Spring Cleaning Your Life

What if we treated spring cleaning as an opportunity to freshen up everything in our lives?

As the spring comes barreling in with cherry blossoms in bloom and gardens beckoning, it’s a time to freshen everything up a bit. There’s a reason that we all crave an intensely deep clean and purge session this time of year. The mustiness of winter needs to be replaced with wide opened windows and the smell of clean laundry. However, there may be even more than your house needing a little love right now, and if that’s true, my words are for you.

What if we treated spring cleaning as an opportunity to freshen up everything in our lives – our physical and mental health, our relationships, even our passions and plans?

It can be a brutal process; one that gets messier and harder before you come through the other side, but isn’t that when all the beautiful things in life happen? After the hard work and a big mess? (I mean, our closet clean outs aren’t a thing of beauty until the final hanger is in place.) 

We are knee deep in the mess that comes with detoxing and we were in need of an escape. <Insert our runaway to Florida here>

While soaking in the Vitamin D, we decided to have those big, messy conversations. I highly recommend doing this in the sunshine; you’ll by far less likely to become defensive, cranky, or negative. The other key here is to dedicate quality time to these big-life conversations. Hire a babysitter, leave the kids with grandparents, and then book a hotel for the night. The time together will help you spring clean your relationship in more aspects than talking, ha! 

With the discussions typically comes a few emotional breakdowns. This is all part of the process. Get in a good workout and treat yourself to a massage or facial (DIY style or at the spa). Your puffy eyes will be gone, and you’ll use the solo time to process anything and everything still needing processed. 

What We Conquered While ‘Freshening Up’

Fresh Sheets

There comes a time in adulthood when you need to pull the trigger and upgrade your sleeping situation. A crisp new sheet set may be a great idea – or you can go big and replace that old mattress and bed frame, too. (Jump over to Casper for an amazing mattress and Article for a beautiful frame.)

Fresh Food

Whole food eating has always been our way of life, but we are focusing on adding in more wild caught fish and removing/limiting the all-day snacking. 

Fresh Mindset

This one is hard for me. I’m still struggling with it long after the initial conversation. We are dedicated to healing and happiness, and I’ll be the first to admit that my negativity (How can we do this? It’s too hard. How can we afford it? Why is XYZ happening?) has got to go. While it is triggered by very valid points, it does not help anything. God continues to provide us with answers when we need them most. I believe he does the same for you, too. 

We are all smart, capable, and deserving people. A fresh mindset (if you, too, are in need of one) may be the first step in aiding the next step of your journey.

If you are not confident in your actions, dreams, and abilities, your end goals will always seem out of reach. 

Can you tell that I needed a pep talk? 

So here I sit, in my freshly cleaned house, on my new bed, not stressing over the basement flooring choices (actually, I just let John pick and walked away from that decision), not freaking out over the laundry list of things we want to accomplish in the next 18 months (and how it will get done), but instead – I am enjoying my tea and choosing to believe (to know) that it will all work out wonderfully. 

A Childhood as Sweet and Slow as American Honey

Where…

“Strong love grows
She grew up good
She grew up slow
Like American honey.

Steady as a preacher
Free as a weed
Couldn’t wait to get going
But wasn’t quite ready to leave
So innocent, pure and sweet
American honey.”

I’ve had too much on my mind lately. I needed an out. We were all a bit burned out and over the cold, the masked-craziness still occurring in NOVA, a solid year of school work, our health issues, and all the updates we are making to the house. 

I needed a change of scenery and a reminder that breathing is a necessity.

As we spent over 16 hours in the car driving down the east coast to escape our reality that is still happening in Northern Virginia, the kids listened to music, audiobooks, and watched movies thanks to the unlimited wifi we opted for to use in just such road trip occasions. I realized just how ‘privileged’ this is – and I wondered if I was doing the kids wrong by granting this luxury.

Then I laughed and laughed and laughed as I knew my own sanity needs to be valued, too.

Balance, it’s important.

We arrived at our first Florida location and unpacked our suitcases and backpacks of ‘school items.’ (We homeschool year-round with long breaks in the summer and 2-3 breaks throughout the year for road trips, but we still bring books, some math, and anything needed for any online classes that are being completed during that time.) Scarlett completed her 6th grade history project, the boys finished their books, and everyone picked out a few new games. We enjoyed family time, more board games, and running around outside in that beautiful warmth known as the Florida Sunshine. 

One afternoon on our trip, while sitting outside reading a book, American Honey started playing. I looked up to see my kids, especially the oldest jumping in and out of the pool – sun-kissed and laughing so hard she had tears pouring out of her eyes. My tears came, but not from laughter. I was brought back to my own childhood and saw just how special my own children’s lives are during this small chapter of their own lives. They are growing up slow. While mature beyond most of their peers, they are innocent and naïve, even. It’s absolutely the reason we chose to homeschool – and it’s paying off. 

Beyond homeschooling though, there’s so much more. Our children do not know social media; Daddy says HELL NO to makeup, wedges, and crop tops; they will not have cell phones for years to come. Our children will be behind their peers in so many ways – but FREE in so many others. They know how to explore. They will continue to explore well passed the tween years. They would rather swim, run, roller blade, and create than sit – and sit – and sit. 

Why am I sharing this? Because your kids deserve an American Honey childhood, too. It’s never too late to find a better balance. Kick them outside. Make them make friends. Host sleepovers. LET THEM BE BORED.

No kid is in a race to having their first kiss or shaving their legs – no tween needs a social media presence. There are such bigger things in life worth striving for — like a long, slow childhood.

Grant your children this. 

The First Taste of Spring After a Long Winter

My boys are bordering on the stage where verbal fights are turning physical. I mean, Lyle chucked a rock at Emmett’s head because Emmett was taunting his ‘bad aim’ yesterday. Pretty sure that he hit his target in that moment. 

(So much for peaceful parenting at this stage, right?)

Our homeschooling days are already in countdown mode due to starting the year early and doubling up throughout the whole ‘two weeks to flatten a curve’ year we’ve had. (Seeing as how our area has no end in sight, I’m assuming some of my kids are going to complete two school grades this calendar year – because, what else is there to do?)

We started the pandemic as an already close-knit family, but the past year of doing the right thing by staying home has left us a little undone. We ordered out groceries and needs. We played with the same people and only vacationed to VRBOs. We weren’t scared of a virus; we were doing the same thing we’d have done in a really bad flu season. Mix that in with everything being shutdown/limited capacity and mandatory masks and the cold temperatures – UGH – a recipe for disaster for this outgoing family.

The winter was hard, there’s no denying it; but the snow has transitioned to rain and mud. My anxiety and clean house OCD is still not a fan of this season either, but at least I don’t need my parka on. I’ll take it.

The sky has found its blue again; the wind is calming down. 

The indoor fighting has turned to outside adventures together – exploring the thawing creek, building forts, and sword fighting with broken tree branches. 

After the longest winter, the spring is giving us renewed energy and faith. Soon flowers will bloom, my vegetable garden can be planted, and our skin will soak in the Vitamin D we so desperately need.

My prayer group had a homework assignment last week: Think of something – anything, big or small that touched your heart or gave you encouragement this week. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.”

I was still in the weeds and couldn’t think of much. Emmett and I had just had so much bloodwork done. (They literally had to weigh us to make sure they didn’t take too much.) Emmett’s Lyme journey seemed to hit a wall and we needed more answers. My own autoimmune journey is just beginning. I was tired. I was more than tired. My body ached, joints cried, head throbbed, and I wanted to curl up in bed.

Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling encouraged. I wasn’t even sure what to pray for in that moment, but God gave me what I needed: a beautiful blue sky and temperatures that welcomed me outside. 

6 glorious solo miles.

I have since been running outside on the days that hit 45 degrees or higher. We’ve been venturing to playgrounds and spaces for the kids to burn energy. I’m even sitting outside while working today! I am pushing aside my negative thoughts and worries and welcoming this spring with open arms. 

Along with this energy comes road trip planning! It has been 2 years since we’ve been to the beach, and I do believe that it is calling to us…

Your Guide to Valentine’s Day 2021

It’s time to start planning your Valentine’s Day festivities. Skip the fancy date night and overpriced flowers (and even the store-bought chocolates) this year and opt for a fun weekend making memories instead. 

Valentine’s Day 2021

Heart Notes

Plan a simple love note to write on a construction paper heart every day from February 1st – 14th and hang them on your children’s bedroom doors while they sleep at night. They will wake up to a new heart each morning!

Matching or LOVE Themed Sweatshirts

Hit up Etsy really quick and order one of their gorgeous heart sweatshirts (or shirts if you happened to be down south). There are dozens of options. We went with different versions for each person and cannot wait to snuggle up in them! 

Fuzzy Socks

If you are throwing on sweatshirts, fuzzy socks should also be on the agenda. Even the boys will love a fun pair of Valentine’s Day socks. 

New Books

Books are gifted on every holiday in our house! I love searching for a book that matches each child’s personality. I’m loving the choose your own ending chapter books for the oldest kids, an easy-to-read chapter book for Lyle, and fun picture books for the littlest two. 

Natural Bath Bombs

These can get pricey, instead of ordering each person their own box, order enough for each child to get 2-3 actual bombs of their own. Stick with natural versions to keep the skin happy.

Homemade Heart Chocolate

Grab a few molds from Amazon, melt your chocolate (we use Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips), and toss it into the freezer! We add whole almonds, crushed almonds, peanut butter, and chipped bananas into the center before freezing for a fun addition. 

These are definitely best frozen, so pop them out of the mold and into freezer baggies or a mason jar for easy access. 

Homemade Hot Cocoa Bombs

We are a hot chocolate family, but we enjoy ours with almond milk and an organic/healthier (haha – nothing is healthy with hot cocoa) option. Instead of purchasing hot cocoa bombs at $4-5 a piece, we are opting to try the DIY version at home and use our own dairy-free, organic ingredients! I even splurged on natural marshmallows for a few kids to try!

Heart-Shaped Pizza

Hand out a dough ball to each kid and let them roll away! You can help shape everything into hearts, even using cookie cutters for the pepperoni!

Family Paintballing

If you want to get out of the house together, think about doing something completely out of the box and booking a family package at your local paintball arena. We ventured out to try a few outdoor, safe, family Valentine options and paintballing won the prize! (We’ll report back on indoor race car driving soon!)

Plan a Quick Romantic Bed and Breakfast Escape

You know I’m always ready for a getaway, and this last year has been rough on our traveling souls. We are enjoying little weekends away, and I highly suggest you book one. Skip Valentine’s weekend away and spend that with your kiddos but plan it for another weekend in February. (This is much needed for reconnection and remembering why you chose your forever valentine!)

6 Things to Start with Your (Older) Kids During Isolation

We may all be at home a lot longer than we expected, and the lives of our children are most effected. They are old enough to understand what is happening, but young enough to not have a job to be working, a car to be using, or friends to be social-distance hanging out with right now. 

We are finally settled in our new house after the cross-country relocation. Our days are filled with school work, cleaning, playing outside, and cooking. For the most part, we are adapting okay; however, we are not homebodies and are desperately missing our soccer academy practices, scout meetings, wrestling tournaments, and o.m.g. our countdown to swim team season. While I do enjoy a perfectly clean house, I would much rather have a few more fingerprints due to running out the door to get to homeschool coop classes. But, alas, here we (all) are. 

I spent the last week figuring a few things out to help pass the time for my older kids. I’ll be detailing our favorite workbooks, websites, and curriculums soon, but these ideas are completely separate and just fun ideas to keep the kids stimulated until our freedoms are put back in place!

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6 Things to Start with Your (Older) Kids During Isolation

Virtual Book Club

This one happened on a whim in our house. Scarlett, age 10, loves books and I order them by the boatload regularly. I came across a book that I knew she would love, but after reading (and crying) over the synopsis, I realized that she needed to have friends who would read it to… but how? Insert a virtual book club here!

We started a monthly zoom club for girls that meets weekly, does project, cooking, or crafts together as they discuss a list of questions about the book they are currently reading. Most of the members have never met in person! So far, this little adventure has consumed Scarlett in the best ways possible! 

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Online Sports Training

Did you know that coaches and trainers have turned to online platforms to continue working with their players. There are also hundreds of trainers offering their skills virtually to kids all over the globe. This is the perfect time to increase a skill set – and can easily be a time when skills are lost. Our oldest son, Emmett (8) is working once a week with a soccer trainer – doing homework drills that have to be video’d and submitted! 

Snail Mail Pen Pals

Bring back the paper, pen, and stamps. All five of my kids have wanted in on this action, but the oldest 3 (6,810) have really made the effort (sometimes while whining) to send snail mail to their friends. You can get create with this and have them type, cut words from magazines, or write in invisible ink.

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A Garden (No Matter How Small)

It’s planting season, so make an essential trip (or place an order) for flowers and veggies of all kinds. Grab planters, pots, or set up a garden bed and let your kids take over. You can research which plants thrive near each other and really get technical!

Cooking

Everyone is cooking at home these days, but have you let your kids pick the menu AND cook it? There is no reason kids can’t run the kitchen. When you give them respect and trust, you may be surprised by how well they do. Stand nearby to help out when and if needed, but let them figure things out.

Subscription Boxes

Kiwi Crate:

These are the favorite in our house. We are trying out the geography version along with the tinker crate right now.

Green Kids Crafts Box:

Science and art kits every month.

Kid Stir Cooking Kit:

It even comes with tools for them to use!

Amazon STEM Club:

Amazon has subscription boxes, need I say more?  

BitsBox Coding for Kids:

Another one from Amazon: I can’t wait to review this one for you, as all of my kids are wanting to code, and ours should be delivered this week!   

Little Global Citizens:

This one has the kids traveling the world without leaving the house. You can add on to it by exploring documentaries and cooking authentic meals from each country.

A Letter to the Make-Shift Homeschooler

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To the make-shift homeschool parent-

Welcome to the homeschool world! I know you never thought you would be here, but here you are. I wanted to take a minute to let you know that those of us doing this for some time now, we are here – utilize us! 

We are here to let you in on all of the secrets.

Put away those schedules floating around on social media. They only set you up to feel like a failure. 

Your child does not spend 7+ hours a day at school receiving a one-on-one education. Please do not try to give him this at home. What is covered in those 7 hours inside of a school can easily be covered before lunch at home with you – and in even less time the younger the child! 

Do not stress over ‘teaching.’ Teaching does not equal learning. Lecturing does not mean your child is absorbing. Checking the boxes does not equate to an education. Let this time be a time in which you learn your child. Let him guide you, have conversations instead of lectures, and work together to reach daily goals.

Your daily goals should not be the same as what a teacher would be doing at school. Your goals should include bonding, sharing, learning, and letting your child play. There is so much research about play-based learning. Let him collect sticks and rubber band them together. Let him build forts. Let him be bored to death until something creative comes out. Turn off the screens and eliminate yourself from the equation. You are allowed to walk away from your child and let him figure things out. Do not provide constant entertainment or offerings to him – let him figure things out! 

Cooking, cleaning, creating art, listening to audiobooks while playing — these are all wonderful ways to spend the day. Remember that the best way to teach is to set the example yourself. If you want your child to read, he must see you reading throughout the day. If you want him to clean up after himself, make conversation and do it with him a few times, he’ll pick it up.

You can get through school work without losing your mind. This one sounds crazy, but it’s true. Take a deep breath. Take breaks whenever needed, make things fun, and take the pressure off of getting it all done. The beauty in doing this at home is that you are in charge… even when the school wants you to turn it all back in. You can include a note that includes all of the other learning opportunities you are providing!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are hundreds of free apps and websites offering services right now, use them! Set up an email account and give your kid pen pals to write to. A successful day is one in which you and you children are happy and growing together. 

Moving Far and Saying Goodbye: It’s Different For Each of Us

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We are a box of emotions right now. Each one of us expressing our anxiety, sadness, and excitement in different ways. Our countdown is ticking closer and closer to hitting the road, and reality is truly setting in. 

John has been living in a hotel for 3 weeks in Virginia; the kids and I have been in house-selling-survival mode. But after going under contract (to a delightfully wonderful family who loves the house as much as we do!!), my emotions are ready to explode. I won’t lie, I woke up with ‘Seller’s Remorse’ the morning after we accepted the offer. I have been burning from both ends over the last few weeks, and the reality of walking away from this house hit me hard. We only have days left of beautiful backyard sunsets, trail runs, and playing with friends here. The tears are real and falling hard.

As much as I could write about why I am crying, and why this move is so hard, I decided to try to shift my focus to how differently each of us is handling this – and how I am ((trying)) to support everyone’s needs while also keeping my sanity and checking the boxes of all that needs done.

I should start by acknowledging just how unique each of my children are. They have different love languages, different wants, and very different ways of releasing their emotions. I’m sure you can relate to this within your own home. Knowing each child as an individual is the first step in helping them with something as life-changing as a cross-country move. We did not handle our move to Nebraska well when considering the support our oldest child would need. She was 7 and internalized her anxiety and heartbreak to the point that it make her physically ill – ER trips and all – for months. So this time, I am determined to do better.

Scarlett, now age 10.5, is once again struggling with our relocation. She remembers Virginia and is battling with too many feelings at once – happiness, sadness, anxiety over change, and the heartbreak of saying goodbye – to her room, her house, and her friends. 

Scarlett is an empath. She absorbs all that is thrown out into the world. She was referred to as our little Earth Fairy throughout her early years, and I believe now more than ever that the title suits her. Here’s the biggest problem that we are experiencing right now: I am the opposite of Scarlett. My anxiety is not internalized AT ALL. Mine is spewed viciously out as if throwing it will somehow help it leave me. I make lists and tackle 12 projects at once. I stay up all night worrying and doing. I try to do others’ jobs as well as my own. I burn until everything is complete – and then I breathe. As you can imagine, my energy is not helping Scarlett. She has spent days at a time curled under a blanket doing little more than eat a few bites and sip water. 

Instead of push, as I tend to do, I am letting her sleep. I am also letting her dance it out in the kitchen, write it out in a diary (that no one else is allowed to read), and get lost in her books and podcasts. I purchased a weighted blanket for her and am trying to sit with her and just hold her more.

Emmett, age 8, is most worried about friends. I have helped him write letters to his closest friends and organize an open playdate for Sunday afternoon so anyone available can stop by and see him. He is rarely alone here, always surrounded by great friends – and these friendships are going to be missed. I don’t think the reality of everything will hit him until we are gone. Emmett gets overwhelmed easily, and he tends to become overly emotional – crying loud, hard, and acting in uncontrollable (but instantly regrettable) ways. While most of my energy is being spent on supporting Scarlett right now, Emmett is going to need a lot more once the boxes are packed and we start the drive. We plan to keep his diet clean (as he is the most effected by foods) as we travel, make sure he has time to run each day, and give him all the physical touch he needs – he’s a hugger. 

Lyle, our 6 year old, will remember this house. He will remember these friends. In all actuality, this will be the first home he remembers. Lyle retreats when his emotions become too big for him to swallow. He runs and hides and needs to be held – but also to have space. He cries, but in a different way than Scarlett, who cries of heartbreak. He cries in a different way than Emmett, who cries as a sensory overload. Lyle cried sweetly, gently, and purely. He is wise beyond his years, and he is already understanding the distance on the map. 

The littler kids are reacting to the energy that I’m throwing out. They are still young at ages 2.5 and almost 4 (but an immature almost 4). They will adapt and be okay as long as Mommy’s bed is open for them to snuggle in every night.

John flies in the night before the boxes are packed, and I couldn’t be more excited or terrified. It means that I have 2 days to organize everything for our drive, the rental house, and cross off 50 other items on the list. I’m feeling overwhelmed with the tasks, but more so, I am feeling heartbroken to say goodbye. Our neighbors have become out family. They cheer us on, share their wine, help us in every way possible, and have the biggest hearts. I know that I am drowning myself in the anxiety of the move and the children instead of handling my emotions of walking away from these amazing people. 

But today I am dedicating time to acknowledge my love for these friends. I am going to cry ugly tears over moving from this house. I am going to raise my wine glass to everything that Omaha has brought into my life – the slower pace, the longer conversations, and the focus on family. Cheers to Omaha. 

Staying Calm in the Chaos of Selling Your House with Kids

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Moving is a pain in the ass. It’s time consuming, frustrating, expensive, and causes extreme anxiety. These feelings are intensified when you are both selling a house and purchasing a new one. There are just so many factors that have to happen for everything to go as smoothly as possible. It’s basically just a few months of torture.

We are moved about every 3 years or so for my husband’s company. Even when we think we’ll be somewhere longer, 3 years seems to be the sweet spot. We were flown to the midwest in February 2017 to house hunt, and here we are exactly 3 years later listing that house and awaiting another cross-country move.

This time is a bit different, though. We have to sell this house (for a good amount of money) to purchase a house in Northern Virginia. The cost of living and housing prices are (shall we say) INSANELY different compared to here. This of course increases my stress levels. 

To add to it all, John was already relocated to start the project in Virginia. The kids, dog, and I are in charge of selling the house – which means that I’m flying solo with 5 kids and a dog for a few weeks. 

I guess you aren’t here to read about just how stressed out I am, though, right? You are here for the opposite. So here’s how I’m staying sane and calm throughout this entire moving process.

Tips to Staying Calm While Selling a House with Kids

Declutter and Store Things

I’m talking cut your shit in way more than half. Kids have too much crap as it is. It is time to purge! You want almost nothing sitting on shelves, actually, you want to get rid of random, chipped, leaning bookshelves – they will not help your house sell. You can get tubs to put toys, books, and random items in and then put them in storage along with unneeded furniture, etc until you move. The less ‘stuff’ in your house, the better. (Also, it is way easier to clean!)

Minimize Closets

Is it winter? Pack up the swimwear and shorts. You get the point. Make a trip to donate anything outgrown or not worth moving and pack away half of the rest. Keep just enough to make laundry easy. 

Catch Up on Laundry

Get rid of your laundry pile and then start a habit of doing a load every day. Wash, dry, fold, and PUT IT AWAY immediately. 

Do Everything Immediately

This goes for washing dishes, picking up toys, making beds, etc. Anything that will add up to more work later needs to be done now. 

Hire a Cleaner

You need a cleaner on-call. Before a day of multiple showings or an open house, your house needs to be cleaned- and not by you. Kids make toothpaste messes and fingerprint messes. windows need cleaned, ovens, and all refrigerators, too. Do not take this stress on; hire someone. You can negotiate a great deal if you have them come once a week until you sell.

Clean Every Day

Keep up with what the cleaner has done. Vacuum every day and wipe sinks out after the kids are in bed. You may only get an hour notice before someone wants to see your house, and that hour is needed for you to herd the children out the door – not clean the house.

Eat Off Paper Plates

It is not environmentally-friendly, but it will save your sanity. Eliminate doing more dishes and just throw that crap away. You need everything looking gorgeous. 

Make Simple Meals

Eating out with kids is annoying and expensive, but you can stick to simple, one-pot/pan meals at home. You are not out to impress anyone; chicken nuggets work just fine when selling your house.

Book a Hotel for Open Houses

Run away the moment your house is clean and a day of showings or an open house is scheduled. Make it a weekend getaway or a little in-town stay-cation! We found a hotel with an indoor waterpark to live at for a few days!

Have a List of Fun Things To Do

It’s hard enough to get out of the house in time for a showing, so having a list of fun things to go do can help. Go see a movie, grab ice-cream, walk around Target, visit the local children’s museum, or have a list of friends on speed dial. 

Workout Every Day

This is how I’m saving my own sanity. I have to release my anxiety with a good workout. Go for a run, do yoga, or just blast some music and dance it out. 

Moms: It’s time to check in on your pain.

Maybe it’s the high pain tolerance after five natural births, or perhaps it’s just motherhood.

Maybe it’s the ability to push through discomfort, or perhaps it’s just the craziness of motherhood.

Maybe it’s the inability to put myself first, or perhaps it’s what mothers do – putting everyone else first. 

Maybe it’s just me, and my anxiety and fears of something really being wrong…

But I know that I am not alone. For some reason, mothers tend to ignore pain, symptoms, and warning signs that their own bodies send them. It becomes overwhelming when it all is listed out:

  • Wrist pain after that 3rd baby that never really went away.
  • Hip pain after that half-marathon training that still hasn’t healed a year later.
  • Pelvic floor issues.
  • Insomnia.
  • Hemorrhoids that seem to come and go at the most random times.
  • The back pain. Oh, the back pain.

During my recent trip to Denver with John, I was unable to hide my chronic back pain any longer. There were no children to distract me from it. There were no children to distract John from my suffering. It was four days of reality: face-to-face with my pain. John saw the way I lay on floor with my legs on the bed for hours at night. He saw me holding on to walls and stopping every 15-20 steps due to the pain when I walk. He saw me try to fake it. He also finally made me do something about it.

I was an athlete my entire youth into my early adulthood. I was a ballerina and a martial artist, competing in the ring all over the country. I trained seven days a week most of the time and lived a body-stressing life. I also loved it. But it took it’s toll on my back. In my early 20’s, my back began to hurt. I was informed that it would one day need surgery, but to have kids and avoid the operation as long as possible.

Here I am, five kids and over 12 years later. I have done the therapy. I have done the acupuncture. I have been adjusted regularly for a decade. I have eaten well and exercised daily.  I have run marathons and washed approximately 1,000,000 loads of laundry. I have birthed babies, worn babies, and breastfed babies. I have hiked mountains and carried groceries.

I have also silently cried while walking the dog. I have had to sit instead of play. I have had to miss events due to pain. 

In 2019, I began teaching a few martial arts classes. I only sparred a few times. But something happened to me. My back went into shock. The pain grew more intense and impacted me in a way that I cannot even begin to explain. I was unable to do any of the things that I loved in a way that didn’t hurt. I kept pushing through and trying though…

After an MRI, x-rays, and several opinions, I have answers. 

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2020 will be the year to heal myself. I have a bilateral fracture in my vertebrae. It is a mobile disc at a grade 2-3 spondylolisthesis, which means that no matter what position I am in (walking, sitting, laying, stretching, etc) it causes pain. I have numbness and pain from my butt to my toes in both legs throughout 90% of every day. My back feels tight and as if I constantly need to ‘pop’ it. But the leg pain… 

The nerves are so severely pinched that doctors looked at me and asked how I have managed to run at all – let alone lift a laundry basket. 

My answer: MOTHERHOOD.

My youngest is almost 2.5 years old now. My oldest is close to 10.5 years old. I am finally seeing things clearer and hearing the cries of my body. It is my time. 2020 will be hard, as spinal surgery isn’t an easy feat, and the recovery is going to take help from family and friends, but it will be the start of a happier life. I’ve been told that I can start running (slowly) again about 3 months after the surgery. They are predicting the nerves will take closer to a year or more to fully recover, though.

Here is my cry to you:

Start hearing your body. Stop putting yourself dead last. I have been terrified to pursue this because of my fears of surgery. But the truth is this: if I had listened when things got worse last year, I would have already been on the other side and healing by now. Instead, I am at a place of waiting – waiting to fit into the best surgeon’s schedule, waiting for the right month so family and friends can help with recovery, waiting on all of the uncontrollable things.

As mothers we automatically do all of the things for everyone; most of the time, we may do this to avoid doing things for ourselves. Take the time to evaluate yourself both physically and mentally this year.

 

12 Last Minute Experience Gifts for Adults

The countdown is so close that shipping cannot be guaranteed in time for the big day. If you let the days tick away while failing to come up with the perfect present for your significant other, parent, best friend, or other adult-in-need-of-a-gift, I have a list of experiences you can choose from that would make anyone excited!

John and I just got home from a 4 day trip to Denver without the kids. We had ample time to talk and reconnect. Once of the things that we continually circled back around to was how must we enjoyed just walking together. We talked about future gift ideas, trips, and (of course) all of our potential moving locations – because that convo never ends in our house!

You can use this list as a jumping off point or just take something and run with it. 

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Experience Gifts for Adults

Movie Tickets – Simple, affordable, and will never go to waste. Who doesn’t want to grab some popcorn and see a movie?

A Book – A gift card will do just fine, but if you know the genres that would bring a smile to the receiver’s face, then go ahead and pick out a book or two.

VISA Gift Card – What most adults don’t want to talk about is their financial situations. Cash can seem odd to give, but a gift card that can be utilized in any way needed will be much appreciated. 

Spa Credit – Don’t believe that a man wouldn’t want to be massaged. Find a great co-ed spa and book a men’s package for him. As for a woman in your life, the sky is the limit here: facial, hair, nails, massage, body wrap.

Airline Credit – Did you know that you can purchase gift certificates to airlines? You can! Even if it’s not enough for 1st class, this gift will at least help a vacation or family trip take place.

A Hotel Stay – Sometimes self-care is as simple as spending one day alone (or with a partner) without children or teens to be fed or looked after.

Theater Tickets – Going to the theater feels like you have arrived in life, right? Look for a great musical to purchase tickets for.

Museum Tickets – Museums often hold extraordinary exhibits that are a once in a lifetime experience. they tend to sell out if you wait to buy tickets close to the opening day. Do a quick search to see what will be coming near you this year, and consider gifting the experience!

Rock Climbing Gym – Rock climbing gyms have popped up in every major city across the country. They are fun and promote a healthy lifestyle, but they also encourage friendship and teamwork.

Art – It’s a bit late to have a framed piece under the tree, but you may get lucky if any local restaurants or cafes display artists’ work for sale! You can also contact a local artist to see what they have on hand.

Concert Tickets – It doesn’t matter when the concert is, but grab those tickets online now!

Sports Tickets – If a favorite team is going to be within driving distance, select some great seats as a gift.

A New Year’s Tradition – Since your order can’t arrive in time for Christmas, consider gifting for New Year’s instead. You can have a case of champagne delivered or 100 oysters flown in. New Year’s Eve and day should be celebrated in a way that brings happiness and love into the home. You can easily help make that happen!