Thursday, December 26, 2013

Beautiful Skin the natural way

New Blog on The Natural Wife, check it out:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Joy of Giving

Here I sit, seven days after Halloween and the stores are already selling Christmas decorations (and already on sale?) and commercials on TV are already talking about holiday shopping, not to mention Black Friday. I hear people talk all the time about enough being enough and yet they all still rush out to shop, filling the stores and spending more money than they have to spend. Times are tough out there, but you wouldn't know it in the 5 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I am wondering, is this what it is really all about? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas and Hanukkah and all that goes along with it. My tree will probably go up before Thanksgiving. I love giving and getting gifts, a lot. But I still believe it has to mean more.

A couple years ago, I remember thinking that we had probably done things all wrong. Our living room was filled to the brim with gifts for our four boys. It was gorgeous and nauseating all at once. It probably took 30 minutes of insanity for them to open everything and retire to the playroom to play one of their new video games. And I was left with somewhat of an empty feeling. We have slowly dialed it back, having less to spend and realizing it was better to buy them each a couple things they really wanted, would play with and remember than buying things for the sake of filling up the living room or worrying that everyone got the same amount of gifts (no one even pays attention to anyone else long enough to know or count).

I have started to make gifts for my friends and family. I have found that these gifts mean more, feel much better giving, cost less and are usually tailored better to each person. One year I made monogrammed tote bags, another brown sugar scrub. It allows me to get creative as well as give quality, healthier gifts to people I love. And with Pinterest leading the way, you can find almost anything to make. It does require a bit more planning, but I can't wait to get started!

Gift ideas include lotions, scrubs, candles, bags, scarves, and so much more for the ladies in my life. For the kids there are blocks, dolls, sensory boards, teepees, to name a few. The teenagers are a bit tougher, as they told me money was good. Even there I found some creative ways to wrap and give money gifts to make it fun and last more than 1 minute on Christmas morning.

I just have no desire to go shopping this season (and that is something I thought I would never say). Everything out there is overpriced, impersonal and usually poor quality. This year I will take spend my hours cozy on my couch, browsing Pinterest and making yummy gifts for the people I love. And there is nothing wrong with recycling or upcycling items. My younger son loves it when I give him gifts that used to be his older brothers' because he thinks they are really cool and the fact that he know has the stuff they used to play with is very exciting. Sometimes, gifts passed down mean even more.

I am excited to have more time this holiday season to enjoy my cheerfully decorated home, with a warm fire with friends and family. And I am very excited to get to work making wonder gifts for all the wonderful people in my life.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Happy Life

I am always amazed that when you put something out there in the universe, you see it come back to you in so many different ways. As I have begun my happiness challenge, the idea of happiness seems to be everywhere. My friend shared this great blog the other day that sure enough is all about happiness. It's a great blog, where the author pretty much shares that happiness is not her goal for her children. She goes on to say that she hopes they find their purpose. When she became a mom, she found her purpose which in turn has made her happy. Hmmm... I hope you read it (after mine of course), its a great blog -

It's not that I don't agree with her, but I think it's more a difference of definition. The first definition I found of "happy" was "Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment." This is probably the definition that most people think of when they talk about being happy. It is impossible to be happy (as defined here) all the time. I know that, most people know that. Some days are good days, some days aren't. Sometimes it's minute to minute. But the second definition I found, "Having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation)"is much more on target for me. When I end the sentence with "myself or my life as a whole," I think that happiness is a perfect goal.

I was so very lucky to grow up with two very loving parents. And I would definitely say that my childhood was happy. Was is carefree? No. Was it conflict free? Nope. Did I get everything I wanted? Not even close. There were times when my parents fought, times when money was tight and  my friends could afford things we couldn't and times of self-doubt. But I was raised to be strong and true to myself and I know that this is why I have been lucky enough to be happy in my life no matter what unexpected things are thrown at me.

The truth is that life will not always be easy. In fact, the good things are usually a lot of hard work. I wasn't always happy putting in the hard work I needed to do to achieve my goals, but I was overjoyed when it finally paid off. I also truly believe that while we can't always choose what happens to us in life, we can choose how we are going to react. We can make lemonade or we can pout in a corner. Happiness is a journey, it is a state of mind and it is a choice.

So do I want my kids to be happy? You bet. I want them to believe that with hard work they can achieve anything. I want them to have faith in themselves and know how wonderful they are. I want them to see that even in the hardest of times, you can find happiness if you look hard enough.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

30 Days to Being Happier - My Rough Start

Okay, so I have two days of "being happier" behind me now and I have to admit they were terrible failures. My hypothesis was, that by acting happier myself, my family would in turn be happier which would make me truly happier (and not just pretending to be happy) - kind of like "fake it til you make it." Apparently, my husband and kids did not get the memo.

I am pretty sure that happiness might be elusive while you have a 5 year old and a 12 (almost 13) year old living at your house. And if you are one of those woman who say, "love and appreciate them now because they will grow up so fast and you will miss them when they are gone," then I call bullshit. Honestly, you are either completely delusional or you have a full time nanny. Besides, who said they would ever be gone? Seriously, ask my parents - they probably see us more now than when we were in high school and I guarantee they like us more now anyway.

I will admit that I did yell less. But this was simply an act of will. Yesterday afternoon I remember chanting the words, "I will not yell, I will not yell..." over and over under my breath as I walked up the stairs for the tenth time to break up the kids fighting because the little one was "being annoying" while the older one played video games online with his friends. Sure, I could have turned the video games off but that would make my life way more difficult and so I trudged through. I did a little better at bedtime as well, simply leaving the room when my five year old pretended to fight zombies instead of rolling over to go to sleep. The temper tantrum that ensued when I walked out was the same had I yelled however, so not sure who won that round.

I tried really hard with my husband too, overlooking the fact that our darling son was still awake when I got home from my Jr. Women's Club meeting at 9:30 pm as well as unbathed. That turned around to bite me in the ass however, because apparently you have to actually let this stuff go instead of just suppressing it which leads to an angry explosion 24 hours later and tends to make things worse.

As I am having a hard time finding success on my own, I decided to reach out to the ever accessible world on the internet looking for some direction or inspiration. I remember hearing about a 'better wife challenge' at some point and so that is where I decided to start. If you are interested it's called "Loving Him Well" and its quite honestly the biggest load of crap I have ever heard of. It's all about finding out what your husband needs from his wife and being all that - I am pretty sure you had to check your self-esteem and self-worth at the door and turn into his perfect Stefford Wife. No thanks, keep looking...

Then I found a pretty great blog, that had both a 'Be a better spouse challenge' and a 'Be a better parent challenge.' These seemed pretty easy to follow and not too self-deprecating and so I figured I could follow along. My assignment for the first two days with my spouse was to Let Bygones be Bygones (meaning leave the past in the past and not keep bringing it up year after year) and To Accept Them For Who They Are (pretty self-explanatory). I think after our fight yesterday, I pretty much bombed on both. These should be so easy in theory but god are they hard. I will be the first to admit that I want both of these things in return, so why can't I offer my husband the same respect? Clearly, I have some work to do...

On the parenting front, my assignment for day one was "Being present for my kids." I have known for some time that this was an issue for me so I have been trying to work on this one. Basically, the dishes can wait 5 minutes to listen to your kids or even just to snuggle. I swear I have OCD when it comes to a clean house, but I have to remind myself constantly that in the long run that is not as important as my kids. Not to mention that I am constantly reminded of a saying, "Cleaning with kids in the house is like trying to brush your teeth while eating oreos." This is a work in progress for me but a great reminder. It also gives me a chance to take a break, slow down and smile and snuggle which is a great way to be good to myself at the same time. I will need to remember to this much more often.

Day two on the parenting front challenges me to "Punish without anger." Again, this is one of my own goals as well, goes hand in hand with the less yelling thing. This is definitely easier with my five year old because when we count down from 5 to 1, he is usually doing what we asked him to do (or not to do) by the time we get to 1. Although he has begun throwing tantrums lately and his own anger has been getting the best of him. I find hugging and kissing with him as well as refocusing his attention is usually enough. But the tween, that is another story. It's like a test of will with him and an all out battle to see who can hold out longest and be most stubborn. Too bad for him that I have a lot of practice being stubborn and there ain't no way I am giving in. Unfortunately for both of us, this leads to some pretty nasty fights. And it is super hard to punish him because no matter what I say I am going to take away, he turns around and says, "Go ahead, I don't care." And honestly, grounding him is much more of a punishment for me. I truly believe we all benefit from him going to hang out at a friend's house. Typically when the kids misbehave it does make me angry so this is a really hard challenge...

I am trying through all of this to do things each day that make me happy too, like take a bath or get my nails done. Oh yeah, and wine - that has been very helpful :-)

Stay tuned for day three...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Can You Be Happier in 30 Days?

Lately life has been challenging over here to say the least. For the last 60 days I feel like I have been living in survival mode. I haven't given much thought to the food we ate, cleaning the house or anything above just getting through the day or the week. Now that things have settled a bit (BIG THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED ME THROUGH), I realize that I also didn't put much effort into making sure my family or myself was happy. In fact, happiness seems to be one of those things that we tend to think a lot about in theory but not really try to put into action on a daily basis. For example, if I had X then I would be happy. Or we say (mostly in frustration because our kids are fighting) "I just want everyone to be happy!" And in the long run I know most parents have the goal of your children growing up happy. But what does that really mean? And what will really make you or them happy?

This past weekend was "one of those days" (or many in a row) where I was just angry. No one in my family could do anything right and most things I might normally look the other way about, I would scream and yell and roll my eyes. I might have been a bit hormonal, but I will never actually admit that and god forbid if my husband suggested it. When the angry haze cleared I realized a couple things that put life in perspective.

First - I was playing the victim. This one struck me pretty hard especially because over the last 2 months I refused to be the victim. I was a strong warrior who could push through anything or anyone to make things happen for the ones I loved. Maybe I was tired of being strong, everyone has their breaking point. But I am not a victim and I don't want to be. I have to stop blaming everyone for everything. I will, I promise.

Second - I was making things worse. This was also especially hard to swallow. One of my goals in life is to make things better for my family, not make it worse. No one wants to be yelled at. My husband doesn't want it, my kids don't want and I don't want anyone to yell at me either. In fact, yelling is the perfect way to guarantee that no one will listen to you. This one is hard. I try not to yell, I really do. But after you have asked like 10 times, yelling seems to be the only solution. But it always makes everyone feel worse, including myself. Therefore, I will stop yelling (I would say I will try, but as I tell my kids 10 times a day, "there is no try, only do.").

Third - How could I expect perfection from everyone else, when I wasn't giving it? Now I know that no one is perfect so I guess I need to let go of my expectation of perfection from everyone. What I guess I mean is that I cannot expect my family to speak nice to each other if I do not speak nice to them. Which has led to my personal challenge for the next 30 days...

I hereby pledge, that I will take on the Be A Better Person Challenge for the next 30 days. Anyone with me? This will mean different things to different people. I plan on looking at 3 separate yet equal facets of my life - my husband, my children and myself - and do something everyday to be a better wife, mother and self. This is not going to be easy, but I am hoping that if leading by example will encourage my family to be better as well. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Stop bitching, Start doing...

At first glance, this may seem like a post where I bitch about other people bitching (and it might be a little). But I aim to go one step further and challenge you to stop bitching and starting doing. 

Recently, it seems to me that more people are bitching more and more about everything. They complain about politics, public programs, what others have that they don't, the weather, that not everyone calls it a "Christmas tree." If someone gives them a free coffee, you can bet they will bitch cause it isn't hot enough. I would like to know what the hell is the point of all the complaining? To make you feel better? Complaining doesn't actually make you feel better. In fact, being negative usually has the opposite effect - it makes you feel worse and more angry. So that someone will do something about? Typically, what it makes do people do is tune you out or join right in and bitch. So then you have 10 people bitching about something and no one doing anything about it. Therefore, the next time something bothers you enough to start a bitching post about it on Facebook - do this instead:

1. Determine if it effects you. Seriously, ask yourself, "Do this personally effect me or someone I love?" If the answer is no, then why the hell do you care enough to bitch about it. At that point, focus on your life and make it better.

2. Research it. Seriously, whatever you are about to complain about, look it up on the internet. My first guess is that you are about to complain about something that you know very little about. Not only is it annoying to everyone who reads your post who does know about it, but it makes you look ignorant. And it wastes a lot of negative energy for nothing. It is also kind of like spreading a rumor. Unfortunately, people take what they read on social media as truth these days and a lot of kids are on social media. Be informed before you bitch. Chances are, if you know the facts, you might not be so angry.

3. Follow your complaint with an action statement. If something upsets you enough to want to tell people about it, you should also tell them how you plan to fix it. It should read something like this - I am upset about this and therefore I plan on doing this about it. Once you have done your research and you understand the situation better, you can now determine if what you are upset about can be changed. And if it can, then who better to change it than you. If you are unwilling to do anything about it then quit your bitching already cause you are a lazy ass. If you feel like it is too big for you, then ask for help.

4. Walk a mile in their shoes. If are reading this and saying, What I was annoyed with was so-and-so at the coffee shop who did this to me today, there is no research or action statement involved...then I challenge you to play the role of the person who annoyed you. We tell our kids this all the time, but how many times do we do it ourselves? Maybe they are having a bad day. Maybe their kids, spouse, mother, etc is sick and they are upset. Maybe their husband just lost their job. The point is,  you should be nice to someone not because they are nice to you but because you are a nice person.This is especially hard with the people who are the closest to us but means even more when you can see their side of things.

5. Let it go. There are things we can change, things we can ask for help with and things that just are. If it is either of the first two then change it or ask for help. But if nothing can be done, then just let it go. Holding on to anger, annoyance or resentment only poisons you and those around you. You will feel much lighter if you just recognize you can't do anything and move on.

I know there are some of you out there who think I am taking this too seriously, saying it was just a silly post on Facebook. But I truly believe you get back what you put out there. If everyone can stop even half their bitching in 2013, the world will be a much better place.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi