Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Challenge to Live

I've been thinking a lot lately about life and happiness and how the two go hand in hand. 

So many of us want and desire true happiness in our lives but how many of us actually do or put into action the plans to make happiness and contentment happen? Is it laziness? Is it a fear of the unknown? Is it fear of change? Who's to say. I'm sure it varies from person to person and I'm sure its a combination of the three and more.

The more I think about it, why are we so afraid to live our lives? Why are we so afraid to LIVE. Sure - we breathe in and out every day. We get up, go to work or take care of the kids, and go through the motions of a typical day. And while there is a lot to be said for normalcy, why are we so afraid to LIVE; to make our lives the best they can possibly be. To challenge ourselves. To accept nothing less than what we deserve. To go out on a limb and take chances. To laugh and love openly and without boundaries. To do the best we can in all we do everyday. We only get one shot at this life, right? So why are we afraid to LIVE it to the fullest? Its a common cliche "Live life to the fullest" but how many of us really do this? How many of us get out of bed every morning with the intent to make each day count? Every day gone without some kind of passion in your life is one more day wasted. I don't know about you but I don't want to waste my days anymore. I want to LIVE.

Life is indeed good. I have no excuse to not be living it to the best of my ability. I have a beautiful daughter and an amazing partner to share my life with. I have great, supportive family and friends. I am employed and able to provide for my family. I have excellent health. God has truly blessed my life and continues to do so on a daily basis. For me, the answer is clear. True happiness and contentment comes when we are LIVING our lives. Not just going through the motions.

So - here is the challenge I'm extending to each of you and myself. Get out there and LIVE. Do the thing you've always wanted to learn or experience but haven't because you've made every excuse in the world not to. Confront a fear and overcome it. Take on a challenge and win. The human spirit is strong and courageous. More times than not we sell ourselves short of greatness. Be courageous and strong enough to fight for YOU and your will and right to live. Have enough faith in yourself to know that you can do anything and everything you set your mind to. If you aren't willing to fight for yourself, who will?

One day, each of our tickets will come due. How do you want to spend the ride?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Fall Favorites

Summer is coming to a close (Praise God!) and with it comes the start of fall, one of my most favorite seasons next to winter & Christmas. Sorry, fall. You’re pretty great but you’ll never be Christmas. 

To me, fall is just a feel good time of year; from the food, to the activities, to the cooler weather, it just rings home to the heart of thanksgiving and fun. I’m already making my fall favorites lists and thought it would be fun to share them with you all today.

Snuggle up, wrap up, and carry it all in style.

{All pictures via Pinterest}

I love the transition from warm to cool with scarves. They are so versatile and can really add a splash of personality and style to any outfit.

{All pictures via Pinterest}

Mums, corn husks, candles, and everything pumpkin – Yes, please! Here are some pics of some of my decorations from last year...

I also found this doorstep entrance inspiration on Pinterest and can't wait to get crafty:

I can’t wait to indulge in hearty, stick to your ribs meals and soups. I also love all the pumpkin flavored treats and snacks. I highly recommend my crockpot broccoli and cheese soup. It’s perfect for cool nights or lazy Sunday afternoons with the family.


{Pumpkin Everything}
Three words: Pumpkin Spice Latte. 

Need I say more?

{Corn Mazes & Pumpkin Farms}
These are an absolute must for our family every year. Chickie absolutely loves the petting zoo and has a blast playing with the pumpkins and rolling around in the corn box. It’s just good fun, you guys. You can catch up on all the fun we had last year right here.

{Tennessee Football}
All year long the faithful await those 5 magic words every Vol fan longs to hear:


What things are you looking forward to for fall?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our Kids & The Lost Arts

I am a proponent of technology.  In many ways, the continuing advancement of technology makes our lives easier, compact, and self-sufficient.  At the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger on a smart phone, we can basically run and execute our lives from anywhere at anytime.  Modern technology has advanced the health care industry, the automotive industry and even the food industry to the point of making our lives, for the most part, better.  

So why am I left with the overwhelming feeling that this is such a bad thing?
For every good that happens, there is a bad.  A downside.  A 'giving up' of some sorts.  Certain abilities and talents become compromised and when they're not used on a regular basis, those talents and abilities become lost.  Extinct.  This is why the continuing evolution of technology bothers me.  Let me explain...

While technology for the most part has made our lives better, it has also made us weak, lazy, and socially inept.  Families no longer sit together at the dinner table and actually talk to each other.  Nope.  That's all been replaced with texting - to the point that even people who live in the same house, who are home at the same time, will text each other to communicate instead of having quality family time together or communicate face to face.  In some schools, children are no longer required to learn cursive, nor are they required to learn the basics of letter formation.  The modern age's reasoning?  Why bother - a computer will take care of it for you.  Most cashiers I encounter can't even make change unless a computer or calculator is telling them how to do it - we're talking basic math, people.  And we've become so gadget demanding that we no longer appreciate the feeling of an actual book in our hands.  Nope - those ancient things called books have been replaced by Nooks and Kindles.  All of these things and more I've come to dub "The Lost Arts."

I refuse to let my daughter go through life without mastering these lost arts. In so many ways, I consider myself to be progressive in thought, creativity, politics, lifestyle and more.  However in many ways, I'm a traditionalist.  Call me crazy, but there are so many basic things in life we should all know how to do without having to rely on a computer, smart phone, or fancy application.

To you, Madeline, I promise the following:
  • You will know how to speak properly and will know how to carry on good conversations without the help or assistance of a cell phone.  Good ol eye to eye contact and moving your lips will suffice just fine.
  • You will know how to write - you will know how to properly form a letter, a resume, a thank you card, and how to properly address an envelope (You wouldn't believe how many people in this day and age don't know how to do this).
  • You will not read a book from an electronic device.  You will learn to appreciate the feeling of paper to skin, the smell of a book when you open it, and the joy of collecting your favorite authors visibly on a bookshelf.
  • Instead of being stuck in front of a computer, ipod, Nintendo, or ipad all day long, you will actually go outside and play in the world.  Make mud pies.  Enjoy a slip and slide.  Make up plays and act them out with friends.  You know, actually use your mind to be creative and to keep yourself busy and occupied.  This world is big and tough - you will never find your place in it if you're not out in it.
  • You will learn how to write in cursive.
  • You will know how to make change and how to balance your check book.
  • You will know how to read a map and how to use it.  A Garmin won't always get you to where you need to be.
  • You will not get gastric bypass, lypo or botox at the age of 12.  Sorry.  Learn to love the body you've been given.
  • You will put actual pen to paper and write letters. 
  • You will know how to read a ruler and cooking measurements.

All of these abilities and more, the Lost Arts, I want for my daughter.  We should all want to know them for ourselves.  It is possible to live in an age of technology without losing basic and fundamental components of living and socializing.  Technology isn't a bad thing but how good can we be as a society, as individuals, and as a whole if we lose these basic abilities?  Technology will only take us so far.  The rest we have to know how to do and appreciate on our own. 

Just some food for thought on a Wednesday. What are some skills that you want your children to carry with them through their lives?


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Our Nights Look Like

Back in July, I gave you all a peek into what our mornings are like around casa de crazy. If you missed that post, you can catch all the fun here. {One word for our mornings? Busted. That is all}

I thought it would be interesting to do a follow-up post of what our evenings look like. While it’s certainly nothing special, maybe if nothing else it will only go to show that you’re not alone if you feel like your evenings with a toddler are anything less than spectacular at times.

5:00 p.m.    
Quit’n time! I leave the office and head over to Chickie’s day care, which is located on campus. Her building is located right behind mine so it’s literally a 10 second drive to get there which is great, unlike the parking situation currently at the center. They have the playground under construction which takes away a whole side of parking by the building for parents. I swing my Rogue in and find that the coveted parking spot under the tree is open and whip my ride under it pronto {these things matter during summertime in Georgia}. 

As I head inside to pick up Chickie, I’m silently praying that she made it through the day without dropping a deuce in her underwear. Potty training wise, we’re almost there but it can still be hit or miss with this one thing.

5:15 p.m.
Success! No plastic baggies to take home today! I sign Chickie out, collect her artwork and papers, and get a quick recap from her teachers on how things went for the day. Lately, sharing toys with friends has been a challenge so I’m eager to see how it’s going. I’m happy to hear that no one was bitch-slapped today so off to home we go!

5:30 p.m.
And thus begins the witching hour. Usually by this time, Chickie is throwing a fit and having a meltdown over everything; she’s annoyed because she has to take her shoes off in the house. She’s crying because she can’t have Cheerios before dinner. She’s rolling and screaming on the floor because Henry the dog keeps following her around the house. #toddlerproblems

All of this usually results in her being sent to her room for a timeout to which more crying and screaming ensues. I close her bedroom door and walk away. Anxiety level is at a solid 10 by this point. I pour myself a glass of wine and stare off into the pantry. WTF am I fixing for dinner tonight?? #mommyproblems

6:00 p.m.

Dinner is underway. It should be noted that half the time I end up feeling like Susan Lucci where dinner is concerned – I never win. 

“Mama, I want mac and cheese for dinner!”

Mac and cheese it is. Until it isn’t. 

“I don’t want mac and cheese!” it screams as it pushes the plate away. Seriously, kid? 

This could go on forever but lately, I’ve started towing a pretty hard line on dinner. I’m take it back old school and whip out the classic, “Well, that’s what’s being served for dinner. Either eat it or go hungry.” After glaring at me for a while, she finally picks up her fork and starts eating.

I thought you’d see it my way, kiddo.

After Chickie is done with dinner, we make her clean up her dishes by dumping her leftover food in the trash and putting her utensils, plates, and cup in the sink. I must give my little Chickie kudos for this. She is, if anything, a great little helper. 

High fives all around are given.

6:30 – 7:50 p.m.
This time is usually a random mix of things going on. Michael is usually pretty great about cleaning up from dinner {thanks babe!} since I cook and while he’s doing that, mine and Chickie’s activities vary. Some days she’s really great about doing a little independent playtime while other days she can be very needy and wants mommy and daddy for everything. Lately, she’s taken to wanting to play with her blocks in the evenings and is so super cute and sweet about it that for a hot second, I don’t feel the burning need to eat my young. 

I like to try and do a few things around the house during this time, too – laundry, straighten up, get Chickie’s school bag ready for the next day, answer emails, etc. On Wednesday nights, we Skype with my parents so that usually takes up the entire hour or so. Most nights, we just take it as it comes and go with the flow. During the cooler months, we’ll go outside but for now, it’s way too freaking hot even with the sun going down to do that. 

The TV is off during this time which I think helps a lot with getting Chickie decompressed and in a more settled state for bedtime. No movies and no TV are allowed. 

7:50 – 8:15 p.m.
Bath time! 

This is my favorite part of the day with Chickie. We sit beside the tub and talk about nothing while Chickie insists on playing barista with her cups and shovels. Daddy has also been known to get a pretty sweet manicure from time to time.

8:15 – 8:30 p.m.
Pajamas, book, and lights out! 

If only it were that easy. We usually get held up for one or more of the following:

Just one more sip of water
Just one more book
Just one more trip to the potty
I don’t want this stuffed animal in bed, I want this one

Just one more hug {this one gets me every time. I mean, how can you say no to that?!}

After finally getting Chickie settled into bed, it’s lights out and sound machine on. Nine times out of ten she’s really great about going right to sleep. We haven’t experienced her getting out of bed or playing around in her room after lights out so for that, I’m thankful. She will usually stay asleep until about 1:00 a.m. 

8:30 – 10:30 p.m.
This time usually varies as well. If Michael is working on school work, then I’m pretty much left up to my own devices. The norm is surfing the web, paying bills, preparing a blog post, catching up on my DVR shows, etc. There is usually another glass of wine involved as well. 

Some nights, we Michael will watch a movie {because I’m old and end up falling asleep} or we’ll sit and shoot the shit from the day and get caught up in some rather random conversations like where the best place to buy crushed ice is in Statesboro. 

Yes, we actually debate this. Yes, I’m fully aware of how dorky we sound.

11:00 p.m.
If I haven’t fallen asleep by now, then I’m on my way to bed. A quick check to make sure my alarms are set and I’m off to dreamland…

So there’s a rundown of our typical evening. How do you spend your nights?