Saturday, June 29, 2019

Finding Joy

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 I've been struggling with joy lately. I think we all sometimes struggle with joy, and feeling fulfilled in this life. It will always be an internal struggle of wondering if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. I think social media plays a big role in stolen joy, because we see these glimpses of peoples lives where we see nothing but happy beach photos, or clean kitchens and phony smiles. We've created this false sense of happy, and believe that the grass is always greener.
 I know I have a few people I follow on Instagram that truly always look like every moment of life brings them joy. I envy that so hard, especially lately. I've been feeling lost about my career, my blog, my direction. I've been frustrated because not every minute of mothering is joyful, and life is hard.
 I told my husband I wanted to stop blogging because it wasn't bringing me joy. I said to him "I'm a joyless human being. Nothing makes me feel fulfilled anymore." It was hard saying that out loud, and the guilt was strong. Do I even deserve kids, if they don't bring me joy every second of everyday? I felt ashamed. I have no hobbies, limited social interaction, and I'm just so burnt out all the time. I have the kids, baseball and keeping this god damn house clean, and when I can squeeze it in, the blog. But the blog became a job, trying to monetize content, creating well crafted Instagram posts, and graphics. The idea of taking the hour or 10 to write a blog post made my stomach hurt. When I started this, it was my outlet. It was where I could share the real, raw and hilarious moments of my journey, and it turned into my career, a book, and my life. The stress of feeling like I don't contribute, even though my to-do list is 48 miles long drove me to madness, and killed my joy.
 I looked up at the Squatch after I told him I was joyless, and gave me a comforting smile, and said the wisest thing he's said to date. He told me, "I think you're focusing too much on the mundane things. Life isn't just happiness all the time. The kids are hard, life is hard, but you have to start living for those little moments that make you laugh, and bring you joy. Let those define your day."  He then proceeded to tell me a story of a guy who got racked at work that day, and how that's how he was choosing to define his day, not by the frustrating moments. He reminded me that we are long way off from gratification from the kids, and reminded me that I do feel joy, and that he sees it. Sometimes, he's more insightful then I realize.
 I'm not hanging up the blog, like I thought I was going to do a week ago. I am making a shift, and finding my joyful moments again. I'm going to be shifting a bit from lifestyle writing and start dabbling in comedy, because making others laugh really brings me a crazy amount of joy.
As always, thanks for sticking with my on this journey.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Summer Crazies- and how to keep them away.

 Summer time is in full swing, even though Colorado has decided to still be chilly. We are at the perfect age for the wonderful phrase "Mom, I'm bored." I really thought that I had more time with that. I expected it to start maybe around age 6? I don't know. With that I'm trying really hard to combat bored-ness. With being the head of entertainment for my cult (what I call all these kids) it's sometimes really hard to plan activities while also not losing my shit. Being patient is hard some days, and it's like that for every parent. Sometimes hearing "I'm hungry" 84 times a minute really makes you lose your mind. Alternate between, "I'm bored" and "I'm hungry" and you're sure to go insane.
 I don't have this down to a science, so consider this a rough draft of how I'm combating the summer crazies.

Buy memberships to things-  The zoo, the museum, the water park, anything that makes going on a day to day basis cheaper. An annual pass to our zoo is $165 for up to 7 people. Tickets for one day use are $20 for adults, and $14 for kids. If you bring some friends along, it pays for it self. Also packing a lunch, and water will save you tons too! If we buy a punch card to the pool we save money too.
ABCMouse- Look, I know screen time, blah blah blah... but ABCMouse is a game changer, life saver, and a quiet time hero. Everything on there is safe, and educational. Tater is currently working on sight words, at age 4. He loves the learning path, and the songs. I can set him up at the table during nap time, and he stays quiet enough for the baby to nap, and he learns something. It's a win/win.

Popsicles. Popsicles. Popsicles. There is no shame in my Popsicle game right now. I'm 100% sure that these kids are living on Popsicles currently. I'm really cautious about how much sugar Tater has, because he's a wild man. So finding all natural, low sugar Popsicles was really important. We LOVE the Outshine Popsicles. They don't have refined syrup or corn syrup in them like most do, which makes me feel better about to the 10 gram sugar count in the strawberry Popsicles. Plus the lime ones give me life. We also make our own Popsicles as a fun activity.

Library Story time- I think this is the most underrated summer thing. Story time is FREE, and interaction with other kids. Yes, it's a Mom's worst nightmare, and it's loud but an hour of reading, singing, and playing that I don't have to conduct is super nice. We live in a small town, but sometimes go into "Town Town" to the bigger library. We really love our little library though. The kids are usually the same, and we love the person who reads. Shout out to you, Chelsea. There is usually a craft too, which means I don't have to clean paint or foam off of my carpets.                         

Local events- My children live for the Farmer's Market. I'm not sure where these kids got that habit from, but I'll take it. Our local farmer's market always has the fire trucks out for the kids. You can Google farmer's markets in your city, and you can find them almost everyday of the week. Farmer's Markets are usually free to enter, and you can use them as teaching opportunity, if you're one of those parents that has it together.

Splash pads- Where in the actual hell were splash pads when I was a kid? They are free, small/big kid friendly parks with water fountains, and my kids go bananas for them. It's like the end all, be all of our summer activities. We pack a lunch, and a blanket. The boys go wild, and I can sometimes sneak in article, or read a book. It's also really nice when we bring our friends along because I get some Mom socialization and the boys play with their friends.
The at home splash pad. We bought some silly, cheap sprinkler sets and a baby pool for the boys when I don't feel like driving 45 minutes. We also have a Paw Patrol Water Table that the boys love. They even have these weird, squishy water blob pads too. I recommend shopping on Amazon, because they are so much cheaper there.

Last but not least, good old fashion letting the kids play out in the backyard-When Tater really gets on a whole new level, I get to open the door and let him roam the fenced in yard. I watch him from the deck, or from the kitchen window so I can get some dishes done. The baby usually hangs out in the kitchen with me or I let him play on the deck, we have a gate, don't panic.  Plus like, it supports independence and stuff. Yeah parenting science!

 We are all just trying to survive summer vacation. I hope these give you some ideas to keep your sanity.
Stay safe and hydrated Moms.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Self Care Saturday: Shows for Bad Days

Happy Self Care Saturday! Or if you're like me it's sports and yard work Saturday. I'm getting some flowers in the ground today, because the snow is hopefully done. We literally got a foot of snow on May 23. I wish I was kidding. 
 It's still mental health awareness month, so I want to pop in, talk about self care, and tell you some things that I do. I've covered self care before in a few ways. I've given guides and tips. Today I want to talk about mindless self care. I struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression. My mind is constantly trying to derail itself with intrusive, and negative thoughts. It's like a machine that doesn't stop running, no matter what I do. Sometimes I really need to try and shut it off. I know this sounds crazy, but mindless comedy shows are my comfort blanket. I can really escape my brain and the awfulness that is the world with something totally silly. 
 It used to drive my husband nuts that I can't watch serious things before bed, but know that he understands my mind he enjoys my mindless shows too. Just because I say these shows are mindless, doesn't mean that they are brilliantly written, and great. These are quality shows.
 Here is my list of mindless shows, when I need space from my own self:
1. Schitt's Creek
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 Dan Levy, the absolutely brilliant, hilarious, and genius son of Eugene Levy (The Dad from American Pie with the eyebrows) created this incredible show. It's so funny, charming, and makes you feel things you wouldn't expect. It's about a wealthy family who loses everything but one asset that was purchased as a joke, the town of Schitt's Creek. Moira (Catherine O'Hara whom we do not deserve) is a former soap opera star, and Johnny (Eugene Levy) and their two kids David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy) have to learn how to live like normal people. David is so witty and hilarious that literally everything he says makes me laugh. The whole show is so well written that I could watch it over and over again.  This is my current #1 favorite show, which I'm a die hard The Office fan, so that's saying something. This show will have you laughing, and doing the Moira voice forever. It's available on Netflix, so please go watch it. You'll be saying "EW DAVID!" in no time.
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2. Bob's Burgers
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  I know so many people don't enjoy adult cartoons, but Bob's Burgers is truly hilarious. Bob, Linda, and their 3 kids Tina, Gene, and Louise run a burger place on a pier. You get to see all of the antics that kids get into, Louise being my favorite for being a loud mouthed, fierce, bunny ear wearing Queen. Tina is a boy obsessed preteen who's monologues and songs make me cry from laughter. Gene is also funny, and writes Die Hard the musical. Linda is truly my mothering spirit guide, and Bob is literally everyones Dad.I promise if you give this show a chance, you'll laugh just as hard as I do. You can find it on Hulu.

3.The Office
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 If you haven't seen The Office get out. Just kidding, but seriously it's a great show. Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) and the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company are always doing hilarious things. Michael is the world's worst boss, but also the best. The story includes hilarious pranks, a beautiful love story, a affair, and murder in Savannah (if you haven't watched the show you don't get that reference.) You can find it on Netflix.
Also, it has John Krasinski who is the second from the top of my "fuck it" list.

4. Chuck
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 Chuck is a show about a nerd turned spy, due to basically a computer being loaded into his head. Zachary Levi (who is the tippity top of the "fuck it" list )plays Chuck, who is goofy, sweet, and insanely good looking. Sorry not sorry. This show isn't mindless, but it's a great escape for when I'm really struggling. I can get lost in the plot, while laughing. It's not one I can fall asleep too, but it's perfect for a Saturday afternoon.  The characters are all so lovable, and you get hooked fast. It's available on Amazon Prime Video.

5.Parks and Recreation
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 This show holds a very special place in my soul. Amy Poehler is my hero, truly. So pair her up with Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Retta, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, and so many more, it's incredible. The story follows a small town parks department and their characters. It's shot very similarly to the office. The deeper into the seasons you get, the funnier the show gets, It's beautiful written, and perfect to escape. Ron Swanson is the Dad you've always wanted. It is available on Netflix.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Anxiety, Mental Health Awareness Month

  May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and if you don't follow me on Instagram, or Facebook you're missing out on some great content. I'll add links to social media below.
 Today I want to talk about anxiety, because I deal with it a lot. I've been anxious my whole life, but wasn't made aware of that until I got a great therapist that made me dig in deeper to my past. One of the biggest ways my anxiety manifests is through humor. I try really hard to disguise my hurt, fear, and anxiety with jokes. In fact some of my best writing has come from a place of anxiety. I would say that it's a gift, but it's not. I mean, it's a gift to you all because I'm pretty funny.
 During an anxiety attack a lot can happen. I've experienced a wide range of symptoms with my anxiety attacks including; my face, hands, arms, and legs going completely numb. Chest pains that mimic a heart attack. Pins and needles all over my body, short breath, crying, shaking, tremors in the hands, jaw, and feet. I've thrown up, gotten acid reflux, and just emotionally shut down. Hot flashes, cold spells, and my anxiety has kept me up all night long. I've lost myself, my feeling of security, and been spun into a place of worthlessness. These are only a small touch of the things that can happen in a state of panic, and that sucks. Everyone's symptoms are so different, and complex.
 I've tried multiple daily medications, rescue meds, therapy, meditation, grounding techniques, music therapy, aroma therapy, vitamins, exercise, natural supplements, essential oils, CBD, THC(Weed is legal in my state), I cut out drinking, I added more omegas, and all in all... nothing fixed it. Things helped, CBD helps the day to day nervous feelings. I can sometimes redirect my panic attacks with healing techniques from my therapist. But nothing has fixed the anxiety. It sometimes terrifies me to think that I'll live the rest of my life struggling to not feel anxious. My own anxiety gives me anxiety, what a concept. 
                                    I have anxiety, but it doesn't get to define who I am.
 If someone you love is struggling with anxiety, the best thing you can do is offer love, and support. If your friend cancels on you for dinner know that it's nothing you did, but that anxiety might be plaguing them to stay home. Offer a safe place to vent, but don't be pushy. Know the anxious people in your life love you, but they hurt sometimes.
 You can read about anxiety facts HERE. Above is just my experience with anxiety, yours could be a lot different. If you are struggling with anxiety and need help, please reach out to a mental health professional. Websites like TalkSpace and Better Help are incredible, at home resources.
        You are loved. You are worthy of that love. You are important.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Pee Happens

Sometimes you have to let your kid pee on the side of the road. It freaking happens.
 Yesterday we were on our 45 minute drive home, and Tater had to pee. He's 4, so no he can't make it the 28 minutes up the dirt and county roads to the bathroom inside the only gas station on this side of the county. I pulled over, and let him pee out the van. He's peed in parking lots, sides of highways, behind trees in a park, and in Starbucks cup in the back of my Minivan.
  I'm telling you these stories because this last week a woman was given a ticket for also letting her child pee when he had to go. Yep, you read that right. A MOM who is also pregnant was fined for her kid peeing in a gas station parking lot. Yes there were restrooms in the gas station. Yes, she could have taken him inside to pee, but this was a bathroom emergency. If you have a child of any age you know that bathroom emergencies are a big deal. He told his Mom that he was about to pee his pants. She's pregnant, and can't run inside while carrying the child. Had she ran inside he likely would have peed through his pants and onto the gas station floor.
                                  We've all fucking been there. Literally I was there YESTERDAY. 
When I was 38 weeks pregnant with Tot, we were in the Starbucks drive thru line. We were 10 cars deep with 10 behind us. We were newly potty trained. Tater said "MOM! I have to pee!! It's an emergency!" I panicked. I had no fucking clue what to do. So I put my car in park, in line, got out, and let my kid pee the few ounces that his bladder was holding onto the concrete in the line. I barely got his little pants down. He had to go. The lady behind me honked, and threw up her hands in disgust. There was literally nothing else I could have done. The line didn't move in the 34 seconds it took us to do this, by the way. 
 He would have peed his pants, in his car seat causing discomfort and potentially a rash. Had he been able to hold it that also could have let to discomfort, and potential infections. This isn't some drunk, grown man wiping his junk out to pee on a busy street corner. This is a kid. Kids pee. 
 As a Mom of 2 boys, my kids are going to pee in public a lot, because, well shit happens. Or in this case, pee happens. We don't write a ticket if someone barfs in a parking lot, and as an expert in other peoples body fluids, vomit is WAY worse than pee. 

 So Brooke Johns, I stand by you Mama. This fine isn't right, and we all know it.

Here is a link to the news story if you want to see this ridiculousness for yourself.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A Letter to Tater

  So many bloggers do birthday letters, and that's never been my thing. But this birthday is also an anniversary of the day my sweet Tater became a brother, so here's a letter, that he likely won't ever read to him.

To my wild child on the first anniversary of you becoming a brother,
 This year has been, something. It's been hard, and magical all at the same time. The first time you saw your baby brother, I knew you were going to be the best brother there is. You walked into that hospital room with a smile on your face. I could feel your joy. You held your brother, and I cried. You smiled, and asked if he was cold. You told me to whisper when he fell asleep. You were the protector.

 When we came home that afternoon you had no idea what was about to happen. You didn't realize how much our dynamic was shifting, or how scared I was to have two children to parent. You didn't care. Your transition to the oldest child was really so easy compared to the nightmares we'd be told to expect. We had some really hard days together, ones where I think back and kick myself for not being more patient, or understanding. I've been tired and worn down. I was hurting, busy or just not myself for so many moments. I'm sorry I wasn't the best Mom, but you never made me feel like I was failing.
  You tested, and still test my patience, and emotions. You get defiant, loud and wild... like every kid, ever. You got jealous, but it was short lived. You shifted into the perfect big brother. You've been helpful, and kind. You've shared toys, even when it was really hard. You've said sweet little things that I won't ever forget. You are such a proud brother, even a year later.
  I can't thank you enough for how you've taken on this roll. You've helped make bottles, grab toys, get snacks, and watch your brother. You sing to him when he cries, and hold his hand. You call him Baby Helton, and I hope that never changes. You've held my hand when I'm overwhelmed, wiped MY tears, and accepted my apology when I was short or snappy. You remind me that when I make a mistake that it's okay. You say it to your brother too.

 The bond you have with your brother will morph over your lifetime. You'll love each other and hate each other. You'll go without talking to talking daily. One day if you two choose to have kids, your kids will play together, and you'll watch wondering what your life has become. I'm so glad I could give you a built in best friend. I'm so proud of the brother that you are.

P.S. I totally high five myself for giving you a brother on National Siblings Day.
 Love, Mom.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Tears of Motherhood

   There are so many articles and Facebook posts about what us 'seasoned veterans' have to say to new Moms. What advice do we have? We always have a lot, that's for sure. There is no pack like the one of Motherhood. Within minutes Mom's across the globe comment their best advice. We talk about post birth comforts, and newborn sleep tips. Product after product is recommended, or ripped apart. We talk about visitors and how healing goes. Lately my favorite bit of advice is this;
                                  You're going to cry, a lot and it's okay.
 You're going to cry when you see that little face for the first time. Your first truly sleepless night, you'll sob. You'll cry when you feel happy, overwhelmed, and sad. You'll cry when they grow out of that outfit they came home in. You'll cry if you forget about dinner, or laundry, or something else so small. You'll cry when you're feeling isolated. You'll cry when you aren't sure if you were cut out for this, but I promise you Mama- you were.
 The tears will come when they smile, walk, laugh, speak and sing for the first time. Their first real friendship will melt your heart, and send those tears through. Those tears don't stop as they get bigger, or as the hormones level out, they still find you.
 You'll cry in the car after dropping them off for their first day of school, you'll cry when you think about their last. You'll cry at the art shows, the concerts, the speeches, all of it. As they get older they'll roll their eyes. "Mom's crying AGAIN." It's apart of who you are.
 You'll cry when someone breaks their heart for the first time. You'll cry when they let you in, and when they keep you out. Sometimes you're going to cry for no reason. You'll cry at a movie, or show that never made you cry before.
 It seems crazy. I was never a "crier" until I had my kids, and it's like that for my friends too. Something about being a Mom makes you softer, and it's beautiful. Embrace those tears however, and whenever they flow. Hold onto the moments that are so beautiful that it brings you to tears, and learn from the tears that fall out of hurt.
 You're going to cry Mama, and that's okay.