Nine {on our ninth anniversary}

For the Hubbs on our ninth wedding Anniversary.

Nine things I love about you.

The way you make me laugh, even when I don't want to.
Even when I'm mad at you.

Your laugh. The one you do until you cough.
Like when we saw that guy combing his beard at a four way stop.

You know how to fix things.
Like broken cabinets and lights.
And even the fifty dollar vacuum that was so obviously dead.

That you clean the house when I'm not home.
It used to bother me, but not anymore.
Because I hate to clean.

The text messages you send through out the day.
Some husbands send mushy texts of undying love and affection.
You send me pictures of fat guys on scooters.
Because you know my language of love.

That you speak in movie quotes.
That we can talk in Beerfest quotes.
I really would freeze you in the winter and skate on you.
Among other things from that quote.

That out of all the things I've ever called you,
(asshole, shit face, et al.)
my favorite name you answer to is "Dad".

That you have never given up on me, even when I have given up on myself.
That you are always the voice of reason and optimism, 
even when I don't want a voice at all.
That you love all my faults, 
and perhaps even love me because of them.

I love you because that's what I decided on the last 
Friday night in July of 1999.
When it was so hot I couldn't see straight and 
you were wearing a long sleeved button down.
You were so dressed up and standing in the kitchen drinking a beer, 
and I said,"Who died", 
and you fave me the funniest look.
Thankfully my sarcasm wasn't lost on you.

Happy Ninth Anniversary Hubbs.
Because it would never have worked without you.

The thing about this year

I didn't send out birthday invitations for Mac's birthday. This was a first for me, a true motherhood milestone. I wrote "Mac's b-day invites" on my to-do list daily for three weeks. I made a mock up for printing at Walgreen's. I finally printed them out 11 days before the big event. And then forgot to pick them up from Walgreen's and send them out. I picked them up the day before my RSVP deadline, and hand delivered them to family. In a last ditch effort I created an event on Facebook to invite friends at the last minute. And everything about this paragraph kills me.

The thing about this year is that Mommy is learning to juggle her time, and is trying to keep her head above water.

I forgot to order the table, and was lucky enough that the party rental place still had a six foot kids table with chairs available on Tuesday, for our party the following Saturday. I waited until Friday to buy all the food I would need for the party. Of course it rained on Friday and so most of that day was spent planning shopping trips around rain and wind. Thankfully I had bought all the goody bag stuffers and plastic eggs and candy two weeks before Easter and so I didn't miss anything, but I still had no back up plan in the event that it would rain on Saturday too. I bought clearance Easter crafts and photo booth props for a dollar fifty each. The only perk to my procrastination.

The thing about this year was that I didn't have time to think about crafts or Pinterest inspired parties or any of the things that Mac wanted at her Easter Tea Party birthday party, the week after Easter. Which seemed that it would be so easy at the time, but managed to be panic inducing by Friday night.

As with previous years, I waited until the last minute to buy the birthday girl her presents. There I was on Friday at four o'clock in the afternoon, staring at the empty shelves in the Disney Princess aisle. No Anna to be found. A few years ago this would have reduced me to tears, but Friday? Nah. Friday I just moved right along to some other toy that she has asked for a million times, and I've always found a million excuses why we can't get it. So I bought it and a few others.

This picture was taken and used on Mac's 4th Birthday Invitations.
The Invitations that are still sitting on my desk.

The thing about this year is that Mommy needs easy. Mommy needs fool proof. Mommy needs grace.

The one thing that Mommy actually did right was make strawberry cupcakes. Per the birthday girl they were to be strawberry cake with strawberry frosting with a strawberry on top. Easy enough, this was the only Pin I actually delivered on. Until Saturday morning when I frosted the cupcakes with canned vanilla frosting and the birthday girl said that I did them wrong and that she wouldn't eat them.

The thing about this year is that Mommy bought a back up cake. A chocolate, store bought one to be exact, because she did not want to make a horrible cake that Pinterest deemed delicious. And also because people are always happy when chocolate cake is served.

And none of these things mattered, because on Saturday we celebrated Mac. With cinnamon rolls for breakfast and cakes for lunch. We ordered pizzas and used enough paper products to make an eco blogger live in a tree to save it's life. We drank sodas and drank pink tea out of mismatched tea sets that I pulled from the girls toy boxes. Because kids don't care if the cups and saucers match. Kids only care about cake and ice cream.

The only picture of our party set up. Pretty cute right? 

The thing about this year is that it broke my heart not to be able to handle this party with kid gloves. I worried and stress ate for days. But the thing about this year is that no matter how off balance we are, not matter how stressed or disorganized our lives, we make it work. We move right along. And this birthday was the epitome of make it work. The birthday girl refused pictures in her birthday dress, and would only eat cake if we promised not to sing the birthday song. I didn't get a single picture of the cake or the cupcakes or the tea party with her friends. I didn't even get pictures of her opening her gifts. We did fit in the Easter Egg hunt, and thankfully the weather cooperated. So while it wasn't the day that I planned, the day went exactly as planned.

Because the thing about this year was that it's really hard to mess up a plan, when there isn't one.

The "last baby" turns four

"But the last one:
the baby who trails her scent
like a flag of surrender through your
life when there will be 
no more coming after ---
oh, that's a love by a different name."
-Barbara Kingsolver
"The Poisonwood Bible"

Tomorrow is Mac's fourth birthday. Fourth. It doesn't seem possible and at the same time it  seems completely normal. Mac is now at the age where she wants to know what she was like as a baby. How did I look mommy? What did I do? What was it like when I was born?

How do you tell you child that the day she was born was the best and possibly the worst day of your life? How do you explain the absence of pictures in her plastic cradle in the hospital? How do you explain the absence of pictures with friends and family celebrating her arrival? You can't really. You just give her the story that she wants. The one that she can understand.

So I tell her that she was born on a clear Monday morning, at seven twenty four. And that mommy stayed up all night waiting for her. And when she was born she was so small that even the doctor was surprised. She had the smallest nose, and the tiniest fingers. And when the nurses wrapped her tightly in the stripped blue and pink blanket that she looked like a doll, no bigger than Daddy's brown football that sits on the chair by the sliding glass door. I tell her that she slept most of the first night, and that she slept on my legs, as I lay in bed, watching her so closely as if I had never welcomed a newborn into the world before. I tell her that I loved her instantly and that for lack of a better song, the only one I could think to sing was Hey Jude by the Beatles. And since I have a terrible voice I whispered most of it as I held her as close to my heart as I could.

I leave out the scary parts. I don't tell her that mommy could have died that day. That it took the doctors almost five hours to stop the bleeding. That my soiled bedding ended up weighing almost as much as she did. I don't tell her that I cried, and grandma cried, and that Daddy spent almost three hours alone with her in a recovery room with an empty bed. I don't tell her that my life flashed before my eyes, like a cruel slide show, showing me all the things I loved about being mother, as I woke from the anesthesia. I don't tell her just how close we came to losing this life, that after four years, we take comfort in and take for granted.

One day, possibly when she has children of her own, I'll tell her how she saved me. How she taught me just how wonderful it is to be a mother. How she was able to show me and make me believe that I was a good one. The kind of mother I always wanted to be, and quite possibly the kind of mother I was from the very beginning. I'll tell her that I'm a better person for being her mother, and I'm a better mother to her sister because of that too. I'll tell her that with every year she gets older my heartaches for that tiny bundle of joy, that I finally got to hold after the longest day of labor and delivery. That by the time I really got to look at her the sun was clouded by grey skies, and my arms almost too weak to hold her tightly. I'll tell her that once I got her, in that room well after three o'clock in the afternoon that I didn't want to let her go. Not for nurses, or Daddy, or Grandma. That today, I still don't want to let her go.

One day I'll tell her that her birthday will always be bittersweet. There will always be big parties to celebrate her and the gift that she is to us. But there will always be a quiet celebration for me. Celebrating the precious life I'm so happy to be living. Celebrating the second child I wasn't sure I wanted. Celebrating the discovery of the absolute joy motherhood can be. And it will also be a day to remember that she is my last baby. And she does trail her scent in everything that I do, into every aspect of our lives, reminding us just how amazing life is, and bringing joy to all the chaos and to all the ordinary.

Tomorrow she will be four. And I will tell her that on the day she was born I watched the sun rise over the mountains behind the hospital as I waited for her. While Daddy napped, and Auntie and Uncle broke every speed limit from Tulare to Fresno. I'll tell her that sister drew her pictures, and that Grandma was one of the first people to hold her. I will tell her that the day was perfect.

Because it was. And it is. Happy Birthday Mac.

I have good kids {even when I think I don't}

A few weeks ago I went out on a limb and took the girls to Costco after a full day of school, dance, and work. Add in the fact that the Hubbs was out of town on business and it's just crazy that I thought this was a great idea. Great idea or not, we needed the essentials like eggs, chicken, produce, and flushable wipes. Yes, flushable wipes.

Going to Costco anytime after five on any day is a recipe for disaster. We are usually tired from the day whether we worked or not. It's usually crowded with other people on their way home from working trying to buy their own essentials (flushable wipes I'm sure) and also trying to get something quick for dinner at the food court. The food court is usually another disaster zone, because the food is cheap, super unhealthy, and the only thing to drink is soda. Which makes my children oh so happy. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Costco, but after work isn't my favorite Costco to love.
Dinner at Costco for the win!

Going after work does have it's advantages, especially when you know your kids will eat food court food. Caitlin got a sandwich and Mac got a hot dog and sodas for everyone, so the real shopping could begin. As we passed other Costco shoppers they looked at my girls chowing down on some serious nitrates and sodium. They looked at their dirty faces and food in their hair. I just ignored them and threw The Book Thief in my cart, because mama needs some love too. That's when I realized why I was getting so many stares, my kids were being well behaved. They were eating and talking and not begging for every single thing Costco had to offer including gardening tools.

Huh. My kids are being good. Who would have thought?

I guess I should have thought. As they get older they surprise me at how well they behave in public. I always tell people it's because they know they will get beat, but seriously I think it's because they know what I expect when we are in public. It's strange to realize that your kids actually do "know better", since they appear to have no idea what the rules are at home. I'm amazed at the good reports I get from school, Caitlin always volunteers to clean up. Really, because we have to bribe her with five dollar bills at home (only kind of kidding). Mackenzie loves to share at play time. Are you sure we are talking about the same Mackenzie that screams at the top of her lungs if she has to share the Barbies with her sister? Is it crazy to ask why they don't act that way with me? Why aren't they on their best behavior for me at home? 
If I look surprised it's because my kids are being good.

I guess they are on their best behavior for me, it's just in front of other people. Strangers really, and I can't really complain about that. I'd rather have them fight like two sorority girls over the last beer at home, than act like real a-holes in Costco. I'm grateful that they save their worst behavior for me, even though it's soul crushing when it happens. How do you feel you are winning at motherhood when your children are being terrible and breaking all the rules of good behavior at home? I guess you take good and well behaved children when you can get them, including the grocery store or Target.
This kid eating a hotdog, cut up with a fork out of a cup. She's such a lady

Last month on my birthday I took both girls to the mall, in the rain, to spend some of my birthday money. Can I tell you that this situation would have never happened three years ago, or even a year ago? We went to three stores and I tried on clothes at all three. I even stopped at two places to try on shoes. They were angels. They were perfect. They were model citizens of the under 10 set. 

Until we got in the car and they screamed and yelled over the strawberry lemonade slushy I was making them share. Then one grabbed it from the other and it spilled, and then it started to rain again, and just as I was about to scream at them, I realized something:

They are good kids. Even when they aren't, they are still good kids. And I will take slushy fights in the back seat every day of the week for two hours of shopping bliss. So I thanked them for being so incredibly good on my birthday and at the mall. I thanked them a few weeks ago after Costco. In my early days of being a mother I was so scared to leave the house with one kid, let alone two. But now, I realize that I'm lucky that my kids save their best material for me, and not the Target line or the grocery store.

Take a look at your kids today. I bet they are good, really good, even if you think they aren't. Now thank them for being so good and take them to Costco for some nitrates and sodium, where there are sodas for everyone, including you. Although I'm pretty sure you deserve wine. All the best mothers do.

Check 'yo self...

Last Thursday I had to check myself.

I had been happily spending my week with my girls, squeezing in all kinds of Spring Break fun when I was stopped dead in my tracks by... that time of the month. Awesome, and right on schedule of course because for the first time in 36 years I can set my watch to my cycle. You would think that I'd have it down on my calendar, but every month it surprises me. I'm sure that has more to do with disorganization than it does with my body chemistry. Whatever. That part is not important. The important part is that for the past year my PMS has gotten horribly out of control.

I get progressively bitchier as my period approaches. I'm so bloated I seriously look pregnant (editors note: we are going to go ahead and believe that the possible food baby is because of my period bloat, not because I've been eating recklessly). I get headaches that just won't stop, and my face breaks out in acne as if I'm seventeen again. Add in the fatigue and the anemia, the food cravings for things I cannot eat even if I wanted too, and I'm an awful person to be around, let alone live with. So yeah, by last Thursday I was just trying to keep it together so that I wouldn't ruin Spring Break and one of my only days off.

The day didn't go all that bad, except for the fact that I wanted chocolate. Like, all the chocolate that is currently on earth. I wanted to eat it and bathe in it, and have babies with it. It was terrible and only made worse by the fact that last week was the week I decided that I needed to start eating better. Let's talk about the fact that we, and by that I mean us ladies, always decided that a new diet and exercise regimen always sounds like the best idea we've ever had when we are on our periods. Why do we do this to ourselves when we know we have no will power and zero resistance to things like chocolate gellato and french fries?

By Thursday afternoon I was holding on for dear life, white knuckling it just to make it to bedtime. I'd snapped a few too many times at the kids, then started in on the Hubbs when he came home. I finally abandoned talking to anyone all together. The Hubbs kept asking what was wrong, and I kept saying nothing, because saying "I want to eat chocolate so bad I just might kill you", can be embarrassing and pathetic. I thought maybe I had made it when I realized that I still haven't picked up Mackenzie's birthday invitations that I had printed at Walgreen's. Now I could go on a tangent here about said birthday cards, but that is seriously an entire blog post on it's own so I'll keep you posted on that. But let's just say knowing that I had needed to pick those pictures/invitations up and get them in the mail since Monday, did something to me now that it was Thursday. And that something was not good.

I grabbed my bag and announced I'd be going to Walgreen's alone, and that I would be back as soon as I could get those damn pictures in my damn hands. I'm pretty sure that's a direct quote. 

On the way, I yelled at every car that crossed my path. Then I yelled some more at the a-hole in the parking lot that took up two spaces in the crappiest car I've seen since college. Once inside Walgreen's I stood at the photo counter for a full five minutes while one associate stocked shelves and the other talked on the store phone nearby. Finally I had to say something to get some help, and even then there were issues with the computer, my card, the key pad. You name it, it was an issue. 

I got back in my car, cussing and cursing under my breath when it hit me. 

Bitch. Eat some cookies for the love of God. Eat all the cookies.

So I went home with a new resolve. I was going to bake some Against All Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies and eat as many as I wanted to. Three, in case you are wondering. I did this without guilt or feeling of failure. I took charge and granted myself permission to emotionally eat some cookies, for the sake of my sanity. For every one's sake. For the sake of my children and my husband. For the sake of drivers everywhere. For the sake of Walgreen's employees around the world. Ok, that's a tad bit dramatic, but seriously, I was in a bad, murderous, thank God I don't have any guns kind of way about cookies, chocolate chip cookies to be exact.

I'm sure this has something to do with menopause. Which I'm convinced I'm going through even if my doctors says I'm wrong. I remember when my mom went through the change that she said she wanted to eat anything that wasn't tied down or raw. I get that now and it scares the holy shit out of me. I am thankful that I have to be on a grain free, dairy free, processed food free diet for my health. This stops me from binge eating too much; one, because coconut milk ice cream is like twenty dollars a gallon, and two, cookies and cakes have to be baked by me. Now if I can just figure out how to talk myself out of baking things in my moments of weakness.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has days where the temptation of all things chocolate get the better of me. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I fight that temptation the best I can. And I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who has to check herself every once in a while and say...

Bitch, eat some cookies.

Hello Reality {goodbye Spring Break}

In the morning I will say hello to reality and goodbye to spring break. While my kids get one more day off, I will be at work well before they wake. It's the best way to close this years spring break. This year spring break felt real. Both girls and me left to decided how we would spend the days that Mom didn't have to work. A Tuesday spent in the absolute luxury of having nothing to do, nowhere to be. A Thursday doing what we love most, walking through Target, spending time with each other. And while they didn't have a single care in the world, I did. Because I knew this little pocket of time, so magical in it's minutes, was to be short lived, and very soon, it was to be over. Like most things we do, we made memories out of ordinary occurrences, we savored the most unorganized days, and we watched the sun slip behind the roof tops almost every night. Even as we say goodbye to spring break, we have hope and anticipation in our hearts for Summer break, because I can only imagine what magic those minutes will bring. 
Hello Monday, Hello Reality, Hello hope for more ordinary days.

In clothes that we slept in and house hold chores forgotten, we colored eggs after a very late lunch. And no one noticed the dishes in the sink or the crumbs in the carpet.

Waiting patiently while I take a picture before we got down to business. She is smiling a true smile and that is success in itself.

 I'll take a half smile from Mac, since she has decided that she only likes to take pictures on her terms. She lost interest in eggs about half way through, so I finished them. I did so happily, surprisingly enough.

Caitlin had to wait patiently for Mackenzie to wake up. She wanted to sleep longer, even when we told her the Easter Bunny had come. Bed head and chocolate bunnies really do make for a happy Easter morning.

Pretty dresses for the little ladies. In old shoes or hand me down shoes, because it's not always perfect. But these two looked perfect all day, and smiled and posed with only minor begging on Mom's part.

 Out of all the desserts offered on Easter, this kid chose a chocolate doughnut with purple sprinkles. Don't come between a girl and her doughnut. 

 All on her own. Caitlin is always on an adventure, with a story in her mind. One day she will share those stories and I can't wait to hear them. 

Pretty dresses for pretty girls. I'm still surprised they picked out these dresses, because they don't usually like to get this dressed up. I'm glad they wanted to look like ladies even if it was just for one day.

I hope you all had a happy Easter and a very magical Spring Break. Happy Monday. 

Spring Break {twenty fourteen}

I awoke Tuesday morning with such a feeling of calm it was almost foreign to me. My children woke me, like in the good old days. I was actually happy to hear their voices instead of a digital alarm clock. I realized that Tuesday held no schedule. No dance classes to attend, no Girl Scout meeting to manage. We didn't have to make the school bell, I didn't have to pack lunches. I didn't even have to be at work. It was in short, blissful.

We spent the majority of the day in our pajamas. Which in my book screams a successful day during Spring Break. We watched cartoons, and played for hours on the iPad. We ate our breakfast on the couch, and it consisted of waffle nutella sandwiches for Caitlin and cheetos for Mac. At some point I slapped dye on my hair and my mom came over. Mom and I watched two hours of TV, uninterrupted while the kids amused themselves. They destroyed their bedrooms of course, and I ignored responsibility. Then as I was mixing sugar cookie dough (from the bag of course), my mom suggested that I go run and get a mani/pedi since things were calm. And run I did.

It didn't occur to me until hours later what made this day so great. I was free. Free of time constraints and schedules. Free of to-do lists and must dos and obligations. I didn't have to be at work, I didn't have to be at school, we didn't have to be anywhere but at home. And it felt divine and delightful and perfect. 

Today was more of the same. We slept in. All of us. I laid in bed for an hour, while the girls destroyed the house, again. I went through my old routine of watching news on the networks, while scrolling the real news on Instagram. I didn't wear make up or dry my hair with the hair dryer. We went to Target just because. Then we enjoyed an Easter Egg hunt at Mac's preschool. We kept time for a moment, then let it all go and collapse into the last little bits of Easter break.

It's Thursday night, the sun will be going down shortly, and I have to be at work at six in the morning. But I am drinking it all in. All of the things I forgot. All the blessings I took advantage of. Tuesday I stopped for a moment and asked myself, what is different today? Why do you feel lighter? Why do you feel so happy? I realized it's because I'm so very happy here. In mommy mode. Putting all my efforts, or lack of efforts into skating through the day. If Spring Break is a glimpse into what summer will be like, well then bring it on. I miss my carefree days of staying home. When my only worries were laundry and dinner. When I could pool all my efforts and be my best self.

I'm nothing if not a work in progress. I'm just very thankful that I finally have that thing, that feeling. The one that makes you realize just how well you had it, and the one that makes you have great hopes for the future. Life changes, it has too, and I'm learning that I can too. So while I miss my old life of Stay At Home Mom, I look forward to my life as Part Time Working Mom. Because if I'm being totally honest, this Part Time Working Mom finally appreciates and realizes just how precious the free moments of light really are.

Wore: Whatever it takes

As I type, my darling daughter is telling me how beautiful I am in my pictures. And how beautiful I am every single day. Even when I'm in my pajamas. It's probably the sweetest thing I could hear right now, because I've been feeling a little fluffy. Sure, I wrote a post all about my selfies and liking the person staring at me in the mirror, but we all have our days, including me. And lately those days have turned into the better part of a month because if I'm being totally honest, I'm fluffier than I've been in months. I sent Jillian packing last November. I ate my way through the holidays, and in the future I need to discuss the fact that I have emotionally ate my way through my Against All Grain cookbook. Just because it's grain free, doesn't mean it's Whole 30. Funny thing is, I keep posting pictures, holding myself accountable for choices and beating myself up when I think I look fluffier than usual. I can hide my flaws like a boss, and even when I can't, I slap a smile on my face and try. Swing tanks, slouchy button ups, and maxi dresses can hide a multitude of flaws. Even so, I'm trying to do whatever it takes to wear everything with confidence.

This is me on date day.
Jeans, lace tank, and a cardi.
We had a great time in case you are wondering.

This is me, post work on my way to Girl Scouts.
This maxi was a little tighter than it was last year.
That was kind of a downer, on the plus side, no one could tell.

In this picture I'm going to work in pants that are pre Caitlin.
That's seems like a victory, but a year ago, I was smaller than my pre Caitlin days.
Still, after nine years, pants that still fit my ass are kind of cool.

Let's talk about swing tanks and how they hide my middle.
I've come to the conclusion that I'm an apple shape.
That means no matter how many Jillian ab busters I do I'll always need a swing tank.

Swing tank number two.
I'll admit this one makes me took a little fluffy.
But from the side they didn't look all that bad.
I'm so glad the Hubbs suggested I buy this one.
I really wanted the mint and navy, but he said I never wore these colors,
which are more grey and coral.
Thanks Hubbs for making me step out of my mint fixation.

This is a button down tunic from Old Navy.
It's a little long, but I seriously can't get enough.
If you didn't notice I'm also wearing it with the pre Caitlin pants.
I threw on a cardi and wore it to work.
It was so comfortable.

My olive trousers are getting a work out thanks to Pinterest.
I've been stumped for years with these pants.
Now, I just search olive pants and hello!
Side note: that stripped top is older than Mac!

Chambray shirt take one.
With my black jeggings rolled up and Toms.
This is the shirt that I cut the sleeves off.
Still not sorry about that.

I've had this Loft top since Caitlin was a baby.
I really love it and it's soft as pajamas.
I realize that mustard is usually reserved for fall, 
but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.
Translation: shop my closet!

I'm kind of in love with all of these colors.
Dark jeans, navy striped tank, layered with a maroon tank, mustard cardi.
My hair is dirty, I'm not wearing make up and we were an hour late to a birthday party.
A party that was being held directly next door.
Only I can do something that ridiculous.
Second side note: When I tried on this tank top, Caitlin said she liked it because it was 
"boaty, you know shippy". 
I said do you mean "nautical" and she said "yeah, nautical". 
Important lessons when you are six going on seven, am I right?

Chambray take two:
My new favorite shirt, from Old Navy, bought three weeks ago.
Run, people, grab this shirt.
It's cotton, it's roomy, and it looks good dressy or casual.
Also I can't get enough of this look as a whole.
Can I just make this my work uniform?
And my high pony knocked me out, I mean who doesn't love to whip a high pony?

So whatever it takes friends. Rock those swing tanks, Bermuda shorts if you hate your thighs, three quarter length sleeves if your arms bug you. Rock them. Smile, throw on the outfit that makes you feel your best and snap a picture. Find your way back to you by doing whatever it takes. 

Waving A White Flag - My Messy Beautiful

When you wave your white flag, anything is possible.
Last Thursday I waved my white flag. 

I've come to the conclusion that Thursdays are the worst day of the week. It may have something to do with the fact that the first half of the week is usually jam packed. Maybe it's because I usually close on Wednesday nights and so I don't get to see my kids after school. It could be because by Wednesday we are ready to exhale and sit outside with our neighbors instead of doing the hard stuff like homework and dinner at the dinner table. Whatever the reason, Thursday mornings are horrible and terrible and someone always cries.

Last Thursday was one of those days. Caitlin started crying before she even got out of bed. I was in super mom mode and made my demands as I walked in and out of her room. Still she cried. I gave her warnings, I threatened to take away her iPad time, I even threatened to take her to school in her pajamas. Still she cried. I physically had to get her out of bed. Pulling one leg and one arm, demanding that she stand on her own. She cried harder. We finally found something to wear, combed her hair, and she cried all the way through. She cried as she ate her cinnamon roll, baked just for her, just to make the morning easier, just to make her feel special. She left it after two bites. And continued to cry.

Crying in the morning isn't anything new. It's not like we haven't had a month full of mornings just like this one. But pushing her on this day felt different. I didn't want to push. I didn't want to threaten or yell, or lose my temper like mornings of my past. I was exhausted. My heart hurt. My head hurt. And I just didn't want to do it anymore. Not on that day anyway.

So I waved my white flag. I let it fly high for all to see. Because that was it. I was done.

I surrendered to motherhood last Thursday. I surrendered to the chaos of it all. To the mess and the beautiful. I allowed myself to surrender to the schedule and the demands of morning routines that have never really been established. I surrendered to being angry at things I cannot control. I surrendered to the books that say I should have more discipline. I surrendered to the looks I'm bound to get from those who think I'm giving up. Because I'm not giving up, I'm just asking for peace, for a ceasefire, for a negotiation on the terms of motherhood.

Flying my white flag last Thursday allowed me to sit with my daughter who gets so little of my time. To kiss the top of her head and hold her hand while we watched cartoons she has long grown out of. It allowed us to talk about our mornings and how we can try again tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that. My white flag gave me time to relax, sit in my recliner, and watch my girls play together in the quiet of a school day morning with no time constraints or commitments. And yes I admit, we should have been in school, we should have been at dance, I should have been more committed to our commitments. But it felt pretty damn good to wave my white flag and be at peace.

Years ago, surrendering to motherhood would have left me deflated and disappointed in myself. I would have spent days obsessing about how I could do better and be better. Last Thursday I realized that the mistakes and missteps are temporary. I won't wave my white flag every morning. I'm not giving up on motherhood or me, I'm just taking a time out from a war that I cannot control to get a little peace. Because the battles will continue. Next Thursday it will be something else. Next Monday another thing. I can't let motherhood defeat me, but I can ask for a ceasefire every now and again. Something I wish I knew was possible so many years ago.

I promise you I'm not giving up. I'm just surrendering to the mess. I'm surrendering to the beautiful. I'm surrendering to the tears and the tantrums. To the little people who still crawl into bed in the middle of the night. To the dinners eaten in the cart at Costco. I'm surrendering to the store bought cupcakes the day of the party, and the days spent in pajamas as the world gets dressed around us. I'm surrendering to all the things that will never make or break the love I have for my children. Because I haven't given up on them or me. 

Some days you just have to surrender. You have to wave your white flag. You have to make peace with motherhood and yourself. Some days you just have to surrender to your messy beautiful.

I'm joining Glennon at Momastery to celebrate Carry On Warrior's first year.
Join me and other bloggers as we share our Messy Beautiful.
Carry on Warriors.

The Story of My Selfie

Little Megs. Age six.
I heard on the radio a few mornings ago, that selfies are the most annoying thing about social media. Forget the never ending food porn, the attack of venti red cups at Christmas, or even the outfits of the day, no all of these do not compare to the annoyance of the selfie. The hosts on the radio read a recent study, done at some important University, by some really important psychologist, that said that people who post selfies have body dysmorphic disorder. They have an unrealistic view of themselves, whether they think they are too attractive, or not attractive enough. They also said that selifie posters are arrogant and narcissistic, and are constantly fishing for complements. And while all of that sounds pretty legit, I have to whole heartily disagree.

I post selfies because I actually like the person I am now. I'm not in love with myself or full of myself, but I can honestly say that I really like the person I have become. I can say that because for years I hated me. I hated me for reasons that aren't even sound or realistic. But, sometime around age thirty (see girls, life doesn't end at thirty!), I began to really like that gal in the mirror.
It really did take thirty years though. In the beginning, as an only child, I was photographed constantly. I learned how to pose and smile for any camera by age one. There are millions of baby pictures floating around my family of me in frilly dresses, on Santa's lap, in my birthday suit, in a swimming pool. There are pictures of me at all stages of my life and as a kid I loved the camera and the camera loved me. Ask anyone in my family and they will tell you that I am a ham. That I can go from bitchy resting face to Miss America smile in a ten count. But somewhere around twelve, I started to hate the pictures of me.
Fourteen year old Megs.
As a teen I couldn't stand the pictures of me. I kept taking pictures hoping that I get them back and somehow I'd be thinner or blonder. I hated my round face. I hated that my eyes were mud brown. That my hair was boring. I hated that my legs were stubby and my belly wasn't flat like all the other girls my age. I spent the better part of fifteen trying to do one hundred sit ups a day to possibly have Alicia Silverstone's flat tummy. Looking back I spent countless hours wanting to be someone, anyone else. I couldn't stand to be me. That feeling didn't really go away in college either. I remember thinking that I looked so good at my sorority formal one year, only to get the pictures back and see that my face was so fat that my eyes disappeared when I smiled. I threw them all away.
Wedding day Megs.
I'd like to say that all of the self hate ended the day I married the Hubbs, but it didn't. I felt my most beautiful on that day, but I was still worried about my belly sticking out in pictures. I was still worried that my arms might look flabby. Still obsessed about not working out for the last five days before the wedding, and then eating my feelings all along the way. Don't get me wrong, I love my wedding pictures, and I feel like they look exactly like me, but I wasn't as confident then as I am today.
Mamma Megs, June 26th 2007.
Motherhood, it seems, made me confident. Motherhood made me like the person in my selfies. And I admit, this didn't happen right away, but it did happen. Perhaps it was the months spent in yoga pants and tank tops with no make up. Maybe it was the multiple days in a row that I didn't get a shower, but still had to go to the store. Could it be that in the middle of the poop and spit up and baby food stains of the previous day that I found out who I was? Something that first year of motherhood showed me that I could do hard things, all the hard things. And suddenly I couldn't deny that the the woman looking back at me in the mirror wasn't a girl anymore. She was a warrior. She was a survivor. She didn't need lipstick or mascara or clean hair. And for the first time, I actually liked her.
Absolute Mommy 2011
My selfies can't tell you the whole story, however. I have days where I'm not super excited to be me. I have days where the extra five pounds I've acquired really bug me and make me feel shame. I have days where my jeans don't fit like they did last year. I've written all about my bald spot, my grey hair, my acne, and my wrinkles. Some days my selfies include hair three days past washing. Some days they highlight under eye bags and not a stitch of make up. Other days I'm in make up, eyebrows filled in, lip gloss thick. I like my hair, I'm ignoring the extra five or so pounds, and my jeans aren't that tight. But no matter the day, I'm sharing that selfie, because I like me. I like who I am now, after thirty six years. I like that I'm imperfect. I like that I have flaws. I like that I don't look like anyone else in Internet land. I like that I'm short, and can wear shirts from the boys department. I like that I'm so imperfectly me.
The good hair day selfie. Circa March 2014.
So I make no apologies for my selfie. My selfie tells a story. The story of a thirty six year old woman who, for the first time in her life, actually likes herself. I'm not fishing for a single compliment, because it's not about that anymore. It's about me finally complimenting myself. So my selfies are just a way to tell this new story of me, in this spot with the me I've always been, who is also the me I've finally accepted. 

Checking in {on my resolutions}

Can I tell you a secret? I've been trying to write this post for over a month. Which is funny because my first resolution for the year was to break my bad habit of procrastination. I thought it would be fun to check in with my New Year's Resolutions. I've got to tell you reading them makes me feel like a total loser. I haven't really followed them at all. But I guess that is ok. Most resolutions are broken anyway am I right? I guess if I have to re-read these every three months or so, I just may get off my ass and actually put them into motion. I have a plan. We are a little over four months into the year and I'm going to try really hard to break bad habits, be inspired by people, and make some changes for a happier more productive year. 

Let's check in on my resolutions so far...

A bad habit I’m going to break: 
Procrastination.  And not washing my face before bed.  I know, right?

Let's say that none of this is happening. I'm still procrastinating like I'm being paid to do so. I haven't been washing my face before bed, which is terrible because I now wear more make up than ever! Also I put off writing for days. I have no idea where that feeling came from. So Procrastination is still a number one bad habit that needs to be broken. Any suggestions?

A new skill I’d like to learn:
Last year I was totally game to learn to knit.  Still haven't so I think I'll stick with knitting.  Any good tutorials out there?

Nope. Not even close. I also have yet to sew a project, use modge podge, or bake any kind of treats for either of my kids classrooms. Ask me if I even care? You're right, I do care, a lot, but with work and life... Store bought works just fine right now.

A person I hope to be more like:
Honey in faith, Diana in motivation, Jill in kindness, Becca business skills and Alissa in blogging social media skills, and Ashley for blog and word inspiration.

I still strive to be more like these women. Have you met any of them? You should go and check them out and be inspired. It's been a struggle lately because I don't have the time to really follow them on Instagram like I used to. And I know that spending your time on Instagram seems silly and pointless, but when you follow inspiring women, who make Instagram a great place for inspiration, you want to make time to follow. I'll be more conscious to follow these women and their blogs for those days that seem harder than others.

A good deed I’m going to do:
More random acts of kindness.  They really turn your whole day around.

I've been doing little things for friends at work. Sending messages and texts to friends and bloggy besties. Nothing feels better than making someone smile. Try it, it changes your whole day.

A place I’d like to visit:
Somewhere with the Hubbs.  Somewhere with the kids.  Somewhere with my bestie.  It doesn't have to be exotic or far from home, just a little get away.

The Hubbs and I have been doing date days on my days off. These have been fun. I've also had to, out of necessity, taken my girls on more adventures with me. I've never been one to take the girls out for a day of endless errands. But since I started working, it's been working for us. I'm still looking forward to Elevate in May. Some Giants baseball this July. And hopefully some beach time before the summer ends. That's not too much to ask for is it?

A book I’d like to read:
Pride and Prejudice.  I have never read it.  I know.  How can I love books and have never even cracked this one open.

O. M. G. Reading Pride and Prejudice has been so hard for me. I started it in mid January and am seriously only ninety six pages into it. I even went to Wikipedia and read the synopsis. I know totally cheating but I was afraid I wasn't understanding it at all. I haven't given up, but I've never met a book that felt like a chore! So I'm still reading, chapter by chapter, day by day and hopefully by next January, I'll have finished it.

A letter I’m going to write:
To an old friend.  To say hello when they would least expect it.

I haven't done this, but this was a great reminder that I need to. And maybe I'll try to do this once a month to different friends. It's always good to check in.

A new food I’d like to try:
Kale.  I know I'm paleo and all but I have yet to conquer my fear of kale.

Still haven't tried kale other than a sample bite. So please leave your kale recipes in the comments. I'm looking for something easy and delicious. Thanks in advance.

I’m going to do better at:
Minding my temper.  Patience.  Using my words.  Asking for help.  Taking a breath.  Being me.

I've been trying really hard to mind my temper, but work has added stress that has been unparalleled since becoming a mother. So this, like all things Absolute Mommy, is a work in progress. It's with prayer and grace that I continue to mind my temper. 

I feel like this check in with my resolutions was good for me. It's going to hold me accountable and remind me of some of the promises I made to myself. I really want this year to be a year full of positive changes. Like my new job, and hopefully a greater presence on my blog and in my home life. Resolutions don't have to die at the end of January, they can be re-established and given new life. All we have to do is check in with them some time and realize they can be broken or they can be reborn. Will you be checking in with your resolutions too?