January 22, 2018

Keeping it Real: This Stage of Life. It's Hard.

This was posted in my Positive Parent Solutions Facebook Group a week or so ago. No matter what your age or how many children you have, being a mom is hard work. It's rewarding and joyful and precious and hard.

This is worth the read. Every. Last. Word.

"This stage of life. It’s hard, you guys.

I’m talking right now to you moms who are in your late 20's to mid 30’s. You have kids. Likely two, three, maybe four of them. They probably range in age from newborns to 7 or 8 year-olds. (Give or take a few, on all of the above mentioned stats).

In this stage of life, you are dealing with exhaustion. Mental, physical, and emotional.

In this stage of life, you are dealing with teething. With ear infections. With stomach viruses. You are juggling nap schedules, and feeding schedules and soccer schedules. A million balls you are juggling, and you probably feel like you are dropping most of them.

In this stage of life, you are dealing with guilt. Guilt over having a career, and not spending enough time with your kids, or guilt over staying home with your kids, and not doing enough to contribute financially. Guilt over being too harsh with your kids. Too lenient. Guilt that your house is clean, but your kids were ignored, or guilt that you enjoyed your children all day, and now your husband is coming home to filth. Guilt.

In this stage of life, you are bombarded daily with a whole host of decisions. Some of them life-changing, some of them not. None of them with clear cut answers. Do I vaccinate my kids? Do I not? Do I send them to public school? Homeschool? Charter school? Do I continue to breastfeed? Do I blow the budget so that I can buy all organic? Do I force my child to apologize, even though the apology will be insincere? You don’t know the answers to ANYTHING, but you feel constant pressure to figure out EVERYTHING.

This stage of life is less and less about watching your friends get married and have babies, and more and more about standing by and witnessing your friends struggle in their marriage, and even get divorced. It’s a stage where you’ve got to put in the time and the effort and the work and the energy to make sure your OWN marriage stays healthy. And that’s good, but it’s hard, too. At this point, you or someone you know has experienced infertility. Miscarriages. Loss of a child.

It’s a stage where you are buying houses, selling houses, remodeling houses, packing up houses. And then you do it all again a few years later.

It’s a stage where your hormones are all of of whack. I mean, you’ve basically been pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding for the last ten years, right?

It’s a stage where you are struggling with identity. Is my entire identity “mommy”? Is there anything even left of me that isn’t about mothering? Is there something more glamorous I could have/should have done with my life? I LOOK like a mom now, don’t I? I totally do.

It’s a stage where you are on a constant quest for balance, and can never find it.

It’s a stage of life where you are overloaded. Constantly. You are overloaded with questions. Your children never stop asking them. You are overloaded with touch. Someone is constantly wanting to be held, holding on to you, hanging on you, touching you. You are overloaded with to-do’s. There is so much to do. It never ends. You are overloaded with worry. You are overloaded with THINGS. Your kids have way too many toys. You are overloaded with activities. You are overloaded with THOUGHTS (thoughts about how to not be so overloaded, perhaps?).

It’s hard.

So….what do you need to do to survive it all?

You need to ask for help.

You need to accept help when it’s given.

You need to not neglect your marriage. You need to put your kids down for bed early. Sit outside on the back porch with your husband, drink a glass of wine, and have a conversation.

You need girlfriends.

You need your mom.

You need older friends, who have been there and done that. Who can reassure you that you AREN’T screwing it all up as badly as you think you are.

You need to not feel bad about using your kids nap time every now and again to just do whatever the heck you want.

You need to lower your expectations….then probably lower them again.

You need to simplify. Simplify every single part of your life, as much as it can be simplified.

You need to learn how to say “no”.

You need to practice contentment

You need to be ok leaving your kids overnight, and going away somewhere. Anywhere.

You need to do something you enjoy, every day, even if it’s for no more than 15 minutes.

You need to pray. Girl, you need to pray.

You need a coffee you love, a wine you love, and a bubble bath that you love.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, you need to remember that…..

….this stage of life is beautiful, too. Like, really really beautiful. This is the stage of life where every single older person you ever meet tells you, “you’re going to miss this”. And you already know it’s true. It’s the stage where your kids love you more than they are EVER going to love you again, for the whole rest of your life. It’s the stage where they can fit their entire selves into your lap to snuggle…and they want to. It’s the stage where their biggest problems ARE ear infections and teething and stomach viruses, and you’re not having to deal yet with things like broken hearts or addiction or bullying. It’s the stage where you are learning to love your spouse in an entirely different….harder…..better…. way. The stage where you are learning together, being stretched together, shedding your selfishness together, and TRULY being made into “one”. It’s the stage where you get to see Christmas, Halloween through your kids eyes, and it’s so much more fun and magical than it would be just through your own eyes. It’s the stage where you get to watch your parents be grandparents…and they’re really good at it. It’s the stage of life filled with field trips, class parties, costumes, swim lessons, bubble baths, dance parties, loose teeth, and first steps. And those things are so fun. It’s the stage where you are young enough to have fun, and old enough to have obtained at least SOME wisdom. It’s SUCH a great stage.

But, man it’s hard."

-author unknown

January 18, 2018

Après Ski

I shared this Tory Burch ski sweater (no longer available) on Instagram a while back. 

One of my favorite bloggers, Damsel in Dior, posted this photo of a similar sweater on her recent trip to Aspen.

While it's a little cliche, I can't help but like it. And, it's on sale for only $39.99!

Maybe if I buy it we might actually get some snow here in the West. If it was that simple I'd buy a sweater that says "pray for snow"! 

January 16, 2018

Keeping It Real: More Happy

I'm not usually one for resolutions. If you've read Gretchen Rubin's Book (or heard about it), The Four Tendencies, then you know when I say "I'm an upholder" that I don't need resolutions. Upholders respond readily to inner and outer expectations, so if I say I'm going to do something, I do it, and it can be any time of the year.

Anyway, to the point of this post....I started the year off with a nine hour drive from Sun Valley back to Portland. During that time I couldn't help but think about the year ahead and goals I have for myself, so I started writing them down in categories. Ironically I came up with nine.

1. Parenting
2. Sleep
3. Meditation
4. Hyrdration
5. Reading
6. Posture
7. Marriage
8. Connection with friends
9. Cooking

I thought about dedicating a month to each category, but I only had nine things on my list, and I didn't want to come up with three more. That seemed too much like a "resolution", and as I said...I don't really do resolutions. Since all of the categories are important to me, I don't want to prioritize them. Instead I'm being mindful of as many as I can on a daily basis. It's simply a list of things that I want to focus on in order to bring greater happiness and fulfillment to my life, and every little bit counts.

Over the next few months I'll be writing about each category, how I'm focusing on it, any challenges that arise and anything else that comes to mind.

Today I'm starting with #8. Connection with friends.

Friendship is something I have been thinking a lot about over the last year.  Like so many things in life, friendships change with time. Over the past year, there have been times when I don't feel fulfilled by my friendships, when I feel like they are failing me, when I miss what they used to be.

I'm a people person. I'm a connector. I'm a networker, and I have a big network. I have a lot of "friends", but what I've found is that this group of "friends" isn't always meeting my friendship needs. Many of the friendships are superficial, they are fleeting, they are unfulfilling and in some cases they feel one sided. This is not necessarily a reflection of the friend. More than anything it's a result of overly busy lives. I've learned that if your life doesn't run in parallel to your friend's, it makes consistent, meaningful interactions very challenging, almost impossible in some cases.

Someone recently posted this to Facebook, and it really resonated with me.

So, this year I'm focusing on nurturing and cultivating the friendships that mean the most to me, the ones that make me happiest and the ones that I care the most about. For my far away friends, that means writing more emails, sending texts, picking up the phone and even sending letters. For the friends in Portland, it means making a conscious effort to see the people that matter most to me on a regular basis. It means prioritizing a girl's night out, lunch, a walk or whatever it takes to make it fit in our busy lives.  It means putting my friendships higher on my priority list. I'm happiest when I connect with my friends. They build me up. They feed my soul. They make me happy.

I consider myself an already happy person, but there can never be too much personal satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness in one's life. So it seems like my theme for 2018 is finding more "happy" and focusing on #8 on my list will surely do that.

January 11, 2018

Summersalt

I recently came across Summersalt bathing suits, and I am officially obsessed. 







All of the suits are $95, they offer UV+50 protection, are made from recycled materials and are super simple and chic. Shop all of their suits here. I might need one for my April trip to Mexico!

January 10, 2018

My Favorite Jeans

Do you have a favorite pair of jeans? The ones that you wear nearly everyday despite there being a handful (or more) of other pairs in your closet?

For me, that pair is the Paige Verdugo ankle. I LOVE these jeans. They have the perfect rise, the perfect amount of stretch, fit snugly through the thighs, knees and ankles and they don't stretch out too much with wear. I wear them year round...with flats and sandals in the summer and with boots and booties in the winter.

They are described as "An ultra skinny style with a mid rise that is fitted through the hip and thigh with a skinny leg opening."

I got my first pair, in Nottingham, from Lyon + Post a number of years ago and recently purchased them in Hayes as well.


In keeping with my my savvy shopper ways (read about them here if you haven't already), I got my most recent pair on ebay, new with tags, for half the price.

I'm on the hunt for a pair in black (shadow) now too!

Try them! You won't be sorry!

January 8, 2018

Red Carpet Rundown

I have to say that this year's Golden Globes Red Carpet was a bit blah-ck. While I appreciate that the actors/actresses wore black to make a statement about sexual harassment in Hollywood, it resulted in a pretty lack luster red carpet.

Don't get me wrong....I love a LBD, just not on everyone! One of the things I look forward to most about red carpets are the colors and textures, and unfortunately I didn't get any of that at this year's Globes.

That said, there were some beautiful gowns worn on last night's red carpet. Here are some of my favorites.






And my top three (in no particular order) go to....

Reese Witherspoon

Allison Brie

Nicole Kidman

Now please, please, please can we bring color back for the Academy Awards? 

January 4, 2018

Keeping it Real: Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I've debated whether or not to write this post. In fact, I started writing it back in November. That's how long it's been sitting here...but I finally decided to post it.

This post is about parenting and therefore, in part, it's about my daughter. I haven't asked her permission to write about her. She's six years old and knows the word "blog", but she has no idea what it means. I suppose I'm divulging something about her that she might wish to keep private, but I believe that keeping things private isn't always for the best.

In this case, I hope that sharing will open a conversation that helps me be a stronger parent and thus have a positive impact on her. I also hope it will provide some comfort to other parents who are experiencing similar struggles. I also want to preface this post by saying that there are parents who have struggles that are far more difficult. I also recognize that this is just the beginning of the parenting challenges.

My daughter is in her third year (first grade) at the French American International School in Portland. She learns nearly 100% in French by native French speakers and has English class a few times a week. In the French curriculum, first grade marks the beginning of more focused academic studies, and therefore the beginning of reading. At the start of the school year she did not read in English or in French (besides a handful of words in each language); while some kids in her school and in traditional American schools are reading. I've been told by teachers and other parents that children learn to read at different rates. It's often equated to walking...some kids walk at nine months and others at fifteen months. Some kids read at four and other have a hard time reading at seven. Despite being told that all kids learn at different rates, it's hard as a parent to see other kids accomplish something that your child cannot. It's hard to see your child struggle.

We had our first parent/teacher conference before Thanksgiving, and our daughter's teacher started off by saying that she is inquisitive, an excellent communicator, and that she participates willingly in all classroom activities, trying new things even if they challenge her. However, her reading and writing is progressing slowly and she struggles to stay focused during academic activities.

That was hard to hear.

One of the first things that popped into my mind after the conference,  something I tell her (and myself) often, "Comparison is the thief of joy." While I can spend time agonizing over my friend's social media posts of their children reading chapter books and writing their own letters to Santa, it won't change anything. Instead, I have to celebrate her progress, which she is making, no matter how small.

If you're in a similar situation and experiencing sadness and frustration like I have....I invite you to think back to when your child was learning to walk. Did you get frustrated or sad when he/she crawled or took a step and fell down? Did you think something was wrong with your child because another kid his/her age could already walk?

NO! Instead we celebrated every baby step...every tiny step. We told ourselves, as all parents do, "eventually my child will walk." So, I'm using this analogy to help reduce the stress associated with her reading and writing struggles. She will learn. It will happen. And along the way I'm going to celebrate every baby step.

I was a "straight A student" in high school and excelled academically in college and grad school. That said, I struggled in elementary school. I rushed through my work, and I made mistakes, but through that I learned abut the importance of work ethic. That struggle, that necessity to work hard to achieve followed me throughout my teenage years and early twenties, and it's what I attribute my adulthood success too. It's okay to struggle. It teaches you to hustle. It teaches you to work hard.

So this is the dialogue I am having with myself on a daily basis..."it's okay for her to struggle. She's young. She will learn to read and write. Celebrate the baby steps". And if we get further down this path and things are still not coming together, we will get her the help she needs to learn.

We have so much love for our children that it hurts. When they suffer, we suffer. When they're emotionally depleted, we feel the same. It's that love that drives our desires for them to succeed and to excel. It's that love that keeps us up at night.

This parenting gig is the hardest job I'll ever have, and I know it will only get harder, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.