Tuesday, June 25, 2013

stay true to yourself

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”- Dr Seuss 

I have struggled with my self confidence and body image my whole life. First of all, God gifted me with red hair... which I have grown to love now, but I definitely did not appreciate as a child. Children can be cruel, and I can't even tell you how much time I wasted as a child wishing I was born a brunette or blonde like every other kid. I can honestly say that for the first 19 or 20 years of my life, I never felt pretty, or attractive, or good enough... for anyone. In fact, I battled depression and struggled with an eating disorder for the majority of my adolescence. This isn't something I have blogged about, really. I'm not sure why. I guess there is a "stigma" with mental illness, and I was scared of that. But this is MY blog, and I feel like I should talk about it. Who knows, maybe these words will comfort someone struggling with an eating disorder like my blogs about Elliot's birth defect comforted many gastroschisis parents. That would be wonderful!

When I was 20 years old and a sophomore in college, my depression and anorexia nearly took my life, which led me to spend 2 weeks (unvoluntarily) at a mental hospital in an extensive eating disorder treatment plan. After an additional week and a half of outpatient therapy, I was finally cleared to re-enter society/normal life. But my life took a wild and somewhat crazy turn. I sadly never returned to the college that I loved, instead, I moved back home. Living at home after you've been away for 1.5 years is tough. Things between my family and I were rather tumultuous. The main person who was there for me after I returned home was my highschool sweetheart, Aaron, who had been deployed in Iraq nearly the entire time that I had been in college. Just a few months after we started talking again, I flew out to Colorado Springs to Fort Carson, to see a man I hadn't seen in two years. A week after that, we were married. I think everyone (including myself) thought I was a little crazy. In all honesty, though- Aaron saved me. He really did. And these (almost) four years that we've been married have been the absolute happiest years of my life. ♥

"I found you, in my darkest hour
I found you, in the pouring rain
I found you, when I was on my knees
And your light brought me back again"
-lyrics from "I Found You" by the Wanted (go ahead, laugh. I love them. haha)

Of course, having two kids in less than two years can be a little stressful. It also changes your body, which I'm sure is tough for anyone to handle, let alone someone who struggled with an eating disorder for the majority of her life. Somewhere along the way, I kind of lost myself. I spent too much time cooped up in a house without adult company. I was always so busy caring for someone else, trying to make everyone else happy... that I forgot about myself. I think this is common among stay at home mothers.

Fast forward to now. Elliot is two and a half (wow is that strange to write!) and Emmett is one, and I have to say that for the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE, I am about 95% happy with the way I look- my hair, my body, everything. I am also happy with who I am! I have been making an effort to make time for myself, to buy myself pretty things, and to remind myself that I am a person too- not just a mother. There comes a time in everyone's life when you suddenly realize that you have to stop trying to make everyone happy- that'll never happen. Just work on making YOURSELF happy. That's what I did. It worked!

This is the picture of a truly happy, fairly confident, mother of two little boys. ♥
 I love my life, I love my boys, I love my husband... and I love who I am today.

To all my fellow mama readers: Who are you? Outside of being a mother? 
Do you know? Do you take time for yourself every day? Do you have your own hobbies/goals?

If the answer to any of the above questions was "no," I urge you to take the the time to rediscover yourself. I did, and you know what I realized? I am a lot of things. I am a mother- but that's not all. I am a writer, a runner, a friend, a wife, a sister, a catholic, an animal lover, a cook, a daughter, a photographer, a thrifter, a bohemian, a traveler, a swimmer... I could go on. :) 

Our children can only be truly happy if their parents are happy, too. So go on- find (and keep!) your happiness! :) 

Monday, June 24, 2013

not the ocean, but it'll have to do... for now

Aaron finally sat down with his case manager last week, and got more things accomplished for his medical retirement. It looks like we won't be able to leave Texas until probably the end of September or beginning of October. At first, I was really disappointed to hear this, but at the same time, it gives us more time to save and prepare, so I guess I can't complain too much. Apparently Costa Rica is practically underwater for nearly all of October, anyways, so it could be a blessing in disguise. During much of the rainy season, it is sunny in the morning but rainy in the afternoons- that I can handle (I think). Nearly constant rain for a month straight? Not so much.

To be honest, I'm really loving Texas lately, so this summer, we will just make the best of it! I keep saying that I really need to start going through and downsizing some of our belongings- particularly the boys' things. People, these kids of mine have a LOT of stuff. They're a little spoiled. Oh well. We have time. I'll have to try to squeeze it in sometime between keeping my two little men happy in the mornings (aka preparing them 23 snacks, constantly refilling their water cups, trying to keep them from accidentally injuring eachother, and walking behind them trying to pick up the tornado of toys they leave behind them) and our time spent outside. Seriously, when it's 99 degrees and sunny outside, my boys simply DO NOT want to spend one minute inside. They are definitely my kids. When everyone else is holed up inside with their air conditioners, we're out there running around having a blast. And chugging bottles of water.

My poor husband has hand foot and mouth disease, which is going around like crazy around here. I guess it's a good thing that he didn't find out sooner, or else I probably wouldn't have been able to drag him out to the lake on Saturday ;) I'm hoping and praying that hand-foot-mouth was what Emmett and I were sick with last week and the week before, because otherwise we will likely catch it- and I definitely don't want it!!

A few pictures from our weekend-

It was our second time to this particular lake- which is called Stillhouse Hollow Park, and we enjoyed ourselves even more this time than last! Except Aaron of course, who pretty much laid pathetically in the water most of the time, other than one exploration into the bushes while wearing Emmett in the Boba so he could take a much-needed nap. Our only complaint from our last trip was the sloppy clay sand, but we picked a different spot on the beach this time and the clay was buried beneath regular sand- yay! It also helped that we finally found swim trunks to fit Elliot- size 12-18 months from Crazy 8. He's such a skinny mini!

Emmett could NOT get enough of splashing in this water.

It's definitely not the ocean, but it'll have to do for now. Oh, how I miss the ocean. What I wouldn't give to dive into the cold, salty sea right about now. I grew up going to the ocean often, but we haven't been to the coast since we moved to Texas! In fact, the last time I swam in the ocean, I was pregnant with Elliot. That was when Aaron was in Korea and before we knew for sure which birth defect he had, and I found a lot of peace and solace in the sea. You can read about that here, if you want. 

Hopefully, the next time I set foot in salty water, it will be on a beach in Costa Rica! I want my children to grow up knowing the wonder and healing powers of the ocean... just like I did. Especially if they are unlucky enough to inherit my acne-prone skin. Lake beaches can be fun, but they just don't compare to the real thing!

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

currently #5

go link up with Harvesting Kale & Ot & Et!

THIS WEEK'S THEMES: Capturing, Releasing, Sending, Mending, Recommending

Elliot and Emmett are currently...

Capturing pictures on their fisher price play camera. Whenever Elliot fishes his toy camera out of the bottom of the toybox, he always knows just what to do- he follows his baby brother around while looking through the viewfinder, then when the time is right, he pushes the shutter button and with a "BOING!" Then he sometimes looks up at me, smiles and says, "cute!"

Releasing fuzzy caterpillars, spindly spiders, and shiny beatles back into the wild. One of Elliot's favorite things to do now, thanks to my husband, is to go "bug hunting." He is very careful with his little friends, unlike some of his friends at the playground, and he is always sure to set them back into the grass or on a tree with a little "Bye bye, buggy!"

Mending any "boo boos" that Mama or Daddy get with sweet little toddler kisses.

I am currently...

Capturing crappy iPhone pictures instead of using my nice DSLR, like I should be. I've been a bit lazy lately, which makes me sad because I know each time that I don't get out my camera are more memories lost. I've been wanting to start a 365 project- I should probably get on that. I need some motivation!

Sending good vibes out into the universe to all those looking to buy/rent a new house. I keep hoping that the good karma will come back to us and we'll finally settle upon our dream house/location in Costa Rica. Right now we're so undecided that we actually have TOO MANY choices. How is that even possible?

Recommending a glass of wine... or three, for myself. Seriously people, Emmett has had a fever for probably 16 days so far this month, and I've about had it. I don't know what is making him so sick (and neither do his doctors, apparently) but I'm beyond ready to have my baby 100% healthy and happy again.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

enjoying our last Texas summer... our summer bucket list

Although the first day of summer isn't technically until Friday, somebody must have forgotten to tell our weatherman because we have been sizzling here in Texas!

Thinking about this beautiful weather made me realize that we've been focusing so much on our move to Costa Rica that I've almost been wishing our last few months here in Texas away! That's a shame, because we have truly enjoyed living here. The weather is great, and the people are almost as warm and inviting... which isn't the case in midwest. If we were to settle down in the US, we'd probably buy a house somewhere right here in the Lonestar State. It's bright and sunny here nearly every day- that's something I'll miss once we move to Costa Rica- particularly during the rainy season! 

There are so many neat places to explore and things to do right here in Texas. I've been wanting to get out and see more of the state- well, no better time than now! We will probably be moving away in September, so I figured we had better make the most out of our last summer here. And that led me to create... our summer bucket list!

I really hope we manage to do everything on the list above. There were even more interesting things we've been wanting to check out, but I wanted to keep the bucket list small so we could realistically complete it. I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures and blog about it :) If you're ever in Texas, email me! I have bookmarked all kinds of fun ideas, especially for families with small children.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

father's day 2013: a look back

Wishing my husband a very HAPPY Father's Day ♥ Without him, I wouldn't have my perfect, beautiful children. He has been a wonderful father over the years, first to one and now two little boys. I thought it would be fun to take a little look back. Enjoy! :)

January 2011- Aaron & Elliot in the NICU (Elliot 4 weeks old)

January 2011- Aaron & Elliot in the NICU again (Elliot 5 weeks old)

July 2011, the day after Aaron came home from Korea (Elliot 7 months)

July 2011 (Elliot 7 months)

October 2011 (Elliot 9 months)

October 2011 (Elliot 10 months)

October 2011 (Elliot 10 months)
January 2012 (Elliot 13 months)
March 2012 (Elliot 13 months)

March 2012 (Elliot 14 months)

March 2012 (Elliot 14 months)

April 2012 (Elliot 16 months)

May 2012 (Elliot 16 months)

May 2012- first time holding baby Emmett

May 2012- Big brother meeting baby brother (Emmett 2 days old, Elliot 16 months)

August 2012 (Emmett 3 months)

August 2012 (Emmett 3 months)

October 2012 (Emmett 5.5 months)

February 2013 (Elliot 25 months)

March 2013 (Emmett 10 months)

March 2013 (Elliot 27 months, Emmett 10 months)

April 2013 (Elliot 27 months, Emmett 11 months)

April 2013 (Emmett 11 months)

May 2013 (Elliot 29 months, Emmett 12 months)
May 2013 (Elliot 29 months, Emmett 12 months)

Monday, June 10, 2013

weekly menu plan + a recipe

turkey tacos*
Tuesday: squash, zucchini, & broccoli stir fry* (vegetarian)
Wednesday: chicken salads*
Thursday: spinach & artichoke grilled cheese (vegetarian)
Friday: black bean, corn, & rice burritos w/ avocado cream sauce (vegetarian)
Saturday: baked chicken & spinach flautas
Sunday: smoked mozzarella and asparagus pizza (vegetarian)
{this week's recipes found at Healthy Delicious}
* = my own recipe

Goal & Focus this week: cheap meals, using things we already have in our pantry

Favorite meal from last week: skinny superfood soup. This soup is full of good vitamins and nutrients and was hearty and filling. We all loved it! It made a lot- enough for everyone to have a large bowl (and seconds) plus we had a ton of leftovers.

2 cups sliced carrots
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 cup frozen green beans
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups vegetable juice (I used one can of V8)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
dash of black pepper
some cumin & chili powder

- combine all ingredients in the slow cooker, cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until veggies are tender. That's it! Easy peasy!

Note: this is supposed to be a Sunday post, buuuut Emmett has been sick for 12 days now with a persistent fever (anywhere from 100-104.5) and horrible diarrhea, so I haven't been able to blog much. We've managed to keep the fever down with meds but it comes back as soon as they wear off. Last night was the first good night's sleep I've gotten in two weeks (he only woke up once!). I've been exhausted! Let's hope and pray that's a sign he's finally on the mend!

Friday, June 7, 2013

fab friday

What's fab in our lives lately:

Getting outside:
Summer has officially hit central Texas. And it's the sweet part of summer, where it's only in the 80's and 90's so it's more enjoyable being outside. Soon enough, it'll be 100+ every day, and although we will still likely be heading outside each and every day (Elliot would have it no other way) this mama will be HOT! We've been enjoying the pools (although the chlorine hurts Emmett's sore bottom) and yesterday we went outside and Elliot had a BLAST coloring the sidewalks with chalk. I will probably bombard you with more chalk pictures another day, too cute not to share!


dieting = weightloss:
We weigh in every Friday. In 3.5 weeks, Aaron has lost 7 lbs & I've lost 6.6. That's pretty impressive, if you ask me, especially since all we've really been doing is cutting down on our snacking (particularly at night, for me) and I've been cooking healthier dinners and lunches. I haven't even been able to start Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 like I'd planned for June, because of Emmett being sick. I still want to start it- hopefully he feels better soon!

Fun photoshoots:
This week I had a blast photographing a tiny newborn and a couple who are expecting their first little one. Two pictures from their shoots are below. Feel free to check out my facebook page to see more :)

I think that's about all for this week. Go link up with Laura at The Everyday Joys. I was sad to read that this will be the last Fab Friday link up :( I've been participating sporadically for a long time. See my very first Fab Friday post (from 2011) here.