Being present in the new year

present

2014. I realize that we’re now a week in, but I finally feel like I’m present in the new year. I realize that might sound a little crazy- or maybe not with so many of you battling horrible storms. But between gearing up for my husband to travel long-term again and getting the kids back to school and work, it has been a tornado of activity and emotions. But now, I’m ready. I’m ready to tackle this year, to take it on. So what if the calendar says I’m behind a few days?

As I approach this year, I’ve been thinking about what word to use. Everyone has their word, they’re so sure and ready to go. I seem to have the opposite reaction- each word I consider, I find myself dismissing.

Control. I am a big fan of goals, lists, and getting things accomplished. I like to check things off and move on to the next thing. This is a great attribute- some of the time. But, of course, not everything in life is quite so cut and dry, and this year, I’m working on accepting that- no, embracing that. While I will never be someone who can “go with the flow” (let’s be honest), I do want to focus on not worrying quite so much about what I can’t control.

Then there is the word balance. It seems that whenever I am determined to achieve a balance, something happens to swing it one way or the other. And you know what? I’m learning that that’s okay. I don’t have to be in perfect balance all of the time, as long as I make sure to keep my priorities in order. For me, as long as my husband and children are getting what they need from me, I don’t have to be the perfect wife and mother- I just have to do my best. As work and sports practice and errands and toddler shenanigans abound, my life certainly gets crazy and out of balance- but it’s certainly full, and that’s what I need to embrace.

The list goes on. Organize, Accomplish, Better, Fabulous, Improve. There are so many words out there that I want to take on, so many words I want to embody, so many words I want to be. But even as I sat down to write this post, the baby woke up minutes after the sitter left. An email popped up in my inbox the second time I tried to finish it, and then it was time for a work call before rushing to pick up my son from school. The third time, this time, the dog had to go out as soon as I settled in even though it was the crack of dawn. I just shake my head and have to laugh.

Life happens. As it should. And this year, instead of saying I need to this more and make that better and stop doing this and if I check all of these boxes off my list, I’ve got it all right… I’m not. I’m going to give my full attention to each and everything that needs it when it needs it, and I’m going to kick ass at it. And then I’ll move on to the next thing, and the thing after that and the thing after that, all amidst my own version of chaos. As I write these words, I realize maybe I knew something when I started this post. Perhaps I do know my word for this year after all.

This year, I’m going to be present. 

Old School Blogging – November

This is one of my favorite things in the blogosphere lately- Elaine of the Miss Elaine-ous life is bringing back Old School Blogging! This month, she and Brittany from That’s Vandy have a fun, old-school list of questions. Are you ready to join in?
  • Where is your cell phone? On my ear!
  •  Your significant other?  Is in Hawaii for work. Tough life. He’s so lucky we’re going to join him this week…
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  • Your hair? Usually a shade of red/brown, currently has blond highlights.
  • Your mother? Is in Pennsylvania and still maintains Sunday dinners with her mother, even as much of our family has scattered.
  • Your father? Is a rock to us all.
  • Your favorite thing? My family- my kids, my husband, even Lyla (my dog).
  • Your dream last night? I have three kids and a husband halfway across the globe; there is no time for dreaming.
  • Your favorite drink? A glass of wine in a quiet house.
  • Your dream/goal? To raise my children while pursuing a career that I love; the impossible balance of it all.
  • The room you are in? My office
  • Your fear? Death. Oh, and birds.
  • Where do you want to be in six years? This question is almost laughable for us. We have moved so often…6 years ago we were leaving Utah and headed back to Georgia. There have been 2 more kids and 4 more states since then. Honestly, I’d like to be living in just one place (which is probably Texas, and not Georgia where I’d like to be). Wherever that is… I have no idea.
  • Where were you last night? On my computer. Working. As usual :)
  • What are you not? Oh my, so many things… not on top of things enough, not always tactful enough, not exactly where I want to be (professionally not physically).
  • Muffins? Chocolate chip. Yum.
  • One of your wish list items? A new set of pots and pans. It’s the simple things. Maybe a new camera- I might actually use it.
  • Where you grew up? Pennsylvania
  • The last thing you did?  Sent an email. Again, as usual :)
  • What are you wearing?  Skinny jeans, a turquoise top and a baby.
  • Your TV? Is in love with reality tv.
  • Your pets? Our dog, Lyla. She is so loving, so sweet, and so very patient with the kids. She is not the brightest one out there unless there’s food involved.

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  • Your computer? Macbook Pro.
  • Your life? Chaotic, messy, full.
  • Your mood? A little apprehensive, a bit stressed. But going with it.
  • Missing someone? My husband!
  • Your Car? A Mazda CX9 (gotta have third row seating- though I’m going to need something bigger with how fast these kids grow!)
  • Something you are not wearing? Shoes
  • Favorite store? Target is my joy in life.
  • Your summer? Was amazing, even in the Texas heat! Lots of swimming, lots of pretty nights. Thanks Texas.
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  • Like someone? This cute snuggly baby at the moment.
  • Your favorite color? Hmmm… I like shades of blues and purples.
  • When was the last time you laughed? This morning at my kids.
  • Last time you cried? Oh too recently.
  • What is one thing on your To-Do list?  I could cry just thinking about this.
Okay, now it’s YOUR turn to go Old School!  Copy and paste the questions into your post, add any pics you want (or not) and go for it!


10 Things To Smile About for October

I just love this link up on Emmy Mom’s site. What a great, positive way to end a month, especially a long, stressful ones! Here are ten things that made me smile this October.

Reasons to smile in October

1. Great weather for soccer games. Living in Texas, it’s been a HOT soccer season. But, October brought some of the most beautiful weather, which we appreciated through all of the practices and games.

2. And lots of walks. Which tire out the kids while we enjoy the beautiful weather. A complete win/win.

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3. Halloween crafts and fun. In ready-made form from target, which makes everyone happy because I am possibly the most craft-challenged mom on the planet. But, I do try.

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4. Baking delicious fall treats. As with the soccer games, the crazy Texas heat can discourage much use of the oven. So this month, it has been great to start baking favorites, from apple crisp to salted caramel brownies. Yum.

5. Pumpkin Spice Lattes. That’s all.

6. This face. 

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7. And then this video. 

8. Enjoying fall TV shows. As much as I can’t help myself and love reality TV, it’s been nice to sink in to some great fall shows.

9.  Soup. Oh how I love soups. My absolute favorite has to be potato soup- it’s just the ultimate comfort food. (I have a ton of soup recipes on this Pinterest Board.)

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10. My adorable Brady’s 1st birthday. I can’t believe my baby is 1.  

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What are some of the things that made you smile this month?

Facing down the pressure

Sometimes, I really let the pressures in life get to me.

I’m far from the only one facing pressures, and often feel guilty for worrying them aloud. But it’s so easy to get consumed. There’s pressure from family, pressure from friends, pressure from the media. But the worst is the pressure we put on ourselves. We, as women, hold ourselves to such impossible standards, to meet and exceed such ridiculous expectations. We so often focus on what we think we “should” be doing rather than what we “would” be doing- if it weren’t for that darn pressure.

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With so many ideals out there about how to be “perfect” as a mom, I often scramble to keep up. I know I often go dashing off in pursuit of rainbows, with the goals of baked treats, crafts that I fail miserably at even coming up with and buying supplies for, never mind the actual execution, in game-play promises and intent to spend more time each and every day with fun things and coming up with new ideas (you know, because that’s not the job of being a kid).

Of course, then I’m overcommitting my time, unable to get anything done properly and then run out of energy to bake or creativity to come up with things or time to be able to play anything at all in the first place, making this all seem fruitless to attempt.

Then there’s the idea of being the “perfect wife”. June Cleaver, I am not, and by the time the day is over and everyone is fed, bathed, and asleep, it’s all I can do to keep up with everything being perfectly cleaned or all the laundry done or every other chore accomplished day in and day out. If I went down that road, I wouldn’t be able to exchange three words with my husband.

And then there’s work pressure. Wrapping up current projects, facing a scary, open field right now with no opportunities on the horizon, and actively pursuing the slightest whisper of possibilities at every turn is a full time job within itself. This pressure, right here? This is the hardest for me. I like to have a plan, and without one in place, the panic starts to creep in, taking hold when I need to keep a level head.

The pressure. The pressure of life, of love, of parenting, of careers. The pressure we get from others, the pressure we imagine from others, the pressure we put on ourselves. Sometimes it can be so all-consuming that we can lose sight of where that pressure ends and our own thoughts kick in. It builds and builds and builds– which is a sure way to guarantee it all explodes.

However, I am far more concerned about ensuring it doesn’t all implode. And these days, I’m letting the pressure getting too far into my head; it’s time to start pushing it out.

Making Life Easier…

I just got back from the BlogHer conference in Chicago.  Okay, okay- I got back Sunday night. But with three kids and an endless amount of work to do, that’s the same thing as just got back, right? Anyway, with having JUST gotten back home from BlogHer, I now am faced with returning to reality instead of the carefree (if hectic) pace of my time away.

With a million errands to run, a ton of work to do, and all of those post-BlogHer recaps to read, life is right back to being hectic. Luckily, technology provides us with a ton of ways to make life easier. I’m posting on The SITS Girls today all about apps to make life easier, and even inspire us while doing so. Please check it out!

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Finding routine in chaos- or not

HPIM0022.JPGEach time I have had one of my children (all three of them), we have moved merely months later. Throughout the pregnancy with my third, I would joke that it was “time to move again” since we would be having a baby. Never did I think that this would actually occur- ha! That’s what you get when you joke, right?

So, third baby in arms, we’re moving again. And then, as with everything with a subsequent child, you become hyperaware of details- how fast they grow, how quickly the baby stage flies by, how much things change in the blink of an eye. This, combined with the upcoming move, has really emphasized how little control of things I sometimes have – even if I wish it otherwise.

I had planned for 2013 to be rather formulaic. The very beginning part of the year would be developing a routine with the new baby, early spring would lead to work travel and blogging more, followed by more travel and networking throughout the year. This year, things would be organized, I would hone my focus and things would fall into place.

Ahem.

Now that we’re throwing a house sale, move to (yet another) state, and a new home search & purchase into the mix, I initially reacted in the way that any sane person would; I panicked. A creature of routine, this repeated sense of chaos gets downright exhausting. However, I suppose that the constant upheaval has, in a sense, become a routine in and of itself. And that is quite the adjustment.

So, I’m going to try to embrace the non-routine routine. I’m going to keep plowing forward, keep working harder, keep an open mind about the location. I’m going to try to enjoy the moments with my kids while balancing the work that I love doing and want to expand on doing. I’m going to load up my family and head to Texas. Tomorrow.

And I’m going to drink a lot of coffee.

How do you cope with big changes?


 

Lily turns 4

My baby girl..

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It seems like yesterday that you were just born. How quickly that first year went…

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Time flew by and another year came and went…

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Before we knew it you turned three…

 

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And while each year, you grow and grow some more, somehow this one seemed so much more.

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My beautiful baby girl.. of four.

If only time would slow down…

Dealing with chaos

September. It’s pretty much a word synonymous with chaos for most parents. With school back in session, a million and one sports practices and games underway and the other umpteen things that pile up during each and every week, it quickly becomes an overwhelming feeling of constant motion. This week, I seem to be overwhelmed with navigating the chaos.

As an added bonus, my daughter’s preschool has a fall break this week. So, in between working full time from home, trying to keep up with all of the fall activities, and, oh yeah, being 35 weeks pregnant, I also have an energetic 3 year old wanting (and deserving) my attention. Sometimes it feels like my head is spinning in five hundred different directions, and I’m not sure where it’s all going to stop!

Although, if I stop to consider that this baby will be here in 4 weeks or less, I guess that gives a pretty good indication of when it’s going to stop. Or, perhaps, stop is not the right word. More like it will all fly off the handles and go insane as we add a new member to our family!

It’s amazing how different pregnancy can be in different circumstances. Trying to keep up with a 6 and 3 year old, their activities, and working has made it much different from my first pregnancy, or even the second. Each has been such a unique experience, all chaotic in their own right, but this one has gone so fast and slow all at the same time. Nonetheless, he will be here.

Very, very soon.

I am not sure why, even though this is my third baby, this concept is so hard to wrap my mind around. It just seems like I am in a constant state of shock that there is an actual baby coming into our crazy little world. I alternate between excitemnt panic, and complete denial that this is really somehow happening.

Even with the labor scares.

Even with the hours I spent on monitors last week fearing preterm labor.

Even with the sheer size of my stomach.

Even with all the preparations and planning.

And I somehow think it’s chaotic now…

How are you navigating the chaos of September?

Struggling to breathe

battling anxiety

It all starts out innocently enough.

A stray thought here. A quick flash of imagery there.

A glimpse of something horrific on tv.

A passing glance at an article on the internet.

Something mundane. Nothing unusual or out of the ordinary. No, this is much more subtle than that. It waits until I am lulled in a false sense of complacency. It disappears, sometimes for months, to rear its ugly head when it’s least expected in a flash of emotional turmoil.

Last week was one of those times. My day had progressed normally enough. Work was done, we had put together a couple of the five hundred baby items, the kids were in bed, the house picked up for the night. I had just finished checking the locks and the dog’s water bowl for the evening and began to make my way upstairs.

As I laboriously climbed the stairs, my 30-weeks pregnant body groaning in protest with each step, my mind jumped to an earlier conversation about an elderly relative.

And it slammed into me.

Fear gripped my body as it suddenly became hard to breathe. Tears threatened to spill down my face. My chest, clear and free just moments before, tightened with panic as black dots swirled behind my eyes. I reached out to grab onto the rail, pulling myself up the final stairs so I could collapse in a terrified heap in my room.

We’re all going to die. *I’m* going to die. 23 hours and 45 minutes out of any day, I am logically, reasonably and accepting of this fact. Except when I’m not. Except when the fear and panic and dread and horror paralyze my every ability to move, think, or function for that brief period of time. Except when my mind flashes to a conversation about a relative not doing well, or when I think of a terrible story I read about a child earlier that day, or when I recall recent news of a friend- my age- who had suddenly passed.

Struggling to breathe deeply, I lean my head back against the wall, reaching for the determination and competency in which I can battle this hideous monster. I close my eyes and struggle to control where my thoughts go, what train of thought they follow.

A few more deep breaths. A few gulps of water. An internal battle to maintain control.

Ever so slowly, the fearful grip loosens. I start to be able to breathe, to continue my routine, to stand. The panic recedes, tucking back down into its corner, lying in wait for the opportunity to strike again.

I rise to my feet, determined to let this pass. I struggle to avoid giving into the frustration and the despair that threatens to overwhelm me just as the last wave of emotions washes over me. I try not to feel as though I am losing an ongoing battle once again.

Anxiety. It is a horrible, horrible fight to wage, and one that never seems to fully end. My biggest frustration is when I maintain a handle on it for so long, and the most innocuous detail sets it off once again. It is a battle I seem to avoid for long periods of time, until it resurfaces and wages a vicious war. Being pregnant, hormonal, emotional… these all make me vulnerable, so it takes its best shot.

I am determined not to let it win.

And so, I continue to try to breathe…

 

Surviving Spring Break

School days. As hard as it was to put my son in kindergarten, I don’t think I ever quite realized how much I appreciated the days in school. This past February, I also put my daughter in preschool a few days a week. While the hours seem to fly by much faster than normal when they are both out of the house, they sure are useful- and critical- to getting things done! After a few months, I finally found a decent routine.

And then came Spring Break.

WHO invented spring break??

I needed a strategy, and fast. So, here are my tips to surviving spring break.

1. Get Supplies

I am so not above bribes. Since the weather here in Georgia was hot and it’s still a little too early for the pool, I went shopping. I stocked up on a new sprinkler, some kind of slip n’ slide hopscotch thing, bubbles, and all the chalk I could find. I also made a couple craft buckets up with different activities (one for doing Easter crafts, one for machine creations for my son, one for crown making for my daughter, etc.) to have on hand when I needed to try to get some work done. An afternoon spent stocking up gave me three days of activities- and minimal fighting.

2. Get out of town.

If, like me, you anticipate Spring Break boredom to drive you crazy, convince your husband to take a day or two off of work and get out of town. Instead of making 2 day trips around the country trying to visit relatives, we stuck with a 5 hour road trip to nearby Charleston, South Carolina. Not only is this my birthplace, it’s also the place where my husband and I got married (more about this trip later). We were able to spend a few days together as a family, putting other stress and worry aside, and it broke up the break at home.

3. Get Wine

Put the judging away, I don’t mean for breakfast people. While current health issues prevent this from being possible this year, it highlights how much it has helped in the past… By the end of day two or three (who am I kidding? Day One) of Spring Break, you’re going to need a break. Do yourself a favor and pick out a treat to have at the end of the day. Need ideas? Check out some of Rachel Voorhees’s awesome posts on Momstastic, like these 10 Sauvignon Blancs for under $10.  When your husband gets home from work, say hello, pour a glass of wine, and escape to your porch or patio. You’re welcome.

So, how do you survive spring break?