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 ūüėČ 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)

Embracing the Mess

Today (and probably tomorrow) I’m letting my house be a mess. ¬†As a stay at home mom I really try to stay on top of things but its not always possibly. ¬†This isn’t the first day my house looks like it got turned upside down and it won’t be the last. ¬†With Justin having more work demands and less time at home I’ve been “on my own” a little more. ¬†Of course I am never without some sort of emergency back up, but ultimately sun up to sun down its me.

So today I decided I’m not cleaning a single thing. ¬†I’m not even going to change my kids diapers… Joking! ¬†I’m joking. ¬†They might be the cleanest things in the house right now. ¬†Laundry is still being done as are the dishes, because those are 2 things that I can’t neglect EVER, as much as I would like to. ¬†The laundry I’m folding though might not get put away immediately and the last load I put into the dryer may sit in there until tomorrow. ¬†Thats fine.

My floors can be swept tomorrow and vacuumed another day and what isn’t essential can wait for the rest of today. ¬†I am 100% human and I can’t do everything. ¬†No one can. ¬†My whole point in this entire post is that you need to cut yourself some slack. ¬†Regardless of how many hats you wear and what they specifically represent life is just busy. ¬†I’m normally a little OCD about cleanliness and organization in our house and all too often I get way bent out of shape because something isn’t getting picked up fast enough. ¬†You can often find me running (almost literally) around our house trying to keep up with the mess the kids are making and doing all the other things needing to be done. ¬†Today I’m embracing the mess. ¬†I’m letting my house be a home thats lived in.

So, cut yourself some slack friends. ¬†Just a fast and hard reminder you can’t do it all even though you really want to. ¬†Don’t wear yourself down trying to knock out that mile long to do list. ¬†Take a rest and enjoy your kids a few hours longer, read a good book, or watch that show you’ve been dying to start or catch-up on.

RELAX and LIVE.

 

 

Balance

Life is a total balancing act. Whether you are married or not with or without children its all about finding that semi close to perfect balance in all of your relationships and commitments. Entering into adulthood you quickly discover how difficult that balance can be to maintain. Add significant others and tiny humans who depend on you into the mix and you are really walking a tightrope a majority of the time trying to keep everything in line and still be sound of mind.

Just think about all the different areas of life we touch on just in our day to day… work life which comes with social relationships often, home life which is an absolute whirlwind of many different areas, immediate family such as parents and grandparents, your social life and keeping in touch with friends. So, how do we do it? How do we give an adequate amount of time to each of these important areas in our lives? I wish I knew! For some time Justin and I have been trying to find that perfect balance for everything but I’m not really sure it exists when we as individuals are always being pulled in so many directions. While it is frustrating its good to remind ourselves that its not always necessarily a bad thing because it just means our lives are full, and full of good things that keep us preoccupied. We would both love to have more personal time, more time together for just the two of us, more time to do things like exercise and do some extracurricular activities, more time for each of our families, just more time. I think thats something a lot of people find themselves saying “If the days were just a few hours longer I could get everything done…” So, again, how do we do it? How do we live to enjoy the little (and big) things when we are so busy with absolutely everything.

I think the only answer I can come up with to the questions I asked is that you just have to learn to let go of the little things. Don’t worry about the things that don’t have to be done right now or even tomorrow. Often times I let a pile of laundry or a sink full of dishes distract me from time with my family or cause me stress I don’t need to subject myself to. I have a tendency to get distracted by household tasks when I should be enjoying my kids while they are small and spending those moments with my husband when both kids are in bed and we can have an adult conversation.

Maybe you even need to find some literal balance in your life by taking a yoga class or going paddle boarding during the summer months. These are things you can do for yourself or together as a family. I think for the most part we all need a lot of figurative balance in our lives and when someone discovers that absolute perfect balance to all aspects of life I hope they share it with everyone.

How do you keep your life balanced?

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(Originally posted on June 13th, 2017)

Talking about things that are hard.

This is another one of those topics I have thought about sharing/discussing many times but was never really sure what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, or the point (if any) that I wanted to make.¬† It’s a post I have spent more time on and read over and over again because I want it portrayed correctly.¬† As the title says its a hard thing to talk about and share.
¬† Depression.¬† It’s something I have fought against before and was again dealing with it as of recently.¬† Mental health, in my opinion, is one of the harder things to first acknowledge you have a problem and then seek the appropriate help.¬† For me personally, I refused to believe depression was the issue after our second daughter was born.¬† I still don’t accept (consider me absolutely stubborn and a willingness to not want to be wrong) that it was a form of post partum depression but it was depression.¬† I blamed it on circumstances for so long and thought that if things would just go my way everything would be fine¬†and I would feel ok again.¬† Things did start going in the direction I wanted to but oddly enough my feelings of doubt and longing to have the “perfect” life only got worse and I found myself in a deeper and darker hole than before.¬† I had become numb to everything around me and had built up so much resentment for some of the cards we had been dealt that I couldn’t even process what it was like to just be satisfied any longer.¬† I would have settled for satisfied at that point.¬† I felt like I needed everything but could attain nothing.¬† I lashed out, I cried a lot, and I wondered what had gone so wrong that the beautiful little girls that filled¬†my every day with a lot of joy and the husband that was doing everything in his earthly power that was possible of doing¬†wasn’t enough.¬† Why wasn’t it enough?¬† What did I need?¬† Justin asked me many times “What do you need?¬† What will fix things right now?” ¬†I couldn’t even answer because I just plain and simple didn’t have an answer.¬† Things continued on for awhile and something in me one day said “Enough.” ¬†I was waging war on an opponent who knew no limits and was undefeatable without help. ¬†ac34c426bf9295e8f7f0404f0ad83c8a
¬† Things have significantly turned around for me.¬† I really hope others have noticed it as well because the person I was for that time wasn’t who I needed to be as a wife, a mother, a daughter, or a friend.¬† I wanted more for myself and most importantly even more for the people I love.¬† My challenge to accept reality was difficult but I wanted to appreciate the life I have and thoroughly enjoy it.¬† I needed to reach out and put myself in an even more uncomfortable position in order to propel myself into something better, so I did it.¬† However, doing it wasn’t as easy as it reads right now.¬† Before actually going forward with anything I went back and forth for awhile telling myself this is silly you can fix this on your own, but I couldn’t.¬† I cancelled an appointment and rescheduled it only to question that ¬†day if I really should be going in. I went in and it was absolutely the right decision.¬† Not once did I feel judged or belittled.¬†¬†I attribute a small part of realizing I needed to make a change¬†to my writing and starting this blog.¬† I have always been more clear and been able to express my feelings better if I write things down.¬† I think that I was able to realize some of this issues I was having were centered around my own feelings rather than solely on circumstances of my life.¬† I came to the conclusion I needed to stop blaming others for my uncertainties and unhappiness and get a grip.¬† This wasn’t anyone else’s¬†fault and really it wasn’t mine either it was just what was going on in my life and I had to figure out how to adapt to the¬†issue and get help.
¬† If you are dealing with something in life you need help with but can’t find the words to talk to someone I heavily encourage you to write it down, even if just for yourself, but mostly with the intent to share it with someone.¬† Mental health battles are not something you should have to fight alone and it is most certainly not something to be ashamed of.¬† I wish I was into research, but I’m not, because I would love to share the amount of individuals in our world (even just in the United States) who are affected by issues regarding their mental well being.¬† I know the numbers are vast and the problems people face are not easy to ignore or “just get over.”
¬† Another thing to consider, maybe you aren’t the one fighting the fight against mental health but someone close to you is.¬† It is so important to pay attention to the behaviors of those around¬†you especially new moms (and dads), someone who has recently gone through a major life change, an individual who has fallen on hard times, and many other life events and circumstances.¬† What may not seem like a big deal to you may be affecting someone else greatly.¬† We all fight our¬†own battles and have our own struggles and each individual is impacted by a variety of situations and handles them completely different.¬† Check in with people often even if you aren’t aware they are having a difficult time.¬† You just never know that simple text, phone call, email, or Facebook message might completely turn their day around and give them a new perspective, even if only for a short time, but enough to make a difference.¬† It could be a game changer.
Be kind and be supportive!
(Originally posted on May 11th, 2017)

Running Errands with Kids

IMG_6049Let’s be real.¬† The title of this post about says it all and leaves little to the imagination.¬† Running errands with kids is sheer chaos.¬† You can absolutely forget a leisurely stroll through the mall and what the hell is “window shopping” anymore?¬† Get your shit and get out!¬† My capabilities for decent grocery store trips and every other kind of errand you can run is on a downward spiral.¬† Running errands with one had its challenges but was doable.¬† Running errands with a mobile toddler while pregnant presented even more obstacles and absolutely wore me down.¬† Now I have a 30 pound two and a half year old, an almost 20 pound eight¬†month old (along with a 10ish pounds of infant seat¬†said baby still rides around in).¬† That is 60 pounds of awesome but 60 pounds of crazy as well.¬† Today my toddler insisted on being carried, the day with no stroller of course, and reverted to throwing herself on the pavement in a fit of rage if I asked her to walk while holding my hand.¬† So baby in baby seat in one arm and toddler in the other. ¬†(Curse all the places that do not have handicap accessible door openers that I can access with my foot.)
¬† Today I was without a stroller which I knew leaving the house.¬† Currently our pickup is full of yard trimmings so stroller and the vehicle I had today weren’t compatible.¬† I said whatever and went about my way.¬† Even with the stroller it is still one more thing to unload.¬† It does make it easier BUT it is another step and another thing to maneuver.¬† Anyways, back to doing the things with the tiny people….
First stop: doctors office.¬† Always an enjoyable time.¬† The doctors office I usually (heavy emphasis on the usually….because kids)¬†don’t have¬†problems with especially once you leave the waiting room since¬†there is no where for the mobile ones to go but there is plenty of things for them to get into.¬† We made it out unscathed.
Second stop: Jewelry store.  Trips like these always have me wondering is it worth it.  Its been months (like 8 maybe?) since I had my wedding ring cleaned and yesterday I was planting flowers so you get it.   Anyhow, is a less than 5 minute trip into the store to get the dirt out of my ring worth it. Today it was apparently.  It went fine but you can never lessen the amount of work loading and unloading kids.
Next stop: Lunch.¬† We swung by my mother in laws office for a quick lunch in the cafeteria.¬† Another set of hands made this much easier.¬† I’ve done lunch on the go by myself before and it went this well: an entire jug of kids size milk covering an entire booth.¬† A little goes a long way in the case of milk apparently.
Last stop: Eye clinic.¬† Many details surround my need to spend an hour at the eye clinic today but you don’t need them, I promise.¬† Thank you lovely lady who offered my daughter a piece of cheese from the break room.¬† Seriously, thank you.¬† I’m sure you’re reading that thinking “Honestly?¬† You let some random person feed your daughter food??” Um, ya.¬† I did.¬† Why?¬† My toddler was currently in meltdown mode because I stopped her from ripping every pair of glasses they have on display off of the shelves.¬† I told her if she stopped I would get her a treat.¬† Funny story, I had no treats.¬† Dumb.¬† Cheese was the answer though.¬† We left there and I had about 30 seconds of thinking I could get 20 more minutes of out them and could handle loading and unloading them one more time to go through the car wash.¬† I quickly forgot those insane thoughts and hit the road home.¬†Both kids fell asleep on the 40 minute drive home which was purely enjoyable for me.
¬† Really todays trip I can’t complain about all that much because overall nothing really went wrong and there have most certainly been shopping trips I swear to never take again with children.¬† Normally I try to limit our stops to two because thats just whats doable for me.¬† I often feel like ‘that’ mom with ‘those’ kids in the store but the reality is I’m probably not.¬† I see so many other moms doing the same thing as me and don’t think anything about it.¬† Usually when I see a freak out happening I feel much worse for the parent than the child.
My only advice is this: ¬†Drink the coffee then do the things.¬† The order is important. ¬†ūüôā
High Five Moms and Dads!¬† You’re doing great.