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5 Things To Be Thankful For In August

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August is my birthday month and my husband’s birthday month so there are lots to be thankful for in August. Besides our birthdays here are 5 August related things I am grateful for:

1. Thankful for NO snow!

I am not a cold weather person at all so I soak up the heat as much as I can while it lasts. I would rather be sweating then freezing cold plus nothing beats the feeling of the sun shining down on you.

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2. Thankful for living near the shore!

Yes, I am from Jersey so I don’t call the beach the beach but I call it the Shore. Before you even get the image in your mind, I don’t mean the Jersey shore as seen on MTV because families don’t party and get drunk on the beach. We have only had the chance to have one shore trip this summer but we had a great time until our sunblock failed and suffered through a week of sunbun. (Maybe I should do a review of sunblocks that fail for super pale skinned peeps like my family??!)

3. Sunday Family Hiking Days

To help ease my body back into working out, we started a family hiking day almost every Sunday since Father’s Day. In addition to helping my body work out, it is a chance for us to bond as family since we are dealing with the stepdaughter/stepfather resentment situation right now. It has been great to get into nature and explore our surroundings. I always feel at ease being outdoors just hate the bugs and bug bites. Evie loves being in the carrier and looking at everything that passes her by.

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4. Getting Ready For Back To School

This year is even more exciting…. for me at least because Danyella is going back to public school! She is not a happy camper to stop homeschooling but I just can’t do it mentally, physically or emotionally anymore. At least she is going back to a school that she attended in the past (not the school I pulled her from!) and will have her best friend to enjoy her 6th grade year. (This will be a more in-depth post in the future)

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5. Pumpkin Everything is Coming Soon!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I am one of the crazy pumpkin loving people who if the world would let me, I would enjoy pumpkin everything all year round! Typically, the end of August brings back my much-loved Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. My local DD, next the dance studio, will sneak pumpkin flavoring from other locations just for me and “Christina” to enjoy as much as we can. Pumpkin season here I come!!

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What are you thankful for in August?

 

 

 

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ABC Your Positive Life with this Gratitude Starter List

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If you are anything like me, you can fall into a funk with keep a positive life all of the time. Things happen that can cause stress in your life which can lead to negative thoughts. It can be easy for your mind to get distracted by negative thoughts and forget everything we should be grateful for.

The other funk I fall into is being grateful for the same things over and over. Yes, I am thankful for my house, my children, my husband, my family etc… you get where I am going with this. Now, it is time to find the details of those general things that I am grateful for not just my kids, etc.

One way that helps me sort through these funks is to use my ABC list. This allows my brain to open up and think outside of the box for the things that I am grateful for in my life. Some of the letters make me get very creative which helps in exercising my brain as well.

Such as… A: I am grateful for apples and that my baby girl is big enough to start eating applesauce now.

You can start off with one letter a day or a few at a time. You can go in order or skip around. In the end all that matters is that you are working on your positive life and gratitude towards what is in your life.

I created the sheets in yellow and purple to brighten your day while you write, the first link is the pdf to download, the second is a jpg:

Yellow ABC’s of Gratitude

ABC's of Gratitude

Purple ABC’s of Gratitude

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Thankful That I Enjoy Cooking Now

Thankfulthat I Enjoy Cooking Now

For most of my life I was intimidated by cooking because it seemed so complicated to make a meal worth eating and tasted good. So many pots and pans and other kitchen gadgets to use and I didn’t know what I was doing. Which pot was the correct one? Which utensil was correct? How did you use this gadget or that? Plus, it seemed to take me FOREVER to cook a single dinner.

For years, I have had a couple of key meals that I knew how to make and they tasted great like my chicken paprikash. Pasta was a weekly, sometimes more than once a week, staple meal in my house because it was easy and you really can’t fail at it. Add that to my breakfast for dinner like pancakes or eggs with a side meat. That was 2 simple meals that were fast and edible. The rest of the time we would eat out… we have kept our local pizza and chinese places busy for many years now.

Since I barely ate through my pregnancy with Evie because of my hyperemesis gravidarum, I wanted to eat everything in sight after I gave birth. The thing was, I no longer wanted to eat the quick meals that I was used to cooking everday. I wanted foods with more flavor. I wanted the meals that they cook on my favorite cooking show… The Chew!

All of the cooking shows that Danyella and I watch make cooking look soooo easy! So, I decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone and start cooking real meals. I have come up with some really delicious chicken and pork meals like my Mushroom Pork Chops  and Baked Lemon Chicken Printable Recipe . 

My Instant Pot has made it so easy to make delicious meals without getting completely overwhelmed. I love to experiment with different veggies and flavors. I can’t wait until my herb garden grows so I can start adding fresh herbs rather than dried herbs to my dishes. Plus, once we have our veggies grow over the Summer, I can incorporate even more fresh veggies into our meals.

Not only have we been able to put the take out menus away (ok we eat out about once every 2 weeks because somedays its just easier to let someone else cook!) but we have saved money because it costs us less to eat in then out. I try to cook at least 5 times a week with one night for leftovers (I hate wasting the food) and one free night where I don’t cook (aka find a box of cereal and be happy!).  I hope that I can continue to enjoy cooking and learn new skills to make delicious meals for my friends and family.

Drop a link to your favorite recipes for me to try in the comments below!

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Thankful For Starting My Day with Baby Smiles

Thankful for starting my day with baby smiles

Wow that title is a mouthful!! When I a thinking about what to write about today, all I could focus on was the smiles that Evie was giving me as she was waiting for me to finish pumping. That is the perfect topic for Thankful Thursday!

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Did you know that the first facial expression a baby has is a smile. Usually they start in the womb and have no meaning. Once a baby smiles because they are happy that is the best feeling in the world.

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The best way to start my day is seeing my baby girl look at me and smile. Evie and I start our day with singing a special good morning song that I made up for her. As soon as I start singing it, the smile on her face is just amazing. That smile is as big as her face and just beautiful. Who knew that someone would smile at the sound of my crappy singing voice?!

Smiles are contagious. Actually, smiles are more contagious than the flu! When someone, young or old, smiles you can’t help but to smile back at them. It takes more effort to not smile back.

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Looking for a promotion at work? Smile more! Studies show that smiling more at work makes an employer more likely to promote you over someone who rarely smiles. This shows that you love what you do and that you have passion for the company you work for. Smiling makes you look more successful at work and in life.

Try to force yourself to smile when you are upset and watch your mood elevate. When you smile it can feel like all your problems melt away for that moment. Use up to 53 muscles to smile so you can bring your mood up, exercise your face and reduce your blood pressure all at the same time!

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No matter where in the world you go, a smile is intercultural. You can look at someone and say hello with a smile, no language interpreter needed! This is because a smile means happiness…. everywhere in the world!

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Smiling Fun Facts:

  1. The average woman smiles 62 times a day
  2. The average man smiles 8 times a day
  3. 63% of women say they look best in photos where their teeth are showing
  4. 99.7% of people say that an attractive smile is an important personal asset
  5. 74% of people believe a bad smile can hurt their chances for a successful career
  6. A dog smiles by wagging their tail
  7. There are 19 different types of smiles!

Take the time to smile today!

 

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Struggling With My Gratitude

Struggling with My Gratitude

With everything that has occurred this year, I have been struggling with my gratitude and thankfulness, hence the many missing Thankful Thursday posts. It has become difficult to be grateful when I am so angry at so many people and at the Universe.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my kids and supportive family and friends through these difficult times. The problem is that I draw a blank when I think about what I am grateful for in my life. I will find something I am grateful for and then think about what I don’t have or how I got screwed out of something related to this grateful thing, and I am back to being angry again.

This mindset of anger has effected every aspect of my life where I am not striving to be the best I can be. My business has been slow going because I feel like I just run out of time to do anything. Instead of doing what I need to do, my mind wanders and before I know it I have been thinking and engrossing myself for over an hour. Poof that time I had while the baby is sleeping is now gone and I can’t get it back. The rift in my already damaged marriage is just increasing in size because if I can’t control my anger towards things then I can’t be in a good place to work on bridging the gap. Even my poor supportive friends are being neglected because I know that when I speak, all I do is spew negativity so I have just stopped talking at all. The only ones that I have tried to protect from my ungratefulness is my children because no matter what they are my main priority in life and I don’t want them to feel my anger.

This all means that I need to go back to the beginning and work on myself. I need to make working on my self care and self love a priority because dwelling on my anger is only bringing myself and everyone around me down.

My top 5 things to help me work on my self care:

  1. Write and recite daily affirmations
  2. Write 5 things I am grateful for every night, even when I am not feeling grateful
  3. Listen to/Read the Secret and my other go to self care books
  4. Write out my feelings in my journal, even if it is multiple times a day
  5. Give myself time to love myself

In the past, I have gone through these periods which were triggered by a stress factor and in the past few months since Evelynne was born there has been multiple stressors. I know I can’t beat myself up for needing to start over in my self care journey (trust me I have been beating myself up for months now) because I am only human. As humans, we will go forward and have our setbacks but that is what makes us grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

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Do you have any tips to get out of your funk and back to self care?

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Thankful for My Healthy Baby

Thankful for my healthy baby girlAs Evelynne turns 2 months today, I am thankful for our healthy baby girl. Our dear, sweet Evie was a miracle, our rare unicorn because I had a hard time keeping a pregnancy to stick. Before Evie’s pregnancy I had miscarriages and was told that as I age, the harder it was going to be to get a pregnancy to stick. When the lines appeared that I was pregnant, I was skeptical and assumed I would miscarry again.

Every week that we gained, I became a little more excited that this baby would stick. We reached 16 weeks and the doctors started me on a shot to help prevent preterm delivery which I had with both my oldest 2 kids. I began contracting at 17 weeks and put on bedrest. Every week until she reached 24 weeks was a blessing because we needed her to be at least 24 weeks to be delivered and have a chance at survival. My baby girl lasted until 39 weeks!

In my baby mom group, there is the sweetest little boy that is struggling for his life. He was born premature with complications. When he was born, the doctors told the parents he wouldn’t survive more then a few days and that was in October. My heart broke for her as she struggled with this news but that little boy has proved those doctors wrong because today is March 1st and he is still with his mom and dad. Recently, his parents were told he has a heart condition which normally could have surgery to correct and help it but due to his size and condition, they refused to do the surgery. The doctors told the parents that the baby wouldn’t survive. I have cried reading the updates from his mom because I couldn’t image going through this with my kids.

I have seen other parents struggle with diseases their children are suffering from either from knowing them personally, reading their stories on the internet or watching a heart wrenching movie based on their story. This morning, I was participating in my blog sharing with other bloggers and someone posted a video of a little girl making the best of her life though she lives with a rare disease. These kids and families are so strong and inspiring for other to be grateful for everything they have in their lives, especially their health.

In a world filled with scary situations, diseases and people, I am holding my children a little tighter because they are safe and healthy. Today and everyday, I am so grateful that my Evie was born healthy and has continued to stay healthy. I am thankful for the smiles and coos that she gives us. I am thankful for the joy she brings to every moment of everyday for the past 2 months. My baby girl is getting so big so fast!

Please say an extra Prayer for Baby Braydon today because he can use every prayer right now.

Thankful for my HealthyBaby

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Finding Positivity During Hard Times

I thought with the birth of my little Evelynne on New Year’s Day, that 2018 was going to be a great year…. my year. Well the trials and tribulations have just continued into this new year. So a new year doesn’t always mean a new slate, it just means adjusting your perspective and approach to those hard times that plague your life.

I am starting off this new year with having to find a new home for my family due to circumstances out of my control as a renter. I am having to make a decision that is breaking my heart about my marriage because the trust has been broken between my husband and I. I am having to make a decision about to do about going back to work and whether I want or have the heart to put my precious baby into the care of someone else. These are all changes I was not expecting to deal with 18 days into 2018…. 18 days after my little baby was born.

I won’t lie or sugar coat this at all, I have cried and cried and cried but those tears were not getting what I needed done or helping my family. My other concern about my tears is falling into post partum depression which I experienced after my first baby. PPD is not something any mother wants or should have to deal with especially if being triggered by outside circumstances.

How am I keeping the positive during these hard times? I am working on my self care. This is something I have consciously work on or I can find myself just sitting and wallowing in my sorrows for hours.

This means I am making myself get up and shower. I am making myself read and listen to my positivity books when I am sitting to pump or feed the baby. Those moments when I get down, I make myself pull out my notebook and write positive things about myself and my life. Lastly, I let myself cry when I need to cry as long as it does hinder myself from doing things I need to do for my girls and myself. (Even as I am writing this post, tears are flowing because sometimes I need to let them out).

Life isn’t always the way we want it to be but we can’t let the negativity pull us down. As a mother, I need to have the strength to be the best I can be for my children. Yes, Times will be hard and times will be sad and times will be easy and times will be happy but no matter what the times are for you… always find the positive even if it means taking the extra time to do so.

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Thankful for my Loving Puppy

Thankfulfor my Puppy

We adopted our puppy Max in February after my miscarriage, not thinking that I would get pregnant just a few months later and have both a puppy and a baby in the house. Max is a Plott Hound mix that we adopted from our local animal shelter when he was just shy of 3 months old. His mom was rescued when she was pregnant from the south and brought to New Jersey to be cared for and deliver her pups.

Danyella had been asking for a dog for so long, but I always refused because I am not an animal person. I despise animal fur but I have come a long way with dealing with the fur since having a rabbit that shed for 2 years. One random day, Doug decided to stop by Common Sense for Animals and we both fell in love with Max. We took him home that moment without having any puppy supplies so we had to stop to get him the basics. I surprised Danyella, which I got on tape, by having Max in the car when she got out of school. She cried and held that puppy all the way home.

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Since we have brought him home, he has been the life of our house. Getting himself into trouble all the time but then giving you those sad, “I am sorry” eyes and kisses that make you feel bad for having to discipline him. He loves to bark at everything he sees outside though he is getting better at not barking at the neighbors and the school kids that walk by everyday. He loves to play with his “sissy” and follow his daddy around the house. Max has daddy wrapped around his paw because when Max wants to go out a million times through the night, he will go to Doug’s side of the bed and wake him up… he knows not to bother Mommy until morning. One smart dog!

Max is the bestest cuddler ever (as Danyella likes to say). He will jump at every chance to cuddle with Danyella, Doug or myself. As my belly has been growing, he tries to cuddle with it but Evelynne is not having it. She loves to kick and hit at his head when he lays next to it. With dealing with my anxiety and depression lately, I have been crying a lot lately. Max comes over to me when he sees me cry and places his paw on me and then snuggles right up to me. He does not like to see his Mommy cry at all.

Max has been such a comfort with his cuddles and kisses. As much as I say I am not an animal person, I am Max’ Mommy which is the best thing to be. I couldn’t image our family without Max, even in his bad moments. Do you have a pet that you love like a child?

 

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Thankful for my OB Nurse #thankfulthursday

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Wednesdays are my baby doctor appointment days which since July my rear end has been seen by my high risk OB nurse every week. Why you ask am I showing my OB nurse my rear end every week?

Well since I have had 2 preemie babies, my doctors wanted me on weekly progesterone shots that are administered by Maternal Fetal Medicine office. So every Wednesday, I walk into the office, Nurse Charlie gets my shot ready and then I expose my back end. It can be quite embarassing the bigger that I get and the bigger my pants and panties get.

I am sure that Nurse Charlie sees many rear ends every week and it is just another day to her but as a self conscious pregnant woman it is a HUGE (not just my rear end) deal to me. The plan is that I continue my weekly shots until I am 38 weeks (if I make it that long) so I will be exposing myself weekly to Nurse Charlie for another 12 weeks. Oh boy!

Something that I have learned in my pregnancies, is that it is really the nurses that make sure that us hormonal, pregnant are doing what we need to do for our babies and are really good while we grow a human inside of us. When I switched my insurances, my copay for the progesterone shots were over $1000 a month which just wasn’t going to happen now that we are on one full time income. When I brought this up to Nurse Charlie, she is the one that has bent over backwards to make sure that I got the shots that I needed and at a price that I could afford. She is the one that has checked on me at home when I have gone in with bad side effects of the pregnancy like low blood pressure that has been making me light headed and have fainting spells.

I truly can’t thank Nurse Charlie enough for going above and beyond for myself and my baby girl while she is still growing inside my big ole belly. If you are pregnant, make sure you thank your OB nurse because they truly care about their patients, the big ones and little ones.

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Thankful for Life and Death #ThankfulThursday

Be Thankful For Life and Death#thankfulthursdayAs today is the last day of August, most people look forward to September to start them off with fall’s with its crisp, cool air, leaving turning and falling, school starting and the start of everything pumpkin. For me, September is a time of mourning those that I have lost this month. These people are ones that have had a huge impact in my life and I take the time to mourn them every September.

It has been 16 years since I lost my first person in September. I will never forget 9/11, where is was, what I was doing and what I was supposed to be doing but instead I was glued to TV watching the horror unfold and awaiting to hear that people who I cared about or know where safe. Then I found out 3 days later that a close friend of mine, a firefighter in the FDNY, had been trapped in one of the towers when it collapsed and they never were able to recover his whole body, just parts. His mother was devastated and so was I because I never thought that I would lose a friend in a horrible way like this. He is someone who had been through some of the worst times of my teen years with me and his death changed a part of me that may never be fixed because I still see myself push people away when they get to close in fear of losing them as well.

The next person I lost has been the hardest death I have ever experienced because it was my little brother. Another situation that I remember that day like it was yesterday when it was 9 years ago. Being the oldest of my siblings, I had to be the one to keep it together for my family when I was mentally losing it. The little brother that I used to torture as a child, was gone and I could never say I am sorry for not being a better big sister. His death is the one that I learned what drugs could do to a person and their family. When people make a joke of drugs and what they use or have used, I explain that my brother didn’t think they would take his life until one tragic day they did. This is the death that has affected who I am today the most because it has taught me to love those in your life and be thankful for everyday you get to spend with them because you never know if it could be your last.

I went from losing one person to drug addiction to losing an on again/off again boyfriend to his addiction to alcohol. After seeing the horror that my family went through with losing my brother, I thought that I could save my ex boyfriend from his alcoholism. It took me nearly 2 years to realize that he had a problem because we all drank alcohol. In the beginning, we had a blast drinking and having fun until I realized he didn’t know how to be sober unless he was at work. There were so many signs that I ignored because I loved this boy (he was not yet a man) and didn’t realize alcohol was his problem in life. As time progressed and he couldn’t live without a drop of alcohol in his house to the point where he would drink cooking sherry just for a buzz then it started to hit me. Add that to the mental, emotional and (at times) physical abuse I endured, I began to see his problem but the rest of this friends and family wouldn’t see the problem until it was to late. I still remember the last thing I said to him was to never talk to me again. Well my wish/nightmare came true because exactly a week later he died driving off the side of cliff on his Sunday alcohol run on his motorcycle. His death taught me not to say things you will later regret because you may never be able to say your sorry.

The last person that died was at the same time as my ex boyfriend but I was never able to meet her… my daughter’s heart stopped beating before she was ever able to be born and meet me. I was 16 weeks pregnant and just found out it was a girl when the Ultrasound tech all of a sudden stopped talking, went to get the doctor, who came back in the room to tell me that her heart had stopped beating a few days before the scan. I had to carry her around inside of me for another 2 weeks, attend my ex boyfriend’s funeral, and wait for my body to miscarry her. My body decided that on the anniversary of my brother’s death that it was time for her to leave my body. I went through a depression like no other after this and it took time and therapy for me to feel like me again. After her death, I never thought that I would have another baby but I am so grateful that I am expecting Baby Evelynne in just 18 weeks or sooner.

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In reality, I never became me again because these deaths all changed who I was in different ways. I have learned how to get past some of my fears or recognize when I am escaping back into my fears when getting close to other people. I have tried to use my experiences of loving someone (family and significant other) to teach others that if they love someone with an addiction, they need to want to fix themselves we cannot fix them. On the flip side, I have also tried to scare addicts or “recreational” drug users that they are not invisible and can die from what they are doing whether it is just once or millionth time.

For years, September became a month that I would push everyone away just to deal with myself and my feelings because I didn’t want people to see me be week but as the years have gone on, these deaths have made me more grateful for the life I have to live everyday and to not take the people I love for granted, though I am only human and have my moments. I still mourn in September but this is the month that I try my hardest to find the things that I am grateful for because each and every day is a blessing to cherish. Please hug and love your loved ones today and everyday!