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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

SpringInspiration

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

ABC's of Gratitude (1)

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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 Nail Appointments

I know that the title of this post sounds superficial but it’s not just about the beauty of my nails. It is more that once every two weeks, I get to feel like a woman. Not a Mom, not a wife… just a woman.

Every other week, I drop the girls off at my moms for a couple hours. My Christina picks me up from my moms, we grab Dunkin’ coffee and head to the nail salon.

While we wait for the salon to open and the women to set up, we enjoy our coffee and talk (what we do best lol). We both get gel manicures so we pick out our colors which I usually have a reason behind my color choice like a holiday or celebration. This week they are green for St. Patty’s Day that just passed.

In that hour of sitting while my nail color gets changed, I feel like a woman. There is no baby to feed, no tween drama, no house to clean. It’s just me in that chair getting my hands pampered.

It might not sound like it’s a big deal but to a work at home mom with an infant to care for, a tween to homeschool, a house to clean and a business to run. Just being a woman for 2 hours every other week is something I need to keep me sane.

With summer coming aka flip flop season, I’ll be adding pedicures to my bi weekly Woman time. I am thankful for the time I have to sit and feel like a woman while I get my nails painted!

What are you thankful for today?

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St. Patrick’s Day Quote Sharpie Mug DIY

Irish Quotesharpie mug

One of my favorite holidays is St. Patty’s Day because there is so much more behind the day besides green beer and dressing in green. This day began as a celebration of Christianity arriving in Ireland with a day of feast. Since the first St. Patty’s Day, this holiday has become one of the most celebrated around the world. It is celebrating the luck of the Irish, the good fortune life has brought into our lives and looking forward to the greatness the future holds for us.

Now, I am not Irish or at least that I know of but my 3 older children are Irish on their father’s side so I have embraced celebrating this holiday for them. I love to make brisket and cabbage with soda bread. I am not a beer drinker but I will do enjoy drinking some Bailey’s Irish Cream in my coffee. Of course, we dress in green and decorate the house in a fun Irish way with shamrocks and rainbows.

I LOVE and collect fun coffee mugs but haven’t found one for my St. Patty’s “special” coffee or one that was affordable (sorry I won’t pay $10-$20 for a cool mug unless its keeping my coffee hot for hours). I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own Irish inspired mug.

Something else I love is quotes which includes Irish Blessings. I have some Irish Blessings that are displayed in my house year round because they have a special meaning that I cherish. These blessings are so beautiful and inspiring that I wanted one on a mug for the special day for my special coffee.

I grabbed my sharpie markers and bought an affordable, white mug from Walmart to do this Sharpie Irish Mug project. A lot of people prefer to use Sharpie oil-based Paint Markers but regular markers will work just as well and less of a mess for kids to make a mug of their own. The difference in the permanent marker and paint marker is you will want hand wash the permanant marker whereas you can put the paint marker mug in the dishwasher,

I chose “May Your Day Be Touched With A Bit of Irish Luck”which started on one end of the mug and wrapped to the other end. Then I added a shamrock, a rainbow and a pot of gold. I wish y green sharpie would have been brighter but it was still cute.

This is the tricky part… for permanent markers set your mug on a cookie sheet in the oven THEN turn the oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven reaches 350 degrees, bake the mug for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, turn the oven off but DO NOT take the mug out of the oven until it is completely cooled so that the mug doesn’t crack from cooling to fast. I usually keep the mug in the oven for at least an hour. For Paint markers, you will want to do the same instructions EXCEPT the oven will be set to 250 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on how thick you applied the paint.

Now its time to wash your mug, enjoy some special coffee and celebrate St. Patty’s Day!

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Our Moving Adventure

Our Moving Adventure

 

Yes, I am still alive and didn’t just disappear into the dark side. No, I didn’t abandon you, my loyal readers, for a blog free life.

In a few past posts, I have talked about the stress of finding a new place to live especially because we have a dog in our family. Renting an apartment or house with a dog is extremely hard because landlords are fearful of the damage they will need to repair when the dog family moves to a new location. Thing is, not every dog family is a bad family or have a bad dog. Thankfully, we found an owner willing to allow our dog child to live with us in an apartment. This was one of MANY hurdles we had to overcome recently with moving. (There will be other future posts about the struggles of being a renter)

Once we were given the keys to the new apartment, the move began. One huge problem was that I didn’t pack fast enough….

In my defense, I had a 7 week old beautiful baby girl who needed my attention and cuddles which took time away from my need to pack our entire 3 bedroom with a packed basement house. I packed when I could between taking care of Evelynne and Danyella, homeschooling, pumping every 3-4 hours, eating and trying to find time to sleep.

Emotionally this was a hard situation to keep pushing myself forward because this became our home. This was where Danyella set up her room and we buried her precious Hannah (her first rabbit). This is the home we took Evelynne home to after she was born. This is the home I thought we were going to buy until the original landlord screwed us over (more on that in a near future post). I began shutting down at times while packing which was my depression kicking into high gear (or low depending on how you look at depression).

Thankfully my family and Doug’s family were great at helping us move. They helped Doug move the big items. My mom and sister helped me pack especially on Saturday when I still had a lot to pack and had to be a dance mom all day for competition dress rehearsal (bad timing but it all worked out). We would have never been able to do this move without their help.

From Thursday until Monday morning we packed and moved nearly everything. It was the most stressful and exhausting 5 days of my life. The stress definitely put a strain on my already delicate marriage. I don’t look forward to doing this again in a year but we now this move is only temporary. Honestly, with this knowledge, I want to leave everything in boxes for the next year to make the next move easier!

Then, it was focusing on setting up everything and the dreaded UNPACKING! NOOOOOooooooo!

Slowly but surely I am going box by box, room by room trying to get everything organized and put away. Downsizing from a 3 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment has been a challenge but one great thing is our walk up, finished attic. This attic will become my business room once I am finished unpacking the downstairs. I finally found my laptop over the weekend so I could get back to blogging. I still can’t find the bag that houses my panties so I am hoping they didn’t end up in storage (never too much TMI on this blog!).

It has been a struggle with packing, moving, unpacking, celebrating Danyella’s 11th birthday, being a stay at home mom to a 8 week old baby, homeschooling and being a dance mom but thankfully our family and friends have been a great support system. Poor “Christina” has listened to me bitch, complain and cry through this entire process and I am sure there will be more to come.

Now that I have complained…. I am thankful for Danyella’s Elite team’s First Place win in their category this past weekend at Beyond the Stars dance competition, ordering all my supplies to start making my soaps and lotions again and that we are out of a house that caused me so much stress and anxiety!

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Congrats to 5678 Dance Elite Mini Team for their 1st place win and showmanship/choreography award AND Congrats to the Petite Team for their Third place win and Girl Group Judges Award!
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I Found Christina to My Meredith

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Have you ever met someone and instantly knew that you were meant to have that person in your life? I don’t mean a romantic partner but your person, your friend that is meant to be in your life. Yes, you will hear all kinds of Grey’s Anatomyreferences in this post because we both love Grey’s. I found the Christina to my Meredith and I am so thankful for her being in my life.

I met my Christina before I actually met her because our daughters go to the same dance studio so we know the same dance moms. I briefly met “Christina” during recitals in June but didn’t really get to know her. I know that Danyella loved getting to know her daughter during our downtime backstage. I know that her daughter was trying out for elite but didn’t think much of it when I heard of the mom at auditions (Danyella was auditioning for the current Elite team during makeups).

Both of our girls made Elite, Danyella made Minis and the “Christina’s” daughter made the newly formed Petite team. From the time of boot camp, “Christina” and I hit it off and talked the entire time we were sitting in the studio. It was like we were the same person with how much we had in common. We parent our children the same way. We talk the same way. Yes, we both say curse words but what can you expect… We are Jersey Girls. We like the same things, especially our tv shows. Even our husbands are very much alike. We just are so much alike it was almost scary.

One weekend we were talking and I was saying how I was getting married on Monday (our last-minute wedding ceremony). In one little conversation, we found out “Christina” knew my step father, future in-laws and…… has known my husband for years! WTH…. I known the world seems small at times but this blew my mind. It was all to funny to me because all of these stories I told her about my boyfriend turned husband, turned out she knew him. I swear that revelation made us even closer friends.

Since we found all of this out, she has become my go to person to talk to about things going on in my life. When I need to vent about things going on in my life, I text “Christina”. When I need a shoulder to cry on because of a horrible message, I text “Christina”. Each time I thought I was going into labor, I text “Christina”. After Evelynne was born, I text “Christina” the photos of my baby girl. When “Christina’s” daughter is acting up, we talk about how our girls are cut out of the same cloth. At 6:30 in the morning, “Christina” checks on me to see how I am doing.

Today, I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without “Christina” or what was my life like before our dance mom lives crossed paths. Our daughters are connected at the hip whenever possible and that is how we have become when we are together. She is the Auntie to Evelynne which Evie knows her voice like she knows mine.

I have had friends come and go in my life but “Christina” is one that will stay in my life. I am so grateful for the friendship we formed over coffee on Saturdays at the dance studio. I am grateful to feel like there is someone in the world that gets me. I am grateful for all the times she has given me a shoulder to cry on. I am grateful for all the laughs that we have had.  I am grateful for her talks that bring me out of my darkness or talks me off the cliff of doing something rash. I am grateful to have found my “Christina”.

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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.