Give the best of you. Not the rest of you.

Many things have happened since my last blog over a year ago. Since life decided to toss me into a roller coaster without a seatbelt, I took time away from writing to focus on myself and my family. I lost who I really was though the downward spirals and twist and turns. In order for me to be the best mom and wife, I needed to find the real me again. There were so many bumping roads that I got whiplash. Between hospital visits, multiple blood draws, finding out people’s true colors, and crying myself to sleep, I found myself completely lost.

I had it set a year ago that I was going to eat better, drink less alcohol and work out daily…and I was. I was on a great path and I was making great progress. Then it changed. Before I could open my eyes from a simple blink, my life was changed. I had no time to adapt. I had to force on a smile and keep trucking along. In the mist of doing so, I became a complete robot. A replica of myself. No feelings, no energy, no urge to change because I had no confidence or strength to do so.

I felt alone and honestly, I felt like my feelings and troubles were just dramatic and worth nothing. So, then I got mad at myself for not only feeling the way I felt, but for struggling the way I was. I felt like I was wasting my life away and wasting everyone’s time. I felt like I was letting everyone down.

I’m not saying these things because I’m playing the “woe is me” card, to get sympathy or to bring anyone down. Those exact situations are the reasons why I have taken so much time off from posting. I needed to find myself again and I tried to do that without any help, which wasn’t working. I needed help, but I was too ashamed to ask for it. I was too embarrassed. I wanted everyone to think I was happy. I wanted to paint this pretty little picture so maybe I would believe it too.

I have been wanting to open up about my situation for a long time and I feel like now is the right time after the life changing and eye-opening events that have happened. I wanted to talk about this because this past year has been a HUGE learning experience for me. I want everyone who reads this to realize that they’re not alone because feeling alone is one of the most excruciating feelings especially when you need someone the most. Sometimes having someone to just listen to you, even if that’s all they do without saying one word back, is all you need.

The last thing that I want is for anyone to feel the pain that I felt often and still do at times. I didn’t speak out because I just didn’t want people to look at me in a certain way that would differ them from actually knowing the real me or getting to know the real me. I didn’t want anyone’s day or time to be darkened. From holding it all in like I did and for as long as I did, all it did for me was hurt me mentally, emotionally and physically. It numbed me when I should have felt my healing in progress. It blinded me when I needed to see my reality and it took away all I could hear when I needed to hear the truth. I wouldn’t wish any of that on anyone, even my worst enemy.

So, I’m here, being honest and as real as I can be. I have been working on this blog for the past year. I know that seems like an awfully long time, but that’s how much this blog means to me. I have re-read it, added more thoughts, deleted some and explained more on certain things just to make sure it’s as perfect and pure as it can be.

I have been struggling with anxiety and depression for most of my life. I have always felt like I wasn’t normal or like anyone else. Like most nights, I am up and not able to sleep. I waken multiple times a night because of exhausting anxiety attacks. I’m thinking about the work week, the personal situations happening, and financial uncertainty’s and it all hits me like a loaded semi-truck. Without wanting to involve my husband, I pretend like everything is fine and remain quiet until he falls into a deep sleep. Once he is sound asleep, I grab my laptop and start writing. I keep thinking, “I really wish I would have talked to him before he fell asleep, but what kind of wife would I be? ‘Oh, you’re tired? Well, listen to me talk myself through this anxiety attack first and then you can go to sleep.’”

Lately at work, I have been under extreme pressure which has led to even more extreme anxiety. With no light at the end of the tunnel, I tend to curl up in a ball to protect myself and then roll myself right into my shell. In there, I’m not happy. I’m just numb.

Once I get home, I am my happiest, even when I immediately make dinner, clean and tackle home duties. With no regrets and never wanting my life at home to be any different, I soon find myself almost moving as if I am a mean robot. What kind of a mom and wife is that?

This year, people, situations and my demons inside controlled me more than I was able to handle. I have consumed myself with what others want me to do and with what will make them happy. At the end of the day, I am drained and unable to feel fulfilled.

I started to see a trend in my actions every day and that trend was scaring me, yet I couldn’t stop it. I was not only drinking every day, but I had to drink every day. I had to have more than just one drink and I had to have it as early as possible. Through out the day, I would finish a drink, just to quickly open a new one. To clean I needed to be buzzed, to watch a movie or my favorite show, I needed that drink in my hand and the moment I got home, before even putting my purse down, that drink was in my hand and opened.

What scared me the most what that if I wasn’t even craving it, I felt like I needed it and I would drink. It helped numb me. It helped my bad day at work or the current situations in my life not seem so bad. I would wake up in the morning hating myself and feeling the most extreme disappointment I could ever feel in myself. I would swear that I wasn’t drinking again. Then in a blink of an eye, I was. And the cycle started all over again. I was so scared that I was an addict. I NEEDED to stop not just for myself, but for my family.

I was lost with, what it seemed like, no way out.

One day, I was talking with a very dear friend of mine. I pretty much word vomited all over her. I told her I couldn’t take it anymore. The stress, the anxiety, the disappointment in myself and who I was becoming as a mom and wife. Then she told me something that has stuck with me ever since. She said, “Never give the best of you, then give your family the rest of you.” I became speechless when she told me that. That one sentence, just those few words, made me break out of my shell because that’s when it hit me…

Waking up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks because I dreamt of work and messing up at it, my personally situations or questioning the budget for the next grocery shopping trip when the kids need new clothes too is all beyond unhealthy. When is this damage that anxiety is doing to my body going to stop? When am I going to be able to put the drink down because I don’t need to feel numb anymore? When is it my time to FINALLY do what I want to do and have it benefit not just me, but my family? Is this stress worth it? Is it ever going to be worth it? Is the stress and anxiety always going to win? Absolutely not.

Lately, my body has been trying to tell me something…and I haven’t been listening. It’s worn out. It’s tired of fighting for me when I’m not fighting for it. My mind has taken control over everything. How I feel, how I heal and how I move on. And that stops now.

From now on, my family deserves to only get the best of me and no longer get the rest of me. The same goes for me. I deserve to have the best of myself and not the rest.  I deserve to be annoyingly happy again, to laugh at my own jokes, to laugh at my kids “Knock Knock” jokes, to be engaged in their stories about their days, have the mind set to be able to focus on helping them with homework, enjoying their help with cooking dinner with me and hanging with them in their beds before bedtime while they read me their bedtime stories. They deserve a fully engaged, happy and healthy Mommy. Nothing less.

My husband deserves to have his wife back. The wife that wants to do fun things again, be independent again and no longer so dependent. He deserves to have his wife, his best friend and the rock that he needs at times. I have put so much on him to fill in the puzzle where I abandoned all the important pieces. If it wasn’t for him picking up all that I was letting go, my whole family would have fallen. I am so incredibly grateful for all he has done and for all that I have.

Myself, I deserve to have myself back. The real me. The silly, happy and healthy wife and mom, but at the same time, the silly, happy and healthy Joei. I deserve to look into the mirror and love what I see again. I deserve to get my lazy butt out of bed early each morning and work out again, enjoy cooking again and enjoy writing again. Being me again.

Giving the best of you to what makes you unhappy or to things that you don’t want and in turn give the ones and things you love the rest of you is not a healthy way to live. I knew I was breaking my kid’s heart whenever I turned them down of fun family things.

I have realized more of what I am capable of and that is a very rewarding feeling. When you have either lost it or never had it, to be reminded of just how strong you are and to see the talent with in you, can be the most incredible feeling. When times get that dark, yet invisible at the same time, what are you supposed to do? You are unable to see a foot in front of you when it’s so dark. You’re not able to see your next move or feel what direction your heart is telling you to go because the dark scares it. When you get a chance to move past the darkness, you’re frozen. When everything is invisible right in front of you, you stall. You don’t see the importance or the value of any reason or any answer. When times are excruciating and you’re on the brink of being easily pushed out of our own body and soul, that’s when you decide…is it worth the fight or to see it fly away? No more holding back on what you want or following your dreams.

There are so many things in life that are horrible for you, but they help numb the pain. That extra pill, that extra shot, that extra bottle. What I have learned from this hard, past year is that there are way more things in life that don’t numb your pain, but they help you break free from the pain and start to finally heal.

Allow yourself to welcome yourself again, to let yourself in and never let it go. To get know yourself again and to love the fact that you’re you. You were born to be you and no one else. Allow yourself to understand that hard times are going to happen. Life isn’t all rainbows and sprinkles. Life is hard, challenging and can make you feel defeated at times, but it is those times that you need to remember just how strong you are. How important you are. And how this world would be so different without you. You bring your own ray of light to each day. A light that no one can dim. No matter how hard a bully tries, you are brighter and stronger than they could ever imagine. Allow yourself the freedom to find that light.

I know anxiety and depression isn’t felt only by me. Millions of us suffer from it. It’s a pain unlike any other. For those out there that can’t relate, please don’t judge. Instead, please help. Please guide us and show us the beauty in the small things again. In turn, when or if anxiety and depression sneaks up on you, we’ll be there to help and guide you.

Take a bat to those curve balls, turn those bumpy roads into a fun roller coaster and shine your light on those dark days. Laugh at yourself again. Smile at yourself when you look in the mirror.  Simply be you.

I, after a long year, can honestly say that the real me is making its way back to me. My shell of a body is starting to get fulfilled again and live again. When I look back on the year I just lived, I shake my head and wonder how the hell I got through it. I didn’t think I was able to ever heal, but I’m starting to. I will not allow anything or anyone to attempt to break me again.  

Broken times cause broken shells. Let’s heal ourselves and, when we feel like breaking again, remember through it all, we are unbreakable.

New Year’s Resolutions starting in February. Is that even allowed?

Beauty right outside your door.

What is my New Year’s Resolution? To keep a New Year’s Resolution!

See, when the New Year hit, I created a long list of New Year Resolutions that I was pretty positive I was going to achieve. This year’s list was probably the longest one that I have ever made. There are many reasons as to why I got writer’s cramp from writing down my resolution’s list. I set my requirements for this year way too high.

Every year, I always tell myself, “This year is the year for positive change! This year I’ll follow through with all the resolutions that I have!” Then comes summer and not one resolution was followed through with. Then I hate myself, go down a sad little spiral and instead of starting the resolution late, I just get mad at myself as I envision what my new body would look like if I just followed through with it. It’s a damn mind game that is way to exhausting, yet I manage to play that game each and every year. So, this year is going to be different!

Last year was an incredibly hard year. It was such a hard year that enjoying the rare good times was almost impossible for me to do. I just knew that more drama was lurking around the corner and instead of enjoying the good, I was bracing myself for the bad. With the loss of friendships, taking the knives out of my back and wiping my tears away daily, I was pretty much done with 2018 in March. Because of all of that, bringing myself to better anything was simply not happening. I didn’t think I deserved any of it because of the foul words and actions being said and done by some people. I allowed that crap in my head and to make my head it’s home. I allowed the evil all the power.

This year, I am done with the crap! My New Year’s Resolutions list is more practical for me to follow because they are all things dear to me, not what society dictates as good enough.

We all have been there. Eating pizza, drinking that yummy booze drink and watching the dust cuddle up on our work out equipment. It’s at that moment when we decide that once the New Year hits, we will transform our bodies. Diet, workouts, a ton of water and much needed rest is what is going to occupy our days in our near future.

In other cases, we are going to clean our house and organize EVERYTHING. We are going to get rid of all the crap and pretend that our organizing skills are in full effect. The truth is, we are making room for more crap that we are going to buy this year. Some of us, not me, will actually follow through with cleaning or organizing our homes. I tend to clean my house, throw away all the crap, sneak the sentimental things into a box and shove the box into my closet so my husband can’t see it and then I find myself wondering what is taking so long for this house to be organized.

Also, some of us want to be better with money. Less spending and more saving. Whether it’s for that amazing vacation that you’ve been planning for years, the perfect wedding that you’ve been dreaming of since you were a little girl, that car that you’ve been wanting since you could drive, that new wardrobe that you can finally afford, the cushion for a rainy day or that savings account that you have worked so hard to fill. It seems like in order to financially afford life, your job must pay up the a** or your savings must be as full as your spending habits.

Friends and family! More time with the ones we care about and less time staring at the TV, phones and tablets. We all get so carried away with what’s going on with everyone else, that we forget what’s right in front of us. Yes, I can, at times, be that kind of Mom that uses cartoons to entertain my kids, so I can get the dishes done, the laundry done, the floors swept and mopped, the bathrooms scrubbed and the house dusted. And the rare moments when I want 2 minutes to myself to stop pulling out my hair and find my marbles that I lost just hours prior.

I even find myself zoned out to the TV, my phone or my laptop that I do all my writing on. This year, I am setting aside some time every day for my writing to you guys, my lyrics, and my books, but that’s it. I want to make more of an effort to be with my family. Whether its play games with my kids, cooking my hubby or at home family movie nights. Building memories with my family means a lot more than reading the recent gossip.

Traveling! I love to travel, but I end up missing my kids so much that any trip with out them seems miserable. Traveling is a huge desire for many. Whether it’s to the nearest coast or across the world, we all have that want to hop on a plane or a cruise liner and soar to our dream destination.

Not giving a damn! So many of us spend so much time focusing on and worrying about what people think about us. Do I look to fat? Am I good enough? What do they say about me behind my back? Are they true friends? Are they fake? Do they think I’m dumb? Do they think I’m lame? Do they think I’m good looking? Do they think I’m worth it? All of those and so many more worries try to find permanent homes in our ways of thinking. I’ll be honest with you guys. I have a really hard time with this. I tend to let past demons make their mark again and I make all that I am get lost into what everyone else says or thinks. Before I know it, I’m lost. I’m faded to the point of disappearing and I can’t seem to find my way back home. And I’m sick of it. Seriously, why should we give anyone that power? They don’t deserve it.

My New Year’s Resolution this year is a combination of pretty much all of them. I want to be the best version of myself. The best wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and co-worker. With that, I need to make some changes. I need to dedicate my time to what matters most, I need to invest my money in what is logical, I need to focus my energy on what is positive, I need to let go of what I can’t control and I need to follow my dreams for me and me only. This blog has been renting a spot in my laptop for a couple months now. Not because I didn’t want to share my thoughts with you, but because how am I supposed to preach all of this to you, when I am avoiding it all myself?

As I sit here, I want to fight for everything and everyone I want. I am willing to give my all to come out on top. So, by doing so, I am going to do what I have never done before. Actually follow through with not only one New Year’s Resolution, but all of them. This year is different. And I can’t wait to concur it all with you guys.

Let’s put our phone down at dinner time, put our credit cards away and pay bills, follow our hearts, tackle our biggest threats and embrace the best year to come. No matter how hard our New Year’s Resolution is, there’s nothing that was can’t do. Whatever our goals are, our dreams are or our fears that we are scared to overcome, we can do it all. No task is too big. Realize your strengths and smile as you succeed it all.

We are not alone. We got this, together.

Follow Through or Falling Out

Snapchat-1558888660_2When life throw us stones, do we reach from them once they have landed on the ground only to throw them back? Do we stare at them while we ache after they’ve hit us? Do we just stand there and take it with out ever fighting back? Or do we take the stone and destroy them in our bare hands because we are stronger than we ever thought possible?

When this year started, I had hopes that it was going to be the best year yet. As long as I was with my family and true friends, there was nothing that could break me. Unfortunately, life laughed at that thought and threw me curve balls as hard as stones. Instead of over coming the pain and betrayal, I gave in to it. I was completely lost. I made decisions that weren’t right, and I crumbled at all that was wrong.

Without my ability to think clearly, I turned to a vice that took the ache away. It made me believe it was the good guy. Alcohol. I never wanted to turn to something so bad to feel better, but I did. Alcohol quickly turned from a comfort to an addiction. I didn’t drink too much to the point of black out every night, but I did turn to it more than I turned to anything else. The end result? 50 lbs and a gut. My thighs became roommates and my arm fluff waved back at you. My ankles were cankles and my belly looked as if I was 5 months pregnant.

So, I decided over and over again that I was going to work out every day, eat right and cut back on the cocktails. I bought all the healthy, no flavor because its pretty much a cardboard box diet food, bought work out DVD’s so I can work out my jiggles in the comfort of my own home and I even invested in work out clothes that, to be honest, only showed off my dimpled thighs and bulging belly more than my normal clothes.

I was certain that the new and improved me was right around the corner. That I was going to have the body I always wanted. Yea that drive only lasted about a week and then I was right back to my lazy ways. I would feel so ugly and fat, but not do one thing to fix it. I knew I wanted to be healthy and fit, but I just figured I was destined to be fat and ugly forever. I would always say to myself, “I’m this way now so I guess this is the new me.” When did follow through become a question and falling out because a constant reality?

Right when I thought I was set on the “swimming in the pity pool” crap, I woke up. I looked at my kids and I knew that my time of this kind of abuse on my body was over. I love them more than anyone and anything. Nothing compares to the love I have for them and nothing ever will. Not even alcohol. So, I made the decision to move away from my demons and embrace what has been waiting for me. A healthy body.

I didn’t want to look in the mirror and see the “new me”. I wanted to look in the mirror and see an improved me. A woman who fought for her health. A woman who fought for her life back. I still wanted to see me. I just wanted to see a healthy me.

I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I am working out at least twice every day, I am eating healthy and I am not drinking near as much. If I do have a drink, its for an event and I limit how much I drink and what I drink.

I’m so tired of people saying that if you look like the girl on the cover of the latest magazine, then you have succeeded. No you didn’t actually. We all didn’t succeed. We all just followed what society told us to follow. That’s not healthy. What’s healthy is just that. Being healthy. Eating better, drinking more water, less crap and working out. The day will come when you’ll look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Not because you are thinner, but because you are healthier. You are still YOU, just healthier. Having less dimples would be nice and a flat tummy would be amazing, yes. All that is true, but turning yourself into a fictional model isn’t right. It’s scary thinking that you can’t do it. Just know you’re stronger than you think.

Embrace your true self and enjoy the journey of the real you that is accomplishing health and it’s ability to walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath. Don’t ever think that you aren’t good enough or didn’t achieve true happiness because you don’t look the models on those magazines. Instead smile, knowing that the new healthy and strong you is more beautiful because you’re still you.

Let’s look in the mirror and smile back at the beauty smiling at us.

Girls Trip or Guilt Trip?

My life has been beyond crazy lately. Non-stop camping trips, cleaning after the camping trips, afternoon cocktails to get me through the cleaning after the camping trips, hosting BBQ’s, my kid’s joint birthday party, running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, getting my kids ready for the upcoming school year, more BBQ’s and my annual girl’s trip. Having no time to even brush my teeth most days reminded me just how needed that girl’s trip was.

Every year, my sister, KC, our cousin, Kati and myself go on girl’s trips. The first year was Lake Tahoe, then Mammoth, then the wine country and this year was a trip to the Madonna Inn in California.

Most girls are planning and packing what they want to bring. They are counting down the hours until they are free from their husband and kids. Me, on the other hand, not so much. I was awake in the middle of most nights leading up to the trip dreading on leaving my family. I knew that my kids would be in great hands with their Dad and I knew my husband, Jay, would be enjoying his time without me nagging, but I couldn’t help it. I feel guilty going on the girl’s trip. They say that time with your friends are always needed, but when you’re a wife, a mom or you have a boss from hell, when can you actually enjoy a girl’s trip without the guilt trip?

Jay is always supportive about these trips. He even reminds me many times to start packing because I always wait until the last minute. He goes to the stores with me so that we can spend time together before I leave. My kids are always excited to get time with their Dad because he works so much that they never see him. They all say that they’ll miss me, but to go and have a blast and before I know it, I’ll be home with them. Everything is always just fine so why do I have such anxiety over it every time? When you have opportunities to have the “me” time that is very much deserved and needed, we tend to look at it as not a much-needed adventure, but instead miserable, guilt infested road trip.

Before and during the trip, I had some anxiety attacks. I called Jay multiple times a day while on the trip just to hear his voice and to talk to my kids. I thought about them every second. Every time that I saw a couple, it made me miss Jay more. Every time I saw a family, it broke me. I couldn’t help, but miss my family and feel like I needed to get home and be the wife and mom that I am. I felt like I had no right being away from my family. I was venting to KC and Kati trying to get some sort of reassurance that the girls trip was a good thing. While talking to them, they brought up a very valid point that I was blind to. Yes, I am a wife and a mom, but I am still me who needs time away from home to be with friends. Time away doesn’t make me a bad wife or mom. It is actually a healthy thing. Regrouping and recharging are very vital things that us moms have to do in order to remain as sane as we can before completely losing our minds. You have to enjoy life’s little things that time to yourself is filled with. Remember that you are still you inside and being able to explore that is an awesome thing.

Feeling the guilt, missing your family and being excited to get home doesn’t make you weird or a sad person. It makes you a great mom. A great wife. You took the time for yourself, but you know what you have at home.

The trip was filled with incredible times. Pool time for the entire day, going to the beach the next day, dressing up and going to a beautiful restaurant for dinner, picnics in the garden, game nights in our pj’s and the lovely mornings of sleeping in. It wasn’t that I was able to experience what my life was like before being married and a mom, it was that I was able to experience life as a mom and wife in another way. Talking about my kids and hubby, buying them gifts from the cute shops on the boardwalk, collecting seashells and beautiful rocks and taking pictures to show them the breath taking views that I was seeing are just a few of the moments that I was able to experience on my own, but with them in my heart. Knowing I was going back to them to give them their gifts and show them the pictures made the trip even more worth while.

On the drive home, I felt recharged. My mind was clear of all shenanigans and I was able to realize that my life at home is amazing, but my life on these girl trips is amazing too. I couldn’t wait to get home, but I also loved the time I had away on the trip. The moment I walked through my front door and I saw my kids running to me, yelling over and over again, “Mommy is home!”, made me the happiest I had been in a while.

Now that I have been home for a while and back into the wife and mom routine, I think about the trip every time I feel like I am losing my mind. When the dishes are piling up, the laundry needs folding and it’s the day of the week that I need to scrub the bathrooms, I take a deep breath and remember, I got this.

I felt like me again from the trip, but I felt whole again being home. That combo is the best combo.

Summer on a Budget

Now that it’s summer in my area, I have been trying to figure out budget friendly summer activities that will keep my kids completely entertained. That concept is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Today is my son’s 8th birthday and all homeboy wants to do is play video games. Talk about budget friendly. However, having my kid sit in front of the TV lost in the video games zone is not at all how I’m going to have my kids enjoy this summer.

Growing up, my sister, KC and I had amazing summers. We would spend 6 weeks in Las Vegas visiting our dad John, step-mom, Jaylene, step-sister, Camille and our grandparents, Renee and Jack. We played a ton of Barbies with Camille, ran errands with our dad in his Trans Am, and planned our future fairytale weddings with our step-mom. While at our grandparents, we would bake and cook dinners with our Grandmom and snuggle with our Grandpop while watching TV.

Every now and then, we would go to the Vegas Strip and just drive around. Somedays, we would park and walk. Then at night, all the parents in the neighborhood would open their garage doors, bring out chairs and sit on their driveways while all us kids played because it was finally cool enough to play outside.

My greatest memories of my summers in Las Vegas aren’t shopping or spending money. They are helping my dad cook his amazing dinners, having family meals either inside or outside, and after dinner cleaning up and then us all hanging out on the couch talking or playing games. Some nights, my dad, my sister and I would go for a night drive in his 1998 Trans Am. We wouldn’t talk. We would just listen to the music and drive with the windows down. It’s memories like that, that make me smile. Whenever we go to Las Vegas now, I still want to make those exact memories. Luckily, my dad as a new Corvette now so that by itself entertains my kids.

Once our 6 weeks in Las Vegas were over, KC and I would fly back home and enjoy the rest of our summer. Amazing times full of camping, Barbie playing and sleep overs with our cousin, Kati, Hot August Nights walks where you walk up and down the streets, looking at hot rods, and amazing nights right at home made for the perfect ending to our summer.

Those memories are what I want to create for my kids. Not the amount of money we spent, but the time we spent together. Remembering my summers growing up, I have created a list of budget friendly summer activities that us parents can enjoy doing with out the scare of the price tag and our kids will have a blast.

It’s summer guys! Let’s have a blast and not get broke at the same time!

Parks: I love taking my kids to the park. While the kids think that are in a new universe and making new friends, I can sit there and relax while watching them have a ball. Plus, the other perk to parks is that the kids usually get exhausted playing that once you get home and feed them dinner, they are off to bed which means an early night for you.

 Backyard Fun: Backyards are different for every home. Some are fully equipped with a basketball hop, a play house, a tree house, grass to run around on or a huge patio to ride their bikes and scooters around. Others are pretty limited with space, but that doesn’t make them any less fun. Getting the kids outside and away from the TV is key. Remember our childhood times of no cell phones and tablets? Yea, so do I so let’s bring those times to our kids. Things as simple and inexpensive as chalk, blow-up pools or even eating lunch are things that will entertain kids for a while. Sports like basketball, soccer, tag, bikes and scooters are always a fun time, plus that keeps them active.

Library Time: Going to the library growing up was so much fun. It allows the kids to be creative and see a whole new world in books that they don’t have at home.

Baking: Kids helping with baking and cooking can get messy, but they love it. It’s a special bonding time, it teaches them measuring and most all, you get to eat the yummy goodness together when it’s all done. Put on aprons and have fun. Plus, teaching the kids how to cook and clean up afterwards is a good life lesson.

Arts and Crafts: I am not a crafty person at all. My kids draw stick figures better than I do. However, when we all sit down and do arts and crafts from things I bought at the dollar store, their imaginations soar. A perk to that mess of time is you get to keep their final product forever.

Game Night: Even if all you have is a deck of cards, you can play Gold Fish, Old Maid, Crazy 8’s or even poker. Dedicating a night to just you and the kids, no cell phones and no TV will remind the kids how special they are and that even with life’s hectic schedules, we still can make time for them.

Drive to your local beach or lake: There are a ton of lakes in my area and we’re only 4 hours away from the ocean. Taking a fun family drive to something as peaceful, beautiful and fun as the beach is always amazing. Pack a lunch and have a picnic right on the beach. Plus, you can get your tan on at the same time.

Family + Summer + Budget Friendly Shenanigans = The best summer memories for the entire family.

Sane Mom or Insane Mom

This morning was a rough one for me because it’s the last day of school today. Watching my son, Noah walk into school for the last time as a 2nd grader was hard. In a matter of a couple months, Noah will be a 3rd grader and my daughter, Ellie will be in kindergarten. It all just came over me. New teachers, new friends, new routines, and new memories were just a few of the thoughts running through my head.

I gave Noah kisses and hugs, told him to have a great last day of school and that I loved him. As I walked away from him and watched him stand in line with his friends and classmates, laughing and being so happy that it was soon summer, I told him that I’ll see him after school. That’s when it hit me. In a few hours, I will be picking up my boy and not having to return to school until the next school year. I literally started to tear up when Noah’s teacher came outside to get her students and all the kids, including Noah, ran to her and hugged her. She began to cry and that made me lose it.

I stood there watching Noah walk into school with his teacher and classmates until I couldn’t see him anymore. I stood there on the playground and looked around to all the other parents that were watching their kids go into school too and I wondered, do days like this get any easier? The older my kids get, the more independent they get and the more they grow into the person they are meant to be, does it get any easier to say goodbye to one school year and welcome in another?

As I was walking to my truck with Ellie, I couldn’t help, but think that I am just a mess of a mom and all the other moms out there are sane. The only thing that they are struggling with is how to keep their kids occupied for the summer. I immediately started to compare myself to all the other moms that I know and the moms at Noah’s school.

It’s so easy to doubt yourself as a mom. I know I do. Did I do a good enough job during the school year with helping Noah with his homework? Did I teach him well? Did I allow him to play video games too much instead of doing more learning on the weekends? Is my son behind all the other kids and is it my fault if he is? Did he get made fun of at school because I didn’t dress him cool enough? Doubts on top of more doubts consume my mind often when it comes to being a mom. I want the most incredible life for my kids. I want them to always be happy, healthy and safe. I know that all starts with me and I just don’t want to fail. I know all us moms have flaws and corks that make us the moms we are. I know there is no such thing as the perfect mom so why is it so easy to compare and doubt myself?

While driving home from dropping off Noah, I looked in my rear-view mirror at my daughter. She was sitting in her car seat, laughing and talking. She was so happy. Then I remembered Noah laughing and talking with his friends before his teacher walked them to class. It was then that I felt like I was doing a good job as a mom. My kids and I have had our ups and downs. There are days that are harder then others, but those hard moments also remind my kids just how much I really do love them and how I will always be there for them. Through thick and thin.

Seeing my kids happy this morning, waving at me and holding my hands just confirmed that whatever I am doing, I must be doing it right. My kids know that I love them through whatever the days bring. They know that they will never be alone. I will always be there for them to help guide them and set them free to soar into the dreams that they want to concur. They know that my door is always open, my shoulder is always there to cry on and I am always going to put them first. Those factors are much more important to me than making sure I have the newest car, the biggest house or the fattest wallet.

When it comes to being a mom, we all have the moments that are consumed with us pulling our hair out and reaching for the nearest cocktail. We all have our bad days, but those days are always followed with great ones. We need to stop comparing ourselves to the other moms out there and finally realize the one rule to being a great mom. Nothing compares to you. You are an amazing mom in your own corky ways. Let’s embrace the moms we are. Let’s grow from mistakes and enhance our inner strength.

Our hearts beat for our kids and it’s okay that we don’t always have make up on. It’s okay that we have our stretch marks. It’s okay that we don’t look like we did when we were 20 years old. And it’s definitely okay to make non-organic chicken nuggets and mac n’ cheese for dinner some nights. We all have those traits in us that our kids love or get annoyed with some days. But none of us are less of a mom than any other mom out there.

We’re all rockstar moms so let the music play and never stop!

Changes for the Better

Well hello everyone! It has been almost a month since my last blog. Yes, I have been slacking. Only because during this past month, I have been trying to figure out ways to make my site the best for you. Designing and setting up changes to better reach out to everyone reading it. I have so many ideas that I want to share so I needed to find ways to make my site handle all of my shenanigans.

There are days that I want to write a blog that is more on the serious, personal side. Full of life stories and motivation. Other days I want to write about how annoyed I am that my house never stays clean and give advice on how us moms can keep our lives on track without pulling our hair out. Then there are days that I need to share a funny moment that has happened to bring laughs to your day.

So starting next week, I am going to deliver blogs that can relate to all of you. I’m going to do:

Motivate Me Mondays: Where I will deliver from the heart blogs that are on a more personal level and give the advice that will help you get through those moments where you feel like you are alone.

Wednesday Wonders: That will give tips and ideas for the everyday moms and wives out there. Everything from taking care of the clutter to finding time for yourself and everything else in between.

Fun Fridays – The Week is Over! Let’s Celebrate! – This is when I will share funny stories of my crazy life and struggles of the silly, yet crazy crap that happens. Laughter is the best way to bring on the weekend. Well laughter and cocktails.

I hope all of you like my new way of running my site. Coming soon…shenanigans and more, for you all to adore.

Spring Clean or Shop

This blog is long over due and for that, I’m sorry. Having my husband out of town again for the military, I have been super busy being a “single mom”. The fact that I didn’t pull all my hair out is a good sign that the trip with the hubby away wasn’t too bad. It also reminded me I had the opportunity to do the one thing that us wives never get to do when our husbands are home…throw crap out!

With the hubby away, the wife will…clean. I am able to deep clean, well now since it’s Spring time, I’m able to Spring Clean. The best part of it all, I can do this cleaning without my husband telling me his always famous excuse to keep crap… “We can use that someday.” It drives me crazy. Not because he keeps everything he has ever touched, but because he is always right. He took the old counter tops from our re-done kitchen and made a work bench in the garage. Those counter tops sat in a pile in the garage for years and then all of a sudden, he made a work bench out of them. I was very happy to see the garage now organized, but then I was pissed because he was right, again. And to add insult to injury, when we sold that house and moved into our new house, that work bench was loved by the new owner.

While I’m home and cleaning, going through all the “this and that’s” we have accumulated through-out the last 10 years together, I find myself torn. Do I throw away the things I see us never needing or do I keep it all for the many times that my husband will prove me wrong. When does it go from clutter to your very own at-home store?

Walking into my garage is like the opening credits to a horror movie. Dark, scary music, eyes of deadly creatures staring at you and the worst part, once you’re in, you may never get out. When you have to step over a truck bumper, an old dog bed, 20 different pool toys and 3 different paint buckets full of broken tools just to get to the garage fridge to grab the chicken for dinner then quickly haul butt back inside the house just to shiver because you feel like something is on you and then you are too exhausted to make that chicken for dinner, then your garage has reached the point of no return. It’s then you think, well I think of it because I’m, well me, it’s time to throw your hands in the air AND MOVE! Just like a bad weather warning, just grab all things important and leave! Hope that the new owner of your house has an antique shop to sell the reusable things and a big hole in some field far away to burn all of your left-over crap.

See, I’m the one that keeps everything that holds a memory and it’s usually those things that never get used again. Jay holds onto what I see as crap and he sees it as money saved because it’s one less trip to the hardware store. While I love his ability to turn crap into a new work bench, a redone counter top for our island in our kitchen or hardwood floors in our living room, the clutter in the garage drives me insane. How do us wives know the difference between the piles, boxes, bags and full drawers in the garage are things we can toss when our husbands are away versus keep for our future redone bathroom?

This year, I have come up with ideas to save my OCD sanity while saving my husbands want and need to redo and fix things in our house for free. If our garage is going to be our own store, then it needs to be labeled and organized as one. No more of the 5 different hammers, 3 different kinds of chairs that are all broken, 2 pools for the backyard that have holes and definitely no more 4 vacuums that haven’t worked in years. Instead, we are going to keep all things that, with my husband and I thinking together, are things that we will need or can use later. By later, I mean the one main rule that seems to be very common in everyone’s closet, if it hasn’t been used in 6 months, it’s out of here! The best part of this whole thing is once we have tossed all things broken and put aside all things worth something to someone else, it’s garage sale time. Why not make some money off our junk and make it someone else’s treasure? Why not be able to go into my garage and simply grab that chicken out of my garage fridge for dinner and simply walk back into my house and make that chicken for dinner without shivering? Yes, every house has crap that either has meaning or is just covered in dust. Regardless of whatever it is and the meaning behind it, lets favor the ones out there with their OCD-ness and respect that in order to keep your marriage going, organize your crap. Whether if it’s crap to you or memories to someone else, if you want to keep your memories, just play the organize game, label things and even clean a little. That way us wives have no room to whine or be the bad guys by tossing everything in the dumpster. Most importantly, there’s a less chance of your “memories” being thrown away when we suddenly send you to the store for things we already have just so you can leave.

I see my garage looking like a garage in about 6 months. Until then, I’ll enjoy my redone island counter top.

Ripping Off the Band-Aide

Comfort zones can be a tricky thing. We all think that we are gaining strength, confidence and independence until we have to move out of our comfort zone and are forced to make a home in a new zone. It’s then we realize we were the hero in our old comfort zone and now a lost puppy in our new zone. Comfort zones can be anything in our lives. Our home, the neighborhood we live in, the routine we do every day, the job we have, the romantic relationship we’re in, the car we drive or even the stores we shop at. When even the smallest comfort zone is suddenly needing to change, and we have to walk away from it as if it’s nothing to us, it can be numbing. We ask ourselves, do we really love the comfort zone, or do we just not handle change well?

I, for one, can not handle change well. Once I get into that bubble, I put up a tent and camp out with no date or time of leaving. Sometimes it works in my favor. Like when I try to convince how amazing my comfort zone is, and it ends up being something pretty magical to someone else who would have never given it a second look. Then there are the other moments when it back fires…which is more often than I would like. Being married to a military man, the possibility of change seems to always be a reality. Especially when it comes to him traveling for work. I handle him traveling worse than anything. I sometimes think to myself, I got this. Then I am immediately reminded that I don’t have any part of it at all. When it comes to having the ability to accept the change, I feel like a weak, pathetic, weirdo. Like, “My husband is leaving for 1 week, how the heck am I going to function with out him? Oh my husband is going away for a couple nights, I wonder if my sister, KC will spend the night both nights.” It’s not as easy for me as it is for other woman. Other military wives seem to have a hard night the first night their man is away on their trip and then they get into their routine and then they are fine. For me? Yea no, I am a mess until about the 2nd to the last day of his trip. “My husband is home in 2 days and I finally have the hang of it.” Seriously, I look at myself sometimes and wonder how my husband is still married to a mess like myself.

So how do we get out of our comfort zones? How do we know the difference between just being comfy in our comfort zone to actually being reliant on it? When the situations fall in our laps, forcing us to move out of our comfort zones and get cozy in a new one, it’s the perfect time to just rip off the band-aide. Ripping off the band-aide is the best way for us to wake up and realize that maybe it isn’t that bad or as hard as we feared. Maybe we can do it and it may hurt in the beginning, but the pain goes away and the wound you’ve been covering up, aka not allowing yourself to move zones, begins to heal and before you know it, that zone is healed and gone and you’re embracing the new zone with open arms. Scars of our past may still show, and our mind sets of what we need and want in life may change. The things in life that we thought were unbearable, become a new breath of fresh air.

Start with one thing at a time. If it’s a new house, bring in the memories of the old house, but change the dining room table, then a new couch. New paint colors or different scented candles. If it’s your loved one traveling and being away from home for a while, enjoy that cup of coffee you two have every morning, but then try something new like walk around the neighborhood, brunch with a good friend, play dates for your kids or reading a good book. If it’s a new job, bring your favorite lunch every day, expect one day a week. Try a restaurant nearby, lunch with a co-worker or try the cafeteria. If it’s a new city, go to places that are also in your old city, but then also try and go to the landmarks that makes your new city have history, experience new parks, new malls and new “mom and pop” restaurants that the locals love to go to. There are many things about experiencing new experiences in life that can be scary but refreshing at the same time. You can easily wonder how you ever went with out the new friends, restaurants or stores you have found. Take that deep breath and remember you were brave enough to rip the band-aide off. Now go out and experience the new parts of life that have been waiting for you to enjoy.

And hey! If all else fails and doubt kicks in, there are always reviews on basically everything. Read them before you go anywhere and begin ripping off that band-aide.

A Great Day to Find the Real Me

When life throws more downs than ups, having a way to escape it or to numb the pain seems to be much needed. For me, life has been rough. There’s been way too many situations that I haven’t been able to control or fix.  I’ve been able to see the truth in a lot, but I haven’t been able to have a say in any of it. Right now, it seems like many of the aspects of my life are dark. Needless-to-say, the stress of it all has taken over me. I have been struggling with trying to find any form of calm that I can. Talking it out helps so much because it numbs all the pain I’m feeling and blocks the reality of where my pain is stemming from. When I keep things inside, I take things too far most of the time, and I say things I shouldn’t. I hate moments like that. I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach when I remember who I was when I was lost. I don’t want to become my worst enemy and begin to hate who I am. I don’t want to lose my ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel or the parts of my life that are healthy. I want to reach my arms out and grasp the life of being healthy, happy and the REAL me. I don’t want to use stress as an excuse for being a horrible person anymore.

We all have those moments in our lives that seem to take over who we really are. Weaken our strengths and enhance our demons. It’s at those times that we have to remember who we are deep inside and realize we don’t deserve to feel the way we do in those moments. It’s okay to cry, to talk it out and even stay quiet and to yourself if that’s how it works for you. We need to understand that even in the darkest moments, light still shines through. Tomorrow is a new day, so we must hold on to the hope and belief that our demons will fade and our strengths will once again take over. That we will smile again, laugh again and believe in the beauty of a new beginning. All the struggles we face, feel and hold on to are just the tools that make us stronger. It’s hard to believe that, but it’s true.

Let’s dance in the rain, not hide. Let’s lay out in the sun. Feel the beauty that is life. Because at the end of the day, you are YOU. And you are incredible.