This blog is four {and renewed}

My blog turned four two weeks ago. Surprised? I was. I didn't even realize it until my Time Hop told me that last year I wrote about my blog turning three. It's sad that this birthday has come and gone without much fanfare. But maybe that is just age and maturity. Like when you stop making a big deal out of your birthday after you turn thirty.

Four years ago I started a blog to make myself feel better about motherhood. I started this blog to be honest about my failures and obstacles as a mother. I knew that I wasn't the only one out there royally effing up their kid, so I thought that if I talked about it, if I admitted it, I'd be joined by other mothers just like me. I also knew that I had something to say, something that was important to me, and I was tired of waiting to share that voice. So with no knowledge of what it took to start a blog, with no list of what to do and what not to do, I grabbed a basic template on Blogger and wrote. I wrote most days, just whatever struck my fancy, and whatever I wanted to say. If I got any comments it was from friends and family. And I was totally okay with that... Until I found another blogger.

I'm not going to tell you who she is, or where she blogs, because wouldn't you know, I've actually met her. I don't want to seem like the stalker I already feel like, because my heart honestly skips a beat when I see her at a certain blog conference. But I found her blog and it was suddenly everything I wanted my blog to be. I wanted the beautiful photography with the camera I would never be able to afford on a stay at home mom's salary. I wanted the beautiful furniture. I wanted the food I cooked and the things I baked to look as wonderful and delicious as the ones that she posted on her blog. I wanted to master "tutorials" for re-purposed items, jewelry from whatever she had in her junk drawer, new curtains out of thrift store bed sheets. She was beautiful, her life was beautiful, and her blog was beautiful. It was everything I wanted my blog to be. Honestly, she was everything I wanted to be.

So I spent the next year "building" this blog. I linked up to every link up know to blog-kind. I posted recipe after recipe, tutorial after tutorial. I posted about anything and everything. I joined round robins and follow backs and blog parties. I worked and worked and worked so hard to become a "Blogger". And in a way, I did become a blogger. I made so amazing and terrific blog friends. Some that I have now met in real life. And these bloggy friends supported me and I supported them. We gave each other follow backs and shout outs and shared each others posts. And by the end of year one, I had followers and readers that I didn't know in my real life.

To celebrate my first year of blogging I did my first big giveaway and I totally felt like I had made it.

Which is totally laughable today.

By my second year of blogging, I had higher hopes. I didn't necessarily want to be like my "blog idol", but I knew I wanted to be a writer. This was the year that I went back and forth with sponsorships and paid or promoted posts. I realized I worked so hard to get these posts up, and that no one really read them. In my head I thought that the key to being published was to do the giveaways and the sponsored posts. I thought that if I did some promotions and got paid for them that the money would eventually start rolling in. It didn't. But I kept doing them anyway, and then the jealousy crept in when bloggers who were just starting out were getting more sponsors and comments and money. With the jealousy came some ugliness and I had to re-evaluate what I really wanted out of this blog. And what I really wanted to do was to write. I wanted to write and get published. I wanted magazine articles and bylines and a book.

So by year three, I had taken a step back from the promotions and the sponsors and began to concentrate on my writing. By year three I was having some major traffic spikes, I wrote so things that went semi viral. I was published on BlogHer three times, and I was getting comments from people I didn't know at all, not even the blogging world. And again, I was convinced that I was on the cusp of "making it".

Yet, four years came and went without much notice. It's a little poetic that I got a really awesome anonymous comment on my fourth birthday. Proof that maybe I have made it a little. This last year of blogging was really hard for me as a writer. I had so much to say, but with a full time job, I had little time to say it. I took some chances last year with fiction and my regular stuff, I continued with my honesty, even when it may have been faulty. I didn't write my heart out like I had planned. I did less writing last year that I desired. I kept thinking that as long as I kept writing it would all work itself out. Some days were better than others, but overall I wanted more for me and this blog last year.

So here I am, four years old. If I can be totally honest it took a lot just to get me here tonight to write this post. My blog turned four almost two weeks ago with zero fanfare. And that's sad, because this is the only thing I've done consistently in the last four years of my life. I've gone off diets and back on them. I've started exercise programs and quit them, only to start new ones again. How many jobs have I had? This blog is the one thing that I have kept, even if I only get to this space once a week. I'm still writing, I'm still fighting. But it's getting harder and harder daily.

Today I had a epiphany. I realized that I didn't really have writers block, that I have actually been suffering from Blog Block. I've been so focused on getting something, anything, up on the blog, that I have been putting off writing all together. I've been so worried about traffic and followers and commenters that I have just stopped bringing myself to the keyboard. I constantly worry that all the hard work, all the readers I've been privileged to acquire, all the time spend building the traffic has been for nothing, because I just blog less and less every month. I worry that I will never get published if I don't blog every day. I worry and worry and worry. All the while not writing out of fear and loathing that I'm not hitting publish on this blog.

Stupid, right?How stupid is that? How stupid that I'm so worried about hitting publish, and that I have basically ignored the advice that I have given time and again to bloggy friends: just write. Just write it out, maybe you hit publish, maybe you don't, but for the LOVE OF GOD KEEP WRITING.

I'm going to keep writing. I'm going to take my own advice and not worry about that bright orange publish button. I have to keep writing. I have to fall in love with writing again. I have to take it from feeling like a chore, to feeling like the love that I know it is. I never wanted this blog to feel like work, but suddenly here I am. In the beginning I wanted to be a blogger, the kind with the beautifully styled life and blog. And let me tell you that I wrote every kind of post to prove I was a blogger, the kind with the top knot and infinity scarf and the outfits of the day. When that didn't really fulfill me, I decided to do more writing from the heart, and that helped a little. But when I really let go and decided to write for me, that is when I gained traction. Unfortunately I've lost a little of that traction since I've returned to work, but I still have the desire to write and use my voice and let it take me where it may.

This blog is four, and it will again take on a new year with a renewed life. It will most likely be a journey that my voice and heart will decide on. At times it may be random, both fiction and non fiction. Don't be surprised if I share a recipe I think is really tops, or some outfits I put together. But don't be surprised if some weeks I may share nothing at all. As hard as I have tried, I can no longer ignore the voice that is telling me to write, even if I will never hit publish. I can't ignore the pull to fiction and poetry and some stories that I'm just not ready to tell.

So please, dear readers, hang in there. I promise, I'm still writing, I'm still occasionally hitting publish, and I'm still Absolute Mommy. I'm just a little older, a little wiser, and ready for wherever my writing life takes me.

The Staycation {January 2015}

I didn't realize how truly burned out I was until the week school started after New Year's. I felt like I had been running on that hamster wheel of motherhood, moving my legs so quickly with no where to really go, and I was finally at the point where I was exhausted. Exhausted and bitter. A month before I had requested the weekend of January 16th off because it coincided with the Hubbs birthday, but of course I had almost forgotten about that by the time it got here. I realized that I was at a point where I just wanted to be quiet. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to sleep.

Really, I just needed most was to recharge.

I had big plans for my four day weekend. I was going to write and blog. I was going to catch up on all my favorite TV shows. I was going to read all three of my new books. I was going to do laundry and grocery shop and be lazy and not wear any make up. Big plans for doing what I wanted to do, for doing what I need to do, but then something kind of amazing happened.

I didn't really do any of them. I sat on the couch with the Hubbs and watched some pretty great movies and TV shows. Not the ones piled up on the DVR, but whatever we found while sitting there together. I held my baby, who will be five this year, in my lap while I read that one book she wants to read every single night. I held her hand, that is still so impossibly small, and knew that this wouldn't be forever. And I had to take a moment to embrace it, to recognize that time doesn't stop moving forward.

I laid on the floor of my bathroom while the girls painted my toe nails. Making a mess of the bathroom and me. Because they had been begging to do it for months, and I had plum run out of excuses. I knew they would make a mess. I knew that at some point one of them would spill polish that would never come out of the cream colored bathroom rug. I knew that eventually one of the girls would spill the polish remover all over the floor. I expected to have polish all over my toe nails and feet. But what I didn't expect was how much they would enjoy making this mess. How much fun they would have talking to me like I was a "Client". Do you have children? Would you like to pick a color Miss? Where do you work? I never expected to lay in the floor and relax, taking in the deep breath of motherhood and ignoring the smell of polish and acetone, while my hostesses pampered and prepped. I didn't realize that all they wanted their mother to do was to slow down and say yes. Yes to making mess. Yes to ruining a ten year old bath mat that had seen better days. Yes to being one hundred and ten percent in the moment.

It will come as no surprise that I didn't do one stitch of writing. That I opened my laptop maybe once. That I put my phone down for most of those days. Only picking it up to take pictures of the little memories we were making of the mundane. If I would have asked, they would have let me. Let me write in the corner of the kitchen table, at the bar, or even in our office. They would have let me shut the door and listen to Pandora, and get a pretty good chunk of writing done for me and this blog. But I didn't ask. I just let it go. I just let it be. I wanted to take the time I was given and enjoy every drop. To be with my girls and take selfies of us being alive. Of us breathing. Of us relaxing because Mommy didn't have to work for four whole days and nights.

When the staycation ended and we went back to real life, I was quite a bit behind. I wrote a few things, but before I knew it, I felt rushed all over again. I don't want to feel rushed. I don't want to ignore one life for the other. So I did what I should have been doing for years. Let go. Release some of the guilt and let life be my guide. Does it really matter that I have a list of things to write about? Does it matter that I'm reading two books at the same time with no desire to finish either? Does it really matter that we are knee deep in life again with laundry and dishes waiting at the ready? It doesn't, not really.  It took a vacation from the obligations for me to realize that I really need to enjoy what really matters, living the life I've always wanted. This life right here.

Honestly, it's been staring me in the face this whole time, and it's finally time time to pay attention.

Checking in {A letter from the editor}

It seems like it's been weeks since I last sat down to write in this space. Truthfully it hasn't been that long, but I never really got a chance to focus on my writing last week. Even with three days off. Mostly because I took a much required and very welcomed four day weekend. And I totally immersed myself with all things family. I spent a little time on social media. I spent a lot of time with my girls and the Hubbs. And I spent a lot of time making lists and writing down little outlines of what I wanted to write. But I never sat down to write. I never devoted myself to this space. Instead I devoted myself to this life. The only one I'm going to get. So instead of being a slave to the blog or journal or novel I've been wanting to write, I was just me. Megan. And for the first time in a long time it felt really good. So this is me checking in. Letting you know that I have things to write and things to share. And that I will do that. I will get caught up. But tonight just isn't the night.

The noise {no-reply commenters}

There has to be something poetic if not ironic about receiving a very negative comment on the same day your blog is having it's fourth anniversary. I mean four years ago, any comment would have made me swoon. But last Wednesday? Not so much. Negative comments can sting, they can piss you off, but more than that, they can really make you think.

I've never claimed to be an expert on anything, well, maybe Grey's Anatomy. But I sure as heck have never considered myself an expert on motherhood, stay at home or otherwise. Still, I can understand that sometimes I can come across as a know it all. This is also a problem in real life too, so when I wrote my Working Mom post last week, I was kind of nervous at how working moms would receive it. It wasn't that I was pitting one group of mothers against the other, I was just saying, Hey you warrior mamas, I get it now. I get that I was once a whiny cry baby about things that were kind of stupid, and it took becoming a working mom myself to realize how hard motherhood in general is, no matter what side of the grass you stand on...

But not everyone read it that way.

Here is the thing about last week's negative comment. It had an air of truth. I am a constant complainer. The Hubbs would tell you that I am constantly and consistently a "half empty" person. I fall into shame spirals daily. I am hard on myself. I constantly want to be perfect, even though I will preach day in and day out on this blog that perfection is stupid. Perfection is stupid, but that doesn't mean it still doesn't bug me and jeer me from the sideline. And so I complain when things are less than perfect.

I'm also lazy. I'll admit that too. And spoiled. I am an only child, so for the better half of my life the world really did revolve around me. If you knew my parents in real life you would totally understand.  I don't put my dishes in the sink. I never make my bed. I will procrastinate and check Instagram one million and three times before changing the laundry, doing the dishes, or starting dinner. And if one of my favorite shows is on, forget it. You will find me binge watching whatever marathon is on. That is just who I am.

So when I read some negativity last week about me as a person, I took pause. Then I got pissed, because there was some truth to it, but then I got really mad because I couldn't respond to the commenter. There was no way to start a conversation...

She's a no reply commenter.


And no, I don't want to reply just to rip her to shreds. I want to reply so that we can share more of our stories. She says that I should grow up, like her and her ten hour a day job, with two toddlers, that she made a conscious decision to have. That I should stop being a constant complainer, which is a major reason she quit reading my blog. And it's great that she has her own opinion of me, but what about my opinion of her? Can I really form one? Maybe that ten hour a day job is one that she loves, one that she put herself through school to do. Maybe she does it well, and maybe, since she's always worked her babies no longer cry for her on a constant basis. Maybe she feels zero guilt. Maybe she is living her dream, and stupid mommy bloggers like me shit all over her ideals and goals. Maybe she is a hero for us all, with clean baseboards, homemade baby food in the fridge, and kids who sleep in their own beds and through the night. Maybe this is what makes her happy.

Because if she is happy, then that is fantastic. I'm happy for her.

My story on the other hand is very different. Even though I live my life on this blog, maybe I haven't always been honest about how I got here. For this no reply comment to imply that I'm not an adult who didn't make a conscious decision to have children really ticks me off. I'll be thirty seven this year, and while I may be a thirty seven year old complainer, I did make a very conscious decision to have children. I also made the equally conscious decision to stay home with them. That has been the plan from the very beginning. But when we could not financially support that anymore, I made the conscious decision to go back to work so we could stay in our house and keep Mackenzie in school. Me working outside the home was not my dream, not right now anyway, and I get to be devastated and sad about that. I get to be disappointed that I'm not longer the room mother. I get to be disappointed that I've missed a majority of Mackenzie's years just before she starts school full time. I get to be sad about those things. No matter what some no-reply commenter has to say about it.

I also take offense to the fact that because I complain about things on my blog it must mean that I complain about them all the time at home. Sure, I do complain at home, but this blog is my release. It's where I come for therapy. It's where I write all the ugly down, and then let it go when I hit publish. To imply that I'm setting a horrible example for my girls is just plain bullshit. I'm setting one hell of an example for my girls. My girls will always know that they have a choice and a voice. They will always know that they can express their emotions, even if they may not be favorable, let's say for example, if they are complaining. My daughters will always know that Mommy has multiple endeavors at any given time that include, motherhood, writing, working, or career. My daughters will always know that I love them and that this choice is temporary. That one day, Mommy won't be in this season. They will know that love is unconditional, and that life is hard and sometimes a little foggy.

All of that is okay. Because life is okay. And my life will always be different from yours fellow reader and/or no-reply commenter. Because we want different things, like different things, and believe different things. And all of that is just fine. In fact, my daughters will be better for it.

The most important lesson though is that my daughters will always know that they can use their voice. Just like I'm using mine, and always sign their name to it. You see, for every no-reply commenter, there is a person, behind a screen, silencing her own voice. Silencing her very own opinion. That is not the lesson I'm teaching. I'm teaching my daughters to use their voice, put their stamp on it, sign their name to it. I'm teaching them not to hide. I'm teaching them to shout from the mountain tops. Even if their opinion is unfavorable. Even if it sounds like they are complaining.

Receiving a negative comment was a bummer. In the four years I've been blogging, I can count the negative comments on my hand. That can't be a bad thing. Because for every negative comment, I receive four more. Four good, thoughtful comments, oftentimes thanking me for using my voice. For writing down the things that others are too afraid to say. Thanking me for talking about the hard stuff, even on the days it sound like complaining. Yes, that's right, sometimes I'm thanked for all the complaining that I do...

Who am I to complain about that?

The want for you

I had a blog friend text me the other day. A friend of a friend that was a blogging acquaintance. I say that now, because after such an intimate conversation via text, I consider her a friend. A fellow confidante, in the trenches of motherhood.

She's like most of us. Or maybe how we once were. Simply drowning in the every day motions of motherhood. The littlest things, the morning wake up calls from tiny humans; the breakfasts that are fit for a short order cook; the struggle to get dressed, put shoes on, maybe get out of the house today... She's there. Right there is the middle of the chaos and joy, trying to find her place and herself before she loses her grasp on both. I see her, hell, I recognize her. I was there once, and it's a battle to get to the other side of it. Luckily, she is a fighter, and her first step was to admit some truths.

Truths like hating days where they can't leave the house because daddy has the car. Days where one kid will wear clothes, the other will refuse, and the third just won't stop crying. Days where your best laid plans of making waffles or pancakes from the box mix are dashed because you're out of syrup or eggs, or the kids won't stop screaming about Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Days that feel like months, where showers and hot meals allude you. Those truths, where you love your kids, but running away looks damn good right about now. Running and never coming back seems super reasonable.

But in your heart you know it's the most unreasonable thing in the world. And for even thinking such a thing must make you the most ungrateful, horrible, mommy dearest on the planet.

I've got news for you. It doesn't. It makes you human.

She admitted that she just wants her life back. "I just want me back".

And so I told her. That is the worst part of motherhood sometimes, the want for you. The you that you used to be. The you that had sure footing and made great decisions. The you that had grace under pressure. The you that had all her shit together, in the right places, at the right time. The you that wore make up and showered, on the same day even. That you. The one that you long for, and cry for at night.

In a way she is gone, but also still here. I can tell you, as I told her, from experience, that she will come back to you. Changed and perhaps hardened, she will come back. But first you have to do the hard stuff. The messy diapers and spit up stuff. The taking it day by day, night by sleepless night, the three different dinners for three different children, kind of hard. And all the hard stuff is going to feel like it sucks and like it's never ending, and that you may not survive it.

But you will survive it, and from my experience you will one day look back and miss the hard stuff. Even though you didn't enjoy it, even if you wished it to pass you by faster, one day you are going to stop in your tracks and miss it. Miss the sleepless nights with a baby. Miss the sweet sleeping baby in your lap at nap time. Miss chicken nugget dinners for one, grilled cheese for another. One day you will miss those little bodies that climb into your bed at night, so silently that they don't even wake your weary tired self. You will positively miss that stuff.

No matter your experience in motherhood, you will still long for you. Even though you have changed, you will still want to feel like your old self. The one who knew a thing or two about life. The one who still had time for her husband who sometimes feels like a stranger since having kids. The you who knew herself. Knew her fears and hope and dreams, and knew how to get what she really wanted out of life. That you, who seems so terribly far away.

My advice to her and my advice to you, let it all go. Let go of that plan. Let go of the idea you had about motherhood. How it was going to be for you and your baby. Let go of that plan to be perfect and make you own baby food, breast feed exclusively, not let your kids watch TV all day every day. Let go of that. Let go of the idea that there is a formula for a perfect and put together mom. That there are rules to live by. That there are right ways and wrong ways. Let go and embrace what you have now. The mess and the chaos. The babies that like only foods that are orange or will only eat apples on Tuesdays at three. Embrace the messy house, that isn't hoarders, but isn't exactly company ready either. Embrace the new plan, the one that allows you to be happy. The one that allows you to be you, honest and true, the plan that let's you breathe and be grateful for the mess.

Embrace all that is good about you, and your family, and your imperfect mess.

You will always have a want for "you", because "you" are always changing. No matter how old your children get or how many you have, there will always be room for change. Change is good, change is what makes us interesting and strong. So change, shed your skin again and again, find your happiness and your grace. And embrace you chaos, always. Mostly, make sure you continue to find yourself, even on the darkest days.

I know from experience, that "you" are totally worth it.

Dear Working Moms

Dear Working Moms,

I'm writing you today to apologize. I want to apologize for all the times I complained about being home all day with my stinking kids, who quite literally stunk like spit up and poop. For all the times my problems were supposed to be the only problems. For all the times I complained about all the running around I had to do, pick up, drop off, this and that. I apologize now, because I had no idea.

It's been a year since I returned to the workforce. A long, hard, troublesome year. A full year of me never having my shit together. I feel like such an asshole because I thought I knew. I thought I had an idea of what it was all going to be like. I thought I was at a place in my life where that challenge wasn't going to be so much of a challenge. I was so very wrong.

I'm so sorry I never realized that the guilt never goes away. I'm sorry that I didn't realize what a huge sacrifice it was for you to go back to work when your kids were just newborns. Tiny humans that were freshly swaddled and warm with love. How did you do that? How were you able to walk out that door? I have trouble leaving the girls today, on a Sunday morning, and they are big and not nearly as sweet smelling as the newborns they once were. I'm sorry I never acknowledged your sacrifice.

I'm sorry that I never understood now the pull between being a mother and being a career woman could knock your balance in such a way you quite often lost sight of yourself. I realize now that I didn't know that you felt guilt at work and then guilt at home because there was never quite enough of you to go around. And that all it took was a tear, a cracked voice, a sniffle, or tighter hug at drop off to question your decisions and motives to be successful in your job or career. I think that is what has surprised me the most.

I'm sorry I never realized just how hard you work. From the time you hit the snooze until the time you are able to hit your pillow every night. I had no idea that you get so much done before school drop off that it should be considered a day all its own. That just because you come home from work, doesn't mean that you are off. Second shift starts and before you know it, it is eight o'clock and the kids had popcorn and soda for dinner and homework still isn't done. It never occurred to me that you see so little of your babies every day, and that you don't even realize it most days because you are just trying to get to the end of that day. And I would have never believed you if you had explained the underlying guilt that you live with because of that.

I'm sorry working mom. I'm sorry for being such a privileged brat. I'm sorry for thinking that I had such problems. I'm sorry that I never really listened to the longing in your voice, the one that thought the grass on my side of the fence was just a little greener. I'm sorry I never asked how you were doing, how you were making it through the hard days and the short nights before the littles went to sleep. I'm so sorry that I was such a shitty friend. That it took me becoming a working mom to figure out that maybe you aren't perfect and that you don't have it all figured out either. That maybe we have always had that in common. Maybe we aren't so different after all.

I get it now. I get all of it, and I hope that you will forgive me. I hope that you will forgive me and share trade secrets and tell me that in the end it's not so bad.

Even if it is bad. Just lie to me. I kind of deserve it.

With Resolve {2015}

source / pinterest

I spent New Year's Day in pants without buttons. Most of it spent in the sweats that I slept in, with yesterdays make up on, and my hair piled on my head. It was glorious. I was lucky that I didn't have to work on New Year's Day. I was able to sleep in and lounge around, and not worry about schedules or meal times or pants that button. Spending time with my family was the best way to end the year and begin the year, I was lucky enough to do both.

I've spent last few days reflecting on the last year. It was a hard one. Full of obstacles and missteps. It was my first year as a working mom, after all these years of motherhood, and it wasn't easy. In fact it was harder than I anticipated. I thought I knew all about hard work, I realize now I had no idea. Twenty fourteen was a year filled with guilt and self loathing, depression that I will admit lead to some dark days. I also squandered some days, lost in haze of feeling sorry for myself, as if I was the only person in the world that was a working mother. I'm embarrassed to admit that, but it's very true.

When I looked back on my year I realized that I didn't do all the things that I had planned, but really who every does? I still haven't been able to make my way through Pride and Prejudice. I never did learn to knit. I never reestablished my workout routine and I rarely washed my face before bedtime. Whoops. But were those the actual important things on my to-do list for twenty fourteen? Not really. They were just the extras.

If I squint I can really see the good things that came out of twenty fourteen. My girls were healthy and happy. We went to Downtown Disney after a great weekend at Elevate. I went to Elevate and met some amazing women and reconnected with bloggy friends that I love deeply. I read book after wonderful book, losing myself in their worlds. I worked, really hard and wouldn't you know it, I got promoted. Some of those things were planned and some of those things were not. But all of them were welcomed and tell a story much different from the one I was telling in my head.

I think that is what we do. We tell one story, when really another is playing out before us. I have many regrets from this year. Most of them have to do with my own attitude, my own reluctance to move forward and embrace the life I had, instead of worry about the one I "wanted". I spent so much time in a funk over the summer, that one day I woke up and the first day of school was just days away. It was no fault of my own, but it was also a valuable lesson.

Twenty fifteen is here, and though I wasn't ready, it came anyway. I realize now that this year is only as good as I make it. I can't expect to have a spectacular and successful year if I'm not going to do anything about it. I can't sit in a chair, lost in a sea of my own worries and expect to make twenty fifteen a great year. I have to act, I have to choose, I have to get out of the chair and live.

It's with resolve that I will do that. With resolve I will get out of my chair. With resolve I will write, even if it's just a few lines a day on the back of a napkin. With resolve I will embrace all the missteps and chaotic mornings, the tears, the torn tights, and the chicken nugget dinners. It's with resolve that I will let go of all the bullshit, and only allow in all the good shit. Because twenty fifteen will be about resolve. Resolve is about finding solutions, it's about deciding on a course of action, it's about a firm determination to do something. Resolve seems like just the thing to guide me through twenty fifteen.

Every year I set lofty goals. Like I want to write a book, I want to lose ten pounds, I want to wash my face before bed. And every year, about February, I start to feel bad about myself. This year my only goal is to have resolve. To resolve to choose joy, to choose hope, to choose love, to choose grace. To resolve to meet every obstacle face to face and find a way to go through it or around it or over it. To resolve to live a happier life, the one that is happening around me, to ignore the "should be"s and just be. So that next year I'll look back and know, I did everything I could to make it count, with resolve.

The thing about January

January can be the best month or the worst month depending on your perspective. In January everything feels new. The new year, new goals, new resolutions. It seems everyone is starting a new diet, a new exercise program, or at the least a new book. And I love that about January. I love that it's three hundred and sixty-five empty pages to fill. I love that the story for twenty fifteen has yet to be written. It's what makes January the best month.

Then again, those same things can push me over the edge of shame and embarrassment as I continue to eat Paleo legal chocolate and sip on Starbuck's Iced Teas. I've been sitting on the side lines this January, watching from my Instagram feeds as people work out at the gym, run more miles that I can count, and begin New Year juice fasts. I've been sitting on the side lines as bloggy friends of mine have picked their "one little word"s, as they set their mantra for twenty fifteen, as they have posted and written and shared all their photos from New Year's Eve. And I've been sitting here wondering why I don't feel that same shame and embarrassment creep up. Why don't I have those same self loathing feelings I usually have about this time of the New Year, when I feel that everyone is moving on without me?

I think it's because I feel perfectly fine in waiting out the new year. Sure I'm a little peeved about the extra pounds that have found their way around my middle since Christmas. I could use a work out routine. I could use a little more vegetables in my diet. I could, but right now I'm won't. Because right now I'm soaking up all the newness of twenty fifteen. I feel no shame this January. I feel no ill will toward January this time around. Could it be I'm maturing? Perhaps. Or maybe I'm just grateful for the fresh start. The fresh start that I haven't started yet. Still I'm okay with that.

Today, I wrote a little. That is a daily resolution for me. I also wore zero make up, dirty hair, and Toms with holes in the toes with red nail polish poking through. Also a daily resolution, be comfortable. Tomorrow I will wake up early to get ready for work, and get the kids ready for school, and I will do my best to mind my temper, also a daily resolution. Because I'm starting January slow, I'm giving myself some breathing room, I'm going to set small goals. I'm going to write things on my to do list that I'd do anyway just for the satisfaction of checking it off. Because right now everything is new, everything feels right, and for the first time in a very long time, I have some perspective. I have some hindsight. I have some optimism.

I have three hundred and sixty five (give or take seven as of today) to write the story that is twenty fifteen.
And I can't wait to seize these days. January can have that effect on you.

Wore {December 2014}

I'm sure every post you are going to read about December is going to say the month just flew by. Well add this one to the pile of blog post about December 2014 flying by. It did, and I wasn't ready for it and I would have loved another thirty days before Christmas. But that's not the way it works, so instead I was looking back at all my Instagram pictures and I thought let's put together a post about what we wore the entire month. The girls killed it with their fashion, and I found new ways to shop my closet. Which, if you know anything about me, is my favorite thing to do.

Totally shopped my closet for this one. Converse kicks included. My mama bought them for me last year, but I totally forgot I owned them. Old Navy flannel from last year and a super old velour hoodie. This was me dressing up to see Mockingjay with my Mom. It was a perfect date day with her.

Nothing says Christmas like Snoopy. Caitlin picked out this sweatshirt and a matching one for her sister for "Buddy Pictures" at her school. How on earth could I refuse a Christmas Snoopy sweatshirt?

This was us on our way to the Nutcracker. Sweater dresses for the girls, old red dress for me that was a steal from Ann Taylor Loft like seven years ago. What can I say, it pays to horde your dress up clothes when you really have no where to wear them.

Caitlin has developed a style of her own, and this outfit for her school Christmas program was no exception. Taffeta and velvet dress from Kohls, kitten heeled ivory satin sling backs on her feet, Sequin head band in her hair. She comes up with these outfits all on her own, and I'm so proud.

 You know on those morning when you have to get up before the sun, and you have no idea what to wear and so you just throw on whatever and hope for the best? This was one of those days. Black on black, add boots and scarf and one almost worn out cardi. Oh and hair piled on top of your head is a must.

 She just had to wear her fur vest. It was a must.

 Caitlin found this sweater dress in the back of my closet, it was hers from preschool, it was a little short but we added leggings and boots. She also had on a Christmas scarf she bought with her own dollars at Kohls. She's all ready for Mackenzie's school program.

For a kid that claims she doesn't like ruffles, she sure wore a whole bunch to her Christmas program. I found this outfit at Kohl's too, and it was like half off. Score one for mom. The pig tails were her idea.

Fancy lace shirt from American Eagle and old stand by Old Navy scarf. Red polkas are perfect for the holiday season. Don't you think?

This fancy heart sweatshirt is so soft and comfy I wish I could wear it every day. My sister in law bought it for me last year, and God Bless her she thinks I'm an extra small. I, however, am not. Solution: I just cut up the sides so that it wouldn't hug my sides so much. My husband is threatening to take away the scissors, but I will now wear the sweatshirt more than I did last year...

Confession: I've been blogging since 2011 and I still hadn't mastered the bloggy bun. Then one late night on Pinterest I saw a hack on how to get your hair on your head and make it look like you used one of those sock things. And that tutorial changed my life, because this bun is now my go to. Thanks Pinterest.

I let her dress herself for a trip to Starbucks and Target after school. She has more fashion sense in her pinkie finger than I have ever had. I'm thinking of letting her dress me.

Mackenzie got a Justice sweatsuit for Christmas. Justice. I'm not quite ready for this. So add in the Uggs and I swear she looks thirteen. She will be five in April.

Ugly Sweater Party on Christmas Eve and we brought our A game. I let the girls make their own with little to no help from mom. They had a blast making them uglier and uglier. I made my ugly sweater vest out of an old pull over sweater vest hanging in my closet from before Caitlin was born. I added some fabric cut outs and fuzzy pom pom balls and hello ugly vest. I'm saving it for next year, hoping to wear it again.

 The Hubbs got into the act too. This ballin so hard shirt was amazing and only $7.99.

Me and this girl got jackets for Christmas and took to Instagram to show off. Don't hate our jacket game.

 Olaf slippers for the win. Ask us how much Frozen swag we got for Christmas this year?

 Red Christmas sweater for Christmas celebration number one. We usually hit four or five over the season. I love this sweater as I got it for less than five bucks at an after Christmas sale at Aeropostale four years ago. The only thing that confuses me is that people usually ask me, "Why are you wearing an ugly sweater". Uh, what are you talking about?

Me in my Pier One swag... Well this was me on a closing shift the Saturday before Christmas. After a full day of dance recitals, a nap, dinner and making twelve cupcakes for the next day. I'm no hero, I just wanted to document that I made it, to the end of the day, red scarf and all.

 Mouth full of cupcake, silly Christmas headband, and a Snoopy sweater. The full definition of Christmas.

 Nothing says Christmas like Elf on the Shelf pajamas. Am I right?

The guys the Hubbs works with wanted to go out for a holiday dinner. At a semi fancy restaurant. I was three days into PMS and didn't have a single pair of pants that didn't pinch. So I went with a black dress. Then I added some green tights I bought a few Christmases ago that I chickened out wearing, then added that same red polka scar, and finally my stand by ivory cardi. The best part? I found those boots in the top of my closet... Totally forgotten about. Yeah, new fancy boots with a heel. Add make up and hair and oh, look who cleans up well? I'm totally going to wear this again next year. And for all the Christmases to follow.

December really did fly by, full of outfits and fashion and evidence that I wear that scarf way too much in December. Not that you could tell.

The Reprieve

I spent all day Sunday thinking that there was school today. Today being Monday after two glorious weeks of winter vacation. Two full weeks of no school, the Hubbs was off of work, and all I had to do was get my butt to work five days out of seven. It was busy, I won't lie, but it was also amazing. Amazing that I didn't have to worry about child care, or the dishes, or bed times and bath times. We just flew by the seat of our pajamas as we enjoyed a little down time. So yesterday I spent the entire day at work planning my evening. What time I'd get dinner done, how we'd fit in much needed hair cuts, should I make lunches tonight or tomorrow morning. I knew that Monday was going to be my day off, but I knew it was going to be nothing like a day off when you have to shuttle kids and do things like laundry and dishes. Especially now since the Hubbs would be back to work, and if I'm being totally honest, is a much better housewife than I.

So imagine my excitement and surprise when my mom asked, "Are you sure the kids have school tomorrow?". I wasn't sure. But I let it go for the moment, taking a mental note to ask my neighbor who knows all things Clovis Unified, especially when it comes to vacation days. Later in the car the Hubbs asked, "Did you even check if the kids have school?", and I hadn't so I got on my "magic Internet phone", and Googled the school district and found the lunch calendar... And hallelujah there was no school scheduled for Monday the fifth!

We got a reprieve. One last night and day to ignore responsibilities. We stayed up late, and we totally slept in. The kids to almost eleven. Me to almost nine. I can't even begin to explain the sheer joy it was not to have to set an alarm, and not to have to wake to one. I laid in bed and watched a few shows on my DVR, then the Gilmore Girls, because why the hell not. My hair, I did not wash, my make up left raccoon rings around my eyes. We did small errands that had been sitting since the beginning of December, and then with not a single thing on our to do list, we went to our happy place... Target.

Life starts all over again tomorrow. This time for real. I have to work the closing shift. The kids both have school. Who knows what dinner will look like, and the dishes will most likely sit. The laundry will remain unfolded, or even better unwashed. And that will all be okay, because we will be so busy again to even care.

But today, we got a reprieve.

And it was pretty fantastic.

It's really over

I finally took down my tree tonight. I actually had an excuse, family was coming in from Salinas to celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts, so the tree needed to stay. Honestly, if I had my way, I wouldn't take it down until Valentine's Day. The holidays came and went so quickly this year, and that was totally bittersweet, because retail at Christmas sucks, but Christmas with your family does not. So tonight, as I type, my tree is bare, save for the star I cannot reach, and by the time I come home tomorrow it will be gone, stored in it's box in the garage.

I ended twenty fourteen and began twenty fifteen the same way, off the "grid" and with family. New Year's Eve was spent at home, with my people and a few neighbors. I spent most of the time on the couch periodically checking and posting to Instagram, crushing candies (yes addicted again), and pinning things that I will never make. We toasted the new year at midnight and shortly after that were asleep. And sleep we did, waking up at almost noon on New Years Day. It felt so good to spend a full day in pajamas, eating left overs and donut holes and Christmas cookies. We eventually left the house to see family and friends, ending the night with good friends who feel like family. I even wrote a little, which I will admit felt really good.

I've done so much reflecting, goal planning, and all around thinking about twenty fifteen. What will this year be like for me and my little family. How will year two as a working mom work out? Will I be able to fit more writing in this year? I have a new planner, full of empty days and pages, that won't stay blank for very long, and that is okay. I look forward to filling them with life, look less forward to filling them with obligations, but will do my best to find the joy in all the bullshit that may come my way. I think that is what really matters, choosing life, choosing joy, actually choosing this life and finding the joy in it. Because if I really think about twenty fourteen, I can see all the joy through all the bullshit. I can see that there were some really good moments, some really excellent memories made, and some really powerful life that we lived. I may have not seized every day, but I lived it, I survived it, and now on the other side I know exactly how I want to spent my days in twenty fifteen.

Smiling. Living. Laughing. Loving. Regardless of the bullshit.

Because it's really over. That year that I have deemed the hardest year of my life. Twenty fourteen is really over. And year wasn't the hardest, it was just really challenging. I bet this year is going to be really challenging too, because aren't all the years really challenging?

Today, as I packed away the ornaments, pulling them one at a time off the tree, Mackenzie stood beside me and cried. Cried hard, big tears and loud sobs. She begged me not to take down the tree, and my heart broke a little. Because I didn't want it to be over either. I wanted Christmas to last forever, which seems so ridiculous since it was such a hard season for me, and for us. I wanted to hold on to every last bit of twenty fourteen, even though it was so incredibly hard, which should tell me something about this incredibly hard year...

It was good. It was worth holding on to. It was worth every bit of difficulty.

So as I turn off the lights on my tree one last time, I say goodnight, and goodbye to twenty fourteen. It's really over.

And I'm finally okay with that.