Thursday, September 26, 2013

Planting My Heels

When I said things were better this time around, it was true. When I said it was all love and sunshine and flowers, that was mostly true as well. When I said I would be fine, I really believed it was true.

But it's not true right now, so I may not be around as much in the coming weeks.

Some days I'm all right and others I feel like a slow sinking ship. My moods are unpredictable, as are my reactions. Some days I can calm the tantrums and put the day back on track, some days every little whine makes me furious and I resort to time outs. I snap. I yell. Some nights I can walk around singing lullabies for an hour, some nights the crying sets my teeth on edge and I have to walk away. I withdraw. I cry.

I can feel the hopelessness - those familiar feelings of entrapment and despair - clawing at me, trying to get back in. I can feel my toes off the edge of that cliff, and I know how easy it would be to just look down and fall. But I'm doing my best to dig my heels in, and tethering myself to people who can help me stay standing.

Because I'm not going to fall down there again.

And that's why I'm writing this, even though I don't want to. Even though I'm still ashamed and scared of the judgement. Even though I don't want to face all the people who will ask me, slowly, if I am okay, then flinch before I answer. Even though I want to hide it and pretend it's not there like I did before. It's not a secret worth keeping. I know that for a fact.

I think I'll still be writing in the coming weeks, but I'm not entirely sure. I'm playing it by ear, making sure I'm taken care of before anything else. Writing online takes a great deal of discipline for me. I have to be vigilant in making sure my time is not wasted, or the internet can quickly become a huge source of unhappiness for me.

So you'll have to bear with me if it's quiet for a while. My screen time is going to be drastically limited, and e-mails may go unanswered for a while. But I will be back. And things will be better. I'm making sure of it. xoxo

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Young and In Love: Q+A with Kristel Acevedo

I'd like to introduce you all to Kristel Acevedo. She's a mama of two who loves eating, watching movies, and sharing pictures of her life on Instagram. She also writes a lovely blog where she chronicles her thoughts on parenting and life, and shares some adorable pictures of her kiddos.

She and her husband met in high school but didn't pay each other much notice and went their separate ways after graduation. Then one day they reunited at church and friendship turned to love and they were married by 22. Now they have two beautiful children (seriously, they are so stinkin cute!) and after a few big moves they've settled back down in Miami, Florida.

Here's a bit of Kristel's story in her words:




1.       Tell us about your journey to motherhood. How old were you when you had your first child?  

I was 25 when I became pregnant with our first and 26 when I gave birth. We planned this baby and were so excited that we got pregnant so easily. After he was born I went through a roller coaster of emotions and wasn’t sure I could handle this motherhood thing. I doubted we would ever have a second child but when Liam was only ten months old we were blessed with a surprise pregnancy. I have to say that transitioning to two children hasn’t been bad at all and I love being a mom to two beautiful kids, even if they’re only a year and a half part and I didn’t plan for it to happen this way.


2.      How did your family and friends react to the news of your pregnancies? 

When we told our families (on Christmas day!) that we were pregnant with our first everyone was shocked but so happy. I don’t think they were expecting it, but we had nothing but positive reactions and tears of joy. When we announced our second we were met with shock again and a lot of, “Ooookay, but you’re not having any more after this, right?!” Haha. I don’t think anyone was expecting us to get pregnant again before our son was even a year old. But everyone has been very supportive and we’re blessed to have such a great family.


3.      Tell us a little about your love story. How have you and your husband evolved over the course of your relationship? 

When Alex and I first met we were only 15 years old and belonged to completely different worlds. I don’t remember saying two words to him in the years we were in high school together. After graduation we went on with our lives and I never even thought of him. At 20 years old he showed up at my church one day and we became instant friends. It didn’t take long for the attraction to grow, and before we knew it we were married at the age of 22. In a way, I feel like we have grown up together. We were so young and naive when we first got together. Neither one of us had ever lived on our own or anything before. Together we learned how to run a household, pay bills, cook dinner, go grocery shopping, etc. Then we embarked on the world of parenthood, and we’ve been figuring out how to take care of these kids together.

We’re no longer the young and carefree teenagers we were when we first met. And at this stage in our life we don’t have the same amount of adventure and spontaneity in our life. We’re in a season where we’re changing diapers, managing nap schedules, and putting the kids ahead of ourselves. Honestly it was a tough transition but we’re getting the hang of it now and love seeing each other in our parental roles. I love that we’re still best friends through it all.


4.      What’s the balance like between work and motherhood right now? 

I have been a stay-at-home mom since my son was born so thankfully I haven’t had to figure out how to balance work and motherhood but I am starting to think about going back to work. I am hoping that by the time my daughter is one or two years old I will be able to find a job I love and then I’ll be asking every working mother I know how they manage to handle it all!


5.      What has been the most challenging part of parenthood so far? 

I’m an introvert. The hardest part about being an introvert and married with two little ones is rarely finding that alone time that is so needed to recharge. Being that I’m a stay-at-home mom, and we currently live with my grandmother which makes it all the more difficult to find that “me” time. I have to be really intentional about scheduling that in, because I can become a really ugly person when I don’t. It’s been challenging getting a good balance into my life but I’m learning.


6.      How has motherhood changed you? 

I think I’m a lot more sentimental. I’ve never been the type of girl who cries during movies, but now I will cry even during commercials if there’s a mother-child theme involved. It’s crazy how much I love my kids and would do anything for them.


7.      What are your aspirations right now? How have they changed since becoming a mother?

 My number one aspiration is to be a great mom and wife. I’m still figuring out the rest. I have a blog that I love to write in and would love to see that grow. I think I would also like to find more writing opportunities outside of the blog. I have a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling and haven’t been able to use it...so maybe there’s counseling in my future. I used to have a lot more “professional” goals but since becoming a mom I’ve put that all on the back burner so I can focus on my kids while they’re still babies.


8.      What do you most love about your life right now? 

That I’m surrounded by so much love and support. My husband adores me, my kids are obsessed with me, my family is always here to help, my friends are like family. Every day I’m honestly so thankful for this life of mine, even if it can be stressful and crazy at times!
 
 
 
 Check out Kristel's blog, Glowing Light (complete with it's own brand new Facebook Page) and follow her on Twitter @KristelAce.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday's Menus "Make It Work" (Week 11)

I am generally really good at budgeting. I've got my system down, I know how to plan menus around our monthly budget, and all is usually well. But some months start out with vacation and the unplanned and unnecessary trip to Trader Joe's (during which I am helpless to the lure of cheap wine and cheese and frozen treats) and end with a lackluster paycheck. Then it's time for some damage control. Which is where we're at right now.

So this week, there was no grocery store trip. We got milk for Lucas and that was the end of it. Rob's parents brought us some cabbage, onions, peppers, tomatoes, a couple whole chickens and eggs which is supplementing us until the end of the month. And we're on a bare bones menu this week, only using what we've got on hand, no last minute trips to the store for missing ingredients.

I'm just imagining Tim Gunn standing in the kitchen next to me saying, "Make it work." Which is a surprisingly effective method for me. And honestly, it's kind of a fun challenge having to make do with what I've got. I had a lot more in my pantry than I thought!


Week 11 Menu

Monday
Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday
Hot Chicken Sandwiches with Cranberry Almond Coleslaw 
 
Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Young and In Love: Q+A with Jessica Locke

I'd like to introduce you to Jessica Locke. She's a 27-year-old mama of 3, soon to be 4, all under the age of 6. If that wasn't enough to make her wonder woman, she is also super organized, well-budgeted and is about to release an e-book on hospitality. And did I mention she homeschools and coaches soccer? And writes a lovely, creative blog?

I'm exhausted just writing about her. 

Here's a bit of Jessica's story in her words:



1.      Tell us about your journey to motherhood. How old were you when you had your first child?

I was pregnant with my first baby on my 21st birthday. I celebrated by going out to Chili’s and ordering a chocolate shake (that’s normal, right?). A couple months later, our beautiful daughter was born.


2.      How did your family and friends react to the news of your pregnancies? Were reactions different each time?

In general, our friends and family were always very excited to hear about each of our pregnancies. My parents were always certain to throw in a “so you’re done now, right?” comment after the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th babies, but still, I think they were always excited for us. At this point I’m pregnant with #4, and usually people just look at me like I’m crazy (or they just go ahead and say it out loud). Whatever...I guess with (almost) 4 kids under age 6, I do qualify as at least a little crazy.   

3.      Did you and your husband always know you wanted a big family?

Four has always been our magic number. My husband grew up in a family of 4 boys and loved it, and I grew up in a family of 2 girls and always wanted more siblings. Four just seemed perfect for us. 

4.      Tell us a little about your love story. How have you and your husband evolved over the course of your relationship?

Oh man! That’s a loaded question! We are definitely not the same people we were when we said “I do” 8 ½ years ago. I was just a baby when we got married. I was 18 and he was 23.  Our relationship (and our personalities) has changed over time, especially as children were added into the mix and jobs changed. My husband’s previous jobs allowed for a very flexible schedule along with lots and lots of family time. He often took the kids to work with him while I worked part time, and in general, we updated each other and talked about life together throughout the day. We felt really “close” all the time. 

As he transitioned a year ago to a more typical 8-5 job, we had to adjust to a new family life and a new way of connecting in our marriage relationship. We have learned to be more intentional about our times together, because if we’re not, we’ll miss it all together.  Bedtime for the kids is decently strict, and once the kids are in bed, we sit together and watch a show or talk together until bed.

Right now I am putting a priority on making sure our children see us interacting in a healthy way. We want them to see us hugging and kissing, hear us asking and listening about each others’ days, watch us disagree and discuss and compromise with each other, hear us encourage each other, and witness us doing things for the sake of the other. We want our marriage relationship to be one in which our children can look to as an example of what they should expect and strive for when they are grown and enter into relationships. Of course, there are still conversations and such that are not for their ears, but I think making it a priority to display these healthy aspects of our relationship is not only good for them, but a challenge for me to make sure I’m actually doing all of those things I so highly value! 

5.      How has motherhood changed you?

I think one of the biggest changes for me is actually in how I view and respond to other moms. Before you are a mom, you just don’t understand all of the complexities of raising children (heck, I still don’t think I understand it all). Experiencing first hand the difficulties of raising children has given me a tremendous amount of respect and grace for other moms as they navigate through the same challenges. I have become much more accepting of how other moms “do things”, even if it’s not how I would do it myself. 

6.      You have a book coming out soon! Can you tell us a little about that?

I do, and I’m so excited about it! I am writing an eBook on hospitality. Mostly, I am hoping to provide a practical resource to help other women feel confident and equipped to host guests in their own homes. I LOVE having people in my home (we have guests multiple times every week). As I’ve talked with other women, I have found that many would like to have people in their home, but they just feel like they don’t know how, can’t afford it, don’t know what to do, or generally just feel overwhelmed at the whole process. I’m hoping to address those frustrations/fears and provide ways to make it a fun and enjoyable process instead.   

7.      You are a super organized and well budgeted mama. Any top tips on keeping a home running smoothly?

Don’t ever sleep. Just kidding. I like to use lists and calendars. I use lists for things like “to do’s”, budgeting ideas, home school plans/ideas, blog stuff, etc. I keep a notebook and pen out all the time so that when I remember something I need to do, I can jot it down for another time. I also find that having boundaries for certain tasks is important.  I don’t do chores at nap-time unless totally necessary. The reason? I need a break, too! When I’m rested, I’m more cheerful and can interact with the children and take care of chores much more positively. Taking care of yourself is a huge help in keeping a home running smoothly. And lastly, I choose to be okay with a not-so-perfect home.I have a couple areas of the home that I find important for my sanity to keep clean all the time. There are other days when I choose to let some other areas of the home go in order to preserve my sanity. Realizing that I can’t do it all and choosing to be okay with that helps a ton.

8.      What do you love most about your life right now?

Right now I really love that I am able to stay at home with our kids and homeschool them. The fact that I was financially able to leave my teaching job and be totally available to our children in this season of life is a huge blessing. I love that my husband is incredibly supportive and works so hard to make it a reality for our family. Overall, I truly believe that I am in one of the best seasons of my adult life so far. I have a happy, healthy family, and a super hot husband. What more could a girl want?


Check out Jessica's blog, Mothering with Creativity and also the website for her upcoming e-book Simplified Hospitality

If you're interested in submitting to our "Young and In Love" series, contact me for more information.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday's Menus (Week 10)


Oh, Chicken Tikka. I'm a comin' for ya.

I'm still in dairy heaven since Rob has been able to eat dairy again and couldn't be happier about it. I'm bringing up old recipes we haven't bee able to eat in years, and finally eating pasta recipes the way they were meant to be eaten (with cheese, lots of cheese). No more adjusting for margarine (yuck) or lactaid milk in place of buttermilk or heavy cream (NOT the same).


I can't wait to finally try these shrimp enchiladas with the creamy poblano sauce. We've made them a couple times, but always had to use an alternative sauce. Also, yay for Chicken Tikka! It's one of my all time favorite recipes and with a side of homemade naan it can't be beat.


Happy planning, all!

 
Week 10 Menu

Monday
Tuesday
Chicken Saltimbocca with Spinach and Potatoes

Wednesday

Thursday
Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Friday, September 13, 2013

Young and In Love: Q+A with Kristen Baker

I would like to introduce you all to Kristen Baker. She's a hairstylist, yogi, super-mom in the making, and just the nicest person you'll ever meet. I have the pleasure of knowing her and her husband Nick personally, and they are some of the most wonderful people to be around. They're the kind of people whose love you can feel when you're around them. It's awesome.

Kristen and Nick met way back in high school and have had many ups and downs throughout their relationship. From fighting through Nick's battle with cancer, to Kristen launching her own business, and the ultimate game changer of bringing a baby into the world - they have always met their challenges with love at the forefront.

Here's a bit of Kristen's story in her words:
       
               


  1. Tell us about your journey to motherhood. How old were you when you had your first child?
I became a mother at age 26 but was always one deep in my heart. My mother was a stay at home mom, and I always knew that I wanted to have children and be a homemaker. 
  1. How did your family and friends react to the news of your pregnancy?
My family and friends were all quite excited that Nick and I were pregnant. Our immediate families especially, because not only is Eloise the first grandchild on both sides, but because Nick and I had anticipated it being much harder to get pregnant. Nick was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 21 and had to have surgery and radiation therapy. We had been told by a reproductive specialist that we might have a hard time conceiving naturally. 

     3.      Tell us a little about your love story. How have you and Nick evolved since becoming parents? 

Nick and I have grown together as a couple for 9 years, and we are certainly very different people now than we were when we first met in high school. We have overcome many different challenges together including Nick's cancer, planning a wedding (it's harder than you think), Nick's school, me building my business, emotional and financial ups and downs, and your regular stupid little fights about absolutely nothing important. 

I think the biggest change for Nick and I as a couple definitely came right after I got pregnant. I have a pretty misunderstood psychological anxiety condition that took over during my pregnancy, and it instantly shifted our usual rolls, and put a lot of pressure on Nick. It also forced me to deal with something I've had lingering all my life and gave poor Nicholas a major lesson in patience. It made him understand me on a much deeper level, and it made me fall even more in love with him as my soul mate, partner, lover and best friend. 

Since Eloise was born we've definitely had our 3 a.m. delirious sleep fights, but communication is key and love seals the deal. She's made our family even more of a family. 
  1. What’s the balance like between work and motherhood right now?
Eloise to me is the most important thing, so work definitely takes a backseat to her needs. It's been a slow transition for me though because I had to start thinking that way even when I was pregnant. Going back to work after she was born was something that I didn't really plan on doing but needed to happen financially. I am very lucky that I am an independent hairdresser and can make my own schedule...and that my clients put up with me changing my hours and days all the time. 
  1. What has been the most challenging part of parenthood so far?
There have definitely been a few challenges for me since becoming a parent. For me the concept of vulnerability is new and challenging. I am a very particular person, and I am learning to give up control over things slowly but surely. When I say "things," I mean everything. Loving someone with so much of your being makes you feel very out of control and vulnerable. It requires a lot of trust and faith. This is still a learning process for me and will be for a long time. 
  1. How has motherhood changed you?
Motherhood has changed me in so many different ways. Aside from my overall focus completely shifting I feel like I have become more compassionate and caring. It's funny that I say that though, because in my business I have become less patient and more strict, which used to be the exact opposite. 

I suppose I know now how I'd like to spend my time and who it'd like to spend it with, and I'm happy that I don't have to pretend to want to be a successful business women anymore. Being pregnant made me have to learn to say no sometimes and that's okay. I have a big heart and I feel like I know now who I'd like to give that heart to. 
  1. What are your aspirations right now? How have they changed since becoming a mother?
I've always wanted to be a mother and have a family. I think my biggest aspiration is to become super mom and be in charge of running the house. This, for me, will mean overcoming a lot of my anxieties so that my family can have the best mommy they can have. I want to be the mom that makes the laundry smell perfect and has dinner on the table for papa and has time to crochet blankets. Can't wait! 
  1. What do you most love about your life right now?
I love how in love I am. I love seeing the little bits of Nick in Eloise. Our love has created the most beautiful little...our little. I am truly blessed!


If you'd like to be a part of the Young and In Love series, contact me for more information.
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