Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Weight Loss Journey

I can't believe I am going to show all of you these pictures, but I am really proud of the work I have been doing! At the end of June, I started a 60-day {body, mind, spirit} challenge run by the lovely April. After seeing her amazing transformation from doing a previous 60-day challenge, I was sold!

Basically, there are teams of 4 competing. Our competition includes 38 teams. We each paid $25 to be a part of the challenge, so there is some big prize money up for grabs! You earn points by doing positive things - eating right, exercising, doing random acts of kindness, etc. The reason this challenge appealed to me is because it was a total body challenge. We don't just focus on weight loss, but rather a new, healthier lifestyle!

The best part? After four weeks my team is number one for points, which means we 'could' win $1000 for our team! All the girls on my team have been doing so great!

I am down 9.8 pounds and 6.5 inches! That is just crazy to me! I can't wait to see where I am at in four more weeks at the end of the challenge.

4 week weight loss

I have been using the My Fitness Pal app to keep a diary of my food and exercise daily. I have tried using this app before with little success. Now that I am being held accountable for what I am supposed to be eating and exercising 6 days a week, it is much more motivating. I think my failure with the app before was I was trying to continue eating poorly and not exercising much and I just couldn't stay under my calorie goal. Now, there are days when I have to eat extra to get enough calories for the day.

This challenge has been hard at times, but it is totally doable! No crazy limitations or anything. Competing with a team has been great. We are all supporting each other to do better each week.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Honoring the Fallen

My heart has been heavy these last few days. As some of you may know, I live just outside of Prescott where the Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters were from. I know this story has impacted our nation, but it has especially affected me because it is so close to home. One of our best friends is a firefighter and although I am thankful to say he was not up here when tragedy struck, it still shook me to know he 'could' have been.

Source: via Heroes Memorial Fund

My husband knew one of the firefighters and I have many friends who knew or went to school with some of those men. And even though I personally did not know them, I am deeply saddened by their sacrifice. I have been very distracted this week, so I haven't gotten the posts up I had planned. I cannot seem to escape all that is going on here. My personal Facebook page is flooded with outpourings of support and heart-wrenching stories about the families. Our local news is filled with images of the fire and the men's faces.

I will be the first to admit I am not very religious, but this whole tragedy has humbled me and I have been praying. 

Praying for the wives, children, parents, families, girlfriends, and friends of the firefighters to find strength.
Praying for the lone survivor of the Hotshot crew to find peace about losing his 'brothers'.

Praying for rain to come and the winds to calm so the remaining firefighters can safely contain the fire.

Praying for the 250 families that lost their homes to this fire.

Praying for our state of Arizona during this scary wildfire season.

Praying for the families of firefighters everywhere that were so vividly reminded about how dangerous the job of these men and women can be.

I am blessed and grateful to live in a community that is able to come together in a time of tragedy and show such a great outpouring of love to honor the brave men that died on Sunday. Last night our community had a candlelight vigil to honor the fallen men. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but thousands of people from the community banded together to show support for the families and honor those brave men.

Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with you. Words cannot really express all the things I am feeling. On my personal Facebook page last night I shared that I would love to give each and every one of the wives, children, girlfriends, parents, brothers, and sisters of those brave men a huge hug.

We honor those 19 men for their courage, bravery, and selflessness in order to keep the rest of us safe.

Friday, June 21, 2013

We Love Otter Pops and Otter Art

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Jel Sert. All opinions are 100% mine.

True story. When I was pregnant with my son, I was so sick. I had terrible 'morning' sickness. But you couldn't really call it morning sickness. It should have been called morning until night (and sometimes while you are trying to sleep sickness). I had an awful time keeping anything down. For a while, Otter Pops were the only thing that I could keep down. Something about the sugar and the cold, I guess.

So, needless to say, I have a certain fondness for Otter Pops. (I used to joke with my husband that my son was going to come out as an ice-cube!) My kids definitely love Otter Pops, too. My daughter's favorite is Alexander the Grape (mine, too!) and my sons is Louie-Bloo Raspberry.

Summer is the perfect time for a cold treat. We love to go out on the porch in the afternoon to have a little snack. I love that Otter Pops are self-contained in their own wrapper. Regular popsicles on a stick always end up dripping in a sticky mess all over the floor, and all over hands and clothes!

In honor of our love for Otter Pops, the kids decorated their very own otter coloring pages I found online.

I got out a bunch of art supplies and let them be creative!

Quick, impromptu art projects are a huge sanity saver for me over the summer months with both kids at home all day. I think the kids spent almost a full half-hour on their masterpieces! Aren't they cute? (My daughter is a fan of the HUGE google eyes!)

otter art collage

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

 Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies and mommies-to-be out there! 

Today always brings mixed emotions for me. For those of you that are new here, you may not know I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 8 years old. She was only 36 years old. I am approaching my 34th birthday next week and I can't even imagine that. I knew she was young when I was little, but the older I get the more I realize how young that truly is. I was only 4 when she was diagnosed. 

So, every year on Mother's Day, I miss my mom. (If we are being honest here, I miss her and think about her every day, but holidays and anniversaries always sting a little harder).  I wrote more about my mom here.

But, I am also so joyful! I have two great kids of my own now. My focus has shifted on this day to not spend my entire day mourning my loss but celebrating the fact that I am now a mom myself. It has been the most rewarding, frustrating, incredible, trying, and amazing journey I have ever been on. My kids teach me things about myself every day. Like, I have far less patience than I thought I did (oops!). Also, I have so much more love in my heart than I ever could have imagined.

I remember shortly before my daughter was born, wondering how in the world I would ever love another person as much as I loved my son. I was so worried about not having enough love to share with them both. But, your heart is an incredible thing. The more you give, the bigger and stronger it gets!

I am blessed to have other moms in my life. Of course, no one can ever take the place of my mom, but I have all these wonderful women in my life that make it a little easier. I have had a few friend's moms take me in over the years at different stages of my life and I appreciate each and every one of them.
I have a great stepmom. Our relationship was rocky at first (mainly because of the loss of my mom), but we have grown to be friends over the years and I wouldn't have it any other way! Today is her first Mother's Day without her mom, and I know how hard that is. So, I am sending her a little extra love today. 
My stepmom and her mom

And now, my husband surprised me with a spa day today, so I get to go and get pampered. I don't get much time away by myself and this will be a wonderful way to recharge my batteries. I am sure there will be a lot of laughter and joy today, as well as a few tears shed.

I hope all of you enjoy your Mother's Day. Celebrate your mom, either here on earth or up in heaven. Celebrate being a mom and what a joy that can be. Just celebrate! And thank you to all of you, who come here and allow me to share a little of my heart with you. I am so lucky to have made some of the connections I have from this blog.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Confession Time

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while, and I decided it was finally time to just do it. I have been in a bit of a blogging funk lately. I have so much to blog about, but just can't seem to find the words to write.

In a world bombarded with social media - Facebook, Twitter, and especially Pinterest, I find myself constantly comparing myself to others. And all of this comparison makes me feel like I just don't quite measure up. Measure up to these impossible standards I have set for myself and society has set for me. I cannot do it all.

Source: Life Unfluffled

I am a mom, first and foremost. That is my number one priority, but lately, I have been feeling completely burnt out. I don't get a lot of time to myself and it is really starting to wear on me. 

I feel like my creative juices are gone, at least temporarily. I haven't had a chance to recharge my batteries. Then, I read other blogs and surf Pinterest to hopefully find some motivation and get my spark back, when really it just makes me feel like I am not enough. Like, how can all these other wives, moms, and crafters do all of these things and I feel like I am barely keeping it together most days?

Source: From Up North

This is completely unfair. Of course, the projects I look at all seem great. These are the "beauty shots" of these women's lives. What I am not seeing is the dishes not washed, the staying up late, way after the kids are in bed to finish the project for a deadline, the 2 days it actually took to finish a half-hour project because the kids are running around, and need something, and they come first.

I have posted before how 'comparison is the thief of joy' and it truly, truly is. If I really sit back and think about it, I love my life. I love being a mom. I love my home (even in its completely imperfect state). I love my husband. I love being able to be home with my kids and not having to have a 'real' job. I love being able to have a hobby that can hopefully someday provide my family with extra income. But the minute I start looking at what others are doing, even those ladies I admire and aspire to be more like, all I can think about is how what I am doing is not enough.

Source: . . . and Spiritually Speaking

I have been hesitant to show you all the spaces in my home because they will probably never be magazine-worthy. Even though I can organize spaces with the best of them, I cannot (and do not always want to) spend a fortune on bins and perfectly coordinated baskets. Maybe at another time in my life, I will be able to do that, but part of me will always be frugal. Even when we are doing great, financially. Part of me will always be earth-conscious and I would rather re-use something we have than go buy something new.

Source: Blimp Cat Studio on Etsy

And even though my house may never be featured in a glossy spread magazine, my home is my own. I love it and I love that I can organize and DIY it. In reality, there are probably more of you who live in a home that looks like mine than there are those who live in a perfectly styled magazine-ready home. So, I am vowing to myself to embrace my home. Embrace the fact that I love the heck out of it because we have poured blood, sweat, and tears into it. Embrace my home because it is a home and not just a house. Embrace the imperfections and all its little quirks. Embrace the fact that it isn't huge, but every square inch of it is used to its fullest potential.

Source: Hey Miss Awesome on Tumblr

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dear Olivia ...

Dear Olivia,
Three years ago we welcomed your sweet face into this world. I was so thrilled to have a little girl. I couldn't wait for the day when we could play dress-up, dolls, and Barbies. Those days have finally arrived!

You are such a little girly girl! You love to dress up like a princess. It is a daily occurrence that you will put on a princess dress, fancy shoes, a tiara, bracelets, rings, and your wand. Then, you will come to me and say, "Will you dance with me, Mama?" Yes. You say, "Mama." Just a few months ago you started calling me Mama instead of Mommy. It is so sweet and melts my heart every time.

Even though you are so into dressing up, Barbies and dolls, you love to rough and tumble, too! You work so hard to keep up with your big brother. One of my favorite things to watch is when you two play together. You fight monsters, hunt bugs, and play in the mud! You are not afraid to get dirty and you are certainly not afraid of bugs. This summer it was common for me to find bugs all over the house that you had brought in from outside - even picking up the grasshoppers with your bare hands!

You are a stubborn little girl. If you don't get your way, everyone in the whole house is going to hear about it. You are so persistent in whatever it is you want. I was like that as a little girl, too. So now I have a little insight into what my parents went through. (Sorry, by the way!)


You have such an infectious laugh. Especially when you find something funny to do out of the blue. Like the time you asked everyone at the dinner table to "watch this" and crossed your eyes at us. One of the funniest moments we have had at the table!


You have a heart of gold. You are always willing to share with your brother and all of us anything you have. You take care of us when we are not feeling well. You are the first one to pass out hugs if someone gets hurt. 

Happy Birthday, sweet girl! Mommy loves you so much. 

Love, Mom 

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Life-n-Reflection. I receive products to try out and review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thank you to Kristy at Life-n-Reflection for the great Parisian storyboard and wallets I enhanced my photos with for this post! To create the first photo collage, I used the Life-n-Reflection Dreamer Storyboard. For all of the other photos, I used the Parisian Photo Wallets. Aren't they beautiful? 

Click the following tutorial to learn how to create a storyboard like the one above in Photoshop: Quick Page Video Tutorial