Friday, February 16, 2018

Valentines, Shmalentines.

Valentines, shmalentines. 

So Valentine's is not one of my favorite holidays. And I'm not saying that because my husband, ahem, forgot it this year. I just never really got into it that much.  Don't get me wrong, red is my favorite color to wear and I love the thought of love and romance and all that mushy stuff. But I just prefer surprises for no reason on days that have no meaning at all.
The kids on the other hand, love Valentine's Day. Scarlett made her disappointment known when she found out that I was not getting them anything for the holiday of LOVE this year. I told her, "I'm going to show you my love instead". Which didn't get a very good response rating. She replied, "You aren't going to get your kids that you love even a small treat!?" And with big brown eyes that reminded me of Puss In Boots when he begins to charm his enemy, and a pout that would make any Mama think twice, I decided I would get them each one thing to say I love you. But it WAS NOT going to be another dang stuffed animal or anything with sugar in it. I was thoughtful and got them each a gift that I knew they would use and play with often. My kids LOVE Moana right now and are always pretending to be the characters from the Disney movie. I purchased Maxwell a Maui hook from Amazon and Scarlett, a Heart of Te Fiti necklace. Of course I didn't want to buy the cheap plastic one from Target. Which led me to getting on Etsy and scrolling and scrolling until I found the most realistic and well made Heart of Te Fiti that anyone could ever want! And $60 dollars later, a well made Moana necklace from Italy was on it's way....

Shopping is my best friend and nemesis, I tell ya. But I figure I'd rather give my money to that person who made it then some big store chain, right?? I'm gonna go with that.

Oh, did I mention Ty forgot Valentines? Ha. Of course I did. But he redeemed himself by buying me some workout equipment and making dinner for the entire week. ;) It's ok babe. There's always my's July 23rd in case you forgot. (I should have been a comedian) But anyhow, like I was saying earlier, Valentine's Day is just a day where single people feel alone, couples expect things from their significant others (like me) and where people waste money on nonsense that will probably be thrown out by the week's end. Am I getting too Grinch-y here? I mean, to me, it would be so much more meaningful if Ty picked a weekend and planned something for me and the kids to all do together. Or if he brought home a bouquet of donuts (yes, it's a real thing-saw it on Instagram) for no reason.  Or possibly a romantic weekend away to just "to say, I love you"....Cue the Stevie Wonder music! I am a sucker for romance but just not really for one specific day I'm not even entirely sure why. So there's my thoughts on that.

But if you LOVE Valentine's Day then I hope you had a wonderful day. And if you don't, hey, it's already over. Either way, sending you all my love everyday!!!! xoxo


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Destination: Luckenbach, TX.

I wasn't going to write a big, long post on Luckenbach, TX.  But it may very well turn into that because I must fill you in on this gem of a tiny town. We went to Fredricksburg because so many people said it was a cute and quaint place to visit. And it was. But what they didn't tell me, was that I would LOVE Luckenbach TX even more.

Picture this,
You pull into a long dirt road that opens up into something out of a small town country setting. You see a large group of bikers parked to one side. The bikers seemed to have taken one section of the picnic table area for there pit stop meet-up. Their leather vests and facial hair screamed, "Scary biker dudes" but having a former Bike Club boyfriend, (yes Ty was in a bike club), I know that this look is just that. Some of the nicest guys I knew were part of these clubs. Not to say they weren't tough, the contrary, but they also were good people. And if you watched this group of bikers closely, you would notice that they too laughed and smiled just like regular folks. There were a few old looking buildings here and there. One most recognizably the infamous "Post Office" which wasn't a post office at all anymore, but now a bar. And probably the coolest one I've been to in a long while. On the otherside were covered stages where musicians performed on most nights. Some of these stage's sides were covered with license plates from around the country. Chickens ran freely as a crowd of folks mingled and listened to the live music. I don't think I saw one person there who wasn't wearing cowboy boots or hat. The southern accents filled my ears and I felt strangely, at home. Never setting foot in Texas before, I found this peculiar. Nonetheless, I felt like I could visit here often. I felt welcome. I could see spending nights here, getting to know the locals and drinking Texas beer, even though beer isn't my drink of choice, Texas beer just seemed cool to drink.

On the backside of the Post Office, the side that had an order window which was only used for ordering beer,  was a group of food trucks. And beyond that, 2 or 3 fire pits with stone seating all around. If you wanted to wander further, you could cross the bridge and field to see the river or let the kids run around in the field.

We wanted to grab one of those "cool" Texas beers and so we made our way into the "Post Office".  The collage filled walls were a story. Anywhere you looked, you could see bits and pieces of history. I couldn't help but take a long hard look around.
A big ole sign read, "CASH ONLY" and I nudged Ty. We never have cash. "Anywhere we can get cash around here?" Ty asked not expecting the answer to be yes.
"Right around the corner outside here, ya'll will see a big box." the bartender with a friendly face replied.
Confused but not asking questions, we ventured around the corner. Sure enough, there stood a big wooden box that looked more like an outhouse than an ATM. One might have thought otherwise if it weren't for the sign on the front of it: ATM. Ty opened the door and ta-dahhh! An out of place, shiny ATM appeared. And thank God because I was dying for a drink. Upon returning inside, I looked at the menu quizzical. I am not a beer drinker and with the only wine option being a cheap chardonnay, I thought I'd skip the inevitable cheap-wine-headache and try a beer. Ty offered me a sip of his IPA. After nearly spitting that out, the bar tender suggested a Texas beer that they just got in. And she was right, it was just perfect.

We sat down and listened to some live music. Someone resembling the voice of Chris Stapleton was singing. Just my luck since Chris Stapleton is a favorite of mine. Scarlett made friends with a dog and was busy teaching him tricks while Maxwell watched from the side, Buzz Lightyear hanging from his hand. The older couple that the dog belonged to seemed thrilled to be showing off their well-trained dog. As if they were proud grandparents, showing off their first-born grandchild.  I just sat on that wooden table and let the sun pour over my body. The guitar strumming just seemed to brush away any worry I had.

Across the way sat a Cowboy Hat Shop. Hats and old wagon wheels decorated the inside and outside of the small shop with no doors. Two older gentlemen in cowboy hats sat on the bench in front of the hat Shop chatting small talk. I eavesdropped just to hear the words "cattle" and "ranch" spoken in a country dialect. The biker next to us wearing a leather vest and some serious muscle hanging out, was chatting with others. His smile was infectious. The kids laughed and pointed at the chicken that had somehow managed to get stuck in a nearby tree. The joke of the day...."chicken butt." (you'll understand this when you scroll through the photos below.) Scarlett requested a photo with the chicken in the tree. Of course.

Now THIS...this is something that, without even knowing it, I had spent a long time looking for. The peaceful embrace of a small-town vibe. I bet many of you don't know that I came from a tiny small town in Massachusetts myself. Not as tiny as Luckenbach, TX, but just the same, a small town.

We spent the whole afternoon here. We ended our day by the fire pits and by that time, the place had started to clear out. Another musician was playing at sunset and I suspected that the daytime crew was heading out before the nightlife began. We made the peaceful trip back home. Hill Country in Texas is amazing. Something I didn't expect but have found myself obsessed with. If you are ever in Texas, do yourself a favor a visit this small humble spot. It might be exactly what you didn't know you needed ;) 


Monday, January 29, 2018

Scarlett & Maxwell Take 6

The giggles from the other room as I write this are time-capsule-worthy. Scarlett and Maxwell are watching The Parent Trap (original version) and I absolutely love that they are so intrigued by this movie from 1957.
Any old movie that I put on, they are glued to! They may not look like me, but now I know they are truly my children. I'm a sucker for an old flick.

It's been awhile since I've posted a Scarlett and Maxwell post. The time is slipping away too quickly and I recognize this more and more as the kids get older. Funny how that happens. I used to hear my parents say it and all be darned, they were right!
I want to soak up all these little moments and live in them forever. I love this chapter of life. Don't get me wrong, I have my fair share of "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!" moments. In fact, I have more than I'd like. But beneath all of the chaos and screaming, dirty clothes and messy rooms, tears and stressful, trying times, I know how truly and utterly blessed I am. I'm one of those folks who is always thinking, "life is too good, something bad is about to happen." A horrible habit I know, but it's how I'm wired. And ya know what? It's made me appreciate things more than the average person. How's that for the glass is half full?

Scarlett is turning 7 years old in 4 months and I have all sorts of emotions about that. I mean, how in the hell does time do that!? Someone please tell me. I am not sure why but her turning 7 is affecting me more than when I turned 30. 7 just seems too big and I am having a hard time accepting it.

Scarlett is becoming such a young lady. She is everything that I knew she would be. Independent, headstrong, kind, nurturing, smart, loving, and of course, stubborn just like her Mama. She has the most descriptive and intriguing imagination. I love to listen to her play with her brother. All of the magic comes out in her words. She is such a little social butterfly. Moving to Texas, I had fears that the kids wouldn't adjust but Scarlett made friends on her first day. I should have known. She is flourishing in school and loves all of her new Texas friends. She got and "Exceeds" on EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT! I am floored by her effort and how smart she is. She is also on 2nd grade reading level. I love the outgoing personality in her. She begs me on most days to go out and see if we can meet kids in the neighborhood. She began horse lessons here in Texas this month. She has been riding English since she was 3 but we couldn't find one English riding barn here in Texas. Imagine that!  Anyhow, we decided to try Western. She is loving it just as much!  As long as she can be there with those horses, she is happy and all is right in the world.
Although she gives me a run for my money with her witty remarks and will to be continuously right at all times, (no clue who she would get that from....gulp) I JUST know that those qualities are going to allow her to be something grand. And I try my hardest every day not to tame the wild out of her. My very hardest. I also read last week that studies show, a nagging mother makes for a successful daughter. Hmmm. Who would have thought my flaws would pay off!? ;)

Maxwell has become so verbal! I love it. I can't get enough of his chatter and cute sentences. Maxwell hasn't been doing as well in school here in Texas. He is much different than his sister. He likes to take his time to get used to things. He must feel things out before he feels safe to let his guard down. He watches before acting and wants to hold onto me a little longer than his sister did. He adored his school in New York. The teachers and his friends- he would come home happy and talking about playing with his friends every day. Now, the teachers at his new school have been telling me that he seems sad and doesn't play or interact. He only watches. This breaks my heart. This is not the boy I know. As soon as I pick him up, a smile comes over his face and he runs to me like it is the best part of his day. The teachers tell me that he is like a different child as soon I come to pick him up. Im hoping he gets used to the new school and begins to enjoy it. Because honestly...this kills me every. single. day. It was my worst fear when we decided to come here. But then I tell myself that all personalities are different and Maxwell might need a little bit longer to adjust, that's all. Sure enough, this week has been a bit better. He has been playing more at school and seems to be interacting more too. So let's cross our fingers for Maxwell, shall we? He has also started potty training. And he's in big boy underwear!! Again, the time thing kills me. I don't have a baby anymore...sob. But this means that we won't have to buy diapers anymore and we can go on vacations without the baby packing and having to cater to the baby before all else. So we look forward to that.

And I know most of you won't care about these but I want to remember them...

Favorite Foods:
Right now Maxwell favs are: pasta, cupcakes, waffles, pancakes, yogurt, ice cream sandwiches and blueberries & bananas.
Scarlett loves: Salmon, fresh mozzarella, soft pretzels, yogurt, raviolis and smoothies.

Scarletts highlights: She is reading like a pro and acing spelling tests and math.
Maxwells highlight: He is now starting potty training! He is successfully going pee on the potty and we are working on the rest ;) He is also starting to use his imagination as well as his sister.

Comedy of month: 
Scarlett: I hear from the other room, "Wow this is really hairy, I think I need to shave this." I look in cringing to see what she is referring to. I see her holding a hair brush. Thank God!
Maxwell: He repeats, "Oh bother!" in the same tone as his father when I ask him to clean up his toys or say sorry to his sister. It cracks me up that he knows in what context to use certain phrases.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Everything I Eat For An Entire Week.

I have had quite a few questions on Instagram (@itslaurenrebecca)  about what I've been eating and how often etc. So I thought I would share with you my meal plan for the entire week. That is EVERYTHING I will be eating for the entire week. I also wanted to share that I am doing the Tone It Up fitness plan but not their meal plan at this time. I'm sure I will try it out eventually but for now, my own meals have been working for me. I keep a google sheet for the week and that helps me to keep track of what we ate. Sometimes we don't feel like eating something on a particular day or might not have enough time to cook something so we pick a different meal off of the list to cook instead. So I just highlight what was eaten. For instance, we had healthy clean tacos today instead of yesterday because Ty wanted the bun-less burgers yesterday. This works for us because life happens and things change and so we can't be set in stone. Also, sometimes you are just craving something different so this works as long as we swap the meals out and stick to the meals on the chart. You will note that I start my week on Saturday because that is the day that I go grocery shopping so it's easier for me to do it this way.
I was raised vegetarian so I have no problem eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables. I do lots of lunches where I just eat raw veggies, cheese, eggs and of course, my favorite, Peanut Butter!! The one thing that I had a hard time letting go of was pasta. But I've realized that there are whole wheat pastas or zucchini/squash noodles that make delicious meals as well. It's all about experimenting with new things.

If I have a harder workout that day, I try to eat more protein so I may add in apples and peanut butter or cottage cheese for an after dinner snack. That may not be on the chart but I know that it's ok to do so.
An "X" under workout means I need to work out that day, which is usually a Tone It Up workout as of lately.  I also used to do the Bikini Body Burn workouts. I only take 2 days off and usually try to get some outdoor activities in on a weekend day that I'm not working out. If I don't have a lot of time one day, I will just do the toning moves for Tone It Up but if I have more time, I will do those AND an additional workout.

MealSaturday SundayMonday
Breakfastcoffee, Yogurt bowlBanana & PB Overnight Oats and coffeeTropical Green Smoothie
Snackprotein smoothieChocolate Peanut Butter Chia Bar cottage cheese & fruit
Lunchcheat mealMozzerella, tomato & basil 2 HB eggs, cheese slices, green beans, apple slices w/ PB with snacking round
Snackchocolate PB Chia BarProtein SmoothieProtein Smoothie
DinnerSweet Potato wedges with fishburgers with no bun, Clean Eating Vegetable Fritters with mashed cauliflower
Snackcheese no snack tea
Water60 oz60 oz60 oz
WorkoutXOutdoor activity X

Greek Yogurt Bowl: banana blueberries, kiwi, granola & coconut and Coffee Tropical Green SmoothieBanana & PB Overnight Oats with TeaTropical Green smoothie
apples with pb & choc bits Pomegranates yogurt with almondsyogurt with fruit
Salad w/ Tuna & chocolate PB Chia bar for dessert Veggie Wrap w/ cottage cheese2 HB eggs, cheese slices, veggie & PB with snacking round veggie wrap with cottage cheese
Protein SmoothieProtein SmoothieProtein SmoothieProtein Smoothie
Clean Eating Taco TuesdayChicken Marsala stuffed w/ cheesy carmelized onion Baked Sweet potatoes w/ Crispy Kale & Feta w/ Steak Kids: RaviolisBaked Coconut Chicken Strips with vegetable & brown rice
yogurtteano snack cocktail/wine
60 0z60 0z60 oz60 oz

So there is an example of what I eat for an entire week. I hope that is helpful and I encourage anyone looking to feel better and look better, to start meal planning and working out regularly. I can immediately tell when I haven't been working out that I don't feel as good. My mood is ehhhh and I just feel unaccomplished. There are so many benefits to keeping your lifestyle healthy. I am going to share some before and after photos soon. This time last year, I was NOT as in shape as I am now. I worked out a lot but it was because I was eating whatever I wanted. What you eat is so important when trying to get in shape. They say it is 80% what you eat and 20% working out. I believe that whole-heartedly. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Year's 2018!!!!! Our plans for the year ahead.

Let's be honest, it really doesn't matter what our plans are. Life has a way of ending up how it wants to, no matter how we intend it to be. Truth, right?  And for this reason, I am not huge on New Year's Resolutions. In fact, I couldn't have predicted where I'd be in 365 days on any given New Years in the last 10 years. I give my praise to anyone who makes resolutions and keeps to them. I on the other hand, just never make them. If I want something bad enough, I just go after it no matter what the month. Instead on New Years, I tend to reflect on the past year and think about all that I have been blessed with.

It just so happens that something happened around the holidays this year that made me start to think about things a little deeper. About purpose and meaning, what I'm contributing in this life and how I can give more. The problem with life is, we always think we have plenty of time. Truth is, we don't. Such a Debbie downer, I know. ;) But what I'm trying to say is, I think it's important to go after the things in our heart. Procrastination is a beast. We were all made with talents and qualities for a reason. I TRULY believe this. We have purpose and we have the choice to waste it...or use it. 

I don't feel that my life so far, was a waste. Far from it. But I don't think that I've gone after what it is that is really in my heart. And for so long, I've been waiting. I'm not sure what I've been waiting for. Maybe the right time. Maybe too many distractions. Maybe a reason? Perhaps a push in the right direction. I feel that 2018 is the year that I need to conquer more. More of what is in my heart. More of the passion inside me and also to give more. Why 2018? Because I cannot go back and change anything. I wish I had done this years ago. But I didn't. There is no better time than RIGHT now. I have to live every year, every day and every moment to the fullest.

So with that said, we do want to plan a little. We want to travel more. That is our number one goal for this year. To see new places and explore. The kids love it and there are so many places we haven't been yet! We also are contemplating a few other things that I don't want to say out loud just yet...minor things. Now, let's hope we have the time to do all of this!

This New Year's we were a little under the weather as we landed back in Texas from spending the holidays in the white sands of Siesta Keys. The day prior we went to The Local and listened to live music while the kids ran around and played. On NYE, we brought the kids bowling, let them have large sundaes and then brought them home to eat Chinese from the BEST Chinese place we found here in San Antonio! So we made a picnic on the floor and watched old 90's movies. It amused me how much the kids were intrigued by them.  They are my favorite as well.  We also discovered there are no fireworks laws here. They lit fireworks so close to where we live that we watched them from our deck with wine in hand. It was a perfect night and I ended it snuggled up with the love of my life. If I could go back 10 years, I could have NEVER, EVER dreamt that I would be so rich today. I really am so thankful for this man that loves me even though I know I'm not easy to love sometimes. And for these two healthy kids that give me a run for my money most every day, and yet bring me so much joy. Life is good. God is good. And I'm going to enjoy every second of this new year.

I wish everyone else who may have experienced the same, or maybe you had a really rough year, I wish you the epiphany that I had this month. The chance to chase the things that are calling your name.  I wish you love, passion and the awareness to appreciate all that you are blessed with, even if it doesn't feel like you have anything great at all. Often times, we cannot see how much we truly have until it is gone. Those who are wise, realize this and embrace the blessings and goodness in their lives. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Organizing, Meal Prepping and Fitness tips from a working mother.

It's Sunday and we haven't gotten out of our sweats all day. It's ok, we are cleaning and meal prepping for the week! Priorities. I thought I'd share a little of how I multi-task everything as a working mother. 

The biggest challenge I've ever faced was multi-tasking motherhood, working and keeping true to myself in some way. I have this small inkling that I am not alone. And rightfully so. When I first became a mother, it was ALL about Scarlett. I was so invested in doing everything in my power to make sure that she was raised perfect (I laugh about that now),  that I neglected myself, a lot. It was a lesson learned. I think that it is common to do this when you have your first child. And I don't think it is wrong per-say, I just think that as your child gets older or you start to have more children, you realize that you are a happier and a healthier mother if you take time for your needs as well.

I learned this and by the time Maxwell was born, I asked Ty to help out a great deal more. That's right, I made him get his butt up to help me in the night, even if he had to hold the baby's head to my boob. ;) And he did, without a single complaint. I also took nights out with the girls or date nights a lot sooner. In fact, we left Maxwell with a sitter a month and a half after he was born so that we could go out for a date night alone. I don't think I left Scarlett alone with anyone until she was 2. Ha ha.

I also learned that you can't do everything. It was impossible to clean, (I like my house clean at all times!) cook, tend to the kids and give them attention, work and workout. There just wasn't enough time in the day!!! So I prioritized. Some days the house stayed dirty and I didn't die. Sometimes we ate out and nothing in that take out food was organic or non-GMO. *wink* Sometimes I opted to go for a walk instead of laundry. And I can tell you that I felt a whole lot better after the walk than I would have if I finished laundry instead. The same went for working out. I had to make it a priority or it wouldn't happen. So I didn't get to hang out with my friends as much as I would have liked but hey, I had abs, felt great and only once a month out with the girls wasn't that bad after all. It's a season. I think all mothers can relate to having to make priorities when your children are young. I am a working mom with two kids and a house, who wants to stay in shape. I make it all work and here is what works for me. I write down my priorities and stick to them. For instance, my list looks like this:

1. Time with kids & Ty
2. Fitness & eating well
3. Work
4. Nourish my soul 
5. Clean & Organize 

(Side note, I no longer have an infant. When you have a newborn or small baby, life is just chaotic and there is no way to plan for what the baby will need at any given day. This is my plan now as my kids are 6 and 2.)

1. Meal Plan. This has saved my life and saved me so much money. If I don't meal plan, than I eat whatever and it isn't usually healthy. I also go crazy at the grocery store throwing in every impulse that comes around the corner. You best believe I will throw in Mallomars if I see them! I used to write out all of our recipes on paper but then when it was my husband's turn to cook, he'd ask for the recipe and I'd have to send it if I wasn't home, or explain it... it was always a hassle. So I got this notion one day to add my recipes to a Pinterest Board labeled "dinner this week". All of our dinners are in my Pinterest Board and when we want to cook a meal, we just go into that board and open it up! Genius right? lol, maybe not but it really works! So I add all of our meals in here. Trust me, you can find ANY recipe that you are looking for online. I also add a dessert in here that I make for the week. Sometimes we try new stuff and if we don't like it, we delete it but if we do, we add it to my "EAT" board and that is like our menu book that I pick from sometimes when trying to meal prep. If you are interested in seeing mine, it's HERE.

I used to prep all of my food out for each meal but now that I work from home I don't do that as much. I make sure everything is made and ready to eat, but I don't put them all together in Tupperware. This is a good idea if you don't work from home or aren't a stay at home mom. Whatever works best for you. Another thing I used to do when Maxwell was a baby was to use a meal service like Blue Apron or SunBasket. It takes all of the work out of it for you and it worked for us during that stage of our life.

Now if you are trying to stay healthy or doing a Nutrition Guide, it's important to stick to that. Lately I have been eating ONLY clean foods. Ok, except for Chik-Fil-A yesterday....LOL. But I did 4 weeks of clean eating before we went to Siesta Keys for Christmas and I felt great! I'm starting another 6 week series on Monday and I wrote down everything I will eat in my calendar and check it off as I eat it.  This holds me accountable. I also just bought a 60 oz water bottle and I know that I need to at least drink this entire bottle every day. No more refilling. I don't know why but that just kills my enthusiasm for water drinking. If you are looking for help with what to eat, I'd suggest the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan. It does cost but it might be worth it if you are stuck. I have done a lot of recipe hunting on Pinterest and online. At this point, I feel that I am confident in knowing what is healthy or clean.

2. Work Out Plan. Just like meal planning, you have to have workouts planned out.  These days my routine changes depending on what's going on. So I don't plan the times, but I do plan what I'm going to do. And I make sure that whatever it is that I write down in that calendar gets done. No excuses. For the month before Christmas I did the 31 day challenge with Tone It was SO easy and I felt like my body was on point. I will let the photos speak for themselves....Here. Don't forget, this also included eating right.

Now, I am going to amp up on weights and try to gain some muscle. So I will make sure to plan according to that. Some people work out at home, like I do. I prefer that. But others like to work out at the gym. I like working out when Ty gets home from work or on my lunch break, others prefer getting it out of the way in the morning.  Whatever your preference, just get it done. NO MATTER WHAT. If you don't know where to start and are having a hard time figuring out what to do, I highly suggest Tone It Up! It's free to start and it truly works. I also did Bikini Body Burn which is a little more advanced and took up more of my time, but if you are up for a challenge, look into that. It was $40 to join if I recall correctly. Like I said, I am loving Tone It Up right now. They have an app and just make it so easy to get a quick workout in if that's all the time you have, or go for more if you can. Best plan I've done thus far! (And no, this is not a sponsored post. I'm just sharing what has worked for me)

3. Take Time for You. This is so crucial. Like I mentioned above, I didn't do this and it took a huge toll on my marriage and my life. I wish I had known to take some time to do things that I enjoyed. Maybe yoga to destress or an hour of alone time in the bath with wine and a book. A night out with the girls or a hike with a friend. Whatever you enjoy, do some of that for at least 1 hour a day. I know some of you are thinking that's impossible. Then make it every other day. Literally write it in your calendar if you have to. When I don't do this, I start to get cranky without even knowing it. Since I work from home, I'm here most of the day. Being an extrovert, this kills me. So I take time every other day to get out of the house. It doesn't matter if the family is with me or not, I just need to be out of the house to feel renewed. I also love writing so this stays on my priority list as "Nourish my soul".

4. Cleaning: So now comes the hard one. How do I keep the house clean? This is one that I still struggle with, I admit. The kids make a mess of one room before I can clean the next. But 2 things work for me like a charm. Chore charts and Simplifying. Before bed, I have them clean up their own messes. The little ones can help you (like Maxwell does with me) and then older ones like to know they are getting a reward once the stickers fill up on their charts (like Scarlett). I can't help you yet with, although Scarlett is a close second for a teenager, I swear! I make sure to do a Fall Cleaning and Spring Cleaning every year. I also do a New year cleaning. I purge all of the old and get rid of it. When we moved here from NY, I got rid of SO much stuff and it felt great! I am now a firm believer that simplifying is magic! Do the math. Less stuff.....less cleaning and picking up. Same goes for toys. If my family would ever get the memo about that ;)

I try to always tidy up as I go. And I encourage the other members of our family to do the same. Instead of putting the dishes in the sink, put them in the dishwasher. Or wash them right away. When you come into the house, put your coat in the closet instead of hanging it on the chair. That type of small stuff makes a huge difference. Ty and I have certain stuff that we each do. Hello! This isn't the 1950's, men should be helping out too! We both work full time. Ty usually cooks most of our dinners (because he's just better at it ha ha) and therefore, I do the laundry and do the deep cleaning the house(because he is NOT good at that ha ha). We both share dishwasher duties and of course, the kids.  I clean bathrooms every Friday, often when the kids are taking baths. I was reading this on a blog one day and thought, what a genius idea! You have to be in the bathroom to watch them anyhow, might as well clean it.
I like the house to be nice and clean for the weekend. I also do a little extra on Sunday evening when I'm prepping the week's meals. It sets the mood for the week if things are all in order.

5. Organizing. I am the master of organization. I love organizing and putting things in order. Sometimes I do it just for fun. I don't think this is something that can really be taught in a paragraph. For me it comes natural. But my advice is to get lots of baskets/bins. When we moved to Texas, my sister helped me pack and she was laughing at how many baskets and storage bins I had. But I use them all and it keeps our house organized. I keep labeled bins for all toys and the kids know where to put everything away. Maxwell got my trait of organization because if the toys are not in the correct bin, he will move them until they are. I also keep square baskets under the sinks for all of my toiletries. I have one for hair products, one for face products and makeup, one for lotions, SPF and tanning products and one for hair brushes and elastics. Our house here is MUCH smaller than our New York house. So I have eliminated lots of our things, as I said, and come up with alternatives. We no longer have a large entry closet, so I hung hooks for Scarlett and Maxwell's backpacks so they won't be thrown about when we come home. When in doubt, get some ideas on Pinterest. They have awesome hacks on there.

6. Last but most important, Family Time. I think that this is a hard one for working parents. We work 8 or more hours out of the day and by the time we work-out or cook a healthy meal, how much time is really left for family? It is SO important to keep the little ones feeling like their is together time. We make one night a week family night where we play games or watch a movie together or do something all together with NO interruptions. That means electronics! ;) We also make sure that we all sit down together for dinner. It is the only meal that we get to eat together so we sit down, pray and talk to each other. Sometimes if Ty has to work late or can't get to dinner, then he will give them their baths. This may seem like it's not quality time but kids love when you play with them in the tub. You can always do a nightly routine too. Maybe 2 books before bed.  We reserve the weekends for family time. Luckily neither Ty nor I have to work weekends and we take advantage of that. We go on weekend trips and explore together every chance we get. 

I know it may seem impossible to do everything that you want. But when you are intentional about your priorities, you can make it happen. I know because I have had lots of practice and I've succeeded at it! Don't be hard on yourself if now and again it doesn't work out. I have these days, too. The most important thing is that you do what you can to make a happy, healthy home and body! I'd love to hear your tips if you have any. I'm always looking to better my life. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Siesta Key Christmas.

Mele Kalikimaka!! 

We had THEE best time in Florida for the holidays. My mom moved to Sarasota/Siesta Key last month and of course we all jumped on the opportunity to come and visit for the holidays. We lucked out with amazing weather in the 80's the whole week. The day after we left it dropped down to the 50's!! My sister were all able to make it too. With just a few family members missing, we celebrated on the white powder sands of Siesta Keys. Such an amazing beach. We made a trip to Universal Studios one day since I HAD to see Harry Potter World. Scarlett got a Hermione wand and Gryffindor cloak. She is now is requesting to binge watch the movies. I have no objection. We bought some fun souvenirs home as well!

We ate Christmas dinner at Ophelia's on the Bay which was very nice. Lovely patio outside overlooking the water. Food. was. amazing.

We spent quite a few days at the beaches. We made picnics and packed drinks and just laid around and watched the kids play in the sand. We spent plenty of time in my mother's pool and hot tub too. My mom watched the kids a couple times so that we could get a little alone time a couple evenings. We explored St. Armand's Circle, Turtle Beach and ate at a little Margarita cafe that played live music.
Ok. So my favorite of the whole trip (exaggeration) was this tiny little spot called Meaney's Mini Donuts. If you are ever in Siesta, do yourself a favor and get some of these. I'm still drooling over them! I swear kids love the simple things. They loved just hanging out with my mother, sitting on the couch in their pjs, watching funny animal videos on youtube and laughing. They would have done that all Christmas afternoon if we let them. And those memories of that will stay with me forever. My mom between them, a huge smile on Maxwell's face and the little giggles coming from Scarlett.  Luckily for me, my mother lives here now so future trips WILL be ahead. Although we had such an amazing time in Florida, I couldn't help but miss that white stuff that everyone was getting back in New York and Massachusetts, our old zip codes. There will never be anything like snow on Christmas. I hope all of you back home enjoyed it! And I hope you all had a great Christmas!!

I have a bunch of blog posts ready to go out for the next week or so. I haven't written an intimate post in quite awhile so I wanted to write a little deeper and share that also. So that's to come this week!