Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Become a Morning Person

I'll be the first to admit I am not a morning person. In high school and college, I was officially checked out until after I had showered, done my hair and makeup, and [in college] has at least one cup of coffee. I was addicted to the snooze button (tried giving it up for Lent once... I slept through class probably five times) and I was notoriously late for anything starting before 9:00 AM. However, as many of you have also experienced, working a real job and/or having kids forces you out of that.

Therefore, I had to learn to deal. I have what seems like a billion tips for becoming a morning person on my Pinterest board, but I hadn't tried many of the tips myself or they didn't fit where I am in my life right now. I'm a lucky SAHM and Celine usually sleeps until 8 (give or take an hour), but recently Joel and I have had to share a car, meaning if I need it, I need to get up early and drop him off, which also means we're waking C up and packing her with us. I guess it's good practice though before the new baby comes (five weeks!!).

So here are my tried-and-true ways to force myself out of the bed in the morning:
  1. If you're going to use an alarm, do it right. - Don't hit the snooze button. Apparently studies show that by the time your body relaxes enough to fall asleep again, the alarm will go off. Because your body intuitively knows this, you won't get another restful 7-9 minutes and instead be groggier than the first time it went off. Pick a song, tune, radio station, or whatever that won't drive you crazy after two days and when it goes off, GET UP.
  2. Get fresh. - Wash your face, your hair, brush your teeth, take a shower, wipe yourself down with a wet wipe, whatever. A splash of cold water sends a shock to liven up your skin and sends a message to your brain that says, "You're not in bed anymore, get with the program." Citrus-y smelling things and face washes work wonders in the morning, especially before the sun comes up. You can do it!
  3. Start with food. -

    Michael Scott had it right. Knowing there's a hot breakfast waiting for me is pretty good motivation for me to leave the comfort of my bed. Instant oatmeal takes, what, a minute? Toast a Poptart or Toaster Strudel (no judgement on your level of adult this early), eat regular toast, make a breakfast sandwich or burrito, etc. Easiest thing ever: before you go to bed the night before, program your coffeepot to automatically brew coffee when your alarm goes off. Whoever invented this feature: I love you.
  4. Let some light in. - We're stingy with our electric bill around here, so instead of turning on the lights in the house, we like to start with opening the blinds and letting the sun do the work for us. While I don't stick to my dad's mantra ("The sun's up so you should be too!"), there's something to letting nature do the job of waking up your body. Down side: if it's raining, overcast, or just downright gloomy, replace this step with playing Jack Johnson or something. I don't know, I'm trying here.
  5. Avoid the electronics. - As tempting as it is to check Facebook/email/Twitter/Instagram or Clash of Klans (*cough cough* JOEL) while you're waiting for your tart/strudel/toast to pop, don't. Give your eyes a change to adjust to natural light (if you have some at this hour) and real life before you get sucked into who needs you, who's doing what online, how many comments or likes you have, etc. You're awake, and sometimes that's enough to deal with on it's own for a bit.
  6. Do something. - Read a devotional, walk outside to get the paper, change out of pajamas, or if you're really ambitious, get a workout in (ha!). You'll already be starting the day with something accomplished that you can cross off of your list. Go you!
I hope you all have an amazing week. Happy Monday everyone!

Mug available at

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

That time I had to discipline my one-year-old

Let me tell you, I did not think this day would come this soon.

In Celine's defense, she was short of sleep and getting hungry. Girlfriend did not want to get her diaper changed, and would much rather have been playing with her toys or exploring something around the house she probably shouldn't get into. I also needed to change her out of her pajamas (it was noon, come on kid), and if you know Celine at all, you know that changing her clothes is pretty much the bane of her existence. So, there's the back story.

I laid Celine down on the changing table, and she immediately realized what was going on and would NOT have it. She twisted and turned and whined and kicked, which isn't out of the ordinary if she's not distracted. She's stubborn and full of energy, which was apparent even when she was in the womb. After a close call with a tiny hand on the dirty diaper tab just before I whisked it away, I thought we were in the clear. Clean shirt on, pants halfway on, and I stood her up to pull up her pants the rest of the way. Sassy pants over here pulled my glasses off of my face. I reacted with a knee-jerk "Hey!" and before I could get them on, she looked me in the eye and smacked my face.

NOT how I was feeling in said moment.

What the what?? You're a baby (pretty much)! Since when do you hit people when you're mad?! I was surprised more than anything else, but quickly and firmly held her hand against her waist, furrowed my brow and gave her a tough "No. We do not hit. That's naughty." I didn't want her to think it was funny and turn it into a game, and she didn't. Instead she angrily bawled, but I kind of expected that (she's a little of a drama queen for her age).

After the fact, I spent a lot of time thinking about the emotional development of a 12-month-old. It is easy to say that children mimic what they see when it comes to violent behavior, but my daughter has never witnessed violence, on TV or in our home life. I firmly believe, especially now, that kids just have emotions, and in the same way when I get VERY mad I dream about smashing something (who doesn't?), kids as young as Celine need an outlet for their emotions. I've seen kids get frustrated and reach for the closest thing to bite or kick, but I know that it isn't necessarily because they wanted to copy violence that was imposed on them through their environment, but sometimes they just have strong feelings that need to come out.

Especially in younger years, children don't have the ability to really process, let alone verbalize their frustrations. This comes as both a challenge and an opportunity to teachers, parents, and anyone who deals with children (or immature adults ha ha): how can I find a positive outlet for you to vent, while still validating your feelings and teaching you to deal with them in an appropriate way? Of course, the answer is going to vary for different ages, personalities, genders, backgrounds, etc. I think the important thing to remember is to be patient.

Jesus was pretty up front about the important connection between being child-like and entrance into the kingdom of heaven (BIG difference from being childish!). We can learn a lot from these little ones, just as they learn so much from us. While we might not always get it right when it comes to teaching them right and wrong or the ways of the world, what matters is that we approach the situation as Jesus would: meeting them where they are with simplicity and LOVE. I doubt that my daughter learned from her actions today enough that she will never hit me again, but I know that if I am patient and discipline her with Christ's mercy in mind and the intention in my heart of leading her to heaven, the Lord take care of it. In the meantime, I'm working as if everything depends on me and praying as if everything depends on him.

To my little Celine: That was very naughty when you hit me today. It made me sad and hurt my feelings. It was hard to be harsh with you in the moment, but please remember that I only want what is best for you. We'll probably have plenty of tough days together, but I love you no matter what and everything Daddy and I do for you comes from our love for you. Let's have a better day tomorrow, sweet pea.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bigger than a bad mood: Coping with Baby Blues

When I was pregnant the first time, I had read about post-partum depression. I was given a list of the warning signs that I might have a higher risk factor and toll-free numbers to call if I felt like I needed help. I logged the papers away with all of the other paperwork I had received in the birthing classes and whatnot to save for if the time came.

A "less severe" (for lack of better terms) for PPD is nicknamed "the baby blues." During and after pregnancy, hormones are raging throughout a woman's body, struggling to get back into some sort of a rhythm. In the meantime, they can go a little crazy.

Little known fact: baby blues can occur during pregnancy, not only after the baby comes. This came as a surprise to me, given I wasn't expecting any "warning signs" until after the arrival of my bundle of joy. However, it can be aggravated by different things during pregnancy, and I was one of the effected.

I had never experienced anything like depression before (closest I came was PMS, which was nothing compared to this). It felt like a dark cloud is hanging over you and it will never leave. I was told that it felt like "a deep loneliness, sadness, and boredness that goes as deep into you as you can feel." That description was spot on. I remember wanting to sit on my couch and cry. It felt like even when I tried to be around people that I loved, I had to fake a smile and wait patiently to be alone again. I felt like they could see right through my forced grin and see no light behind my eyes. It seemed like no one got it, even though they meant well with their wishes to pull myself up by my bootstraps and "buck up!" I had never felt so alone. 

I was blessed to have an amazing support system who did their best to keep me distracted and in good spirits, although I only felt apathetic at best. It is different for everyone, but for me it was a few boughts that lasted a week or two at a time. I knew this meant again that I had a higher risk of developing PPD, but I didn't after Celine was born. I began seeing a counselor, whom I still see regularly to this day. She has helped me tremendously to validate what I'm feeling, call it what it is, and move forward. I know now that it is bigger than a bad mood: it is a real, clinical, and treatable condition that more than 3 million women experience every year.

I was hoping to avoid the experience this time around, but God had other plans for me. It came on slowly, but when it came I knew it right away. I had forgotten how deep it went and how hopeless I felt. I'm finally over bought #2 this pregnancy, and to help if/when it happens again, I'm writing the following points to remember (per the suggestion of my chosen professional):
  1. You are not alone. - This happens to millions of women around the world every year. You are not the first to experience this, nor the last. There is always someone else who has also experienced this. Isolating yourself will only make it worse.
  2. Call it like it is. - I spent way too many hours repeating "I don't know why I feel like this, I can't do this anymore, I just want it to go away, I want to run away." You do know why you're feeling this way: your body is doing crazy shit right now and it's affecting more than your growing belly. Ride the wave instead of beating up on yourself for feeling so crappy. It's not your fault!!
  3. Talk to someone--anyone--but preferably a professional. - They're professionals for a reason. They're trained on how to deal with a bazillion problems, and they've definitely seen this before. Find someone you trust and put your thoughts and feelings into words. Write a poem/song/journal, talk to a dear friend, whatever... don't bottle it up. As soon as you shed light on what's going on in your head you can start to cope in a healthy and safe way.
  4. Get off the couch. - As much as it sucks to hear, depression (or the blues) only worsen if you sit on your ass all day. Forcing yourself to walk down the driveway, around the block, or to do a load of laundry sounds like the worst thing in the world (and frankly makes you want to stay in your spot even more), but you need this. Break the cycle, find some creative or productive outlet, and try to distract yourself.
  5. It always gets better. - This may feel like it, but it is not the end of the world. You are stronger than this. You have people who love you and people who are depending on you, especially the little one your body is working on. Trust your support system and know that this will not last forever.
  6. Pray, pray, pray. - You may not be able to escape to the desert like Christ did and we have no idea if the Blessed Mother experienced this, but pray, pray, pray without ceasing.
Note: This is not an expansive, all-inclusive, one-size-fits-all list of what a mother struggling with PPD or the baby blues may be going through. This applies to me in my experiences, but it is different for every mother and even each pregnancy. If you or someone you know is carrying this cross, be sure to seek help from the right sources.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Celine Evelyn: The Toddler

My dearest Celine-y,

How has this year gone by so fast?! It seems like just yesterday I was fighting the Benadryl and painkillers to stay awake and alert enough to hold you and stare at your little swollen face just hours after my surgery to get you here. I cannot believe how much you have changed and I can't wait to see you become more truly and beautifully yourself.

You are a sassafras, a drama queen, and you love being the center of attention when you're doing your tricks ("so big," peekaboo (one handed), waving, clapping, blowing kisses, snuggling, taking your pacifier out on command, and some other ones I can't think of. 

You are thisclose to standing on your own, and when you get distracted enough you let go of the couch/coffee table/us and play with both hands. You are getting so much braver every day! You love to explore, and it seems like we are constantly chasing you around the house and making sure you aren't eating things off of the floor (thanks for the accountability to keep it cleaner), grabbing power cords, or pulling things out of cupboards.

You love to be around people and you are more than eager to smile and wave at pretty much anyone who makes eye contact with you. I wish I could still be that brave and carefree in public. Your bright eyes and big smile (sporting still just the two bottom teeth) light up a room.

Celine Evelyn, you are the light of our lives. I know you'll probably be snuggling with us much less as you get more energy and more of your feisty personality shows, but know that our arms are always, always open. Things will change a lot next month when your sister is born, but don't forget that our love for you always grows. I can't wait to experience the toddler years with you, little girl. We love you oh so very much!

Love love love,

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, August 17, 2015

How to decorate a kid's birthday party on a budget

Fun fact: this is the first panoramic picture I've taken on my phone and I'm not 100% sure I did it right...?
We celebrated Celine turning 1 this week (hooray!) with a joint birthday party for her and my 5-year-old niece. We hosted in our new house, which was sweet. As it turns out, it is the first party we have EVER hosted, so I feel like that's a right of passage into adulthood/parenting/home-ownership in itself. So, horray for us!

As most of you who have purchased a home can related, we're not necessarily flushed with cash our first two weeks in. Therefore, much of the prep had to be done in advance and all of it had to be done on the cheap. I chose a pink lemonade theme (at least 4 months ago, to be totally honest), and before we got serious about buying a house I had lots of time on my hands to make party decor like this:

I apologise for the poor lighting, I blame my iPhone and the gloomy weather.

We do have a smaller space, so making it feel decorated didn't take as much as it would for a larger entertaining area. These pictures were taken before the balloons were blown up, which of course made everything look a lot more festive.

Supplies I needed:
  • balloons (12 pack  for $1 at Walmart; I used 2 packs of pink and one of yellow)
  • streamers (1 roll for $1 at Walmart; I bought 2 pink and 2 yellow but didn't even go through one roll of each)
  • tons of construction paper in chosen colors ($5 ish?)
  • yarn (found in old craft stuff, I picked white)
  • string ($1 at Goodwill for a huge roll of white)
  • hole punch
  • Scotch tape
  • scissors
Most of the project is pretty self-explanatory, although I'd be happy to post tutorials on anything that you fine folks would like more details on. The lemon cutouts I freehanded, the hanging circle garland I traced (cups), and the streamers (and non-pictured balloons) I plastered everywhere and anywhere I could.

I used one of a 3-pack of white tablecloths ($2.50 at Walmart), a $2 pack of pink and white striped napkins, a $1 10-pack of yellow paper cups (with a marker handy for name marking), and disposable cutlery we had found during our unpacking. I had found a big box of mason jars at Goodwill for $6, but I only managed to sneak in one for actual party decor, which I spray-painted white (had paint around) and filled with dollar store plastic flowers in the appropriate colors (obviously $1).

This brings the grand total for the party supplies that I actually had to go out and buy to around $27... not to shabby for my first kids' birthday party. I know that she probably won't remember it, but it was a blast having the company over and feeling festive nonetheless. Everyone likes to feel special on their birthday, and just because she won't remember it later doesn't mean I won't do my darndest to fill her love tank.

The party was exhausting (I blame the pregnancy), but oh-so-much fun. I can't wait to be hosting another something soon, and I'll shoot for having some sort of decorating/hosting tutorials and tips to include.

Have a great week all!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Moving week!

Good afternoon all! I am writing this post from the recliner in our new (to us) living room, spruced up with new carpet, new paint, and mostly unpacked boxes and tubs. This is officially our new home base... no more renting for us! Hooray!

The move itself was a little crazy (what else is new), especially given the heat (85+ all week), continued/hurried renovations (only missing finishing touches now, but it looks amazing!), my active/fussy/curious almost-toddler, and my pregnancy being in it's 31st week. Things are finally calming down now, so much so that Joel and I actually got to sit down and have a movie date! Big day for us ;)

Obviously functioning condition

Baby-proofing came after the mad dash to clean the rental house and get all of our crap moved over

Excited to have a functioning toilet night one in the house

Some of the work in the kitchen is still on the to-do list and I have no idea where I want to hang our wall decor, partially because we don't have all of our furniture replaced yet. Nonetheless, we are relieved and happy happy happy to nest in a cozy home of our own with our fingerprints all over it.

Our week will be picking up again soon though... my best friend from college is coming to visit TOMORROW (we have only seen each other once since my graduation, which was my wedding... over a year and a half ago. I am so excited!!), shortly after her stay is the birthday party we're throwing for Celine and my soon-to-be-five niece (hosting here at the new house--eek!), and the next week is jam-packed with birthdays, meetings, and appointments. I'm savoring the time with my feet up while I have it (speaking of... I'm pretty sure baby doll is waking up from her nap...).

I haven't touched my book for this month in at least a week and I still have a mountain of unpacking to do. As soon as things get a little more under control I'll post more pictures of our little abode and we'll be back to the fun posts about... whatever I posted about before. And then some!

Until then!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Vacation week - Summer 2015

Aaaaaand we're back! Technically we weren't even really THAT far away, given our vacation destination was maybe 20-30 minutes from our house... and the fact that I came home to pack/work/rest for two days, but still! It was a joy having the in-laws nearby for a week and we loved having all the quality time with them. Celine ate up all of the extra attention and made sure to spread some loving' around herself (she just learned how to give kisses... and she's still licking everything and everyone. That counts, right?).

NOTE: I did get a fair amount of reading done for my book challenge, and as I mentioned on my Instagram, I already finished my August book before August even began! I loved reading English Ivy by Catherine Palmer and I'm already chipping away at my next book. More updates to come!

Here are a few gems from the week (I didn't take near as many pictures as I had hoped to):

Cuddles with Grandpa

I love this baller expression she had 90% of the time

Mmm... pool water
Cute pond behind the cabin, complete with geese. Talk about all inclusive.
Girlfriend got a big girl carseat!
The best game of dominoes I've played in my life... I had to immortalize this. This never happens.
Joel's parents were so generous to spend a couple of days this past week providing us with manual labor for the rennovation, which was more than appreciated. The house is coming along in full swing and things are coming together now... we are so excited!

Celine's room
Bathroom: drywall is up...
And the tile is down!
The kitchen is a work in progress, obviously
There's nothing quite as motivating as seeing paint on the walls and knowing that I won't be moving again for a while. I'd better get packing and get this show on the road; it's moving week! Please keep the fan in your prayers as we really hunker down this week. Mom & co. have been working hard nonstop on the house, Joel has been at his day job and coming home to work on the house, and Celine and I are wrapping things up (literally) on this end. TWIST! Four out of the four people just mentioned are now battling some serious allergy issues. Is there a patron saint for that?