Wednesday, August 23, 2017

In Defense of a Simple Life

I've always wanted a simple life.
Maybe it stems from my childhood, having two middle class parents who worked hard, every single day, to provide me with everything I ever needed but refused to appease my every want and whine or maybe its just the way I'm programmed, a perpetual optimist who always looks for the good, the positive, in every situation.
I've never been into material things; brand new clothes, having the best car in the high school parking lot, the newest technology...none of it has ever mattered to me.
I've always wanted simple.
And I've always felt like there was something wrong with that.
Why don't I want to hustle and grind and make a million dollars a year? Why aren't I willing to sacrifice my time and energy now so I can enjoy the finer things in life later? Why don't I dream of a 4000 sq foot house with a gourmet kitchen and a theater room and an inground pool?
I used to think I had to be settling...that I had shoved those grandiose dreams down so I wouldnt be disappointed if I never get them in this lifetime. But thats not true.
I am not settling.
I am content.
I have a husband who loves me and our kids with everything he has. I have three breathtakingly beautiful, healthy, happy kids. I have family that supports me and loves me unconditionally. I have a 1500sq foot house that feels like a home...complete with crumbs and toys and dirty laundry piles. I have a job that challenges me and gives me a voice in this big, loud world. I have friends who, over the last 15+ years, have become my family.
I have a simple life...full of simple, ordinary things. A life some people would quickly overlook because of its mediocrity. A life that doesnt revolve around expensive vacations and fancy toys and flashy jewelry. A life not consumed with 'making more...doing more...being more'. A life that doesnt focus on 'what could be' or 'what might of been' but instead focuses on the here, the now, the beauty of what is right in front of me. A life not lived out loud but one that revels in the quiet, beautiful moments that happen when we slow down.
A life so full of happiness and laughter and love that it sometimes feels like a dream.
Because it is.
It's a simple, ordinary life.
And it's everything Ive ever wanted. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Camping Hair Dont Care

Before we had kids, I always imagined we'd be one of those families that vacationed together in exotic places and posed with Mickey Mouse in Disneyworld every year. My kids would be perfectly behaved, be seasoned plane passengers by age 2, and my husband and I would spend our evenings taking in sunsets from around the world. Andddd then I actually had kids and realized that A) vacationing with kids is not a all and B) Disneyworld for a family of 5 costs more than I spend on groceries for an entire year.
So, in a effort to find a happy medium between sipping cocktails on the beaches of Maui as my kids entertain themselves for hours in the white sand and considering a family vacation a trip to a local hotel to hit up the indoor pool for a few hours, we bought a camper and decided to hit the road.
And guys. It's been worth every single penny. Camping is the shit (our camper has AC so I can say that).
Here are my top 10 favorite things about camping:

1) Its cheap. Like cheapppp. As in we can stay at a campground for 5 days for around $150....for the whole trip. 

2) I'm force get my shit together before we leave. I cannot stand coming home to a messy gives me anxiety. So I scrub, declutter, wash, dust, and vacuum my entire house before we go which sucks at the time but nothing motivates me more than the idea of coming home to a stank house.  

3) The beaches. We're from the great Mitten State and camping has allowed us to visit some pretty amazing beaches and there aint no beach like a #westside beach.

4) There is no WiFi. None. Zero. And we refuse to get our kids tablets that use data so we all get a few days 'unplugged' and its honestly refreshing to not hear Daniel Tiger singing about potties and sharing for a few days. 

5) The fresh air. Honestly, I love that our kids are practically forced to spend 95% of their time outside because they spend entirely too much time on the couch (whining about boredom) all summer long. In my mind, camping cancels out all the screen time they get in between our trips. Balance.

6) Meal time is a breeze. Camping is all about simplicity and nothing is more simple than hotdogs and hamburgers thrown on a grill. Chips as a side? Yuppp. Juice boxes and paper plates? Sign me up. 

7) There is no agenda. I love chill vacations where we do what we want when we want. Hit up a local Farmers Market or festival in the morning? Yup. Beach time whenever we are ready? Uh huh. Family naptime at 2pm? Lets do it. Adult beverage at 4pm? Yes please. I'm not driving anywhere. 

8) Speaking of naps. Ya wanna know who naps or has a solid hour of downtime every day we are camping? My exhausted, bike riding, beach going kids that's who. 
(Nap. So. Hard.)
9) The community. People who camp are the friendliest bunch of people Ive ever met. They wave. They strike up conversation. They have perma smiles plastered to their faces because camping = no work= smiles for everyone.

10) The adult time. This is major guys. We camp with friends who all have young kids and, after we psych each other up ('Okay guys. Hands in the middle...Bedtime on 3!!') and get our exhausted, dirty kids to bed, we get to sit around the fire, pour a cocktail, and relax. We travel with baby moniters so we can be sure no one is trying to pull a Great Escape and try not to get yelled at by 20 yr old DNR rangers to 'quiet down!' too many times. Adult time is everything.

There's a cocktail in the woods waiting for you Mommas. Pack some snacks, grab your kids, and chase your dreams.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Have a Little Faith in Me

"Have a little faith in me.."

It was a white dress, you in a black tux, our closest family and friends in attendance, my Dad at my side, my whole future standing at the end of the aisle, as the DJ softly played the classic song by John Hiatt that would unknowingly become the soundtrack of our lives.

"Have a little faith in me..."

It was two tiny little lines on a pregnancy test I was so sure was negative I almost forgot about it under the bathroom sink. It was tears and uncertainty and the fear of failing at the most important job I would ever have. It was your comfort and your reassurance that I could do this, that together we could do anything, your heroic strength in a moment I know you were just as scared as I was.

"Have a little faith in me..."

It was pain, the most earth shattering pain I had ever felt as the contractions tore through me, my whole body shaking as I braced for the next one to take hold. I looked into your deep blue eyes, told you I was scared, I couldn't do this, pleaded with you to help make it stop. It was you grabbing my hand, wiping my brow, cheering me to the finish line as our baby took her first breaths and her cries filled the room.

"Have a little faith in me.."

It was darkness and exhaustion and a crying, hungry baby in my arms as I sat, hunched over, trying to get her to latch on to provide us both with some much-needed comfort and relief. You were there, awake in the middle of the night even though there was nothing you could physically do to help her or I, rubbing my back and encouraging me to not give up, reminding me I could do this.

"Have a little faith in me.."

It was two more pregnancies in four short years, my mind unsure how much more my body could take, my heart unsure I could ever love another baby as much as I loved our first. It was the gentle, almost cathartic way you rocked our second daughter as she howled through the night with colic. It was the way your face beamed with pride as my body gave that final push to welcome our son into this world.

"Have a little faith in me.."

It was a want for something more, a need to step outside the role of only being Mom, the encouragement you offered when I told I wanted to chase my wildest dreams, to find my voice and my place in this world. It was your reassurance that I was good enough, that I could do anything I wanted.

"Have a little faith in me.."

It was all I was asking of you eight years ago when we said "I do"; your faith in me, in my ability as a wife and a mother and as a woman pursuing her dreams, has never wavered, never faltered. Your belief in me has helped guide me through the darkest nights and the calmest days.

On our anniversary, and every day, I want to say thank you, with every ounce of my being, because even though it was our love that made us parents, it was your faith in me that helped make me a Mother.

Friday, May 5, 2017

What Moms Really Want

Mother's Day is right around the corner and, if you're anything like me, you are half hoping to be treated like a princess for the day and half hoping your family doesn't go overboard because you are also cheap AF and in that weird zone where even if you had $100 to blow on yourself, you'd wander aimlessly around a few stores and end up buying your kids more shit they don't need because you have no clue what your personal style is or what you even like anymore and you really don't NEED anything (except when your buzzed and scrolling through Pinterest and you need every. single. thing.)

I think I speak for most Moms when I say all we really want for Mother's Day is to see a little thoughtful effort, to not step foot into our kitchens for one whole day, possibly a 5hr long nap, and a whole lot of love BUT if you want to do something special for us (Note: unless it's an item Mom has expressed extreme interest in NOTHING special comes from Meijer or Walmart ...we are there grocery shopping at least once a week, if we want it, we will buy it) here's a few ideas of things the Rockstar Mom in your life might actually enjoy:

A Nice Meal We Didn't Cook.
Plan it out. Don't ask us where we want to go. Anytime we can have a hot meal and don't have to get up from our seat at the table to get more ranch dressing, more juice, or cut up food into tiny pieces for little mouths, we are happy. Also, Mother's Day is the BUSIEST day of the year in the restaurant industry...if your kids are under the age of 5 and can't sit happily on an Ipad during an hour+ long wait for a table, ABORT MISSION. Offer to cook us our favorite meal at home or order take out.
***I worked in the service industry for 6+ years---your server is most likely a Mom herself whose spending her Mothers Day away from her kids, TIP HER WELL....and then add a little more.***

A Day Adventure.
Last year for Mother's Day, we took the kids for a bike ride at the park, packed a picnic lunch, and spent a few hours together outside before I ate my weight in ice cream so it was pretty much a perfect day. Again, plan it out. Please don't say "It's your day! What do you want to do?" because it makes us want to throat punch you....we are happy to go anywhere you pick that gets us out of the house and away from the laundry that's been side-eyeing us for the last 2 weeks. 
Also, Happy kids = no whining = happy Mom. 
(Write that down Dads.)

Monthly Presents.
I love the idea of getting presents in the mail every month via a subscription service. Especially if its wine. Or snacks. Or chocolate. Or cheese (not sure this exists yet but if it doesn't, it needs too.) Or in my ultimate fantasy world, all 4 of those delivered on the same day. But seriously there is a box for everyone these days.

Handmade Anything.
Listen. My kid could smear their snot on a rock and if they come running up to me on Mother's Day with it hidden behind their back like they are holding a rock made outta solid gold, I'm gonna cherish that Snot Rock til the day I die. If your kids aren't in school yet and don't have crafty teachers to help them make adorable little unidentifiable crafts, Pinterest is your best friend.
{I once asked my kid what that thing she always draws on my head was. She replied 'that's what your hair looks like every day.' Valid.}

A Gift Certificate for Peace and Quiet.
Anything that gets us out of the house alone for a few hours that doesn't involve taking a grocery list along with us is a win. Massage. Pedicure. Manicure. A gift card to our favorite store. Yesyesyes. But here's the thing-- if you want us to actually use the gift card, there's no whining (I'm talking to you here Dads) when we want to use it and you're on kid duty for the afternoon.
{She gives zero shits about her house being destroyed while the kids are with Dad and she's getting that massage. Get it girl.}

Shiny Things.
We like them. We miss wearing them. We love getting them. We say we don't but that's a GD lie. These are gorgeous and bonus points if you are a Go Getter and order early enough to get it engraved with the kid's initials.
{I birthed them. You engrave their names on pretty things. Image via Etsy.}

Flowers That Don't Die
Personally, I'm not a fan of flower bouquets because they are expensive and if I want them to last longer than 3 days, I have to take care of them and I have a hard time remembering to bathe my kids most weeks so asking me to change the water in a vase is probably not going to happen. I would, however, love to get a pretty, low maintenance, outside flower that I can plant in my yard and enjoy all summer long when I'm spending hours doing nothing but following my toddler around outside as he walks in large circles and points at nothing.

{My flower bouquets about an hour after I get them. They take one look around my house and are like,
"F this. We're done."}

An Ego Boost.
Mother's Day is the perfect day to lay it on thick. Phrases like "You are the best Mom because you didn't yell when the toddler spilled nail polish on the carpet" or "I don't know how you do all that you do and still remain mostly sane" are always nice to hear. Or even, "You are the best, most perfect Mom to our kids and even though you don't shower every day or wear makeup anymore, I still think you are the most beautiful person to ever walk the planet" because being a good Mom and feeling like a good Mom are two totally separate things and, at the end of the day, reminding us{as you over pour us a glass of wine}that we are doing a pretty damn good job and are appreciated for all we do is all we really want anyway. 

**Follow me on FB (Whine Thirty) or by email (link above on the right) so you don't miss a word of my nonsense!**

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Life Hacks: The toddler edition

Every Mom to a child over the age of 1 can agree, toddlers are a rare breed of human. They have the amazing ability to say so much without uttering a single, cohesive word. They command every second of our attention due to their unpredictability and infatuation with light sockets and oven doors. They possess detective-like skills that capitalize on our every weakness and have the uncanny ability to find that marker that has been under your couch for 7 months or that package of wipes accidentally left within arms reach. They operate purely on emotion and hunger and drive us to the brink of insanity just before flashing a toothy smile that leaves us breathless and wanting to kiss their faces off. In short, they run the world and were just lucky to be on the sidelines handing out juice boxes.

Here are 7 tried and true life hacks that all toddlers have perfected and we adults secretly wish we could pull off:
Stop. Lock. Drop.
Manage to get your hands on a forbidden object like the tv remote or Mommy's cell phone? Stop dead in your tracks at the sound of your name. Stare Mommy dead in the eyes. Contemplate next move. Ignore her pleas to 'put it down please'. Drop forbidden object to the floor with a bang. Stare.

Do the wiggle.
Time to get shoes on or Mommy says it's pajama time? Wiggle. Wiggle so hard your Mommy's arms start to ache and she contemplates running away and taking up MMA fighting. Go limp in between wiggles. Toss head back and connect with Mommy's face for good measure.

Fake temporary paralysis. 
Hear a sense of urgency in Mommy's voice? Maybe it's time to get dressed or eat lunch or get to your older siblings to school drop off. Sit down. Stare at the floor. Ignore annoyed human as she calls your name repeatedly. Lay down and pretend your legs and ears are broken. 

Confronted with a well-meaning and overly enthusiastic strange human? Hide. Burrow your face so deep in Mommy's shoulder you might become permanently attached to her. Leave Mommy to awkwardly laugh at the strange human talking in a high pitched voice trying to get a smile out of you. You're above all that nonsense.

Mix it up.
Consistency is boring. Just because you've eaten strawberries every single day for the last 3 weeks does not mean you like them today. Keep things interesting and your parents guessing by refusing the things you loved yesterday and loving the things you hated a few days ago. There is power in having the final say; capitalize on it.

Master the Peaceful Pouty Protest.
Is it nap time, or even worse, bedtime? By now your energy levels are running low making this the perfect time to peacefully protest. Don't yell. Don't scream. Just stand quietly, pout your lips, puff out your cheeks, and refuse to acknowledge tall humans or make eye contact with them. By now you've figured out they've read all the books that told them you need to lay down on your own; make the most of it. Drag this moment out. Take a sudden interest in your hands. Maintain pouty face.

Relent; Just Enough.
Time to shut it down; even the strongest need their rest. Now is the time to indulge the tall humans in their incessant need to squeeze you and kiss you a thousand times before shutting off the light. Stare blankly into space as they gush over you and ramble on and on about how sweet and beautiful and perfect you are. Sit up for one final hug, lightly pat Mommy on the back, send her heart soaring and leave her thinking she's won the battle; you know tomorrow is a new day and you will ultimately win the war.

**Follow me on Facebook {Whine Thirty} or by email {link above on the right} so you don't miss a word of my nonsense!**

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Stage 5 Clinger

I've been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to come up with some witty way to open this blog post but I just don't have it in me today guys. I'm tired. I've got a million things to do. I've reached my threshold for being touched today and the days not even half over. And I have a toddler sitting next to me refusing to let go of my arm because he somehow knows I have those million things to do today and wants to make it as challenging as possible.

I've got a clinger. Stage 5. His name is Nolan and I birthed him but most days it feels like I never actually birthed him because hes so permanently attached to me all. freaking. day.

{"Hi. I'm Nolan. And I'm addicted to my Mom.}

A few months ago I shared with you all how absolutely amazing it was to go away for a bachelorette party weekend and how great I felt coming home. Truth be told, that weekend was so incredible and not just for me; the little guy had no choice but to find comfort in someone other than me (my husband) and when I got home, he was like a brand new kid. Happier. Less clingy. More social. Less whiny. Less everything toddler and more everything enjoyable big kid.

And now? Were basically back at square one. He whines if I leave the room. He hides behind me if strangers even look his way. He screams unrelentingly if I dare venture out of this house to go shopping or meet up with a friend for dinner.

I'm exhausted. And over it. And I feel guilty for saying that because we all know in a few years I will be whining about how sad I am he doesn't need me anymore but its my blog and I will whine right now about this stage if I want too.

And I know its just a stage. I knowwww. I went through it with both my older girls and I know he will outgrow it. But right now, it feels suffocating and hard and overwhelming and I'm wondering {secretly plotting} another weekend away that I can present to my husband as a 'cure' for this problem.

Were going out this weekend; its my best friends 30th birthday and even a Stage 5 clinger cant stop me from being there to celebrate her. I'm worried for my mother in law whose the real MVP for graciously offering to come watch our kids so we can get out for a few hours. But I know he'll be fine. He might pass out on the rug near the door after he exhausts himself screaming for an hours, my older two will probably complain about how he cried all night, my mother in law might need earplugs and alllllll the wine but it needs to happen.
Its like ripping a band aid off right? At least that's what I'm telling myself as I prepare for the inevitable moment when we walk out the door and his screams fill my ears as I jump into the car. The guilt guys. 3 kids in 6 years and that shit never goes away. I wish I could tell you that you somehow disappears with time but it doesn't. People have told me the guilt means you're a good parent because the shitty ones don't feel it....which makes sense I suppose but does little to elevate it.

So I guess here's to being a good Mom....who needs a break and isn't afraid to admit it.

**Follow me on FB {Whine Thirty} or by email {link above on the right} so you don't miss a word of my nonsense!**

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Conversations with a Psycho Mom

There is nothing that makes me laugh {and cringe} harder than looking back at the first time Mom I was 6 years ago.

{Me. 6 years ago. Back when I still attempted to do my hair.} 

Maybe its a rite of passage, like wearing foundation two shades too dark in middle school or that time you thought it would be a good idea to really test the limits of how much your liver can handle only to end up face down in a puddle of your own vomit 2 hours later, that all Moms must go through in order to find their parenting style and figure out what techniques work and which ones don't or maybe its just an evolutionary process we go through as we get older and wiser and start to understand how much the little shit just really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.

If I could go back in time and sit that stressed out, overly cautious, paranoid, and often times completely neurotic version of myself down for a glass {or bottle} of wine and a dose of reality, here are the 7 things Id tell her to chill the hell out about:

Just feed the baby and stop stressing. Seriously. You are a basket case and Im worried about you. If she cries, feed her. If shes sick, feed her. If you just fed her and shes crying, feed her. Stop reading and researching and driving yourself crazy about how much shes getting and if you are producing enough. Quit pressuring yourself to make breastfeeding work until whatever ridiculous date you have set in your head; buy some formula in case you need a break one night. 

Bumps and Bruises:
I know, I know. You broke down last night. You stressed yourself out of breastfeeding and laid the baby on the couch to go make a bottle only to hear a loud thump and wail 30 seconds later when her head connected with the floor. Shes fine. Stop googling 'signs of brain damage in newborns'. 6 years from now shes going to break her arm on the monkey bars and her little brother will barrel roll head first down 14 stairs. Their squishy heads and lack of long term memory were made for this, I promise.

The Outfit of the Day:
Remember that outfit you just had to buy for her when she was still in your belly because it made your heart melt with cuteness and there was no price tag too large for your perfect princess? Its at the bottom of a landfill now because she pooped straight up her back and no amount of OxiClean was removing that stain. Stop paying full price for clothes she will outgrow in a month.  Resale shops and clearance racks are where you belong now. Embrace it and enjoy your extra cash.

Capturing the Moment:
Put the camera down. You do not need 843 pictures of your perfect baby laying on a play mat staring into space. Shes going to do way cuter and far more interesting things in the future. Live in the moment instead of capturing it; get down on that mat and enjoy her, smell her, just stare at her tiny face and beautiful features. Commit the moment to memory instead of thinking of cute ways to caption it on Facebook.

Your Post Baby Body:
It is what it is girlfriend. Your body is going to experience and grow two more babies and by the time your done, nothing is going to be where its supposed to be. 6 years from now your husband is still going to be attracted to you, possibly even more so after all you two will go through, so stop trying to hide under sweatshirts and pajama pants and stepping on the scale every other day to see if a miracle happened over night; it didn't and that's okay.

They are everywhere and the day is coming when you will turn around and see your precious baby with a mouthful of dog food. Stop hibernating all winter in order to avoid the lady coughing in front of you at the grocery store. You may have avoided constant ear aches and unrelenting colds for the last 6 years but eventually shes going to go to kindergarten, come home from her first day of school and puke all over your floor. Get used to it.

Playing the Comparison Game.
Its hard I know. Everyday is a new challenge that presents another thing you feel like your failing at and there are so many moms that make it look so damn easy. Its not easy. For anyone. Its hard and messy and exhausting and some days are so long you will be praying for bedtime by 2pm. You are doing fine. There will be days you mess up so hard you cant stand yourself; let it go. Stop forcing yourself to enjoy every moment; you wont, no one does. Slow down and quit trying to coax her into meeting milestones; babies don't care about timelines and she will talk, crawl and walk when shes ready, not when you are. Just breathe. That precious little baby your holding grows up to be an amazing, intelligent, kind, creative, and loving little 6 year old; not in spite of you but because of you.
Scary Mommy