Friday, January 30, 2015

Ten Ramekin Desserts

A few weeks ago I shared some great ideas for using your ramekins to make meals..they are such a fun and easy way to add a little dimension to your standard meals. 

Anyway, Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Zach and I won't be indulging in dessert this year to celebrate (Whole 30 and all) but I still thought I'd share some great dessert recipes that make the most of your ramekins.

Add this to your Valentine's celebration and you'll feel fancy. Which is a really good feeling on Valentine's day--at least for me.

desserts for ramekins

Raspberry Souffle  (from the Wetherills Say I Do)

Peppermint Chocolate Pizookie (from Love from the Oven)

Salted Caramel Pots with Caramel Sauce (from Amuse Your Bouche)

Snickers Deep Dish Cookie Pie (from Spoonful of Flavor)

Mixed Berry Cobbler (from The Comfort of Cooking)

Individual Warm Cinnamon Roll Bites (from Seasons and Suppers)

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes (from Broma Bakery)

Peach Caramel Bread Pudding (from The Kitchen McCabe)

Cheesecake in a Jar (from I am Baker)

Mini Caramel Apple Pies (from He and I )

What is your favorite dessert? Do you like to make your desserts in a ramekin?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Our Co-Sleeping Experience--What is it Really Like?

Before I had JaiseAnn I was adamant that my child would not sleep in our bed--at least not regularly. When she was born I found that I loved curling up and sleeping with her for naps, but nighttime was my alone sleep time. My body ached from nursing on the couch all day. I would lay on my belly on my bed at night and just revel in how it felt to rest. But then JaiseAnn stopped sleeping in her own space and I was fighting her all night to get her back down. I eventually succomed to bringing her into our bed as I wasn't comfortable with the idea of leaving her to cry or sleep training.

Our situation wasn't planned and because of that I feel like I have something to offer to those who might have opinions one way or the other about co-sleeping. Here are some of the common thoughts about co-sleeping and my experience/take on them:

how to make co sleeping work

Co-Sleeping is Dangerous 
Co-sleeping is actually defined as room sharing, not bed sharing. The AAP actually recommends that parents share a bedroom with the baby for at least the first three months of life to reduce the chances of  SIDS (source).

Most of the deaths or accidents that occur while co-sleeping happen when there is smoke in the home, the mother smokes, or there are other drugs (including alcohol) involved (source). Here you will find a set of safe co-sleeping guidelines.

I never personally bought into the scare tactics about co-sleeping. Depending on the culture, many different cultures bed share from infancy. I, personally, was not comfortable bringing JaiseAnn into my bed as a newborn. By the time she stopped sleeping well, she was six months old and I felt more comfortable with having her in our bed with us.

Co-Sleeping Leads to More/Better Quality Sleep

For us, co-sleeping does help us maximize our sleep, but it doesn't mean that we are sleeping well or for longer periods of time as I would have assumed. In fact, many co sleeping babies wake frequently, it's just that they usually nurse and quickly go back to sleep with minimal disturbance. JaiseAnn usually goes back to sleep quickly, but often her wakings create quite a disturbance. I am honestly more rested with her in our bed than I was when I woke every two hours, crawled out of bed, nursed her/rocked/nursed/rocked went back to sleep on pins and needles waiting for the next wake up. I didn't recognize that I was more rested, though, until I accepted our sitatuion and stopped fretting about it.  When you hear how great co-sleeping is for sleep, it's usually in comparison to dealing with a frequently waking baby and a mom walking the hall to get to him/her...which is ultimately more exhausting than having the baby in bed with you. . The pictures you might have of mom and baby snuggled up for 11 or 12 hours are pretty much not the usual scenario, though I do envy those co-sleeping moms that have it that way.

People that Co-Sleep Don't Have a Sex Life/Must Not Care as Much About Their Marriage

Without going into detail, I will just say that this is not true. Having a child has absolutely affected my marriage and the amount of opportunities we have to be alone, but co sleeping has not added to that. It helps that Zach honestly loves having JaiseAnn in our bed and supports me in that--in fact, it was his suggestion in the first place.  I don't know what I would do if he didn't. Luckily we are pretty good at parenting together and it works for us.

We care about our marriage a lot. We also care about our little girl and so we make adjustments and sacrifices. We still make time for us and we manage just fine. This is a season in our marriage and we are trying to see it as such. We are using this opportunity to enjoy our time together when we do have the chance.

I do make sure to check in with Zach regarding a lot of things with JaiseAnn to make sure we are on the same page. The other day I was having an off day and questioning myself a lot. I asked Zach if he regrets the decisions we have made as far as JaiseAnn being in our bed is concerned. His response was, "I will regret when she no longer wants to." (And that's why I married him!)

All People that Co Sleep Love it and Feel Passionately About it 
We didn't want to co-sleep. And when JaiseAnn started struggling with sleep and Zach would suggest bringing her to bed with us, I would get angry and tell him that I didn't want to do that and I refused. Sleep eventually won and here we are.

We don't love co-sleeping at all times. We do however love that our daughter feels safe and comfortable when she's in our bed. We love that she is cared for and we love that she's not crying. We love that it provides her the opportunity to feel secure.

We are not passionate that all people should co-sleep, but we are passionate that we co-sleep. We have discussed whether or not we'll do this again with another baby and we both are pretty certain we will. Of course many things will have to be considered and played by ear but for now we think we will.

As much reading as I did when we were at the beginning of JaiseAnn's sleep struggle, I kept coming across a recurring factor--babies want to be held, they want to be close to their moms, and they seek it--whether they are newborns,  six months,  or two, I kept seeing similar problems and situations to ours. And as I would see this reoccurance, it started to sink in that she wants me and honestly, this is my job. This is what my Heavenly Father essentially sent me here to do. To help raise up this sweet little spirit. For me that was a sobering realization. It means that sometimes, yes, I'm going to have to do what I feel is right for my child--even if it's not easy or not what I want to do. Some days I am absolutely in love with sharing our bed. I do have moments of panic, usually when I try to see or predict the future and how everything will play out. I know what I want our future to look like--I just don't know how we will get there.

Some babies do not seek their mom like JaiseAnn did, they settle into their cribs and without too much trauma they learn to sleep on their own. Our baby did not. Our baby wants her mom and wants to be close and we feel strongly that we should honor that.

Would you ever/do you co-sleep?

***Disclaimer--Please read up on safe co sleeping practices before deciding to try co sleeping on your own. I am in no way an expert. I am just one woman sharing an experience. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Confessions of Confident Women--Dress Great/Feel Great

One thing that I have always felt is that if you dress in clothing you like and feel good in, you will feel good. I feel like I make more balanced choices when I take care get ready for the day and feel good about how I look. After JaiseAnn was born I told myself that I would not buy any new clothes until I lost the weight. I refused to buy new and bigger sizes. I was three months postpartum and I was wearing baggy shirts and sweatpants every day---occasionally I'd don a maxi skirt.

Eventually I came to accept that fact that this was my body for now. It wasn't permamnet but I was a new size at this time. I could lose weight down the road, but I wanted a few items I felt good in. And so I went shopping. I feel so much better getting dressed in clothes that fit and still look nice. It makes me feel good about myself and helps me feel confident. That confidence allows me to make better choices in how I take care of myself throughout the day.

To sum it up, wear what makes you feel good and confidence follows.

When eShakti offered to send me an custom-made item of clothing to review, I was ecstatic. This company offers the exact kind of service and products that help woman to feel good about themselves and the clothes that they wear.

Let me explain some awesome things about ordering clothes through eShakti:
*You can customize your clothing to your measurements--the item you pick can literally be made just for you for $7.50 extra. That's an amazing service at an amazing price. Clothes tailor made to fit you are going to flatter your figure.

*Many pieces on their site include the option to choose sleeve type, neckline,  dress/skirt length, and pockets. For example, I choose to make this skirt below knee length so that I can comfortably chase JaiseAnn around at church and scoop down to pick her up without my dress creeping up. I chose to keep the sleeves sleeveless so that I could change up my outfit with different layering options without too much bulk, and I liked the neckline so I kept it the same as well.  I also chose to keep pockets because I've never had pockets in a dress before and I love that option!

JaiseAnn didn't sleep for more than 4 broken hours the night before this photo shoot. We were both beyond exhausted, but I'm still smiling. I still felt really good when I got dressed on Sunday.
*You can purchase items that are not custom-made, but they are still customizable as far as length, sleeves, and neckline go. They are also made to fit your height.

*Purchases are shipped quickly and the products are high quality. My dress is very durable, which is perfect for a dress that will see a lot of movement, floor time, and outside time.

*eShakti offers women's clothing sizes 0-36W!

*The customer service offered through eShakti is high quality. You will receive timely and kind customer service.

I love this dress. One of my favorite things about my body is that I have a smaller waist and wider hips. I haven't been able to dress to flatter that part of my body, or I haven't made any clothing purchases to flatter that part of my body, since JaiseAnn was born. I love that this dress allows me to feel feminine by highlighting that feature even though I'm carrying extra weight.

I'm carrying extra unwanted weight, but my body still has great features and I deserve to feel good in my clothes, we all do. I love that this company allows women of all shapes and sizes to feel good in their own sin right now with customized, quality clothes. Good clothing is a key to confidence.

Feel confident in YOUR new outfit from eShakti. They are offering a special discount to My New Lines readers. Just enter the code mynewlines for 10% off. Enjoy!

A big fat THANK YOU to eShakti for providing this dress for review. I truly hope you'll check them out!

Monday, January 26, 2015

10 Practices that Bring Order to Our Home

Our home has never been as clean as I would like, but it's always been relatively clean. Keeping a house clean while your home all day with a baby is a different kind of challenge. It doesn't seem that way since you're home all day but between dishes, laundry, exercise, showering, meal making/cleaning up, playing and errands, it is actually really hard for me. I work during JaiseAnn's naps so cleaning doesn't happen during nap time. I'm still struggling to get to a point where my house feels clean. The one thing that keeps me sane as I figure this out is keeping my house in order. Here are ten practices of ours that keep our house in order.

Make the Bed
This one is pretty self explanatory. Our bed gets made every day no matter how the rest of the house looks or how we feel. I usually make the bed at the same time every day.

Keep Dishes Out of the Sink 
I have always hated dishes in the sink and now that I'm home it seems it's an uphill battle I'm always facing. I try to go to bed each night with a clean sink and a load of dishes washing. All day long I work on keeping dishes cleared out of the sink but make sure that at night one of us really tackles them if they happened to pile up. 

A Load a Day

I do a minimum of one load of laundry a day. I fold it right then and there and put it away. JaiseAnn wears cloth diapers and her cloth diaper laundry is an extra load every few days, but fairly easy to maintain. Even if I have to put the socks in the laundry basket to wait, I still get the laundry going because it keeps it from becoming too overwhelming.

The Fifteen Minute Sweep
JaiseAnn's bathtime is our "quick, clean up" time. We put her toys away with her before her nap (usually) and while she's bathing one of us will run the vacuum and sweep the kitchen, clear the kitchen counters, and just do a quick run through of the house. JaiseAnn loves her baths so she takes longer than 15 minutes which means whoever is cleaning gets to join in for the rest of bath time fun.

Meal Planning 
I have shared a bit about my meal planning strategies. It saves me time to make one grocery store trip and know what I'm making every night. It allows me to put dinner in the crock pot on the days that are busy and allows me to know what to meal prep ahead of time. Knowing what's to buy, prepare, and cook each week/day is very helpful at keeping things organized.

Vacuum Daily
Maybe you don't need to vacuum every day, but we do. We didn't have to in the past, but now with Mal inside while I'm home, it's more than necessary. We vacuum each night and I often vacuum in the middle of the day. Find the chore that your house needs the most and make sure to try doing it daily.

Online Bill Pay
I'm horrible at paying bills on time so Zach has taken that over for almost all of our bills. He pays all of our bills online and it takes him a half an hour every two weeks to get things paid.  

A Cleaning Schedule

I have a cleaning schedule. Trying to do everything I have to do during the day, it is really hard for me to clean.  I have to clean while JaiseAnn's awake and it's difficult when I already need time to exercise, shower, do laundry, and prepare/clean up after meals. Right now, major cleaning doesn't really happen around here and that makes me sad and frustrated sometimes. So I made myself a schedule. Our house is small so cleaning it isn't that hard. I listed 5-6 weekly chores that need to get done (bathrooms, dusting, mopping, cleaning the living room floor (Zach's job), etc.) I now try to do one thing per night after JaiseAnn goes to bed. It takes anywhere from 15 minutes to a half an hour. Some good inspirations for cleaning schedules can be found here or here.

Bedtime Routine

There's no denying that we have MAJOR issues with sleep when it comes to JaiseAnn. But one thing we do have in place is a bedtime routine. Zach and I actually sort of had one before. We always said prayers and kissed goodnight before falling asleep. Now we have a routine mostly for JaiseAnn and we crawl into bed sometime after she's down. We bathe her, put pajamas on, read scriptures, and say prayers. Usually she's so anxious to nurse that she won't sit still after pajamas. We still have sleep issues, but the consistency and dependability of our routine at night still helps me to feel less anxious. We always give JaiseAnn a bit of naked time before heading to the tub. Now when she gets naked she walks/crawls to the bathroom. She knows it's bathtime!

A Day Off
I have another post in the works on this, but we see Sunday as a day of rest. We take Sundays off. We don't shop, or clean, or work. We make meals but that's all. And I love having that one day where I feel free of obligation and am able to recharge and reset myself for the week.

* Blogging is a hobby that I don't have a ton of time for. I have to be mindful about how I organize my blogging to keep the balance and order in my life. I am sharing a few tips over at Ever Emma on that today. I'd love it if you paid me a visit over there!

 How do you keep order in your home?

Friday, January 23, 2015

I Support MLM Sales

I grew up with a with a serious aversion to direct sales. Mary Kay, Amway, and Tupperware people were just silly people trying to "get rich quick." My mom dreaded going to direct sales parties or events. I think this attitude got passed down to me at first. If someone was part of a pyramid scheme, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it and I avoided them at all costs.

But in the past year or so, I've really come to respect people in direct sales and I have changed my mind about them. If I'm going to make a purchase to clean my house, better my health, or make me feel good about myself, I have two options. I can make local purchases or I can make corporate purchases. One is less expensive and helps the rich get richer. The other costs me more but helps the middle class, hard working family-owned business out. Honestly, all too often the less expensive option gets me.

With MLM/direct sales, however, I can often benefit from the corporate costs and inevitably help the rich get richer, but I also get to help a mom stay home with her kids, pay bills, or buy herself some new clothes. And I can definitely get on board with that. It seems you can honestly buy anything through direct sales these days. My social media feeds (primarily Instagram) are bombarded with posts and sales. These salespeople are passionate and they work hard. They are motivated and excited and a lot of times it's contagious. I find myself feeling more motivated toward my own goals just by following them. And I want to help them reach theirs.

The problem I have right now is that I don't have any extra money. And when I say that, I mean it. I don't have the extra money for a spray tan, or a  Beach Body program, or for the Norwex cleaners that I desperately want to try. It is not my season in life for disposable income, so there are no extras for me. But I love these women and I want to support them.

I've found three ways to support these kinds of programs without spending money:

*Social Media Shares
If the person you know has a blog, share posts on Pinterest and Twitter. Share their Instagram posts with a friend that might be interested by tagging the friend in a comment. Let people know about these opportunities and help spread the word. 

Use the power of your word outside of social media as well. If you know someone who is getting ready for a beach vacation--send them to the person you know who does spray tans. Is someone you know looking for great skin care? Get them in contact with an essential oils or Rodan and Fields representative. Don't forget about those people you know in direct sales when making recommendations---but only if you truly believe in the product and the person. 

Let them know what they are doing right and that you believe in them. Encourage them and cheer them on as they reach new goals and as they shoot even higher. 

And with that, if you need a person for any of the following I would be THRILLED to hook you up, just let me know:

Essential Oils
Weight Loss
Spray Tans
Rodan and Fields Skin Care
Affordable/Cute/Modest Leggings/Dresses/Skirts

What are your feelings on MLM/direct sales?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Confessions of Confident Women

I'm so excited to introduce this new series with you. Confessions of Confident Women will be a place for me along with other women to share our struggles and triumphs with body image and self confidence. Hopefully we'll be able to relate and gain encouragement and inspiration as we hear how others deal with this all-too-common struggle. The goal is to work toward celebrating and embracing ourselves and toward higher levels of confidence. Confidence is not something to be intimidated by in others and it's not so out of reach if it's something you struggle with. 

Through this series you will get to know other women and learn that we are not all so different and confidence isn't the permanent fixture we all see it as. We all struggle with it. We all have differing levels of confidence. Maybe you need help recognizing it, maybe you need to hear how others build theirs, or maybe confidence is a strength of yours and you want to share your story.  

If you are interested in sharing YOUR story, I would be honored to feature you on the blog. Please comment below or send me an email at mynewlinesblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

Monday, January 19, 2015

One Year of Motherhood

A lot of people say that the first birthday celebration is really for the parents. And yes it is.  When I look back at where we were this time last year, I think about that damn notebook.

The notebook that our childbirth educator recommended. She said we would be glad to have a notebook with us during labor and delivery and that we could use it to jot down different things the doctors say and the things you will maybe want to remember after the baby is born. So we innocently picked up a tiny notebook at the dollar store and stashed it in the hospital bag. I felt very prepared. I had a notebook and I was going to use it to keep track of anything I might need to--so maybe I wouldn't feel so lost.

We Christened our notebook the night I went into labor. We played one game of Quiddler to distract me and we opened up our little notebook to keep score (and yes, I won--even in labor). After JaiseAnn was born, Zach took out the notebook again to write down the phone numbers of people in my phone so he could send everyone the much-awaited, "She's here!" text with JaiseAnn's picture. Yes, our notebook had a great and exciting start.

And then our notebook started to track every pee and poop. Every feeding--from which side and how long. Each entry another thing to add to my list of worries in my brain as I awaited the next pee, poop, or feeding. Would she meet her quota? Would I meet mine?

And then she didn't gain enough weight and we had to add pumping sessions and supplemental feedings. I, of course, diligently kept track of those. I'm not sure why I tracked those things, now, though. To show someone, maybe even just myself, that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. That I was trying. That I did care.

Because sometimes I felt like it looked like I didn't. I was an emotional and physical wreck and nursing was rough for us to begin with. And I just wanted to throw in the towel on so many different things. I wanted to stop caring about ounces fed and pumped and gained. I wanted to stop counting diapers dirtied and hours between feedings. I wanted to throw that notebook out the window.

In addition to those things, though, I was also taking three different blood pressure medications. One every twenty four-hours, one every eight hours, and one every six hours. I had alarms set on my phone to wake JaiseAnn to feed her and then pump and then other alarms on my phone to take my medications. More than one time I made a four a.m. call to the on-call doctor because I had taken the wrong pill at the wrong time. So I started logging EVERY SINGLE time and pill and dosage in that notebook. When my alarm went off I double checked my medicine with the notebook, took my pill, and crossed it off in that notebook.

 I also had to track my blood pressure three different times a day. I carried that notebook with me each day as I called to report my blood pressure with the doctor and it accompanied me to the appointments not long after where I showed my progress and eventually was able to wean myself off the pills entirely.

While the notebook started out in good standing with me, I began to hate it. It stood for every worry I didn't ever know I would have. It reminded me of every thing that could go wrong and I hated it. I had a new life in my home and I wanted to enjoy her and celebrate her. But, honestly, at the beginning--there were times that I just couldn't. I was too consumed with worry, with fear, with the unknown, and with the logistics of every pill, diaper, and feeding.

When I think of where we were a year ago there are days that I get sad. My little baby girl who once spent hours at a time nestled up against my chest in a a deep sleep, is now a one year old little girl. She is growing in independence and sass. She doesn't have time to give mom kisses or to even be bothered to smile for a picture. And boy, have I shed a few tears over that.

 But her birthday was a celebration for me for sure. We made  it! We got through some of the hardest days I have ever experienced with feelings I didn't know were possible.We had some of the sweetest moments I have never even knew to wish for...smiles and giggles--first steps and favorite foods. We have truly experience life for an entire year.

We were in a place that I don't want to revisit last year--well maybe to hold my beautiful little girl and snuggle her. But we are in such a better place now. We still don't really have any idea what we are idea how things will look for us a week or month or year from now. We mostly don't really know how we'll deal with the fun things the toddler years will bring like tantrums and big girl attitude. But we were given an entire year with the most beautiful soul I've known. And that was my gift. It was a gift every single day this year and we celebrated. We celebrated her and we celebrated us. We can't wait to see what the next 365 hold. They're certainly off to a better start.

Now as for that I keep it or throw it away? Do you have an equivalent to my notebook?

To read about my adventures through motherhood over the past year, click here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Year of Questions

How will I ever do this again?

Will I ever get to do this again?

How can I sear that face/that smile/that laugh/that strut into my memory forever?

Why can't time slow down?

Why won't time speed up?

What am I doing wrong?

Why can't all days be like today?

How can I do better tomorrow?

What should I be doing every day?

Am I doing enough?

Are her needs being met?

What will her first word be?

When will she sleep through the night?

How do I possibly love her more now than I did ten minutes ago?

What will her favorite foods be?

How will I ever let her go to school?

How can I keep her heart from ever breaking?

Will she love me like this always?

What did I ever do to deserve her?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

10 Ramekin Dinner Recipes

A few years ago I found some perfect, white ramekins on sale at Target. I scooped up several and I just love finding recipes and desserts that require their use. They make for great presentation and they add something a little extra special to a meal.

Also, I don't share food. I really and truly don't. I need to know how much is mine and which is mine. I don't split burgers in half or carelessly snack on shared appetizers at a restaurant. Ramekins are perfect for me. I get my own Sharlee portion all to myself. 

 I've compiled ten savory ramekin recipes from around the web--just for you! Check these out and then bust out your ramekins and make a fun meal to spruce things up!

ramekin dinner recipes

Mini Turkey Meatloaves

Personal Pizza Bowls

Individual Shephard's Pie

Baked Ziti Pot Pies 

Mini Quiches

Mac n Cheese Ramekins

Individual Chicken Pot Pie

Cheesy Potato Stackers

Individual Lasagnas 

French Onion Soup

Have you ever made dinner or breakfast in a ramekin? What's your favorite recipe? Do you share food?

Monday, January 12, 2015

I Get it Now

 The grandma that calls to tell the teacher why her grandson didn't get his science project done and ask for an extension.

The mom who pulls her child out of another teacher's class due to fourth grade "girl drama."

The dad who brings the lunch to school and interrupts the lesson so that his son knows that it's there.

The mom who still insists on walking her middle school daughters to school, holding their hands, and sitting with them at lunch. 

The dad who calls to make sure that his daughter turned in her field trip money.

The dad who stops by my house to ask me to befriend his child, who is now a grown adult.

The parents who want to home school. 

The dad who doesn't want his kid riding the school bus.

The mom who follows the school bus to school.

The dad who overprotects.

The helicopter parents.

I get it--with all of my heart. I get it.

As a teacher I saw a lot of things that I didn't fully understand and often didn't understand at all. This is only the beginning of a mile-long list. While I understand these things, I still don't think I will do them, or at least not most of them. But man,  I get it now. I so get it.

What are some things you didn't understand about parenting/motherhood that you get now?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Why Running?

The other day I had had a particularly challenging day. I went to work out with my friend that morning and JaiseAnn insisted on being held the entire time. She would only be distracted by toys and food for minimal amounts of time before the tears and crying started up again. And that's how the day continued on. Zach worked later than normal, so when he walked through the door that night, we did a quick changing of the guards and I was off to go for a quick run. 

Running has become something I almost treasure. I only recently realized what an asset it is to me. I work out with my friend every morning, but I have recently started running 3 days a week in addition to it because I need it. . (Two of those times are evenings after Zach gets home). I have come to discover a great power in running. 

Why running? 

For me--and my body and mind--all exercise is not created equal apparently.

mental benefits of running

3 Things Running Does for Me

I Carry My Own Weight
This may seem a little strange to most people, but I personally feel more connected to my body when I'm running. I think it has to do with my body and a pair of shoes being the only things I need in order to break a sweat on a run. I am literally burning calories by pulling and pushing my own weight every second. I feel connected to my body and that is a very powerful thing. When I run regularly, I make better decisions regarding my health and  I feel happier about myself despite no change in size or weight.

I Move Forward
I am a person who lives in her mind. My mind never stops. There is always something going on. Some kind of reflection, memory, problem trying to be solved, daydreaming--something. My head goes a million miles an hour. (I've actually said many times that the best vacation someone could give me would be for me to get to switch brains with Zach for a day--his brain works when it needs to and it's off when it doesn't.) I can't seem to turn my brain off. Which means that on days where I'm sitting on the floor with JaiseAnn or when I'm trying to fold laundry and I'm lost in thought when a little girl starts whining and tugging on my pant legs, I start to feel frustrated an overwhelmed. I don't just need time alone with my thoughts. I need to move forward after thinking them. I need a plan of action. When I am running, my mind is, too. The difference is, I feel like in that half an hour of running time, I am able to move forward in my thinking. I get so much accomplished. I make plans and set goals,  I am able to resolve things that are bothering me, it is also a time of creativity for me--I get some great ideas during my time running.

I Can Push Myself to Do Just a Little More 
The Saturday before Thanksgiving, my mom, brother, Zach, and I ran a turkey trot relay.The relay was eight miles, each person ran the same two mile stretch. I really enjoyed it and it was fun. My mom was very worried about taking too long and frustrating the rest of us. We continually explained to her that we didn't care. She said that she found it odd that I didn't care about beating people or winning as I'm a very competitive person. 

But that's the beauty of running. It is a solo sport. I only compete with myself. I could choose to truly compete with otheres in races, but I don't. Not only do I not have the skill level currently, but I don't have the desire. When we ran that race in December, I had one goal: to not stop. I didn't care how long it took, but I wasn't going to slow to a walk. It was a personal goal and I felt incredibly satisfied and accomplished when I was done. And that's how it is. As I've tried to build back up my stamina and endurance after having JaiseAnn, I continually push myself. Just a little more. Make it one more stretch, to that sign, to that tree, etc. And there's nothing more gratifying than pushing yourself like that mentally and physically as you meet and exceed each goal. 

What about you? What is your favorite form of exercise and why?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

If I Knew Then...

When JaiseAnn was about six months old I jotted down an idea for a blog post. It was going to be full of things I wish I had done differently during her first year. Sort of my way of giving out advice to a new mom or a reminder to myself. This post would be brilliant and so easy to write and it would be perfect. I mentally noted things like: 

*buy a co sleeper

*try harder to get her to take a bottle

*READ ABOUT BABY SLEEP (For as much as I read up on pregnancy and birth I was not at all prepared for the different changes and adjustments babies go through with sleep. I was SO not prepared for that)

*have Zach take her at night on occasion from the beginning

*leave her earlier on with other people

*stay in bed all day with the baby at least once

and so on. I meant to keep a running tally of all the things that would have made life so much easier if I had just done it "this" way from the start.

I'm not one of those people who doesn't believe in regrets. There are choices I've made that I do not feel were worth the lesson earned. And I usually stand by that. I figured I'd surely have regrets when it came to my first year of parenting.

But a few months later, I stopped keeping score. I stopped dwelling on the fact that maybe I should have done this differently or tweaked that. If I had read more on baby sleep maybe I would be getting more sleep at night by now. 

But that's a rabbit hole that I quickly learned that you don't want to go down. Wherever we are, we are here because I did what I wanted to do at the moment as a parent. I followed my heart.

I did what I was able to do and comfortable with doing at every corner. I asked myself what's best for me and, more importantly, what's best for JaiseAnn.

Some days yes, I do completely freak out about the choices I've made and what I can only imagine will be the lifelong consequences of them...How long until I have my bed to myself? How long until she will go to sleep for someone else? How long until I can drink a cherry Coke again? I mean real pressing matters here. 

One of the parenting books that I actually did read before JaiseAnn was born talked a lot about this concept of  "accidental parenting." It's the thought that parents do what they have to to survive and then end up in this cycle of a situation that they are no longer in control over.  

Before JaiseAnn was born, I bought into that. I was going to do things the right way so that my life could be as calm and "normal" as possible. Even if it meant that things were difficult for a while. I was going to keep my sanity and avoid accidentally parenting my child.

But I don't believe that most of us parent by "accident." I think we parent with our hearts. And even though that means that sometimes things don't look or feel like we'd like them to, it doesn't make it wrong. In fact, it's probably the most right they could be. Even though I occasionally wish for a chance to take a long nap or spend a day getting lunch and a pedicure while JaiseAnn spends the day happily eating and napping in someone else's care, it doesn't mean that I've done something wrong because those things aren't really a possibility or likelihood for me at the moment. I followed my heart and it put me here. With every choice we get something and we sacrifice something.

If I could do those things that I occasionally want to do, there'd be something else I'd be wanting. Maybe I would have a baby who only slept in her crib and I'd long for her to sleep on my chest (even if it does require the use of an Ergo). 

I spent the first half of JaiseAnn's first year thinking I'd learned so much about how to do it "better" next time. I spent the second half realizing that I love her like crazy and that love has been the main motivator behind every parenting choice I've made. My mother's heart led us to where we are today. I know it means I've done my very best. I wouldn't have done a single thing differently. Not one.

What are your feelings on regrets? Do you feel like we make right or wrong choices or do you think each choice has a purpose?

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Marriage this Year

I'm so grateful for the chance to be co-hosting with Amberly at A Prioritized Marriage  along with Charlene and Rebecca this month. I felt that this opportunity to set a new goal for my marriage this month would fit perfectly with my new goals for the year.

My goals this year are all centered around less is more. I'm simplifying areas of my life to help a better version of myself surface. 

The hosts of the marriage and relationship goal link-up are all choosing their own words as a central focus for their marriage goals and building their goals around it each month. I decided to join them.

This year, I've chosen the word renew.

Renewal is more than simply putting energy into something and adding excitement, we first have to take a close look and examine how it became dull in the first place. What caused it to lose its shine?

I like to think of renewal as exfoliation--getting rid of the dead, dulling, and no longer purposeful  and making way for the more vibrant, glowing, and productive new stuff. A lot of the good stuff is just hidden behind the stuff we need to eliminate. I think by choosing to eliminate something, it will automatically help better things surface. I'm going to stop focusing on that bad stuff and spend this month in gratitude for the good things my husband does. I can't wait to liven things up this year and take you all along with me. 

For the month of January I will help renew my marriage by cutting complaints and adding gratitude. Any suggestions for the coming months?

What about you? Do any of your goals for the new year include your marriage? Share and link up below!

Marriage & Relationship Goals

New to the Marriage & Relationship Goals Link-up? Goals help our relationships grow stronger and get better with time as well as help us to continue moving forward and avoid the "ruts" of life. This link-up was created in hopes of inspiring your relationship with your significant other no matter your chapter in life and love. We would love for you to join us in making the things we do in our relationships intentional. If you would like more information, click here.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Embracing Sleepless Nights (and Other Challenges)

One weekend before  Christmas my mom, JaiseAnn, and I spent our Saturday at a Christmas expo. We walked around, visited with vendors, sampled food, and shopped. We ended our trip with a quick stop to nurse JaiseAnn in the mother/baby "rest stop" and went out to lunch.

Zach was with his dad that day and I knew he was planning to spend the evening with his dad, brother, and grandpa watching a football game. It meant that I was alone for the pre-bedtime witching hour and for all that bedtime entails. A few months ago that would have given me a bit of anxiety. Instead, I was excited about it.

JaiseAnn and I played together on the floor. I made her a little dinner. We took a walk. I gave her a bath and put her in her pajamas. Then I crawled into bed with her and nursed her to sleep. I fell asleep, too. I was exhausted and I was so looking forward to an evening curled up in bed cuddling with my little girl. It was almost perfect.

A few months ago if you would have told me that I would have looked forward to an evening alone with JaiseAnn at bedtime, I wouldn't have believed you. If you would have told me that I would appreciate the fact that I could sleep in the same bed with her. I would have scoffed at you. But it's true.

Because a few months ago I was too busy thinking of how things should be. I was too busy seeing other moms on social media put their kids down for naps, leave for overnight trips, and go out on long dates. I was too focused on all that was WRONG with our current situation and not focused enough on what was right.

As I've reached out to more and more moms, I've found that we are all not that different and that each child has a unique set of challenges. JaiseAnn's biggest challenge is without a doubt, sleep. That being said. I don't fight it anymore. I know she will wake up a lot. I accept that she's in our bed. I accept that she still nurses throughout the night.

Acceptance of those things has done something incredible...It's allowed me to embrace and enjoy those things. Most nights I recognize that my little girl won't want to be cuddled so close forever. I recognize that our nursing relationship will end sooner than I will likely be fully ready for. I recognize what a blessing it is to sleep beside her and to comfort her throughout the night.

As I've reflected on that this past week, I've realized that maybe I'm learning something that I really could apply to every area of my life. When things get hard or challenging (and they often do) I really could benefit from taking a step back and focusing on the good and the positive things rather than everything that my current situation is lacking. Not only would it help me to accept and deal with challenges, but I truly feel like it might help me to embrace them.

Motherhood is teaching me so much. Maybe by the time JaiseAnn is a grandmother I'll be the person I want to be. Just maybe. And it will all be thanks to her. Her and her terrible sleep patterns.

What are your thoughts? Have you been able to find the positives and embrace some more challenging times? What's your trick?

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