Expectations & Vacations

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I have been learning over the last few years (you know, since marriage and kids) that my expectations can tank a day faster than I can blink.  And I’ve really experienced this during vacations with little ones.  Come on mama’s, who can relate?  =)
My husband got a great deal a while ago on a hotel in Flagstaff at the end of February.  Which ended up being the days that they got like 6-12″ of snow.  And our hotel only had 1 queen bed in a tiny little space.  And my daughter is used to sleeping in a pack n’ play in the closet (don’t ask), which of course hotels don’t have and the only space to put her pack n’ play is right in front of the sink about three feet from the bed so sleep for everyone seemed like a pipe dream.  And what can you realistically do in Flagstaff with a 3 & 1 year old when it’s snowing?

But, because I have had some really high expectations of vacations with littles before that were dashed to a smithereens, I intentionally entered into this one with VERY LOW expectations.  Like, we’ll play in the snow at least once, the baby will probably cry all night and we won’t get any sleep for 3 days and we’ll be stuck in the hotel room watching Curious George most of the day, every day.

And you know what happened?

First, we decided to move rooms, because at 4pm, we had the people below us come knock on our door and tell us the “STOMPING IS REALLY LOUD”.  Ahem.  I may have had to choke down a, “Well, ma’am, it’s a hotel and that kind of comes with the territory,  and it’s pretty hard to get a 3 and 1 year old walk quietly or keep still apart from tying them down and then you’ll have to deal with the screaming unless I gag them, and might I mention that it’s four in the afternoon? You can’t reasonably expect it to be super quiet at that time of day and can I offer you a pair of earplugs?”

I may have had to pray and let go of some stuff after that encounter.  Especially since we had already unpacked everything and now had to repack it all.  BUT…I knew it would be better than barking at the kids every 2 seconds to “Be quiet!  You’ll disturb the lady downstairs!”
Night one, I got like 2 hours of sleep in between trying to nurse G to sleep because she refused to sleep in her pack n’ play, and not wake her up as she’s sleeping sideways in our bed, but I asked the Lord for energy and I actually felt pretty good that day which was completely supernatural (because I get pretty grouchy at the 6 hours or less mark!)  Also I was taking Super C, and Inner Defense capsules, and dousing myself in oils preventatively, which I think really helped also!

But, the second and third nights were MUCH better.  I may still have had to sleep across the foot of the bed because G was taking my place in it, but still…many more hours of sleep than I thought!

We bundled the kids up (with our ragtag makeshift snow clothes cuz Phoenix dwellers!) and let them enjoy the snow three or four separate times.

 

Joseph so excited about whacking people with snow chunks. Mostly he would just rub it into your back!
Joseph so excited about whacking people with snow chunks. Mostly he would just rub it into your back!

We got everyone in swimsuits and bundled up and walked across to another building that housed a heated pool.  Before the trip when I heard they had a pool, I was planning on swimming everyday while we were there.  Once we got there and realized that it was in a separate building with no bathrooms, or changing rooms, and it was SNOWING, I re-evaluated and decided I still wanted to embrace the adventure and do it, but ONCE was enough!  =)
I am sooo glad we did though because it glass all around and super steamy inside and we could see it snowing and piling up as we were swimming which was pretty cool.  After awhile as as those piles of snow started falling off the roof, we decided we should probably head back to the safety and warmth of our room!

 

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There was some Curious George watching, but we also made copious amounts of hot chocolate and cooked fajitas in our room (don’t tell anyone!) and enjoyed the heck out of the free hot breakfasts they offered, and drove around and played in the snow, and threw snowballs, and laughed like crazy.

 

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Little princess in the snow

And before we left, we went to a park still covered in snow and swung and climbed, and threw more snowballs and overall, it was a much better success than I had hoped.  If I had let my expectations for it pile up though, I would have been grouchy and disappointed and frustrated.  Instead, most of the time I was able to embrace it and push through some of the wet, sometimes frustrating and uncomfortable things and just enjoy it.

 

Swinging in the snow!
Swinging in the snow!

 

Be careful of expectations.  I know firsthand where they can lead, but if we change our perspective and ideas about it, we can cultivate a grateful heart and a flexible spirit.  I’m not perfect at it by any means, but I’ve come a long way from a few years ago (in this area at least) and in looking back at this trip, I can do so with fond memories of making the most of what we had and enjoying each other.

 

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A few practical tips:

-Mentally prepare and change your mindset to focusing on enjoying all the bits and pieces however they come and whatever they look like.

-Plan ahead for what food/toys/books/ect… you are packing for the car.

-Have enough but dole them out ONLY as needed!  Let them use their imaginations or zone out if they will.  Save the stuff for when you are going to pull your hair out or you have to keep one from waking up another!

-Have some HAPPY music and put it on when you need some extra energy or to help get out of a funk.  It really helps me.  Also, singing worship songs together helps me refocus.

-Be realistic about sleeping.  Mistake I made that first day was nursing G and she fell asleep on me for two hours and then wasn’t tired enough to sleep well that night.  Night sleep is the one you really want to go well.  If you have to skip a nap to make sure they are tired enough, so be it.  But, it also may take trial and error to figure out what is going to work.  So really, just don’t expect to sleep much!

-If you don’t sleep much, see if you can work it out with your spouse to take turns watching the kids so the other one can have a nap!

-Realize you probably can’t do all the things you would like to do.  Keep a list of options that you can choose from but DON’T expect to get to everything.

-Try to keep your room at least a little bit organized.  It helps with the chaos when you’re stuck in your room all day and trying to find the one lone sippy cup, or book that they wanted.

-Take a “Mommy Timeout”.  Even just five minutes to refocus can help me shift my attitude away from the grumpy place and back into the enjoying our time together and being grateful place.

-Reset the car before you go.  Clean out the trash, get everything re-organized and ready for the trip back.  You’ll be happy you did, I promise!

-You will probably be more tired when you get back than when you left.  Plan for that in your schedule.  Give yourself some down time after you get back so you can recover and re-enter.

-Give everyone grace.  Yourself, your husband, your kids.  Everyone is likely to get a little on edge at some point, but this is where we can practice extending grace!

 

What are some of your tips for traveling with little ones or letting go of expectations?  I’d love to hear some of your stories!

 

I hope these give you some helpful ideas for enjoying your next trip with littles or bigs even more!  =)

God bless!

Heather

Do You Need to Reassess Your Expectations

Coffee on book

 

Are you finding yourself increasingly frustrated and perhaps not really knowing why? Or feeling as though you are failing to “get things done” that you think you should be doing?

 

Sometimes we enter into a small season change without realizing it and suddenly we are mad, frustrated, depressed, etc… (or like me this week, spiraling down the dark hole of despair wondering what the heck initiated it)

 

We make more elaborate To Do Lists or try and figure out where we have some extra chunk of time to squeeze in more things. Or perhaps we feel as though we just need more discipline to stay on top of things.

 

But maybe what we really need to do is to stop and reassess where we are. Has something about our season changed? Do we have new limitations or demands on our time that we haven’t accounted for and are simply going about expecting to be able to produce the same amount of results even though we do not have the same amount of time to work with?

 

Or perhaps, like me, you realize that even though you don’t necessarily have more “things” to do with your time, the time you do have is not able to be utilized the way you had previously.

 

For example, my daughter is now crawling super fast, pulling herself up on everything, not staying put, and just in general getting into everything. I didn’t see at the time that even though her schedule of waking and sleeping was still about the same, my ability to walk away and clean the kitchen or file papers, or scrub the toilet pretty much vanished or was severely crimped.

 

My attention has to be much more focused on her and what she is doing, or what her brother is doing to her! And after my day in the “pit of despair” (cue the creepy albino guy from The Princess Bride), I finally realized that I had crossed over into a bit of a different season, a “mini” season if you will and I needed to stop and reassess my expectations.

 

So I sat down and made a list of the bare minimum “Must Get Done” things. You know, things like feed the children, change diapers, brush teeth, wait outside the door for ten minutes while my son goes to the bathroom “BY HIMSELF”, make sure we have clean clothes to wear, and clean dishes to use.

 

Then I wrote out the things that I “Really Would Like to Get Done”. Things like keep the surfaces cleared off, and pick up toys before Daddy gets home, and maybe do some writing.

 

And then there was the “Everything Else” list to dump the rest of my To Do items that eternally kept getting written down and never done.

 

Now having decided that my goal is simply to do the “Must Get Done” things, if that is all I do in a day, the day was a SUCCESS.

 

If I do something off of the “Really Would Like to Get Done” list, then BONUS! It was a REALLY GOOD day.

 

If I do all that plus something off the “Everything Else” list, then it was an I AM A ROCKSTAR day.

 

Now I could say goodbye to that pesky feeling of failure for not getting enough things done and instead feel a sense of accomplishment for even the regular days that are filled with dishes and diapers and laundry and potty training.

 

As my sister says, our To Do lists and schedules and routines, and all of those things are simply tools. They work for us, not the other way around. And if something isn’t working, then we need to remember that it is only a tool and it’s ok to find a different one.

 

DON’T let your To Do list rule you. Use it how you need to and revamp it when it becomes obsolete or burdensome.

 

DON’T think that you have to do everything in every season. And some seasons change more quickly than we might think.

 

I know that realistically, I only have 6 months to a year of this hyper watching season (even though it feels like that will be FOREVER, it really isn’t).

 

I know that my husband will be out of school for the summer, so all the projects like painting our furniture, and decorating Gabrielle’s room, and going through all the papers in the house can wait until then. And it will be like 115 degrees here so I’ll be wanting to stay inside anyway.

 

So it’s ok to spend my days taking the kids for walks or to the park or the library, because we won’t be feeling like doing much of that in a couple months.

 

I’m feeling so much more at peace now that I’ve revamped my own expectations for myself to match the current season.

 

Maybe your season looks like taking on new projects at work, or extra classes at school, or wedding planning, or growing a baby, or extra commitments for your children.

 

Whatever it is, think about whether your circumstances or time commitments or limitations have changed and if you have adjusted your expectations accordingly or if you are still charging ahead trying to match the same output from before.

 

If you are feeling frustrated or anxious or depressed about what you may not be getting done, you might not be matching your expectations to your reality. And take it from me, there is so much more peace when you do.

 

And here’s a little food for thought…

“If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there…” -Elisabeth Elliot

 

How many of those items on your To Do list are ones that He put there and how many are ones that you’ve added over time?

 

There are a lot of GOOD things out there that may not be the BEST things for right now. Take some time to ask God which ones they may be.

 

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

So take heart and some time by yourself to listen and pray and maybe you’ll find that there is more freedom to be had right now than you thought.

 

God bless,
Heather

The Tidy-a-Thon and the Beauty of Logical Order

Coffee Table Plant

 
My husband is on spring break this week. So last week in preparation I was trying to figure out all the things I needed to do beforehand so we could really enjoy his time off. This led to an overwhelming To Do list which I ended up cutting back on last week in this post.

 

I’m sure that you have probably heard about Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I have seen it on more blogs than I can count and so I ended up reading it. Aside from what other people are calling the “woo woo” factor throughout some of the book, she does have a really great system for tidying up and then keeping it that way. Essentially, purge everything first by category, not room and then afterwards, find a home for everything.

 

In the last couple years I have probably purged three or four times getting rid of more and more stuff. It is starting to feel like we are getting to a comfortable amount of belongings that are useful and beautiful and “spark joy” as Marie’s second book is titled.

 

I just finished reading Spark Joy, An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up and I like this one better than her first. Plus it has some diagrams and happy little pictures so how can you not like it?

 

So as I sat looking at my huge list trying to figure out what to do first, I realized that I needed to find the logical order. In her book, Marie talks about the importance of purging BEFORE you find homes for stuff. If you go around trying to put things away before you’ve gone through them then you’ll have to do it all over again afterwards.

 

For me, I kept thinking that I needed to clean things because my Mom who is also a teacher was coming to visit us and I’ve already talked about how our bathtub had an actual dirt ring around it courtesy of a certain little boy, and I couldn’t let my mom take a shower in there!

 

But I decided to take another look at my list to see what made logical sense for me. This is what I came up with.

 

  • Purge first (The less stuff I had to work around, the better!)
  • Organize/find homes for all the stuff (It’s hard to pick up the surfaces to clean if there isn’t a designated place for things)
  • Clean (Now that everything is put away and our surfaces should be clear, I can really get to cleaning)
  • Grocery List and Meal Plan (Because the other things will have taken most of the week and we need to eat)
  • Order books from the library for Joseph (These will take a few days or week to get in so I want some waiting for us)
  • Hang some things for Gabrielle’s nursery (Now that there is a spot for everything and her room doesn’t look like a dumping ground, and the rest of the house is in order, I can think about doing the pretty decorating things)

 

So after coming up with the order, I proceeded to ignore the food encrusted kitchen floor (because Gabrielle is working on solid food now and Joseph is working on table etiquette which means not a meal passes without food littering the ground) and the dirty ringed bathtub and started going through all of our stuff by category.

 

Marie says you should purge in the order of clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous household), and then sentimental items. I did the clothes, and books, but instead of purging all the papers (because I only had a week to do this) I simply gathered every piece of paper in the whole house and piled it on our file box, made a “Pending” file that I could stick things in that needed to be dealt with as I came across them, and called it good for now.

 

Then in my notebook I wrote out every category I could think of for my komono (household stuff). This is another place the book came in handy because she has most general categories laid out for you and how to break them down, etc…

 

I started gathering things up from each category and went down the list purging and putting away. There were a few categories I skipped for now. My crafty/hobby stuff I had already organized pretty well and was contained in a closet so I’ll get to that one later. And all the garage, recreation stuff I will let my husband do at some point.

 

Being the pen and paper kind of girl, I grabbed a purple highlighter and crossed off as I went and I was able to get it done in about four days. It helped that I had purged pretty ruthlessly the last couple times we moved so there wasn’t as much to get rid of, but still we ended up with several large bags and some totes full of stuff to donate.

 

It felt so great to see things starting to have a home and when I finished the kitchen and saw how clear my counters were I almost swooned!

 

I corralled every single toy in one place, put all the sets together and put away a certain amount for toy rotation. Now with fewer toys out and designated homes for them, our living spaces feel so much cleaner and more open and Joseph seems to play better too. And the great thing is that I can now tell my son to pick up all the toys and he is able to do it by himself. Hallelujah!

 

My Mom was coming down on Sunday, so that left me Friday evening and Saturday to work on the cleaning part and yes I FINALLY scrubbed the tub. But it was my husband who scraped all the dried food off the floor.  (Because he’s wonderful that way!) I vacuumed and mopped and wiped down bathroom counters and toilets and you know, that is as clean as I need it right now. I got the spring cleaning bug but not enough to want to wash base boards or anything that detailed. Maybe later….maybe….or not. I have better things to do with my time. Like write this post for you guys!

 

Now we are halfway through spring break and the house is still feeling so much better and more organized. I am able to move onto the other items on my list without the mess driving me crazy!

 

So, if you aren’t sure where to start with prioritizing a list, try looking at what order makes the most logical sense.

 

And for those of you who are more driven than me, Happy Spring Cleaning!

 

Have you tried the KonMarie Method for tidying and organizing? How did you like it? Let me know in the comments!

 

God bless,
Heather

Breathing Space and Doing Less

To Do List
First off, let me just say that I know some of you all are hoping for spring underneath all your snow and I sympathize, but it was 90 degrees here today!  I’m glad for the warmer weather but I feel like we went from cold to hot overnight and skipped the spring part.

 

That being said, I am flinging open the windows while it is still cool in the morning and breathing in the scents and the freshness that is starting to chase away the stale winter house kind of smell.

 

With all that spring time warmth comes with it the desire (if not always the energy) to clean out the house, and plant a garden, and go through the garage, and get our budget figured out, and potty train our son, and ya know, write too.

 

And then I get all swirled up in “To Do” list land and it becomes a burden heavy with all 500 items on the list while I’m trying to mother my children and do the other things that feel important right now.

 

This was my list today.

  •  pick up stuff!!  (By this, I meant get all the random stuff picked up and find a home.  Oh, and go through all the toys and organize, pack up for rotation
  • laundry
  • scrub tub  (Because, I have a dirty little boy leaving an actual ring around it after bath time)
  • wipe down bathroom counters
  • clean out fridge
  • make grocery list
  • make a list of foods for Gabrielle to eat
  • put books on hold for Joseph at the library
  • call Bluehost to set up my new domain name

 

Okay, I’m sure we all can look at this and say, “Heather!  What were you thinking?”  Maybe if you were by yourself all day long and worked hard at it, but you have a baby and a toddler.  Hello!”

 

I do this.  Do you?  I get all gung ho and somehow sail off into the land of optimism and forget what my reality is.  And it puts me at a disadvantage starting off my day this way.

 

There’s no way to accomplish it all and then when my son wants to walk backwards home from the library or stop and pick up rocks, and generally just piddle slowly along, instead of feeling like I have the breathing room to let him enjoy the nature and adventure of it all, I am prone to snapping at him to stop or hurry up.  Or when he wants me to read to him or sing the Alphabet song with him for the 500th time, I feel the pressure to say no simply because I feel like there is so much “TO DO”.

 

But I don’t really want to live that way.  I want to be present with them in this season.  I don’t want to feel “inconvenienced” by them.  I want to treasure them and this time that I have with them.

 

So I remember why my word for the year is “Slow”.  And I breathe deep and let it sink into my bones.  And then I toss out the “To Do” list.  Or at least six of the nine items on it.  I think about what is essential and what can wait.

 

And I try to remember to aim low.  Overestimate how much time things are going to take and make my goal to have as much white space as possible in my day.  So I have the time to enjoy all the little moments.  To really be present.

 

Let me encourage you to stop and take a look at what your realities are and be free to toss some of those “To Do” items out the window, or at least put them on hold. You don’t need to overload yourself. There is no taskmaster standing behind you with a whip (Except for maybe yourself. That’s what it is for me.)

 

So what if your tub still needs to be scrubbed, or your kitchen floor has spots all over it, or you haven’t gone through your closet yet. Decide what your priorities are for this season and then overhaul your “To Do List” to reflect that.

 

And only you (and your husband if applicable) get to decide what those priorities are. Not your friends, co-workers, or even your other family members.

 

Revel in the freedom of have breathing space in your life so you can really enjoy your life.

 

Have you let your “To Do List” become a dictator? Do you have any strategies that have helped you overcome it?

Let me know in the comments!

 

God bless,
Heather

Encouragement for Creative Mamas in the Littles Season

Laptop and coffee

In my last post, I mentioned that Gabrielle is crawling and starting to try to stand up now and I know that I’m heading for a season of having to be watching constantly because now they are mobile enough to be into EVERYTHING!  So for at least the next year or so I will be ultra-baby focused.

 

But after some reading and praying and working on being who the Lord made me to be, it is feeling very important to not neglect my gifts but start investing in them.  For me right now, this means primarily writing. For you this could be painting, or drawing, or cooking, or dancing or quilting or anything else that makes you come alive.  And it is soooo worth figuring out what that is!

 

So how do we embrace our season of needing to be very focused on our children, but still keep our passion alive and our creative tools sharpened?

 

 1. Decide that it’s important to you and get serious about it.
For me, that happened after listening to Emily P. Freeman’s webinar about writing a book proposal and joining Hope*Writers. (Which I can’t say enough good things about if you are a writer.  It is a community of other writers with great resources and everyone is so super encouraging and totally worth the cost of joining, which is minimal.  I wish it had existed 10 years ago!)  I knew writing was my thing, but I’ve been letting it just kind of sit on the shelf for years.  Now I decided that it matters and to treat it that way.

 

2. Assess your time.  How long are you spending on Facebook, Social Media, TV, cleaning, cooking, etc…
I still need to log how much time I spend on these things.  For now I just estimated, but I’m sure that actually timing how long I spend on things will be very eye opening!

 

3. What can you cut out?
Do you have to watch 2 hours of Netflix every night?  (Preaching to the choir here!  We were binge watching a few shows for the last couple months)  Can you cut back on Facebook or browsing the internet, bouncing from one thing to another?  Maybe you can make super fast easy meals to cut out some prep and cooking time.  Can you get the kids napping on the same schedule so you have at least an hour or two free?

 

4. How can you automate the home stuff to make it easier?
Can you keep some baby wipes in the bathroom and use them to quickly wipe it down?  Can you make a standard meal plan/grocery list? Can you start a pick up before moving on to the next thing rule?  Clean as you go?

 

 5. What can you let slide in this season?
Does your guest room really have to be vacuumed every week?  How clean do you really need it to be?  Can your husband cook a dinner or two?  Are there extra activities that maybe you need to cut for a while?

 

 6. Just write something everyday. (Or draw, or jot down an idea depending on what your “thing” is)
Plan it into your day and block that time out for your “thing” and NOTHING else.  Even if you squeeze in one page a day, or one sketch, or five minutes of embroidery, etc,… then it’s keeping your fingers nimble, your brain active, and slowly but surely improving your technique.

 

 7. Reject the “Hurry”
This happens to me where I feel like I need to “hurry up” and write a book, grow my blog, or whatever thing I’m using to measure my “success” in relation to other people.  But it doesn’t matter if it takes you ten years to write a book or finish a project or what have you.  It’s not about how much you produce and it’s not a race.

 

I repeat, it is NOT a race.

 

I wrote here about picking the word “SLOW” for this year.  When I feel the anxiety of the hurry feeling come over me, I use “SLOW” as the antidote.  I reject it (Most of the time.  This is a growing process after all!) and think about how I can do life slowly today.  My goal is to make small steady progress in my gift and enjoy my life, my husband, my children, and my season along the way.

 

 

I hope this has been encouraging for you.  Let’s go on this creative journey together!  What is your “thing”?  Do you have any other suggestions on how to make time for it?

 

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

God bless,

Heather

 

 

 

Preparing For A New Season: And She’s Off!

Gabrielle
It’s happening.  I’m watching it unfold right before my eyes as she grabs the cushion of the couch and pulls herself up with increasing agility.  My little girl is already crawling all over the place and now I’m seeing the time gap between now and her walking shrinking quickly away.

 

I’ve been through this once before, so I know the season is coming where it feels like you can’t turn away for a second lest they unravel all the toilet paper or put something in their mouth that should DEFINITELY NOT go there (especially now that there is an older brother around to leave smaller toys laying around), or pulling themselves up on things that have the potential to give them a concussion.

 

I’m am trying to prepare myself for it by adjusting my expectations and putting some easy shortcuts into place.

 

-Dinner.  The KISS acronym would work nicely here.  Create the basic meal plan with FAST, minimal prep dinners.  See if husband will cook 1 or 2 nights a week (He will cuz he’s amazing!)  Take advantage of the weekend to pre-cook meat, rice, soups, etc… for fast meals.  Make double and freeze some.

-Get a good evening routine down so the house is picked up and ready to go the next morning.  Lay out breakfast stuff and anything else to cut down on the morning rush.

-Pick up as I go!!!

-Run some dishwater BEFORE I start cooking so I can clean up as I go.

-Get a couple people lined up so I can have someone watch the kids one day every other week so I can do a few errands (i.e. chiropractor, library, stores) sans kids.

-Figure out a few good cleaning hacks (like keeping wipes in the bathrooms and just giving them a quick wipe down when I have a minute)

-Lower my expectations on the cleanliness level of the house.  What is your clean house threshold?  Then anything over that is a bonus

-Don’t expect to get anything done while the kids (or at least Gabrielle) are awake.  Use their nap times or evening to write, or do other things.

-Cut back on commitments or other extracurricular things that I don’t really need to be doing right now.

-Give myself grace because I can’t be perfect but “…His mercies are new every morning.”

-Remember the quote that “The days are long and the years are short.”  It’s cliche but for a reason.

 

 

The day may feel like it will never end but that moment…the one when you are holding that sick child on the bathroom floor, hang on to it.  Be in it.  It’s exhausting of course, but instead of thinking about the possibilities of vomit or how tired you are, really think about how it feels to have his little body laying against you and the warmth of his forehead as you stroke it.

 

Our lives are made up of these little moments.  Good ones and not so good ones.

 

So embrace it if you can, then thank God when he stops coughing and falls asleep so you can take some Nyquil and go to bed!

 

 

Are you heading into a new season?  Are there things you can adjust to make it easier?

Let me know in the comments!

 

God bless,

Heather

Whole 30 Tips for Busy Moms

posted in: Creating Home, Food, Organization, Seasons | 0

Food

My husband and I just started the Whole 30 last Monday.  Traditionally, I do terrible with anything “diet” related.  Of the NUMEROUS things I have tried, I usually only lasted about 2 days but sometimes less before I was binge eating ice cream or bread or chocolate! 

 

I tend to do better when I practice moderation and focus on eating more nourishing, healthy things, adding more fruits, vegetables and water.  Focusing on deprivation of certain foods makes me want to gobble down an entire package of Oreos. 

 

So, while I was interested in the Whole 30, I waited to try anything new until I felt a peace about it.  Amazingly, I was really excited to try it and even more astounding to me was how easy it has seemed! 

 

I had a mild headache on one or two of the days, and felt a bit tired (although, I do have a baby and toddler, so that might have a lot to do with it too!) but really didn’t have any problem with sticking to it, or even with cravings.  But the last couple days I have been really wanting some stir fry or greek food, so they are on my radar for after we finish the 30 days!

 

After giving some thought to what I think has made this week pretty easy, I have come up with these seven tips.  Hope they help in your Whole 30 journey!

 

 1.  Tailor it to what your family already likes

My husband loves Mexican food and meat but dislikes most soups and salads.  He’s a meat and potatoes (or tortillas) kind of person.  He doesn’t need a lot of variety.  Instead of trying to look up a bunch of different recipes, I looked at what we already ate and figure out how to make it Whole 30 compliant. 

Chicken fajita salad instead of in tortillas, taco salad, grilled chicken/steak/fish with veggies.  I added a bunch of avocado and the vegetables he will actually eat, like sauteed/steamed broccoli or green beans and radishes and cucumbers with lemon and garlic salt.

 

2.  Make it Easy

I have a two year old and a six month old who can now crawl all over the place.  I need things to be easy.  I don’t have a lot of time to spend making meals.  If something takes a lot of prep time, I usually won’t do it.

I have come to terms with the fact, that while I enjoy feeding people, I don’t enjoy the extra time to make time consuming, elaborate dishes.  There are other things I want to do.

So if I have a head of lettuce in the fridge and I have to wash and dry and tear up to make one salad, I just won’t eat the salads.  Or if I have to wash, and cut up the broccoli or green beans and then figure out a way to steam them when I don’t have a steamer, I probably won’t do it.  And then I will watch as they go bad in fridge while I keep telling myself, “Tomorrow, I will make them tomorrow.”  And it’s no surprise that tomorrow never comes!

So I buy the pre-washed ready to use spring greens for super quick salads, plus a bag of romaine hearts that I will rinse and chop for fajita or taco salads.  I also found frozen broccoli and green beans at Sam’s Club that come in one pound steamer bags that you pop in the microwave and five minutes later you have your vegetables ready to eat.  (Soooo worth it in my case!)

 

3.  Prep Ahead

Prepping ahead was key for my success during our first week.  If I get to the kitchen to make dinner and the meat is not thawed or I’m starving and nothing is cleaned and ready to go for lunch or snack time, then I am in definite jeopardy of cheating!

Do things like:

-Grilling up a bunch of meat on the weekend and freezing it for quick dinners and lunches during the week.  Just today I realized that I forgot to look at the meal plan after being gone all morning so I pulled out some grilled chicken breasts from the freezer.  Add a steamer bag of vegetables and a salad and avocado and we are set.

-Make a batch of soup for the week and freeze.  This is my go to lunch.  I freeze the soup in two gallon Ziplock bags and take one out on Monday and the other one Thursday or so.  I alternate between the soup and salad or a baked sweet potato and salad.  Both are super quick and easy.  If I’m going to be gone all morning, I have the soup because I don’t have to chop up a bunch of toppings.

-Prep fruits and vegetables for snacks.  I usually make sure to have at least one cucumber already cut up and ready to go.  Sometimes I will cut up oranges and keep them in baggies, or portion out some nuts for convenience and portion control.

 

4.  Be Prepared

If I’m out and about and forget to pack a snack, I’m in trouble.  I try to make sure to look at the schedule to see when I’m going to be outside the house and make sure I have enough with me to make it until I get home.

-Larabars.  I keep a bunch on hand for emergencies.  I never leave the house without at least one in my bag.  I try to use them sparingly but they are perfect for when I’m on the run and need something easy to eat.  (If you are one of those people who has extra time and will actually make them yourself, then go for it!)

-Bottle of water.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  Especially because I am still breastfeeding. 

-Baggie of nuts or fruit.  Sometimes I’ll grab a banana, or chop up an apple or orange for the road along with a little baggie of nuts.  Plus, it’s great in case the kids get hungry!

 

5.  Make a Detailed Meal Plan for the Week

It is ok to reuse it every week if you want.  Like I said, my husband does not care much about variety, so he’s fine with Chicken Fajita Salad every week, or the piece of meat and veggies.  The more variety, the more ingredients you need, and the harder you have to think about it.  I personally didn’t have the mental energy to have to make four different meal plans, so I am mostly reusing the same one.

-Keep it basic.  If you want to change something up, you always have that option, but if you have a week’s worth of quick easy basic meals already in place, you are set in case you get behind and don’t have time to think about meals before the next week is upon you.  (This is me most of the time)

-Keep in mind where you will be and what days need something really minimal prep, like a crock pot meal, or breakfast for dinner, etc…

 

6. Clear Out the Pantry/Fridge

It really helped me to know that basically everything in the fridge I could eat. (Minus the milk, cheese, and yogurt that I was keeping on hand for Joseph)  I also boxed up most of the beans, pasta, grains, chips, etc… in the pantry that would tempt us and I put it in our guest bedroom.  Out of sight, really out of mind.  There is a much better chance that I will stay with it if I am not staring chips or pasta, or sourdough bread in the face everyday.

 

7.  Keep Your Meal & Snack Times Regular

In trying to figure out why this felt so easy for me, I started to realize what an important role, regular snack and mealtimes played in it.  Before I started this, I felt starving ALL THE TIME!  I would stuff myself at lunch and dinner, wolfing down my food as if I hadn’t had a meal in a week.  But when I started the Whole 30, I was being super mindful about having a mid morning and mid afternoon snack.  And for the first time in a long time, I was able to have one medium bowl of soup and feel full as opposed to scarfing down 2 huge bowls and then feeling obnoxiously stuffed thirty minutes later.  The few days that I accidentally skipped a snack, I would overeat at the next meal. 

 

Perhaps, this is accentuated for me because I am breast feeding and need more calories, but if you find that this is a problem for you too, I would encourage trying the regular snack times.  It really made a world of difference for me!

 

So there are my seven tips and tricks for an easier Whole 30!

 

God bless,

Heather

Things I’m Not Doing

Joseph
This is how I feel

In case you missed the baby post, we are about 11 weeks along with Baby #2.  Which means the entire holidays have been a haze of nausea, bone deep exhaustion, and a complete lack of enthusiasm, energy, or enjoyment for pretty much anything.  And since my brain is just barely starting to put together coherent thoughts again, I am going to write this as a list.

 

There came a point somewhere during the holidays that I decided there were things I was ok not doing right now.  I felt a lot of freedom in it actually.  Letting go of the unspoken “should do’s” that I for some reason keep coming up with and following them as if anything less was failing.  My husband usually breaks through that for me with a “I never asked you to do any of that.  Why do you put so much on yourself?”  Just yesterday he said something to the effect of, “I don’t care about any of that.  All I really want is for the table to be cleared off.”  Ummm….  I can do that.  Did I mention my husband is wonderful?

 

So here’s the list.

 

THINGS I’M NOT DOING

1.  Making my own yogurt.

I really like making my own.  It’s not that hard.  Still not doing it.

 

2.  Making my own broth

Even though I have like 5 bags of bones and veggies ready to go in the freezer and it’s WAYYYY cheaper.  Do I really want the noxious smell of chicken broth pervading my home for 24+ hours?  I hate the smell when I’m not pregnant.  Let me tell you, that is a recipe for a vomit explosion right now.

 

3.  Scrubbing my toilets.

I’m embarrassed to admit the last time I cleaned them.  We are probably talking in the months here.  I think my husband cleaned them a couple weeks ago for me.  Hallelujah!

 

4.  Doing (much) laundry

Juan has been kinda taking over here too.  I think we went three weeks with the last load of clean clothes just sitting in a laundry basket in our room and me trying to figure out where all my underwear went, before he jumped in.

 

5.  Cooking (many) dinners

I didn’t cook anything the whole 2 weeks he was off for Christmas.  I’ve barely cooked anything since he went back to school.  Either he cooks, we eat out, or it’s something UBER easy like frozen pizza or baked potatoes.

 

6.  Coming up with fun, creative things for Joseph to do

Ummm…”Play with your toys while Mommy lies down on the floor.  No, please don’t hit Mommy in the head with a block.  PLEEEEASE go play with your toys!”  Perhaps if I’m really desperate, I take him to the grocery store or something to kill time until lunch and the golden nap time hour where I will stumble off to bed as soon as he’s in his crib.

 

7.  Keeping up with the bank accounts

I’m making sure the bills get paid.  Period.  Which is really only two of them since the rest are auto pay.  I’m pretty sure we still have money in the accounts….or at least we did when I last checked.  Which may or may not have been in November.

 

8.  Doing pretty much anything social

I go nowhere and see no one if I can help it.  No offense to any of my friends or church family!  I just don’t have it in me right now.  First trimester coupled with a depleted introvert is a recipe for hibernation.

 

9.  Planning and goal setting for the year

I definitely have a side that loves to plan and make lists and goals.  NOT right now.  I can’t even get close to thinking about a goal or plan or making a list without wanting to throw up.  So New Years has come and gone and we are just coasting into January.  Hope there’s nothing important I’m forgetting about…

 

10.  Washing my hair regularly and looking cute

I can’t remember when I washed my hair last.  It may or may not have been six days ago.  But it’s cold, and I’m so tired, and I HATE washing my hair!  And all of my pants are too tight and I hate my one pair of maternity ones so it’s yoga pants day in and day out and I already want to burn them.  And I’m cold and I have practically zero winter clothes that fit me right now so I’m schlepping around in my husbands sweatshirt, but at least I’m warm!  Maybe some day it will warm up and I will have a cute maternity top and bottoms I can wear (when I ever end up leaving the house)  But until then, I’m looking a bit like a bag lady.  Sorry Honey.  (Did I mention how wonderful he is yet?)

 

So yeah.

 

There it is.  A small list of things I’m not doing and feeling free about….or at least ok with until I feel more alive again.

 

Are there things you gave up doing for a season?

 

God bless,

Heather

 

In case you missed the baby post, we are about 11 weeks along with Baby #2.  Which means the entire holidays have been a haze of nausea, bone deep exhaustion, and a complete lack of enthusiasm, energy, or enjoyment for pretty much anything.  And since my brain is just barely starting to put together coherent thoughts again, I am going to write this as a list.

 

There came a point somewhere during the holidays that I decided there were things I was ok not doing right now.  I felt a lot of freedom in it actually.  Letting go of the unspoken “should do’s” that I for some reason keep coming up with and following them as if anything less was failing.  My husband usually breaks through that for me with a “I never asked you to do any of that.  Why do you put so much on yourself?”  Just yesterday he said something to the effect of, “I don’t care about any of that.  All I really want is for the table to be cleared off.”  Ummm….  I can do that.  Did I mention my husband is wonderful?

 

So here’s the list.

 

THINGS I’M NOT DOING

1.  Making my own yogurt.

I really like making my own.  It’s not that hard.  Still not doing it.

 

2.  Making my own broth

Even though I have like 5 bags of bones and veggies ready to go in the freezer and it’s WAYYYY cheaper.  Do I really want the noxious smell of chicken broth pervading my home for 24+ hours?  I hate the smell when I’m not pregnant.  Let me tell you, that is a recipe for a vomit explosion right now.

 

3.  Scrubbing my toilets.

I’m embarrassed to admit the last time I cleaned them.  We are probably talking in the months here.  I think my husband cleaned them a couple weeks ago for me.  Hallelujah!

 

4.  Doing (much) laundry

Juan has been kinda taking over here too.  I think we went three weeks with the last load of clean clothes just sitting in a laundry basket in our room and me trying to figure out where all my underwear went, before he jumped in.

 

5.  Cooking (many) dinners

I didn’t cook anything the whole 2 weeks he was off for Christmas.  I’ve barely cooked anything since he went back to school.  Either he cooks, we eat out, or it’s something UBER easy like frozen pizza or baked potatoes.

 

6.  Coming up with fun, creative things for Joseph to do

Ummm…”Play with your toys while Mommy lies down on the floor.  No, please don’t hit Mommy in the head with a block.  PLEEEEASE go play with your toys!”  Perhaps if I’m really desperate, I take him to the grocery store or something to kill time until lunch and the golden nap time hour where I will stumble off to bed as soon as he’s in his crib.

 

7.  Keeping up with the bank accounts

I’m making sure the bills get paid.  Period.  Which is really only two of them since the rest are auto pay.  I’m pretty sure we still have money in the accounts….or at least we did when I last checked.  Which may or may not have been in November.

 

8.  Doing pretty much anything social

I go nowhere and see no one if I can help it.  No offense to any of my friends or church family!  I just don’t have it in me right now.  First trimester coupled with a depleted introvert is a recipe for hibernation.

 

9.  Planning and goal setting for the year

I definitely have a side that loves to plan and make lists and goals.  NOT right now.  I can’t even get close to thinking about a goal or plan or making a list without wanting to throw up.  So New Years has come and gone and we are just coasting into January.  Hope there’s nothing important I’m forgetting about…

 

10.  Washing my hair regularly and looking cute

I can’t remember when I washed my hair last.  It may or may not have been six days ago.  But it’s cold, and I’m so tired, and I HATE washing my hair!  And all of my pants are too tight and I hate my one pair of maternity ones so it’s yoga pants day in and day out and I already want to burn them.  And I’m cold and I have practically zero winter clothes that fit me right now so I’m schlepping around in my husbands sweatshirt, but at least I’m warm!  Maybe some day it will warm up and I will have a cute maternity top and bottoms I can wear (when I ever end up leaving the house)  But until then, I’m looking a bit like a bag lady.  Sorry Honey.  (Did I mention how wonderful he is yet?)

 

So yeah.

 

There it is.  A small list of things I’m not doing and feeling free about….or at least ok with until I feel more alive again.

 

Are there things you gave up doing for a season?

 

God bless,

Heather

 

2014 Word for the Year: Gradual

posted in: Creating Home, Organization, Seasons | 0

Coffee Table Plant

 

For those of you who don’t know, in blogland, a lot of bloggers post their “word” for the year or their “un-word” for the year.

 

My word for the year is going to be “Gradual”, which I will explain in this post.  My un-word is going to be “Un-Distracted” and I will talk about that one more in detail later this week.

“Gradual” on the surface seems a bit boring and underachieving, but for me it is important.

 

I have long since realized that I have a tendency to be an all or nothing type of person as well as a perfectionist.  So I end up with a lot of thoughts and grand plans and ideas that I never implement because I feel like I have to do it perfectly all the way through and it either never seems to be the “perfect” time or I never quite know how to start it “perfectly”.

 

Or I will start something all gung ho for a week…or 5 days…or 3 days…or 24 hours…or until lunch and then once I screw up, miss a day, do something less than perfectly, I throw up my hands and say, “I’ll try it again…next Monday”.  (Did I mention that I have this thing about chronology and starting things at the beginning, which in my mind equates to Monday when talking about weeks?) Which regardless of what it is, dieting, cloth diapering, cleaning, organizing, meal planning, exercise routines, etc…, never ends up lasting longer than the first obstacle in my path, whereby, I decide that I need to wait for a “better time” so that I can “do it right”.

 

Which obviously is NEVER going to happen.  If I keep waiting for “the perfect time”, I will still be waiting when I’m soaking my dentures in baking soda and doing whatever else you would do when you are really, really old.  I personally want to be a free, young at heart, old person, but whatever “REALLY REALLY OLD” looks like in your mind, that would be the picture.

 

You would think after 30 years of this, I would have been able to change course and try something else, but again my lack of stick-to-it-ness has thwarted me.  Intellectually, I knew that you should start small.  Take things bit by bit, and gradually increase until you have met your goals.  Isn’t that the advice you read EVERYWHERE?

 

I, however, have never been able to really put that into practice.  This is where “Gradual” comes into play.  I am going to focus on gradually working on my goals.  Stop jumping full throttle into things I will never finish and instead take things bit by bit, a piece at a time.  Building up to where I want to be.

 

My first step?

 

I made a ridiculously detailed routine checklist.  I’m starting with cleaning.  I tamed it down to a reasonable, “what makes sense for me when I have a 6 month old”, kind of checklist.  My goal is to try to complete it everyday for a month (more or less).  When that has become a habit, I will move on to cooking and exercising and try to gradually layer that on top of my cleaning regime.

 

I did however, implement two things in the cooking/exercising category.

 

1. Menu Plan/Food Log

I typed up a menu planning sheet for the week that has a place next to each meal for what I actually ended up eating.  I’ve been doing it since Monday, so “Yay for Day 2!”

 

But, in the absurdly short time that I have been doing it, I have noticed that by committing to and writing down what I’m actually eating, it has been giving me incentive to make a better choice.  I may “want” to eat two cinnamon rolls or a tub of ice cream but do I REALLY want to write that down?  Nope.  I’ll take the wheat toast with peanut butter or an apple and some almonds instead (most of the time).

 

But this only works if I am committed to writing it down.  I know, because I’ve tried the whole food log thing in the past and since I wasn’t 100% committed in my mind and will to write them down, I would eat a package of M&M’s or something and tell myself it was OK not to write it down.  You know there is a problem if you can’t even be honest with yourself!  But I am noticing a difference in the…36 hours I have been doing this.  =)

 

2. Pilates for 20 minutes 2x a week.  Walk to the mailbox everyday.

That’s it.  Those are my two exercising goals.  Until I get to that next month and I work on a more detailed plan.  This is me working up to my exercise plan.

 

Last month I tried the whole, “I’m going to do pilates 3x a week, and do a cardio dvd 4x a week, and bicycle, and hike, etc..” thing and it lasted all of a week.  Too much, all at once and I knew it, but there is something about starting slow that I just have a hard time with.  However, now I am determined to conquer the slow and steady route.

 

So Tuesdays and Thursdays (the days I don’t really clean), I am going to pop in the dvd and just do it.  Yesterday, I took the baby in the stroller and went to the mailbox.  Then, I decided to go a little farther and walk down a couple blocks to the community lake and back.  Today, I got the mail and went a little farther than yesterday.  AND I did my pilates.  Amazing how crossing that one little thing off my list can bring such a sense of accomplishment.

 

My hope is that by the time I finish the 30 days of making my cleaning routine a habit, and I’m ready to start working on cooking and exercising, I will already have a bit of a head start.  And that by posting this and knowing that I have to post honestly about my progress, it will help keep me accountable.  Although I know I’m only two days into trying this whole “Start gradually and work your way up” bit, it is already feeling like it’s going to work for me…as long as I continue to focus on “Gradually”.

 

And realize that if I screw up on Tuesday, I don’t have to wait til next Monday to start again!

 

Check back later this week to see why I chose “Un-Distracted” for the year.  =)

 

God bless,

Heather