How I Got Through College as a Single Parent

Hump day, whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!? This week has been dragging for me! I thought it was Wednesday yesterday and that has just thrown everything off. Boooooooo!!

You may or may not have noticed this about me yet, but I am kind of a type-A freakazoid. As such, I like to try to plan as many things out as possible so I can be prepared everything. Well knowing that we're moving in less than 5 weeks has me seriously trying to plan and get shit organized, because moving is so stressful and I'm hoping to make it as smooth as possible for everyone. However I'm also kind of in panic mode and feeling a lot of pressure about it too. There's just so much to do and really not very much time to do it all. I've actually started a spreadsheet with three columns labeled "Things to Do", "Things to Buy", "Things to Pack" - type-A right hurrrrrrrrrr!!

I'm not sure why I told you that other than to get it out and in the universe, maybe? Anyone have any tips to make this easier?

Also, I wanted to mention that Le Tote has another seriously awesome deal going on right now that I want to make sure to get out to you guys in case you're thinking about joining. Now through June 30, you can get 60% off the first month of a Le Tote subscription by using the code SAVEME60. This is not a joke...60% is a LOT of savings! So head on over and get signed up and try it out - don't miss out on this deal!

My last Le Tote box was FIRE and I love all four of the dresses, but I especially love this one. It's soooooo pretty and the pattern is unique and I think it's pretty flattering!

As always, I would never recommend you try anything that I myself don't use on the regs. I love Le Tote and it has saved my work wardrobe right now while I'm still in-between sizes trying to lose this baby weight. I am a part of an affiliate program with Le Tote, so if you decide to sign up using my link I will get a small commission as a thank you. Thanks for your support!

Today I wanted to talk to you about something that I happen to have a lot of experience with, but it is a huge challenge that may seem insurmountable to many people. 

I've mentioned this a few times in different posts and here, but to those who haven't been reading for a long time or may have missed it, I was a single mom to my son Justin for a very long time. My ex-husband and I separated when Justin was less than a year old and from that point forward, I was a single parent. Just in case you're not sure, I'd like to reiterate...

Being a single parent is really hard.

It's also extremely rewarding and can be lots of fun, but when it comes down to it, it's really, REALLY hard. As a single parent, you are completely responsible for the well-being of another human. That human is 100% reliant on you for everything and you have to make sure that you are able to provide that human with what they need in life AND give them love and support and all that good stuff. 

When I got divorced I was still in the Air Force but I knew I didn't want to make the military a career and as such, I separated as soon as I was able to and began my first semester of college pretty much immediately. At that time, I thought I wanted to be a nurse and enrolled in a local community college back home in Illinois. This leads me to my first two tips for successfully getting through college as a single parent. 

Join the military

First off, there are a few states out there that will give you 100% free tuition if you join the military and come back to that state once you separate. Illinois (and Texas...maybe Alaska and Connecticut) is one of those states and as such, I was able to use my GI Bill to cover some of my living expenses. Join the military and do your service. I am a huge advocate for the military because it gave me some seriously awesome experiences, some fantastic friends, insane work ethic and free mother effing college. 

It is possible to be in the military as a single parent - you'll need to make sure you have help and may want to look into the reserves or guard, but you can do it if you really want it!


Go to a community college

For some reason community colleges tend to get looked down on as not being as academically advanced as 4-year schools, but that was not my experience at all. Most of my favorite professors from my college career were in the community college I attended - they were more accessible and helpful than the professors at the university I transferred to after 2 years and they really seemed to care more about my future. Plus community college is exponentially cheaper than a 4-year school so you are able to get a degree for a much smaller cost.

I chose to get a 4-year degree in business (specifically marketing) after changing my mind on my major, but there are several 2-year degrees that you can get amazing jobs with - nursing, engineering, paralegals, etc. You can also always look into trade schools, however I'm not sure how grants/loans/scholarships work for those. 

Talk to a counselor and figure out your options and then go from there.

Take all the help you can get

This includes loans, grants, babysitting from family and friends, live at home, etc. - don't think you have to do it all on your own and I highly recommend you don't try to do it on your own. When we first moved back to Illinois Justin and I lived at my parent's house for over a year. I had a lot of debt when I got out of the Air Force, so I wasn't able to afford living on my own at that time. After about a year I moved in with a friend from high school and lived there for a little while before I found a really cute, cheap, and tiny apartment in the town where my 4-year university was located. That being said, I still needed help with babysitting and hugs from my mom on bad days, so we spent a lot of time hanging out at my mom's house or driving down to my dad's in St. Louis when we wanted a weekend away. 

Sometimes you just have to play giraffe football...a really weird game we made up one day at my mom's house when the power was out...

Another thing that I was lucky to have the option of having, was roommates. I actually lived with two different friends while I was in school and while having a roommate can obviously suck sometimes, it made it more financially feasible. Plus both of them were amazing and would hang out with Justin so I could run sometimes or when I had to go to the library to work on late-night group projects!

Financially there are a lot of resources for single parents. As a single parent you are able to qualify for a lot of grants, which are basically free money for school. Then there are always scholarship programs, especially for specific majors such as nursing, teaching, and social work. And there are always student loans, however I caution you against taking out too many student loans as they are a bitch to pay-off. I only had $25,000 in student loans when I left college and I've been out of school for 7 years and still have $16,000 left to pay. You will also want to be really careful about taking out student loans if you are majoring in something that doesn't pay very well or doesn't have a good job-outlook, since your loan payments can easily be $200-500 a month and that's a lot if you're only making $30,000 a year after school. Throw a kid or two in the mix and that's just not enough to live on.

Be careful with student loans!

Another thing you need to do is get over your pride and look into public assistance programs. As a single parent in college you will probably qualify for food stamps, free or reduced daycare, and possibly even housing assistance. There was a time in college when I did receive food stamps and I am not at all ashamed to admit it, because it helped me get through school and now I'm paying back into the system so others can do the same thing. I was also able to qualify for free or reduced child care the entire time I was in school, which helped a lot. 

Also make sure you're getting child support. Contact your local child support agency and have them open up a case for you if you aren't getting it. And if you are getting it but it's been a few years and you know the other parent is making substantially more money now, make sure you get it amended. It does take a little work, but you shouldn't have to do it on your own.

Do your research and don't hesitate to take every possible form of help you can get!

Now you may be wondering, how did I manage to get any studying done when I had a crazy 3-7 year old boy running around and being insane all the time? Let me tell you my secret...

Study at McDonalds or the park

We would spend hours at McDonalds or at the park on a regular basis - I'm talking 3-5 times a week. Obviously it needs to be a McDonalds with a playplace, but this is one of the biggest things I did that helped me graduate! Justin would run around like a crazy person for hours, making best friends and burning off energy, and I'd tune everything out and study, study, study. We would go to McDonalds when the weather was crappy or when I needed wifi (it's FREE!) and we'd go to the park whenever I needed to do some reading. And I always took breaks to run around and play with him, since life isn't fun without fun. Duh. 

Word of caution on this, you do want to always make sure you can see your child and that you've had several, maybe even hundreds of talks about not talking to strangers, bullies, and what to do if someone does try to take them (FIGHT AND SCREAM!). I always sat in the playplace and made sure I knew where Justin was and always kept him in my line of vision while at the park. 

Work your ass off

Going to college as a single parent is not easy...at all. I was lucky in that I had some money coming in with my GI Bill and qualified for grants and had my parents to help out with babysitting or small loans for bills that I always paid back immediately, however I still had to work my ass off. This includes a part time job, doing homework until 3 in the morning or waking up early to read, late night study and group sessions for projects, writing papers during vacations, etc. 

I remember very specifically going on several vacations with my parents and watching everyone else drink beer all day without a care in the world while I sat back and wrote a paper or read school books. I know, #firstworldproblems at least I got vacations (thanks mom and dad!); I'm not complaining, just telling you how I made this work. There were also a few times that I had to scramble all over trying to find a restaurant with wifi while driving back from a trip so I could turn in an assignment on time. At one point we were driving back from Florida and I'm pretty sure we stopped by 3 or 4 restaurants in the mountains in Chattanooga before I found a place to turn my assignment in. Did it make my vacation less enjoyable? Sure! But I knew it's what I needed to do to get through school and that those small short-term sacrifices would pay off in a big way in the end. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed going on my first vacation after graduation to South Padre Island and just being able to relax on the beach with my mom and my son without having to do any homework.  

I also worked a lot of part-time jobs - waitress, bartender, barista...waitressing or bartending is a great way to get some extra cash if you have the personality for it. And I firmly believe everyone should work in the service industry at some point in their lives since it's really hard work and teaches you how to work hard and not be an asshole (always tip your server). There were many weekends where I would work Friday and Saturday nights (my mom would usually watch Justin) and would easily make $400-500. This went a long way towards paying bills, having food, and having fun...

Take time to have fun!

Fun doesn't have to cost anything. Justin and I went hiking a lot, would go down to my dad's house in St. Louis and explore the city there, we went to every playground we could find, the zoo, children's museums, canoeing/tubing on the river with friends and family, etc. We'd often pick up a $5 footlong from Subway to share (remember when they were $5?) and a lot of museums/parks/things to do have discounts for students/veterans so everything we did was cheap. 

Get creative

This includes finding ways to study, things to do, and ways to make money. I am actually a 6-time egg donor, which obviously helped a lot towards getting me cash for school/living/fun stuff to do, but that's not for everyone and there are risks involved so I don't recommend it to people. Figure out things you can do to make your life easier or to get money and do it! Babysit, pet-sit, walk dogs, wash cars, rent out your 2nd bedroom as an Airbnb....do what you have to do to get through college, because I promise you, it's worth it for you and for your kids in the end. 

Push through it

I have actually had several people tell me that their lives just aren't as easy as mine or that not everyone can work as hard as I do...WHAT?!?! First of all, my life has not been easy in the slightest and I have had to work and work hard for everything that I have - literally nothing has been given to me. There were many times while I was in school where I just wanted to cry and give up (and I did cry a lot, actually). But I never gave up because I knew it would be worth it in the end and it has definitely been worth it. Yes, I am a hard worker and driven internally to work my butt off now, but I firmly believe everyone can work as hard as I do because I haven't always been this way. I was the laziest teenager who ever lived. I slept until 3 all summer and on the weekends, I never worked out, was crap about helping out around the house, and I barely put any effort into school. It wasn't until I had Justin that I realized I needed to get my ass into gear and really start trying to make something of my life so I can give him the best life possible.

Find something that drives you and motivates you and focus on that. Use whatever that is to keep you going even when times are tough. As I mentioned above, I cried A LOT through this process because it is a really hard thing to do, however Justin seemed to always know when I was down and he'd wrap his sticky little arms around me and give me big hugs and kisses and this kept me going. I talk about other things I do to keep myself motivated here if you want to check it out for more ideas. And when you go through that hard time and pull through it, whether it's a bad grade, your car gets repossessed right before Easter and you have all of the Easter stuff for your son in your car (true story - I used to be really terrible with money) or you have finally graduated after 2-4 years of seriously hard work, be proud of yourself. Because you did it. And it's SO worth it!

And then once you get that degree and start a job, you can start looking into fun things like certifications or advanced degrees because you are absolutely insane like I am...or just enjoy this accomplishment, since it's a huge one!

Thanks for stopping by - I'll be back on Friday with more shenanigans and insanity!

Time for some Monday

And WHAT a Monday it is! My car is being dumb so I had to take it to the car shop where I'm sure they'll try to inflate everything that's wrong with it so they can get all of my money. And it's cloudy and rainy and just blaaaaaaaaaaah outside. This is the day where I wish I could call in and hang out at home while wearing my unicorn onesie pajamas, but I'm a responsible grown-up so I'll just go to work and be all responsible and stuff. So dumb. 

Plus, my vacation time doesn't renew until July, so I don't have any time to take anyway.

I obviously have a case of the Monday's today! It doesn't help that there is a huge wolf spider in Julianna's room. At least that's the last place I saw it. And that mother effer RAN at me when I tried to go in and kill it. So of course I ran from her room while screaming bloody murder and now I don't know where that asshole is. What I do know is that wherever it is, it's probably plotting to kill me in my sleep EVEN though it's not poisonous. It's so big that it will actually grab a knife from the kitchen and STAB me in my sleep. Yeah, not even exaggerating...

So today I'm going to do a weekly workout round-up/weekend happenings/what I'm doing this week for workouts post. 

Monday - P90X Chest & Back and Core

I don't remember ANYTHING about this workout, so it must have been fine. Actually, that's a lie...I do remember that I actually struggled more during pretty much all of my workouts last week until Friday. Like I had to do less reps with the same weight. Which is annoying. I'm assuming it's because I'm watching what I'm eating a bit more and not carb loading for a non-existent race like I have been the past 16 months (2 years...). Also, I look super puffy in the 2nd picture compared to the 1st...I'm swole??

Tuesday - Turbofire, HIIT, and Core

I may have mentioned this a million times in the past month or so, but Jules is sleeping terribly again. So she's been waking up between 4-5 and getting up with me for my workout, which usually is fine. I had hoped to run on Tuesday and Thursday this week, but it was thunderstorming both mornings and with Jules being awake that makes it a double-nope. So I subbed a 30 minute kickboxing workout and 10 minutes of HIIT on Tuesday, along with my core workout. 

Jules is also doing this thing where if I put her down for any period of time and leave the room she screams bloody murder. So this is how I have been able to get ready for work...

#nopantsclub #workingmomlife #idowhaticantomakeitallwork

Wednesday - P90X Shoulders & Arms & Core

I apparently only got a before workout picture...my bad! I'm sure we will all live without the after and don't worry, I have so many more to show you!

Thursday - Kickboxing & Core

See?!? More pictures! I couldn't run on Thursday as I mentioned above, so I did a 53 minute Turbofire workout and my core workout. And I mixed things up by taking my before and after workout pictures in our still clean bathroom mirror. Ooooooooooooooh!!!

Friday - P90X Legs & Back and Core

Oh man, that's a great before picture! Classic Jamie. Jules woke up midway through my workout on Friday and at one point I was doing these squat jump things and I knocked her down with my butt. To be fair, I didn't know she'd gotten off the couch.

Best. Mom. Ever.

Also, I love messy baby wake-up hair. She looks so cute all mussed and messy!

Saturday - RUN DAY

Awwwww...look how hopeful and smiley my before workout picture is!! Jason ended up picking up a shift Saturday morning so I had to run with the stroller, but I figured it wouldn't be a big deal since pretty much all of my long runs are with the stroller. We even ended up leaving an hour earlier than we left the week prior - it's gonna be a great run!!

1.5 miles in....

4 miles in....

It was SO EFFING HOT and humid out during this run. Oh my GOSH it was rough. I literally had sweat pouring off of me by the time I was done. And for some reason I decided to challenge myself and run the bridge, which I hit at 2.25 miles and 4.5 miles. I actually ended up walking once I hit the top of the bridge and going down it on the way back because I had zero gas left and still had 2 miles left to run. Also I didn't wear a hat for some reason...still not sure why. So all of the sweat went into my eyes and I didn't have protection from the sun at the end. 

But by the time I was done and stretched, I was actually pretty happy about the run because it was the furthest I've ran this year! I was supposed to do some sprint repeats at the end, but decided that was a horrible idea and just ran the 6 miles. 

Do you SEE how freaking sweaty I am here?!? GROSS!! When I picked Jules up from her stroller she actually didn't want to touch me because I was so disgusting. Can't say I blame her!

The rest of Saturday was spent cleaning, errand running, and hanging out with some friends.

Walking the dog... 

Waiting out the rain before dashing into the grocery store...

Shoving a delicious poke bowl in my face hole...

Shenanigans...

Sunday - REST DAY

Which involved me taking a NAP with Jules from 10-12 because I was up past my bedtime hanging out with friends and watching Girls Saturday night and Sunday also involved cleaning/organizing for the move. 

Here you can see Jules is wearing a long-sleeved onesie and her Christmas dress from last year - both still fit her really well, so I think she'll be wearing them both again this year (just not at the same time). 

So now I have something important to ask you...

Do you know how to get rid of wolf spiders? I need to catch this killer death spider before it hunts me down and eats my face off. 

Also, how do you feel about the same Christmas dress 2 years in a row? I'm actually 100% into it because (1) it's cute and (2) she only wore it for like 4 hours...that's a waste of money and I'm a cheapskate!

As for my workouts this week, I actually only have one week left of P90X - time flies when you're having fun - BUT there's a new set of Shaun T workouts being released this week and I love him. So I'm putting P90X on hold for this week and doing Shaun T week and then I'll do my last week of P90X next week. So be sure to keep an eye out for my results/thoughts on both of those programs!

Here's to a great Monday, friends! 

Fri-YAY Fun Post (and am I crazy?)

Happy Friday to all of you, my friends! It's such a great day, isn't it? I love Friday. I know I've said this before, but I like Friday even more than the Saturday or Sunday because it's the day that starts the weekend and I'm always in a great mood knowing I have 2 days off coming up! 

Today's post is going to be all about the things that are making me say YAY! Some of them will be funny, some will be weird, some might be annoying for some of you, but whatever! It's my blog and I do what I want. 

Don't tell me how to live my liiiiiiiiiiiiife!! 

First and foremost, how many of you are like me and you eat well for a few days to a week and start looking at yourself like, have I lost all of the weight yet? Am I making progress? Am I skinnier yet?

This was me yesterday and I was feeling good. Like, oooooh I feel so good in this dress and my stomach is feeling flatter and YAYYYYYY. Then this morning I weigh-in and I've lost less than a pound in 2 weeks. Mother fucker. 

This weight loss stuff is so fucking frustrating and I hate how I can feel good one day and the next be so annoyed because the scale is a dumb whore. 

Am I the only one who goes through this? Am I insane? Please tell me I'm not crazy...at least not in this regard. 

Also, sorry about the language...I'll limit my French from here on out :-)

This is the other sunrise picture I took last week after my run when the sunrise was just so freaking pretty. No filter needed here, my friends!

How about some fun/ridiculous take-out pictures?

You know, these are the pictures that I deemed not worthy for other blog posts, but put in here because I have zero shame.  

Here's a series of the ridiculous faces I make when doing my pre/post-workout pictures. 

I am so photogenic. 

Speaking of photogenic...time for some BABY SELFIES!!

She gets it from her mama!

And her daddy too

I love how curly her hair is! I hope she keeps the curls and has beautiful, wavy, thick hair like her daddy. 

Just in case you're wondering where Justin is, he's been up in his room playing video games except for the times I order to him to come downstairs and hang out for an hour or two while I'm making/eating dinner or when I yell at him for not doing his chores. 

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Oh how I wish I had a summer break again. I've actually thought about getting my teaching certificate and becoming a teacher, but that would be a big problem for me because:

  1. I like money and things and that would be a huge pay-cut and homie don't play that
  2. I don't really like children very much. I mean, I like my kids and my friends kids and my nieces and nephews. But that's because they're all pretty well-behaved and not total assholes and have manners. It's the asshole kids without manners that I don't like to be around and I have the feeling teachers have to deal with a lot of those. 

So no being a teacher and having a summer break for me! Womp womp!

Would you like to hear about how crappy Jules has been sleeping?

There's apparently an 18 month sleep regression and I'm 99% sure Jules is going through it right now.

On top of that, toddlers apparently start having nightmares around her age and I'm pretty sure she's having those too. They can start around 18 months or earlier if the child has experienced some sort of trauma, which the poor little girl has definitely dealt with :-( 

So what we're dealing with right now is a toddler who wakes up at least once in the middle of the night and absolutely will not let me put her down. I've tried rocking her and putting her back down in her crib and patting her back, but she's absolutely not having it. And then I work full-time and can't miss out on the limited sleep I do get, so I'm lazy and put her in my bed with me. So now she's doing this super fun thing where she wakes up between 4:00-5:00 and thrashes around and flings herself all over the bed, waking me up repeatedly until we both finally get up when I workout. Then she sits on the couch or bed while I'm working out and whines/cries through most of it. 

Needless to say, she's killing me. I am so tired and find myself getting frustrated with her and then feeling horrible since I know she's just a growing toddler and this kind of behavior is to be expected. I am hesitant to do sleep training again, since I don't want to traumatize her any further, but I don't know how much longer I can live like this. 

Do any of you have any advice? Have you gone through this and found a way to help the situation? 

"That flash is so bright mom, don't take pictures this early!!"

And to that I say, "your foot is so strong and swift when it kicks me in the head at 4:30 in the morning...stop doing that and I'll stop taking pictures"

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DEAL????

(she's flailing around and fussing in that picture...send help...I'm going to lose my marbles)

You know how I have absolutely no shame and like to post horrendous pictures of myself for your enjoyment? Well here come some goodies!

I'm pretty sure I was trying to show how tired I was after my run in this picture, but all I'm getting from this picture is that I sweat a lot and make some INteresting faces. 

Of course I took more than one super unflattering pre-Jules jeans pictures! No shame in my game, folks! I need to just burn those dumb pants. BURN THEM!!!!!!!!

Except they're really nice jeans, so first I'm going to try to sell them to a thrift store. But then if they don't take them, I'm BURNING THEM!!

Speaking of flash...

That didn't work at all. But it does show that our bathroom is still pretty clean and organized and I'd like to give myself a pat on the back for that

*tries to pat self on back but remembers that I have no shoulder flexibility so I just scratch my neck instead*

Close enough.

Finally, I have some music recommendations for you guys! Do any of you even listen to any of my recommendations? If you don't, you should!

  • Reverend by Kings of Leon (late on the train for this one, but I love it!)
  • Wish I Knew You by The Revivalists
  • Slide by Calvin Harris
  • Know No Better by Major Lazer with Travis Scott
  • Rollin by Calvin Harris

For tv stuff, I'm still watching Girls and currently in the last season. I really like this show and would recommend it to everyone! Lots of boobs and butts with some "V" thrown in as well, just so you're not thrown off guard when it pops up on the screen. 

I also started watching The Handmaid's Tale last weekend and can I just say, HOLY SHIT! This show actually stresses me out so much that I can only watch one episode at a time. And tv shows never have that effect on me. But it's SO GOOD! 

Finally, the new season of Orange is the New Black was released today! Woohoo!! I will probably wait a month or two before watching, which is what I always do...once I watch it, I have to wait another freaking year for more! So I like to wait and savor knowing that it's there to watch before I binge all of the season in one weekend. Anyone else do this?

That about sums things up for me! This weekend should be fairly low-key, but busy. We're taking Justin out for dinner tonight to get some Udon/Ramen because he made the honor roll. I have a 6 mile run with some sprints at the end planned for tomorrow morning and I'm going to do it without Jules, which should make things easier...however as things always happen with running, it'll probably end up being a total shit show instead. Or it'll rain like crazy the entire time like it's been doing all week and I won't run at all - I'll run if it's raining just a little, but it has been straight pouring/storming every morning this week. Then we're having some friends over Saturday night and I may or may not be painting my kitchen table on Sunday #norestforthewicked

How about you? Do you have anything fun planned this weekend?? I hope it's a great one for you!

Road Trippin' - my tips to make it work with kids!

Happy HUMMMMP DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!! 

(Now fake like I am right next to you and I sang it to you like an opera singer...fun, right?)

I hope your week is going fantastically and your Friday comes quickly. We're so effing busy with work and with life right now that my days are all flying by. I actually wouldn't mind if they slowed down a little bit - I only have a little over 5 weeks left here and I'd like to savor them (and as many poke bowls as possible). 

And just in case you're worried, because I'm SURE you are...I've already found several poke restaurants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts that are totally in driving distance from where we'll be living. Me being the crazy person I am, I have no issues driving 3 hours for a day trip somewhere...it's just the way I was raised! More on that in a minute, but first...

Also, Jules is back to her usual shenanigans...

She is walking/running pretty well now. She still has a bit of a limp and walks kind of wobbly and her balance is way off - the doctor says it will take some time for her to get full mobility back into her joint - but as most toddlers do, she has adapted and is up and running. Literally.

And walking the dog as much as she can. You can tell by the look in Jax's face how much he loves it when Jules walks him. But like I said before, ever since figuring out Jules will feed him anything she's eating he's become much more tolerant of her. 

As mentioned above, I will drive 3 hours for a day trip...one way. That's 6 total hours in one day. But if it's for something super fun and worth it, like a trip to the beach or an awesome amusement park, why wouldn't I?

I'm pretty sure this sense of adventure and doing stuff is something that runs in our genes or something. My entire family, mother's side and father's side, are a bunch of traveling/adventuring fools. My Gran moved to the U.S. after a childhood in Nazi-occupied Norway and my dad's mom moved to Boston with her husband where she didn't know anyone and my other grandma has traveled literally all over the world. As I was growing up, we would go on trips everywhere, usually by driving. My Gran and Granther drove my brother and I from Illinois to California to see family twice in my childhood - once when I was 8 and another time when I was 12. That's a long-ass drive to take with 2 kids! And we'd regularly drive from Illinois to Florida with my mom and step-dad, grandparents, and my siblings. It's just what we do!

Needless to say, after having Justin I wasn't about to stop traveling and road tripping everywhere - it's the absolute best way to see the country and it's fun! 

(please ignore the straps on Justin's carseat - I obviously didn't know 12 years ago how to strap him in properly...pretty sure no one knew that 12 years ago).

Having children makes the whole thing a bit more complicated, however don't fret - it's totally doable! Justin was a champ at the whole road trip thing practically from birth and Jules...well Jules was a bit more difficult since she hated her carseat and would scream whenever she was in it, however we still managed to drive up to Virginia and back for a spring break vacation last year when she was 8 weeks old and that's a 12 hour drive!

Without further ado, here are my top tips to successfully road trip with kids:

This post will include some affiliate links - these are things that I have personally bought and found really useful in regards to this topic. Should you choose to buy an item based on my recommendation, I will get a very small commission from Amazon as a thank you. See my full disclosure here

Bring stuff for them to do. 

This may seem obvious, but don't expect your kids to just sit in the back quietly without anything to do. For an older kid like Justin, it's easy enough to bring his phone and a charger, headphones, and a book or two. That's all he needs. However when Justin was younger, we always brought crayons and drawing paper, some Legos in a small tin, mad libs (LOVE mad libs), and the iPad/computer so he could watch a movie or two. 

It's a bit more difficult to keep a toddler entertained, however it's doable! First and foremost, I highly recommend getting them something new to play with. We bought this for Jules a couple of months ago and she loves it, and I'm planning on getting this for her for our huge impending road trip/vacation/relocation up North. It's a good idea to give them something new (or something they haven't seen for awhile) for the trip so they are really interested and play with it for awhile. 

I also have absolutely zero issues with screen time for a road trip (or really anytime...pick your battles, people). So we always bring an iPad so Jules can watch movies/tv shows. We have Netflix, so we're able to download movies on our iPad - her favorite right now is Secret Life of Pets and she still loves Moana. While I hope to one day have one of those fancy schmancy cars with the built-in entertainment system, right now we don't have that. So how does my toddler watch movies without throwing/breaking/killing my iPad (or phone when the movies didn't download on the iPad and we have to leave right now...aka the last time we went to the beach)? I got this on Amazon a few months ago and we've used it several times. It is extremely easy to set-up and you can put pretty much anything in it. We bought it primarily for the iPad but we've used our phones as well and it keeps them in place well enough AND Jules can't reach whatever we've put in there to mess with it. I wish I had a picture of it in my car, but I suck. Sorry.

Bring plenty of snacks/drinks

We always bring fun snacks/drinks for everyone whenever we drive anywhere over an hour. I know some people are anti-eating-in-the-car, but it's insane to expect your toddler not to have a snack when you're driving anywhere long-distance. Same for drinks. Plus, how fair would it be for me to be eating cheddar cracker Combos (my road trip snack) and not let the kids eat? Bring a sippy cup and plenty of bottled water for everyone (we don't drink soda) and make sure someone is sitting in the back with your toddler while they're eating to ensure they don't choke - and don't give them anything super crunchy or hard so you eliminate most of the choking hazard. Jules only eats soft foods like cereal bars or bananas in the car to eliminate the choking risk. Yes, I do usually end up with my car being covered in food, but I honestly don't care if it helps to ensure a happy road trip. It also leads to more bathroom breaks, but that leads me to my next point which is...

Take plenty of breaks

I know this may seem insane to some of you and my husband is still getting used to it, but when I drive long-distance I never go for longer than 2.5 hours without stopping. Part of this has to do with me being terrified of getting a blood clot and you should be too, especially if you're on birth control. But it's also just a good thing to get up and walk around for a few minutes, especially when driving with kids. We love a rest area when it's daytime and if there are a lot of other people there. When I drive long-distance without my husband and without any other adults, I only stop at rest areas under those conditions for safety reasons. So if it's dark or the rest area is mostly deserted, we'll wait and stop at a big gas station or a McDonalds or even a playground if I can find one. Get out of the car, change diapers, everyone goes to the bathroom even if they say they don't need to, we usually get another snack, walk around and shake our limbs, get some fresh air, and then jump back in for another few hours before doing it again. 

I also do lots of research every time I drive/do anything and try to find things we can do along our route that can give us a break from the monotony of the drive. And if you're really lucky, Niagara Falls will be pretty close to where you're driving and you can pull off and see it. It ended up adding about 2 hours to our drive, but it was totally worth it.

Don't try to do it in one shot and be flexible

If you have a 12-16 hour drive planned (or more) and you're doing it with kids, don't try to do it all at once. That's insane. If they're older kids it's more doable, but when you have kids under 5 you're just asking for a hell of a drive. When we start our relocation/vacation road trip in July, I'll be driving the first half of the trip by myself, with Justin and Jules and our two cats. We'll be stopping at my dad's house which is north of Tennessee for a couple of days before heading up to my mom's house and that's a 12 hour drive. I'm not going to do it in one day - I probably could, but it would be awful for everyone involved. Instead, I'm going to leave Friday afternoon and drive as far as possible before stopping for the night around 9. Then we'll only have a 6-8 hour drive left the next day.

Additionally, be flexible. When we drove back from Virginia when Jules was only 2 months old, we originally planned on driving straight through. Then Jules completely lost her shit in Georgia and we decided to stop for the night in Savannah instead of trying to push it through, because that would have been miserable for everyone.

Helpful hint for you: 90% of the time when we stop on a road trip we have some sort of pet with us, so we always stay at Red Roof Inn. They allow pets and don't charge any type of pet fee, and a lot of their motels have been completely remodeled with wood floors so they're a lot nicer than I think they used to be. I try to do some research prior to leaving and find hotels along our route with good ratings that we can stay at should we need to stop and have never had to stay in a total crap hotel. 

Sit in the back

This obviously won't work if you're driving by yourself with one kid, but if you have another child or adult with you, have them sit in the back to help with your baby/toddler. I'll probably get crucified for saying this, but there have been times when we've been driving somewhere and Justin started in the front seat and jumped in the back at a stop light because Jules was losing her shit. Now we usually just plan to have him sit in the back if we're driving anywhere remotely long distance so he can keep her happy/fed/watered if she needs it. Or to nap in solidarity with her...

Make sure the temperature is comfortable

This is especially relevant when you live somewhere with hot temperatures or in the summer and have a baby/toddler. When you have a child in a rear-facing carseat, the recommendation now is to keep them rear-facing until they're 2 and even longer if possible (35-40 pounds, which for our little peanut will be until she's like 5). It's a lot safer for them and protects them better in the event you're involved in a car accident. With that said, when they're facing backwards they're not getting the benefit of the air conditioning like everyone else in the back who's facing forward. I'm pretty sure a lot of the reason Jules constantly lost her shit in the car seat was because she was hot. So now I always make sure two of the vents in my car are angled to hit the backseat and let them run a lot cooler than I personally need so she can stay comfortable. And if you have a car with a/c vents in the backseat, I'm jealous of you and you thought this out way better than I did :-)

I hope you've been able to find something helpful out of these tips on how to have a successful road trip with kids, but my #1 piece of advice is just do it. I've seen a lot of comments/posts here and there about people who are too scared to travel with their kids and in my opinion, you're doing yourself and your kids a disservice by not getting out there! The country/world is so big and the more we see, the more we can appreciate it! I know it sucks when you have to stay in a hotel/motel/tent and their sleep/nap/meal schedule gets thrown off, but I promise it's worth it! I mean, I have been dragging Justin all over this great country of ours (and he's been to Europe several times to see his dad) and he is such an independent and laid-back kid who has been a total joy to raise and I promise you we never had any type of nap/sleep/meal schedule. So don't let your fear of the trip stop you - just do it! 

Have any of you reading done any crazy road trips with your family? Either when you were a kid or with your kids now? I actually hate flying (control issues) and would drive everywhere if I could! I'm lucky my husband loves me because he's the total opposite, but he goes along for the ride...literally. HA, PUNNY!! 

And I almost forgot...I have another Le Tote coupon and this is a really good one! I am still 100% subscribing and absolutely loved the box I got last week so I still highly recommend, especially if you're between sizes! Click below and make sure you use the coupon code FIRST50 and you'll get 50% off your first month!

Thanks for stopping by :-)

What it is Wednesday!

Howdy ho, friends! How are you doing?

I am doing okay-ish...it seems that all of my emotions and stress from the past week are starting to catch up with me and manifest in some not so fun ways. For example, all of my muscles in my legs are cramping up all day/night long, I have a horrible stiff neck, and I am completely unable to fall asleep. Like I lay down at 9:30 and then my heart starts pounding and flopping around and I will start to fall asleep but jerk myself awake a million times until it's 1:30 and I know there's no way I'm getting up at 5 to work out. So that kind of sucks a lot! However I'm sure it will work itself out soon and I'll be back to normal in no time.

On the plus side, Jules took a couple of steps to get to me when I came home from work last night. Can I get a hallelujah?!?

Today I'm going to bring you another edition of WIIW, which is when I talk about some of the things that I'm totally loving or want to rant about. 

I actually don't have any new music to talk about this week...I KNOW!! I honestly have not been listening to much music since we've been in the hospital and then rushing around to appointments and whatnot. However one thing I have been doing, since I felt I needed some laughter in my life, is re-listening to all of the Straight Talk with Ross podcasts. I have been all caught up on the new episodes and decided to start back from the beginning, which has been a great decision since laughter is the best medicine and this shizz is FUNNY! 

I highly recommend you check it out if you like to laugh and love ridiculous people and shenanigans - and since you're reading this, I'm assuming you do. The podcast can be found online here and you can also listen through any podcast app that you might have on your phone. 

Let me know what you think if you check it out!

Another new absolute favorite thing for me right now?

I guess this is a two-fer because that expression on Julianna's face kills me "MOM, I'm EATING!! Get that camera outta my FACE

Let me tell you a little bit about Caramel M&M's. They're delicious, I love them, and you should get them. I don't like regular M&M's at all; like not even a little. But these caramel M&M's are so effing good - the caramel is the perfect consistency and everything just works together to make it one of my favorite candies of all time. Get them and thank me later. You're welcome. 

I love, love, LOVE baby raccoons. This little fella/lady was so freaking cute. Probably had rabies, but still SO cute. 

Another thing I'm loving so much right now?

Meme's about man rompers...

Just in case you're wondering how I feel about man rompers, I think these express it perfectly. 

Moving on.

What do you do when you've been super sick and cooped up in a hospital for several days and then stuck in the house for several more days and you finally get out?

Go to Target and browse all the stuff and things and try on hats. Obviously. She's definitely my daughter!

This picture has so many of my favorite things in it. My husband being all handsome and silly, Jules reenacting Lady and the Tramp with chips and her daddy, and a yummy Mexican restaurant with $3 happy hour margaritas and the best queso fundido of all time. 

If you check out the third picture, that's Julianna's new silly face. She goes "oooooooh" or "wowwwww" and makes that face and then giggles like a loon all the time right now and I love it. 

I'm so glad she's feeling better and acting like my silly little Jules again.

Speaking of silly little Jules...

When you're feeling lazy and don't want to lean forward to play on the iPad, why wouldn't you use your foot? So smart.

We've also started playing peekaboo/"where's Julianna" on the regs again since getting home from the hospital. She's such a good hider...

You may or may not know this, but I am about to have an 8th grader on my hands...

Those pictures are from his first day of school - he's already grown out of two shoe sizes (those were 11's and he's in 13's now) and is in a size large for shirts and 32x34 for pants. Like a real man.

I'll post a comparison picture after Friday, but holy crap.

I look way too young to have an 8th grader, right? 

Here's some link love for you...

This is so effing funny and makes me love Melissa McCarthy just a little bit more. 

If my house is a disaster when you come over, it's because I love you.

Finally, I'd be completely remiss if I didn't mention how freaking amazing and awesome my mom the cat/dog/toddler whisperer really is. She found a flight and flew down last Wednesday and has been such a huge help throughout this entire ordeal. I never would have asked her to help, but didn't need to since she's an amazing mom and knew we needed her. She has helped with doctor's appointments, getting Justin to/up for school, cooking, cleaning, drinking wine, helping me cope, etc. And I seriously don't know what we would have done without her - I would have made it work, but I'd be way more unhinged than I already am and that's scary. 

So thank you, mommy for being the best mom ever. Also, thank you Daddy Todd for telling mom to go when you knew she and I both needed it. Oh and thanks to my mom's boss for also being awesome and telling her to come down here and being so understanding (Hi Chris!). 

That about wraps things up for this week's edition of WIIW! I hope you found something funny/useful/amusing and noticed that my sense of humor and amazing personality is starting to shine through my writing again. Just think how amazing it would be had I actually slept more than a few hours the past couple of nights (or maybe it's better because I'm delirious?). 

What are your favorites/rants/whatevers that you want to tell me about? I'd love to hear what it is for you on this lovely hump day! Take care and I'll talk to you tomorrow! 

*mic drop*

Weekend Happenings and Beach with a Toddler

Happy Monday, my friends! Are you ready to tackle this week like a boss? 

How was your weekend? We had a pretty great weekend, including a nice trip to the beach. I ended up getting absolutely fried, which I'm pretty upset about since I try to avoid too much sun due to religiously using tanning beds in my youth. So to get super fried (like my legs still hurt from the burn), is embarrassing and a health hazard. Not. Cool. 

I did use sunscreen, but it's about a year old and I'm guessing it's expired or something - let this be a lesson to you; don't use old sunscreen at the beach in Florida!

Before I go into our beach trip, including some recommendations on how we make the beach work with a toddler, I want to do a quick workout round-up from last week. 

I also had to post another smiling pre-workout picture, since they're usually so grim. 

Monday - P90X Shoulders, Chest, and Triceps

Tuesday - Speed running workout (see it here) & abs

Wednesday - P90X Back & Biceps

Thursday - Hangover rest day (booooooo!!)

Friday - P90X Legs & Back

Saturday - I planned on running but overslept (booooo!!)

Sunday - I wanted to run but my legs were too sunburnt. Yes, seriously. Not. Cool. 

As you can see, I did not do 2 of my planned workouts this week. So even though I absolutely LOVE working out and it's usually a part of my daily routine, I am still human and life (and beer) happened. And I'm perfectly fine with that since I know I'll have a better week this week. So if you happen to miss a workout or two don't let it get you down, we all do it!

Moving on to the fun part of the weekend...THE BEACH!

(look...we're all smiling! That never happens! Also, how does my Justin tower over me so much? I can't handle how grown he is!)

Also, if you're wondering about my swimsuit, I found it at TJ Maxx or Marshalls and even though I'd just gotten another cute one a month before, I knew I had to get it because it's flattering and comfortable and those are rare qualities in a swimsuit. I didn't get any pictures of the backside, but it's pretty cheeky which I love because I love my booty and like to show it off #datass

We only live 50 minutes from the beach, yet we hardly ever go. Which is crazy, because we all love the beach. It is just a lot of hassle to get all of the beach crap together, plan out food/snacks/drinks, pack and unpack and pack and unpack everything, wash all the towels, sweep up all the sand, deal with the aftermath of getting a sunburn...

But still, IT's THE BEACH. Now that the water is warming up, I hope we can start going more often. I'd like to challenge myself to go at least once a month from here on out, but we all know how my challenges go *cough, cough...meditation challenge...cough cough*

(to be fair, I've been consistently meditating most weekdays, so it's still a winner in my book)

Back to the BEACH...

We went to our favorite park which is right next to Cocoa Beach - it has free parking as long as you get there early enough, lifeguards, bathrooms, rinse off stations, and no crowds. I'm not posting the name because I don't want everyone to go there and ruin it, but if you really want to know hit me up and I'll tell you. 

Since moving to Florida I've become a huge vadge when it comes to water temperature and rarely go in the water from October to May, however the water was absolutely lovely this weekend. It was warm, but still refreshing. Even Jules loved the water and we all spent hours splashing around, boogie-boarding (the waves were too choppy to ride any, but still fun to play on), and making sand castles. 

As the mom of a toddler, pretty much everything we do is a bit more difficult and complicated. I obviously wouldn't trade it or her for anything, but I'm just going to be real and say it. I'm sure most of you would agree with me, if you have a toddler or have been around one. We can't just go to the beach with a towel and some beers...it doesn't work like that anymore! However we have gotten this whole beach with a toddler thing down to a science, and luckily for you, I write a blog and love to overshare my life and tips! So without further ado:

My tips and tricks for beaching with a toddler!

Pack the car the night before...

This is very important - otherwise you will end up scrambling and running late, you'll get all hot and sweaty and cranky, and you'll miss your free parking spot which is no fun for anyone. I always make a quick list of snacks/drinks for everyone, run it by my husband to see if I'm missing anything, and make a quick store run the day before. We tend to make sandwiches and bring chips and vanilla wafers most of the time, but every once in awhile I'll make a caprese salad that we'll eat out of the container like savages or if I'm feeling REALLY fancy I'll make ceviche and we'll eat it with tortilla chips. The recipe I use for ceviche is this one and it's so freaking good - let me know if you try it! 

The evening before we are going to the beach we get all of the food made and packed up in bags and then pack the car with all of our beach gear, which is a lot of crap - beach chairs, umbrellas, sand anchors for the umbrella, towels, cooler, boogie boards, Jules float thing, buckets to play in the sand...now you might be wondering how we get all of this to our spot on the beach without killing ourselves?

Get a beach cart

For some reason I fought tooth and nail on this - I'm pretty sure that in my head this was like trading in my SUV for a minivan. Like, I'm too cool to use a beach cart - only dorky, prepared grown-ups use those! Well guess what? I'm a dorky, prepared grown-up now! My mom ended up getting this for Jason and me 2 Christmases ago and I don't know how we ever went to the beach without it. If you ever go to the beach for more than a day or two, get one of these!

However I am never getting a minivan - I don't care how cool and comfortable they are. You can mark my words here...no minivan ever. 

Sun Protection

Even though I got fried this weekend, I am usually pretty psychotic about being fully protected from the sun. I always wear a hat unless I'm boogie boarding or surfing and I try to always wear sunscreen all over. I also religiously coat my children in sunscreen and force them to wear hats/shirts/rash guards (except for poor Justin's feet, which got burnt this weekend too #momfail). Julianna always has a long-sleeved rash-guard swimsuit (we found her mermaid suit at Target this year) and she always wears a hat. We really like this one and have already purchased two of them in the past year:

As for sunscreen, I really try to avoid any of the chemical crap since it really is terrible for you. I'm not being crazy, do some research and see how you feel about Banana Boat then. One place you can go to check out how awful or amazing your sunscreen is is the EWG website here . I urge you to do a quick search on the sunscreens you currently use and see how your sunscreen ranks. Then do some additional research and see how bad some of these chemicals are for you. THEN I think you'll jump on the chemical-free sunscreen train with me.

Here's my favorite stuff to the left. To be clear, I didn't use this kind this weekend since I couldn't find it - I used some stuff I had leftover from Hawaii which worked well in Hawaii, not so much here in Florida.

I know the bottle says baby, but it's good for everyone. The EWG ranks sunscreens from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst - this type of Blue Lizard sunscreen along with the sensitive Blue Lizard (blue lid), are both ranked as 1's. It is expensive, but I've found that a little goes a long way. 

One big tip for you when you're using any zinc oxide/titanium dioxide sunscreen is to rub it in. Seriously take your time and REALLY rub it in. If you don't, you will either look like a geisha OR you'll look purple. 

Another benefit of the chemical free sunscreens is they don't harm the coral reefs - all of the chemical sunscreens we use are actually doing MAJOR harm to the coral reefs and fishes and that's no bueno. So use the chemical free stuff and save yourself and the fishes!

You need shade!

We never go to the beach without beach umbrellas and/or a canopy tent thing (ours broke last year). Right now we are going with the two umbrella set-up, which works pretty well. You do end up having to move your chairs every couple of hours to chase the shade, but it's better than frying in the sun and then being burnt for several days because you were too lazy to move (I'm glaring at myself right now). 

If you're going to be using umbrellas for shade, please make sure you also get some sand anchors so your umbrellas don't blow away. Seriously...it's super windy at the beach and I've seen so many people almost get impaled by umbrellas flying away.

Yes, it is entertaining for us to watch, but I would feel bad if anyone actually got hurt. 

I found this picture on Walmart.com so you know what I'm talking about, but you can seriously find these things at any gift shop or drug store near the beach. I'm pretty sure ours only cost us $8 each and they've been a real life saver. 

Literally a life saver. Don't impale people who are on the beach because you didn't anchor your umbrella.

Bad juju.

Make sure you have somewhere to sit. 

I know the beach purists are probably all, "oooooh I just like to lay in the sand and chairs are for lame-o people". Well I am totally a lame-o person who has a toddler and needs a place to park my ass. Seriously. Get yo-self a good beach chair and thank me later. We've ran the gamut from the super cheap ones you get at a beach store to our primo Tommy Bahama chairs, and I highly recommend the Tommy Bahama backpack cooler chairs - worth the splurge. We usually use the cooler part for garbage and having the ability to wear the chairs on our backs gives us that much more room in our beach cart for all of the other crap we need. 

You're obviously more than welcome to buy through my affiliate link, but we actually got ours at Costco for like $30 each. #justsaying. 

The benefit of the chair is two-fold. You can sit down while you and your toddler eat a snack and make funny faces. 

And it gives you a place to relax and enjoy a cocktail while your toddler takes a nap for an hour or so. 

Those peach-a-rita's are delicious. I had 4 (over the course of 5 or so hours so STOP JUDGING ME). Yes, I know they're terrible for me, but IDGAF. So yummy. 

Bring it all...

We always bring:

  • a ton of diapers and wipes
  • paper towels and a garbage bag
  • a change of clothes (or two)
  • a bajillion towels (one for everyone, plus a huge one we lay in front of the umbrellas for sun and a beach blanket for under the umbrellas)
  • TONS of water
  • a sippy cup
  • things to play with (sand pail, something with wheels, shovels, water toys, etc). We actually failed on this one this time and only brought a sand pail - Jules ended up playing with the contents of my bag for an hour. Take everything out, put it back in, and repeat 24 times. 
  • Bluetooth speakers - we love to have music playing while we're at the beach. This way we don't have to listen to the crap other people are listening to AND Jules loves to dance so it keeps her happy and occupied on and off throughout the day.
  • snacks (fruit especially watermelon, chips, etc.). On a side note, Jules isn't allowed to eat popcorn due to it being a pretty significant choking hazard, however we used to always bring SmartFood popcorn. Then we noticed it always became super stale right after opening at the beach. I don't know if it's the salty air or the wind or what, but I'm talking 30 minutes after opening. So I don't recommend popcorn for the beach. 
  • Lotion for afterwards so your skin doesn't feel like it's turning to stone - or is that just me?

Have your husband drive...

So you can all nap on the way home. 

The beach is exhausting and Jules and I both slept the entire way home (I think mine had more to do with 4 peach-a-ritas than anything). 

That about sums it up! How about you? Do you have any additional beach tips I may have missed? Have you tried the peach-a-rita? It's SO GOOD! How was your weekend? 

This post includes some affiliate links from Amazon. If you click through and purchase any of the items I recommend it does not change the price of the item at all, it just gives me a very small commision for making the recommendation. Thank you for your support!

I Got the Blues

The Monday Blues!

Seriously though friends - I am on the struggle bus for real today. 

I don't know what is going on, but having two Monday's in a row where I am seriously just not feeling it kind of sucks. So I have decided to keep today's post light-hearted and easy for all of us, since I'm sure I'm not the only one struggling today. 

This will be our weekend in review...with pictures and 7 word captions or less. Can I do it??

(probably not...I'm a bit wordy)

But I'm going to try! Here we go. 

Before workout - not crying, just tired.

(easy so far!)

Forced after workout smile - still tired.

(2 for 2 - yes!!)

Friday night date night with my hubs. 

Only dinner, no movie - we can't hang!

(I'm still making the 7 word thing work!)

These pictures will never get old!

Wearing pants on your head is cool!

Here's what happens while I make breakfast...

(I can't believe I'm still able to do this! 7 words isn't easy, folks!)

Easter egg hunt time!

In pajamas because we don't GAF.

After breakfast walk with daddy & Jax.

Family hike time!

Runner scared the shit out of Justin!

I love my Lillebaby (and my baby)!

Don't get in the water.

Even the gator thinks you're weird.

We're all looking at the camera!

Don't fall in. Seriously.

Quick break before heading back.

Jules isn't sure about the position change. 

She's FREE!

And she's done.

We all needed a nap. 

I did it!

That was actually a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.

I'm just glad I settled on 7 words or less instead of 5, since that's what I was originally thinking. 

Do you think you could describe your holiday weekend in 7 words or less? I know I can...

Not long enough.

BOOM!

I hope you have a great Monday!

I'm a Happy, Peppy Person - How I Keep My Energy Up & Stay Positive

Happy Friday Eve, my friends! How is your day/week going so far? 

I'm still having a crazy-doozy of a week, and I'm blaming it on the full moon. I know these are super small potatoes in the grand stew that is life, but here are some of the fun things that have happened so far this week:

  • Jules is sleeping like crap. Like super duper crappity crap. She has been waking up 1-3 times and waking up for good earlier than usual, which is throwing my entire morning routine off. This morning she decided to wake up at 5:30, which was about 5 minutes into my workout. Instead of stopping (not an option), I brought her downstairs, gave her some cereal and some water, and put the Minions movie on my iPad. It kind of worked. 
  • The wifi wasn't working yesterday morning, but I didn't know it was the wifi and assumed it was the AppleTV (we don't have cable, FYI). So I did a hard reset of the AppleTV and then figured out the wifi was broken. Meaning I need to reinstall all of the apps on the AppleTV and I don't know any of the dang passwords.  
  • Julianna's hairbrush went missing and it was picture day yesterday - I attempted to do cute pigtails using my brush, but it just wouldn't work because her hair is fine. So her hair wasn't done for pictures.
  • Speaking of the pictures, Jules refused to smile and is actually super teary-eyed and sad in her picture; the upside of this is we didn't pay $50 for a ton of pictures we won't use the majority of!
  • There is still egg everywhere from our shenanigans the other day - I found a bunch on the floor and wall of Julianna's play enclosure in the living room, which is pretty far from where the stupid egg exploded. I am not a real grown-up and I refuse to adult. Obviously. But now I have to clean it up, which is dumb.
  • Scooby is still on antibiotics and absolutely hates them, so any time I go near him he tries to hide. This resulted in him running under the bed yesterday morning and missing a dose because I couldn't get him out and I needed to leave for work like 5 minutes earlier. 
  • I tried to make my breakfast yesterday before going to work; I have been doing a copycat Bacon Gouda Egg sandwich from Starbucks the past few weeks, because I love that sandwich, but it costs like $5 and it's hardly big enough for a snack. So I've been making it at home. Went to make it yesterday and the cheese I'd just opened a day or two prior was freaking MOLDY. I don't do mold. I know some people will cut it off and still eat it, but I can't. My stomach won't allow it and I'd puke all over. 

So just in case you haven't figured it out, I'm cranky and I'm tired and my house is covered in egg and I don't want to adult. At all. So how in the crap am I still energized and (mostly) positive? Let me let you in on my ways...

Crack. 

Just kidding. Don't do crack, it's wack.

First and foremost, I exercise.

Even on the nights when Jules is up several times and I'm so effing tired I can't even, I just get up and do it. As long as I was able to get 4-5 hours of sleep, I'm forcing myself to get up and get my workout in. Now you might be thinking to yourself that this is dumb and how is it possible that waking up 60-90 minutes early to do something active gives you energy, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have never regretted a workout. Ever. Sure it's sometimes hard to roll my happy ass out of bed, but I know that by getting my workout in I'll feel great when I'm done and it will give me energy to get through the day. I do always have my preworkout aminos and sometimes will have a small bowl of cereal prior to starting my workout, which gives me that little burst of energy I need to push play or run out of the front door for a run. 

I know a lot of people struggle with that 2-3pm slump where they are dead tired and need to get another coffee in them to survive. You're probably going to hate me for saying this, but I don't have that slump (anymore). And I really think it's because I workout in the morning. 

Another reason I don't get that slump?

I don't drink any caffeine after noon. 

Ever. Like never ever. As I've mentioned in the past, I only drink one caffeinated drink a day, and that's usually my preworkout amino drink. Any time I do drink caffeine after noon, I struggle to sleep that night and have anxiety attacks that day. So if you're really struggling with your energy and you have the dreaded slump every day, try cutting that caffeine out in the afternoon and do a workout in the morning. It might take a couple of weeks, but I promise you will see some positive results and feel so much better!

So now you're like, but Jamie, how will I make it through the day without my mid-afternoon caffeine? 

Don't worry, I have more!

Get up and move around. 

Get up  and go for a quick walk. Shoot, just get up and go to the bathroom or get some water. Go outside for 2 minutes, even it it's cold and snowy and cloudy. That might even jolt you awake even better than when it's warm and sunny. Either way, get outside and move. I work in an environment where we're all expected to be available to answer phone calls and questions as they come, but it's still okay to get up for a few minutes and shake your legs out. So if we can do it, you can do it!

Eat a balanced diet. 

Don't be like 26 year old Jamie. 

What this means is protein, fat, and carbs. I've done the low carb thing and I understand the appeal - you lose a lot of weight quickly and it really leans you out. But I don't give a crap what anyone says, I have NEVER had more energy on a low carb diet. I always have a headache and feel like shit and my brain doesn't work. On that same token, you need to balance the carbs you eat with protein and good fats. Don't just eat a donut or pop tarts for breakfast, wash it down with a soda, have some "healthy" veggie pasta for lunch, and then wonder why you're so tired and gaining weight and feel like crap every afternoon.

Make sure that whatever you're eating for breakfast and lunch (and dinner too) has carbs and protein and fat. If you want to eat oatmeal for breakfast that's great, but don't just eat oatmeal. Have an egg or two on the side, or add some chia seeds and protein powder to the oatmeal. One of the best benefits of eating more protein and balancing out the carbs you eat with protein and fat is that the food you eat will keep you full for a longer period of time. I think this is probably another reason I don't get that slump - every lunch I have includes carbs, protein, and fat. I rarely need to eat after my lunch until I get home from work and get dinner ready...although I do sometimes snack on chips because I love them and I can't quit them. #imnotaquitter

That pasta was the bomb.com. 

One final and totally amazing thing that I have recently started doing that keeps my energy up is...

Water temp cycling at the end of my shower. 

I have no clue where I read this, but a couple of months ago I read that at the end of your shower you can run the water super cold for 10 seconds, hot for 10 seconds, and then super cold again for another 10 seconds and it will give you energy. Guys, this has been a game changer for me. I have been running cold water at the end of my shower for a long time , but doing the cold-hot-cold cycle immediately gives me a surge of energy that is long-lasting. Plus it makes your hair shiny!

Also if you're not taking a shower in the morning, I would recommend you do it; always works to wake me up!

So I've given you some of my tips for energy, but how about the ways I stay positive? First of all, I'm just a positive person. I may complain a lot and call people assholes all the time, but deep-down inside this crazy body, I truly believe in glass half-full AND I believe in the best in people. This does sometimes get me screwed over (because there are assholes out there that take advantage of this trait), but that's okay because I also believe in karma and those assholes will get theirs eventually.  

Being positive and having a happy face can be a struggle even for me sometimes, but I'm always getting compliments on how full of energy and happy I am so whatever I'm doing is working. 

I remember reading on a blog that I read and I'm sorry I don't have the link to the specific post, but Tina had a blurb at the end of a blog a year or two ago about changing your mindset and a good way to do that.

So here's my biggest secret...instead of thinking about having to do stuff instead I think about getting to do stuff. That's it and it's one of my biggest tips for energy AND positivity! I use this almost every single morning when my alarm goes off and I just don't want to get up and workout. I may not want to do it, but I get to. The same goes for work - I will totally admit that I don't love my job. Sure, I'm good at it, but I don't really love it all that much. So what do I do when I'm in my car complaining on Snapchat before going into work because I really don't want to do it that day but I need to get my butt inside and get to work? I think to myself that I may not want to go to work, but I get to. 

So I urge you to start doing this yourself (and thank you so much to Tina for posting about this since it has made a big positive impact in my life).

You may not want to go to work/clean/workout/adult, but at least you get to. 

And there are people out there who can't do what you get to do. I promise that making this one change in your mindset will make a huge difference in your overall attitude.

Don't worry, that's not all - I have some more tips for you. 

Smile

Force yourself to smile, even if you don't want to. I know it sounds cliche, but the more you smile the better your mood will be. If I'm in a particularly shitty mood I have a guided mediation that I have bookmarked on Insight Timer that is absolutely amazing. Just don't do it in front of people because it will make you look batshit crazy due to having your eyes closed and smiling approximately 900 times during the meditation. So find a nice, quiet room somewhere and try it out. You might feel weird the first few times you do it, but even then I can ensure you'll be in a better mood. 

Do something ridiculous/funny

All of my friends and family are funny and ridiculous people. We send each other funny pictures and videos and do ridiculous things to make each other laugh.  We are all also positive people - coincidence? I think not. If you're feeling down, do something funny or watch something funny. Look up ridiculous cat meme's. Watch Vine compilations. Whatever makes you or others laugh will pep you up immensely!

This also ties into my next tip which is to...

Surround yourself with positive people. 

Negativity spreads - don't hang out with negative people! Have you ever noticed that you'll be at work or somewhere and one person will start complaining about something being wrong. Either something isn't right or unfair, but for whatever reason something just sets them off. So they're complaining and going on and on and even if they're not justified and you know it, I bet it brought your mood down, right? I do everything I can to remove myself from negative situations. You obviously cannot remove yourself 100% of the time, but by getting out of the negative situations and away from the negative people as often as you can, you remove that influence from your life as much as you can control it. And that's a good thing. 

Dress up and put your face on.

No matter how crappy I feel after being up with Jules all night long or having a crap night/morning, I always make sure I shower, put on something nice, and do my hair and make-up for work. Except on the weekend - then I just braid my bangs and don't usually wash my hair unless we have something planned, but just the fact that it's the weekend is enough to make me happy. There have even been times when I have overslept and I have called and let my boss know I'm going to be late and I'll stay late or skip my lunch to make up for it (luckily my bosses are awesome). This might just be me, but I would feel so much worse if I threw on any old thing and didn't make myself look decent.

Just to be clear, this isn't even full-on a vanity thing. It's really not so much about looking good, but feeling like I have my shit together by looking like I have my shit together. And we all know I really don't and I'm a hot mess 90% of the time - but I can fake like I'm on my A-game with the best of them! So if you're feeling really down and out, get all dolled up and I bet you'll feel a bit better (bathroom selfie is optional...). If not, maybe try my next tip...

Watch something dumb.

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've been made fun of for watching crap tv and silly movies. Yes, I know it's crap, but while you're watching your "smart" tv shows/movies and the news and all of the negativity that's sometimes associated with those things, I am completely disconnected and watching something ridiculous and probably laughing about it and feeling pretty good about life. I don't have to think and it makes me laugh and I'm a happy, peppy person overall, so it's obviously working!

Do something nice for someone

And this part is key...do it without expecting anything in return. If you're in the drive-thru somewhere, pay it forward and buy the food for the person behind you (unless they're driving a minivan, because I'm not made of money, kay?!?). If your friend is talking about needing help with something, volunteer to help without having to be asked. When you're at the store and see something that you know your spouse/significant other/kids would love, get it for them and surprise them with it (I often do this with candy/treats for my husband and kids). If you only do nice things for others because you expect them to reciprocate, you will end up disappointed ALL THE TIME. However I've noticed that just doing something nice for someone gives me all the good feels, which is a type of reciprocation and enough for me to do it again and again and again. 

Treat yo'self!

I am a very disciplined person - I wake up early to workout almost every single day and eat well most of the time. The key words there are almost and most of the time. If I was 100% healthy and disciplined all the time I would be one miserable beyotch. You can't miss out on all of the good things in life, and treating yourself is a GOOD thing. Take that rest day if you need it. Go on vacation and don't do a workout the entire time, unless you really want to do it. Eat 80% of the cookie butter cake you make for your husband for his birthday (recipe here...make it; it was amazing). Drink that beer/wine/cider/margarita. Get a groupon for a massage and take a half-day off of work to go get it without feeling an ounce of guilt. Take a bubble bath after the kids are in bed and leave the kitchen not perfectly clean.

The best part about being disciplined and healthy most of the time is when I treat myself. Because MAN does it taste/smell/feel good to do it. So don't make every day a treat/cheat but make sure you always have some sort of treat to look forward to or something fun planned for the future, which gives you something to look forward to and in turn, makes you HAPPY!

So what do you guys think? Are any of these tips things you already do in your life? Are you going to try any of these tips out yourself? 

Also, make that cake. It's awesome. 

TOMORROW IS FRIDAY!!!!!

Have a great day!

Jamie, out *mic drop*

Fri-YAY Part Deux

We made it to Friday!! THANK GOD!

I am still of the mindset that I could use another day to get all the work done that I need to do, but regardless of how much shit I have to do at work, I'm so happy it's Friday!

I thought I'd do another edition of Fri-YAY, or the things that are making me say YAYYYYY today. 

First of all, I managed to get all 5 of my workday workouts in. YESSSSS! I did oversleep on Wednesday and had to workout that evening, but managed to get Justin to workout with me. So a big YAYYYYYYY to that!

Also, the pictures I get with Justin both before and after our workouts are classic. The above shenanigans were on Wednesday - it's insane how much taller he is than me now! I'm on my tippy toes for all of them but the last one, and you can really tell how freaking tall he is in that picture - what happened to my sweet little boy?!? 

There he is!

He might be a dumb teenager sometimes, but most of the time he's still my fun, crazy, Justinsane. He worked out for about 15 minutes with his shirt like that. Yep. 

This song is a huge YAYYYYYYYY for me right now. I know that everyone else has been loving and listening to this song for months now, but I just got on that train. So don't judge me and let me enjoy it. 

Speaking of music, I might be a little bit biased but the playlist I use for running is pretty effing awesome. The vast majority of the songs have a BPM (beats per minute) of 170 or more, so when I run to those songs I match my strides to the beat of the song and it helps me run faster and more efficiently! Click on the link above and let me know if you give it a listen. The songs are kind of all over the place in regards to genre, but I promise it will get you moving quickly if you just go with the flow!

Also if you're into alternative music at all, check out the new album by Spoon. I've been a fan of Spoon for many moons (I had to rhyme it, sorry), and their new album is probably their best work. CHECK IT OUT!

Here's something that makes me say YAYYYY but can be a bit of a frustration for other people...assholes who can't park!

nice parking job madrediem

I love when people do something jackassery that I can put on snapchat. So please, keep being inconsiderate and lazy so I can blast you on the internets!

Seriously though...how hard is it to fix your parking job? 

I love spaghetti night. For reals though. We had spaghetti Monday night and there was more than enough leftover for everyone to eat it on Tuesday (I was fasting so I didn't partake, see my post from Wednesday). As far as what we use to make our spaghetti, I saute a pound and a half of ground turkey with some EVOO and minced garlic.  I'm way too busy to make my sauce from scratch, so I get the Bertolli Organic brand, which is one of the lowest in regards to added sugar (6 grams vs over 10 for most of the other brands) and dump that in once the turkey is cooked and heat it up for about 10 minutes. And I really like the Dreamfields pasta since it has a lot of fiber. And fiber makes you poop. Pooping is good. POOP!! 

I was feeling pretty good in two of my outfits this week and when that happens, you know I'm taking a bathroom selfie! YAYYYYYYY!! The outfit on the left is a dress from letote (clothes rental - highly recommend it!) and shoes from TJ Maxx and I was wearing some awesome shapewear that my me look like I have some pretty nice tatas, and the dress on the right is a PRE-PREGNANCY dress from The Limited (R.I.P.) and the same shoes, no shapewear. Sometimes you just gotta selfie!

Something that will always make me say YAYYYYYY is Jules running towards me all excited and stuff. I can't even with this one.  

Poor Jax.

Ridiculous pictures make me say YAYYYYY.

Apparently we're not supposed to have any dogs at Jason's Uncle's condo. So poor Jax had to get carted in and out in my beach bag to go to the bathroom. By the time we were ready to leave on Sunday morning, the poor thing would run away and try to hide from me. SORRY, BUDDY!

Twinning - madrediem

Can I get a YAYYYYYY for twinning with my daughter? She's so effing cute. 

And yes, I did draw a t-shirt on my daughter - she always eats in her diaper since it cuts down on stains on her clothes, but I'm not trying to have my pictures targeted by pervs. So stay away, ya effing pervs - you're not getting any content here!!

Do you have anything fun planned for this weekend? I am going to be relaxing and spring cleaning; hopefully doing more relaxing that cleaning. My main focus is going to be on closets, bathrooms, and my car. Cause my car is gross, mmmkay?

Happy Friday, everyone! 

Take-Out Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope your week is off to a good start and you're not as busy and overwhelmed as I am right now - my head is spinning with all the work I have to do this week! The good news is that it makes the day fly by, but the bad news is that my evenings and weekends are also flying by. Can I please get an extra couple of hours at night to just chill out before going to bed? Please? 

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After yesterday's heavy-ish post, I thought I'd keep things light and simple today. 

Without further adieu, I bring you Take-out Tuesday! No, I'm not talking food here (although some poke take-out is definitely happening this weekend), I'm talking about photos I've taken that didn't make it to the blog for whatever reason. I'm going to keep it simple here and just do a quick title for each picture - I hope you enjoy it!

Beach Day Casual

alternate title: I Forgot My Beach Cover-Up

The PreWorkout Series

Photogenic Like Mommy

Tricep Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

Trying to Capture the Elusive Both-Children-Smiling Photo 

As Real as it Gets

Get in Mah Belly

Leftover Toddler Toast: Pre-run Fuel of Champions

Lucky I'm Cute

alternate title: I Kept Mommy Up All Night

Can We Leave Already?

Hanger

Building Immunities - One Public Table at a Time

Finally.

Lesson Learned

alternate title: She's a Ninja and Grabbed That Cup and Almost Spilled It 

Blog 4.jpg

Good Sport

alternate title: Jason hates Disney

Mischievous Little Elf

Check Please

alternate title: We Need to Pay Before Jules Loses Her Shit

No Make-Up, Sweaty Selfie - IDGAF

Never. Stops. Moving. 

That's all I have for today! I hope your work day flies by, is super productive, and you get everything done that you need to accomplish, and if you're home, I hope it's a nice and relaxing day. Thank you for stopping by!