their faults. And I'm also willing to admit they get a few of those faults from yours truly.

After letting her skate around "three" more times (read about 12 more times) I finally got her shoes on. She suddenly decided she wanted to jump on one of the bouncy houses "just once." I firmly replied that we needed to get home so she could finish her homework and go to bed. Of course she kept arguing, this wouldn't be a good story if she didn't. She tried to make a run for it after I refused to pay $3 for her to jump just one time. Fortunately the guy guarding the entrance was the size of a linebacker and she decided not to try and swindle her way past him.

The entire time we walked out she kept muttering the traditional "You don't love me. This isn't fair. But my friends..." I've heard (and used) those complaints enough to just tune them out. By the time we got to the car she wasn't speaking to me. (To be quite frank and probably a horrible mother... I was a little relieved. Tuning out the complaints was getting a little wearing and I didn't want to get mad at the kids after I'd let out my lost-driver induced hail of crankiness earlier).

As we drove I turned the radio up to relieve a little stress and an oldie, but goodie came on.  Green Day's Time of Your Life. I crooned along with it and as the last words faded out (I hope you had the time of liiiiife...) I heard my drama queen in the back mutter, "Well, I didn't."

Fortunately, I'm pretty good at making me kids not hate me any longer than necessary and she even told her dad how fun it was when we got home, completely editing out the ugly parts. The way I figure it, when you cut out the ugly part of most days it's a lot easier to see how good it really was, because the ugly parts are only parts and usually not very big ones at that.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What's the Difference?

I was watching Biggest Loser the other night, and I thought, what do they have that I don't? How are some of these contestants able to lose over 100 pounds and keep it off? As my personal trainer was kind enough to point out, they have: 8 hours a day of pure exercise, a strictly monitored diet, no distractions and little else to do but work.

Working out for 8 hours is not only impossible for most people, it isn't particularly desirable either. Now, offer me $100,000 and I may sing a different tune. The day after my training sessions I normally wake up sore. Really sore. I work out with my trainer for 30 minutes and then add another 30 minutes of cardio. I cannot even begin to comprehend how sore I would be if I had to do it for even four hours a day. I guarantee I would not be able to roll off of my bed, much less walk myself back to the gym and hop on the elliptical again.

My husband and I are both trying to lose weight, so we've come up with this plan to do a Biggest Loser challenge together. The contest is going to run for about 12 weeks, enough time to lose a pretty good amount of weight and roughly enough time to get our tax returns back (we file pretty early). Hello cash prize.

We are not well off by any means, so the promise of a $500 prize for the biggest weight loss in 12 weeks is sufficient motivation for me to get up and get moving. I have already informed my trainer of this challenge and he's more than willing to hop on board and help me win.

I'm only going to have an hour a day to work out. I have a lot going on. But, I really am going to have to think a lot more about what I am putting in my mouth. I've already learned a lot but I'm sure I'll learn a lot more. It's also quite possible I will be writing some of my posts in a pasta/bread-free haze so you may have to ignore any lunatic rantings result.

I feel like I've been down this road a dozen times. I start and I don't finish. But as my girls get older I see them forming similar eating and behavioral habits and I really want to put a stop to it while they are still young enough to forget the torture of sugar withdraw.

Every week my husband and I will have a different challenge and we'll need to journal about our journey in some way. Welcome to my journal. I need your help too! If you have any motivational stories, tips and recipes, please share them!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Let your Conscience be your Guide

Today I dropped my youngest off at preschool. As I left, I had this plunging feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's a feeling with which I am very familiar. Guilt. As I was driving home to work, I had the thought that of all the human emotions, I think I can honestly say I predominantly feel guilt. Not happiness or sadness or anger.

I feel guilty when I have to work and my kids want my attention. I feel guilty when I'm playing with my kids and not getting more work done to help pay our bills. I feel guilty that I am struggling so much to lose the weight that I know needs to get gone. And I feel even worse that my kids are picking up my eating habits. Much to my chagrin I feel guilty when I drop them at the gym playroom so I can work out with my trainer. Then I spend the first half hour after they go to bed feeling like I didn't do enough.

I like to think that perhaps this guilt is just a normal part of being a mom. That maybe I'm just one a regular mom trying her darndest to make her family function, and then feeling responsible when life isn't perfect.

I read an article in Glamour magazine today about recovering from a breakup. I thought it was interesting because the author talked about how we have to really accept the loss. We have to embrace the heartache and move on. I think to some extent, guilt is the same way. If we hold on to needless guilt it keeps us from moving on.

For the longest time if someone asked me what I felt the most guilty about, I would share this story: When I was in ninth grade (believe me, it's long enough ago to make the fact that I still felt guilty about this pretty darn ridiculous) I was asked to a dance by a boy I really liked. Really really liked.We'll call him Bob. So of course I told him yes. However, my family had a rule: no dating until 16. And I wasn't 16.

I was too afraid to tell Bob that I couldn't come, and too afraid to even ask my if I could go. The whole night of the dance I stared at the clock and my stomach stayed clenched in knots the entire time. The next day I tried to talk to Bob but he just ignored me. I later found out he stood around waiting for me most of the night. Bah. Even as I write this I get a little clench in my stomach.

Fast forward to last year and I happened to find Bob on Facebook (oh wonder of technology). I still felt so guilty that I sent him a note of apology for an event that happened 15 years previous. Not surprisingly, I didn't get a response. But, much to my surprise, I did feel better.

I think as moms there are things that we should feel guilty about. Guilt motivates us to make better choices and to focus more on the important things. But feeling guilty when we do things that are necessary, especially when we really are doing our best, is pretty silly.

When we learn to embrace the guilt, look at it and decide whether it is important enough to dwell on or not, we will learn to find more balance in our lives and spend less time wasting away on pointless guilt and more time focusing on changing the things that need fixing.

That being said I'm off to spend time with my family as my own personal Jiminy Cricket is telling me to lay off the blogging and read my kids a story.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Three Hotels of Disneyland

That I love Disneyland is no secret. I LOVE it. But, my kids love it too. We're always planning another trip. Our latest trip has been postponed but I'm still planning and dreaming.... and occasionally rewatching the vacation DVD to get my fill of the magic. One thing I love about Disneyland is staying at the resort.

You'll find a lot of budgeters arguing that you can enjoy the magic just as much, and at a lower cost, if you stay at a site off the resort. I'm sure you can enjoy the magic ALMOST as much. Personally, I don't want to risk it. I also don't mind that I may have to walk just a few minutes more to get to the gates than some of the offsite hotels. Strollers were invented for a reason.

The perks of staying at the resort are enough for to opt for one of the three hotels that are part of the Disney property. If you stay on site you get to enter one of the parks one entire hour earlier than guests who do not stay at the resorts. You can use this time to hit up some of the more popular rides and secure fastpasses.

If you are insane enough to go during a holiday when the parks are most likely to reach capacity (think Christmas week, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July...) resort guests do not get turned away even when other guests get turned back for full capacity (I imagine the resort built some sort of safety number to allow for maximum capacity with resort guests included...).

The hotels are nice. The cast members are even nicer. Quite frankly you will be hard pressed to find another hotel as close as these hotels are to the park with pools half as nice.

The hotels do cost more than you will spend at most of the offsite resorts, so if your budget is really tight one of these resorts may not be an option. That being said there are several off site resorts that are nice too, I'll discuss those in another post.

The three resort hotels of Disneyland and California Adventure:

Disneyland Hotel: 
This is my personal favorite. It has the classic Disney feel and as the original Disneyland Resort hotel, it should. The hotel was finished a remodel in early 2012. The results are stunning. The rooms are very nice, clean and comfortable. The headboards light up and the mattresses are insanely comfortable. A silly note, but one of my favorite parts of the room, was the retractable clothes line in the shower. It was super easy to use and provided a place to hang up wet swimsuits. Also, do not be afraid to pack up those shampoos and conditioners (they smell AMAZING) and its like taking a little piece of Disney with you when you go.

This hotel is very close to Downtown Disney. If you don't mind a little extra walking, stay in the Frontier Tower. This tower is behind the new pool area. If you get an upper level room with a view, it's totally worth it. You will be treated to a lovely walk back from the parks each night. The live music from Taradoga Terrace is relaxing and a great way to end your day. It literally feels like you are in another world.

Paradise Pier:
This hotel is priced the lowest of the three. The charming California boardwalk feel really is a lot of fun. The Paradise Pier is also home to my absolute favorite character dining, the PCH grill. This hotel is one tower, which is nice for getting around the hotel. Paradise Pier. The hotel features a little theater that plays kid's movies and an arcade as well as a roof-top pool.

Views of California Adventure are pretty awesome from this hotel and you are within very close walking distance of the Grand Californian, which has a private entrance into California Adventure. The rooms are a little larger here than at the Disneyland Hotel so if you need to bring a playpen, you will probably have a little more moving around room here. As with the other hotels on the resort property,  you get to use the private entrance at the Grand Californian to enter California Adventures.

The only complaint I have heard about this hotel is the elevators get pretty jammed in the morning and at night. You may need to plan a little extra time or be willing to take the stairs.

Grand Californian:
The Grand Californian is very high-end. If you want luxury, this is probably the hotel for you. The lobby is absolutely stunning. The dark wood interior is open and large. It really is beautiful. This hotel is the closet of the three to the parks and has a private entrance into Cali Adventures (any resort guest can use it). The Grand California hooks directly to downtown Disney, so the walk is really quite short. But, you will pay a bit more for the extra convenience.

The Grand Californian has a high-end spa as well as three pools and several restaurants. This is the only resort at Disneyland for which you can buy Disney Vacation Club points. The Grand Californian is the newest of the three hotels and the only one Disney actually built. The hotel was constructed in 2001. This hotel is pretty fancy and has a more adult feel. Younger kids may enjoy the other two hotels better (despite persistent attempts to convince our kids to give it a whirl they both enjoy the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier too much to cave.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thanks Giving Month

November is a unique month for my family. First: November is Epilepsy Awareness month. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with myoclonic seizures at 18 months. They are more commonly known as absence seizures. Fortunately they aren't nearly as severe as a grand mal seizure, but they have impacted her life and ours as well.

About a year ago this same little girl, fell out of our third floor apartment window. She was transported to the ER and spent three days in the hospital. By a miracle she was largely uninjured. She suffered a minor concussion, bruised lung and minor cracks in her spine. She has since fully recovered and hasn't had a seizure since the accident.

November is also the month of Thanksgiving. To me it feels especially relevant to our little family of four. We have so much to be grateful for this year. Despite a recent job loss, financial struggles, a cancelled vacation, the death of a family member and a seriously annoying case of bed bugs (brought in through a brand new mattress we bought), it's been a tough one. But, it's been a good year too.

We have so much. When I look at others who are not surrounded by helpful loving people, friends who care and family who offer what support they can, I realize that despite our trials we truly have been blessed. So I dedicate this November to my little angel. I truly am grateful for an entire month I get to count my blessings!!

What is one thing you are thankful for this year?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Love will Keep us Together

As I am sitting here writing this, my oldest is next to me writing sentences. "Sneaking is the same as lying." It's a flashback to childhood when I would have to write "I will not tell a lie" 100 times. I've only assigned her 10, and she's freaking out.

I have a theory that we have beautiful, amazing moments as parents. Those moments take our breath away and make the rest of the time completely worth it. Some of those beautiful moments become so etched in our memory they make it easier to forget the times in between. This moment, this isn't one of them.

Em has always been pretty well-behaved. She does well in school and her teachers tell me how sweet she is. She's coming out of her shell and loves making friends. And for the last 6 1/2 years she's been a very well behaved child. Cue first grade, and my rose colored glasses have been shattered into oblivion.

Suddenly everything I do as a mom isn't good enough. I'm "not fair, not fun, boring, mean, too bossy... blah blah " It's exhausting being such a horrible parent.

I hate discipline. It's my least favorite part of parenting. I think that we should all be happy and love each other all of the time. But we're human and it just doesn't happen. Instead there seem to be endless bickering arguments over really stupid stuff.

Today, the argument turned into me ignoring everything that came out of her mouth for fear I'd really lose my temper. We don't call each other names at home. We use silly names and kind names, but it's a rule that we never tell anyone they are stupid or ugly or dumb or anything of the sort. I like to think that if I've taught my kids anything, it's that being kind is the best way to solve problems.

So when Emmy started spewing insult after insult at me, I knew she learned it from her friends. And while she's really not very good at insulting me (she kept telling me I was a boy... her tone implied and insult, and I suppose I can see her logic... (0= ) the intention was still the same. That intention to hurt me with insults was both frustrating and, well, hurtful.

I already know tonight is going to be entertaining. Roy works nights and we usually pick a movie to watch together, since they don't have school. Not tonight. Tonight it's sentences, cleaning their room, a bath and straight to bed.

Part of me fears that this lesson will go unlearned. That despite how not-fun tonight is, she won't remember the lesson and we'll have this fight all over again. The same fear I had last time and the time before...

As I look over at her, I see her sneaking one last sentence onto her pencil-filled page: "Mom I'm Sory," (spelling error intentional). Maybe, maybe this moment will turn into one of the good ones.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Goodbye 20's, Hello 30's

In t-minus 36 hours, I’ll be 30 years old. Yikes! I’m leaving my 20s behind and part of me feels like I’m losing a good friend: my youth. By no means is 30 old but it feels very grownup to me and despite the fact that I’m married and have two kids, being even more grownup seems scary. I’m no longer a young adult. I’m officially, just an adult.

Gone are the days of being carded at the store when you buy cold medicine. Hello days of being addressed as ma’am.  I now understand why my mom detested being called ma’am; it feels so…so like my mom!

My 20s have arguably been the best 10 years of my life. I’ve accomplished quite a lot in the last decade including:

Visiting the ocean for the first time
Finding myself
Visiting New York City for the first time
Graduating college
Getting my driver’s license (yes in that order too…)
Getting married
Getting hired for my first REAL job
Having two babies
Buying my first car
Writing a novel
Becoming an aunt several times over
Going to Disneyland for the first time
Stuck out on my own as a freelance writer
Taken my oldest to her first and last days of kindergarten

I also accomplished a few not so good things including quite a bit of extra baggage that I’m trying to get rid of! As much as I’m terrified to turn 30 and as anticlimactic as it will probably be, I’m looking forward to getting a little bit wiser. Learning to accept things that are and forgetting about the things I cannot control.

I may not always make the right choices, sometimes I might worry a little too much about fitting into a mold and I may not always be cheery cherry. I’m pretty determined to make my 30s much more satisfying.

I won’t lie. It’s possible some tears will be shed and I’ve been a regular grouch over the past few days. Getting older scares me, mostly because I wonder if I haven’t done everything I could. It means I have less time to accomplish what I want to. And it’s getting harder to change. But it doesn’t mean I can’t.

As scared as I am, I had a minor glimpse of the possibilities. I can change. And while my kids are continuing to get bigger and it makes me sad, I also see the joy in their learning. I see how much fun we can and will keep having together.

As Roy and I get a little older and our bodies get a little slower, we find joy watching our kids hang from monkey bars like their arms are made of steel, flip through the grass like they are indestructible and dash about with the boundless energy of kids. There are days I’d like to feel that young again, that energized, that free. But, it’s at least as sweet watching my girls enjoy it.

Here’s to the next ten years. And the development of tropical storm Angela, due to erupt about 10 years from today when 40 looms over my head!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Gift of Forgiveness

To say that the last few weeks have been stressful would be an understatement. Between moving (packing, cleaning, unpacking and paying extra rent), a mysterious allergic reaction that's had me on four different medications and in the ER, and the every day stresses it's been a little overwhelming.

I've been more temperamental and a lot less patient with my children. The other night I lost it. My youngest was refusing to go to sleep.She's a very playful kid and loves to laugh and play and run around. So when she sneaks out of bed, she thinks us chasing her down is a game. To be fair, when she points at me with her tiny finger and argues "but... but... but... but mom", it's hard not to laugh, which only encourages her.

In any case, I was not having it this night. I had a lot of work to catch up on and quite honestly I needed some serious alone time. So I got mad. I snapped at my oldest, who was already in bed and laying there like a perfect little angel (believe me this has been 6 years in the making) and she started to cry. She'd called my name to remind me- for the 900th time- to check on her, something I always do, but she likes to remind me anyway because she thinks it's funny. But apparently, I didn't that night.

I found myself back in their room a few minutes later cuddling in be
d- mostly out of desperation so they would go to sleep, it was a school night after all. I whispered an apology for being so grumpy. My oldest curled up behind me and whispered back, "I forgive you for yelling at me. I forgive you for everything you do to make me sad."

I was a little alarmed. I'm grateful she's willing to forgive me, but do I do that much that makes her sad? Her unabashed forgiveness for everything I've ever done wrong was surprisingly comforting. As a mom, wife, freelance writer, friend, sister and person, I get a little worn out. I feel guilty all the time and the stress of everything not being perfect all the time takes it's toll.

I've gone to bed, more often than I care to admit, tearful that I'm ruining my children and they'll never forgive me for being so distracted. But, that open and innocent love of a child really opened my eyes. Not only am I vowing to do less things to make her sad, I'm vowing to be more forgiving of myself and of others. It's OK if my kids aren't perfect in the grocery store all the time (hem hem, cranky lady who felt it was her job to parent my children), and it's OK if my dishes aren't done. It's even OK if we have cereal for dinner twice this week.

I want my kids to remember me having fun and laughing with them. Are they going to remember that I got all of my work done in a timely manner? Nope. Do I want them to remember that? Nope. What I want them to remember is that life isn't black and white. Things will rarely be smooth sailing and it's OK to mess up. It's OK to take time to laugh, smile, play and cuddle. It's OK to make mistakes. It's OK to ask forgiveness and it's more than OK to offer it freely.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mousekemusts:Character Dining

I like to think that the Disney characters are the heart of Disneyland. There's something so cool about seeing a life-sized Captain Hook or Minnie Mouse roaming around. For our first trip to Disney we ended up doing four character dining meals in one trip (chalk it up to meal plan confusion). We liked it so much we plan to do at least two every time we go back.

Because we were able to visit four different character dinings for breakfast, I think I have a pretty unique perspective on the different options. 

PCH GRILL: Hands down, our (mostly mine) favorite. Incidentally it was also the least crowded. We arrived at 7:20 in the morning. It was an early breakfast by anyone's standard, especially with a four year old and a two year old. But, it was well worth it. We were among the first people to be seated and we were rewarded with the full attention of Stitch. Our kids had a blast and Stitch seemed particularly taken with our oldest and kept trying to steal her food. 

The kids also got to go up front and learn how to do a Hawaiian dance. Our youngest fell in love with Mickey, much to my surprise. She snuck away from the table and sought him out. Luckily there was no one waiting in line to see him so Mickey took a few extra minutes to show her how to hula. Thanks Mickey!

Goofy's Kitchen: My husband particularly enjoyed this breakfast. I know it was because they had the best buffet- no question. But, I was a little underwhelmed by the character interactions here. We were seated in the back, showed up a little later and didn't feel like we got the chance to see as many characters. 

I do think that I will make an earlier reservation next time and I'll learn to just relax and enjoy the food a little more because the Buffet here really is top notch. 

Chip and Dale's Storyteller's Cafe: This breakfast setting was gorgeous. Located in the Grand Californian, the restaurant was stunning. I almost felt out of place in my jeans! The servers were OK but the characters were a hoot. Two of the characters (Meeko from Pocahontas and Terk from Tarzan) stopped by our table for an extended visit. My youngest got a kick out of trying to share her drink. The characters really made our girls feel extra special. And the special camp guide marched the kids around the restaurant in a fun little bear hunt. 

One little tip: Try an earlier breakfast here on a day you plan to visit California Adventure. You can hit the special entrance for resort guests inside the hotel, saving you a bit of a walk. 

Minnie and Friends at the Plaza Inn: This was probably my least favorite in regards to quality. I'm not sure if it's because we were stuck sitting in the sun or because I thought the staff working the omelet station that day were rather cranky. It also could be that it was our last day of the trip and we were all a little tired and stressed... The characters were pretty good. My oldest took a dive off of her chair and Minnie hurried over to help her up, something she still talks about! You'll see some fun characters you might not catch elsewhere, like Captain Hook. 

Ariel's Grotto: We didn't do the character dining here, but we did have dinner here. The setting is stunning. We were lucky to sit outside on the deck overlooking the Pier. It was lovely. The food.... not a huge fan. I'm a hometown girl. I love going to fancy restaurants but I like food that I'm familiar with. The food here was a little too... uppity for my taste. I would recommend hitting Ariel's for a different meal. The dinner didn't feel very kid friendly to me. The staff was very nice though and the restaurant was really nice. 

If you like more upscale food choices, you'll like the food here.

You should do at least one character dining on your trip (though four may be a little too much-- it's a lot of big breakfasts) simply because you get to see so many characters. We didn't have to stalk the characters out around the park (though we did scope out a few) because we'd met so many at breakfast. This saved us a lot of time in the park. Plus, if you hit breakfast early enough you'll get a lot more quality time with the characters than you will waiting in line. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Disney Freak

I love Disneyland. I love walking down Main Street and seeing the castle sitting in all it's glory. I love the surreal feeling of being in Toon Town and hardly being able to tell where the background ends and the sky begins. I love the sounds, smells and feeling of just being there. 

I've been obsessed with getting back, and getting back I will. But, I'll do it as a better me. I've been trying to lose weight for some time and recently I made a commitment to really change my life. I love hitting the gym. I find that the high I get from a good 45 minute workout is hard to beat. But, I also love to eat. 

And, really it's not that I just like food. I just never have a plan so I rely on the easy foods, which if it were raw fruits and veggies would be great. I resort to fast food and candy bars, and Dr. Pepper, one of my great loves. 

When I decided that I would be skinny the next time we hit Disneyland, I had to make a choice. What do I love more, Dr. Pepper or Disneyland? It's Disneyland for sure. So, one of my goals is to cut to the soda. Eliminate the evil caloric wielding nector of the gods. I'm replacing it with water. I even bought a fun water bottle (decorated with Minnie Mouse, of course) to assist me.

My other goal is to actually eat meals. I'm a grazer. Really I could just nosh all day. But, it's not responsible because I don't keep track of what I'm eating or how much. So, no more mindless noshing for me. If I want to enjoy myself on vacation, I need to discipline myself so a little slacking on vacation won't become a habit. 

And my mother of all goals: I want to run a 5k. If you've ever seen me run, it's not pretty. Really, I look like a complete fool. But, run a 5k I must. And, I'm going to do it at Disneyland. My goal is to make the 2014 5k a few weeks/months after our family-fun trip to Disneyland. 

So there you have it. The basic outline of my year. As a mom of two, it's a chore to get my work, workout, and playtime in. But, with Disney as the goal I'm feeling extra motivated!

Do you have any motivational stories you want to share! I'd love to hear about your experiences with weight loss or Disney goals!