Hi. My name is Mom.

Insomnia you old friend, you.  One of my favorite things is to sit and enjoy the silence of my home after everyone else has gone to bed.  You can usually find me binge watching a TV show, and right now it’s a hot 90’s hit called ER.  So, after I checked that off my mental to do list tonight I laid down in bed at a really reasonable time hoping to count my sheep and drift off.  Here I sit 20ish minutes later typing to whoever’s eyes happen to fall upon this and hoping to get down everything that just flew through my head in that short amount of time. {I also realized I forgot to take out my contacts, so again, here we are.}

Hi.  My name is Mom.  No.  Obviously that is not my given or legal name but you already knew this.  It’s probably what I respond best to though, especially if you whine or yell it at me.  My kids truly fill my every waking moment, even when I’m not with them I’m wondering what their doing or if they are driving their current care giver as nuts as they drive me. Usually upon picking them up or coming home I ask how it went and hear how great they were.  WHAT!  I appreciate their calm and collectiveness for you but why can’t this be the regular for me.  Self talk: “Because they are toddlers and thats how the universe works, Jessica.”  It is insanely hard being a parent.  Have I said that before?  I must have because I think it about 50 times a day.  I also tell it to close friends, especially to those who are parents themselves, on the regular…  “Isn’t parenting so fun?!”  and “Aren’t you just ready to have kids RIGHT NOW?” to those who don’t and witness one of my girls throw a tantrum straight from hell in front of them.

The memory just from today that made me want to sit down and write this is my 3 year old flipping backwards off a swing and my 1 year old laughing at her while she screamed.  I’m still laughing about it.  (She was fine, just terrified.)  They make you scared and happy all at the same time.  Parenthood in one word to me is ’emotional.’ I don’t mean that in a bad way either.  Emotions are a good thing, a great thing really and if you like going from happy, to mad, maybe to sad, and back to happy again… parenting is for you my friend!

Becoming a mom has made me grow in so many ways and not just as a parent.  It changes everything.  Why does it change us?  It’s not just about you taking care of you anymore, it can (and I think should)  give you some serious hopes and dreams.  I was never really a dreamer before.  I kind of lived in the now.  As in I want this now so I’m getting it now or lets go there now and we probably did.  I still desire to live in the now but for reasons of being present.  I also have goals for myself, my family, and the role I play.  Of course one of those goals for our kids revolve around them always feeling secure and loved along with setting them up for success in all aspects of life.  Sometimes I really feel like I’m screwing it up because lets remember… Parenting.Is.Hard.  It’s 100% true when you hear ‘the days are long but the years are short.’  I have no idea how almost 4 years ago we were given the gift of our first daughter.

So, if you find yourself in the trenches of parenthood *high five* Choose your battles wisely.  Love your kids the best you know how.  Thank your spouse, significant other, or support system immensely.  Always be kind to yourself!

 

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Children’s pajamas make no sense (to me).

Yes.  You for sure read that title correctly.  This is me complaining about children’s pajamas….

With the warmer weather finally here my kiddos needed some new gear, in the form of sleepwear.  Going to Carter’s seemed like a semi no brainer as I was just looking for some simple cotton short sleeved pajamas.  I go in and their selection is limited, mostly in variety of print so I started digging.  Found sizes that would work but I wasn’t satisfied.  First of all none of these pajamas felt comfortable.  They were so stiff and just not soft.  I wouldn’t wear them, why would I put them on my children.  Problem 2 was the fact that a majority of their ‘summer’ pajamas came with a pair of pants, a pair of shorts, and 1 shirt.  I kind of get it.  You have options that way depending on the temperature.  Lets be honest though, kids equal laundry.  I need more than 1 pair of pajamas for them. Lets say I was to buy 3 sets of this 2 pants and 1 shirt nonsense… That means I have 6 pants options and 3 shirts. What?  Side eyeing the sh*t out of you Carters.

After my failed shopping attempt at Carter’s (FOR PAJAMAS…just pajamas) I left semi baffled but carried on.  Next stop Target.  You wouldn’t let me down would you Target?  Of course not.  So, here I go in Target straight to the kids section and locate the pajamas.  Thankfully more of a selection (and I did find some for both of my kids) but I see what look like Halloween costumes as other pajama options. That cannot be comfortable or warm.  If you are looking for a less expensive costume idea this fall head to Target now and look at the girls pajamas.  Kids pajamas are supposed to be flame retardant right?  I’m guessing this is the stiffness and non-softness I mentioned during my Carter’s trip.  Well….I’m pretty sure some of these pajamas are extra flammable based on what they are made out of alone.   If you haven’t read by blog before I have 2 toddler aged girls so we are totally in the world of sparkles, pink things, and princesses.  However, them going to bed looking like they just got done playing dress up isn’t on my agenda, though it could very well be on theirs! I even looked at the boys pajamas, I don’t want to say in desperation but that was slightly the case, they looked and felt so much better!  I wasn’t quite ready for a spiderman/batman epidemic in our household at the moment.

Don’t misread this and think that I must be above the average and normal shopping options because I’m so not.  I like to get a good deal but I’m also not going to completely sacrifice quality especially when it comes to my kids. This particular trip I drove home thinking a lot about how much time I spent looking for pajamas this day.  “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.”

If you dress your kids in any of the pajamas I listed above I don’t judge and it doesn’t bother me for a second.  I just know what myself and my girls like and couldn’t believe the difficulty I had finding what I wanted! Complete silliness.  I actually wasn’t going to write this post thinking no one is going to read my insane complaints about pajamas but my brain keeps thinking of it so here you are!

 

 

Loving Yourself to Better Love Others

This post semi piggy backs off of my “Choosing Joy” post which I wrote many months ago but recently reposted.  Trying to remain positive and let my complaints be voiced in my own head and then forgotten about has been an immediate focus of mine lately.  I am still trying, and struggling, to let go of past experiences and memories that no longer serve me. Recently, I was asked “If you are having a bad day does it stay a bad day or can you come back from it?”  This really made me think and I realized I often let a bad day stay a bad day but I can choose to let the negativity fade away and choose to be positive.  It didn’t really seem obvious to me that I get to choose how I feel.  Some of you reading this may think “DUH!” but it really wasn’t apparent to me that I am in control of my day to day.  Sometimes the most simple questions make you think the biggest.  I often let my emotions and how I’m feeling decide life for me, which isn’t alway a bad thing, but in terms of negativity it wasn’t a good thing.   045bd73febc84fadfd48ac80ae850a42

Last week it was my birthday.  My husband gifted me one of my favorite gifts to date, a raindrop massage.  You are maybe wondering ‘what the heck is a raindrop?’  I have little knowledge on it but it is an essential oil based massage and something about it really woke me up and affected me in the best way possible. I think I need these monthly and highly recommend them!  I also took an Aroma Yoga class a few days later, so again essential oil based, and it was just plain and simple amazing. (You might be gathering that essential oils are my thing and they are really beginning to touch on many aspects in my life that maybe need a little ‘home improvement.’)   The focus of the aroma yoga class was being your true self.  We all need to have the ability to be best selves.  All too often I, and I believe others, focus on the negative and it can and will completely consume us.  We forget about our purpose and why we are doing what we do.  If you are like me you might take the negative things you hold onto out on others closest to you or silently sit in your own bitterness unwilling to let it go.  It is a seriously toxic cycle and can be very difficult to get out of but the thing that will snap you back to reality the quickest is awareness.  At the aroma yoga class a sheet was handed out with some information on the oils being used along with a few graphics.  One that stuck out the most to me was 7 Things to Let Go Of.  It stuck out to me because I am guilty Every. Single. Day. of allowing them to pick away and me and break me down.  So let me share…

7 Things to Let Go Of:

– Negative Self-Talk

– Things You Can’t Control

– Complaining

– Your Past Mistakes

– The Need to Impress Others

– Fear of Change

– The Opinions of Others

I have noticed a shift in things I choose to do with the goal of positivity in mind.  For example, last summer I gathered a collection of books and made it my summer reading list.  All of the books were fiction, which is fine, any reading is good reading in my opinion.  As of now I have collected another group of books but not a single one is fiction.  They are all ‘self help’ books for lack of a better explanation.  I crave material that will make me think and possibly change my perspective for the better.  I have also found myself praying more, for myself, for my kids, for my relationship with my husband, for our family, and just for guidance in general.

After all of that I haven’t exactly touched on the title of what I felt fitting for this post and something that has been cycling around in my head.  As I have said in others posts, especially those relating to parenting, you have to take care of yourself before you can be there for everyone else.  Recently, though I realized it is more than taking care of yourself, you HAVE to love yourself, who you are, and what your purpose it.  You get to choose to do all of those things and isn’t that seriously wonderful.

 

Finding Financial Freedom – Part 2

Well its been a minute since I have been able to sit down and lay all my thoughts out. Life has gotten busy but not in a bad way! Throughout all the organized chaos we have really been attempting to get a grasp on our current financial situation and our future plans for where we want to be and how we want to get there.

We officially began our Dave Ramsey lessons the beginning of October but we had started to conceptualize what we wanted to do with our money a month or so before than. We knew a change was needed or reality was going catch up to us quickly. We weren’t in trouble but we were playing on a slippery slope as a one income family. We were getting by just fine but the stress we were feeling was less than ideal and we didn’t want to live on the edge anymore. In the few months we have been doing this our thought process on spending and saving has changed immensely. We could certainly buckle down more and make even bigger changes but we are taking this is small strides and making progress at our own pace. The Dave Ramsey program has been an excellent outline for us, as I find his speeches very empowering, but we are doctoring things as needed for ourselves.

So, step one was obviously getting in our own head space and saying “You have to do this, you NEED this change, and its all laid out for you.” So we started the program. The first lesson was an eye opener. Justin was more than willing to ‘try’ the program but I don’t think he was fully willing to believe the methods and practices Dave speaks were going to make that much of a difference. One lesson and Justin was on board and myself even more so. We both were stuck in a place living outside our means and believing our lifestyle choices were necessity. Let me clarify however, really not a lot has changed which I acknowledge doesn’t exactly make sense and likely leads me to contradict myself a little, or a lot. What I mean is that we ultimately have not had to sacrifice that much we have just become smarter about how we spend and more importantly when we spend. See, here was our spending cycle in a nutshell before: We ‘needed’ something (really we wanted something) so we grabbed a credit card, purchased it, and said we will pay it off next week when the next paycheck comes in. Done. No sweat off our backs right? Wrong. Here’s the deal, we probably could afford the thing but we didn’t plan for it. We saw it, we wanted it, we took it home. Had we just waited until the next week, thought about it more, and maybe even changed out minds about wanting it, we likely would have saved money and not racked up a credit card. You live and you learn though right? We are fixing our mistakes and making positive strides!

I really think the biggest key to our success has been opening our minds to other options and possibilities. There is always more than one way to make things work, always. Of course you cannot be successful without making actual changes so that is a vital part of all of this as well. Here is what we have been able to do in the last few months…

We sold our pickup and bought a new (to us) vehicle. That’s completely backwards right? You would think so but we were into something that we could afford the monthly payments on but we couldn’t’ exactly ‘afford’ the vehicle. That’s where a lot of companies get you on approving you for larger loans. The monthly payment is manageable but it really doesn’t make the item any more affordable, you just think you got yourself a deal. We made the seriously difficult decision of parting ways with something we both loved and found as a necessity, and for us it still is, but right now it just wasn’t logical. We purchased a different and 100% reliable vehicle and now have $10,000 less dollars in debt to our names. That was actually one of our first and bigger steps. It felt good, but it was also scary and somewhat frustrating because we were giving up something we both really enjoyed. We did it though, its done, and we are going to be better because of it.road-sky-clouds-cloudy.jpg

We have also paid off almost $1000 in credit card debt which completely eliminated 3 full credit cards. I will own that I am the guilty party in our marriage who has 80% of the credit cards but they are out of our wallets, cut up, and no more apart of our life. We have also been able to pay for out of pocket expenses that we normally would have just thrown on a credit card and worried about later. Last week were were able to get a part replaced on one of our vehicles that normally would have stressed us out and the end result would have been as I just said, a quick and thoughtless swipe of a credit card. This was all done with money that was already set aside and the funny thing is we had this money before but using credit cards was just apart of our normal routine. This is the importance of having an emergency fund because that money is intended exactly for that, emergencies; situations that cannot be ignored and have to be dealt with such as fixing a vehicle. The first baby step in the program is quickly saving $1000 that is strictly for emergencies and it is a super important one!

We have also been able to add more to our savings in the last few months than we probably have done in the last year. That’s what is most rewarding to me. While I love watching our debt disappear it gives me even more satisfaction to see our savings account grow even larger and provides me a real sense of security. Truthfully though, we are still only at the beginning of this process and it is super exciting to know we will only continue to pay down our debt, grow our savings, and secure a future for ourselves and for our girls! I am so happy we decided to take a chance on ourselves to improve not only our relationship with finances but also our relationship with one another as husband and wife. It has helped us open up more lines of communication and realize that we have nothing to be ashamed of but now is the time more than ever to fix whatever mistakes we have made in the past and move forward in a positive way.

 

(Originally Posted on November 30th, 2017)

Choosing Joy

It is easy to cling to negativity. I am 100% guilty of letting one bad moment take an entire day away from me. I complain all too quickly or get in a mood about something insignificant. I let problems, both big and small, steal life away from me. Instead of getting caught up in things that impact my day to day in a not so great way I’m trying to focus on happiness and ultimately choosing to be joyful.

Of course the idea of choosing joy is a much easier idea to read or write versus truly live. I am still human and I am still going to struggle. That’s alright because in the back of my mind I have a goal. Choose joy. A few things made my mind wander to the idea of choosing joy (and also a few visual aides that literally said “Choose Joy”). There are so many things in life that give us purpose and when I have a purpose I usually find myself happier. Let’s go back a little… take yourself to your childhood. What made you excited? For me, it was reading (and other things like recess time and new toys) but I always have had a love for books. I love the smell and feel of a new book. It’s fun for me to pick out and buy a new book, take it home, and get lost in it. (Where my Harry Potter fans at?!) As I got older things like Friday nights became exciting. Sitting in class on a Friday was always less painful because you were focused on your weekend activities and maybe those nostalgic Friday night football games in the fall were sort of everything to you at the time. Skip the college years because the term “young and dumb” applies heavily here. Deny it if you want, I’ll let you, because I know all too well there are so many things I would like to forget. All good learning experiences though right 😉 Then comes some really good stuff the older you get…. getting engaged, planning a wedding, your wedding day, starting a family, starting a new job, moving around (maybe just once or maybe like three times). However, everyones life tells a different story and your path may not and likely will not be the same. Does that matter? Nope. Is your life still joyful? Absolutely. I live far from perfection and that’s just fine. Sometimes I forget life isn’t perfect yet I try to reach for it, but that’s unrealistic and doesn’t make me happy. I want to live with a purpose not as a symbol of perfection.

Motherhood has been one of my greatest joys. I can (fairly) vividly remember the first breath each of my girls took and their little, yet strong, beautiful cries. The relief I felt knowing they were here was beyond words. As your children grow and surpass milestones it never loses its shine. The first time your baby sleeps through the night (or at least most of the night), rolling over, crawling, walking, talking and becoming more independent with each passing day…it’s all amazing and has provided me with a love and a sense of completeness I cannot even began to describe.

Joy doesn’t have to be big memorable events however. It can and should be the small things, what brings you joy can literally be anything and you get to decide what those things are. Maybe it’s that first cup of coffee in the morning. Possibly its accomplishing a work or personal goal. Maybe it’s your toddler snuggling in to your lap and telling you that she loves you. The options for what brings you joy are endless. I believe we all get so caught up in the big picture we forget that life has small details too that are important. So, tell your family and friends you love them and say good morning to that random person you cross path with on the street. Maybe you just gave them something good to go off of for the day. It really is the little things.

Choose joy.

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(Originally posted on October 1st, 2017)

Finding Financial Freedom

So lets talk about money. Forewarning: I really know nothing about responsibly spending, budgeting, saving, and so on. Don’t start reading this and think you might leave with tips of how to be more financially savy because I have little to offer. Consider this a way for me to journal and organize my thoughts as myself and my husband dive into the world of budgeting and (gasp!) really being responsible adults planning for the future. Not to say we are irresponsible because our bills are paid on time and we are taken care of but things add up and mistakes have been made with credit cards. I also wanted to share because I know we are not alone in the everyday struggle of finances. Anxiety and stress over money is a real thing, it affects everyone. So, off we go!

Currently, we are a one income household as I am graciously able to stay home with our two children. Discussions of me going back to work pop up every now and then but what about daycare? We strongly suspect that any income I would generate would cover daycare costs with little take home at the end of the day for us. As of lately we have begun to feel the strain a little more and are looking for answers on what to do. I think what we both have failed to realize at this point is there is no cookie cutter response to answer anyones financial woes. You have to work for it and want it. Do you want to be debt free? (I really wanted to say worry free but ya right, if you are absolutely worry free in your life I don’t even believe you.) Ok, so make it happen! Lets do this together. I want nothing more than for my head to hit my pillow at night and just go to sleep, not think about the bill I wasn’t expecting to pay this month and wondering how that is going to affect us.

So where do we even begin? I’ve done a little (and by little I mean pretty minimal) research on budgeting plans and tips and always leave overwhelmed or discouraged. My mind immediately goes to a negative place and I think, “You cannot be frugal and have fun, theres no such thing.” Well there is, you just have to and likely NEED to learn to live within your means. We all have personal and financial limits and just because your neighbor got a brand new SUV doesn’t mean you need one or that there is anything wrong with the vehicle parked in your driveway.

Here are a few things I have found that have helped changed my thinking just by reading them and starting to practice them along with some other things we are going to try:

Lets start with your thinking process when purchasing:

1. More money doesn’t always mean more money. Ok, let me explain. So as I mentioned we are a one income household. Often I hear my husband say “I need to make more money, we need more money.” While this may or may not be true what I do appreciate is that he has goals for us as a family and for himself as an individual, which I support 110%. BUT what we have both come to realize is that up until now (while we are working on changing our ways) more money to us would have meant more spending, possibly a bigger house, or nicer cars all of which are not things we need. This is where we both need to learn to live responsibly and within our means. I am not saying its a bad thing to want to be paid more, absolutely not, but to want more money to simply buy more might be your first red flag. We are picking up on our mistakes and reigning in our mindless spending.

2. Following the trend of #1 lets talk about the actual purchasing. Two things I have read that have really helped me think about my purchases… “Do you really need that item? What will happen if you don’t buy it?” So, do you need it? Did I need that super cute wooden handmade sign I saw the other day? No. Did I want it? Yes. I didn’t buy it. I looked at it and actually thought do I need this and what happens if I don’t buy it. Nothing happened. I went home and there is unspent money in our checking account. Baby steps.

Secondly, what motivates you to spend? For me personally I am an emotional spender. In the past if I have had a long and trying day with the kids I might go to the store for awhile and leave $100 later on things that we will use but we didn’t need. First recognizes what causes you to spend and then nipping that in the bud is going to make a world of difference. I realize there are other things I can do to de-stress other than spend money.

Now a few other things we are going to try….

3. Spending freeze. I really think this will be our biggest challenge. No purchases outside of necessary items such as grocery, gas and bills. They recommend doing it from one paycheck to the next but we might have to take it slow with this one and try it for a week and then see how we do after that week is over. Definitely a learning curve for us with this one.

4. Balancing a checkbook again. I can say I haven’t done this for years, and by years I mean like 10. I always “guess” what is left in our account only to sign in and say “oh shit.” Knowing what is in there at all times is key in my opinion. If you know your exact amount I think you are less likely to spend on things you want.

5. Ditch the credit cards. We have now removed all credit cards from our wallets and that’s where we have felt it the most, but if you don’t have the funds don’t spend the money!

6. Limit how often you eat out and plan ahead for meals. We spend the most when we don’t have dinner plans (at home) because we quickly order a pizza or go out somewhere.

7. Buy generic, store brand, off brand…whatever you call it. I will fully admit that I am a brand name snob and have been for awhile. I always have had this stigma against store brands assuming they are less of a product. We have been trying more and more store brand items and they are proving to be fine. The one thing I cannot get on board with in terms of store brand though is diapers. I have tried several times and I just do not like them. I want to but I don’t. Suggestions anyone?

8. Want products but can’t afford them? Currently we live in a time of major multi level marketing companies. There are so many, and if there is a product you have been eyeing but can’t justify the cost find a consultant, ask about hosting a party and what the hostess benefits are. I just hosted an online Pampered Chef party (all done on FB) and got just over $200 in product for about $65.

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University
We are going to be investing ourselves in this together. I have looked into it for awhile but have just assumed its outside of our realm of having success with a budgeting program. I really don’t know why. I just purchased the kit and we will be attending a 9 week class which I really think is going to motivate us the most as the kit is $99 and when held accountable my personal success for things goes up. I’m pretty excited to get started on it especially for the class.

A few other apps and savings programs to try…

*Groupon
*Ebates
*Ibotta
*Savings Catcher for Walmart
*Every Dollar Budgeting Program
*Cartwheel app for Target
*Target DEBIT Card (NOT credit card, it will save you 5% every time you shop and gets you the same benefits as the credit card.)

I would open this post up to questions but I don’t know that I will have answers for you on a lot, still ask them if they are there. Comments, tips, or advice on things that have worked for you are always appreciated!

As always…. drink the coffee then do the things! Be amazing!

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(Originally posted on August 30th, 2017)

Post Baby Life

My body has grown, sustained, and nourished two tiny precious human lives. When you think about what it takes to bring a tiny person into this world its pretty amazing. How can something so wonderful come from what it does? As moms, our body tells this tale. Stretch marks take over areas of our body and sometimes in places you didn’t even know stretch marks were possible. Maybe your shoe size changed or you have a permanent stomach pouch that no matter how many sit ups you do your mid section proudly lets everyone know: I had a baby. Thats ok mama. It’s going to happen, you are going to hate your body somedays but its important to remember why you have flaws and to accept and love those flaws.
We live in a society totally obsessed with body image. How do we navigate these waters OmdalenFamily-22.JPGand still accept ourselves when we are subjected to so much judgement about what may or may not be wrong with our bodies. I’m still trying to accept the flaws I have been blessed with. In the last 4 years I have lost 20 lbs gained another 30lbs, lost it all and then some, gained it all back, and then lost some again. Now I find myself at a standstill. I don’t love my body how it is at the moment but I also cannot find the motivation, that doesn’t cause me stress, to have what is “right and perfect” to me. Several years ago I had impressive results from a few month stint with Weight Watchers. Upon becoming pregnant with our first daughter I dropped the diet but still found it had taught me better eating habits even when not following the program. Of course eventually I basically forgot about it all but amazingly enough the weight just melted off (thank you breastfeeding) after she was born. Fast forward a few years later and here we are with two sweet girls and more body changes later. I have since tried Weight Watchers again and failed. A few months later another program that I knew would produce results if I could stick to it but I couldn’t without placing unnecessary stress on myself between meal planning (which I hate) and finding the energy to get a work out in.
As a mom to young children I want to place my focus on them and not be losing my mind about whether or not I have balanced enough meals for the week. Today I ate a handful of trail mix for lunch because thats what I had time for between my piles of laundry, phone calls to get my appliances that seem to keep breaking fixed, and still being present for my girls. Do I want to be healthier? Absolutely. I just wish we could all cut each other some slack and realize tight and toned bodies aren’t realistic for everyone. We all have a different story about why we are the way we are. We all have different struggles for a variety of reasons but some of those struggles are somewhat the same. We are dissatisfied with this, we need more of that, or there is too much of something.
I do genuinely think physical health is of utmost importance but we are only human and I am going to eat a cookie (or three) if there are some in front of me. I don’t want a one size fits all image of perfection for myself or for my kids. There needs to be a focus on happiness that still incorporates health on a physical and mental level. If working out daily and following a strict diet plans makes you happy then why wouldn’t you. If moderate exercise and eating the best you can is most comfortable for your lifestyle then that should be your goal. Do what you need to do to sustain a happy and healthy life for yourself and others in your household. Follow your own lead!

Be happy and be healthy friends!

(Originally posted on July 6th, 2017)