Consider this: “We think in words, and these words have the power to limit us or to set us free; they can frighten us or evoke our courage. Similarly, the stories we tell ourselves about our own lives eventually becomes our lives.”
Dan Baker, What Happy People Know
Try This: Affirmations. I used to roll my eyes at the idea of affirmations, but science has shown us that affirmations are in fact a way to help alter our internal dialogue, that will otherwise gladly tell us: we aren’t good enough, smart enough, we’ll fail etc. For many of us if we let our subconsciouses run wild they will chatter at us in negative and anxiety ridden tones. It takes work to change our narratives but one of the most powerful ways we can do that is through affirmations.
Below you’ll find affirmations for most situations! It can sound so silly when you first start saying them. But other ways I like to incorporate affirmations are:
Write it on a sticky note and put it on a mirror you look at daily
Pick one or two to say daily at a specific time (ie: waking up / going to bed / rocking your kid etc.)
Save an affirmation as the background on your phone, when you’re going into a tough situation or experience. It’s the perfect easy reminder to see some words that should bring you calmness or courage!
For years I bought into the limiting belief that I’m not a morning person, my old night shift working self loved spending all day in bed and having breakfast at 4pm. Now fast-forward to having two toddlers. Sleeping in all day just isn’t a possibility anymore. But I also quickly learned that mornings where I got up a 15-30 minutes before my kids I was suddenly more patient, calm, I felt like the morning started on my terms instead of whatever meltdown my three year was gonna choose to have at 7am. If you’ve tried waking up early and are in a constant standoff between you and the snooze button here are some tips that have helped me skip the snooze and get my mornings off to a more peaceful, intentional start!
Lay your clothes out – have your clothes for the morning already set out. Whether you’re headed to work or working out, having your clothes picked out the night before makes getting dressed something you can do while still half asleep. There’s no riffling for that pair of legging you swore was clean. Have everything you need right there so you can shut your alarm off and start changing!
Charge your phone across the room – This is the change that has helped me the MOST when it comes to getting up early… Having to physically get out of bed to shut your alarm off means your feet are on the ground and you’re physically “up”. You have to then make a decision of if you want to get back in bed. The snooze button and I have our battles but I know that button would be undefeated if I it was directly next to my bed. Bonus about charing your phone across the room is you cut down on mindless scrolling in bed, which gets me to sleep faster at night!
Have a plan – Take a few minutes the night before and know what your plan is in the morning. Will you be working out, will you be taking your dog for a walk, getting some work tasks off your list? Reading? Our brains will look for any excuse or reason to push snooze. By taking a few minutes to plan ahead, having your laptop charged and set up so you can start on your list, knowing exactly what workout or where you’ll walk your dog, keeps us from having to make these decisions in the moment when we’re struggling to wake up already!
Go to bed early – The best way to ensure you wake up earlier is to get more sleep!! Waking up earlier actually starts the night before. If i’m in bed after 11 the chances of my morning ritual happening are low!! Stop sacrificing tomorrow by staying up late the night before.
Look forward to something – this can be a hot shower after your workout, your cup of coffee, getting to read uninterrupted, a delicious breakfast, enjoying the silence before your kids wake up. Having something you look forward to in the morning helps your brain remember why we’re dragging ourselves out of bed!
I’m not entirely sure how it’s already back to school season, but here we are! I wanted to share some of the items I discovered and loved last year for my preschooler & a lot of these I repurchased now that Johnathan is also headed to preschool this year!
Simply Modern Water bottles – These water bottles are leak proof & are a staple in our house, plus they’re a little cheaper than the hydroflask guys!
Toddler Size Backpack – an appropriate toddler sized backpack can be hard to find. Last year I definitely sent will to school with a backpack that was wayyy to big. So this year both the boys are going with these!
Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer – this is the only hand sanitizer Will will tolerate on his hands. It doesn’t dry your hands out and it smells like christmas, without all the harsh chemicals!!
Bento Box Lunchboxes – love these reusable bento lunch boxes. These drastically cut down on single use plastics! Plus this year I’ll be packing lunches in bulk!
Waterproof Name Labels – Probably my favorite item! These name labels either for clothing or supplies are dishwasher and washing machine safe. After a full year of preschool of the stickers I used are still intact, after many loads through the wash! This year I got some with the boys last name large and their names smaller because I know they’ll be interchanging waterbottles / lunchboxes. Plus they are totally customizable and come in so many designs / colors!!
If you have a favorite back to school item I’d love to hear what it is!
Father’s Day is right around the corner so I thought I’d share some ideas for anyone still looking for a gift for that Dad in their life! Plus all of these items are still in stock and will get shipped in time for Father’s Day!
RTIC Cooler – If you follow me on instagram, you might remember I polled asking for peoples opinions on the Yeti coolers and if they were worth the serious $$ they cost. Most people responded that, yes they were as good as they claim, however the brand RTIC was just as good with a smaller price tag! This 52 qt RTIC cooler is what I opted to get Chris this year, I liked it because it came with a removable divider and a basket! Compared to a similar yeti cooler it’s $175 less expensive!
Waterproof Hat – From the photo this might look like just another hat, but these are the perfect summer hat, they are water friendly, lightweight, and floatable! This was actually on my list for last Father’s Day and the color I had wanted sold out!
Battery Pack – This was a gift I got for my dad! Something he wouldn’t go out and purchase for himself but that he gets TONS of use out of! These will recharge an iphone about 3 times!
Wallet – This nonbulky wallet has a pull tab so you can easily access cards. I got this for Chris two years ago and it’s still in great shape & he loves it! Comes it lots of colors!
Breakfast Sandwich Maker – Make your own McMuffin at home! We own one of these and it’s so good! My dad actually gave this gift to Chris his first fathers day!! It makes for a fun easy weekend breakfast! Just fyi the metal tabs get blazing hot so use an oven mitt!
Car Vacuum – For the dad who hates crumbs in his car…
Last but NOT least, keeping it simple makes for the best gifts. I made these handprints with the boys last year for Father’s Day. Put them in a simple white frame and now they live in Chris’ office. Took 10 minutes and cost less than $10!
Since becoming a mom I have loved making the boys their own special birthday cakes and enjoy decorating them. I’m by no means a professional or have any kind of training – but I have learned a few things along the way as the evolution of photos at the end of this post shows! I thought I would share some of the simple tips that have made a big difference in my cake game, from amateur mom baker to another.
Make it easy on yourself – I don’t make the entire cake from scratch… I’m all about jazzing up a box cake mix (using milk instead of water, butter instead of oil). If you want to try to do a fun decoration don’t feel like you have to DO IT ALL. Make things easier where you can!
Invest in a cake kit. The first few years I didn’t spend the $17 for a cake kit and I kinda wish I had. A turntable, a scraper and a couple decent spatulas can really make a big difference. This is the one I bought this year. They sell ones with dozens of more pieces but I opted for something simple.
Freeze your rounds – this was a tip I discovered last year. Freezing or chilling your cake rounds makes frosting SO much easier!! There’s none of that crumbling you normally experience and it doesn’t take away from the taste or texture. Just make sure to wrap them in plastic wrap tightly if you plan on chilling or freezing for longer than 30 min.
Start small and pick a design or style that you’re excited about – I get most of my ideas off pinterest & I try to pick cakes that feel doable. Over the years I have slowly expanded what I felt like was “doable” 3 years ago I would have never even tried this Cars cake. The idea of doing a fondant checkerboard bottom alone would have been too much. Even this year, I was fully prepared to scrap that detail if it wasn’t working out!
Stop by your local bakery! – did you know most grocery stores will sell you their cake frosting?? This year I went to Safeway and bought a bunch of white frosting directly from the bakery & then dyed it red! I’ll definitely be doing this going forward. Again, make things easier where you can! Maybe someday I’ll have time to perfect my own cake frosting but for now this is a short cut I’ll be taking!
BONUS: Have fun with it! Even if your cake flops it won’t be the end of the world. I have store-bought cupcakes as a back up & I focus on the fun aspect! Also don’t underestimate the power of crumbled graham cracker or Oreo cookie as a way to add texture and make the cake look more detailed!
For most people March means the welcoming of Spring & St. Patricks Day. But for me, March will always make me pause, make me look around and think about all the different ways my life could have gone. Three years ago on a random March Monday our world flipped upside down. I thought I was taking my husband to the ER for an unmanageable migraine. In the hours that followed, his mentation deteriorated, I held my 10 month old son, and watched as my coworkers work fervently trying to figure out what had caused my high functioning husband to suddenly become unable to finish sentences, use his hands, or even follow commands. I sat beside him as a machine breathed for him, in the same room I had cared for countless intubated patients over the years. Stunned that this was my reality.
About a month after Chris’ “outage” as we jokingly refer to it now, I did write a post about our experience with viral encehphalitis, you can read it here . It’s funny because there are similar threads, thoughts on immense gratitude for life but reading it now it’s clear that at the time I thought “welp processed that, time to move on”. I refer to Chris’ recovery in the past tense, when in reality it would be over a year before he truly felt like himself again. And I would spend the year having intense flash backs and resisting attempts at truly processing it. Perspective baby.
I wish I could say that those nights in the ICU were the hardest part but the weeks and months that followed would be far more arduous. The get well flowers wilted and life outside our apartment walls went back to normal but inside I felt shell shocked. I was on edge wondering if every bout of dizziness or return of a headache was the start of Chris’ encephalitis returning. In the midst of balancing the household responsibilities and caring for our ten month old son the trauma loomed over us. At the time, I remember mostly saying “I don’t wanna talk about, let’s just move on”. Spoiler alert – you can’t just move on from your trauma without ever processing it.
I resisted for so long, thinking the walls I was building up would protect me. My decade as an ER nurse has been a masterclass at keeping trauma at arms distance, emotionally detaching myself from immense sorrow. It’s how us nurses are able to go from compressing a lifeless chest one minute & doing a vision test the next. A skill that I’ve since learned should be used with measure. When it came to this, the more I turned away the more it hurt. As much as I yearned for everything to “be normal” again it wouldn’t be. And that was the point. This was meant to transform us, if we’d let it.
I started recognizing that even though I didn’t want to “relive it” I already was, and it was happening out of my control (usually at work). Those memories seared into my brain, played like a movie with crystal clearness. I would get flashes of what happened that day, my coworkers sprinting around. The looks on peoples faces. The same hallway I walk dozens of time per shift, that I sat and sobbed in, all those memories loomed under the surface, red hot. About a year ago I was transferring a patient to the ICU. The patient was going into the same room Chris had been in. When I crossed the threshold in an instant I was taken right back to being at his bedside. The first two nights I had ever spent away from my son. As I wheeled my patient waves of overwhelming heaviness and fear washed over me. Fear of not knowing what life would be like when he was extubated. Wondering what would he remember, how much PT would he need, how far from baseline would he be starting at? Would I suddenly be caring for my son & my husband? All the feelings and fears I never allowed myself feel in real time because I was flexing my detachment muscle as hard as I possibly could.
That night I went home and wrote. I wrote about what it felt like to walk back into that room, I wrote about my fears, I wrote about the last twelve months. I wrote about things I didn’t even realize were below the surface. Some of which would be the skeleton of this post. My younger self used to fill journal after journal growing up. That habit abruptly stopped when nursing school took over my life. Writing in journals suddenly felt juvenile, like something I did only as a kid, before I had real problems. But here I was watching the words pour out of me. Chris’ encephalitis albeit life altering and terrifying has been the single biggest catalyst for change for not only Chris but myself as well.
This transformation certainly didn’t happen overnight, and in writing this, I know it is still ongoing. In some ways this experience feels like yesterday and other times it feels like a lifetime ago. It isn’t until you’re met head on with life’s raw fragility that you’re faced with either growing and evolving or hiding away. I could have continued to turn away, continued to say “I don’t wanna talk about it or relive it” but I’m convinced I wouldn’t have grown. Instead, eventually, I turned into it.
Right away we prioritized physical health – Per his doctors recommendations we did the Whole30 diet to figure out what had caused his body to be in such a hyper-inflammatory state. Chris embarked on Neuro Physical Therapy. I leaned into my at home workouts that I knew were keeping me from totally losing it. We slowed way down. Chris started talk therapy, and I actually agreed to open up about my experience. We discovered our enneagram types and recognized the role they played in our relationship, our daily lives and the way we communicate with one another. I started writing again. And last year I started meditating. Sitting with my thoughts, creating space and stillness has opened entire new worlds for me. I started intentionally choosing to use that experience to shape my life going forward. I recognized that through bettering myself, through facing my trauma I could help others.
This March I felt a very strong pull to lean back into things that bring me genuine happiness. I bought a doodle pad, I dusted off my sewing my machine, I’m reading books that make me laugh and cry. I’m posting here more! I’m planting flowers in every open space in our yard. I’m filling journals again, I’m overcommitting to projects (because I secretly love that)!
So this morning, this March Monday, I’m up before the sun. I’m giving my mind the gift of pausing. I’m moving my body and overall I’m thankful. Because even thought it may not seem like it it. It’s all connected. Your gifts, your circumstances, your purpose, your imperfections; your journey, your destiny. It’s molding you. Embrace it.
If you have a toddler then you already know, the feelings are BIG. Here are some our favorite books to help make sense of these big feelings. I bought The Invisible String, before going out of town and Will LOVED it! So I thought I would share our favorites for anyone else navigating those BIG feelings.
Things I love about each book:
The Boy with The Big, Big Feelings – does a great job actually explaining what it feels like when we get upset “feelings push out of our eyes” aka tears.
The Invisible String – I just love this book and the concept that we are always connected to the people we love even if we aren’t with them at that moment. Plus Will LOVED this book!
In My Heart – This one has so many emotions & the design is cute!
The Color Monster – Will also refers back to this one about feeling mixed up & feeling lots of emotions at once!
My heart – I love the illustrations in this one & the simple message!
Do you have a favorite feelings book? If so I’d love to hear what it is!
Cauliflower rice is one of my favorite ways to sneak veggies into meals! It easily absorbs flavors of other foods which makes it the perfect versatile veggie for adding in. Below are five dishes that go beyond “cauliflower rice”
Fajita veggies – For taco night you can find me making bell peppers, onions and riced cauliflower for fajitas. Inside a taco, burrito or quesadilla you’ll never know extra veggies snuck their way in. My kids will notoriously pick out and onion or bell pepper but the cauliflower is here to stay!
Pasta Sauce – I love sneaking riced cauliflower into red sauce that I use for pastas or lasagnas! My kids never notice because the flavor of the meat sauce sauce is front and center.
Protein Shakes – This might sound weird but instead of adding ice to your protein shake, add 1/2 cup of frozen riced cauliflower. It adds a creamier consistency to your shake, plus you’re getting a serving of veggies!
Chili – a dish like chili is SO flavorful by itself it makes adding riced cauliflower easy! These are chili stuffed sweet potatoes & you’d never know there cauliflower in there.
Casseroles – last but not least next time you’re making a casserole try adding in a cup or two of riced cauliflower. Like I’ve mentioned before it absorbs any flavors and easily goes unnoticed!
I also buy riced cauliflower at costco and keep a ton of it on hand. Whenever I feel like we’re running low on veggie servings that day it is my number one go to for an extra serving!
31 days ago I committed to meditating daily. In July I spent 253 minutes meditating. I missed one day, (day 12). 253 minutes of breathing in the moment right in front of me. Over four hours of awareness brought to my thoughts.
Somedays I found my thoughts in my parked car before work, other days sitting in the grass in our yard. Somedays it was difficult to be still for even 5 minutes, I would spend the entire meditation pushing away distractions. Other days the mindfulness came easy and I would be a world away in 8 minutes.
Here’s what I have discovered after 30 days. Meditation like most things becomes easier the more you do it. And 30 consecutive days is a long time to practice something. I love that every time I meditated it was different. Meditation doesn’t require you to be in shape. It doesn’t cost any money. There’s no equipment. You can practice anywhere & for any length of time. And about half way through the month I started to really crave and look forward to these moments of mindfulness. Our worlds are so saturated with notifications, pings and pulls for our attention constantly. And there is something magical about being still & being thoughtful, it’s this superpower. The ability to rule your own mind. And you can access this power whenever. One morning this month Will and I had a rough start to the day, patience, and tempers were short. When I got Johnathan down for his morning nap, I let Will watch his beloved Mickey Mouse & I snuck into my room and did a 5 minute meditation. And it completely changed the tone for the whole day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on here trying to say if you meditate your kids won’t have tantrums. BUT! You might find you have a lot easier time responding to toddlers disproportionate range of emotions & not meeting their chaos with more chaos. You might discover a new ability to pause when you’re first confronted with chaos. And that concept of being able to meet chaos with calm carries over in every aspect of life. Suddenly bumps in daily routines, difficult patients, traffic, personal conflict, things that constantly throw us into reactionary modes are met with more thoughtfulness and patience and in turn cause us less strife.
I know I’ve only just dipped my toe into the benefits of meditating and after a full month all I can say is I don’t want to stop. I love the way it makes me feel I love the calmness and sense of intermission mediation brings. It wakes you up to the moments right in front of you. With kids it is so easy to get bogged down in the day to day. Just crossing days off a calendar. Meditation has made me look at every day with thoughtfulness.
I used the Insight Timer App for my meditation – I used the totally free version. They have over 100k meditations that are free, you can search A-Z category wise, you can filter by length of time or theme. I also love that it keeps track of consecutive days meditating as well as total minutes meditated and provides a space for quick check ins.
This month we celebrated Jman with a Wild One themed birthday party! He is our sweetest surprise & our pandemic baby. Born in July, his birth month flower is a lotus. Which grows in mud, retreating each night back into the mud only to bloom clean the next day. Lotus flowers symbolize spiritual awakening and rebirth. My eyes filled with tears when I read the description of this. Johnathan was our sweetest surprise, little did we know he would enter our lives when we needed him most, in the thick of the pandemic he would be the brightest light. His birth would remind us of the circle of life as we went on to lose my aunt a few days after his birth. I couldn’t think of a more beautiful symbol for his birth month.
We had family and a few friends come celebrate with us. I got this “wild one” birthday kit off amazon for $30 and was impressed with how great it turned out. The day of the party ended up being well over 100 degrees, luckily we had a small pool from target set up & the kids loved splashing in it. It was wonderful to celebrate our happy guy and watch him demolish his smash cake! He decided to take his first steps right before turning one and he held out on getting any teeth his first year!