March 29, 2015

Plans & Such

Hey guys!

Man, ok so, one of my big goals these coming months is to take more time for myself. I REALLY miss writing. I have a very, very good friend (one of the best ones I have!) who writes over at Raising Chaos. She writes an occasional series called Monday Morning Coffee Date and it has really inspired me to just WRITE like I used to. Have a conversation and try to be less calculated about all of this. That was never my forte anyways. So -- I miss writing. I miss getting words to paper, so to speak. I want to write more, and I've taken a step back on some other social media platforms, so I need to get things down somewhere! Let's do it.

We have had a LOT going on in our household lately. Max turned one. Lucas turned three. My husbands job keeps him busy. Lucas started a new pre-school, so there is a lot of running around that goes with that. We also potty-trained Lucas, which is another blog post that will be up soon. Because man -- potty training. BLAH.

One of the things I am excited about is starting tomorrow, I will be doing 21-Day fix and starting fresh with T25 workouts. I started the workouts a couple of weeks ago, but Max & I got derailed with some food poisoning (while my husband was out of town, no less. Isn't that always how it happens?) So I'm starting over, have an awesome Coach who will be pushing me along the way, and a couple other friends who are joining me on the journey. My brother is getting married this fall, and I want to look my best. I have a LONG road ahead of me, with a goal of a 60 pound weight loss. It seems daunting and scary and a little overwhelming, but I'm determined. Has anybody else done either of these before? How was your success? Share your stories (and favorite recipes!) with me in the comments! Either way, I'm looking forward to it. My goal is to post my meals, photos and workouts every week to keep me accountable! Feel free to check in with me. I'm happy to share.

Aside from that, we are still loving it here. We have some great travel plans coming up -- Garmisch, a weekend in Switzerland, Lithuania later in the year -- and I have some catching up to do on trips we've taken the past few months (slacker!). Be on the lookout. We are inching closer and closer to the end of our first year here, which is so hard to believe. I can't believe how fast we have gone, how much we have done but at the same time, how little we have done. We are going to make the most of this next year here!

How are you doing? Looking forward to being around more!

February 4, 2015

Keepin' It Real: The Emotional Turmoil of Being a SAHM

A few weeks ago, I was at the grocery store with the kids when I inadvertently ran into somebody that I kind of knew. We weren't friends, but knew of each other through other groups. She of course looked pristine, put together, HAD PROBABLY SHOWERED. Her kid was dressed and was sitting perfectly quiet in the shopping cart.

Me, on the other hand, looked a little something like this: yoga pants that I'm sure hadn't been washed in a week (or longer.) Hair was messy as hell and barely situated on top of my head. No makeup. Old (probably maternity) shirt that had a hole in it. Ugg boots. I most definitely had not showered any time in the recent past. My kids? Screaming at the top of their lungs and fighting over the steering wheels in the "race car" cart. Did I mention that it was well past noon? The look on her face was somewhere between disgust and pity. Needless to say, we didn't talk long, Or really at all. I think we exchanged pleasantries and moved on. Who could blame her? I was a hot fucking mess.

The sad truth to this is that it wasn't just a bad day. That scenario I described is almost every single day of my life. My kids are shitty sleepers. I'm often up multiple times a night, and typically up for good by 6am. Lucas has been anti-nap for quite a while now, and even on the rare occasion when I can get him to take one, it's NEVER at the same time as Max. My husband's job means lots of travel, which equates to solo parenting for weeks at a time. By the time the kids go to bed (sometimes 10pm after a two hour fight with my oldest) WHO WANTS TO SHOWER WHEN YOU CAN SLEEP? Not this girl.

If you do a search on Pinterest, or google, or wherever, for life as a SAHM, you'll quickly find that most of these blogs or articles are filled with ways to stay busy. How great it is. Or how to make money (for reals). How to apply flawless makeup (FOR REALS). Budgets! Crafts! The usual. But very rarely (I had to dig deep) did I find anything about the emotional turmoil that comes with being at home with small kids. Something HONEST. I mean, there were a few, but typically it was paired with an article about giving yourself a break (which you should), letting go, not worrying (easier said than done) and about how just being present for your kids is the most important thing. Which, is all true, but doesn't solve the problem of finding the time for everything else that needs to be accomplished on the daily, or more importantly, finding time for yourself. There's a trifecta in parenthood -- clean house, happy kids, your sanity -- and it's completely impossible to have all three at once.

But, I'm all about keepin' it real, so let's do just that, shall we? When we made the decision for me to stay at home, Lucas was about 18 months old, and I was about six months pregnant with Max. We knew we would be PCS'ing, and shortly after I left my job we found out we were coming here. Since that decision, it has been a challenge. I won't lie in saying that I would much rather be working. But where we are, this isn't necessarily an option, and that's fine! So we make the best of the situation (and being able to pick up and travel all over Europe at the drop of a hat isn't a bad perk to being here!). But here's the truth -- being here, at home, all day (and often alone) is hard. It's taxing on my emotions. It's exhausting. It's isolating. There is very little escape. Day in and day out, my life is about somebody else. Obviously, this comes with the territory of having kids, and I don't regret that. But I will also admit that it's not always ideal.

My days are often filled with every emotion imaginable. On any given day I feel like a volcano waiting to erupt, with only an egg shell to keep me together. When my husband comes home, or calls at the end of the day and asks me how my day went, I can feel that eggshell start to crack and it takes everything I have to keep it together. My kids, man, are busy. Lucas is a particular challenge, and I spend a good part of the day defending his brother from him. This is an issue that I am not sure how to deal with, and I don't know if it's normal boy toddler behavior, but the maliciousness towards Max is rampant. Dealing with it is exasperating. Max is still up nightly, anywhere between one and three times during the course of an evening. Lucas hates naps, hates bedtime, and fights me on everything. Hour long tantrums in our household are the norm. Our preschool teacher back in NC once referred to Lucas as "the cutest little hurricane you've ever seen." Because that's what he is. A hurricane. Max, I am afraid, is not far behind him. My heart alters between undying love for my children and wanting to run far, far away as fast as is humanly possible. It's a roller coaster of feelings, and let me tell you -- that will wear a person down.

Nobody wants to hear you complain about your kids. This is the stuff that dreams are made of, right? If I do take to the usual platforms to complain or vent, it's often replied to by remedy's. Or personal tales of how their kids don't do those things.

Or just ... crickets.

But here's the truth, and, I know some won't like this -- I don't necessarily want to hear about how GREAT your kids are, either, and how much you love it, what wonderful, stress free days you have. At least not ALL THE TIME. Am I happy for you that it's so easy? Sure. But do I think you're being 100% truthful? No way. So therein lies a massive problem in the SAHM community; we isolate moms who may be having a tough time, and who may be struggling emotionally in the home because we glorify life AS a stay-at-home-mom. Who wants to talk about how you got bitched slapped by your three year old when somebody else is talking about what a wonderful, calm and educational environment you have created at home? I have yet to meet the perfect infant or toddler, yet so many out there pretend that life is, in fact, perfect. So why speak up if we are struggling when we know we will just be met with those glaring eyes at the grocery store when we can't get it together? I don't want your perfection anywhere near me, judging me for not having showered in a week & thinking I am ungrateful for the experience handed to me.

Plain and simple, I don't want your sympathy. I want your empathy. I don't want you to say "I'm sorry you are dealing with that. We don't have that problem." I want you to say "Dude, my kid was an asshole the other day, too. I UNDERSTAND."

It's safe to say that life is not all bad. We have a lot of great moments, snuggle sessions and activities that fill our days. It's easy, however, to let the bad overshadow the good. My worst days are the days that I am here, alone, for long stretches with out any reprieve, and I don't have anybody to help me with the mutiny that is always brewing. That's when my glorious babysitter steps in, or the hourly daycare place I drive 45 minutes to just for a break from have two hellions running around the house. Or my sweet, sweet husband who sends me to the grocery store along (BLISS) on the weekends he is here and on occasion, my mom who can make it over for a weekend or so. I live for bedtime and the silence that comes with it, and I dread the morning when I know it's the beginning of another marathon I'm not always sure I can endure.

So here is my advice to you; hug a stay-at-home-mom. Or just, you know, A MOM IN GENERAL. Especially the ones with multiple littles. Open yourself up. Be honest. Even if your life is perfect, LIE. Try to relate to the struggles that someone may be going through, because sometimes, all we need to do is get it out. Keeping this mess locked up inside us doesn't help anybody, and one day, that egg shell is going to break, exposing the volcano that is a mental & physical breakdown. Parenting is really fucking hard, and by keeping your experience to yourself just for the sake of saving face, you push away those close to you that may need an outlet. Don't be pretentious. Don't be perfect. Just be real.

And for god's sake -- bring her wine.

February 2, 2015

Max: One Year

Dear Max,

It's hard to believe that you are a now a year old. In fact, you have been a year old for just over two weeks now, and I still don't want to accept the fact that you are not my tiny little baby anymore (not that you were ever TINY!)

I don't even know where to begin when talking about all the wonderful and amazing ways you have brought joy to our lives this past year. There is no denying that we have a rough start, and a tough first six months. But through all of it -- RSV, persistent sickness as a result, adjusting to an international move and all the complications and upheaval that came with it -- you remained constantly happy and a true light in our lives. I have never met a happier baby, and even through the tough times, you shined.

You are SO HAPPY. All the time! (Ok, mostly all the time!) Your smile is so big and genuine. You light up at any new person that enters the room, and you truly are a social butterfly (except when you are just waking up, much like your mama. And I do love those snuggles). You are STUBBORN, just like your brother, and boy do you have an opinion already. Heaven forbid we take something away from you that you want to have, or give you something you don't want. You make it very well known what your stance is, and I hope that trait never leaves you. You have the most wonderful laugh, and an even bigger smile. You talk CONSTANTLY, and since you started walking around 10 month, you have not stopped. You are busy, and I think sometimes your feet can't keep up with how fast you want to move (the bumps on your head prove it!)

You are BIG. I mean, a really big baby! Twenty-seven pounds and almost off the charts in every percentile. Which is good for you, because you are finally able to push back when your big brother starts getting a little rough (we are working on it, I promise). You eat just about everything we put in front of you, and man can you put back some food. It constantly amazes me how much you can fit into your tiny little belly. You rarely turn things down, but have definitely started to show favorites towards some foods.

You are a HORRIBLE sleeper. I mean, really really bad. I blame everything that we had going on this past year, and not being able to get you into a good routine when sleep routines were setting in. But it is what it is, and I keep hoping for the day when you decide to sleep through the night, and not wake me up 1-3 times. But we love the late night snuggles, even if it means lack of sleep, because you love them, too. I love the way you cling to my neck, and you give the sweetest hugs & kisses. You love to snuggle, love to sleep with us when you don't want to sleep on your own, and are so happy to be CLOSE to somebody else.

Your words are still limited to Mama & Dada, but you love to wave bye bye, clap your hands, and (Daddy's Favorite) give some sweet high fives. You LOVE it when Daddy chases you around the house trying to catch you, and you love it even more when he carries you on your belly, flying you around as you chase big brother. I'm also pretty sure you are going to be as obsessed with cars as Lucas is, as they are typically your go-to toy of choice, driving them around the floor and giggling the entire time.

Thank you for being such a joy in our life, and the lives of so many others. You are loved by a large group of family and friends, and you have made OUR lives so wonderful & completed our family in the best way possible. We love you, and I cannot wait to see what this next year brings us.

January 29, 2015

The REAL Issue With Leggings Isn't the Leggings.

I wasn't going to comment on this, not here at least, but I kept seeing posts about it, reading the original blog, had a discussion with my husband, and having friends message me about it, so I figured, why not. I mean, I ALWAYS have an opinion, and this is right up my alley. This will probably be the most controversial post you'll ever get from here in this space.

If you've been living in a social media black hole for the past few days (which is possible. I know a shocking number of people who don't have facebook) then you have may have missed the post by Veronica Partridge, a Pastors wife from Oregon. The post, "Why I Chose To No Longer Wear Leggings" has been shared almost 100,000 times across social media platforms. You can find the original post here, and her follow up post here.

If you don't feel like reading, here is the short version of the story: Veronica liked to wear leggings, leggings cause lustful thoughts in men (her husband included), so therefore, no more leggings or yoga pants in public.

Seems pretty ridiculous, right?

I won't touch on the religious aspect of this, because her beliefs are just that -- hers. I don't agree, and I really don't think God has any opinion on leggings or yoga pants or ANY type of clothing for that matter, but we don't exactly have a relationship, and so therefore that's all I will say on the matter. However, what struck me the most, aside from the complete asinine premise of this whole notion, is this particular statement:

I also want to set the best example of how to dress for my daughter. I want her to know, her value is not in the way her body looks or how she dresses, but in the character and personality God has given her.

OK, so does anybody else see how incredibly contradictory that statement is, when compared to the actions that she is deciding to take? Here's the thing -- by telling your daughter that she shouldn't wear something because somebody might look at her and think that she is beautiful, or looks nice because of an outfit choice she decided to make on one particular day, she is telling her daughter that her character is NOT the most important thing, that her looks are the forefront of what every man  thinks, and that her personality will never come first.

What I have been saying to friends & my husband (who, man I love him, agrees with me 100%) is that it is not our responsibility as woman to try and control the thoughts of men. We, as humans, are sexual beings. It's in our nature. Our DNA. We are put here on Earth by whatever force or being you believe in, to do great things. But we also have a NATURAL, sexual drive within us. And it's OK. There is nothing wrong with that. I do not understand this mentality of shutting out this natural THING within us.  When it comes down to it, it's always going to be more than leggings or yoga pants. Men are visual creatures, are they not? I mean, that's a pretty basic fact I'm sure we are all aware of. If a guy wants to sneak a peek as he's walking by, he wouldn't be the first. I'm not going to lie, I rock the HELL out of some yoga pants basically every single day of my life. In fact, I just spent a ridiculous amount of money on a new pair because ohmygosh they are insanely comfortable. I also stay at home, with two small kids, and comfort when rolling around on the ground and chasing them down the hallway is of the utmost importance. Yes -- they get worn out in public, and yes, I know that my husband happens to like my booty in yoga pants. And probably leggings if I ever wore them. But it goes both ways -- does she never leave the house? Never make eye contact with any other individual who isn't a woman? Never watch movies? I bet she would be lying if she said she never saw Channing Tatum without his shirt and thought "daaaaaamn."

But all jokes aside, where do we stop? Should we as women stop wearing low cut shirts? Or even form-fitting shirts in general? What about tight jeans (which you will notice in the original posts, the author has ZERO problems wearing jeans that are basically as tight as the leggings I'm sure she wears. Even though she states in her follow-up it's not the same). Should we stop wearing makeup because it makes us feel pretty? Or stop doing our hair? Or wearing bathing suits? Or dressing, in general, to what we feel makes us look good? There are people out there who find ALL of these things attractive -- so where do we stop? Because you can't pick ONE item, one thing that you think is the only thing that makes you attractive to others, and then decide to not wear it anymore. Well, I mean, you can. But not without examining all other aspects of the conversation.

When we push this line of thinking all the way to the extreme, we very quickly find that this is why countries, religion, men force the women of their culture to wear burqas or hijabs in public. 100% coverage when you could possibly be around other men. So obviously this would stop the sexualization and "lusting," correct? Wrong. Women are still taken advantage of. They are still seen as objects. Rape. Still. Happens.

So how about this. WHAT IF, instead of shaming women (even though that was not her intention) for wearing clothing that makes them feel good, or is comfortable, we have a discussion about what we are teaching men. WHAT IF, we all worked on raising our boys to the best of our ability. Let's TEACH THEM
that it is not our responsibility as women to change our behavior because a man may decide to take advantage of the way we look, or act. It IS our responsibility to teach our children (boys AND girls) to respect others. To treat them kindly. That women (and men) are not objects, but that there is nothing wrong with a little bit of sexuality, either. And that's all I see here in her posts, that instead of teaching children responsibility, we are teaching them to close the door to a natural part of being HUMAN. I can only hope that I raise my two boys to be respectful of the women around them, and I am so grateful that I have a husband who also truly believes that mentality. It's way past time for women to stop apologizing for the things that they wear, for feeling and being attractive, and in general, just being themselves. It's also way past time that we hold men responsible for their own actions. I know our family will do the best we can to raise our boys right.

THIS is the discussion that needs to be happening in our culture right now. Not whether leggings or yoga pants are inappropriate. Because when you raise respectful young men, then having to worry about what you wear doesn't matter.