WIIW (What it is Wednesday) and Why I'm Quitting Ab Workouts

It's HUMP DAYYYYYYY!! I very obnoxiously snapchatted about it this morning and if you're not following me already, you probably should because I'm hilarious (and modest too). I tend to be semi-to-totally inappropriate, with some ridiculous videos of my kids thrown-in and sometimes a ghost makes an appearance (best. snap story. ever.)

I enjoy these WIIW posts because I really like giving my opinion to everyone and this is a good way for me to round up my opinions on a weekly basis and make it seem less bossy than when I tell people my opinion otherwise. What do you guys think of them? 

You guys, remember when I showed you the Cake Batter/Red Velvet ice cream thing from Arctic Zero last week? This is a Salted Caramel Arctic Zero ice cream thing and it's even better. Yesterday was my fast day, but I needed something sweet and this did not disappoint. Get them if you find them! Shoot, I might stock up just so I never have to worry about them running out!

I have been trying to get my son to workout on a semi-regular basis, because he is a pretty typical, lazy teenager. If he had his way he would sit in his bedroom and play video games the entire weekend, only getting up to make and eat an entire pot of macaroni and cheese. We've done a few 22 Minute Hard Corps workouts from Beachbody and they're perfect for him since they're not super difficult and only 22 minutes. He actually did a workout by himself on Monday AND sent me a sweaty selfie. I am so proud of him! Now if he'll just keep it up!

You might be wondering why I'm trying to get my 13 year old to exercise - the reason why is because the earlier it becomes a habit, the more likely it will stay that way for life. And all I really want for my kids in life is for them to be healthy and happy. Working out helps with the health AND the happiness, so it's a win-win!

I am seriously loving the swimsuit I wore this weekend. It is SO HARD to find a flattering swimsuit that is comfortable and this one is both! And it makes my tiny little boobs look pretty good, so that's awesome too! And it only cost $30 at TJ Maxx, so YASSSSSSSS!!!

Link Love!

I am loving these two articles from Scary Mommy this week. They both apply pretty directly to my life right now, and I had to share them with you guys. 

As A Mom, I Value Quality Way More Than Quantity In My Friendships

I am so on board with the message of this blog. The last thing I need in my life right now is a judgmental, high-maintenance friend and I have made some changes in my friendships over the past 6 months or so that involved distancing myself from people who were like that. I honestly just don't have the time or energy for half-friends right now or people who make me feel bad about myself! I have a handful of really good friends who are both long-distance and local, and even though we don't hang out all the time, we always pick up right where we left off whenever we do hang-out or talk. And we usually do so in a house that I didn't even worry about tidying up because I know they won't judge me. These are the friends that will drink crappy, cheap wine with me and eat my partially stale chips from a half-eaten bag without judging me or making me feel like I need to do more for them. Because our friendship and support for each other is enough, and that's how friends should be. 

So to my friends who are reading this - you know who you are - love you!!

Stop Being A Judgmental A**hole When Someone Tells You Their Child Isn’t Sleeping

Everything about this. When you are pregnant and have young children, it suddenly becomes open season for everyone you know (and some you don't) to give you advice.

"I sure hope you plan to breastfeed since breast is best" (but God forbid you do it in public because that might make people uncomfortable)

"Don't hold your baby like that, she can't breathe correctly" (while holding Jules in football carry because it helped with her gassy stomach)

"You better stop giving her that pacifier now; she's so pretty without it" *insert middle finger here*

Sleep is a HUGE topic point for anyone with baby/toddler and is something that everyone wants to give you advice regarding. And for whatever reason, everyone seems to be baby sleep experts and their little snowflake is a MUCH better sleeper than your child. I get it; Jules doesn't sleep well and never has. Justin didn't either. But then the second Justin hit 2 or so he started sleeping 12 hours straight from when I put him to bed. Meaning if I wanted to sleep a little later, I would keep Justin up until 10 and he'd sleep until 10. And I'm hoping Jules will do that same thing. So instead of telling me how tired I look and that your unicorn snowflake baby slept through the night a week from the hospital and here's what I'm doing wrong, please just commiserate with me and be empathetic. 

I think everyone should try to have more empathy in general and in doing so, the world will be a better place. 

World peace, Jamie-style.

My current favorite songs...

In no particular order...

Just for listening:

  • Every Time I'm Ready to Hug - Ra Ra Riot
  • Silvia - Miike Snow
  • Open Your Eyes - STRFKR
  • Hot Thoughts - Spoon
  • HUMBLE - Kendrick Lamar
  • Cecilia - Simon & Garfunkel

For running (all of these songs have really high BPM which help me keep my cadence over 180 - aka great for running)

  • Drop The Plot - Gregory Peopper and His Problems
  • Hard Times - Paramore
  • Little Sister - Queens of the Stone Age
  • When Your Heart Stops Beating - +44
  • Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai
  • The Bomb - Pigeon John

Why I'm Quitting Ab Workouts

Man, I'm doing a lot of quitting around here! First the scale, now ab workouts, next I'll be quitting wine or something crazy like that (or not...most definitely not...if I do quit wine it will only be because I'm taking up margaritas #summer). 

First and foremost, I am not a fitness professional so if you are really worried about something being wrong with you or are thinking about starting a new program please see your doctor first. This is just something new that I'm trying and sharing with you so you can be entertained by my success or failure. I'm pretty sure I was a guinea pig in a past life because I love testing out new things!

I know I've mentioned at least once before in the blog that I'm working on strengthening my transverse abdominus. You may or may not be wondering why, but regardless I'm going to tell you why because this is my blog and I control ALL OF IT!!! 

Even though I have been really slimming down all over recently, I still have a very noticeable mommy bulge/tummy/gut. And it's the entire thing - top, bottom, middle. Now some of this I can totally blame on my eating - I don't eat perfectly (and don't want to), but I do tend to eat really healthy overall and *should* probably be seeing a bit better results considering how hard I workout. 

I've known about diastasis recti for a long time and even self-diagnosed myself with it postpartum, however I have refused to accept that I have it and it's affecting me in any way, shape or form because....I'm stubborn? Actually, I know why and that's because they tell you to avoid all impact exercises while working on recovering from diastasis recti, which means no running, jumping, kickboxing, etc - basically everything I love to do. And I can't stop doing that stuff or I might lose my mind, so I ignored it. But it's not getting better, and my core is so weak. The past few weeks I've been doing some additional research on it and have finally accepted it's time for me to do something about it before it gets worse or I give up and become a sloth. 

First, I did another test to confirm how bad my DR is and this one is a great one if you want to try it yourself:

I have about a 1.5-2 finger gap - it's not that bad, but still there and it is affecting my overall core/abs so it's something I should do something to fix. 

What's the #1 thing you need to do if you do have a gap? Stop doing traditional ab exercises. Crunches, planks, the bicycle, etc. - basically anything that is in a traditional ab workout including pilates can actually make this worse! So no more V-Ups for me no matter how cool I feel when I do them!

Like I said, I ignored this for going on 15 months now, however I have noticed that when I'm laying on my back and doing a traditional crunch or sit-up, I have a small cone-shaped mound that pops up on my stomach above my belly button...this is because I have a gap and the muscles are bulging through the gap - appetizing right? This is one of the signs you have it so if you are doing crunches and see a cone-shaped mound or pyramid pop up on your stomach, you probably have DR! If you think you might have DR I encourage you to follow along with the video above to confirm how bad it is and then for the love of Pete, stop doing ab workouts! 

There are several systems out there that you can purchase that help to rehab your core - one is called MuTu - and they all have rave reviews from women so they obviously work. But I'm a cheapskate and stubborn, so instead I turned to the internet and found this workout here. This is actually based off of MuTu and it's recommended to do it every day. So that's what I'm going to do and did do this morning. It took me about 12 minutes since I'm not familiar with the exercises, however I could seriously feel it deep in my core which is exactly where you're supposed to feel it. 

As I said, I plan on doing this every day and I'll keep you guys updated on how that's going success or not, since I love oversharing on the internet!

Have any of you had issues with diastasis recti? Have you tried any of the rehab programs like MuTu that are supposed to help and did it help? Will I ever lose my mom belly without giving up wine and carbs (cause that ain't gonna happen, yo!)?

Do you guys have any fun things you're loving right now that you want to share? Music, food, wine, etc - I love to hear about it all so please share!

How I Survived My C-Section

I'd like to start things off by announcing that I slept 7 solid hours last night. Like in a row, without being woken up by anyone, and Jules also slept well (I actually had the baby monitor on last night because I've been feeling guilty and didn't hear a peep from her). 

So I woke up this morning feeling like a new person. It's amazing what some good sleep will do for a person!

I actually woke up this morning and was excited to run. WTF, right? I was all, YEAH, I'm so excited. See?!?

That's my BEFORE picture and I'm SMILING! WHAT?!? Anyone who has read my blog at all knows my before workout pictures usually rival Grumpy Cat. 

I actually had a real workout planned this morning too instead of my usual run around the neighborhood at a steady state for 3 miles (so boring) - this week I'm starting to incorporate some actual speed training into my workouts and it's obviously just what I needed. In case you're interested, my workout was:

  • 1/2 mile warm-up
  • Race pace for 1 minute, jog for 1 minute, SPRINT for 30 seconds, jog for 1 minute and repeat 6 times (you'll need a watch or timer for this)
  • 1/4 mile cool-down (ish - I just finished my lap around my neighborhood)

It ended up being just a bit over 3 miles and an AWESOME workout. Just in case you're wondering what my paces are, my jog pace is 9:30-10, race pace was around 8:10 and my sprint was around 7:15. If you want to know what your training paces should be, I highly recommend looking it up on Google "run training pace calculator" :-)

This is my post-run and pre-core workout selfie. I wanted to show you guys I'm not even kidding about being the sweatiest beast of all time. They say the more you sweat the better your body is at keeping it's temperature regulated and it's a good thing, so I'm going to roll with what "they" say this time. I sweat because I'm an awesome body temp regulator. 

Speaking of my core workout, I'm trying to focus more on my transverse abs right now, so I looked up "transverse abdominal workout" on youtube and did the highest rated 10 minute workout I could find. 

Little Cat wanted to say hey post workout as well, so "hey" from Little Cat. His real name is Marley (because we give our cats dog names...), but for whatever reason I've pretty much always called him Little Cat and it has stuck. Moving on...

How I Survived my C-Section (but just barely)

Let me tell you a little story about a girl named Jamie whose son had shoulder dystocia when he was born and had some struggles right after his birth. Needless to say, when I found out I was pregnant again I was worried about everything, including my preeclampsia that I had with Justin in my final trimester and the shoulder dystocia at birth. That ish is scary, my friends - Justin didn't breathe right away and the last thing you want to hear after giving birth is nothing. You want those throaty, desperate infant cries, AMIRIGHT? 

About 2/3 of the way through my pregnancy with Jules I voiced my concerns to my doctor and he said that since Justin wasn't a large baby, the dystocia probably happened due to the way I'm built. He recommended I have a c-section and then told Jason "if it was my wife, I'd tell her to have a c-section".

*insert angry face here*

Even though all I really wanted was a "regular" birth, I reluctantly agreed to a c-section and we scheduled it for January 20. Deep down in my gut I felt like it was the wrong choice and I do wish I had listened to my intuition. Did I get my beautiful baby girl out of it and escape alive? Yes. But I think we all kind of know what's best for us when/if we listen to our gut and I didn't listen to mine and I do regret it. 

Before you start thinking I'm slamming c-sections and/or people who schedule all of their deliveries, I promise I'm not. I'm a firm believer in moms doing what's right for them - c-section, all natural, epidural, champagne in the delivery room, breastfeeding, formula feeding, cry-it-out, cosleeping...you do you, mama! But for me I feel having a c-section was the wrong choice. 

So we get up way before the buttcrack of dawn on January 20 and head to the hospital for our scheduled c-section. 

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Look at how cute and excited we are! 

The c-section itself was not bad at all. It was like 15 minutes and BOOM, baby.

And she cried immediately. 

I was even able to do skin-to-skin for a couple of minutes before they took her back and cleaned her up and stitched me up.

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Then we were wheeled into the post-op room and this is where I ran into an issue. I had a 2 nurses - one who was the boss and one who was training. The nurse who was training asked me if I'd like some ice chips to see how my stomach tolerated it. Unfortunately she gave me a huge spoonful of ice and I ended up aspirating a piece and gagging/coughing for a couple of minutes. I was still completely numb from my c-section and didn't feel any pain at the time, but ended up popping a stitch and bleeding internally. This eventually ended up leaking through my exterior stitches and was a horrifying and terrifying sight - I'm talking murder scene stuff. I was so-so tired (more than I should have been) and could hardly get up and walk - I even blacked out at one point and almost fainted. Turns out I actually lost a lot of blood and ended up needing two blood transfusions and had a hematoma, which caused me to be extremely tired and terrified I was going to die. As far as I'm concerned I'm done having children - two extremely awesome kids is enough for me, and having scary complications with both of them is enough to turn me off of ever wanting any additional kids. 

They tell you when you have a c-section the best thing you can possibly do for yourself is to get up and walk around ASAP and while I was planning the birth and hospital stay I had every intention of doing this immediately. I was going to get up within hours and walk and pee by myself and have an awesome sushi meal and some champagne. Unfortunately due to my complications, I ended up not really being able to walk around until after my transfusion and then it was so painful due to the hematoma and ripped stitches that I could hardly make a loop around the nurses station without crying. 

By the time we were released and made it home, I was in rough shape. I kept running fevers on and off and could hardly walk. I remember Justin helping me walk back and forth along the hallway outside our condo several times a day while Jason stayed inside with Jules and I could hardly do it, which is obviously quite a departure from my usual running/push-ups/working-out-like-a-fool self.

I guess that wasn't such a short story, but I wanted to get the point across that my c-section sucked and it was probably out of the ordinary, since it seems to me that most of the people who have them are fine within days. That being said, when you leave the hospital after your c-section, your doctor will tell you not to lift anything and not to drive for 6 weeks and they send you on your way. That's it. 

A Cesarean is a major surgery. 

However it really isn't treated as such and a lot of women end up in lots of pain or have adhesions and other complications and have no clue what to do.

Well here's what helped me. 

This post will include some Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase an item I recommend I will get a very small commission. This doesn't change the price of the product; it's just a small (very small) thank you from Amazon for my recommendation. 

First and foremost, ask your doctor for a medical grade stomach wrap. 

It sucks and you won't wear it very long because it's horribly uncomfortable, but I honestly don't think I would have made it the first 2 weeks postpartum without it. These wraps are stupid expensive if you have to buy it yourself, so insist that you get one from your doctor while you're in the hospital and it will be covered by your insurance. Have your husband help you get it on, since you probably won't be able to get it tight enough by yourself. It will be uncomfortable, but I promise it's a lot better than the searing pain you will have whenever you cough or do pretty much anything the first few weeks. 

You might thing I'm over-exaggerating, but I am not kidding when I tell you I could hardly even walk for 2 weeks afterwards. 

Another plus of the wrap is that "they" say it helps shrink your uterus back down and get your pre-baby body back. 

Always have a pillow handy. 

You'll need to have the pillow to press on your scar any time you cough, laugh, or anything involving your core when you don't have a wrap on for the first couple of weeks.

Trust me here. 

Ask for help. 

My husband had to help me with literally everything for the first week. I couldn't even shower or use the bathroom or get the baby to breastfeed her without his help. He had to help me wipe and saw and did things I never thought I'd allow. He was absolutely amazing and more help than I ever could have imagined and I love him for it. 

C-section underwear

I'm not even kidding when I say these saved me. I was still feeling pain for months postpartum and having these to compress my incision was the extra thing I needed to get through the every day stuff. Yes, they're hideous and yes, they're pretty expensive; however they are 100% worth it and I would recommend them to anyone getting a c-section. I ended up getting two pairs and swapping them out every day, wearing one and washing the other. 

You can find the sizing in the images for the product and it's based on your current waist size (your preggo waist). So I went with the L-XL and they fit perfectly - you want them to be super tight but obviously don't want them to be so tight you can't pull them up.

Push yourself, but not too hard. 

I quit the hard painkillers a few days after getting home from the hospital, so everything hurt really really badly for weeks. I'm talking searing, horrible pain - I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so that's really saying something. Still, I persevered and made myself walk as much and as often as possible from the moment I could. By 3 weeks postpartum I was forcing myself to take a longer walk almost every day, and walked 2-3 miles as often as possible. Yes, it hurt. But I knew I would feel so much better more quickly if I kept it up. 

I would either wrap my baby up with me or push her in the stroller and listen to a podcast (I highly recommend you listen to Straight Talk with Ross from the beginning if you're looking for a hysterical podcast to listen to) and then I'd walk as far as I could. And then the next time I would push myself a little further. I remember it took me over 40 minutes to walk 2 miles the first time I tried to go that far and tracked it. There were some days where I would wake up with a lot of pain in my incision so I knew I needed to scale it back a bit, but overall walking helped me to feel better and I know it helped me recover more quickly. One thing that helped me a TON with walking was to wear a waist belt - by this point I was over my hospital grade wrap-thing, but still needed some extra support. 

You can find it at Walmart or on Amazon, but this belt helped me a lot with giving extra support on my incision. Just wrap it around you as tightly as you possibly can. I felt like I was in Gone with the Wind when I'd put this shit on - you know the scene where she's holding onto the bed post and getting her corset tied up? And if you haven't seen Gone with the Wind we cannot be friends. So go watch it now, because we should totally be friends!

I also recommend making your walk a family affair. Whenever possible I would wrangle Jason or Justin into my walk, which made it a lot more fun and also got them out of the house. 

Just make sure you go by yourself a lot too - it's a nice break from everyone else and Jules slept through our walks 99% of the time so I could just listen to my podcast and laugh maniacally because it's that funny.

Scar massage

Talk to your doctor before doing this, but I highly recommend starting scar massage as soon as possible. I didn't find out about this until months postpartum and it wasn't mentioned to me by my doctor, even though it's a mandatory part of cesarean recovery in other parts of the world. Seriously, look it up. Other countries include scar mobilization massage as a part of their postpartum recovery, as it should be. A lot of women develop adhesions post-cesarean, which sucks because adhesions can cause a ton of issues, including but not limited to back pain, bladder issues, pain during intercourse, and other fun things. If you don't start scar mobilization massage early enough, there's really not a ton you can do - they can do surgery sometimes, but that usually just ends up resulting in more adhesions. Scar massage also helps to diminish that beautiful mommy apron I'm sure my fellow c-section moms love as much as I do. 

There are some places in the US where you can get this done professionally, but it's rarely if ever covered by insurance here...another reason why maternity and postpartum care sucks in the US. That being said, there is plenty of information that can be found online and there are even some videos on YouTube that give you directions - as mentioned, I discussed with my doctor and he said it's absolutely fine to do and said the techniques I had found online were great. So again, talk to your doctor first and clear with them before starting anything. 

Lastly, don't give up on yourself

I still have pain and issues with my incision and my daughter is 15 months old. Like I mentioned, I didn't start scar mobilization massage until I was a few months postpartum (maybe even 6 months) and I definitely have some strange muscle imbalances and issues that I'm convinced are related to my incision. Every once in awhile during a workout I'll feel a strange pop around my scar and I speculate it's an adhesion being ripped/popped. It's hard to explain, but if you've ever experienced it I'm sure you know what I mean. Sometimes it hurts and I have to stop what I'm doing, but most of the time it's almost like a strange release feeling. There have also been times where I'm doing plank work and I cannot lift my right leg if I'm in a side plank - it's the weirdest thing. I used to actually collapse to the ground when I first started trying to workout postpartum. But I carry on with my workout as long as there's no lingering pain, continue massaging my scar when I remember and carry on with my life because that's all you can do! 

And regardless of how much my c-section sucked, it was totally worth it for this little princess. 

Picture from Monday morning - she thought she was so cute (and she was).

I hope this list helps someone out who is either getting ready or has already had a c-section. And don't let my story scare you off - I was one of the very few people who ended up with a complication and from what I have read/heard, most people end up fine! But regardless, take care of yourself and make sure you have that damn pillow for when you cough/laugh - you'll need it!

Also, don't feel bad if you're voluntarily scheduling your c-section. Do what's right for you! Not everyone wants to push a watermelon out of their hoo-hah and that's fine!

For those of you reading who have already had a c-section, did you have any complications or were you pretty much fine afterwards? Have any of you experienced any of the weird muscle imbalances I have/am experiencing? It's so weird and I don't have 100% evidence it is from the c-section, but that's the only thing that changed since I started experiencing them. So Dr. Jamie has diagnosed it as such and so that's what it is. Medical degree thanks to Google, just in case you're looking for my credentials. 

I hope everyone has a fantastic Tuesday. 

Mother's Day Gift Ideas - 2017

Happy Friday, from the little snot monster and me!

I can't believe we finally made it. This week has been such a doozy. As I mentioned earlier in the week, I've been fighting a migraine on and off and have been completely exhausted and also a total lunatic (see yesterday's blog for more info on this). It's been so bad that I skipped blogging Tuesday and Wednesday, which I haven't done since starting up this bad boy and hated doing. I really enjoy blogging - it's a creative outlet and it's keeping me sane while Corporate America tries to suck the soul out of me - so for me to skip 2 days meant that I was really feeling like crapola!

Before I jump into the meat of this blog, I'd like to show you how fashionable I am. 

Exhibit A:

I pull my bangs back the second I get home. While I love having bangs partially because they look cute and also because I have a huge 5-head, they drive me absolutely nuts all day long. I'm pretty sure I enjoy pulling my bangs back every evening even more than taking my bra off, which is really saying something.

The reason I'm showing you this picture is because I somehow forgot to pull my hair back while I was changing out of my work clothes last night and I was too lazy to walk back upstairs #befitlikeme. So  I took one of Julianna's hair clips and used that instead - blue flowers to match my blue eyes...

True story: Jules kept pointing at the hair thing all throughout dinner and bath time last night while bitching at me in her baby language. She was not happy to be sharing and I thought it was hilarious. 

Exhibit B

Let's take a moment to really appreciate this sexy outfit last night. Super fuzzy and warm socks with my leggings tucked in. What you don't see is the bleach-dyed black wife beater tank and tie-dyed sweatshirt I was also wearing.

Please don't forget to remind Jason how lucky he is to have this sexy beast for a wife the next time you see him.

Rawr. (that's me being sexy)

Speaking of men being lucky, let's all be totally honest with ourselves and them and the universe and get this out there...

Our men are really lucky to have us. 

And we are some awesome moms! Even if you have a bad day and snap at your kid because they lost your em effing iPhone charger for the 14th time or you decided to finally try CIO because your 15 month old is waking up 45 times a night and she wakes up with bags under her eyes and you're convinced it's because she was crying all night even though you didn't hear a peep from her...you're still an awesome mom. And as such, you deserve to have an awesome Mother's Day and the people who should make sure it happens are our significant other. Let's be real - the kids probably won't remember and if they do, soggy uncooked toast is sweet and all, but hard to gag down. So for those of you reading this who have no clue how they would like to be appreciated or for the dude's reading who have no clue what to do for their wife/baby mama/mommy, I've got you!

Mother's Day - 2016

Mother's Day - 2016

First and foremost, Mother's Day is Sunday, May 14.

Add that to your calendar with a reminder right now so you don't forget. 

This is just my humble opinion, but the #1 thing women want on Mother's Day is to have everything planned out, with them in mind, and not having to plan/cook/do anything that they don't personally want to do. Let's say you're broke and/or don't want to spend a ton of money, here's what you can do:

Take the kids in the morning without waking her up or saying anything - this will require you to wake up before the kids do so they don't get her up first, so you may want to set a quiet alarm or even sleep on the couch and give her the entire bed so she can really get some restful sleep. Around 8 or 9, grab the kids and run to her favorite coffee place and get her the drink she always talks about - this will require you to pay attention to her while she's talking for the next couple of weeks if you're not sure what that is, but I promise she talks about it. Make sure you take an insulated travel mug with you so you can get the drink in the mug and keep it warm for her if it's a hot drink. Then go home and clean something random while you wait for her to wake-up - I recommend the refrigerator, pantry, tupperware drawer/cabinet and/or toilets. The things that she usually takes care of herself but hates doing - do it without asking and I promise she will be so excited when she notices. Once she wakes up, don't ask her what she wants for breakfast - just make her something that you know she loves and give her the cards that you and the kids made/bought for her. You do know her favorite breakfast/brunch, right? If not, now's the time to figure it out.

Make sure you and the kids handle clean-up and let her go get ready for the day. Maybe she wants to go for a run or catch another workout somewhere. Tell her to go do it and take the kids to the park or something while she's doing it. Maybe she wants to spend all day hanging out with the family - plan something fun that you know she enjoys; maybe it's a day at the park or the beach, perhaps find a cool hiking trail somewhere or a family-friendly winery. You know your wife and what she likes, so this shouldn't be too hard. The key here is to have it all planned out for her so she doesn't have to worry about it. 

Finally, plan a dinner for her that you and the kids can put together and serve her, along with her favorite drink-of-choice, before telling her to take a nice bubble bath and relax while you and the kids clean up and get ready for bed. If she wants to have some sexy time later on that's fine, but let her initiate and if she doesn't want to don't be offended; mom's are always "on" and rarely get down-time, so she may need to just go to bed after a nice day of being taken care of. 

Now there is a chance that you have no choice in what you can do for Mother's Day because your mom already expects the entire family over for lunch/dinner/all day to celebrate. This is fine - do the things you can in the morning to make her feel special and make sure she gets some down-time after you get back from whatever you have to do. Get her a glass of wine and tell her take a bath or watch her favorite show  - whatever she would like to be doing if she had no responsibilities. Then tell her you have her Mother's Day planned for the next weekend and do whatever she'd like to do for the day then and make sure you handle bath and bedtime so she can really relax. 

This is probably enough to make your wife really happy (I know it would work for me!), however maybe you want to give her something as well. Don't worry, I got that covered. 

This post will include some affiliate links. If you purchase the item through the link provided I will get a very small commission, however this does not change the price of the item. It's just a thank you to me for making the recommendation. 

Mother's Day 2017 Gift Recommendations

Get her a Target gift card with specific directions to spend it on herself. No cleaning supplies or things for anyone else in the family. Then take the kids and tell her to go to Target by herself without a time limit. More than likely she'll spend more than the gift card, but there is something about wandering around Target by myself that is so amazing and fun and everything I see online shows that I'm not the only one who loves it, so I guarantee if she likes Target, she'll like this gift. 

An Initial Necklace - I love these and already have like 3 of them. Something dainty and pretty and simple is the name of the game folks. We're lucky in our family because all of us have "J" names, however there are plenty of options on Amazon and Etsy if you need more than one initial if you're getting it for kid names. Or you could just get her initial to keep things simple. I really like this one if you're going with the one letter:

Or you can go for this one if you have three kids (there are plenty of options for 2 or more if you search around Amazon). 

 

Another great option for an actual gift is a watch. I love my Michael Kors watch (basic AF and IDGAF). I absolutely love this one on Amazon - Michael Kors AND rose gold. YASS!

Michael Kors makes some pretty quality watches, so it's worth the investment and I promise your wife will be happy with one. I've had my watch for almost 5 years and still get compliments on it all the time.

Some other brands of watches that will make your wife pretty happy are Kate Spade, Coach, and Marc Jacobs. 

You can also always blow your entire food budget for a year and get her a Rolex or something, but that's just dumb (unless you have that kind of dough, in which case congratulations)

Flowers are always nice, but I wouldn't recommend just getting your wife flowers and calling it a day. It's pretty cliché and doesn't really seem like you put a lot of thought into it. Plan out the entire day and let her relax and cater to her every need AND get her flowers and you'll be just fine though. You could also add on some of her favorite wines and some chocolate and you'd win the day for sure!

I know it's not for everyone, but I love a good massage or mani/pedi. Go here and get one at a discount!  Make sure you get at least an hour massage so she's really able to enjoy it and if you can book one that includes wine or something extra special, BONUS POINTS!

Does your wife enjoy working out? Why don't you get her some classes at her favorite gym or something new that she hasn't tried yet? I highly recommend:

  • OrangeTheory - cardio and weights and intervals and everything fun and hard about working out. You can look up if there are any studios in your area here
  • Barre workouts are all the rage and a fantastic workout. There are two primary barre brands that have classes countrywide and you can find out if they are in your area here and here. Barre classes are also really easy to do at home so if you know your wife/baby mama/mom would enjoy the classes, I highly recommend you check out Suzanne Bowen Fitness for a huge selection of classes that can be streamed online. 
  • Yoga is a fun option, but I would only recommend doing this if you know your SO wants to try/do yoga since it's not for everyone. You can usually find some pretty great deals on groupon or by doing a simple google search for a yoga studio in your area. Buy a 5-10 class pass and then plan out when your wife wants to go and take the kids so she doesn't have to worry about finding them care!

A word of caution - only get something fitness and workout-related if it's something your wife really enjoys and it won't offend her. If you have any doubt that she might be offended by this, DON'T DO IT!! 

This is a lot of stuff, but I can promise you with almost 100% certainty that if you just plan the day out with her in mind and let her sleep in, cook and clean up, and let her have a bubble bath, you will have a very successful Mother's Day. 

Don't forget to get the pets involved too...

What do you guys think? Am I crazy, or are these some pretty good ideas? Is there anything you are dying to get for Mother's Day that I forgot to put on the list? 

Also to the dude's reading - I will do one of these for Father's Day too and you better believe I am all about appreciating Jason just as much as he appreciates me. So you'll get yours too!

What are your plans this weekend, anything fun? Jason is working all weekend so it should be fairly low-key, other than when we are helping a friend move for a bit. 

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a great weekend. Make sure you subscribe so you can get notified whenever I post something new!

Why I Run, Plus My Gear Recommendations

Happy Tuesday! We made it through Monday, and oh what a Monday it was! That was probably one of the Monday-iest Mondays that ever Monday-ed!! It was such a Monday that Jules couldn't even handle it and slept terribly and woke Jason and I up a bunch of times and we're both zombies today. Needless to say, waking up this morning was a bitch.

Holy crap am I beautiful first thing in the morning or what?!? 

I didn't even take an after picture, so I'll just leave you with the above gloriousness and move on.

First, I want to let you guys know about a challenge that I'm having...with myself. I'm currently the only participant. But it's something I really need to do and I think it will help a lot with my anxiety, which I talk more about here.

I've decided to challenge myself to meditate every day for the next two weeks.

It doesn't have to be a long and crazy meditation with om'ing or heavy breathing. Just a 5-20 minute guided meditation in the morning or at night or even at work when I need a mental break. I decided to do this challenge this morning when I had a few minutes after my workout before I needed to jump into the shower and did a quick 6-minute guided meditation and love the way it made me feel. So I'm putting it down in my blog, which makes it official and public and you guys can chastise me if I fail. Deal? Do any of you want to join? I'm using the Insight Timer app, which is free and totally awesome! Let me know if you want to join in!

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This is usually where you can find Scooby whenever I meditate - this is an old picture, but 9 times out of 10, he's trying to sit on my lap or rub all over my face, which is suuuuuuper relaxing. *insert sarcasm here* 

Speaking of Scooby, he does seem to be doing a little bit better after being on antibiotics for a week and a half. He's still not 100% his old self, but he's started sleeping in bed with me again (he wraps himself around my head) and he and Little Cat were playing like crazy people this morning, tearing up and down the stairs and all over the house. He's also put on 0.2 pounds from last week, which makes me very happy. Hopefully he continues to improve - thanks again for your happy thoughts while he was sick!

Today I thought it would be fun to talk about why I run.

Running is such a scary thing for so many people and most non-runners seem to be intimidated to start. Coming from a prior lazy AF non-runner, I truly believe that anyone can be a runner and reap the benefits. Which are many. I also use these reasons to fight the voice in my head telling me to hit the snooze button in the morning or stay on the couch and surprisingly enough, it usually works. And when it doesn't I take that as a hint that my body needs the rest and I listen to it. 

Most people start running because they want to lose weight, which is precisely why I started. My ex-husband and I had just gotten divorced and I wanted to drop the baby weight so I could be a MILF. So I started running. Coming from being a person who simply hated to exercise at all, it wasn't the easiest thing to force myself to do, but I have the feeling getting out of work an hour early to go exercise (this started while I was in the Air Force) helped motivate me from the start. I wouldn't run a ton - just 10 to 15 minutes to start, sometimes indoors on a treadmill and sometimes outside. 

Cool story about running outside in Alaska...

I was running by my house on base and the base wildlife officer came tearing down the road and told me to get behind his car. Not even 10 seconds later a huge black bear came running out of the woods, right in the path where I was running. Holy shit-my-pants moment, right? I'm pretty sure I stuck to the treadmill after that. 

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. After a few months of adding running into my routine, I noticed I had dropped all the baby weight plus some. AWESOME!

My original reason to keep running was for continued weight loss. 

I think this is why most people start and continue running, because it does work remarkably well for weight loss at first, especially if you've been pretty sedentary. While this worked well for me when I was younger, I've since had to add in a lot more strength training and other methods of working out to try to lose weight, but that's another post for another time #gettingoldersucks

So you may be thinking to yourself, why in God's name are you still running if you no longer think it's the most effective way to lose/keep weight off?  Good question! Here are the other reasons I run. 

Endorphins

Even the worst runs I have ever had still give me endorphins. And I have had some serious bitch of a doozy runs. I've been halfway out on a 10 mile out-and-back in April in Florida, ran out of water, and starting having heat exhaustion symptoms. Meaning I had to walk/jog the rest of the way back, stop in a gas station as soon as I could find one to get water, and try not to cry about it where anyone could see me (this happened while training for the Country Music Half Marathon). But even then, I was still amped up and happy afterwards.

The runner's high is real and I love it!

Also, I need that shirt. 

Running helps me cope

Some of my favorite runs have been when I'm either super pissed about something or super sad about something. For whatever reason, I go out there with those emotions and I either pound the SHIT out of the pavement to get out my aggression or run a seriously therapeutic cry out of myself. I am not a big crier and have a hard time getting myself to cry, but when I'm super sad or bummed about something I've found that going running always gets me to cry and then I feel a bajillion times better afterwards. And then I smile and take a selfie. 

Pigtails

Where else can I get away with wearing my hair in braided pigtails? I've even learned how to Dutch braid my pigtails now which is a bit more complicated than the French braid, but way cuter. Braided pigtails are my go-to long-run/race hairdo now because they look cute and keep my hair out of my face. And no one judges me for being a 30-something runner with pigtail braids, when it may not be socially acceptable elsewhere. Not that I care or anything, because I don't. 

I run to be a good example

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Even though Justin absolutely loathes being active, he knows that by doing it he will be a healthier and happier person. I can only convince him to do a workout with me every once in a blue moon, but even when he refuses to participate I know that by being a good example and having running/exercise a part of my regular routine, he'll get to that stage eventually himself. Luckily it usually doesn't even take that much convincing to get him to join me for a run while he ripsticks (newfangled skateboard thingy) so I'm able to make him be active without running since he currently hates it. 

 

 

Jules has had no choice but to be a part of my runnin, since she's been my running partner through both a half-marathon and 5K training. She usually just sits nicely in the stroller for about 20 minutes before falling asleep for the remainder of the run, and she almost always wakes up when I've finished and laughs and smiles through my stretches.

I have this super secret hope that one day we'll run races together - shhhhhh, don't tell anyone. 

I run to always do better. 

I am super competitive. Sometimes with other people, but most of the time I am competing to beat myself. When I started really getting into running and started running races with my dad's wife at the time, I found out that I was actually pretty fast; I think I was running 8 minute miles without any training, just some recreational running here and there. I stuck to short races (5K to 5 miles) for years until I ran my first half marathon in 2012. I didn't train very well for the race and didn't run it very fast (I think I finished in 2:06 or something like that), but even though I hated the race and it hurt and I was way slower than I'd planned, I knew I had to run another one so I could beat my time. The next half-marathon I ran I knew I had to get under 2 hours, so I trained and really pushed myself and managed to meet that goal in 2014. Every race thereafter, I've been trying to beat myself in one way or another. My newest goal is to run the Mount Dora Half Marathon (my PR course; I've PR'ed twice there) in under 2 hours postpartum after totally blowing up during the race in 2016. I would also like to PR my 10K, since I actually have a really slow 10K time (in my opinion, 56:11) and there is nothing more motivating than a new PR. 

It's peaceful...

Yes, seriously. Sure it hurts and you're sweating and breathing heavily and sometimes your IT band or piriformis starts acting up and you know the run is going to end up being a shitshow, but even then it's still peaceful. My runs are my time that I get to myself, when I otherwise don't often get any time to myself (even in the bathroom right now #toddlerlife). I always try to make it a point to look around me while I'm running and appreciate the view. Whether I'm running on the beach, running through a neighborhood, or running through mountains - there is always beauty to be found. I can listen to music (just not too loudly - be safe, people!), zone out a bit from the every day stressors, and pound the pavement. 

The above pictures are from a run I took in Upstate New York in July of 2015. I miss running in the mountains!

You have to buy new stuff all the time - any excuse to go shopping is a good reason for me!

Overall running is a pretty cheap sport. You really just need decent running shoes to start. But once you get into it and start doing crazy things like running races or long distances, you will need to start buying some new stuff - some of this will be so you're comfortable and some will be so you don't die (see above story about the time I started to have heat exhaustion halfway into an out-and-back 10 mile run). 

On that note, here are my top recommendations for gear. 

I will be including some Amazon affiliate links. These links do not change the price of the item or do anything other than give me a small (very small) kick-back for making the recommendation. Thank you for the support!

Shoes

I started with Aisics, moved to Mizuno, and finally found Brooks. 

I love Brooks running shoes. 

I've actually had my gait tested and was fitted for running shoes and hated the shoes they told me I should wear. So my motto now is to run in what is comfortable. I also prefer the shoes to be purple - it makes me run faster (runner's superstition). My absolute favorite running shoes were the Brooks PureCadence 2, but they were discontinued like 3 years ago. I actually still run in them sometimes (I have two pairs). I don't like the way the new PureCadence models or the PureFlows feel, so I haven't been able to commit to a different shoe just yet. However I've heard a lot of really good things about the Brooks Launch, so I think I'm going to give them a shot next. ASAP, since I really need a new pair of running shoes. 

The picture on the right is from a couple of years ago - let's just say I have a few more purple running shoes thrown into the corner of the closet right now. I have an addiction.

Along with shoes, you really need good running socks

 

I used to run in whatever I could find, but found that my feet would slide around and I'd sometimes get blisters during longer runs. So I did some research and ended up finding the Thorlo brand of socks and haven't looked back. They're comfortable and supportive and amazing. Buy them. 

 

 

Clothes to run in

When you first start out, you'll probably be fine running in any old pair of shorts and a ratty old t-shirt (I know that's what I did), but once you start factoring in heat and cold and sweating and wanting to look cute, you'll want to start investing in some good running clothes. 

For pants I've always had really good luck with the running capris from Target. I also picked these beautiful dip-dye leggings up on Amazon a few months ago and they've quickly become a favorite because I'm basic AF and love anything dip or tie-dye. And the high waist keeps everything tucked in tight, which makes me a lot more comfortable than when my waistband falls down and my stomach flops all over (true story - not comfortable)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a hard time with running shorts right now since I'm still a bit over my pre-baby weight and find my shorts tend to ride-up whenever I run, which drives me bat-shit crazy. Chub-rub sucks.

However one of my goals for 2017 was to get back into running in shorts, since it's so god-awful hot in Florida 80% of the time.

I had really good luck with the Brooks Chaser short and Oiselle Roga, so I'm planning on breaking those out this month and giving them a shot during one of my shorter, morning runs. I know they fit since I use them for other workouts, but haven't gotten up the nerve to try running with them yet since having Jules.  

As you can tell with both pairs of the shorts, they have a wide waistband, which is key to prevent any muffin top digging. They also both have several pockets throughout the shorts, which are a good enough size for a GU, chapstick, or your car key.

As for shirts and sports bras, I tend to buy what's on sale and what's made for the heat. I like the UnderArmour heat gear tanks and love the sports bras from Target. I'm not super well-endowed, so I don't have good advice in regards to sports bras for more support, but I've heard the bras from Moving Comfort are pretty amazing. 

Sun Protection

I live in Florida, otherwise known as the Sunshine State. That's not a misnomer since it is SERIOUSLY sunny here most of the time. Unfortunately I struggle to run with sunscreen since it makes me sweat even more than usual (and I'm a sweaty beast). I'm taking sweat pooling in your shoes and streaming into your eyes here. Due to this, I don't usually run in sunscreen unless I'm on the beach or an unshaded area, and I try to run as early as possible and on a shaded trail. I do recommend that you run with sunscreen when at all possible. I do take extra precaution to wear a hat or visor because I suffer from melasma and getting any sun on my face results in some serious skin discoloration. I tend to use whatever hat I can find laying around the house until it starts getting super hot out and then I break out my visor. And I love that the band soaks up all of my sweat from my forehead and scalp so it doesn't get into my eyes. 

Running watch

I used apps on my phone for years and they worked just fine, but I love having a running watch. I've owned two Garmin's and highly recommend them, but especially recommend the newest one we got in January. Yes, it's refurbished - I buy everything refurbished since it usually just means a customer got it, didn't like the color or something, and returned it. This watch can do everything I need during a run including vibrating at me if I'm running under the pace I want to be running at, which is super helpful if you're training for something. It's easy to read and I was able to set it up without reading the directions, so it's easy to set-up too! 

My Garmin runs always tend to be more accurate than the apps I use on my phone, which is also really important when you're training for a race. Also, this watch comes in purple if you can find it (but the refurb price was more important to me than it being purple)

Water bottle

This is especially important in Florida or for any run over 4 miles or so, but I prefer to run with water all the time. I used to run with this and it works okay for shorter distances, but it was never enough for anything over 7 or 8 miles and if there weren't any water fountains on my route...heat exhaustion. I'm not a huge fan of the water bottles that you wear on your waist, so I will probably look into getting a bigger handheld bottle when I start training for my next half marathon in September. 

Technology crap

Since getting my new phone (the iPhone 7+), I had to upgrade most of my gear, since I preferred a pair of wireless ear buds and something to carry my phone in that wasn't an arm band due to the phone being so effing big. I did a lot of research and settled on...

The above ear buds, which are only $26 and are FREAKING AMAZING! I have a seriously terrible time getting ear buds to stay in my ears for any length of time during a run. Which is infuriating when I'm sweating and need my music to keep me going and the ear buds keep falling out. These suckers NEVER fall out or need adjusting. I'm not even kidding when I say I love them. And the music quality is so much better than the other ear buds I've tried. Needless to say, I highly recommend them. 

And this waist belt, which is only $8. I start my music, shove my phone in, zip it up, and turn it so the phone is on my booty. And then I run and forget it's there. It doesn't fall off or really even move the entire time. 

Fuel

Prior to leaving for a run (or in the morning before whatever workout I have planned), I always drink my watermelon Aminos. I've said it before, but I love this stuff and highly recommend it. It gives me clean energy without any jitters, there's no artificial colors (with the watermelon flavor), and I don't experience a crash later in the day. Also coffee gives me heartburn if I drink it prior to running and this stuff doesn't.  

If you plan on running more than an hour, you should plan on bringing something with you to snack on/replenish the salt lost through sweat/replenish electrolytes/give you energy. I have always had good luck with GU, and almost enjoy the salted caramel flavor - I think it's the most palatable.

A word of caution, I only eat about half at a time and eat it slowly while drinking water. This stuff is very thick and sweet and sticky and it's hard to swallow if you try to eat too much. This might be disgusting to some of you, but when I do have one I slowly eat half and then shove the other half in my sports bra for later. #extrasalt #frommyboobsweat

The thing that I LOVE to eat before a longer run is a honey stinger waffle. I usually have a bagel at home an hour or two beforehand and then have a waffle right before taking off. These things are delicious and I always eat one before any long run that's more than 6 miles. I have a fairly sensitive stomach and these never bother me and give me a nice burst of energy #carbs

That's all I have for today! Please let me know if you have any recommendations for gear you love for running. Do you have a favorite running shoe that you're diehard loyal to #brooksforlife, or do you think I'm a crazy person? 

I hope you have a fantastic day - thanks for stopping by!

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?  

Let's Get to Know One Another

It's Friday Eve, everyone! 

We've almost made it!

So here I've been blathering on and on for a week and most of you probably don't know anything about me other than I love wine, love my kids, I'm married to a professional badass, and I really want to go to Puerto Rico. Oh and I like cat meme's a whole bunch. 

So I thought now might be a good time for a survey-style, get-to-know-me post. 

This, is me:

Typical Jamie face

Typical Jamie face

And this, is my family (immediate; we can talk mom/dad/siblings/extended another time):

What is your middle name?: Kristin, which is after my maternal grandmother. I always say that if I can be half the woman she was I'll feel accomplished.

What was your favorite subject at school?: Art. I was the art club president. Prior to me running for the art club president no one actually campaigned for it, but I've always been super dramatic and love planning things so my friend and I built a campaign for me to be the president. And I won. NBD. 

What is your favorite drink?: Water and wine. Obviously. And I like to cuddle my wine before I drink it. Keeps things from getting weird.

What is your favorite song at the moment?: Do I have to pick just one? Okay, fine. I've been rocking out to Little Black Submarines by the Black Keys pretty much every morning on the way to work, so we'll go with that. 

What is your favorite food?: I cannot pick just one favorite food. That's impossible. And this is my blog, so you can't make me. My favorites include poke bowls, sushi, pizza, mac and cheese, ribeye steak, potatoes of all sorts, chips, lobster, chocolate, cake (and chocolate cake), and cheese of all kinds. #healthfreak 

What is the last thing you bought?: That's a good question...on Amazon, the last thing I bought was a swimsuit. In real life, I think it was groceries because I'm super glamorous and exciting. 

Favorite book of all time?: Jane Eyre and Les Miserables are my absolute favorite books of all time, but I also love the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter books. 

Favorite Color?: Purple, because it makes me run faster. 

We loved each other very much :-(

We loved each other very much :-(

Do you have any pets?: My husband's dog Jax who loves me second best, 2 cats named Scooby Doo and Little Cat, and 3 hermit crabs named Jack, Jillian and Martin the Cat. We like to get a little crazy when we name our animals. I had a dog and he was my best friend ever, but he passed away 2 years ago. His name was Sebastian Alexander Noirot III and he was seriously the best dog ever. I miss him. 

Favorite Perfume?: I think my favorite perfume of all time is Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel and I don't have any of it right now, which makes me sad. Regardless of which perfume I'm wearing, I always have notes of patchouli in my perfume since I'm a hippie at heart. 

Favorite Vacation?: HAWAII!! Take me baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Are you married?: Twice - got it right the second time.

See? He's super hot!

See? He's super hot!

Have you ever been out of the country, if so how many times?: I've been to Canada a handful of times and Europe once when I was 14. Meaning I haven't been out of the country enough and it's time for me to dust off the old passport. REALLY old passport. So old I need to get a new one. 

Do you speak any other language?: I can say several curse words in Norwegian and Spanish. Does that count? I'm proficient in English, which is better than I can say for most people who speak English (I'm talking about the people who were born speaking English here...double negatives make my soul hurt). 

How many siblings do you have?: Oh, this is a complicated question. I currently have a brother who is my full-blooded sibling, 3 half-sisters, and a sister from another mister/mother. 

Only the most basic of bitches take selfies in Target mirrors. 

Only the most basic of bitches take selfies in Target mirrors. 

What is your favorite shop?: Target, because I'm basic AF. Nordstrom Rack

Favorite restaurant?: This changes on the regular, but right now I love Bento for poke, Tomasino's for pizza, and Texas de Brazil for when I want to get real American and eat more than my body-weight in meat. 

When was the last time you cried?: Watching This is Us. I ugly-cried SO HARD people. Jax (our dog) kept looking back at me like I was bothering him because I was crying so hard.

Favorite Blog?: My favorite blogs include the Fitnessista and hungryrunnergirl. Those are really the only ones I check regularly.

Favorite Movie?: Big Fish, The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, MOANA by default since I watch it at least once a day.

Favorite TV show?: Anything Real Housewives, This is Us, Supergirl, any cooking show that is related to Christmas, Southern Charm, Once Upon a Time, THE GILMORE GIRLS. I prefer shows that don't require much thinking, since all I do all day long is clean-up messes and help everyone else. 

PC or Mac?: PC but only by default because I'm a cheapskate and Mac's cost more. 

What phone do you have?: Rose Gold iPhone 7+ because I would again like to point out, I'm basic. But what's so wrong with being basic? At least I'm a nice person who knows what they like!! Sheesh!

How tall are you?: 5'4" and yes, I sometimes climb onto the counters to get things from the top cabinets. 

Can you cook?: I'm actually a really good cook. I follow recipes really well and love whipping up something delicious and terrible for me. I use allrecipes all the time for most of my favorite go-to meals, but also use pinterest a lot. 

So that's me in a nutshell! 

Now I have a huge favor to ask of you - If anyone sees me talking about cutting my hair into a supercute bob, please just stop me. STOP ME! I do not mind having a bob, but I think it ages me, it's boring, and I look better with long hair. MOM, I NEED YOU TO TELL ME NO NEXT TIME!

So now it's your turn, please introduce yourself and answer some of these questions for yourself! I'd love to learn about those of you who are reading!

My Rules for Living

Happy Friday! Fri-yay!!

But I'm only working 4 hours, so it'll be okay...right?

But I'm only working 4 hours, so it'll be okay...right?

Speaking of yay – we’ve made it to 15 subscribers. Woohoo! Thank you so much to everyone who’s following along and providing feedback. If you haven’t left any feedback yet, please do. What works for you, what doesn’t, what would you like to see? I do have a future post planned already based on some feedback from someone, so your opinion matters to me!

Before we dig into the meat of this post (my stomach hurts, so typing that actually made me nauseous), let's catch up with some recent happenings. 

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Chicken Shawarma platter for lunch yesterday. So so good. So so garlicky. Breath so so stinky. So so worth it.

Pretty baby with a full diaper, unbrushed hair, and Christmas pajamas this morning. The dog leash is her new favorite toy. I'm so glad our living room looks like the toddler department at Babies R Us threw up all over. #moneymanagementismyforte

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Filtered to crap post-workout picture from this morning. I was and still am feeling kind of crappy and did NOT want to workout, but I knew I'd feel better after I was done. The good feeling only lasted about 60 minutes so that's no bueno, but it's better than nothing and I got a great kickboxing workout in. 

Flashback Friday to Justin at his cake smash for his first birthday. He obviously ate some cake, but hated it? How is that even possible?!?

This text was from Wednesday night, which was the night I was inspired to write my post from yesterday. Literally nothing was working that night!

Moving on...

Jamie’s Laws of Living

Now you may not care at all about what I have to say, but I feel like this needs to be said and if you don't like what I have to say then why are you hate-reading my blog? Be gone and take your haterade with you!

  • Karma is a B. What you put out into the world will come back to you, so live life the way you want life to treat you. I always try to live by the golden rule and in those times when I haven’t, I have definitely been hit with the bad karma. I’m fairly certain my mid-to-late 20’s were all payback for being such an asshole in my teens (sorry mom!). And don't do nice things for others but keep a running tab and expect reciprocation because I promise you'll never be happy if you do that. Be genuinely nice without expecting anything in return, have empathy for others, and for God’s sake, tip your server!

  • This leads us to our next rule – TIP! I was a server and bartender for years and absolutely loved it, but regardless of how hard I worked I was subject to terrible tippers on the regular. Those people who are running around like chickens with their heads cut off getting you food and refills and who will have to pick up all of the food your sweet little terrorist toddler has thrown on the ground are making practically nothing. They live off of your tips, so don't shortchange them. I never tip less than 15% and in order for me to tip less than 20%, the server has to have forgotten refills or something. Yes, I’ve had bad service where the server is total crap, but you don’t know what battle they're facing right now and you shouldn't leave them with nothing. Also, if you’re one of those people who tip pre-drinks and pre-tax, please stop - your server is getting taxed on what you leave them so if you tip pre-tax it's like they're being double-taxed. It’s 20% off the total of the bill, and if you were extra demanding, have a child throwing food all over, or had excellent service then please tip more. Don’t forget to tip your dog groomer, barista, hair dresser, masseuse, mail carrier, etc. And one last thing, if you have a coupon/groupon/living social deal, for the love of Pete, please tip for the value of the services given and not what you paid. If you can’t afford to fully tip, then STAY HOME.

I’m off my soapbox now and moving on to something way more important.

  • What is the correct way to hang toilet paper? How about I tell you and provide a link to prove it? Please go here and learn the most important thing you will learn all week. 
  • This goes back to my karma rule, but if you’re in traffic please let people in. I promise that letting a car in front of you is not going to add much if any time to your drive. And in doing so, someone will smile and wave at you, which tugs at the heartstrings #amiright

Don’t forget to smile and wave at people when they let you in too – it doesn’t cost anything and it’s contagious!

  • Wash your hands when you go to the bathroom. #nuffsaid

  • Don’t use just one type of mascara. I always use two different formulas, usually a volumizing one and a lengthening one. I’ve found that one mascara by itself is never enough to give me the look I want (full, long lashes) but by combining two I'm able to make it happen.

  • Stop texting and driving! Just don’t do it! Guess why your car insurance is going up…because of people getting in accidents due to distracted drivers. A lot of these accidents involve serious injuries or fatalities, so this is serious business my friends. It’s not worth it. Oh and to those of you snapping while driving…Imma just leave this here.

  • Be the person you want your kids to want to be - you have to be the example in everything you do. Make sure your kids see you eating well, eating crap (in moderation), exercising, getting upset and dealing with it, fighting with your spouse and making up, doing something you don’t want to do but do anyway and with a smile because you have to, having fun, showing self-love and not calling yourself fat/ugly/hideous, dealing with a huge problem and fixing it, etc. Our kids are sponges that soak up everything we say and do. The older I get, the more I realize I’m just like my mom and luckily, my mom is awesome so I’m okay with that. So make sure you’re awesome and that you’re okay with your kids turning into you. If you’re not okay with it, make some changes to get where you need to be.

  • Last but certainly not least, carpe diem. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this! You only have one life to live and who knows when it will end – make sure you really live your life. Don’t hesitate to take chances here and there, smile and laugh, eat that doughnut, run that 5K, roll around in the grass with your kids, and live your life to the fullest extent possible (but don't forget to pay your bills too...you can't just be all willy nilly all the time).

So that's it - no big deal, right?

Do any of you have rules that you live your life by? Does anyone have any fun plans for this weekend? I get to meet my husband's old bestie from his Army days who I've never met this weekend and I'm nervous! I always worry that his friends won't like me or something. And then he'll have to get new friends. 

Oh I do have a humblebrag today #soblessed #idneverusethathashtagseriously 

I did a full teaser yesterday (pilates move). That ish is not easy and I haven't really been able to hold one for any extended time since having Jules. So 13 months postpartum I can kind of do pilates again. Wooooo!

Have a great Friday!