Friday, August 29, 2014

Back-To-School Coping & A Giveaway

A few days before school started I freaked out.  I was so worried.  I was worried my friends had made all new friends because I didn't live in their neighborhood, I was worried I wouldn't like my teacher, I was worried that I had forgotten how to write.  Hiding in the small space in between my bed and my closet, I took a deep breath and I attempted to write my name.  A-N-G-I-E...phew, I still remembered how to write.  I cried with relief.  I cried because I didn't want the best summer I had ever had in my entire life to be over.  I cried because I didn't know what the future looked like.  It was August of 1984 and I was going into the fourth grade.  

Going back to school was always anxiety inducing for me.  It got a little easier over the years, a little more exciting.  Laying out my outfits the night before helped--like the yellow and red paisley shirt I paired with the red belt, pegged jeans and red flats, oh and I even laid out the red plastic pearls I planned to wow the new middle school wearing in 1986.  Calling my friends the days before school started helped.  Crying a little and taking deep breaths helped.  Watching my favorite soap operas and eating chocolate helped.

These back-to-school moments of mental anguish became the training ground for my version of coping skills that would get me through/haunt me into my adulthood.  Every year the back-to-school terror/excitement had me laying out outfits, reaching out to friends, eating chocolate, watching soaps and crying and breathing.  

Even when I was done with school, Fall became a time of heightened nerves/emotions.  I started realizing that it wasn't just going back to school that had me all messed up, it was Christmastime, it was a hectic job schedule, it was any kind of change or pressure that I couldn't completely control. 

Now that I have my own children, I try not to put all my shitty issues onto them.  We have fun rituals and traditions centered around the first day of school.  In the weeks leading up to school I spend a little extra time with the ones that genetically are so screwed, and need a little more soothing and reassurance that their friends will still like them, they can still write and even though we don't know what the future looks like, it will be okay.  I'm hoping to give them coping skills that don't involve General Hospital, chocolate and so much crying.

I feel confident and loving in my mothering, but as far as taking care of my own anxiety, not so much.  Once again, I am feeling all kinds of anxious about the new school year for my kids, the fact that one of the best summers of my entire life is almost over and that I have no idea what the future looks like.

The other day my friend Amanda who knew I was probably struggling came over to give me a gift.  She gave me a bracelet she made, Mala beads made out of wooden beads and gemstones.  

It was beautiful.  She told me that I should meditate with the bracelet.  When she saw my skeptical look, she said "It doesn't hurt to try."

This friend radiates peace and love.  Amanda is a bad-ass hippie mother who has dedicates herself to "spreading peace."  She started a business called Little Bird Soul and creates Mala beads that she hopes inspire people "to love themselves and take care of themselves."  
She includes a note like this one with each piece she makes. 
After giving me a quick meditation tutorial and a hug, she left.  I wore the bracelet everyday, but held off on the whole meditation idea because you know, I have my coping skills already.  But after a late night crying to Tim about how the lady at the kids' Meet the Teacher looked at me funny and I just knew she was judging how rough the boys are and I can't organize anything and I don't want the summer to be over and I can't felt like it might be a good time to give the whole meditation thing a go.

I sat on my front porch and tried to center myself.  

Per Amanda's instructions I rotated each bead on the bracelet and tried to focus.  Deep breath in...Wait what did she say dedicate a breath? a meditation? Deep breath out...are the kids fighting....take a breath dummy...oh my god was there a skunk out here last night...rotate the bead...oh shit did I put out the garbage last night...that's the garbage truck coming...can I open my eyes...breathe dammit...I should peak and see if the garbage cans are out...the kids are too quiet what does that mean?...okay, good garbage cans are there...breathe, rotate...this is pretty easy, I think I totally got this meditating... I am awesome at mediating, huh, who knew? rotate, breathe...

Amanda told me it might be like this and I've read Eat,Pray,Love.  I pretty much guessed that meditating for the first time for me and my monkey brain/ADD brain/mom brain would go like that.

But she was right, it didn't hurt.  In fact, it felt good to sit and be intentional.  It felt good to be quiet.  It felt good to not be catching up, searching, looking, reading, scanning emails and Facebook.  

I am adding this to my list of skills with which I use to cope. Here's to peace and love and meditation and soap operas.  Here's to coping and maybe not knowing what the future looks like but knowing that it will be okay.  Here's to meditating.  Here's to going back to school.  

How do YOU cope?  Do you meditate? Do you stress out during back-to-school season?

I'm doing my part now to spread the peace and love.  You get a chance to have your very own, custom made, beautiful Mala bracelet. 

And Amanda is also giving away a copy of her favorite book about meditation and mindfulness (for children and grown-ups)--A Pebble for Your Pocket

It's a great way to start out the school year with new coping skills and a great reminder to take care of yourself.  Here are a bunch of ways to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To find out more information about Little Bird Soul click here, and here Facebook  and here Twitter.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Plump Cliche & Making My Health A Priority

I wanted to get back in shape again so I started running again.  But then I tore or pulled something and had to stop.  I wanted to make changes in my diet and make more healthy choices less fried and chocolate choices, so I started making smoothies.  I fell in love with smoothies, adding protein and ground flaxseed.  But then my blender broke.  THEN I decided to finally call and make an appointment with a doctor to check my torn/pulled tendon or muscle or whatever it is and maybe check some of my hormone levels.  And check my thyroid because I'm convinced that having a nonworking thyroid is the reason my metabolism died and I'm so tired all the time.  But when I saw the name of the doctor I was referred to, I found out it was a parent of one of my children's friends and I thought that would be too weird so I didn't call.

It's like the universe doesn't want me to be healthy.  Waaaa.  But it's not like I'm giving up, last night I sat in my kitchen and watched Yoga videos on YouTube while I ate a Fudge Round.

I can't believe what I've become...a plump, suburban cliche.  I drive a minivan, know all the lyrics to the song Fancy, put my work out clothes on with every intention of going to the gym or at least doing stretches while I watch The Real Housewives of Orange County but end up drinking a glass of wine while watching instead of stretching.  
First things first, I'm the realest.
Okay, wait I know life isn't all lyrics to a pop song and I know that I wore these work out clothes to run errands all day and then out to an unhealthy dinner.  

AND I put my health last.  I make sure each one of my four kids gets to their dentist appointments every six months but I haven't been to the dentist in two years.  All their immunizations are up to date but I've been carrying around my mammogram order for two years and haven't gone yet.  I don't have a family doctor for myself--I see my OB for everything or go to the urgent care down the street.

I'm not sure how this happened.  I mean I love my minivan and Iggy Azalea, but I need to get a handle on this whole taking care of myself thing.  Not only do I want to feel better, I want to live longer and I want to set better examples for my kids.

It's bigger than being a cliche.  
I need to man up, no mom up and just make the appointments, have the tests, accept that my thyroid is fine and realize that I just need more fiber, water and exercise.  I must make my health a top-of-the-list item for me, for my kids.  No more excuses, no more blaming the universe.  

After one more Fudge Round, I vow to make the calls, make the commitment.  
I will make healthier choices starting now.

I will get the mammogram, my teeth cleaned, my moles checked, my ripped/torn tendon/muscle diagnosed, I will eat more fiber, walk more, run more, sleep more.  I will not just find the time, I will make the time.

How do you make yourself a priority?  Is your health a top-of-the-list item?  Do you have any tips on making time for your health?

This post is sponsored by GigaSavvy for Molina Healthcare.  Molina Healthcare has been serving the health needs of low-income families and individuals for over 30 years. Molina Healthcare has health plans, medical clinics and a health information management solution.  No other organization of its kind does all three. Their web site is full of helpful articles about staying healthy, caring for health conditions and being the healthiest version of you at every stage of life. Click here to learn more about Molina Healthcare.

The opinions in this post are my own.  I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them.  I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.

Monday, August 25, 2014

One More Week

This post is part of the Juicy Fruit® campaign called Juicy Fruit® Fun Side. 
New Juicy Fruit® Fruity Chews are available in two flavors, Juicy Fruit® Original and Juicy Fruit® Strawberry. This past July, Juicy Fruit® launched the new Juicy Fruit® Bubble Gum, offering the great bubble blowing experience that kids and adults love. 


We have one more week of summer vacation.  One more week of nothing we have to do except maybe bike rides in the middle of the day, pancakes at 10 a.m., nature hikes after lunch, spontaneous trips to the zoo or the pool.  One more week to fill with as much summer fun as we possibly can.
Zoo carousel selfie.
JT hanging out on a bench because he can, because it's still summer.

I am going to miss all the adventures for sure, but what I'll miss most is all four of my children being together.   When school starts, they will be in three different schools and busy with friends and homework.  And that is all good.  They need their own lives, their own identities outside of our family.  It just makes these summers when they still want to go on nature hikes in the afternoon together so much sweeter.

Just to be very clear, my kids fight and roll their eyes at each other and me.  They don't think I'm very cool at all and there are times when they think I'm "the meanest mom ever."  But they act that way and think those things in the fall, in the winter, really all the time because they are normal kids.  However, I find it less upsetting in the summer.  Maybe it's because it's sunnier, maybe because we are less busy and less stressed, and maybe because after the bickering and the bugging, I can walk into a room and find them snuggled on the couch together watching a show.  

So, we have one more week of summer vacation.  
Lucy is soaking it up--the sun and the freedom of summer.
During this week, we plan on more nature hikes, easy going mornings with pancakes at 10 a.m., spontaneous trips to the pool or the zoo or maybe a beach or a farmer's market.  We will eat ice cream outside, stay up late, fight and make up, ride bikes, find a sprinkler to run through and enjoy not having to do anything if we don't want to.  I will revel in the precious joy of being with and watching my kids, my family, enjoy being together.
Nature hike selfie.
As summer winds down, do you have special plans? What will you do during these last few days of summer? Trips? Concerts? Nature hikes in the middle of the day?  
How will your family bring the fun?

Check out Juicy Fruit's new sugar free soft chew gum (available nationwide in a 40-count bottle (MSRP $3.49)) and bubble gum (available in a five-count chunk (MSRP $.079)).

I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of One2One Network.  All opinions stated are my own.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chuck E. Cheese, The Zoo & What I Know For Sure

Last weekend we had a birthday party for JT at Chuck E. Cheese.  It was loud and crazy and all kinds of sensory overload, and it was almost three months late.  Yes, his birthday was in early May and we had a party in August.
There's nothing like watching my kids at Chuck E. Cheese to remind me that they will probably inherit all of my impulse control issues.

You are welcome.  I say that because if you are feeling behind, like you can't catch up or like you can't do anything right for your kids...I am here to make you feel better.  I am that friend that is more unorganized, more behind, more emotional.  I will make you feel like you have your shit together.

But here's the thing, even though I laugh it off and don't get too hung up on much, sometimes I let it bother me.  I let worry about what others think creep into my mind and heart.  I worry that everyone, EVERYONE, knows the answers and I am totally fucking up my whole family foreverrrrrr.


Half-way on our way to the zoo yesterday, I realized I forgot my debit card. Or maybe lost my debit card.  I had no gas and no cash.   After searching my purse and the floor of the minivan in the gas station parking lot, I drove back home.  I looked and looked and looked for the debit card.   I called Tim and said "well, we should check the accounts because I lost my debit card and someone is probably spending our money all over town right now."  Yeah, I was convinced someone was out there having a good time on the 200 bucks left in our account.  I might have cried.  And then I found my debit card tucked into a never-used side pocket of my purse.  

"Well why would I put it there?," I laughed.  Peyton rolled his eyes.  

"No worries, I found it," I texted Tim.

"Well, I guess we are going to the zoo, zoo, zoo after all," I sang  all Raffi-like.

Again, my older kids rolled their eyes.

The zoo was full of cute families with their cute wagons and picnics and kids in matching outfits.  We strolled in with our non-matching, messy swagger.  
They look like they should be walking in slow motion with some hard rock song playing in the background.

We had fun, but I'm not sure if anyone thought we were cute.  I don't think anyone looked at us and said "awww, someday I want my family to be like them."  In between the good moments, there was bickering and slapping each other with the zoo map and more eye rolling.

At one point I swear even the chimpanzee was looking at us like "who the hell are you?"  

You know you are a little oversensitive when you feel judged by the animals in a zoo. 

Sure, reacting to the chimp is a little nuts, but you better believe people are judging.  That's what people do.  But people also lift us up, laugh with us and totally get us.  Not everyone, but there are some people.  My hope is that everyone has more of those some people in their lives.  Because screw the chimp, screw moms that judge instead of support, screw old people that forgot what it was like to have toddlers or tweens.  I fully support and admire families that have color-coded activity calendars and brush their kids' hair and have birthday parties within a week of their child's actual birthdays.  It doesn't mean I'm going to do that, just means I'm cool with it. 

I know for sure that just like Taylor Swift sings "haters gonna hate, hate, hate" and that we can't let it get to us.  There will be days when it bothers us more than others and we feel like total failures, but you just can't let it consume you.

Right? I mean screw that chimp.

Here's what else I know for sure this week: 
  • Hello, my name is Angela and I am a binge watcher. Tim and I are so addicted to Friday Night Lights that when Netflix wasn't working we went into total withdrawal and panic.  We looked at each other like "what are we going to do?!!!???"  Um, we bought two episodes on iTunes, because we are binge watching addicts.  This video is funny talking about the dangers of binge watching TV shows.

  • Brothers rule.  They wrestle and compete and punch, but they also support, encourage and play.  Watching the boys be brothers is pretty awesome.

  • This football movie looks good.  In fact I cry every time I see the trailer.  

  • Vlogging is a whole lot of fun.  I got the whole family involved in my latest vlog.

Check out my #sheethappens moment blog.

(Click here to watch the video.)

  • I'm close to my goal!  I have one week to reach 100 subscribers to my YouTube channel and I'm at 84.  Help me reach my goal, click here to subscribe.

  • I will  never stop loving Skeeball, never.
I am proud to report that I won quite a few tickets playing Skeeball at Chuck E. Cheese.  

What do you know for sure this week, right now?  Tell me what you know!  Share it here in the comments or over on my Facebook page.

Come play with me on Instagram, click here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Very Own #SheetOutOfLuck Story #spon

I've talked more about toilet paper in the last month than maybe ever before in my life.  I went to California and talked toilet paper at BlogHer.  I took pictures on an actual toilet and yes, talked about toilet paper some more.  I even gave a year's supply of toilet paper away (congrats to Kristen, the giveaway winner!).  

One of my favorite pictures from the Angel Soft® booth at BlogHer (Angel Soft® was a sponsor).

I've been working with Angel Soft® to promote their #SheetOutOfLuck video campaign to discuss embarrassing #SheetHappens moments and how Angel Soft® can prevent them.

Now I'm joining in on the video fun.  Check out my #SheetHappens moment.  

  (To watch the video, click here.)

I got the whole family involved in this one.  

You know the old saying "A family that vlogs together becomes YouTube stars together...." That's a saying right?  Well, anyway, I know we definitely had fun together making this video.

Watch our behind-the-scenes reel.

(To watch the video, click here.)

This whole campaign has been fun.  Not only does it have THE best hashtags on Twitter, but I also got to laugh and have fun talking about something that we all use....toilet paper. 

I love a company that provides a useful product and has a sense of humor.  Kudos to Angel Soft®.

Check out some of the Angel Soft® #SheetOutOfLuck videos too.

(Click here to watch the video.)

(Click here to watch the video.)
To learn more about Angel Soft® check out their web site, Facebook page and follow them on Twitter.

I received financial compensation for this post from Angel Soft® however all opinions contained are my own.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Storage Situation- A Pinterest Poser Challenge

My kids play a lot of sports and have a lot of equipment.  And since I am not the most organized mother-person, I have been looking for some sort of storage situation to help keep up with all the equipment.  Last week, I found it-- old-school lockers! 

We looked on Craig's List for lockers to put in the basement.  We found some that were perfect, or so we thought.  Tim drove out to get them, but they were too big.  We looked again online and so many of them were very expensive.  We thought about going back and buying the too-big lockers as an investment (you know, clean them up and sell them online).  But we didn't.  Instead my brother-in-law heard me talking about our storage situation and locker disspointment and said he had some lockers we could have. For free!  What?! Awesome.

For this week's Pinterest Poser Challenge* I attempt to fix our storage situation and spruce up some lockers for the kids' room.

*In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,** every week I attempt and detail a project/idea/recipe inspired by Pinterest.  
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance.

Tim picked up the lockers and bought some spray paint on the way home.
The Before-We-Painted picture.
My love of spray paint has been well-documented here and here and here.  I think it is such a fun, inexpensive way to make anything looke better.

After the paint dried, it was time to move them inside.  I think a good counseling exercise for marriage would be moving furniture.  It takes a lot of patience and communication.

And a sense of humor.  I think I said "Pivot!" 15 times going up the stairs, referencing the old Friends episode.  Remember that one? Click here to watch it again.

I am so happy with how the lockers turned out that there's no way we could put them in our ugly, unfinished basement.  We took them directly to the boys'room. The kids started putting their equipment in immediately. 

The paint job isn't perfect, but I don't do perfect.

Yeah, I know it might get smelly, but with three boys sharing a room it kind of already smells anyway.  
This hangs on their wall.  We had it done this summer, I think it is fabulous.

When we said put all your important stuff in the lockers, Wade put Woody, Buzz and Jessie inside (and a football).
 I love that he is four years old.

Storage situation fixed, at least for sports equipment.  Now on the hunt for something to help me manage/organize/contain all the school papers/homework/equipment. 

Here are a few projects that I've tried.  Have you made anything inspired by Pinterest?  Tell us about them in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Melted Beads- DIY Suncatcher- click here
Tissue Paper Pom Pom Garland-- click here
A Delightfully Simple Birthday Party--click here
Make An Awesome Omelette--click here
Outdoor Lights Inspired by the show Parenthood- click here
Herb Garden with Chalboard Pots- click here
Backyard Graffiti Art with kids- click here
Happiness Notecards- click here
Gluten Free Rainbow Cake- click here
Fruit Roll-Up Fortune Cookies- click here
Make Your Own Magnets- click here
DIY Painted Clay Necklace- click here
Dixie Cup Lights- click here
DIY Ornaments-click here
Gluten Free Clay- click here
Make Your Own Stamps- click here
Birthday Shirt- click here

Gluten Free Pop Tarts- click here
Front Porch Kid Art Display- click here
Door turned into Table- click here
Summer Wish List Chalkboard-click here
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookie Sandwiches-click here
Painted Mason Jar Vases-click here
Cinco de Mayo Paper Flowers- click here
Earth Day Cupcakes- Click here
Nail Art-click here
Homemade Photo Booth Fun- click here
Fake Bangs- click here
DIY Subway Art- click here
Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here
The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here