30 April 2015

Coffee for Two :: April Edition

It’s month two of Coffee for Two and I’m so glad you are joining us today! Stephanie and I received great feedback and participation last month regarding the link up, which is simply icing on the cake as your hosts. Our goal was to start a link up that had the feel of a supportive community where moms and women could come together and really lay out what’s on their hearts and minds in a judge free zone so thanks for being a part of that!

The winner of March’s Starbucks gift card is Sandy from Keepin It Real One Day at a Time. She shared a fabulous post on her weight loss journey and it really resonated with a lot of people. This honest look at how we need to love ourselves as much as we love others is a must read. Check it out when you can!

So, if you and I were having coffee, these are the thoughts I’d share with you right now that have been on my heart and mind lately…

I’ve been having some crazy ass fears about losing my child lately. As you may or may not have heard, last week the Georgia Southern University community (where I work) lost 3 amazing young ladies due to a horrific car wreck in Savannah. To add to this, one of my favorite bloggers who I follow on the regular, Baby Boy Bakery, is coming up on the one year anniversary of the death of her child. Ryan was a beautiful boy who was three and a half when his life was taken way too soon by a driver of a truck in his family’s neighborhood. Before I had a child, these stories would have affected me but now that I am a mother, it affects me on a whole different level. I can’t even begin to imagine losing a child so hearing and reading about these mother’s struggles really fucking pulls at my heart. If you can, take a moment to pray for all these ladies and their families.

…#ISupportHER. Let’s talk about Bruce Jenner for a moment, shall we? A lot has already been said about this topic but considering that A. there are so many ignorant assholes out there worried about other people’s choices on how they live their lives and who they choose to love, you know, choices that have ZERO affect whatsoever on their own lives and families and B. as a result love to spread their hate and ignorance while hiding behind the veil of being “Christian” to C. having ZERO clue what this choice by Bruce Jenner really even means, leaves me to feel like I have A LOT to say about this but I’ll just leave it at this…

Shut the fuck up already. This is a personal choice by one individual; a choice that has no bearing or impact on your life whatsoever. And really, why do you care so much? Put your efforts into more important things like, say, minding your own business? I will never understand the hate and intolerance that permeates our world today and I will never understand the obsession people have with celebrity. We are all different people, with different souls and different minds and honestly, how fucking beautiful and amazing is that? I hope and pray that by the time my daughter is my age, things will be better for people of all genders, color and orientation. I commend Bruce and I hope the courage she is showing now to live life free and honestly in the open will inspire other men and women to do the same. I think we need more brave souls like this in our world today.

…What the fuck am I supposed to be doing? My life is in a season of transition at the moment and I feel absolutely discombobulated with regards to it all. My whole career has been in marketing and while I love what I do, I have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I should be doing something else with my life. The problem?
I have no fucking idea what that something else should be and because of this, I’m left to think and contemplate it over and over and over to the point of exhaustion. I’m really hoping the light bulb turns on soon because I really don’t know how many more times I can seriously contemplate owning a taco food truck. 

(Yes, this is one of my ideas. Shut up. I love tacos.)

…I found myself to be jealous of my cat last night. Yes, you read that right – my cat. After Chickie went to bed last night, Michael and I spent the rest of the evening in bed watching old season of Mad Men. It was the perfect opportunity to snuggle up and relax with my fella but Kitten Butt had other ideas. For two hours, Michael and Kitten lay together, his arm around her all snuggled up and while this would have been an “Awwww” moment for most ladies, I was all like, “WTF.” Seriously Kitten, WTF. Get your own man.

…A couple of weeks ago I got back down into the 100’s with my weight and vowed to never go backwards again. Well, a container of Moe’s cinnamon crisps, copious amounts of wine and a few Mexican meals later, I think I may have to eat those words.

(Haha…eat those words…I kill myself…)

I have zero clue what my deal has been since I last stepped on the scale but ever since that day, it’s like I’ve given myself an extended “You should celebrate your weight loss by eating” celebration. Makes perfect sense, right? I really need to reel it in but food tastes so good. #thestruggleisreal

So those are the random thoughts going on inside my mind. What would you share if we were having coffee together today?

28 April 2015

Religion and Kids (...And What We Believe)

religion and kids and what we believe

Today I’m linking up with Stephanie from Wife Mommy Me for Mom Talk Tuesdays. This month’s topic is sharing faith with our children. To be perfectly honest, I was hesitant about contributing to this month’s topic for many reasons. The main one being that I feel religion and faith is such a deeply personal choice and more times than not, people’s freedom to choose what they believe, if anything at all, too easily gets put up for public scrutiny, ridicule and judgment and I’m just not a proponent of that at all. 

Having said this, I’m also not one to back down from a challenging topic so here I am. My hope is that I’m able to share my thoughts on religion and our daughter in a way that helps others to understand a different viewpoint. 

Growing up, I was raised Church of Christ, non-denominational. Michael was raised in the Jewish faith but has not been a practicing Jew during his adult life. Neither Michael nor I attend church on a weekly basis. We do not display Bibles in our home. Maddy does not have any kind of religious material to read and we do not talk to her about a heavenly being in the sky. To the outside person, we could be viewed as people who have no regard or thought for religion whatsoever.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I believe in Christ and the divine plan for all mankind. Many times throughout the day, I talk and commune with the Lord and share my concerns, my joys, my wants and my needs with Him. I listen quietly for His answers. Sometimes they come right away, other times they do not but regardless, I feel His spirit with me always. My personal and private relationship with my Heavenly Father is an important aspect of my life even though from the outward appearance, may not seem so.

My belief is simply this: I don’t think sitting in a building on a weekly basis makes anyone more Christian or holier than the person who chooses not to attend a worship service, and while reading the scriptures gives us an outline and foundation to guide our lives and choices, I believe that the actions and works of a person shows what they truly believe far more than reading pages in a book. Christ lived his life as a teacher but more so, put into action what He believed by living His life as an example to others through His works, deeds and interactions with His fellow man.

And this is the main principle I hope to instill in our daughter – that faith without works is dead.

Regardless of what you choose to believe, our actions always speak louder than words. Living a Christ-like life, in my opinion, means more than going through the symbolic rituals many faiths place on their members. 

It means forgiving, even when it is hard and difficult and showing grace and love to those who wrong you. It means giving to those in need when you are in seasons of plenty, whether it is by volunteering in your community or donating to individuals or organizations. It means using your talents and gifts for the good of mankind. It means having unwavering faith, even on the hard days and when there seems to be no relief in sight. 

To me, living my life by these examples shows my daughter what true Christianity and having a relationship with Christ really means. 

In the end, I want my daughter to have the freedom to have any kind of personal relationships with Christ that she desires, regardless of what shape or form that looks like. More so, I also want her to have the freedom and the confidence to choose to believe nothing at all if that is where her heart truly lies. 

In the meantime, this is the message I instill in our daughter: 

“You are your own divine person.  God made you in His image so you are beautiful in every way.  Love and forgive those who taunt and make fun of you – they need it the most.  Weak people lash out at those who are strong and able.  You have been blessed with much so much will be expected of you.  Live not to please others, but live to make a difference in the world; every day you live you will be leaving your mark on the world and the people you come in contact with – make your impression positive and make it count.  Through the gifts and talents you have been blessed with use them to be an inspiration and a tool for teaching others.  If I could protect you from every bad thing in the world I would gladly take on all the pain and sadness you will one day be forced to endure…unfortunately most of it will come from the hands of others but know this – No one else’s feelings or words can have power over you and at the end of the day, it’s not eternal to your destiny.”

Living a life by example and good deeds. What could be more Christ-like than that?


23 April 2015

What I Remember About My Childhood

what I remember about my childhood

Having been born in the mid 70’s, there was nothing better than growing up as a child in the 80’s and into the early 90’s. The hair was high, the neon was bright and the music? The music was simply the best of any decade since, hands down. The 80’s had their own unique set of challenges but for most families during this time, life was pretty great – at least from my memory and recollection. 

Yesterday, I read this article by Jen Hatmaker where she talked about her memories of being raised as a child in the 80’s and how parenting seemed to stick to the basics and fundamental principles of live and let live and simplistic parenting. As a child who grew up in the 80’s, there was a sense of community with the families in our neighborhood that you rarely, if ever, find today. I clearly remember my parents standing outside at the end of our driveway talking with the other moms and dads in our neighborhood for hours. They did this a lot and often because all of us kids made it a point to terrorize each other’s homes. Back then in those days as a parent, you could open your front door, shew your kids out of the house and feel confident and safe knowing whose home they were going into. My mother was notorious for telling me, “If the sun is shining, your butt better be outside. Don’t let me find you in this house or in front of the TV. Get outside and play.” 

And play we did.

We would run our neighborhood like a pack of wild wolves with reckless abandon. We hit the ground running when the sun came up and came back home when the sun started to go down. Hours were spent riding bikes and skateboarding down the hill at the end of our road. I bet if you asked my mom, she couldn’t even begin to tell you the number of times she played nurse as I would come home with skinned up knees, legs and arms. We would spend time playing in the creek and woods that lined our subdivision and when we were hungry, we would run inside to someone’s home (usually not our own) for a quick bologna sandwich, some chips and a slurp of soda and back out we went. My friends and I would spend hours upon hours meticulously planning and recreating scenes from movies like Star Wars and Annie and would “perform” them in the front yard for the world to see. 

It was really a glorious and amazing time to be a kid. 

As I read Jen’s article yesterday, it got me thinking about how wonderfully simple and great my childhood was. Sure, our family had bumps in the road and hiccups along the way but for the most part, life was good. During my trip down memory lane, I started to think about all the wonderfully silly, funny and great memories I have from my childhood…

·         Watching Star Search on Saturday nights while trying to find a way to be a dance contestant on the show.
·         My dad smoking his pipes in the evening while in his recliner, reading his collection of National Geographic Magazines.
·         Me looking at the issues of Nat Geo where they showed boobies and body parts and giggling and laughing until I couldn’t stand it.
·         Teasing up my hair and getting my “mall bangs” just right for Friday night’s spent at the mall with friends.
·         The simplicity and joy of the popsicle and ice cream truck in our neighborhood
·         Family television in the evenings you felt good about sharing with your whole family, even the kiddos: The Cosby Show, Alf, Mr. Belvedere, Webster and my personal favorite, Benson.
·         My Commodore 64 which mostly got used to play Frogger and Ghostbusters.
·         The movies. Best ever.
·         My boom box and all the mixed tapes I made.
·         The first VCR our family bought. I remember thinking that piece of technology was the best thing EVER.
·         The Walkman.
·         VHS tapes and cassette tapes.
·         Pound Puppies, Garbage Pail Kids and Cabbage Patch Dolls.
·         Space exploration and consequently, watching the Challenger explosion live. It was the first tragedy I remember.
·         Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Duran Duran, The Police. LOVE.
·         “I want my MTV!” Some of you may not know this, but there was a time when MTV actually only played music videos. It’s not an urban legend.
·         The video arcade where Pac Man and Donkey Kong were king.
·         Weekends spent at the roller skating rink with friends or for birthday parties.
·         Perms, mullets, jerry curls and fades.
·         Member’s Only jackets, shoulder pads, leather-studded jackets, acid washed jeans and Jordach.
·         Converse high top sneakers.
·         Swatch watches, slap bracelets and endless amounts of rubber wristbands worn all the way up to your shoulders.
·         Jelly shoes.
·         Plastic charm necklaces with the click on charms and banana hair clips.
·         Metal lunch boxes with cool thermoses.
(That little girl you see? That's me at my mom and dad's wedding in 1980. This is one of my favorite pics from childhood.)

Life as a child of the 80’s was definitely far out. What do you remember about your childhood? What era did you grow up in? What do you miss about that time in your life?


22 April 2015

I Give Up

Let's be honest - as much as parenting can be rewarding, fun and a great excuse for us adults to act like kids again ourselves, it is also exhausting, challenging and draining. 

Lately, I've been more on the exhausted side of things. I'm a full-time working mom so that adds to my pile of responsibilities and there are some days that just suck the life right out of me. By the time I've worked a full 8 hours, taken care of Chickie and all her needs and fulfilled all blog/sponsor/Bluemont Media responsibilities, I'm wiped out. Let me describe it more accurately...

Do y'all remember that scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where Harry’s cousin Dudley Dursley and he were trapped in a tunnel by Dementors and one of the Dementors starting sucking the life right out of Dudley through his face? Yep, that's been me lately. 

Sexy, right?

To add to my stress and load, I'm one of those kinds of people who have to maintain control over everything. I like things done a certain way and some days it takes everything I have to let my OCD go and let Chickie make a total mess of things, all in an effort to let her just "be" a young child and explore her surroundings and world around her. I like order. I like predictability (to a point) and I like the comfort of routines. Not always a great combination when you have children.

Lately, I've come to realize that in order to get a little more balance and peace in my life I need to give up some things. Parenting can be challenging and I think sometimes we get caught up in the day to day chaos that we forget to stop and be happy in the midst of it all. So in an effort to gain a little more peace and balance, I’m simply giving up these things:

1.  The idea of perfect.
It's never going to happen, my friends and I admit that many times, I've fallen into the "Everything has to be perfect" trap. There is no such thing as the perfect person let alone the perfect parent. Embrace the fact that we're entitled to go days without make-up. Laugh at yourselves. Stop comparing yourself to the picture perfect images you see on Pinterest.

Side note: as much as I love Pinterest, I have noticed the phenomenon of Pinterest Pressure. It's not worth it, guys and gals. Be who YOU are. Not what some pin says you should be. 

2.  “Supposed to be"
Society (and Pinterest) has a funny way of dictating to us what family life and parenting is "supposed to be.” We're conditioned from an early age to believe that parenting and childhood is supposed to look a certain way. I say - not true. We are all different so it stands to reason that our backgrounds and beliefs are going to be different. There is no one "right" way to raise your children and no one should ever guilt you into feeling that the way you're parenting is wrong. Only you know your child and what is best for them. Besides, if you're always so consumed on what you think parenting is "supposed to be" you stand the chance of missing out on how wonderful it really is. Be willing to have the honest conversation with yourself about what your priorities are as a parent. 

3.  Give up the "One size fits all" rules of parenting.
Just as each parent is unique, so is each child. What works for one may not work for all. It's great to get input, suggestions and advice from other parents but at the end of the day, you have to make the right choices for your children based on who they are - not on everyone else's experiences. This also means having the guts and courage to parent the way you believe and to stand by those ideals even when they may not be so popular or well-received. Consider the possibility that being a fair parent to your child doesn't mean doing the exact same thing in the exact same way as everyone else. Trust yourself and your ability to be the best parent possible to your child.

4.  Give up unhealthy self-sacrifice.
As parents, we give everything we have to our children: love, attention, emotion, and time - literally everything. But just because we become parents doesn't mean that we should give up our core selves, interests and hobbies. It's my belief that if we give up ourselves in parenting, we teach our children to not take care of themselves and their needs. Make time for yourself - you're worth it and more importantly, you need it. And let me stress - don't feel guilty about it! We all put a lot of effort into parenting. We deserve some time to ourselves.

5.  Give up your own childhood story, hopes, and dreams.
Whether your childhood was great or not so hot, give up trying to reflect those same things onto your child, especially the fears. Don't trap your children in the fears of your past. Let them go so they can grow up to be who they want to be. The one thing I've noticed that I do a lot of lately are saying things like, "Are you going to be a soccer player like mommy?" when Chickie starts to kick a ball around. I need to give that influence a rest and can it. Maybe she will play soccer but maybe she won't and that's okay. I need to give up my childhood in order for Chickie to have hers, the one she deserves to make on her own. 

So there's the list. What are some things you might need to give up in order to gain a more peaceful and stress-free style of parenting?