Fri-yay - Flashbacks, Fitness, and Food

Happy Friday, friends!

As I'm sure you'll all agree, TGIF! Please hit subscribe below if you'd like to be notified any time I post anything new!

A lot of my posts in the past week or so have required me to dig through social media and find some old photos, which has led to a lot of reminiscing on my part. So I thought I'd do some quick Flashback Friday stuff which will consist of some really old flashbacks along with some more recent stuff and then end with my fitness and food thoughts for the week. 

Look at these young kids! I was only 30 (he was too)! This was taken in NYC a little over 4 years ago, when we went to see Mamma Mia for my wifey's birthday and brought our men with us to torture them with ABBA songs - it was a test of their love. Jason and I had only been dating for about 3 months and I was getting ready to leave to move to Florida soon after and our future was kind of in the air at that point. How cuuuuute. Oh how life has changed in the past 4 years! (for the better, obviously)

My skirt on Monday. Rocking the raw hem look - it's a new trend, look it up. Orrrrrr I was running late and grabbed it because it was on the floor and forgot that I'd noticed the entire hem had fallen the week prior and threw it on the floor so I wouldn't try to wear it before getting it fixed. But I wore it anyway and faked like it was a trend and pointed it out to everyone just in case they thought I didn't know it had happened. No one cared but me, but that's usually how it goes, right? #myownworstcritic

So there was this one time in 2010 during my last semester of college where I had just donated my eggs and was having a bit of an existential crisis (not because of the egg donation itself, but probably related to the hormones they pump you up with). So I decided Justin and I needed a break, booked us a flight to Orlando that left several hours from when I booked it, and we went to Disney World. For a day. Just one long and craaaaaazy day in Disney. Justin being the awesome kid he is just went with the flow and we actually had a really great time. I remember being shocked by how expensive Disney tickets were that day and they are probably $20-30 more a day now. 

Regarding the egg donation(s), I will post an entire blog about that soon, since I'm sure it's something people might be interested in finding out more about. I am a 6-time egg donor!

Moving on to banana face...

Ridiculous.

Now for some Flashback Friday Shenanigans, featuring Justin and me!

Some quick thoughts on the above shenanigans

  1. There is booze in a lot of my pictures *shrugs*
  2. Can my arms please look like the picture from Lollapalooza again? Sure, I was like 25...but come on. 
  3. Rock and roll!!
  4. How straight can my haircut possibly be? Also, go Cubs!
  5. Yes, Justin wore just his underwear for the majority of his life from 4-10.
  6. Awwwwwwwwwwww <3
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How about that time I ran a 5K when I was 24-ish and got 2nd place in my age group compared to running a 5K when I was 34 and getting 1st in my age group while stomping my 24-ish aged time in the face? So suck it, age!! Like a fine wine, I keep getting better...ish.

This is the evolution of emotions I experienced yesterday morning before/during/after my workout. I was sad because I was tired and didn't wanna do it. Then I was mad because I actually got my non-running-butt outside and was ready to run 4 miles for the first time in months when it started to freaking thunderstorm 10 minutes into my run (homie don't do lightening, kay?). However I decided not to let it ruin my workout and finished my workout with 25 minutes of HIIT and a 5 minute core workout, which made me happy. #endorphins

Enough with the flashbacks. I don't even know if anyone really cares about them other than me, but unless someone says something, Imma keep 'em coming!

Fitness & Food

Workouts this week:

Sunday - rest day

Monday - P90X Chest & Back

Tuesday - 3 mile run, 5 minute core workout

Wednesday - P90X Arms & Shoulders

Thursday - 10 min run, 25 min HIIT, 5 min core

Friday - SLEPT THROUGH MY ALARM >:-/ I'm either going to do my workout tonight (fat chance OR I'll have to make it up on Saturday)

Saturday - P90X Legs & back, 3 mi run, 5 min core

Food this week (just dinners, since breakfast and lunches were all over the place)

Sunday - Corned beef & cabbage

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Monday - Mexican after Disney

Tuesday - Steak, macaroni salad, & asparagus that my dad and Tracy made #yummy

Wednesday - Burger & tator tots from Oblivion Taproom (best tator tots on Earth)

Thursday - Fish tacos that were so good and pretty effing healthy, so 1 out of 7 ain't bad, right?

Friday - Pizza night

Saturday - We want to get wings, but looking at my eating all week has me second-guessing that idea...

Wow, I've eaten like crap this week!! This was one of those weeks where pretty much nothing went right food-wise. My dad was in town Saturday - Wednesday morning and we went to Disney World on Monday, so I knew that time frame was going to be a loss. And I had a going-away party Wednesday night, so I knew that day wasn't going to be perfect. But I ate really well yesterday and will be careful not to go crazy this weekend. And guess what, I still managed not to gain anything since I ate well the times I wasn't eating like crap (don't think about it too hard...it makes sense). Having a lot of fun with food the past 3 weeks or so due to having people in town nonstop has been great, but I'll be happy to get back into 5:2 next week and start really working to get this last 8 pounds of baby weight off. And if you've been reading regularly you may have noticed the "x" pounds of baby weight changes on the regular. I've been hopping between 5-10 pounds that I still need to lose - right now I'm at 8. Not sure why I felt the need to explain that, but I did and you read it. So there. 

That about does it for today, folks. I hope you all have something super fun planned. Or not, if you want to be lazy like I plan on doing. We have had visitors for the last 3 weeks, so I'm looking forward to lazing around, getting some cleaning done, and catching up on my stories. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday Truthin' & Pregnancy Workouts

Alternate title - that time I was almost 18 weeks pregnant but didn't know it...

But first...

BABY SELFIES!!

I gave Jules my phone to keep her busy while I was making myself breakfast this morning, and this is the result #drool

Today we're going back in time - to the spring/summer of 2015, to be exact.

In the early spring of 2015 I went off of my combined hormone birth control (Yaz, which I loved) and got an IUD. The reason why I stopped taking Yaz is because I would get hormonal migraines with aura, which are extremely dangerous and greatly increase your chance of having a blood clot if you're on the combined pill. Soon after switching birth control I noticed I was gaining weight, having increased skin issues (zits), hair loss, melasma, dry/itchy scalp, and my periods were no longer regular and due to this, I ended up having the IUD removed in early April and started the mini-pill in May. I also went to my OB/GYN and PCP to get full exam, since I knew this wasn't normal - plus, I was really upset with the weight gain - I'm talking 10 pounds in 6 months, even though my eating and exercise were on point. So this is early May and the doctors both run blood tests and my lady bits doctor does an ultrasound - the ultrasound showed that I had what looked to be PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is the #1 cause of infertility in women) and the blood test results "confirmed" this, with increased testosterone levels. So my OB/GYN and PCP agreed that I should continue the mini-pill and take metformin and progesterone supplements to try to manage my symptoms. And they both told me that I would have a difficult time trying to get pregnant again in the event I ever did want to have another baby, and it is highly likely that we would need fertility treatments. My husband and I talked things over and decided we were okay not having any children of our own (plus Justin is pretty dang cool) and we could just travel and have lots of dogs and we were fine with this being the hand that was dealt to us. 

By this point, I was already pregnant. 

However I had no clue - the doctor did not catch it on the ultrasound, I'm assuming because I was only about 3-4 weeks into the pregnancy when I had it and it was too early to get caught by the blood tests. I only had about a 2 week gap between my IUD and the mini-pill where I was birth control-less...and it was enough. 

So Jason and I traveled and had a ridiculous amount of fun that summer.

We took an epic road trip all over the Midwest and New England, stopping and staying with most of our family along the way. We went to a Cubs game, had a wedding reception with my family and friends in Illinois (since we eloped), went hiking, eating, drinking, running, etc. I had stopped taking the metformin due to it making me sick (little did I know it was actually morning sickness), but I took the progesterone supplement as prescribed and even had a what I thought was a period in early July. 

I was working out like crazy and seriously watching my macros, but could not lose any of the 10 pounds I had put on. As noted above, I had some slight morning sickness May/June, which led me to stop taking Metformin and I could not stand the smell or thought of brussel sprouts. Finally I had bloated up to the point I could not suck my stomach in and after breaking down to Jason, I decided it was time to go to the doctor to confirm it wasn't anything serious. He even said that if I'm having such awful symptoms, maybe I should look into getting a hysterectomy (some women with PCOS do this, but it's not a cure by any means). I even took pictures and posted it to an exercise group I belonged to on Facebook, asking if anyone had experienced this and thought maybe it was a food allergy/intolerance or something (I was 16 weeks pregnant). 

Being pregnant never crossed my mind, since I'd been on birth control, was told I wouldn't be able to get pregnant without intervention, and all of the symptoms I was having can be caused by having PCOS. My OB/GYN totally freaked me out when I got to my appointment and stated she was worried it might be ovarian cancer and wanted to do an ultrasound. As I was laying down in the ultrasound room, she came in and said "I'm happy to tell you that you don't have ovarian cancer - you're pregnant" - they did a dip stick when I first got there. And my entire world flipped upside-down.

I called my mom first, since I didn't want to tell Jason over the phone and of course, she was thrilled. Then I told Jason and was so happy to see just how thrilled he was. We even picked out Julianna's name within the first 2 hours of finding out (we thought all the other "J" girl names either sound like strippers or mean girls). As I mentioned in another blog, Justin was not thrilled to find out, but I knew it would be fine. 

Except then I started thinking...

I had been living my life like someone who was definitely not pregnant. I'd been doing intense HIIT workouts/running/lifting extremely heavy weights and actively trying to lose weight. I had been eating sushi and ham and oysters and hot dogs all summer long and had been drinking beer and tequila almost every weekend. I was already 17 weeks pregnant and knew this was potentially a devastating thing and started beating myself up immediately. 

How could I not know I was pregnant?

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What if something went wrong with Jules? It would be all my fault (and yes, I still think this sometimes and worry, but she is 100% healthy and striving so far so I try not to worry about it too much). Due to my cavorting around and the fact that I had pre-eclampsia with Justin, my doctor classified my pregnancy as high-risk. We had a super intense ultrasound called an anatomy scan with the high-risk OB/GYN scheduled for when I was 20 weeks pregnant, and in the meantime I was told to eat well and stop exercising until our appointment. Meaning I had to wait around and "what-if" for 2.5 weeks without any outlet. I was so worried, I didn't tell anyone at work or friends and family just in case something was wrong. During this time I started really feeling Jules move around (I'd felt her around 16 weeks but thought it was just indigestion, you know...since I didn't know I was pregnant yet). I was really starting to feel the love for this little lady and I was terrified something was going to be wrong. And then we went to Sanibel Island for a long weekend when I was 18 weeks pregnant and Justin and Jason got to feel her kick, which got everyone a little more excited about her. However I couldn't enjoy myself until I knew she was okay. 

The relief I felt after our anatomy scan at week 20 cannot be described - I was finally able to enjoy my pregnancy as much as one can enjoy a pregnancy, anyway. I'm pretty sure I'm the opposite of the glowy, happy pregnant chick - I just sweat and complain the entire time. And with the blessing of the high-risk doctor, I was able to start working out again - woohoo!

So now we move on to the workouts I did, with my doctor's blessing, while pregnant. 

I am not a personal trainer and this is just what worked for me. You need to speak with your doctor and get cleared before doing your own workouts/routines, whether pregnant or not. 

Unlike the rest of the time, I did not follow a workout schedule while pregnant - well, once I found out I was pregnant anyway. I seriously listened to my body and if I was too tired, I didn't workout. However for almost the entire second half of my pregnancy I did a mix of different workouts 3-4 times a week. 

First, I bought this workout, based entirely on the high ratings and number of reviews on Amazon. I did it fairly regularly for a few weeks, but started noticing that I was having a lot of hip pain and back pain during/after the workout. I ended up going through the 1 and 2 star reviews one day and found that a lot of people had the same issues with this workout, so I stopped doing it and felt better immediately . 

After stopping that workout I ended up buying this barre workout from Suzanne Bowen. I absolutely loved this workout and did it through my 39th week of pregnancy (the picture on the left is me after my workout while 39 weeks pregnant) and I also did it a few times postpartum. I would do these barre workout 2-3 times a week, again, just depending on how I was feeling. 

I absolutely loved doing barre workouts and actually did them (just not pregnancy-style) 3-4 days a week for about 6 months postpartum. I should probably start doing them again...what's another workout to add to my schedule, right?!

I also tried to do cardio on the regular while pregnant, incorporating both T25 and Turbofire workouts 1-2 times a week. Again, I'm not a beachbody coach - I just like their workouts. And yes, that is my 6.5 month pregnant self doing a kick of some sort while trying to look all cool and badass. I wasn't really feeling the cardio as often while pregnant, so I didn't do it as often as I usually do. That and all of the Oreos I ate are probably at least part of the reason I managed to pack on 40 pounds (oops). Oh and don't forget about the Christmas cookies. Oh, and the Publix chicken wings, which were my #1 craving...along with watermelon Sour Patch Kids. And blackberries with a heap of whipped cream...

I know a lot of people will walk for a workout while they're pregnant, but I honestly did not do a lot of walking. I had some sciatic nerve pain that would rear it's ugly head in my left ass cheek/lower back whenever I'd walk for any extended period of time. Plus, I was traumatized fairly early-on in my pregnancy by people at work making fun of me for waddling - probably around 5 months pregnant, way before I was actually waddling.

Moral of that story?

Don't comment on anything potentially negative to a pregnant woman. Don't do it. The only thing you should say is they are glowing and look much smaller than "X" months. Take this advice, my friends. 

Moral of my entire blog?

If you are feeling super weird and having issues with weight gain and nausea and are of a child-bearing age, take a pregnancy test. Even when the doctor says you won't be able to get pregnant. Just in case. 

Now I want to know from you, what's the worst thing someone said to you while you were pregnant? Everyone made it a point to tell me I was huge and looked tired as often as possible. Like daily. So that was fun.

Have you ever known anyone or experienced finding out about pregnancy as late as me? Please tell me this constant guilt will go away...? Or is feeling guilty and worried all the time just the whole being a mom thing?

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

What it is Wednesday!

Hey, hey, hey! Another hump day calls for another What it is Wednesday! Today I'll be rounding up some of my current favorite things. Don't forget to subscribe if you would like to be notified whenever I post something new. 

First things first...

POKE BOWL!!

Can't stop, won't stop with the poke bowl madness. This is another bowl from Bento UCF that I had for lunch yesterday, but a new place opened this week that's closer to my house and I'm probably going to try it out this weekend. Don't worry, I will let you know ALL about it! BTW, the bowl from yesterday was so effing good. I'm hungry and would like to eat it again right now. 

Get in muh bellay!!

Another favorite thing for me right now? GNO (girls night out). 

We absolutely need to do this more often. Except maybe not get quite so crunk and just a little crunk next time. 

Next we have something I really need, since I'm a super serious blogger now. And also becuase I'm basic AF and want everything in pumpkin, cold brew coffee, and/or rose gold...

Everyone say it with me here...Ooooooooohhhhhhhh. I have so much love for it and I wants it...my preciousssssss (name the movie/character and we'll be best friends - we can get matching bracelets and everything). You can even get them refurbished on the Apple website, which basically means someone ordered it, decided they didn't like it, and returned it. So you get a mostly new computer for $200 less than actual new. 

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Something else that I'm totally digging right now is the fact that a Nordstrom Rack just opened 20 minutes from my house. *SQUEEEEEAL* 

Where else do you think us basic beeetches get our super cute clothes from? I actually stopped by the store on Saturday but it was too packed and I had way too much shizz to do to actually shop. But I'm coming for you, Nordstrom Rack in Winter Park. And I'm going to dominate you and find some serious bargains and make my husband glare at me for spending so much money!!

Now you may be thinking to yourself, man, I really like the way Jamie dresses. What, with her dirty workout clothes and sometimes dresses that I'm probably too old to get away with coupled with birkenstocks and running shoes...I'm a fashion plate. So I'm sure you're wondering what clothes I am loving right now. 

Well why don't I tell you?!? We'll start with work clothes. 

I love to wear dresses and skirts and would love this paisley dress here, this pink dress here, and the flowered dress here

I also love skirts, including these skirts here,  here, and here, and then I need this shirt to go with all of the skirts

Grey shoes here - I am so obsessed with chunky heels right now.

And for my casual clothes, which consist primarily of workout clothes, lounge wear, and cheap dresses...

Workout pants here and I would love this shirt and this bra (matching is for suckers)

I desperately want these pants in my life for being lazy and lounging around

Some casual stuff here and here

New Birkenstock sandals that I need because my old ones are starting to rip from their base right here

And I always need new sunglasses and loves this pair here

Look at that arm pump from my workout this morning. 

That's what swole means...don't look at my disgusting mirror though. 

I'm 3 for 3 in my workouts this week, which makes me super happy. I'm also ridiculously sore. You know what helps with that? Getting a massage! We just happen to have a masseuse coming to the office this week, and that's what it is! 

To say I'm a little excited to get these sore muscles rubbed out would be an understatement. I would show my excitement physically, but I can't lift my arms over my head right now. Working out is awesome for your health, just not so good for not looking like an idiot when you can't straighten your arms all the way *shrugs*

I think all blogs should end with an adorable picture of some sort, right? Nothing is more adorable than a smiley, happy baby wearing her grandpa's hat. 

Now it's your turn - what are you feeling this week? Let me know what your favorite things are right now!

Picture Post with Some Disney Tips

Happy Tuesday, friends, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to subscribe above if you'd like to be notified when I post anything new. 

Today's post is going to be a hodgepodge of pictures with some tips for Disney at the end. 

We'll start with some weekend happenings - I worked for a few hours on Saturday and then went out with some friends for a going away night out. 

The night started with a Korean wine flight, some amazing Korean BBQ, a flight of beer at an awesome local brewery, and then things got a bit nuts. There were definitely some shots involved, lots of Ubers, a biker bar, some frenetic dancing, and lots of yelling and Snapchatting. I hope Marisa had a good time and knows how much she'll be missed *insert sad face here*

I stayed out way past my bedtime and woke up feeling less than rosy Sunday. However mom-ing never stops and I had to put on my big girl pants and live the day like I didn't feel like death. We ended up going to the dog park, getting ramen, and having some corned beef and cabbage for dinner that evening. 

If you ever get yourself in a similar situation (epic hangover) I highly recommend you go get yourself some ramen. Sure, the crap in the package from the grocery store will work in a pinch (especially if you crack an egg in the water when you add the noodles) BUT I'm talking about the real stuff here. There's this place in Orlando called Sapporo Ramen and it is absolutely amazing. After spending about an hour outside at the dog park, followed by stuffing my face with that entire bowl of ramen, I felt much better. 

We all went to bed early on Sunday because Monday morning we got up early to spend the day at...

Disney World!!

My dad and his girlfriend are in town and we had some passes we needed to use ASAP, so we figured we could all go to Disney for the day. The original plan was to stay at Hollywood Studios and hit up as many rides as possible, then go to the Magic Kingdom and stay until 9 so I could see the end-of-the-night fireworks show Wishes. As things happen when you have a group of people and kids, things didn't go according to plan, but we still managed to have a great time. First we'll do pictures, and then I'll give you my top Disney tips. 

First, we have a picture of me before my workout at 5:00 in the morning which shows you just how excited I was about being up that early. I wasn't about to skip my first workout of my new plan, so even though I knew we would be active all day I still forced myself to get up and do my P90X chest and back workout. I could barely get ready afterwards because my arms were so shaky #doyouevenlift?

As planned, we started the day at Hollywood Studios and charged our way to the Toy Story Mania ride since it tends to always have the longest wait. We got in line, waited 15 minutes, and the ride broke-down. We decided to stick it out and wait but ended up waiting a total of about 45 minutes before getting on the ride #fail

See the upper left hand corner...I know where the camera is.

See the upper left hand corner...I know where the camera is.

The plan from there was to jet over to the Tower of Terror and the Rock 'N Roller Coaster, but by the time we got done with the Toy Story ride the Rock 'N Roller Coast already had a 90 minute wait. Womp womp. So we decided to take advantage of the Rider Swap program that Disney offers when you have small kids and my husband, dad, and his girlfriend Tracy waited in line and rode the Tower of Terror while Justin, Jules and I went to a Disney Junior show. Then my dad and I "swapped" and went right on the ride with a fast pass they give you when you do the Rider Swap. It's an awesome program that I highly recommend you take advantage of if you go to Disney with small kids. 

By the time we were done with all of that we were all starving so we ate a quick lunch and then decided to check out the new Star Wars show by the entrance of the park before heading over to the Magic Kingdom. As usual, shenanigans occurred...

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Along with some normalcy...

We made it to the Magic Kingdom in time for the Festival of Fantasy parade, which Julianna loved (I didn't get any pictures, SORRY!). Our first set of fast passes weren't until 4:40, so we decided to head over to Dumbo to check out the line situation (50 minutes is a big, fat no). Then we saw the water play area they have in that area and let Jules get out from her stroller and go crazy. 

She hated it *insert sarcasm here*.

She was a little timid at first, but then she started copying all of the other kids, running around while shrieking with joy. She ended up soaked, but I brought an extra outfit, so it wasn't a big deal at all. 

We then headed to the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, since we were all getting hot and wanted to sit down for a bit. The kids were absolutely exhausted...

(The adults were exhausted too, but we were better about hiding it)

Finally it was time for our first Fast Pass, which was for the Buzz Lightyear ride and then it was time for Space Mountain! We utilized the Rider Swap program again so Justin was able to ride twice and I swear he was excited, regardless of how his picture might look (he also knows where all the cameras are since we've been here so many times). And yes, I refuse to pay for Disney pictures so I just take a picture of the screen with my phone #IDGAF

After everyone was done riding Space Mountain we all decided we were dunzo at that point and left the park to grab a late dinner. 

Here is a quick list of my best Disney tips

  • Use Fast Passes! In order to do this you have to buy your Disney tickets in advance, however it's 100% worth it. Once you buy your park passes you can start reserving up to 3 rides a day. There are some caveats, with the main one being that the rides you reserve all have to be in the same park. You can get more Fast Passes once you use the 3 you reserved in advance, so I highly recommend reserving early and then immediately booking more as you use them. Once you've used your original 3 you can only book 1 at a time from that point forward, but a lot of people have had luck getting on every ride they want in a day by doing this. 
  • Get the park hopper ticket. Yes, it does cost more, but not every Disney park is worth a full day in the park. If you're coming for 3-4 days, you can use one full day each at Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and then do a half day at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios and have time to re-do the things you liked the most at the other parks. 
  • Use this website to plan your day. It will tell you the busiest days/parks based on prior attendance and I have found it to be very helpful. 
  • If you have young children, use the Rider Swap program. It works if it's just a couple and works even better if you're in a group, since up to 3 people can use the swap Fast Pass that you get so you don't have to ride alone. Just tell the person at the beginning of the line that you would like a Rider Swap pass and they'll give you a plastic pass on a lanyard. When you get to the point of boarding the ride you will give the ride operator your plastic pass and they'll give you the Fast Pass. Then you just swap out riders and go in the Fast Pass line! 
  • Stay in the Disney hotels - you get a free shuttle from the airport if you do this, and you get the Extra Magic Hours at select parks each day. Every day one of the parks will either open early or stay open late and it's only available for people who are staying on Disney property. 
  • Use the Disney transportation to get from park-to-park, particularly if your hotel is a Disney hotel. This will give you a bit of time to relax and not have to worry about driving and walking to and from each park.
  • Don't come in the summer. Don't come over Christmas. Avoid Spring Break like the plague. You may be thinking, but Jamie, then how will my kids come when they're supposed to be in school? Pull your kids out of school, get their assignments from their teachers, and make it work. Seriously, if you come in the summer you are absolutely insane. It's the busiest time of the year and it's so miserably hot that it will be hard to enjoy yourself. Same goes for Christmas and Spring Break. The absolute best time to come is early May, January, and the first couple of weeks in December.
  • Some baby tips...bring a larger stroller and use it for all the crap you will need. Bring everything you could possibly need and then some - extra diapers, extra clothes, extra food, extra water, extra sanity... Wear your baby for naps and then you can eat your meals without struggling with a toddler/baby. Go to the tequila cave in Mexico in Epcot and drink a delicious margarita during said nap time so you can relax in the nice, cool cave. Use the baby care station places in each park. They have breastfeeding rooms that are dark and quiet with comfy chairs and any supplies you might need that you forgot. Don't expect to accomplish more than 25% of what you want to do because when you bring a baby/toddler to Disney you're asking for something to throw your day off. Make lots of time for parades and other non-rides - Jules loves them.

Does anyone reading have any Disney trips planned? This was probably our last time going for awhile, but I'm hoping we can get to Universal Studios for a couple of days in the fall, along with planning a Disney trip out west in a couple of years. 

I hope you all have a great day - thanks for reading!

Raising Gap Kids - The First Year

You know, Gap has the cutest baby clothes. That's pretty much all Justin wore his first year of life and he was such a dapper little dude. 

However today, I'm not talking about raising kids who wear Gap clothes.

I'm talking about kids with a gap in their age.

In my case, there's a 12 year age difference between my kids. When I first found out I was pregnant with Jules  I was like, HOLY SHIT. After it sank in for an hour or two I started to think and wonder what kind of relationship Jules and Justin would have - will they be close? I'm 8 years older than my sister Sara and we're pretty close, but we're also both chicks (if you don't like the word chick, sorry...but I use it all the time, so just replace it with whatever word you like instead of chick). I was worried and rightly so, that my kids probably won't be very close and it will basically be like having two only children. Then we told Justin about the impending of arrival of his sister and his reaction "WHAT?!? But how's that even possible? Nooooooooo!!!" solidified that thought for me; to say he was less than thrilled would be an understatement. So I pretty much came to the conclusion that my kids will tolerate each other and I will get to have two, super cool and independent kids who are basically only children due to their age difference. 

While I have the feeling we'll still end up some fairly independent and cool kids, I also have been very pleasantly surprised with just how close Jules and Justin are, how much she completely adores him and even more surprisingly, how much he loves her. It's been a slow-moving process and has taken a bit of intervention on our part, but I do think it's possible to have gap kids that are still fairly close and will have a close relationship. So without further ado, here are my tips so far...since we're only through the first year so far. 

Take it slow.

This is Justin the day we brought Jules home from the hospital. He wasn't too happy and really didn't want anything to do with her. I think the only reason he was willing to hold her for a picture is because I begged him and he was still traumatized from me almost dying in the hospital (another story for another day, my friends). For the first few weeks, Justin was pretty much hands off. But me being who I am (type-A, control freak right hurrrrr), I slowly began introducing Jules and Justin to each other through our daily activities. It all started with me having to go pee like really bad "Justin, I need you to hold your sister so I can pee, it's an emergency!!" #noonemanipulateslikeamom. So he held her for me; he didn't look at her and didn't really want to do it, but I knew I could trust him to hold her. The next time he held her because I had to pee he decided she looked like Donald Trump. So of course I got a picture and we laughed about it and moved on. What he didn't realize at that time, is he was starting to connect to her. 

Ease the older kid into doing stuff for and with the younger kid. 

At that point, which was a couple of weeks into Jules' life, I started to incorporate her and Justin into daily activities together. We'd run errands, sometimes fun like getting ice cream and sometimes not so fun like getting groceries. We'd watch movies together and go for walks sometimes. While we'd do those things, I would usually ask Justin to do a favor for me that was Jules-related. "Hey, can you grab me a pacifier?" or "Jump into the backseat and sit with your sister so she stops crying". At this point I started to notice a trend where Jules was always starting adoringly at her brother, so I'd point it out. Justin would usually grunt or something as a reply, but I knew he was noticing it as well. 

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Justin still wasn't thrilled about Jules, but he was starting to warm up to her. Then my mom came to visit when Jules was 6 weeks old and since she's a genius like me, she knew she needed to do some meddling to get Justin involved. So she made him feed her, which is something I had not been able to do up until that point. And he did it and held her afterwards for about 30 minutes. 

I think it was around this point that it really clicked with Justin that this was his little sister, she was helpless, and he could be her protector and biggest influencer. 

So I started to introduce some more responsibilities that related to his sister. He'd run to grab me diapers or feed her for me sometimes so I could make food. 

 

While Justin will complain about having chores and things like that, he really does thrive whenever he has more responsibilities. 

That being said, there are some things that I don't think a 12 year old should have to do, with one of those things being changing diapers. 

No diaper changes for Justin. 

And I told him he wouldn't have to worry about that, which took a big weight off of his chest and I'm pretty sure made him more receptive to anything else we'd ask him to do. #noshit

Do stuff together. 

Once Jules got to be a little older, we really started to get busy as a family. Justin had baseball so we'd spend hours at practice and games, usually with me wearing Jules and/or Jules rocking her NY Yankees dress to support her brother's team. We'd go to the beach, where both kids would fall asleep after splashing in the water for a bit, giving me and Jason a bit of a break #hallelujah

When Jules was 2 months old, we drove to Virginia to visit with some of Jason's family and see Washington D.C. This was a big test of how tolerant Justin could be since he spent most of the drive in the backseat with Jules, who hated being in her carseat at that time and cried a lot. But he handled it like a champ and actually did everything he could to soothe her, including feeding her and making faces at her. While we were in VA we made it a point to do things together as a family that Justin would like, including hitting up some museums in DC and going hiking. 

We went to Miami for Mother's Day and it was on this trip that I really started to notice another thing that Jason and I were doing, seemingly naturally - we'd always try to give each kid some kind of attention. At not even 4 months old, Jules really just wanted the boob and diaper changes at that point; she didn't require much else. But we'd go stand or sit in the water while Jason and Justin would throw the football around. Then Jason and I would make a switch and he'd hold/play with Jules while I would play with Justin.

We've made it a point to continue this style of family-ing (I don't know what else to call it) since then. We do stuff together but we also try to do stuff one-on-one with each kid. Jason and Justin will go to the movies together since I don't like action movies, and then Justin and I will veg out and watch dumb youtube videos for awhile. 

Make time to do things separately with each kid getting one-on-one time with each parent. 

Around 6 months of age I really started to notice a change in Justin and Jules' relationship. She was starting to really interact with him, by smiling and cooing and giggling, and he was basking in that attention. Case in point:

We went to the beach with my parents in July and I managed to capture this beaut of a picture

And I might be too optimistic, but I have really high hopes that these two crazy kids of mine will continue to adore each other just as much in the future as they do now. Justin continues to grow in his role as her big brother, and he's always willing to help me out with her now (except with dirty diapers, those are still a no-go).

I still make it a point to keep them involved with each other's lives

Jules comes in with me to wake Justin up every morning and Justin comes with me to pick her up from daycare sometimes. I have seen Jules run while squealing with joy, into Justin's arms when she's sees him after being at daycare all day and Justin will sometimes take over with her care without being prompted, for example he loves pushing her in her stroller or making crazy sounds at her to make her belly laugh. 

So if you have gap kids or it's been a loooooong time since you've had a child and find yourself pregnant, don't worry about your kids having a relationship. With a little bit of nudging and a lot of love from everyone, there's hope! 

Do any of you have gap kids? Have you had success getting them to bond? Also, how about those baby Gap clothes? SO CUTE!!

Confession Time

This is the face of a hypocritical bastard...

No makeup, minimum filter, and I'm pretty sure I didn't even brush my hair.  #workingonsaturday

You know what else I didn't do? I didn't run last night *insert sad face here*

I ended up having to work until 6 and by the time I got home I had a raging headache and just couldn't do it. Womp womp. Sometimes life gets in the way and you know what, that's okay. 

Today is supposed to be my last day of my Chalean Extreme/running hybrid and I took my measurements, but couldn't weigh myself because the batteries in my scale are dead. My measurements changed for the most part, except my butt is the exact same size, however my pictures look quite different, in a good way. And no, I will not be posting my pictures; I'm in my sports bra and it's not a pretty sight. As noted above my scale is dead today so I couldn't weigh myself, but I'm guessing my overall weight loss from the program was 4 pounds.

Am I thrilled with my results? 

Nope. But I am happy with them. And when I look back over the past 3 months and think about how much I have eaten/drank and haven't really watched anything that's gone into my mouth for the most part, I am not surprised that I didn't have better results. I have been eating and drinking pretty much whatever I want! So the lesson I have learned here is:

  • Diet is still 90% of the formula for success with weight loss and if I really want to see some results, I have to clean up my diet
  • The number on the scale still doesn't show much of anything
  • Even measurements can lie, since some of my measurements were not drastically different, but I can really see a difference in my progress pictures, so make sure you take pictures from the front, back, right, and left whenever you start a new program

I will complete my final workout this morning and then tomorrow is a rest day before I wake up on Monday morning and completely destroy my upper body with my first P90X workout. I am going to get more strict on my diet and see what kind of results I can get when I really apply myself. And I will take some progress pictures that I am okay-ish being on the internet (probably in my swimsuit - yikes). 

I will leave you today with a Jules picture. This is from last night where she was signing to me that she wants more food. I love her daycare for teaching her to sign, since it makes it so much easier when she wants food. She just signs "more" and I give her more. Makes this working mom's life just that much easier. 

I hope you all have a great weekend! I'll be back on Monday with a post about raising Gap kids. What does that mean? Stay tuned to find out!

Fri - Yay!!

Friday is my favorite! I know a lot of people say the weekends themselves are their favorite, but I really love Friday the best. It's the final day of the work week and everyone is in a great mood. I'm usually extremely busy all day long so the day flies by. And before I know it, I'm home in my pajamas with a glass of wine, watching something awful on the television or forcing my family to participate in family movie night. 

I thought for today I would talk about the things that are making me go YAYYYYY right now. 

TODAY IS ST. PATRICK'S DAY!! 

Are you wearing green today? If not, I have just pinched you via the interwebs. 

We put together a little St. Patrick's Day celebration at work today, with one of the treats being Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats. Do you like Lucky Charms? If so, I highly recommend making these. I basically just made Rice Krispie treats but subbed Lucky Charms. 

I love St. Patrick's Day and can usually be found running a race and going out to a parade and drinking beer the day of and weekend around the holiday, but I've gotten out of the habit in the past couple of years. Why?!? It might be because it's usually hot as a mother in Florida in March and I am just over running by this point of the year, but that's not a good excuse. I love running and I love beer and a lot of people celebrate today with both - next year I'm definitely running a race and going to a parade. You hear me, universe?!

In the meantime, how about some St. Patrick's Day flashbacks...

So while I'll be home drinking wine and being lazy, please go out and have several beers for me on this glorious day of green. If you're staying in but want to eat some delicious corned beef and cabbage, here's the recipe I use. It is really good and super easy because you just do a quick chop of the veggies and then throw everything in the crockpot. I think I'll probably be making it on Sunday (since it's too late for me to make it today, womp womp). 

Another thing that's making me say YAYYYYYYYYYY today? This snapchat filter. I'm not the only one, right? It makes me want to go goth, get lip implants, and pierce my septum. 

Below you will find three articles I have read and loved this week and one that popped up in my memories on Facebook that I'd forgotten about, but is one of my favorite things of all time. 

http://www.inspiremore.com/why-i-will-teach-my-daughter-not-to-wait/

I hope that the way I've lived my life and my influence will show my daughter that she doesn't need anyone to be awesome. Don't wait for Prince Charming to come along and rescue you - you have to rescue yourself!

http://www.scarymommy.com/weird-post-pregnancy-belly-flap/

This article explains how I feel to a "T". I know a lot of women are like, "ohhhh I love my tiger stripes because I earned them and I'm a mom-tiger and blah, blah, blah". Fuck that. I hate my stomach and the way it looks/feels/makes me feel. It's super flabby and floppy and I legit have a strange bulge in my jeans/swimsuit just like the article discusses. I really hope to be able to get a tummy tuck one day (soon, while I'm still somewhat hot). 

http://www.scarymommy.com/x-plan-text-teen-escape-bad-situation/

I fully intend on doing this with Justin and recommend you read it if you have a child that's pre-teen/teen aged. 

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running

Last but  not least, I love this comic so much. Please take time and read the entire thing, even if you aren't a runner; this way you'll understand why we're all so crazy. Shoot, it may even motivate you to become a runner yourself!

 

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So remember that one time I wrote a blog all about how to stay motivated? Well I have slept through my alarm clock 3 freaking times this week. THREE TIMES!! What the crap is that all about? Who writes a blog post about being motivated and then can't wake up to work out? I actually woke up at 6:50 this morning to my husband asking me whether I was going to work today since I am usually up, worked out, and in the shower by 6:40...OOPS! I guess I'm taking my final point in that blog seriously and listening to my body? Either way, I have to go for a run after work today and that's lame. So. Not. Cool.

So YAYYYYYYYYYYYY for me being a hypocritical, lazy bastard!! Let's fake like I took this picture this morning since I'm pretty sure it's from yesterday. 

However I guess by being motivated enough to know that I have to go run after work, I am actually being motivated and therefore I am epitomizing my entire blog post? Maybe? The only reason I'm forcing myself to do the run is because it's my last week on this workout plan and I would like to see some decent results when I measure and take pictures tomorrow so I'm forcing myself to run. 

#motivated

That's all I have for today. Please tell me some of you have something epic planned today/this weekend for St. Patrick's Day. Let me live vicariously through you!! That being said, I am going out tomorrow for a GNO (girl's night out, if you're not in the know) and we're going to get crunk, so I can't complain. It's just not for St. Patrick's Day directly. And so I complain. 

Fill me in on your plans! Is there anything that's making you go YAYYYYYYY today?

How to Stay Motivated

Or the alternate title, How I Stay Motivated. 

Motivation is something that I know a lot of people struggle with, and is something that can affect every part of your life. I'm lucky in that I am naturally motivated - I am extremely competitive with myself and as such, I'm always trying to do better than I've done before. This can be a double-edged sword though, especially when you couple being so motivated with being a perfectionist, however that's another blog post for a different day. 

While I am usually internally motivated, there are days that I struggle like anyone else. My alarm goes off at 5am and I'm like, "seriousl?!?!" Today I'm going to talk about how I stay motivated in regards to fitness. And I'm not talking about fitness entire pizza in my mouth, okay?

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Prior to having my son back in 2003, I was the laziest person on Earth. Seriously. When I was in basic training I made up a running group during our morning workouts called the "z" group...there were supposed to only be an "a", "b", and "c" group, however I was that lazy. In basic training. Where they yell at you to not be lazy, yet I was still lazy and hardly shuffled, let alone ran. 

Then I ended up gaining tons of weight while pregnant with Justin, partially due to being on bed rest for most of the last trimester, but mostly due to eating tons of mashed potatoes, Christmas cookies, and McDonalds...super sized. Once I had Justin and realized the weight wasn't just going to fall off I knew it was time to kick my butt into gear. So I started working out a little bit here and there and lost some weight. Then I started running and the weight really came off and I ended up smaller than I was pre-Justin. Before I knew it, I was working out 5 days a week before work and I was a PTL in the Air Force (physical training leader).

I can say with confidence that I have been working out regularly since 2003. There have been times over the years where I've gotten really sick (mono, I'm looking at you), got lazy after a race, or when I was an egg donor, where I did not work out regularly. There have even been months at a time where I don't think I did anything active (mono...worst illness I've had). And when those times hit, I always have to work hard to get my motivation back. So here are my top tips on how to stay motivated. 

The first thing I recommend, and this is probably my most important motivator personally, is to follow a schedule. I am always following a workout schedule of some sort. Whether it's something I've found online or one that I've made up myself, having a schedule to follow keeps me on track and keeps me focused. I'm never floundering around wondering what I should do for a workout - it's already laid out for me. I usually stick to plans that are 8-12 weeks long and then switch it up. For example, right now I am wrapping up a round of running and Chalean Extreme and on Monday I'm starting a running and P90X hybrid

(I am not a Beachbody coach - I just like to use their workouts). 

I've recently shared a picture of my plan for P90X/running and will share more as I do more plans. My biggest recommendation is to find a plan that has a mix of cardio, strength, and core, and just do it. It doesn't have to be 6 times a week either - start off with 3 days a week and do a plan for a month. Once you're done with that, find another one and before you know it, you'll be a workout fiend! #itstheendorphins

My next tip is to sign up for races! Try to sign up for a few races a year (obviously this only applies if you're a runner/biker). Knowing I have a race to run is a huge motivator and keeps me on task when I just want to hit my snooze in the morning on a Sunday when I'm scheduled to run 10 miles and I just don't wanna. I get it, I totally do. However when you know you have a race to run and you also do my next recommendation, which is to set goals, you'll feel like you can't hit the snooze and have to get up. It's crazy, but true. 

As mentioned, my next tip for staying motivated is to set goals. I'm not just talking weight loss goals here people; those are fine, but it's the goals other than weight loss that keep me moving when I feel the motivation waning. I am constantly setting goals to lift more weight, run faster, run longer, to feel comfortable while wearing shorts while running (one of my New Year resolutions...). Once you hit that goal, make a new one! The best thing about working out is you can always find something you can do better or something that's new. 

The best advice I can give you for those weight loss goals is to set small goals and reward yourself as you meet them. Sure, you may have 50 pounds to lose overall, but 50 pounds can seem like an insurmountable task. So try to lose 5. Once you lose those 5 reward yourself with something (not food). Then set your next goal and chip away at them until you meet your ultimate goal. This is the only way I can lose weight. I personally like to buy more gear...in purple...

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One more note on weight loss goals - your weight will naturally fluctuate up and down and all around. Try not to get frustrated and give up when you gain 2 pounds one week. One way I stay on track when this happens is my next recommendation...

Take pictures and track your measurements! You may be working your booty off for 3 months and only see a 6 pound loss, but then you look at the pictures you took and the measurements you tracked and see that it's so much more than that number on the scale. I have experienced this personally and I've had that stabbing gut check when I see the scale has increased. When that happens I'll usually take a picture and compare it to my beginning progress shot and then I always feel better. 

Now you say, but Jamie, I have kids and they won't let me exercise. Make them come with you. I force my children to workout with me on the regular. Jules may not have a say in the matter (and she actually enjoys sitting in the jogging stroller), but Justin sometimes takes some stern "because I said so" when I tell him we're going out for a run/skate. Regardless of how much he might complain I know it's worth it in the end because not only am I getting him to move his butt, but I'm being a good example by moving mine. 

My next recommendation for keeping yourself motivated is to track everything. I track the weights I use, how long I exercise, how far/fast I run, my weight, my measurements, etc. Having it all down somewhere and knowing I will look back and want to see an improvement or maintenance is extremely motivating for me. I actually log onto myfitnesspal every single day and track my exercise and have an almost 100 day streak going. 

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Finally, my last recommendation is if your body is really screaming at you and saying "noooooooo, stay in bed/don't workout today/why are you doing this to me", it's okay to take that day off. When you don't listen to your body that's usually when you end up injured from overuse. Which I know from experience after dealing with IT band issues and piriformis issues and this weird hip thing that happened during one half marathon training cycle that I'm still not sure what happened. All of those injuries happened because I wasn't training smart and I wasn't listening to my body. Take time off, use rest days to rest, foam roll, stretch, veg on the couch, take ice baths after long runs, drink beer after long runs...#justsaying

And that's it! What do you do to keep yourself motivated? Let me know if you try any of my tips out!

Wino Wednesday

It's officially hump day!

Now we're on that downhill slide to Friday and then finally the weekend! Woohoo!

Today I thought it was time for all of us to have a wine date. I love wine, you probably love wine and if you don't love wine let's pretend I just made you a french press coffee instead.

So pull up a chair and let's chat, shall we?

Hi!

If we were sitting down together I'd probably start by asking you how you're doing and how your week has been. This hasn't been the best week for me, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I'm going through times where I'm not feeling as positive as usual I tend to make changes - this week that resulted in my cutting my bangs, which is okay because I like them! 

I would also probably complain about how I haven't been sleeping very well at all this week (curse you, daylight savings time!!), which means I've been super tired and having a hard time waking up in the morning to workout. I'm not even kidding around guys, yesterday I didn't even wake up at all leading to me having to workout at night, which I loathe. I can't believe I used to workout every day after work...that is just crazy! Here's the before and after of my workout last night...

So yes, I hate working out in the afternoon/evening, but it was totally worth it. 

Next I would probably start talking about being hungry and break out some of my new favorite chips. Dude, I just discovered Aldi's and let me tell you, they have some good food. Our favorite foods so far include chicken fries, chicken sausage, and these chips...I'm not the only asshole who picks out all of the taro chips before anyone else can get them, right? 

These chips are basically a way cheaper version of the Terra Exotic Vegetable chips as they're at least half the price. They are so so so good and we all love them. Jules broke into the pantry the other day and came out covered in red drool from eating whatever the red chips are - I believe they're just regular chips dyed with beet juice. She looked like a little vampire, but I unfortunately didn't get any pictures of her because I was on my "b" game that day or something. Lame. 

While we were having our wine date I'd probably tell you about how frustrated I was on Saturday while trying to get a blog post up. I originally thought it was my computer, but when I switched to my husband's computer on Sunday I kept having the same problems. So now I wonder if it was an issue with squarespace. Either way, it took me over 24 hours to get a blog post up. The post I was working on was extremely picture heavy and in order to upload and edit the pictures I had to do them one at a time, jump out of squarespace, and then log back in for the next one. Not. Fun. I did enjoy blogging while eating my tarte pizza thing from Trader Joe's, catching up on The Vampire Diaries, and having a glass of wine though. 

Then I'd ask you whether you did anything exciting this weekend?

By this point, I'd probably be ready to pour my next glass of wine - don't forget, if you leave a little in your glass and just top it off, it's still your first glass! #lifehacksbyjamie

Then I would probably start laughing about how ridiculous my kids are. 

First example:

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This little lady never wears a shirt while eating (if I can help it). It keeps down on laundry and stains and I'm all about working smarter, not harder. 

Then I'd go on to talk about how much I enjoy Justin and I's shenanigans. 

We're always doing something ridiculous. 

(I don't know why he grabbed a 6-pack of Strongbow - weirdo).

As we continued our wine date on this Wino Wednesday I'd probably mention how excited I am to go to Disney on Monday. Yes, I know it's Spring Break and it's going to be a madhouse. That's okay. We have free tickets and we've been there a lot, so it's more about the experience than getting on all of the rides. My dad and his girlfriend are coming as well and we're planning on hitting up Hollywood Studios in the morning and then the Magic Kingdom for the second half of the day. We used to have season passes and would go at least twice a month (except during the summer, because that's just dumb and hot). 

As you can see, Justin and I ham it up or goof off in every single picture except for the last one. This is because we get a score on the Buzz Lightyear ride and we are super competitive. We have fast passes for that ride on Monday and you better believe it's going down!!!

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At this point I'd probably decide to complain about something, since I do enjoy complaining here and there, and I have the feeling I'd probably decide to complain about the fact that I still haven't been able to find the Apotic Rose anywhere *insert sad face here*. 

But then I'd probably make it a point to talk about how excited I am about our stash of Last Snow. For those of you who don't know, Last Snow is a limited release beer put out by a Florida brewery called Funky Buddha. They only release it in Florida for a very short period of time and most places put a limit on how many you can buy (usually 1 at a time), so you have to grab them up while you can. Last Snow is a coconut and coffee porter that is very easy to drink and delicious. I highly recommend you pick up a bottle or 17 if you're ever in Florida when it's available and if you're interested in finding out more about Funky Buddha, follow them on Facebook. 

By this point we will probably have finished at least one bottle of wine and will have eaten an entire bag of those delicious chips and it will be time to wrap up our Wino Wednesday because we both probably have to work tomorrow and I'm not in my 20's anymore. So I'd thank you for coming by, wish you well, and then whip my bra and throw myself on the couch the second you left. 

I hope you had fun on this virtual wine date! Do you have any favorite wines or beers that you think I should try? I find Apothic wines to be consistently good, along with the Dream Tree red blend. 

Have a great day!

 

A-Z of Being a Working Mom

Ahhhhh...the joys of being a working mom.

Like when you burn the shit out of your neck when you're running late while getting ready in the morning...no, just me?

This post is brought to you by me, a working mom who seriously feels like she's barely keeping her shit together 90% of the time so maybe I'm not the best person to be getting advice from...HA! But in all seriousness, here's what I do to try to keep it together as a working mom of two. Those of you with more than two are the real heroes here. 

Before I start, I am in no way, shape, or form saying that I am busier as a working mom than a mom who doesn't work - we're all busy, just in different ways. I will say that I miss watching HGTV while my daughter napped on me during my maternity leave, but that is not even kind of an example of how a SAHM operates - that's just how operated while I was home with my daughter for five months. #runonsentencealert! That was awesome and I love all of those dang shows. I might take a couple of days off this summer just so I can stay home and watch HGTV! 

I now bring you, the A-Z of being a working mom...

A - Attitude is everything (almost)

There are so many days where I wake up exhausted and cranky and I'm just not feeling it. If you follow me on Snapchat this is actually a fairly regular occurrence that I mention in the morning. Those are the days when I tend to put on the most ridiculous song I can find (Mr. Blue Sky usually works for me) and try to dance and put on a smiley face on my drive to work. I've found that if you force the smile on and try to just fake like you're happy, before you know it you'll actually be happy. So fake it til you make it!

 B - Be brave

Don't be afraid to take chances, even when it may affect your family. You obviously don't want to quit your breadwinning job to become a circus performer (unless it's really lucrative), but don't be afraid to take that promotion, move across the country, try something new, etc. These are the times when you will learn the most about yourself and show your family what you're made of. Justin and I have moved from Alaska to Illinois to Massachusetts and now we're in Florida (for now). We've made awesome friends and had awesome times at each place and have had our struggles as well. Don't let that stop you, because it's those struggles that really show you how badass you are. 

C - Cry it out

There are some days where I might be handling emergencies from everyone - my team, people from other teams, my kids, my husband, etc., and before I know it, it's already 9:30 and I haven't sat down yet and I just want to lay on the floor and cry. Sometimes I keep it together, but some days you just need to cry it out. I almost always feel better after a good cry, so don't try to hold it in and be tough. All that will get you is a shitty mood. And if you have a hard time crying, just start watching This is Us. That'll get those tears out, I promise!

D - Don't say yes to everything

I think as women we are often expected to just say yes to everything that's offered to us. I have turned down projects, promotions, and moves because I knew it wasn't what was best for me and my family. Does it suck to say no? YES - especially when it's a chance to finally get what you've been working towards for years. But you can't say yes to everything. And for God's sake, don't try to make a bunch of cookies on a weeknight when you're already exhausted and overwhelmed. Sometimes store bought is best when it saves you from a nervous breakdown. #justsaying

E - Entertain at your house

After working a full day/week the last thing I usually want to do is go out. While I do enjoy getting dolled up and going out or hitting up a restaurant for a meal every once in awhile, it's so much easier to just have people over. Especially if they're people who you know won't mind that your house isn't perfectly clean (mine never is). Get a bag of chips, some wine, and hang out with some friends who are just as overwhelmed as you are. I recommend playing Cards Against Humanity or Guitar Hero - no thinking required, and lots of fun to be had. 

F - Sometimes you just have to say fuck it. 

You know I couldn't have an A-Z without including the "F" word. In order to survive you just have to let things go. You aren't going to make everyone happy, you aren't going to be the most popular person on Earth, you won't be a perfect boss, your house is going to be disgusting sometimes and you know what? Fuck it. Do what you need to do to be happy for and with yourself and everything else will be fine, I promise you.

G - Be genuine

Give everyone else support and empathy without expecting anything in return. If you expect anything in return I promise you will be disappointed, however I've found that by being a genuine person who shows empathy, the universe will give it back to you...sometimes. Just don't have ulterior motives or an agenda, because I have never seen that work out for anyone. I believe that the reason I am good at my job is because I care and am genuine with the people I work with - they know I have their best interests at heart and even when I'm telling them something they don't want to hear, they know it's from a good place. 

H - Have fun & don't take everything so seriously

You spend so much of your day at work and it's so important to have fun. It's obviously not going to be a blast all the time, but take time here and there to do something ridiculous. One of my coworkers and I have a witching hour around 4 when we will usually get up and start doing something ridiculous for a couple of minutes. Crack some jokes with a coworker or prank someone (as long as you can do it without getting fired). Life is too short to be serious all the time. 

This doesn't just apply to being at work - make sure you goof off and have fun when you're home too. I have absolutely no problems doing something ridiculous to get a laugh and can often be found dancing around the living room with my kids to a Disney movie or messing around while at the store to make it more fun...

I - Invest

Invest in yourself, in your clothes, in your hair, and in your shoes. Take time to learn more about your job or enrich yourself in one way or another. I had zero insurance experience when I began my career but have since earned 3 insurance designations (one of them earned me a free trip to Hawaii). In doing this you will become a better worker and will also provide a good example for your children.

As for the clothes/hair/shoes - dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Even when I was 9 months pregnant I refused to come to work in leggings and flats. In order to do this I actually subscribed to letote, which is essentially a clothes rental service. They have an option for maternity clothes, which is the only reason I looked decent during my pregnancy because maternity clothes are expensive AF. And now that I'm in-between sizes I have started the service back up, since it ensures I have decent looking clothes that fit me. Also be sure to take an extra 20 minutes to make sure you look like you care about yourself since I have always found it to be helpful in my life to look put-together (even when I'm a hot mess on the inside - fake it til you make it, people!). 

J- Just ask for help

Maybe this is just because I'm a type-A control freak, but I never ask for help with anything. I'd either rather do it all myself since I know if will get done right when I do it or I don't feel I should have to ask for help and people should just know because it's common courtesy. Take it from me - don't do this. Ask for help if you need help. I've recently starting asking for help at work whenever I'm drowning and you know what, people are happy to help, just as I'm happy to help them. Just let it go and let someone else take care of it and I promise, you'll feel better for it (lots of promising going on here!). Teamwork makes the dream work!

K - Kick up your feet and take a moment to yourself

Unless I'm studying for something, I spend my entire lunch break on my phone with my headphones in reading, watching funny videos, or doing something else entertaining. And I literally kick my feet up on a chair while doing it. So take that lunch break and take the time for yourself. This also applies to 4pm when your witching hour hits you - don't be scared to put on a horse mask and run around the office trying to make people laugh. (Unless it will get your fired...do something else if it will get you fired).

L - Leave work early...

Take a half-day off and go home when no one else will be there. Kick off your shoes, take off your bra, and take some time to relax in a quiet home without anyone there. Sure, you may just end up cleaning the entire effing time, but at least you got to clean without anyone else there to make messes after you. This is something I do several times a year and it's required for my sanity - without it, I literally never get a moment to myself where someone isn't relying on me for something and it's something I need to survive. 

M - Make time for yourself

This is my workout time every morning, 6 days a week. Yes, it requires me to wake-up at an ungodly time, usually after only 5-6 hours of sleep, but it's an hour or so that I get to myself, for myself. I think I would be a raving, certifiable lunatic without it. Like for real.

Oh that's right, I'm already crazy...

Oh that's right, I'm already crazy...

Oh that's right, I'm already crazy...

N - Never stop learning

I truly believe in being a lifetime learner and I'm always working towards a new something that I want to learn about. For the past few years, I've dedicated myself to learning more about the insurance business. I also take a lot of time and try to learn as much as I can about fitness and nutrition; I've thought about becoming a personal trainer and/or a registered dietitian. Right now I'm contemplating going back to school and getting either my MBA or my Masters in Human Resources. And I've always had plans to go back to school when I retire and get a degree in literature, since I love reading so much. 

O - Open yourself to criticism

This works in your personal and professional life. I promise you are not a flawless, perfect human being, since none of us are. To err is human (right? Isn't that how that phrase goes?). Take the advice/criticism that you get from people and learn from it. Some of it might be unfounded, but you can still learn from why it happened and become a better person when you do. 

P - Prep your meals ahead of time

In order to be firing at all cylinders I have to eat well. Eating well means not going out to eat every day for lunch (and that's expensive AF). To make sure I have food all week I always plan out and try to prep as much of my lunch as possible. I will do a full post on meal prep later, since the internet obviously needs more of those, but for now I just say plan it out and try to make your meal at night before you go to bed. This way you can grab it on your way out the door and you know you'll get a nutritious (ish) meal. This week I'm having BBQ chicken from Trader Joe's, rice mixed with pureed cauliflower and either asparagus or broccoli. It's yummy and easy and also leaves me more time for kicking my feet up on my lunch break since I'm not out running around getting food somewhere. 

Q - Quit feeling guilty

I don't know about you, but if I let it happen I  can feel guilty about everything all the time. I'm not a good enough boss, I can be a better mom, I suck at being a wife, I'm a bad friend, my house is a mess, I don't spend enough time walking the dog, the litter box is dirty, we ate chicken nuggets for dinner for the 3rd time this week...

Try not to let those thoughts overtake your psyche - constantly feeling guilty is no way to live. You are good enough. Your work is (mostly) done, your kids are fed, the really dog doesn't care, the cats will bite your fingers to show they're annoyed but they'll get over it, etc. Whenever you start to beat yourself up just remember that you're doing the best you can and that's the most important thing (and if you're not doing the best you can, then push it until you are).

R - Rest

Take time and rest. Even if it's just 30 minutes after everyone is down for bed and you can plop down on the couch for a bit and watch something dumb on tv, make sure you do it. Even if the laundry isn't done. Because you need that rest way more than those clothes need to be folded. If they end up wrinkled just throw them in the dryer for 20 minutes when you need to wear them #thatshowthismomirons

S - Share your knowledge/expertise

If you are mentoring or training someone, make sure you share all of your best tips/tricks/workflow so they are set-up to succeed. This isn't a competition and we should all be lifting each other up instead of trying to knock each other over. Do good stuff and good stuff will happen to you. I promise. 

T - Take time to enjoy the small stuff

Almost every night my daughter curls up against me and wraps her little arm around my neck as she's falling asleep. This morning my son gave me a hug as I was running out to my car and told me to have a good day. He's 13 people - he still hugs me! Someone on my team at work always takes the time to thank me for helping them meet a goal that they struggled to meet for years. That's what it's all about - make sure you take the time to enjoy it. 

U - Understand that it's not all about you

Someone might be snippy with you one day - don't take it personally. Your boss might have their door closed all day - it's probably not about you. Your kid will tell you they hate you - it happens to all of us. Take a deep breath, shake it off, and move on. 

V - Variety is the spice of life

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This is especially important at work. If you find yourself getting bored, find something new to do. Look for a project you can help with or even ask for more responsibilities - I've done both! Don't let yourself get bored and stuck in a rut - that's when complacency happens and then it's a quick slide into lazy-town. 

W - Wine. 

Duh.

X - Extend yourself, but don't overextend yourself

It's fine to be uncomfortable in life; shoot, I think it's important and a good thing. The more uncomfortable you make yourself the more you'll put yourself out there and try new things. I always try to do new things and try things that make me uncomfortable since I know those are the best experiences you can have for growth - except bungee jumping or sky diving. Those experiences will never happen.

 That being said, don't overextend yourself. And for the love of Pete, don't sign your kids up for every sport under the sun while also expecting them to have straight A's and keep their room clean. Let your kids be a kid and let yourself chill sometimes (which is impossible if you're carting your kids to a million different practices each day after already working a full day). 

Y - You

Be you, take time for you, and don't forget who you are. Sometimes you do need to be selfish and take time that you need (which is what I do when I exercise). But by taking that time for you, you're better able to be the you everyone else needs too. Which sounds like something Dr. Seuss may have written, so if I plagiarized, it was not intentional.  

Z - Make sure your zipper is zipped

I used to have these work pants that would always unzip themselves. Talk about embarrassing. Now I only wear dresses. Lesson learned.

I hope you're all having a great day. Do any of you have anything to add to the list?