Sunday, February 15, 2015

Facebook: Friend of Foe? My Love/Hate Relationship with Technology, Part 1




Gosh, I REALLY love my phone.  I mean, how awesome is it to be able to look up anything you want at any time you want and get an answer in a split second?  Or have your favorite songs at the touch of a button, no matter where you are?   I love the convenience of sending my hubby a text and knowing he’ll get it…even if he’s in a meeting.  And who doesn’t love the time-wasting games at your disposal when you are stuck in a waiting room, school pickup line, or really boring family party?  And then there is social media.  Wow--when I joined Facebook, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.  I connected with friends old and new.  I loved seeing pictures of everyone’s kids or travels, and being able to keep up a little bit on everyone’s lives.  As a stay at home mom, that made it a little less lonely.  I felt a tad less isolated, and a bit more connected to people. I found all kinds of awesome bloggers that were so encouraging to someone in my season of life.  I realized I wasn’t “alone” in this thing called motherhood.  And I was equally happy that I could vent, or share a funny story that might brighten someone’s day.   The cherry on top was the distraction it offered me from the mundane days of cooking, cleaning, refereeing, and wiping butts on repeat.  I was happily addicted. 
Well, up until more recently…  Then, I realized I was just plain ol’ addicted, but not really happy about it.   I started to inquire about what had changed in the past 5 years, and I realized it was quite a bit.


Trying to Keep Up
I realized that I wasn’t that excited to see what was on Facebook anymore, but only felt stressed because I didn’t want to miss something.  I had subscribed to so many things that were of interest to me, that I couldn’t keep up.   Don’t get me wrong, they are all great things that teach me, encourage me, or make me laugh.  However, it got to the point where I could never get to the part of my newsfeed where I last left off.  That left me with a little nagging, incomplete feeling.  I knew I was missing friends posts because I was too busy reading EVERYTHING ELSE.  And then there was the stress from all the articles I didn’t have time to read, or that I said I’d read later.  Just the sheer INFORMATION OVERLOAD was starting to take its toll on my brain.

Inferiority
There is also the aspect of social media that I didn’t think affected me.  The dark side.  The part that makes you feel inferior in some way.  I told myself that it didn’t apply to me.  Nope, I just LOVE learning and I love seeing what’s going on in other people’s lives.  I guess I was a little bit in denial, because I would never want to have to give up the gift that is Facebook. 

Most people are putting their best face forward on Facebook.  I am guilty.  My intention is to try not to post only good stuff, because I really want to keep it real.  However, when it comes down to it, you are only going to want to share the good pictures, not the ones with the double chin.  You are only going to want to share the funny or cute stories, not the one where you cried in your pillow because your kid acted like an a-hole and you think he might end up in jail one day and it’s all your fault because you didn’t implement 1-2-3 Magic early enough.  It just happens. 
The problem is, that without realizing it, you start to compare other people’s lives with yours.  You see how well-dressed Mary’s kids look all the time.  You see how Dick and Jane seem to have date nights all the time.  You see how Lucy manages to go to the gym 5 days a week.  Or how Tom seems to have all this money to go on vacations all the time.  Or how Sally manages to work full time and still has well-behaved kids.  Or how in-love Bob and Nancy are.  Or how smart Ned seems to be.  Or how well decorated and clean Harriet’s house looks, etc, etc, etc.  You start to feel as if everyone else has it all together.  Their lives look so perfect. “Why can’t my family get along like that?”  You start to question and doubt yourself.  “Why doesn’t my house look like that?”  You start to think your situation should be different.  “Why doesn’t my husband do those things for me? “ 
There is a saying I heard somewhere that says “Don’t compare your everyday life with someone else’s highlight reel.” Or something like that.  And that’s exactly what Facebook and Instagram is—your highlight reel. 

Distraction
Wait, I thought the distraction was a good thing?  Well, it was, and it can be…sometimes.  The distraction can also detract from other important things in our lives.  How often do we get lost in our phones and not hear our child or partner asking us something? Or don’t even look up…just say “just a minute.”  We have all been guilty of this.  Sometimes wasting time is good, but what if we are wasting time that could be spent with our kids, or developing meaningful relationships? 
This distraction also saps our productivity.  I have found myself caught up in reading articles and blogs for an hour or more sometimes.  So what are we neglecting when we are doing this?  Doing things we love (instead of just reading about them).  Cleaning our houses.  Building our businesses.  Cooking healthier meals for our families.  Connecting with friends and family (in person).  You get the idea.

Too Many Opinions and Too Much Information

As I mentioned above, I love learning.  I also pride myself on having a pretty open mind.  I am able to consider other people’s viewpoints.  This is typically a good trait, but it can also be detrimental in some ways.    Sometimes, too much of other people’s interests and beliefs are not in your best interest.  Let me explain what I mean.   Many people can take in loads of information and viewpoints, and take it all with a grain of salt.  They can absorb what information they want, and discard the rest of it.  Done.  Some people, however (including me), have a harder time doing that.  I absorb it all.  I soak it up.   I save it to re-read later.  I want to know it all.  “How to organize your entire house and life in 16 easy steps.”  “How to be a better parent.”  How to be a better partner.”  “How to cook only super-healthy organic meals and never eat fast food again.”  I want to do it all.  I want to be perfect…and that’s a problem.  Not only does this lead to some mad chaos in the brain, but it also leads to some serious guilt.  No one can do it all. Or read it all.  Or follow it all. Or keep up with it all. Or be perfect.  I finally realized that all this chaos, and information, and pressure, was not in my best interest.  I unsubscribed from everything that was not a true, positive, major interest for me.
Judgy-ness
Face it.  No one likes to be judged.  We judge ourselves enough, so to have someone else do it to us makes us feel the lowest of the low.  Facebook can be and is often used as a weapon.  We’ve all probably seen those folks that use their comments or posts as a passive-aggressive jab to another person or group of people.   It’s so easy to sit behind the protection of a computer screen and pass a semi-cryptic judgement about someone else.  It happens ALL.THE. TIME.   People share personal information about others.  People start rumors about others that can be devastating to someone’s life and family.  It’s disheartening.  OK, this next part will make me sound like a real hippie…  Everyone is on their own path, on their own journey.  So why can’t we all love and support one another, no matter what path we are on?  Sometimes it’s hard, but we have to understand that many people are guided from a place of fear.  Or by deep pain.   Many people are operating from a place of abundant knowledge, and some people from a lack thereof.   All of us are guided by a love for our children and families.  We are all human.  My wish is that we can all operate from a place of love and respect for the entire species, and not just our own families.  End hippie rant.  And that leads me to…

Spreading of Fear and Hatred
I love the freedoms that this country was built upon.  I love that we have freedom of religion and freedom of speech.  I love the internet.  It’s an incredible tool.  But we know that some of these freedoms come with a dark side.  I wish that technology could only be used to spread love and forgiveness and tolerance and knowledge, but unfortunately, our freedom of speech allows those to spread fear and hatred, as well.  This has never been more prevalent.  My fun, light-hearted, supportive, encouraging newsfeed slowly morphed into one of negative news stories & images, judgy-ness, and downright hatred.  This increased spreading of fear and negativity is the very same reason I stopped watching the news, and is now the reason I have cut down my Facebook browsing by about 85%. 

Cutting back on the social technology outlets may sound impossible.  Though it can be a little uncomfortable at first, it really does end up feeling amazing.  I will still post a cute picture of the kids, or something positive here and there, but won’t waste away my days getting caught up in article after article...or stewing for 8 hours about something someone posted.  If I need to find something, I’ll go to and find it.  I won’t browse for 2 hours and feel guilty about all these Pinterest-y projects I never got around to.   I feel a sense of freedom from the Facebook shackles.  I’m more productive.  I’m giving the kids more of my undivided attention.  I’m feeling better about myself.  And best of all, I’m feeling a lot less guilt.  And guess what?  I don’t really miss it. Win-Win-Win-Win-Win.  
If you're feeling like I was, why not give it a try?
Life is good.
 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Easiest 5 Minute Faux Roman Shade Ever!

 
Really?!  5 minutes?  Well, okay, it may take a little trial and error to get everything exactly the way you want it, but if you're lucky...5 minutes. And NO sewing required! :)

Here's what you'll need:
  • Fabric of your choice  (I needed a focal point.  The way my kitchen is designed, there is NO wall space at all to hang pictures. I chose something with a pop of color, since I really couldn't add color anywhere else!)
  • 2 tension rods
  • Several pins
  • Measuring tape
First you will need to measure the width of your window space to make sure you buy fabric and tension rods wide enough to fit.  You will want your tension rod at least a little bigger than the opening so that you have enough "tension" for it to stay up.  You will want your fabric AT LEAST 8 inches wider than your window opening, since you will be folding the edges over on each side.  You will also want the fabric much longer than the actually "shade" will be, since we will be folding edges over, as well as draping it over two rods.

Here we go...

Fit your tension rods to the window.


Put your fabric face-down on the floor with one of the tension rods underneath.
 
 

Fold each side of your fabric inward until your tension rod ends are showing a tiny bit, adjusting as needed to make the folded parts even on each side.

 
 
 
Once it is where you want it to be, use the pins and fasten the fabric going down each side.  Every 6 inches or so should be fine. Try to be inconspicuous with the part of the pin showing on the front of the shade.



Fold the bottom of the fabric up to create a clean bottom edge.  Pin.  Fold the top part of the fabric over the tension rod. Pin.

 
 
 
Place the top rod, with the shade attached to it, in the top of the window space.

 
 
 
Place the 2nd rod several inches lower, in front of the fabric.

 
 
 
Pull fabric that is between the two rods forward with enough slack to drape over the bottom rod.

 
 
Make adjustments to your taste.  Voila!

 
 
You will most likely have to play with it a little until you get a look that you like.  Once you get it the perfect width, you can also buy a little bonding tape or Stitch Witchery to secure the edges better, then remove the pins.

Enjoy the new addition to your room! :)

Life is good.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Healthy Finds for Less at Aldi


I'll admit, I never really gave Aldi much of a chance until more recently. I just assumed everything there was cheap, and full of junk. And a lot of it is. But some of it isn’t. Aldi has recently added an organic line, as well as a new gluten-free line of foods. Who knew? I’m super excited to see more stores adding items with less chemicals and unnecessary ingredients. Our dollars are votes!

I try to buy organic when I can. Our bodies are so overloaded with toxins nowadays, I just feel I need to do what I can (within reason) to not add to that burden. However, the new gluten-free line, Live G-Free, is what got me in there. The kids’ recent allergy tests showed that we should probably stay away from wheat and dairy for a while, as well as a few other things. Panic started setting in. What am I going to feed them? They are typical picky-eater kids. So, I set out to find some gluten-free replacements to their favorite foods and snacks. I couldn’t believe how expensive they were!

One day I ended up at Aldi and was pleasantly surprised. Hidden amongst the typical junky foods, were decent substitutes for A LOT of the items we buy all the time…for A LOT less! Below are a few of the items I started buying at Aldi.


Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef - $5.99


I usually buy this from a farm cooperative, but if I run out, this is a great alternative. With the beef prices skyrocketing, this is a good price for a pound of this quality of meat.



Fruit Spread - $1.69


I typically buy something like All Fruit with no extra sugar added. This little guy fit the bill perfectly.



Organic, Unrefined, Cold-pressed Coconut Oil - $4.99


Super healthy oil.  Good price. 



El Milagro Tortilla Chips - $2.39



I normally only buy organic when it comes to anything corn because of GMOs, but if you are in a pinch and don’t have time to go to another store, these are GMO-free, and restaurant quality.



Organic Crushed or Diced Tomatoes $1.49


I prefer to buy any kind of tomato product in glass jars because the acid causes the BPA to leech from the can liner, but these will work if they are not available. Great for chili!



Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes $1.29


I also use these in my chili. That Fire Roasted part gives it a really nice flavor!



Fruit Cups - $1.69


Eating the whole fruit is WAY better, but I will get these for the occasional lunch box treat or snack. They are not organic, but neither are the ones you buy at a regular grocery store, typically. Aldi has a few varieties that are in 100% juice: peaches, tropical fruit, mandarin oranges, and pineapples. Avoid the stuff in the syrups- yuck.



Unsweetened Almond Milk – $2.49

 
This is the same thing as the name brands, but cheaper. This is great for protein shakes, in coffee, or in cereal. I noticed they just recently added coconut milk, too. If they get an unsweetened version, I’ll be trying that, too.


Organic Salsa $1.99


We like mild. It tastes similar to Tostitos salsa, but it’s organic and cheaper. Win-win.



Gluten-Free Coco Loco Bars - $2.49


These are gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free, and nut free…but not taste free, surprisingly. The kids say they taste like a brownie. These are perfect for an occasional portable treat. They also carry two other flavors.


Organic Pasta Sauce $1.79


Tastes good!



Organic Pumpkin Flax Granola Cereal - $2.79


While not as cheap as their other junk cereals, it’s organic and has good fat and protein. It’s a small box, but it’s very dense and filling. And it’s delicious.

 


Organic Apple Juice - $2.49


Apples are higher in pesticides, so I am glad to find it organic. We add a splash of juice to the kids water.



Brown Rice Spaghetti - $1.89


A must have if you are avoiding gluten.



Lunchmeat – Uncured, No Nitrates, No Antibiotics - $2.99


This is a pretty good price for this type of meat. Applegate lunchmeat will run you $4.99-$5.99 per package.



Dark Chocolate Morsels - $1.79


60% cacao. Same ingredients as the “better” brands. Made in a nut-free facility.


PRODUCE

Aldi will typically have a small selection of organic produce. If you buy a lot of produce every week, and you want organic, you may have to supplement somewhere else.


Organic Grape Tomatoes $2.49


We use these on salads and in my son’s lunch.



Organic Baby Carrots - $1.29




Organic Gala Apples - $4.69


Apples seem to be getting more expensive, so I was glad to see this cheaper bulk bag



Organic Raspberries - $2.39


This is a good price for organic.


Bananas - $1.54


Aldi does sometimes carry organic bananas, however, I typically buy conventional for bananas. Check out the list of the “Dirty Dozen” most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. This list will help you to determine which produce items are the most important to buy organic. Aldi does carry a decent selection of conventional produce.


Bag of Cuties (Seedless Mandarin Oranges) $4.99


These suckers are getting really expensive, too. This is not a bad price for this whole bag.


These are just a handful of the items that you can find cheaper at Aldi. There are also hundreds more commonly-used items, such as spices, baking staples, personal care products, meat, frozen foods, canned and dried beans, dairy, and even wine/beer. J While I do still need to visit Costco or Whole Foods for certain things, I can make these trips a lot less frequently now. Why not give Aldi a chance and save yourself some green?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mommy Brain #1


 
I’ve never seen a truer info graphic.  Mom brains are especially “insane.”  Juggling tasks, meals, a home, and activities for several people is a lot of work.  Then, when you add in information overload, and top it all off with some good old fashioned ridiculous expectations and mommy guilt, the ol’ CPU is running at full capacity.  I believe this is what they call “mommy brain.”   I’d like to give you a snapshot of how a mom’s brain looks. Please  enjoy this segment of “Mommy Brain.”

I feel like such a slug. I had 2 1/2 hours to myself today with no obligations, and I'm still wearing my clothes from yesterday. That I slept in. These fleece lined leggings are sooo comfy, though. I didn’t clean much, and was not productive today at all. Well actually, I did make those Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Balls I found on Pinterest. Although, I didn't use cinnamon or raisins.  Plus, the oats weren’t gluten-free oats, so they are likely contaminated.  If the kids get a tummy ache, it’s my fault because I served them sub par oats.  What kind of mom does that?  The chocolate chips were a good idea, but then they melted.  Yeah, these balls suck.  Anyway, I guess I wasn’t totally unproductive because I did manage to fit in two episodes of House Hunters Renovation.  AND, I fast forwarded through the commercials, so I totally saved time.  That was smart. But now I really have the urge to fix up my house.   I totally need a cute printed roman shade above my sink for a pop of color!  But window treatments are sooo expensive.  I bet I can make one myself! 

(peruses Pinterest for 38 minutes) 

Crap.  It’s time to pick up 5yo from school.  I wonder if they will notice I’m wearing the same clothes as this morning.  And yesterday.  Maybe I'll change my shirt so it looks like I'm wearing something different.   I can’t wear the same shoes as yesterday because then it will be totally obvious. But I read somewhere you can't wear gym shoes with skinny jeans.  It’s a fashion faux pas. Do leggings count as skinny jeans? What about Converse low tops? Are those considered gym shoes?  Screw it. I don't care what anyone thinks.  Maybe I'll just wear a hat.
Life is good.

Chocolaty oatmeal ball anyone?

Can you relate to this post?  Leave me a comment!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Just One of Those Weeks




I am not SuperMom this week...and it's okay.  I want to keep it real here.   
I am tired.  I have slept for 10-11 hours a night, and am still yawning all day long.   I took a nap when C was at preschool, instead of doing something “productive.” 
I don't feel strong.  I ate Halloween candy and potato chips.  
I am kind of cranky and irritable.  I can’t seem to handle much of anything.  I feel spacey and out of it. 
I feel like I need a break.  A day to just lie in bed all day and cry. Or read.  Or listen to the sound of silence.  
I feel uninspired.
I had been feeling really good for the last month or so.   I was motivated, happy, and upbeat.   But I am human, after all, and I have bad days.  Sometimes, my brain just needs a “reset.”   Or maybe my body or mind needs to process something big.   I am honoring that.  Though others may not understand, I am choosing to give myself grace.  This too shall pass.  It always does, doesn't it?
I am committed to my goal of “accepting imperfection,” so I am rejecting guilt.  

We humans all have our days (or weeks or months).  We are not perfect and it's okay.  Let's rid our minds of the idea that we should be perfect.  Are you with me?
Life is good.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gratefulness




They say you can't really be in a rotten mood if you are focusing on being grateful.  In fact, many people have a gratitude journal, in which they write down 3 things they are thankful for every day.  I think it's a great idea!  However, let's be real here.  There is not much I can commit to doing EVERY SINGLE DAY besides maybe taking a pee and sleeping.  So, I decided to just write down a bunch of random things I'm thankful for in one sitting.  Here goes...

God
Earplugs
Slippers
Beer
Hot water
Waterproof bed pads for kids
Coffee
Fall leaves
Love
Therapy
Freedom
An open mind
My boys
My boys' bedtime
My bed
Family
Christmas
Facebook
Pinterest
New baby smell
Xanax
Essential Oils
Kids who say "w" in place of "r"
My health
Online shopping
Coupon codes
My phone
My husband
Sticky kisses from my 5 year old
Spanx
Legos
Chocolate
Heat
Sunshine
Electronics (ooo. I love AND hate this one.)
Clearance racks
Babysitters
Money to pay babysitters
Friends
Makeup
Hugs
Wine
Electricity
Air
Dishwasher
Pizza
Indoor Plumbing
Breezy summer nights
Forgiveness
Music


Life is good.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Big 4-0


I just turned 40.  Whoa.  The Big 4-0. 
Surprisingly, I couldn't care less.  I think 40 is way better than 20. 
Here's why:

I know who I am. 
Looking back at my younger years, I almost feel sadness for that girl trying to find herself.  Now, I know what I stand for.  I know my beliefs. I know my interests.  And I'm cool with it.  Now that I've become a little more, um, seasoned, I am content and happier with who I am.  Isn't that everyone's goal? 

I know life is short.
I have come to realize what matters in my life.  Hard to believe, but it's not money, or a house, or fame, or recognition.  It's family.  Loved ones.  Happiness.  Precious Moments (No, not those dust-collecting statues of little kids in a rowboat.).  People who support me.  Memories.  Connection. Doing what inspires me.  There are too many reminders every day of how short life is.  On my deathbed, I know I wont be thinking "Man, I wish I had that bigger house or had more money."  The only thing left is relationships. Life is short, and I cherish what matters now more than ever.

I know who my people are.
Sorry, but when you're a mom of a certain age, you just don't have the extra energy for people that judge you, or don't treat you well.  I know my people. I know who gets me. I know who respects me.  I know who is REAL.  Ain't nobody got time for toxic people in their lives.  I cut a couple of those people out of my life, and I don't regret it.  I loved myself enough to stop allowing the disrespect and lies.  Surround yourself with people who love you for you. And the occasional crazy relative.

I know my likes and interests.
Wow. This really is life-changing. What are your interests? I mean, deep down.  Your core values.  What fascinates you and excites you?  I used to think I had to "find myself."  But I've come to realize that my passions really have not changed much since childhood.  I like what I like, and that's okay.  That's good enough.  As I'm entering this new phase in life, I'm learning what it's like to be even more real and to live authentically.  I'm pursuing more of what I love, and it feels good.  Living someone else's dreams can only lead to resentment.

I am stronger.
I would call myself pretty easy-going when it comes to most things. Where to go eat. Changes in plans.  Whatever.  I can go with the flow.  But something happens when you become a wise, old parent.  You become a ferocious beast that would do anything for your family. You would face any obstacle or criticism. You would climb over mountains and walk though fire for your children. Once you know better, you do better. You find strength and determination you never knew you had.  It's fascinating, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

I give myself grace.
This one is so hard, but I'm working at it harder.  I'm not Supermom.  I don't always have it all together.  You probably don't want to eat off my floors.  There are piles of papers and laundry.  I don't have abs or buns of steel. I don't look like I walked out of a fashion magazine.  But the biggest and best lesson I've learned is that I don't have to be perfect to be good enough.  Read that again, peeps.  YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO BE GOOD ENOUGH.  This has taken me so long to "get."  To really get. 

I have the arms of my precious children around my neck no matter what my hair looks like that day.   If I am late, the world will keep spinning.  My husband loves me even if the house isn't perfect.  My family still needs me even if my dinner tasted awful.  God loves me.  I am loved.

Grace and love for yourself.  It seems so unattainable, but it's so worth reaching for.

So with that, I say "sayonara, 30s."  I am giddy with excitement about what the next decade wants to teach me.

Life is good.
Not over the hill yet.