Expecting the Unexpected, and how to be “Flexible”

Inflexibility is one of my biggest flaws. I’ve learned the value of flexibility. Now I’m trying to figure out the “how”. How do I become a more flexible person?

Having kids definitely forces flexibility. I realized that I was no longer in control of my time when my oldest son was about three days old. Now, three years later, I’m definitely more able to go with the flow.

I have no problem with changing course when the poo hits the fan, and I’m pretty good at unexpected things that come up as a result of toddlers being toddlers.

ER visits? No problem. Diaper explosions? Bring them on. I’m very proud of how much more flexible I’ve become in this area. (And I know that it had nothing to do with me. It was necessary. I think I blacked out at some point and came to with flexibility super powers. There’s a “parenting necessities” chip in me somewhere- I just know it.)

I don’t like the unexpected when it comes to parenting, but I’m able to accept it. I can let my disappointment roll of, because toddlers can’t be held responsible for not living up to my (sometimes unrealistic) expectations.

What bugs me so badly about myself is that my flexibility is so limited! My expectations of situations and people can sometimes be so rigid that they shape the way I experience reality.

Today my family and I took a short trip to Waco, tx. I had the whole trip planned down to the food truck where we’d eat lunch.

We were going to go to Magnolia Market. We were going to play Nerf football and have a picnic on the lawn. I was going to get sweet pictures of my boys at the silos. We were going to walk through the garden and talk about all of the different plants. We’d leave around 2, so the boys could nap in the van on the way home. It was going to be the perfect family day/ tiny vacation before little sister arrives.

My expectations were that my plans would go off without a hitch, we’d wake up early, drive to Waco, get breakfast at the silos bakery, everyone would be in an awesome mood, and we’d have a blast doing exactly what momma wants to do (for once dangit! I packed a football for goodness sake!).

The reality of the situation is that life happens.

Yesterday was the day that we finally got the ball rolling on kitchen renovations (it’s a long story, but our kitchen flooring has been MIA for months as the result of some water damage. It took homeowners insurance a long time to approve stuff…so, here we are.) We picked out flooring yesterday and we were told that it would be installed in the next couple of weeks. Awesome! Kind of. This meant that we needed to figure out cabinets asap!

My husband suggested that we cancel waco and go to IKEA today, but I convinced him that we could do it all! We went to IKEA yesterday afternoon. It was a fairly productive trip. We left with a good idea of what we’re going to do in the kitchen.

This morning my husband said, “let’s go to Waco.” I was so excited! I frantically packed everything and got the boys all cute for their silo picture.

We got in the van and off we went. The drive was smooth, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood.

We made it to the market and it was a mad house. There were hundreds of people crammed into the market. The line at the bakery was far too long (food can’t be that good, can it?!). Our double stroller definitely wasn’t the right choice for all of the bobbing and weaving that we were doing, and I became anxious.

Our sensory sensitive three year old started to get very uncomfortable. He acts out when he’s overwhelmed, so he started screaming.

I started to feel super guilty for looking around while my husband was trying to push a giant boat full of angry toddlers around a crowded store. I told him that he could take them outside to play if he wanted to.

He decided to park the double stroller and get the boys out. Our boys have a reputation for being happier when held, and the store was too busy for the stroller anyway. Big brother’s sensory tantrum continued. He needed to leave the market, so we went outside to regroup.

My husband told me to go back inside and shop. He’d hang out with the boys.

I went back inside and shopped for a few minutes. I was rushing and I wasn’t enjoying myself because my expectations weren’t being fulfilled. I wanted everyone to be happy!

I went outside to see if my family was having fun. It was sweltering, my husband was melting, and both boys were fussing about wanting to play soccer with some older kids on the lawn.

When I’m feeling particularly anxious I like to find (or create) problems to solve. If I’m home this looks like tazmanian devil style cleaning. Today I decided that everyone was super miserable because of me, so the least I could do was go play with my boys, at a zillion weeks pregnant, in 100° weather, on a lawn full of flying balls and running kids.

So I dug the Nerf football out of the book bag and got Big Brother out of the stroller. We played for five minutes or so before little brother joined in. My husband sat on the bench.

There were some high school age boys tossing a football around. Little brother started to follow their ball as it flew through the air. There were several times that I thought he was about to get squished. There were a few times that I thought I was going to get squished.

I took the boys back over to my husband and explained that momma had to stop to keep little sister safe. It was getting too crazy over there.

Big Brother tried to argue before he exploded. He told me that it hadn’t gotten crazy and he still wanted to play football.

My expectation had been to pass the boys off to my husband when I tapped out. The reality of the situation was that daddy wasn’t being difficult by sitting and watching, he was preserving himself. He didn’t want to run around with the boys and get sweaty because he hadn’t brought a change of clothes.

I looked at my husband and he suggested that we leave and go to the Waco z-o-o.

The lump in my throat grew, and I started to tear up. I told him that we could leave.

He informed the boys that we were going to go see some animals (something that they both usually love).

Little brother was excited, but big brother, still in his upset state, shouted, “no! I want to play at the silos!”. He screamed this about 20 times on the way back to the car.

I don’t want to go either! I want to play at the silos too! I want to eat lunch at the best food trucks in the world. I want to buy some new dishtowels for out nonexistent kitchen. I want to soak in the smell of Joanna’s signature summer candle. I want to…

My internal winning was interrupted by a sighting of the silo baking company food truck. It was so close! I could just grab something on the way to the van. I looked up and saw that my husband and screaming sons were too far ahead. There was a line. It just didn’t make sense.

More fuel for my pity party.

We got in the van (big brother still upset- neither my husband nor I had the patience to help him through this tantrum. It felt hopeless.) My husband asked little brother if he wanted to go see animals. We decided on the zoo and set our course on the GPS.

We got there. Everyone was happy (except momma). We had a great day in Waco with the boys. Big Brother really enjoyed the animals (he even fed a giraffe some lettuce, which momma was not expecting! Bad sensory tantrums can sometimes last all day.)

I was miserable through most of our day at the zoo. I smiled and played with the boys. I did all of the things that a momma has to do on a trip to the zoo. I took pictures, and wiped my kids Cheeto faces. I held conversations with my husband without being difficult. I was trying to be somewhat pleasant, but I was so incredibly disappointed that my day had been ruined.

I wiped stray tears off of my cheeks all day.

Y’all, I was miserable because I was behaving flexibly, but I wasn’t really being flexible! My expectations were ruined, so the day was ruined. This is not the first time that this has happened.

I often choose to be unhappy because I cling so tightly to my expectations. I let myself get hurt by people when my expectations of their behavior outweigh how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking.

I hold on to what I wanted long after the situation has changed directions. I let my broken expectations fester.

What I should have done yesterday (hi! It’s a new day now, and my pregnant brain is too muddled to try and write as if it’s not. We went to Waco on Friday. It’s now Saturday.) was let go of my expectations when I realized that my plans weren’t going to work. This moment was much sooner than when we actually left the silos. I’d say that I knew we wouldn’t be able to stay longer than 30 minutes (about how long we were there) as soon as I saw how crowded it was. None of us does well in big crowds, not just big brother.

I should have expressed how upset I was that my plans weren’t going to work, and I should have proposed that we do something else in Waco. Without expecting my husband to say, “oh no honey, this is your day. You stay here and enjoy yourself and I’ll take these two crazy children and find something to entertain them for who knows how long. The heat is no problem.”

I should have stopped grasping for control of an uncontrollable situation! I should have let myself feel so I could move on. I should have corrected all of my negative thoughts about how unfair things were. I should have choosen to dwell on the good parts of the day, but I didn’t. And I almost missed out on a great day of memories with my family.

I’m not flexible, and I give my expectations too much power, but I’m desperately trying to learn from situations like these. I don’t like feeling disappointed, and it’s up to me to change how I perceive situations. No one else is responsible for my happiness!

Moving forward I’m going to continue to choose to learn from difficult situations. I’m going to try to be more aware of my unrealistic expectations, and I’m going to choose not to get stuck in a negative head space. I don’t want to nearly miss sweet memories again!

Thanks for reading. I’d like to hear about some of your unmet expectations and what you’ve learned from them. Leave a comment below!


What is an Apology? A Thoughtful Take on the Meaning of “Sorry”

I say “I’m sorry” like it’s going out of style. I apologise for the way I look. I apologise for the noise that my boys make when we’re eating dinner at Panera. I say “sorry” before I start speaking sometimes…for no apparent reason. I even apologize for asking simple questions like, “where’s the bathroom?” “Sorry, ma’am, can you please tell me where the bathroom is?” How dare you?! Find it on your own!

So today I want to talk about what purpose the word ‘sorry’ (as an apology) is supposed to serve, and how I’m learning to use it correctly in my relationships.

If you’re like me, ‘sorry’ is used as an easy out. It somehow pacifies your feelings of guilt, even in insignificant circumstances. I say it when it has no meaning, but I struggle to apologize when I really should.

A genuine apology is intended to be reparative. We apologize to preserve relationships and reputations.

When I was working with autistic teenagers we emphasized that an apology isn’t just reluctantly saying “I’m sorry” to get out of being in trouble. An apology is acknowledging that you did something wrong by accepting responsibility for the negative impact of your actions, and genuinely planning to avoid repeating the same actions in the future.

‘Sorry’ isn’t meant to convey weakness. Saying it doesn’t mean that you’re taking responsibility for everything. ‘Sorry’ is useless if it’s forced or parroted to appease someone. There really are appropriate ways to use the word. It looses it’s power when we use it incorrectly.

But, when it’s used in the appropriate context, and after thoughtful consideration of the person to whom you’re apologizing, it can be the most meaningful and loving way to heal a relationship.

When I think about apologies my brain always goes straight to marriage. There’s probably no other relationship that is as refining as marriage can be.

I know that my marriage is the relationship in my life that is tested the most. It’s the one where my pride most often gets in the way. It is where my ability to apologize is truly tested.

Early on I’m our marriage I never apologized, and neither did my husband. I think I was too afraid that if I apologized for anything it would make him more aware of my short comings. Like, if I highlighted the fact that I’d been crazy or hurtful, he’d see it more clearly. I think I assumed that if he saw everything clearly, he’d bolt.

Neither one of us was very good at communicating our needs, and we were both super needy (all humans are…all the time. I don’t know why ‘needy’ is seen as a negative thing. Maybe I’ll write a post on this later.)

We got married to be in relationship with one another, to encourage and support each other, but I was so afraid of messing it up that I completely avoided all conflict and communication. How can I support and encourage a spouse who is forced to walk on eggshells around me? (No joke, y’all. Id start crying if he even raised his eyebrows during a conversation.) This made communication nearly impossible. I’d put up walls to keep myself safe from the one person who had chosen to legally bind himself to me.

No communication was happening, so apologies definitely werent happening, and they needed to be. We eventually went to counseling (not because we were at the end of our rope, but because we realized that things were off, and we wanted to fix it before it was too late. BEFORE we resented each other.)

In counseling I learned answers so some questions about myself and my husband, and I learned that communicating doesn’t only unveil things, it also helps to repair brokenness that’s already been seen. It opens the door for apologies.

The more we practiced communicating, the more I saw it as a good thing- a great thing! Communicating about difficult stuff is never comfortable, but I think it’s necessary. Genuine apologies can’t appen in the absence of communication. If you’re not talking, and you’re wanting an apology, you probably won’t get one.

So, for the sake of this post, I want to create a scenario for you. This is not my marriage (though tiny pieces of it reflect where we’ve been and how we sometimes behave).

Bob and Susan have been married for thirteen years. They have three kids, 11, 9, and, 5. Bob works out of the home full-time, and Susan has a side job as a pampered chef representative.

Bob and Susan spend most of their time as individuals. They no longer call each other on their lunch breaks to discuss how in love they are, and their communication in general takes a backseat to the kids and their busy schedule. They are like most married couples with kids.

One evening after work Bob calls Susan and tells her that he’s going to a friend’s house to help him move a piece of furniture. Hetells her it shouldn’t take too long, and makes sure she’s ok with it before hanging up the phone. Susan tells him it’s fine.

Susan hangs up the phone, gets a plastic container out of the cabinet, and loads it with Bob’s favorite meal, chicken cordon blue. She’d been expertly stuffing chicken breasts for the last hour because it’s Bob’s favorite meal. She would rather lick a changing table than handle raw chicken, but she does it twice a month because he loves it (and she loves that he loves it.) How could he forget that tonight was chicken cordon blue night? Had he stopped loving her cooking? She’d had the world’s longest day… The kids were impossible when getting ready for school. One of them left lunch on the kitchen counter so she’d had to drive all the way back into town, and when she got there she got trapped by a hoard of angry pta mom’s. She’d been forced to sign up to bring homemade muffins to the meeting tomorrow. Homemade?! Can you believe the audacity of those PTA mom’s? Just put muffins on the sign up sheet! Who the hell cares where they were made? She’d gotten home to a million and one messages about pampered chef stuff. Did she really want to keep doing parties? It was so much work! Then she finally had time to clean the kitchen from last night’s disaster meal, and cut her finger. She made the dang homemade muffins, made few phone calls, cleaned the kitchen again, picked up the kids, helped them with homework, and made dinner. She had to make dinner. She got over everything and pulled that gooey raw chicken out of the fridge. It was therapeutic. Chicken cordon blue fixed everything. She shoved it into the oven with a sigh of relief. Her day was almost done. Bob would be home soon. He’d tell her how delicious dinner was, and everything would feel less heavy. Bob calls.

Susan and the kids eat dinner. The kids all bathe and get in bed. Bob gets home four hours later with a hint of Guinness in his breath. Susan is fuming, but she’s too tired to pick a fight. She’s silent. Bob tells her that he and his buddy had a beer after moving the dresser. She believes him. They go to bed.

Bob never knows that Susan is upset, and Susan never finds out about Bob’s difficult meeting with his boss. Layoffs are coming soon, and though Bob’s job is probably safe, he’s going to have to deliver the bad news to a few of his subordinates.

This is how they have lived for three years now. This is their norm. They’ve slowly grown apart. They definitely resent each other a little. They haven’t had a conversation that’s lasted more than five minutes in years, and no one has apologized for anything since the time that Bob forgot to take their oldest kid to his soccer game…when he was six. It was the last one of the season and Susan couldnt be there because she had to take their middle kid to the doctor for strep. They gave out participant trophies and he hadn’t gotten one because he didn’t make it to the game. He was devistated. Bob definitely apologized that night.

So years of not communicating led to years of backed up apologies. How could anyone apologize now? There’s just too much.

My husband and I try to reset things when we feel ourselves getting close to this situation. We don’t want to get so far from each other that it feels too late or too hard to fix things. But it still happens. We get busy and forget to ‘check in’. I sometimes get so busy with the boys that I don’t have a clue what’s going on in his life and vice versa.

Say “I’m sorry”! It has to start somewhere. Pick something, anything, to apologize for. There are probably a dozen things that I could apologize for at any given time.

My last apology happened far too long ago, and it was something like this, “I’m sorry I’ve been kinda absent lately. I know work must be stressful. How’s finding a new engineer going?” It sparked a conversation that led to other issues we’d been having and it really resulted in some reparations. I learned about his work stress, he listened to me talk about how difficult things had been with the kids and our house (that’s a mess from some water damage in the kitchen). We heard each other.

Apologizing doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t always need to be all encompassing to be effective. It’s essentially just stepping back, letting go of pride, and showing someone that they’re important to you.

It’s too easy to lose the people who we love. They could be gone in an instant. I’m learning not to let my fear and pride get in the way of opportunities for sweet moments with friends and family (even my kids. I apologise at them a lot!)

So, try it!

Thanks for reading.

Postpartum Anxiety and how I Finally got Help

We all know what anxiety is, right? Or at least we think we do. It’s something that we all talk about, feeling “anxious”, and it generally has a negative connotation- at least it did to me.

We’re told not to be anxious, as if it’s something that can be controlled by conscious attempts and efforts to keep it away. That’s wrong. That’s very wrong!

Anxiety is not anyone’s fault. It’s not a behavior or a mindset that we choose. It is a mental health disorder, and it requires as much (or more) attention as a broken leg. It wont get better without intervention.

Post partum anxiety is extremely common, but somehow it plays second fiddle to it’s (exually important to talk about) coconspirator, postpartum depression.

So what is postpartum Anxiety?

All new moms experience some anxiety. It has an evolutionary purpose, after all. A momma who thinks about the dangers present in her child’s life is more able to plan ahead and prevent harm to her child.

All new mommas have some stress and emotional uneasiness. We’re all exhausted for a little while, and we all have concerns. Postpartum Anxiety comes into play when a mom becomes consumed by anxious thoughts and emotions. It has been said that the true mark of anxiety is knowledge of irrational thoughts and concerns without the ability to stop them.

Some mom’s with postpartum anxiety report changes in sleeping and eating, a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, hot flashes, and even nausea. I dealt with all of these things, and more.

I woke up one morning when big brother was four months old feeling off. I went to big brothers crib (that was still in our room), scooped him up, and carried him to his nursery where I did my morning pump for liquid gold.

My husband went to prepare a bottle as I began to pump.

When my husband came to collect big brother for his feeding I told him that I wasn’t feeling well. I was dizzy and foggy (which had been extremely common symptoms for me throughout my pregnancy). I could see him filing the information away- we’d been trying to figure out what was causing these sympotms (and others) for almost a year. It was so frustrating and discouraging.

My husband scooped big brother up and they went to our bedroom. About ten minutes later I yelled down the hallway to inform my husband that the feeling had worsened. I was now feeling numb and was unable to move well.

He helped me get to our bed after finishing big brothers feeding (remember, none of this was exactly new). I laid on my back in the bed and I could feel my limbs grow heavy. I told my husband that I couldn’t move.

My husband coached me through this terrifying situation in a way that now seems impossible. He helped me stay calm by asking me clarifying questions about what I was feeling. A few minutes passed before we decided that the hospital needed to be our next move. This was not what I’d experienced before. This was much worse.

He asked if I could get to the car. Nope. I couldn’t even move my legs or arms. I started to cry. He called 911 and they were there within moments.

They asked the same questions that my husband had been asking me (my head/mouth/eye control was fine, but I literally could not move anything else.) After checking my blood sugar, blood pressure, pupils, and other things, they put me on a board and took me to the ambulance.

The ride there was filled with more questions and reassurances that we were going to finally find some answers. One of the men on the ambulance even said that he thought this might be the final straw. He said he just knew that we were going to get answers.

He wasn’t wrong! After a long visit in the er, followed by four more long days of hospitalization and rigorous testing we learned that there was no physical reason for my symptoms.

The staff psychologist at the hospital came in and asked me how I felt about mental health. I told him that my undergraduate degree was in psychology, and that I have a high reguard for his profession.

“Good”, he said. “I think you have conversion disorder.”

I’d never heard the term before. He went on to explain that it’s a mental health disorder that displays itself as neurological sympotoms. He told me that it sometimes requires tons of intervention and medication, but not always.

He then asked me if I was feeling stressed or anxious.

“Not at all”, I said.

He looked at me like I was a crazy person. He reminded me that I had a four month old baby and I’d been dealing with terrifying neurological sympotms for a year. He told me that I should be feeling stressed.

We talked for a while and finally got to the conclusion that I was stressed, probably more than stressed, and that I was going to try counseling.

He gave me a list of counselors to follow up with and he instructed me to start thinking about my thoughts and emotions. He told me to write things down, that writing was a good place to start.

By day four of my hospital stay everything was almost back to normal. I was still very weak, but I could move. I was released from the hospital feeling hopeful, and very eager to get home to my kid!

I called my OB when I got home to explain what the psychologist thought had been going on (possibly throughout my pregnancy). She had me come in and fill out a questionnaire. She told me that I was dealing with postpartum anxiety too, and we talked about medication to regulate my hormones for the time being.

I reluctantly agreed to go on medication. She assured me that it wouldn’t interfere with breastfeeding, and that if this specific medication wasn’t an ideal fit, we’d find one that worked. She encouraged me to follow through with counseling, and told me that she was encouraged by the thought that my symptoms were being caused by something treatable (as opposed to being possible residual effects of the brain surgeries I’d had as a kid.)

I started the medication and counseling (though I didn’t see my counselor as often as I should have- a decision that I regret now that we have almost three kids and even less time!), And I started to feel so much better.

I started sleeping better. I didn’t eat as much junk food. I started eating meals. My dizziness and weakness slowly went away. I started exercising. I didn’t cry as much. My heart stopped feeling like it was going to jump out of my chest. Swallowing got easier. I was able to talk to people again. Every area of my life had been impacted by postpartum anxiety and I had no idea!

I’m convinced that addressing my anxiety is what made my conversion symptoms stop. I never had to undergo biofeedack or rigorous treatments for conversion disorder. I am fortunate, because so many people with conversion disorder have much more severe cases!

When I am anxious I still notice neurological symptoms like slight weakness and dizziness, and now I’m more able to recognize them for what they are instead of passing them off as nothing.

I didn’t permanently ‘fix’ my anxiety. I don’t know that it’s something that’s completely fixable. What I did do though, was learn ways to cope with it.

Now I write, talk with counselors (when I actually take the time to do it…I should go more), listen to music, pray, use my support system, rely on medication (when I need it, I’m not currently taking medication, but I’m not opposed to it if the need arises!), Exercise, and take breaks to cope with my anxiety.

I’ve found so much healing in the willingness to call it what it is and seek help.

If you or someone you know may be dealing with anxiety or depression, know that it’s not wrong. It’s a diagnosable, treatable condition. It’s not a personal flaw or a weakness. It can, and does, happen to anyone.

If you are a new mom and you think that you may be dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety, please talk to your doctor! Untreated postpartum mental health issues can lead to horrible things. You are not alone. You are not ‘bad’ or broken. You deserve to feel better! Don’t wait to get help.

Postpartum Support International is a fantastic place to start finding resources and information, but I want to stress the importance of letting the people around you know what’s going on. Sit down with your doctor and talk about your concerns.

I’m so thankful for my conversion episode. I don’t know that I would have become aware of the underlying issue without it! Pay attention to your body. Know your baseline so that you can be aware of changes that may be pointing to mental health issues. Take care of yourself! It’s so easy to get swept up in being a new mom. It’s so easy to loose focus on yourself. You’re worth it!

Thanks for reading. Like, share, follow, and comment if you’d like. I’d love to know about your experiences with postpartum mental health!

Unexpected Emotions

When big brother was 9 months old we got pregnant with little brother. Little brother was planned and wanted, and we were so excited to be adding to our family. Little brother was a blessing from the day that we learned we were pregnant, but I was sad for the last three months of my pregnancy. The night before his birth was the most emotionally conflicted 8 hours of my life.

Today I’m going to share my experience with unexpected emotions, and how I’m choosing to let them wash over me. I think that we mommas (and women in general) get bad press for being ’emotional’. When did it become wrong to feel? Men do it too!

For years I was stuck in a cycle of intense feelings and repression. I felt like emotions had to be wrong because the strong ones only led to bad things. I’m learning that emotions are a wonderful part of how I learn about myself and the world. I’m learning how to better address my emotions, and they now often lead to very good things.

So, I was pregnant with little brother before big brother was a year old. We wanted to have our kids close together because my first pregnancy had been complicated, and I knew that if we took much of a break I just wouldn’t want to get pregnant again. I know that people thought we were crazy after having seen everything that I went through during the first pregnancy, but it’s what we wanted.

We only tried for little brother for a few months. Big Brother had taken a bit longer to conceive. We were overjoyed! I’m an only child, so I think I was kinda shocked for the first few months of my pregnancy with #2. He was an impossible miracle. So many families aren’t able to conceive even one, let alone two. We were the lucky ones. I cried tears of joy for weeks!

Time passed, and I quit my job to prepare for being a sahm of two. Staying home with big brother proved to be both very stressful and very rewarding. I was seeing everything that he did. I was a part of his firsts, and I got to wipe his every tear. It was an incredibly emotional transition for me.

One day, as big brother napped, I held my bump and thought about who little brother would be. I thought about how big brother would interact with him, and what they would have as brothers.

I imagined them playing, and fighting. I even looked at a stuffed monkey on the floor and imagined big brother holding it up over little brother’s rock n play. Then I fast forwarded a year or two and pictured them playing tug of war with the same monkey.

I thought about all of the good things that little brother was going to bring into big brother’s life. Then, out of nowhere, I was overcome with thoughts of what little brother was going to be taking away from big brother. I couldn’t stop thinking about how big brother was no longer the baby- my tiny little boy was being pushed out of his role, and it broke my heart.

I’d say that all of these emotions landed on me when big brother was around 14 months old. I was still filled with joy at the thought of meeting little brother and integrating him into our family, but I was so sad for big brother at the same time. I couldn’t calibrate, so I shoved everything down and tried not to feel it.

I thought I was rocking it, and that the emotions had passed (because how dare I feel?!), but they always resurfaced late at night. I cried a lot- my poor husband is a champ!

We went to my high risk ob for my 37 week appointment and the sonographer did the usual ultrasound to measure little brother and make sure he wasn’t in distress. She left the room after giving us a couple of images of little brother. About five minutes later my doctor walked in and said, “you’re having a baby tonight, momma.” She was full of joy, but my heart sank.

My fluid levels had dropped too low and little brother was in distress. She was worried that if he didn’t come out soon he might not make it. I asked her how long we had. I needed my hospital bag and I wanted more time with big brother. I wanted all of the time with big brother! How dare she steal these last two weeks from him? We were supposed to have more time!!

She told me that we could go home to get my bag, but we needed to head over to the hospital that evening. She left the room and came back a few minutes later after speaking with my regular ob (the one who has delivered both of our boys. I love her.) She informed me that my doctor was about to be on her way back to Austin from a trip, and that she said she’d perform my surgery first thing in the morning. She said that little brother would be fine until then, but that they were going to monitor him throughout the night just to be sure.

We did as we were told. I went home, got my bag and tons of pillows (first time c section moms…you will need all of the pillows!), and hugged big brother like it was the last hug I’d ever give him. We drove to the hospital, checked in, and I got hooked up to the monitors.

Little brother and I were doing fine, so my husband ventured to p. Terry’s to get me a double chicken burger in a lettuce wrap with Swiss cheese and extra pickles (my gestational diabetes craving that pregnancy).

As soon as he left the room, I fell apart. I sobbed over everything. I mourned the time with big brother that I was loosing. I feared for little brother’s safety. I was angry that I wasn’t more upset about little brother’s distress. I begged for more time, and a healthy baby. I prayed for my doctor’s travels and asked God to give her strength to travel through the night. I prayed that she’d be energized for my early morning surgery.

By the time my husband got back to the room I’d stopped crying, but it was evident that I had been (freckles, remember?). He hugged me and told me that everything was going to be ok. It was somehow extremely soothing, even though I knew that he had no knowledge of the future.

I scarfed down the burger because surgery was set for 7, and I’d been told not to eat anything for 12 hours before surgery. It was 6:30.

That evening we watched episodes of the office and listened to little brother rolling around on the monitor. I wrote a post about my emotions on a mom group that I was in and so many mommas offered their support.

Many of them related with my conflicting emotions. Many of them were terrified the night before their second c section (more so than before their first ones.) They told me that I had more to loose this time if something went wrong.

I thought about my husband and our two boys. Would they go on without me if something went wrong during surgery? Would big brother remember the time that we had together? Would my husband remarry so the boys would have a mom, or would they grow up with just one parent?

The thoughts and emotions raced, and I continued to try to hide them from my husband.

The night passed and little brother was born the next morning. My doctor was a rockstar. She was supportive and encouraging through the entire surgery, and she stuck around the hospital until the afternoon (her scheduled shift had been later in the day. She came in so early just to deliver little brother. She assured me that she’d nap in the doctors lounge, but I didn’t believe her.)

That was it. Little brother was here, and our lives were changed forever. Big Brother and little brother love each other so much, and they fight so much. Big Brother gets just as much of my time as he ever did, it just looks different now. Now there’s a little tyrant involved too. Now I mourn the fact that little brother and I have never had significant alone time.

I regret having stuffed all of the emotions that I was feeling during my pregnancy. I don’t think it was good for me to ignore them. I think that putting them out in the open could have resulted in some helpful conversations that could have led to healing. I think I could have enjoyed my pregnancy more. But I don’t regret feeling them! I think that they were the result of my deep love for big brother, and the fact that having major surgery is scary!

Now I choose to feel what I feel. I let it consume me, for a moment, and then I write it down or talk to someone about it. Sometimes I even file them away to readdress at a more appropriate time (usually naptime), and make a point to come back to them. We have to process our emotions! If we don’t, they become too powerful- all stuffed away. They become cannon balls! They cause major damage when we least expect it!

A few months after little brother was born we moved and I started going to a church regularly. There I made some connections with other moms (these women are still my friends and I’m so thankful for them). All of my stuffed emotions eventually came out. I was a wreck, and they could all see it. They loved and supported me through it, and things eventually got way easier.

I was an anxious mess because I hadn’t given my emotions the respect that they were due. We feel things for a reason, and even when our feelings don’t reflect the truth, we need to acknowledge them. We need to learn from them.

Women, don’t be ashamed to feel. Feelings are a part of our compasses. We need them! I am a Christian, and I whole heartedly believe in a God who is relational. I believe that he let’s us feel to teach us about our hearts. I believe that each emotion that we have is meant to refine us, not hurt us.

Anyhoo- these have been some of my experiences with unexpected and conflicting emotions. I hope you enjoy enjoyed reading some of my heart.

Feel free to like, comment, follow, and share. Every action that you take on my blog helps make it visible to more readers, which helps me someday monetize it. I’d like to turn this into a little extra income for my kiddos and I to go on adventures with. Thanks a ton!!


Learning from my Mistakes

My parents used to go grocery shopping every Sunday after church. I’d usually stay in the backseat of the car while they shopped (it was the 90s, and I was 9 or 10 at the time.) Occasionally I’d go in and roam around the store while my parents shopped.

(Are kids still this independent? I’d be terrified of letting my boys roam around in a grocery store…maybe that’s because they’re still so tiny.)

One Sunday I ventured onto the health and beauty aisle. It was dimly lit (Food Lion always seemed a little darker than Kroger), and it smelled like Dove soap.

Isn’t it funny how our memories work? I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, but I remember that the aisle where I committed my crime smelled like the bar of Dove soap sitting in my bathtub.

I slowly walked down the aisle thinking about the two dollars that I had wadded up in my pocket. I looked at bon bon nail polishes and bonnebelle lip balms, and then, next to the glittery lip smackers lip gloss, I saw the press on fake nails. They were glorious, and so much cooler than a tiny bottle of nail polish. (Who am I kidding? Tiny nail polish was the best!)

I stared at the press on nails for a while. I leafed through the different color options and held my hand up next to the plastic hand that was displaying a set of blue press on nails.

I really wanted those nails, but I knew that my parents wouldn’t have let me wear them, and they cost $4. I only had $2!

So, in an act of complete mania, I ripped the ring finger nail off of the plastic hand and put it in my pocket.

My heart raced as I searched for my parents and waited with them in the checkout line. The nail pressed against my thigh as we drove home. The thought of it in my pocket seemed to give it powers. I could have sworn that it was burning my leg.

As soon as we got home I removed the nail from my pocket and put it some safe place until I could figure out how to dispose of it without anyone finding out what I’d done.

I was petrified that someone would find out how immorally I’d acted. I was so afraid of the consequences! I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed in me.

I kept the nail a secret for an entire week. The next Sunday morning I slid the nail into my shoe on the way to church. I held it there the whole morning, and didn’t think about anything but that plastic fingernail for two whole hours.

After church we went to lunch, and then to the grocery store. I opted to go inside for the second week in a row (and I was terrified that my parents were getting suspicious).

I slid onto the health and beauty aisle again. The plastic hand was still there. It looked so sad without the nail that I’d stollen.

I dug the blue nail out of my shoe and pressed it against the hand. I know I held it there for five minutes trying to get it to magically adhere. It didn’t stick, so I hid the nail on the shelf and walked away.

I was ashamed for weeks. Honestly, I felt super guilty about it for years!

You know how when you’re getting to know someone you sometimes have the “have you ever broken the law?” Conversation. All I could ever think of when asked this question was that stupid fingernail, and how I’d stollen it. I was a theif! I never dared to tell anyone of my indiscression, and well into my adult years I told people about my first speeding ticket instead.

Then one night my husband and I were talking and the question came up. I thought about his legal bond to me before I came out with it.

I told him all about the nail, and how I’d taken it, kept it, and returned it. I told him that I’d never told anyone else. My heart raced, and I felt like I was 9 years old again.

When I finished telling the story I could feel him laughing at me…it wasn’t on the outside, but his eyes couldn’t hide the fact that he was in hysterics.

Now it’s pretty funny to think about the torture that I put myself through. The cover up (for years) was way worse than the act. Stealing the nail was a mistake, but the bigger mistake had been refusing to acknowledge my mistake, learn from it, and move on.

The only thing that the nail had really taught me was that I hate feeling guilty! I ‘got away with’ my mistake by hiding it, but I hadn’t learned anything of substance.

I’ve made a million and a half mistakes since then. I make mistakes everyday (even guilt inducing ones), but I’ve learned that hiding them and dealing with them on my own isn’t good. I learn so much more when I’m honest (and when I ask for help if I need it).

Lying and pretending to be perfect is exhausting. So, hi! My name is LJ, and I’m a big mess. I’m figuring out most things as I go, and it’s fun! I’ll make millions more mistakes, and I hope that I’ll choose to learn from them instead of hiding them.

Pobodys nerfect! Give yourself grace. Be open with your mistakes, someone else may learn from them too!

Pictured below: press on nails that I bought at Target yesterday. The whole family had a go! Hehe.

Respect and Parenting

‘Respect’ has so many different meanings.

This morning my husband and I were talking about respect. I told him that I wanted this post to be on respect and parenting. I told him that I have an issue with the position that parents are automatically due respect from their children (in the same way that I take issue with the idea that any clout automatically requires respect). He wholeheartedly agreed that respect is earned.

Then I asked him if we are to respect our children. He and I both agreed that its part of our job as parents to teach them respect by acting it out. They should feel respected by us too, but not always in the same way…

Respect has so many meanings!

  • To admire
  • To have ‘due regard’ for
  • To avoid harming or interfering with
  • To comply with

Which ‘Respect’ should we do and/or teach as parents? Which ones are earned, and which ones are deserved? Which ones apply to which situations? How do we navigate all of this as parents?

We don’t expect our kids to instinctively acknowledge our positions as their superiors by acting out all of our wishes and expectations (although this would be nice, we understand that this just isn’t how people are wired, and the only way that I know of to make this work is to insert fear into the situation, which is not how we want to parent.) We plan to foster healthy relationships with our children that lead to feelings of trust, resulting in a desire to ‘respect’ us by being compliant.

We don’t want them to ever act blindly because anyone ‘said so’ (In my opinion, one’s position alone shouldn’t warrant respect). We want to grow thinkers who are able to behave responsibly and ethically on their own (obviously with tons of guidance from us in the beginning, and hopefully on the occasional (sought out) counsel of us in their adult lives.) We want them to feel safe to disagree with us. We want them to feel like we have due regard for their feelings, wishes, and rights. Hopefully by respecting them, we will teach them to respect us and others.

Now, I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at this point. I don’t want to be misunderstood. We give our children boundaries (tons of them…remember, I’m a control freak.) We give them consequences for not adhering to boundaries. We outline expectations, and we explain the natural consequences that will result if expectations are not met (and we follow through). We tell them ‘no’, and we certainly don’t consider our kids our friends. But, we do it all with them and their hearts and minds in mind, not because we believe that we are always right and they are always wrong.

These are the ways that we want to behave as parents, and the results that we are hoping to see, but we constantly slip up when it comes to respecting them and teaching them to respect us and others. It’s so much work already, and our oldest isn’t even four yet. Lol.

Here are some practical ways that we are teaching our kids (toddlers) respect.

  1. We let them disagree with us. Disagreement is not the same thing as disrespect! Sometimes our toddlers are disrespectful in the way that they disagree (because they’re toddlers and the LOVE to test boundaries by screaming or acting out), but we try to discipline their inappropriate behaviors and also address the disagreement. Generally, once everyone has calmed down, we land on the fact that mom and dad were right. Occasionally though, we’ve misread a situation, and listening to them reveals that they were right and we were wrong. Gasp!
  2. We let them disobey us, even if we can prevent it. We don’t like it, but sometimes we watch them do the thing that we’ve told them not to do (“don’t climb on the chair!” I could obviously physically remove them from the chair, but sometimes I don’t). When they fail or get hurt they learn that mom and dad aren’t just out to ruin their fun. Our three year old has even said, “Oh is that why you told me not to do it?!” They face consequences (like timeout) for blatantly choosing to do the opposite of what they were told, but it’s all a learning experience. They learn that our directions are intended to help them, not hurt them. This builds trust. So, by letting them disobey (disrespect) us, we are hopefully allowing them to learn about respect through first hand experience (instead of expecting them to obey without understanding why it’s important).
  3. We play with them. When we play, things concerning respect are bound to come up! Playtime allows us to model respect in real life situations and imaginary situations. Sometimes we run into their personal boundaries, and are faced with the decision to either respect their bodies or not (“Stop tickling me!” “Put me down!). Sometimes our imaginary personalities have conflicts that we have to overcome respectfully. Sometimes playing just results in normal sibling rivalries- tons of opportunity to teach respect.

So, we’re TRYING to teach our boys all of the meanings of respect. I try to avoid using the word ‘respect’ though, because it really is quite confusing. I say things like “momma wants you to obey because…”, or “we need to be nice to each other because…”, or “are you treating your brother the way that you want him to treat you?”.

I know that our intentions as parents are good. I know that all of this is bound to change over time as we gain parenting experience and get to know our boys better, but this is what we’re doing now. I think that the ways that we define respect are a direct result of our life experiences, and how/what we were taught about respect. I know that so many people disagree with my viewpoint, and that’s OK!

How do you define respect? How do you teach your kids about respect? What are your expectations re respect from your kids? Do you and I agree, or are you more of a ‘respect is deserved’ parent? Why?

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow, like, comment, and share.

Tackling Fear

Around 3 this morning I woke up to a loud sound (probably outside of our home). I rolled over and woke my husband up to see if he could hear anything downstairs. He checked the baby monitor to see if the boys were okay first, then he opened our bedroom door to listen for what I thought could have been an intruder.
This probably happens once a year. He’s super compliant and very brave in these situations (because I’m kinda crazy and it has never been an intruder).
Before I was married and living with my husband, I was living in a prefab home that was at the edge of an apple orchard in Hendersonville, NC. It was a rickety little house that was actually two prefab rooms squished together. There was a huge seam running down the center of the living room.
I lived here for a year. It was perfect for me! I was living by myself, about two miles from the school where I was working, and rent was super cheap (probably because I was renting from the principal of the school, and he knew what I made).
I’m not sure if I ever really slept in that house. I think I may have just entered some trance that resulted in rest. I was terrified there! I never wanted to close my eyes.
I usually got home around 11:30 in the evening II worked from 3-11). I’d call my then boyfriend as I was getting in my car to leave the school. He’d talk to me all the way to my house. I’d drive up the gravel driveway, run to my front door with my key in hand (kinda pointed outward and ready to attack), unlock the door, and run to my room. Then I’d sit in bed watching shows and videos until I couldn’t anymore.
I didn’t like the silence. I just knew that if I was going to be murdered it would be on the edge of that apple orchard, in my adorable peach colored house. I made it!
I never tackled that fear. I was rescued by a handsome man who proposed to me in the living room of that rickety house and later swept me off to Austin, TX. Now we both sleep, and if I get scared I just make him deal with it!
I have a ton of other fears, though. Getting married didn’t take care of all of them. If anything- I’ve got more fears now.
So what is fear? I couldn’t sleep after the mysterious banging noise this morning, so I tried to rack my brain for how I define fear.
It’s unpleasant and uncomfortable. It’s an emotion. But what causes it? Is it faulty wiring? Is it a belief that something can hurt me?
I finally dozed back off after deciding that I think that fear (my fear at least) is caused by a firm belief that something is harmful or dangerous (to me or anyone really…this is what really gets the ball rolling for anxious moms.)
Today I’m going to share some of the things that I am afraid of, and how I’m tackling those fears. Some of these fears are things that I still struggle with, but many of them have transitioned from fears to friends. Several of the things that I used to fear greatly have become the things that have grown me the most. I’ll explain more as they come up.
My fears
I am obviously not super comfortable around poisonous spiders and snakes, but those aren’t the types of fears that I’m going to be discussing today. There are things that are somewhat reasonable to fear, and things that aren’t. I’ll be talking about my generally unreasonable fears. The ones that were keeping me from living my life.
  •  Being Exposed- I don’t mean unintentionally becoming nude and being forced to run across the stage at my high school graduation (although, how terrifying?!). I’m talking about a fear of people finding out ‘who I really am’ or ‘what’s really inside my heart.’ I’ve mentioned before that I used to feel like my heart was out of alignment or something, like although I was doing good things, I was not good because of some ugly black thing in the center of my heart.   I have since learned that this thing is my human nature, and that as hard as I try to hide it, it’s going to be seen. I’ve stopped trying to hide the fact that I’m not perfect, and that I’m sometimes driven by what I want and not what’s best for the good of everyone. I still don’t love the fact that I’m not entirely morally pure, but I’m learning that I was holding myself to an impossible standard. I was always afraid that someone would expose me for me. I was afraid of myself, and that’s never a good thing! We are all human. We all have a human nature. Not one of us is God. I’ve decided to stop trying to be ‘God like” and let the process of refining and shaping my heart happen naturally. I’m now more open to learning, more confident in who I have been made to be, and less afraid ALL THE TIME! This has been the biggest fear that I’ve tackled so far.      How’d I do it? By trusting the good and encouraging things that people said about me personally, and by choosing to believe the good things that I read about people as a whole. I had to be honest about my fear, and acknowledge how it was impacting my life. As I did that I opened myself up to healing. I let friends and mentors know how I felt about myself and they swiftly and gently corrected me. They told me about their own shortcomings. They revealed the darkest parts of their own human nature, and it helped. So, instead of fearing exposure, I exposed myself- and it has been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself!
  • Medical Issues- When I was a kid I had a series of brain surgeries caused by a recurring brain tumor. My dad was hospitalized a lot (for meningitis, hepatitis, cellulitis- all several times). My mom has been isolated to a wheel chair for as long as I’ve been alive, and she’s legally blind. All of this kinda resulted in a fear of unanticipated medical issues. Honestly, for a decade after my last brain surgery, every headache or dizzy spell would scare the boogers out of me! Then when I became a mom, I’d panic every time one of my boys seemed like he had a headache. I was living under the assumption that something bad was going to happen, and WHEN it did, I wasn’t going to be able to handle it. I was choosing to let my fear control the way that I was enjoying motherhood. I let it rule my thoughts. We were at the doctors office every time the boys coughed because I was afraid of missing something big (because you know coughing is a chief sign of a slow growing brain tumor! no.) This fear can’t be considered tackled, but I think that we can safely categorize it is a friend. I haven’t panicked over a headache of my own in a couple of years, and my boys headaches are all likely caused by the fact that they’re always headbutting each other (boys are nuts!). I’ve learned that although it will be uncomfortable when medical issues arise (for me, my husband, my boys), we will get through it, because we are capable and we’re not alone! For some reason I thought that bravery was the key to getting through medical stuff. Like, I could only make it through if I was a pillar of strength who welcomed pain. Seeing the pain of others has taught me that that’s just not true. My own abilities and allowances have nothing to do with how well I will suffer. Strength comes from external sources, and it comes in abundance when you let it! So, I’m tackling this fear by choosing to be an active part of a community, and by caring about the suffering of others. It’s kinda like exposure therapy.
  • Abandonment- I think this stems from my insecurities, which I’ve discussed in other posts and a bit in the “exposure” bullet above, but I’ve always been afraid that people would leave me- especially my husband and my friends. I’ve never been abandoned by a parent, or sustained anything that would have caused extreme attachment issues, so I have no clue why my insecurities manifested in this way, but they did. From the beginning of my relationship with my husband I have always given him an ‘out’. If we fought, I’d offer to sacrificially break up with him so he didn’t have to leave me. In friendships I never got too attached because I knew that it could only end in pain. The thought of a loved one leaving me still isn’t pleasant, but I no longer classify it as a fear because I no longer see it as presenting harm or danger to me. I now know that IF someone chooses to leave, it’s their prerogative. My job is to love and enjoy my husband and my friends, and in doing so, I’ve found that I feel much more secure in my relationships. Fearing abandonment was pushing people away (I thank God everyday for my husband, who stuck it out because he loved me. He could have easily been scarred by my doubt. He could have easily run and it wouldn’t have been his fault at all!) I can’t really give you specifics when it comes to tackling this one. I think it’s a lot like the work that I put into the other two. My insecurities have shrunk since I’ve been willing to admit them, and my being more involved in my relationships has taught me that people benefit from having me in their lives as much as I benefit from their presence in mine.

Y’all, there are like a bazillion other fears that I have had the joy of checking off of my ‘tackling fears’ list as a result of these same principals. So instead of listing all of them (and I’m serious, there are a ton), I’m going to list the things that helped me tackle them…

  1.  Being open about my fears
  2. Listening to the people around me
  3. Praying/reading my Bible/reading other helpful literature
  4. Trusting people- I have no concrete solution for trusting people. I just decided to act as if I trusted people, and eventually I did.
  5. Trusting myself and my abilities- again, no step by step guide, I just decided that I wasn’t broken and I started implementing trusting behaviors (stopped shaming myself, started caring for myself). The trust eventually came.
  6. Saying nice things to myself- whenever I realized that I was speaking lies to myself, I just reversed them. It felt really silly at first, but I eventually stopped speaking lies to myself. I eventually started to believe the reversed lies, and now I don’t have to do this silly exercise that often because I’ve stopped lying to myself (for the most part).

Fear is a jerk! It is powerful and overbearing. Don’t let it rule your life! Reach out to others. Seek the help of a mental health professional (I DID!). Take medication if you need it. Talk to your doctor. Talk to your spouse, your friends, your family. ACT, because you’ll feel so much better once you stop the cycle of fear that you may be trapped in.

I know that at one point my fears seemed too big to tackle. There were even times that I didn’t realize that I was being ruled by them. They’re sneaky sometimes, but they can infiltrate everything in your life.

I hope that this has been an encouragement to someone who is struggling like I was. You are not faulty! You can feel better!

Please feel free to like, follow, comment, and share. I hope you all have an awesome FRIDAY!!

-LJ Brehm


Meet Me Face to Face


I’ve created a YouTube Channel to go along with my blog! There will be much more content here, on my website, but I’ll upload videos occasionally.

I’ve learned that it’s much easier for me to sit in front of a screen and type words than it is for me to show you my face as I speak. There are probably several reasons for this, but I think the biggest one is that it’s easier to fake it when everything is written. So, these videos are somewhat self indulgent. I’m hoping to be more honest as a result of speaking instead of just writing. It seems like more accountability is found here for some reason. I think it’ll also be a fun challenge.

Anyhoo- this is an introduction to my channel and my blog. I hope you like it! (And I blink A LOT, so if that bothers you you may want to forgo the video 🙂 )

A Busy Mom’s Most Used Makeup Items

It’s no secret that I’m not an everyday makeup wearer. I wear makeup when I want to, and I’ve never really felt like I NEED it. (This doesn’t mean that I always feel like I look good, though 😂- just that I’m not convinced that the amount of makeup that I’m comfortable with really changes the way I look that much.)

I’m pretty comfortable with walking out of the house sporting my natural face, but when I want a little pick me up, or when I’m in the mood to be perceived as ‘having it all together’ I’ll take ten minutes or so to put on some momma-friendly makeup.

Makeup really does make a world of difference in how I feel! (Which should incentivize wearing it everyday, but it hasn’t yet.) When I’ve taken some alone time in the morning just to focus on my face, I can really sense myself being more confident throughout the day. I’d even argue that I’m in a better mood on days when I wear makeup (that I’m comfortable in). I’m not sure if it’s the power of the makeup or the fact that I’ve looked myself in the eye, and taken the time to care for myself first thing in the morning. Either way, the result is good!

There’s a huge difference between makeup that I’m comfortable in and makeup that makes me feel like a walking car wreck (you know, that ‘cant look away’ phenomenon. It’s so bad, but you just can’t look away…some makeup makes me feel like that.)

Things you might like to know about me before I share what’s in my makeup bag:

1. I have really dry skin

2. I’m generally found wearing neutrals or muted colors (muted neutrals are my sweet spot…grey, tan. I know, I know, so exciting.)

3. I have loads of freckles, and completely covering them up just feels weird. I still want my face to look like my face.

4. I don’t like the feeling of heavy makeup. I like for my face to breathe. We have pores for a reason, after all. So, I tend to go for more lightweight bases.

5. My boys touch my face a lot. This sounds weird, but it’s true. We’re a very touchy bunch, and one of our signature moves is the affectionate face hold. I don’t want that to stop because I’m wearing makeup, so I don’t generally wear anything that’s cream based.

6. I don’t have a night life, so I very rarely change up my makeup look from day to night. Let’s be honest, most nights I’m in bed by 9, and if we go on a date or I want a little more va va voom, I’ll just add a little eyeliner.

My makeup bag in all of it’s glory!

I bought this bag at a gift shop in Asheville, NC. It was made from an old table cloth, and it is super easy to wipe clean! I love the colors. It’s a perfectly cheery morning pick me up.

It’s contents:

This is what’s currently in my makeup bag. I own a couple of other foundations including NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, and Maybelline Fit Me Foundation. And I also own a couple of colorful Wet n Wild Eye Shadow Palettes for days when I’m feeling extra brave.

These are my tools. I generally buy the cheapest thing that gets the job done, but when I’m feeling particularly selective (or when I have a gift card to Ulta or Target), I’ll buy Real Techniques tools. I have a few of their brushes that are currently hiding in my bathroom (They’re dirty and I’m busy!!).

Believe it or not, all of this fits into my little makeup bag! I have a system for getting it all to fit, but when I do it right I can get it all in. I couldn’t add another thing to it if I tried.

Let’s break everything down a bit.



These are the things that I use on my face. I have been loving this Cover FX Anti Aging Primer. It’s super moisturizing (which I need), and most foundations sit on top of it really beautifully. Using a primer with good ingredients allows me to spend significantly less on foundation, too!

My Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation has been my favorite one this summer. It doesn’t make my face look super dry, and it doesn’t completely cover my freckles. I’ve found that it provides a nice, light weight coverage. I’d say it’s a medium coverage foundation. It covers the red, but leaves the freckles. Win Win.

My contour and highlight palette is from Smashbox. I use this to lightly contour my cheeks and forehead, and the ‘highlighter’ in the palette is not shimmery. It’s actually the perfect color to act as a setting powder for my pale skin! I don’t often use bronzer, but I like that this one isn’t shimmery.

My blush (the only blush I’ve ever used) is Bobbi Brown’s Desert Rose Blush. It complements my fair skin and freckles, and it applies evenly over foundation or powder. I like that it’s low maintenance because putting pink stuff on my face is a little terrifying to me!



My Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette is a little old…oops. It seems that it is no longer being sold, so I’ve linked their Ultimate Basics Palette. It looks like it contains all of these shades, plus a few others. I have loved this palette for a couple of years now. It is perfectly neutral, and I can use these shades for my brows and eyeliner too!

This Precisely My Brow Pencil from Benefit Cosmetics is great for filling in the scar on my eyebrow! It is thin enough to be precise, and my brows never look super overdrawn. If I want to kick it up a notch and actually ‘do’ my brows, this does that too. I can completely fill in my brows without them looking like sharpie lines on my forehead, and I feel super fancy.

I rarely wear eye liner, but when I do I tend to go for one that doesn’t move too much. This Covergirl Perfect Point Plus eye pencil works well for me. It doesn’t move too much, and I can smudge it right after I put it on for a less stark line.

This NYX Doll Eye Mascara was in my Christmas stocking. My husband said he went into Ulta and randomly picked it off of the shelf. It works well, doesn’t smudge or transfer, and it stays on for a while. When I first got it it was a little too wet for me, but over time it has dried out a bit, and I LOVE it!



Are you impressed? Don’t be too intimidated by my multi-step lip regimen.

Carmex Lip Balm has always been my favorite. I probably have 5 tubes sitting around my house. My boys even love it! I apply this before I start doing the rest of my makeup. It is super moisturizing, and it makes my lips smooth enough to apply lipstick that doesn’t end up being crusty.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipsticks are my favorite. I have a few shades, but the one that lives in my makeup bag is “Sassy Mauve”. The formulation of this lipstick is smooth and creamy, but not shiny. It isn’t matte, but it definitely is not glossy. This shade is super close to the natural shade of my lips (when I’m well rested and hydrated), so I like to think that it complements my other coloring well.



This was last night after we ate dinner. The boys were playing on their new swing set with daddy, and I was laying in our hammock enjoying our gorgeous shade tree! My face has zero things on it, and I like it this way.




This is me this morning. It took me around ten minutes to apply my ‘full face’ of makeup. I don’t think that these two pictures are all that different, but I definitely have makeup on in this picture.

I’m the same LJ in both pictures. The makeup hasn’t changed anything on the inside, but I do feel more put together in the after picture. I’ve taken the time to pamper myself a little, and it feels good.

Now I need to go clean my makeup brushes! My boys have been shoving them up their noses. It’s hard to blog and mom at the same time.

Teaching My Kids that it’s Okay to be ‘Selfish’

I don’t like the world ‘selfish’. It’s confusing! Self, meaning a person’s individual being. The thing that separates them from others. -Ish, an adjective forming suffix that means ‘belonging to’ or ‘somewhat’. -Ish turns ‘Britain’ into ‘British’. It turns ‘blue’ into ‘blueish’. So, ‘Selfish’? It’s clearly an adjective, but if it followed these rules it would either mean ‘belonging to one’s self’ or ‘somewhat self’. Neither of these things is bad!

SELF IS GOOD- or at least it should be.

‘Selfish’ is a term used to describe actions that are done without the consideration of others. I get it. Sometimes we act selfishly, without caring how our negative actions are going to impact others, and that’s not a good thing. Sometimes, though, we act independently, free from ego or ill will toward anyone. Is that selfish? Is not considering others in my decision to pee without wearing my baby actually selfish, or is it self-sustaining?

I questioned myself and my intentions for far too long. I thought that my heart may have been out of alignment or something. I thought that everything that I did for myself inconvenienced others, and inconveniencing others is wrong. I expected the people around me to hold themselves to the same (high and mighty) selfless standards. I was disappointed and unsatisfied with life.

Now i see that self-sustaining behaviors are important! Self-care is NOT selfish. If anything, taking care of myself for MY benefit is a GREAT thing for my family and everyone i interact with.

When I participate in self-sustaining behaviors, I’m happier, more independent, more capable, less critical of myself and others, and more able to guide my kids through their relationships with others.

Today I’m going to outline some of the self-sustaining behaviors that I once thought were selfish. These are things that I do for myself. None of these things are done with ill will toward my family, but most of them are done without too much scrutiny on my part. All of them are fairly small behaviors, but the sum of them is huge!

  1. I set aside time to write blogs while they play- without me. Ok ok, so i’m in the same room as them, and I respond to crisis situations, but they’re ‘without me’ for the most part. They know that momma is ‘working’ and that this is my time too. The rest of the day is ours. I get on the floor and let them climb on me. I teach them “things about stuff” (this is my toddlers phrasing for when i tell them that I want to teach them something. lol.) I take them places to play and explore. I answer all two million of their questions. I give them lots of attention, but not during this time. (The part of me that still reverts to shame wants to tell you how good this has been for my boys. They’re learning to play nicer. They’re sharing more. They find creative ways to have fun without me. Their imaginations are running beautifully wild. I think all of this has to do with LESS attention from momma, believe it or not.)
  2. I limit the amount of sharing that I do. This sounds horrible, doesn’t it? I do share with my kids, I just set the perimeters. I know that they’re going to want some of everything that I have, so I mentally prepare. I give them some of whatever it is (food, drink, time doing the activity that I’m doing) and then tell them that the rest is momma’s. Sometimes I share more than one of whatever it is (because I’m momma and that’s what mommas do), but when I tell them “last bite” or “that’s all” or “mommas turn now” I don’t recoil. Occasionally they throw a fit, but I’m gotten to the point where I’m okay with that. I think this is teaching them just as much as it’s sustaining me. They know that momma loves them and that sharing is good, but they’re also learning that momma does things for herself.
  3. I exercise (and I no longer wake up at 4:30 am to do it.) Right now my exercise is limited. I’m insanely pregnant and I’m dealing with bilateral sciatica (it hurts!!). My exercise has taken the form of stretches assigned to me by my physical therapist, or biweekly visits to my physical therapist’s office. The boys try to do the stretches too! They get a huge kick out of “exercise time”, and it often evolves into “Walk a mile in your living room” youtube videos. I struggle with anxiety. For a while I was getting up at the bum crack of dawn to go to a bootcamp group fitness class. I felt so good, both physically and mentally, but the early morning time commitment became exhausting. I don’t think that you have to make gigantic time sacrifices to get the physical activity that you need (newborn situations are obviously different, but that phase is so short!). You can exercise around your kids, or include them in your exercise (If you’re a SAHM that is. If you’re a working parent you can take advantage of lunchtime and breaks at work. When I worked I’d go on long walks during lunch time. I’d pack portable lunches that were easy to eat while walking. It’s not ideal, but it worked!)
  4. I don’t stay up until 2 am just to get housework done! I have several friends who say that they only time that they have to actually get stuff done is after their kids have gone to bed. So they stay up as late as they have to to get everything done that ‘needs to be done’. These friends (who I genuinely love and respect) are not often invited into my home. We don’t live in filth, but I’m definitely not doing hours upon hours of housework everyday. Our home is very lived in, and it shows! My intention is not to shame those of you who are excellent at housework. That time after the kids go to be could be super valuable alone time! I think that if it’s good for you, you should do it! It’s just not good for me, and a somewhat messy house doesn’t hurt my family.
  5. I expect my kids to be as independent as they can be. This one has taken me a long long time to get to. I planned to be a mom who loves sacrificially all the time. I planned to respond to my kids’ every beck and call, but that’s just not realistic. One of our boys is very particular about how most things should be. He gets upset if something doesn’t live up to his expectations. He’s not super flexible. All of this resulted in me doing everything in my power to keep him comfortable. I had even begun to intervene before stuff happened. I was an anxious mess, and he was only learning that the world would bend to be what he wanted it to be. It wasn’t good for either of us. He has gotten older, and I have gotten wiser. Now I let stuff happen. I let him be somewhat uncomfortable sometimes. I often use phrases like “figure it out”, or “you’re such a good problem solver! Show momma how to solve this problem”. Instead of trying to fix all of his problems, I expect him to try to fix them himself. He’s only three right now, so his problems aren’t usually putting him in real harm. He knows that momma is always willing to help him if he NEEDS it, but he no longer expects me to fix EVERYTHING. My anxiety has reduced tremendously as a result of letting go of controlling his life. I’m less exhausted at the end of the day because all of my energy hasn’t gone to living for my three year old. And I’m teaching him that he is capable of most things that he sets his mind to (along with the fact that we are each responsible for ourselves.)
  6. I spend time away from my kids. Not much time, but some time…during their waking hours. I go to small group on Thursday nights. There I get to spend time with some dear friends, talking about what the Lord is teaching us, and praying together. My husband puts the boys in bed on these evenings, and I get to focus on MY heart. Occasionally I’ll do things like get a massage (very rarely, but it has happened), or get my haircut. It’s purely about me, and I’m the only one who directly benefits from it, and it’s’ good! It’s all about balance.

I am fortunate to have an excellent support when it comes to parenting and adulting. I know that not everyone is as fortunate. If you need time for yourself and you don’t have a live in coparent it’s probably much harder to focus on yourself, but it’s still important. Reach out to whoever you consider your support system. Take time to do things for yourself, and do it for YOU, not for your kids. If there’s literally no time, think about how you can modify your parenting style to make your job easier (while still caring for and teaching your kids). It is possible to think of yourself and still be an awesome momma!

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Pictured above: Super pregnant LJ wearing a “Boone NC” t-shirt that features both snot and dirt. Boys are gross…and fun!!