Merry Mental Health And a Peaceful New Year

Hi friends! We are in the final countdown for Christmas and there SO many things we still need to get done. With so many things to still check off our list, it is easy to feel a bit out of control. Every year I always say I’m going to Christmas shop through out the year, that we are going to start sending out Christmas cards early so on and so on… Every year I am in the same boat, but maybe that is the thrill of it? At least that is what I tell myself! There is one thing though, that I have firmly checked off my list and I truly see a difference in how I feel through out the year and especially the holidays.

There seems to have been a big shift on where we place importance and finally it is on ourselves, our mental health and our peace of mind. It seems to me that in the years past there has been so much pressure on reconciling with people at the detriment of your own happiness. This year the message has continued to be geared towards keeping strong bonds with your family but where the big difference comes in to play is that while family is important, it is not more important than your own personal healing, and happiness. Family is, has always been and always will be the most important area of my life. As I get older and (hopefully) wiser I understand that while we all deserve love and acceptance not everyone needs or even deserves to be invited in to your space. I have met many friends along the way that haven’t spoken to a parent, a sibling, or other family members and it used to really surprise me. I remember often ending the conversation with “hopefully things will get better and you will be together again”. Sometimes though, it is not meant to and that is perfectly ok.

This is not to say that someone you are having a small issue with should be left alone, or that forgiveness is not worth exploring. But, if there is an issue that threatens your happiness and your peace, if there is a person who continuously causes you pain or attempts to make you feel small; if a person continuously disregards your feelings and ignores your boundaries, then it is ok to cut this toxicity out of your life. There is no guilt in speaking up for yourself or in knowing your value. Looking back, there have been times where I have let the comfort and happiness of others control my boundaries and my feelings. These last two years, inspired by my babies and how I want them to hold strong to their boundaries, I have been more assertive in protecting my peace. Heart racing, voice trembling and knees shaking I will say NO! to anyone that threatens the happiness or the comfort of myself, my children or my husband. We have one life to live, it should be shared with those that truly love you, encourage you and celebrate you. My wish for all of you is that you are surrounded by love, peace, health, and family- whoever that is to you. Healthiest of Holidays, and a peaceful New Year!

Give A Little LOVE. Have A Little Hope

HAPPY MONDAY Mamas!! I am feeling refreshed (well, for a mom of two teeny tinys!) and I can easily tell you why. My #MamaMustHave this week was #datenight! The Mr. and I celebrated 12 years together on Saturday!

The last few night outs that we’ve had, we’ve gone the “fancy” route. Of course it’s fun to get dressed up, especially because we don’t always get to anymore, but sometimes it feels like there’s so much pressure on the night because we don’t get them too often. So to throw it back to old times we went for causal fun and just hung out. You guys! We had the best night, we sat at the bar- no worries about getting the “romantic table” we laughed so hard and even ordered some shots 🙈 Although we love talking about our babes, we only talked about us. We laughed hard at our old 20 year old selves and reminisced. I love Billy as my husband, I adore him as the father of my children. But in the busyness of life, we often forget to value each other as best friends, as partners, and team mates.

We are very fortunate that we have my family very close by so we are able to have the kids taken care of by them. I know not everyone is this lucky and it can be difficult to get out of the house. Dating doesn’t always mean going out, some of the best memories we have or our best times were nights in. I know we get tired and it’s hard! So this week I challenge you mamas, set the intention for love. Set up your mind for love, and open your heart to it. Do one thing every day that you feel you are putting off or to enhance the romance.

Send a flirty text.

Post a love note on the mirror.

Go in for a kiss, the REAL THING not just a peck on the lips.

Ask him to dance.

Pat him on the butt.

Give him a wink.

Turn the tv off and have dinner at the table.

Bring up a funny or a favorite memory, and reminisce.

Hug. Hold Hands. Touch.

I also want to say, my last two mama must haves have been seemingly centered around my husband. As women, we always know when we need something from our relationships and often want our husbands to ‘just know’ what to do. (Maybe that’s just me?!) But I found that while I wanted my husband to be more loving, or romantic or whatever the case may be that I wasn’t showing those same actions in my relationship. Treat others how you would like to be treated, that’s what we teach our babies, right? When we are shown love, when we are praised we often blossom and want to do the same for the other. So while it may seem like maybe you are the one putting in the work at the beginning, you will see that return to you tenfold. Equally important, your babies will be a witness and learn how to love and respect someone and especially the kind of love and respect they will always deserve.

Let me know how you showed and opened your heart to love this week! I am always looking for new ideas. Let me know how it made YOU feel to woo your partner!

Damn Thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! I know there will be a lot of cooking, and celebrating, going on today and I am so giddy thinking about my babes gathered around the table with my family and truly engaging and being a part of all of the holiday cheer. This year while amazing, has gone by literally in a blink of an eye ,and I know that is so cliché to say, but really you guys how is it almost over? Being a mom is non stop, and being a mom to two under two- 14 months apart was such a whirlwind for me! Just recently we were cleaning out all closets to make room for our winter wardrobe (we live in sunny so cal! So winter means it is under 70 degrees and we consider that cold!) and I was looking at my baby boys newborn clothes and I started sobbing. Did I miss it? Of course we interacted with him, but I feel like with our daughter all of our attention was so focused on her that we truly soaked up every move she made. Now, my son is only (already!) 8 months old so I know we still get him for so long but 8 months! He is trying so hard to walk and chase after his big sister, he is so expressive, and is always smiling and laughing. I wish we could all stay like this forever!! That being said, I have chosen to reflect, REALLY reflect and not the typical “I’m so thankful because…” half thoughts that I’ve had before. I feel after all of the horrible things that have gone on this year we owe it to ourselves and our families to really stop and stare at them and wonder aloud “How did I get so damn lucky?!” So these are a few of the people and things I am thankful for this year!

  1. I am thankful for my husband. Loving is hard. It is not the memes and the movies all of the time. It can’t be and it shouldn’t be. Being a parent while finding time for yourselves is hard. Dating and talking about anything else besides the babies when they practically consume your whole life? Hard. I am thankful for my husband because he tries even when its hard. It is not always the grand gestures that he always used to make like whisking me away on a surprise getaway that does it for me anymore (babe if you’re reading this, surprise getaways are still nice though!) it is little things, subtle things, thoughtful things. We were all at the table the other day, and my babies were laughing and eating and we had the music going and Billy and I were meal prepping and ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz started playing and he quickly looks up at me and asks “you know what this is from don’t you?” In 2009, Billy and I took a trip to Hawaii. Our first big trip as a couple, we rented a convertible and drove all over that gorgeous island and that song played every 2 minutes on every station. It became sort of like an anthem for us and we heard it everywhere after that. Of course, the song is gorgeous and popular so that is why it was everywhere but in our world it was always playing just for us. It was and is ‘our’ song, one of a few. He asked me to dance, in the middle of the kitchen and there we were. In front of our babies, the song from our early twenties playing and us, 9 years later. This is how I want to think of him. Not all days are like this, But I have days like this. I am loved. Through the easy days, and on the hard days, through laughter and tears and stress and every other emotion imaginable- I am loved. I get to sleep next to someone who sometimes knows me better than I know myself, even after all of these years.
  2. I am thankful for my daughter. Oh my wild child, my free spirit, my carefree hair flying in the wind, laughs loud freely and courageously. I could write endless novels about how her hair glistens in the light, how her smile shames the sun itself. She is the kind of girl that is the pure reason poetry was invented, and songs are worth listening to, and gives an entirely new meaning to the word love in fact she gave it meaning to me. I’ve known love in my life time but there is nothing that can compare to the overwhelming emotion of having your first baby placed on your chest. I could and I will, but I am literally already crying. So Valentina, you are the reason the word thankful exists in my vocabulary and the reason it truly means something to me. You made me a Mother. My heart longed for you since the day I held my first baby doll. While so many little girls dream of their wedding and moving on the amazing ambition of a career, my heart always longed for you. I knew being a mother would be the greatest thing I could ever do, and while there are not enough things that I could do for you and not enough words in the english language to praise you, I am thankful for you.
  1. This is actually #2 as well. I am thankful for my son. My sweet, beautiful, growing up entirely way to quick, thoughtful, curious, and perfect little boy. My heart needed you. It called for you before my brain had time to catch up. You have taught this family so much and it is so clear that you were wonderfully and fearfully made solely for us. You were meant for me. The second you were placed on my chest, I recognized you. I’ve had you for only 8 months, but your soul and my soul are very old friends. If we do live more than one lifetime, my son and I? We are meant to be together through them all. I remember being so afraid of not being able to love a second child as much as my first but my God how I adored you the second you came kicking and screaming into the world. When we locked eyes my heart grew so big, big enough to give you and your sister more love than you could ever endure. More love than you will ever want, especially when you are in middle school and high school and mama still wants to smother you with kisses and pictures in front of your classroom. I like you forever, I’ll love you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. I am thankful for you.
  1. I am thankful for my heart, my love and the courage that they give me. While I am blessed much more than I deserve, it is not always easy. Being a mom and for me, being a mom to two under two is hard, some days more than others. I am thankful for my own endurance, my ability to keep moving forward and doing what needs to be done for my family. I am thankful for how much love my heart has to give to my family, even on the days when I don’t show it to myself. I am thankful for my courage and strength as a mother, to stand strong as their caregiver and protector. I guard them from everything and everyone that does not add value to their lives and while I know I will not be able to do that forever, I will absolutely try. I am thankful for this body that carried them and that nourished them long after birth and that will continue to nourish them in different ways as long as I live.
  1. I am thankful for cameras. I know the age of cameras and phones being everywhere is a double edged sword but there are a few great things about them. I have so many memories on video and over 18,000 pictures at my disposal and I fawn over them often. When I think and feel sad about missing my baby boys newborn stage I have proof at the tip of my fingers at just how much I’ve loved him, and stared and wrapped him up in my arms daily. I have so many memories of all the new things my girl learns every day, and how much zest she has for life. All the magic in the mundane of our everyday lives.

I am filled with gratitude for all of the people in our lives that send us positive vibes and love us and most importantly our babies. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done we are the ones that are together always. We are the ones that experience all of the ups and downs on a day to day basis and the ones that take care of each other and lift each other up. Today, I will not think about all the stuff that I do not have that I can’t wait to get tomorrow. Today, I will not think about all of things that are wrong, my perceived failures or the ones of my husband. I will hug them, love them, and be so unbelievably grateful to have them. Many, especially in this time of senseless shootings and horrid fires, do not have that privilege. Today, I am thankful.

 

When Does It End?

When Does It End?

This morning as my baby boy nuzzled in to my husband and I, I held him extra tight. When I looked at my phone the first thing that popped up was the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks and I immediately burst in to tears. When does it end? WHY is this happening? Is this our new normal? What is this world we are creating for our babies? I can not remember a time when I was in elementary school, middle school, or even high school when we were ever concerned about peers with guns. I never watched a debate or thought about ever hearing elected officials speak on giving our severely underpaid teachers firearms. I never practiced a shelter in place for an active shooter. Sadly, this will not be my children’s reality.

I’ve been obsessed with crime shows for as long as I can remember and while so many people love them, I sometimes feel like I can’t shake them afterward. I have always felt so paranoid about predators, or murderers and have actively advised, and excessively pestered my sister about constantly checking her surroundings, about never being on her phone when shes alone and constantly remaining vigilant about her surroundings. While it is so important to me to teach my babies about safety, about strangers, about what is a safe touch and what is not, I often struggle with finding a balance. I want my babies to enjoy, bask in and celebrate their life. I don’t want them to worry about every unfamiliar face, or every dark corner. Life is an exciting adventure and I want them to experience it in full. My greatest desire is to soak up every single one of their worries, every doubt, every hesitation. But How?! I live with so many of them myself. How do I keep them safe, without teaching them to be afraid? I do not want to place my fears on them. I recently had a conversation with my husband as we were discussing all the different school options for our babies, as we want to be as well informed as possible for when the time comes. I have been looking in to home schooling and for a lot of people, I think it is a phenomenal option. I had to have a really honest look at myself and I realized that although a wonderful option for many, I was not interested in home schooling for the right reasons. The biggest draw for me was that I wouldn’t have to let go of my babies. I just don’t feel that is healthy mentally, emotionally, or socially for my babies or for me.

There are so many books, courses and articles on how to speak to our babies about certain dangers,but how do we protect them from something like mass shootings? How do we restrict them from going to the movies? The mall? A concert or even out to eat with their friends? Especially when they are of age, when they are no longer in our homes. When we go out I often look for the exits, I don’t like sitting with my back to entrances, and I distinctly remember going to the movies with a girlfriend and being so uneasy because I saw a man by himself who kept switching seats. I can not tell you what movie we even saw but I remember the pit in my stomach as I stared at this man waiting for him to jump up… I can’t even get myself to put in to the universe the end of that thought. When I had my babies the world was suddenly a thousand times more beautiful, but simultaneously the harsh reality and fear set in. All I want to do is protect them, while being able to set them free. I guess as parents there are many contradictions about what we want for our babies and wishes versus reality. I have no answers, and an overwhelmingly amount of questions. At the end of the day all we can do is hold our babies tight, teach them as much as we can, and pray and/or put out in to the universe that they will be alright.

THIS HAS TO END. If anyone has any ideas about how we can bring change, how we can band together and stop this. I can not see another life cut short, I can not see another parent mourning the life of their baby. I can not see another sibling crying at a grave. This is not a burden that a child should ever have to carry. It is truly heartbreaking, but it can not be another hashtag, another moment of silence, another life lost in vain.

MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT. GUN LAWS NEED TO CHANGE.

I haven’t stopped crying, my heart is in pieces watching these parents beg to see their babies. I will never understand why. I will never understand how. I will never understand. This can not be a reality and much less the future that our babies live in.

Dr. Ford, I Hear You. I See You. I BELIEVE You.

When I first started really committing to starting my new adventure in to blogging, I was hoping to stay neutral when possible and not even touch on politics. In my personal life, this has not been the position that I take as I am pretty vocal about where I stand. I want to make sure that I provide an inclusive environment for all mamas that may have different beliefs than I.  However, I could not stay silent on this issue. Isn’t that kind of the lesson that Dr. Ford has sacrificed herself to remind us? I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!! I wrote down my initial feelings after watching the entire trial.

Watching the hearings and the strong, courageous Dr. Ford recount her traumatic experience I was constantly moved to tears. I lost count of how many times I would pause it and hug my girl and beg God or whoever was listening to please protect my daughter and my sister. I actually do this daily.

I want to say THANK YOU to women and men I admire that have so courageously, unselfishly and POWERFULLY shared their stories (especially my friends who have shared publicly) and to my very dear and self made friend who despite not always having support by her own family  constantly champions for women in EVERY arena.

Because of all of you I pray that maybe one day, especially in my daughters life time she will not fear for her safety SIMPLY BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN an actual BURDEN in this day. I wish that some day when her daughter excitedly shares that she got accepted to an amazing university she can wholeheartedly be happy and excited instead of immediately checking for the rape count in the area like I did with my baby sister- like I still constantly do. I hope that by holding rapists, assailants, and “horny teenagers” accountable it will be the beginning of women actually living their life without having to constantly look over their shoulder. I hope that one day instead of telling my sister to always look around her and make eye contact with any man she sees, ask her not to look at her phone while she is alone, not go in to restrooms alone and harassing her with data and stories until she is basically fearful every second of every day, men will learn to have basic decency and respect and leave us alone. I wish that one day as mothers we can feel at peace with our daughters experiencing life on their own instead of having constant conversations of which preschools and camps have constant camera surveillance.

As a woman I should not need to be fearful of going out with my children alone, yet this week I’ve already seen and heard 6 different stories about women and children being targeted. I should not have to make basic plumber or any home appointments only when my husband is home because I don’t want to be alone in my home when a man comes.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: LISTEN. BELIEVE.

Also, don’t perpetuate rape culture. These “funny” pictures of naked women, the crude uncomfortable jokes.. we are HUMAN BEINGS, EQUAL, not play things for your amusement. While sharing these “casually” might seem harmless, while some even BOAST about offending others, just remember that someone is watching and they can see something like that and take it literally, they can run with it. Luckily with all of the uprising of strong women and the good men standing behind us we are showing that we will not stand for it any longer.

Lastly for the ones who have never dealt with assault, who have never feared for their safety, who have never had to call campus security or gone to customer service at a store to walk them to their car because the sun happened to be down. THIS IS WHY WOMEN DONT REPORT. Because they get re victimized. Because sometimes, it is easier to keep your mouth shut and that is the most horrific crime of all.

Again, thank you to all of the courageous survivors who have so fearlessly taken back their power and shared their story. I hear you. I see you. I BELIEVE You.

 

3 Mama Mantras

Surviving one sip of coffee at a time.

carissawoophotography.com

You know when you see quotes and you just feel them in your soul? I have a whole board dedicated to them on Pinterest and even have several of them saved on my phone. I always feel like they give me a boost at the right time. Something about them, especially when they resonate with you makes you feel like you’re not alone. Someone out there is going through or has been in the same place/emotional state that you are. There are three quotes that I call my Mama Mantras that I live by and a few that I repeat not only to myself (often) but also to my friends. I have found that it has helped me and my friends in different stages in our lives but especially on the motherhood rollercoaster.

  1. “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day”- Alice M. Earle

If I could have only one saying that I repeat over and over to myself daily this would be it, and I do! Do you ever have those days? You just feel like you’ve failed? Whether the babies were having tantrums, or you didn’t get to do anything you set out to do, we all have days where we feel completely unsuccessful. There are so many days when I wake up with the best intentions with grandiose plans of what I’m going to achieve and then from the second one (or both!) babes wake up it just feels like a struggle. There are days when my husband calls to check in on us around 10 am and I feel like I’ve lived three days already and I am ready to go to bed. Yet when it is (finally!!) bed time, and I scroll through all of the pictures and videos from the day in my phone (I now have over 16,940 pictures and 1,775 videos even the Verizon guy was impressed.) I have so many pictures of my babies hugging each other and playing together. I have videos of us being outside and truly just enjoying each other, and laughing together. It is such a great reminder of how much good there is in every day and especially that even if the day was hard on me, my babies didn’t know it. I met their needs, when they cried mama was there to pick them up, to feed them, to play with them and most of all to just love on them! You are doing SO much better than you give yourself credit for Mama. You are rockin it!

2.  “It takes a Village”

This is a popular one among so many mama groups, and for good reason! It truly does take a village and it is so important for moms to find their tribe. When my daughter was born, I shut the world out. I wanted so badly to do it all on my own. There were so many parenting apps, and chat groups I was a part of that basically attacked any mom who complained about a rough day, or expressed how overwhelmed or tired she was. I remember specifically reading a post where a mom stated that her three year old was having major tantrums, was needy and she was feeling overwhelmed and just completely over it! In a time where we need to lift each other up, offer up a “You got this!” she was attacked. Immediately there were messages like “You should be so grateful, I would give anything to deal with those tantrums again” and “you should be grateful you can even have children” While I am very empathetic to the struggles of fertility, feeling overwhelmed does not in any way indicate that you love your child any less. Lets be real here, momming is HARD. Isn’t it so ironic, that something that connects us all on a deep and beautiful level can also make us feel so isolated? I remember any time that I would express any type of frustration or feeling of tiredness or just being overwhelmed, I would quickly follow it up with an “but we are just so grateful, I mean really its just the best thing ever!” and in all honesty it is, it is the hardest-greatest-frustrating-beautiful-rollercoaster ride, and venting on your hard days doesn’t change that! I can never put in to words the relief I feel when I can vent about a rough day, or teething, or sleep regression and not feel judged. My daughter met a little boy in a Mommy and Me class, and they were inseparable. I invited the boy and his parents to my daughters first birthday and I was so excited when they came. What is even better is that our first borns get along so well and we were both pregnant together and now our second borns will have a built in bestie as well. She has been such a saving grace for me. On the days that things are going crazy, I will call her and she’ll come right over, or will invite us over and vice versa and it helps so much! The babes love to play together and it gives us both a break. We have found a few friends this way and while we love our friends without babies, its nice to be able to go out to dinner with a couple who don’t bat an eye when your baby is “singing” at the top of their lungs and who not only don’t care but have something to add when you talk about baby poop! I encourage you to go out there and find your tribe, mamas! I know it can be extremely intimidating to go in to a group of women, or to strike up a conversation, but I also know that all of us are searching for a place to feel like we belong, to be seen.

3.  “You can’t pour out of an empty cup”

While I’m positive famous people have said this in various ways, it only actually stuck with me when my mom said it to me after an especially tough day. Isn’t it so amazing that sometimes even when we are grown the most influential words still come from our mothers? Also, terrifying! I’ve got a lot to live up to. Back to the quote! This is so important mamas! INVEST IN YOURSELF. YOU are WORTHY. Did you know that? I know it is so easy to forget. So much of our thoughts, energy, love and time are invested into our tiny humans, our husbands, and our home that we forget to think about ourselves. But it is so true that you can not give if there is nothing left. Take time for yourself, even if it is 5 min in the bathroom – alone. Even if it is a long shower. Even if it is walking the aisles at Target. Clear your head, breathe. Before you are a mother, before you are a wife, you are a woman. Nurture that woman, remember her, treat her, empower her, love her for she is Amazing. If you ever feel less than, remember who these babies depend on. Who those sparkling little eyes look for, who they smile at, and who they wrap their arms around. We wish our children could see themselves through our eyes, how magical they are. What would we see, if we saw ourselves through our child’s eyes?