Forgiveness

Mom Guilt.

Nearly 3 years into motherhood, it’s funny to look back at those first experiences of mom guilt. I’d feel guilty for having to set my baby down for the first time in 4 hours so I could use the restroom. Since then, there’s been bigger faults; times I couldn’t catch a fall, times I didn’t take her band aid off before she got a rash, and times I’ve fed her food she’s allergic to.

And then there’s the biggest one of all. That time we lived in a house that was unsafe. We had no idea for months. And although I can confidently say we left as quickly as I could when we found out, I feel so much guilt and confusion about why we were there in the first place.

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Tonight I was reviewing a post I made about our excitement of moving into that house. I saw this picture of my little girl brushing her teeth. We were so excited to be there. We had so many happy memories there. She was just a baby.

I feel angry for the fact that we weren’t informed. I feel angry that we can’t get back the damage that was done. I hate the fact that we put her in danger. I wish I would have known more so I could do better.

But as much as it hurts, I also have to forgive myself. I am a good mom. I do the best I can for my girl. We made a mistake but it wasn’t due to lack of effort or care on our part. It’s easy to beat myself up with hindsight but that’s not fair.

Even with hard moments and times we wish we could change, there’s no way we would be in the same position we are in today if we hadn’t made that move. I can allow myself to wonder but I can’t allow myself to regret the decisions I thoughtfully and carefully made, especially when I”m confident it was the right thing in that moment.

To New Beginnings

It’s late in the night on Christmas. Ava and Dustin went to bed early but my night owl self can never manage to do that.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was craving the start of a new adventure and couldn’t exactly figure out what that was. I still don’t know all the details but I started thinking blogging/vlogging could be the start of that.

I feel like blogging is kind of out but I enjoy it – I enjoy writing and documenting my life. I don’t know much abut vlogging but I do know I love documenting our lives as a family and all the little 10 second videos I have on my phone are cute, but don’t translate well to anything that I can pass along to my kids.

Christmas Picture 3I’m 17 weeks pregnant with our second child and have really been pouring myself into cleaning up our eating habits and lifestyle lately. I’ve been reading a lot about how our bodies react to blood sugar as well as different nutritional content of foods and how making small changes can be big changes for your body. For example eggs from pasture raised chickens have more omega 3’s than eggs from chickens kept in small cages.

As I’ve been making changes, I’m noticing certain foods affect how I feel mentally and I’ve been learning about and exploring ways to maintain my anxiety through this pregnancy with my nutrition.

The reason for these changes started coming about because as I progressed this pregnancy, I just didn’t feel great. Naturally, there’s a certain level of physical exhaustion, mental fatigue/stress from hormones, bloating, and cravings that will come early in pregnancy. But I was finding myself newly into the 2nd trimester and still feeling lethargic. I am by no means trying to lose weight during pregnancy, but I found my cravings leading me to fast food more often than I’d like and I knew there had to be a better way.

I went through the same cycle of exhaustion and junk food in my first pregnancy. But I also remember going through a really hard time after having my first. I gained way more weight than I wanted and losing it was so challenging.  I struggled with postpartum depression and it took a long time to regain my confidence too. On top of that, I had to cut out foods for breastfeeding, and making sudden, drastic changes to my diet at a time where I was already exhausted was so stressful.

My goal with working on these changes now is to feel better during my pregnancy. To have energy to stay active and to keep my weight gain at a healthy level, all while feeding  my growing babe nutrient-dense, toxic free food. The food categories that I had to eliminate for breastfeeding are categories that I’d like to eliminate for health reasons too. I hope by eliminating these prior to her arrival, her breastfeeding journey will be less stressful on her and me.

Right now, one of my biggest challenges is taking these changes slow and steady. I tend to be an all-or-nothing person and that mentality has failed me in making lifestyle changes so many times. I accept the fact that this is a process and invite you to share this part of my life with me with the understanding that this is a JOURNEY.

I’m not an expert yet. My life isn’t 100% clean and my food isn’t 100% nutritious. My goal is to get better but I will never be perfect.

In the next post, I’ll share how we are getting started.

Stay tuned,

Melissa

 

 

Fire

Today started out with dropping my kiddo off with Nana; a day to myself to accomplish my professional and personal to-dos. And ended with me in tears. Tears of anxiety.

In the midst of my anxiety, my mind brought me back to this time. Christmas 2016. Oh, how I yearn to go back. My mind remembers this as some of the happiest times I’ve had in the last few years.

As I reminisce on that time I began evaluating why that was such a happy memory for me? A few things easily come to mind:

  1. I had so much to look forward to. This is hands down the biggest thing. I was starting my education process for my real estate license and had just begun a lip sense business than was fun, not incredibly time consuming, but more successful than I imagined.
  2. I’d finally hit a stride in motherhood. We’d figured out solutions for Ava’s biggest challenges. She was happily gaining weight and enjoying life.
  3. We were in a (relatively) comfortable spot financially. Dustin worked at a great company, we could pay our bills each month.
  4. I had come out of the darkness of PPD and hadn’t yet experienced the anxiety that would creep in about 9 months later.

But the funny thing about memories is that they have a habit of sugar coating themselves. If I look back critically, it wasn’t a perfect time. We had challenges.

  1. I was exhausted. I was staying up until 2 am every night studying.
  2. Motherhood was going well but wasn’t perfect.  I was bored of being a stay at home mom and craved socialization.
  3. We could pay our bills, yes, but we were in debt up to our eyeballs. We could only afford the tiny mortgage for our tiny house because school loans, car payments, and credit card debt took up the bulk of our income. Dustin’s work situation had become unstable, his income had dropped because of other situations and he was ubering on the side to make ends meet.
  4. Although I do miss my lower-anxiety times, I had just started peeking my head out of PPD and was stuck dealing with unresolved grief from losing my mom.

After analyzing perception vs reality, I’ve realized that things may not have been all there perfect back then, but one thing remains. In the face of anxiety, excitement and wins. There is nothing more exciting than the start of a new adventure.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know starting a new business is far more fun than running a business, am I right? The funny thing is, once I got to a point I never thought I’d hit, that’s when the anxiety set in for me. What if I have a slow month? What if I make a mistake? What if I’m not good at this? What if I have to work this hard every day? What if the market crashes? What if I’m not giving enough attention to my daughter? What if my family starts to rely on my income? What if I get sick?

The reality is, in between the last two years, a whole lot of those “what ifs” did happen. It was really hard; some of our darkest times as a couple and as a family. But the amazing thing is, through those really bad, excruciating times, have come some of the things I’m most proud of. I’m no longer exhausted from staying up all night. Motherhood is more balanced as I dedicate a few days a week to my kiddo and a few days to my business. We can pay our bills and have left overs. We’ve paid off our debt and live in a beautiful house in a neighborhood we love. My anxiety is still a struggle sometimes but through therapy I’ve learned how to manage it better than ever before.

I think there’s two point to all of this.

  1. When you look back on happy times in the past, don’t forget how the hard lessons you’ve learned along the way have shaped you into the better, stronger version you are today.
  2.  Anxiety is like a fire: uncertainty and doubt are it’s fuel but excitement and gratitude are it’s “water”. You are the manager of your anxiety fire; will you feed it or extinguish it? The choice is up to you.

Cardboard Boxes and Cowgirls

I’m sitting here, wide awake, a little after 2 am. Most nights, I’m fast asleep but tonight I find myself just trying to catch my breathe after the whirlwind couple of weeks we’ve had. I don’t know if I can fit this all into one blog, but let’s try.

A few weeks ago, as I fell asleep, I prayed and asked God to help us find a way into a more family-friendly neighborhood. Well, immediately after I asked, God delivered on that prayer big time. The very next day, we’d stumbled across a beautiful home to rent in an amazing neighborhood. It’s funny, because Dustin and I had talked about doing something like this many times but it never felt like it made sense until now. As the opportunities started unfolding, we realized we’d be foolish not to.

I spent the next few days interviewing contractors to complete the last few projects on our current home so that we could get it on the market. We scheduled movers, packed boxes, and signed the lease. But of course, no big plans come without a couple curve balls…

  1. My sisters and I had planned a trip to NYC that fell over the weekend right before we were going to move. I know, I know, this doesn’t really count as a curve-ball because it was planned ahead and it was so much fun but it did cause some extra stress because…
  2. We had an emergency with an out-of-state family member . Naturally, we were overcome with stress and worry about their well being but it also meant some of the helpers we thought we’d have while I was gone weren’t available.

Dustin stepped up to the plate and delivered big time. I returned home from NYC on Sunday to find he’d completed most of the packing whilst entertaining our {sick} kiddo.

We moved into our new home on Tuesday and have been working hard to get settled in. We have contractors working on our old house to get it ready to sell and are hoping to get it on the market at the end of next week.

We are loving our new neighborhood and are having so much fun exploring. Funny enough, we live pretty close to where my grandparents used to live. I spent a ton of time at their house growing up so many of my childhood memories are around this part of town but a lot has changed since then!

Today, Ava and I had our first mommy-daughter day in over a week and it was much needed. We spent the majority of our day playing and cuddling (neither of us are feeling very good). Around 5:00 seems to be the time we always get antsy so we went to Home Goods for a few supplies we needed to get the new house partially in order.

She was mostly a terror in the store; apparently leaving the house was not on her agenda for the day. But she did think the almost life-size stuffed horse they had was pretty amazing. She hopped on and hollered “yeehaw!”

One of our finds at Home Goods was this little bathroom stool. I was so close to passing on it because I wasn’t that impressed with the price but seeing her excitement tonight when she could stand on it in HER bathroom and watch herself in the mirror as she brushed her teeth was too cute!

I plan on posting some more pictures of our new house as we get more unpacking done and continue to fill it out with furniture. Stay tuned…

1.5

I just sat down for the evening and realized this little chicky officially turned 18 months old this week! I’ve been wanting to be better about documenting all the cute things she’s been up to lately so I think there’s no better time than today to start.

I know I’m biased but I have to say, there is something just so extremely magnetic about her personality these days. She’s never really been the show-off type but when she catches eye contact with a stranger this girl will ham.it.up! She’s about 3/4 sassy with 1/4 sweet; just enough to melt your heart when you’re about ready to lose your marbles.

She is quite the independent thing these days. This makes many daily tasks quite difficult but I try my hardest to embrace her strong will, remembering it will benefit her some day if fostered appropriately.

​One of the tasks that’s become extremely tedious lately is shopping. She prefers to push the cart; She’s been known to climb out of moving shopping carts if contained. 


On the bright side, she’s become quite the good cleaner these days. Give the girl a rag and she will clean just about anything. Her toy broom is one of her favorites in the rotation currently and she will gladly pick up trash (any time, anywhere) and throw it away. We are currently working on putting our toys away after we are finished them, but she does not enjoy this task.

In addition to keeping up the house, she’s very interested in maintaining her appearance as well. I am not allowed to do my hair or makeup without sharing my products with her. She frequently sneaks into my makeup drawer and I find her in her room doing her “makeup.” I have to keep a spray bottle of water and spray it into her hands or hair while I get ready to satisfy her involvement.

The last two weeks have been super busy and fun. Ava went on her first camping trip and was a total champ. We spent lots of time on the boat fishing and she even caught her first fish, although she couldn’t have cared less because she was completely passed out in my arms.

My sister also came in town with her two daughters and we had lots of Auntie and Cousin time. We spent time at the park, went to a trampoline park and even had Ava’s first sleepover (although she fell asleep right after dinner).

Most importantly, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that she is head over heels obsessed with her Dada right now. All day long, she talks about him when he’s at work. Her fact lights up when he comes home from work. I’m quite certain she tries to wake up in the middle of the night just so she can come to our bed and snuggle.

Can’t wait to see what the next 6 months have in store for this little lady!

Four Years in the Making

One of my first memories of Dustin is from back when we worked together at Sunglass Hut. He’d just come back from his family’s annual camping trip to Turquoise Lake and could not stop talking about how cute his nieces were. In fact, that love for his family was one of the first things I admired about him.

Little did I know, Turquoise Lake would soon become one of the places I hold dearest to my hearts as well. On our third annual summer camping trip, Dustin took me to Downtown Leadville, CO for a delicious birthday dinner and then brought me to the beach at the Baby Doe camp grounds and asked me to marry him. The trip was the best we’d had yet, with family traveling from near and far on both sides of our family for such a special occasion.


The following three summers were busy with for us with wedding plans, pregnancy, and caring for a newborn so we hadn’t been back since that special trip in 2013. When talks of the annual trip came up this year, I can’t deny that I was equal parts excited and anxious. Of course I was excited to get back to that beautiful and special place but keeping my toddler out of harms way is difficult enough at home; I couldn’t wrap my head around how we’d survive a camping trip.


Luckily, Ava did fantastic. She loves hanging with her older cousins. In fact, we often joke that she always thinks she’s at least 6 months older than she really is.


She loved throwing rocks into the lake and watching the water splash back up.


She went out on the boat a couple times and found it very relaxing. Not gonna lie, I totally soaked up all the passed out baby snuggles I could.


Today, we went out right before we headed back home and she caught a fish when she was sleeping. I couldn’t let her miss her first fish so we woke her up to see the excitement. She was amazed and has been talking about “ish” ever since.

As we left to go home today, we stopped at the spot where Dustin proposed. In that moment, I felt a wave of something so surreal sweep over me. Life gets so busy; day in and day out I stress about the little things. Having a successful career while not neglecting Ava, putting healthy food on the table, money, keeping a clean house, etc. But as quickly as the last four years have passed us by, the next 4 will pass faster. Before we know it we will be watching our kids go through the same season of life we are in.


The joy in life is bigger than all the problems just like the beauty of this world we live in is bigger than ourselves. To have lived a successful life is to have enjoyed this life in all its’ glory.

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It’s so funny to think that when I was a child, having a camera at the right opportunity to capture a sweet moment was something that took preparation and thought. I mean heaven forbid you use your last spot on your roll of film on a blurry photo. 

Nowadays, we probably take as many photos a day as our parents took in a month. I probably have about 20,000 pics of Ava in her first 15 months and I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that. But despite the volume of photos I have of her, I never feel like I have enough photos us. She and I. 

So tonight, I’m going to document this very sweet moment with words. No photo needed. 

10 Ways being a Stay at Home Mom Made me a Better Employee

I spent the better part of 2016 as a Stay at Home Mom after having my daughter in January. At the end of the year, we decided it was time for me to return to work and I was amazed at how difficult it was to get back into the workforce after taking a year off.

As if starting a career in a new industry wasn’t hard enough (opportunities in my previous industry are quickly dwindling in the area), having a nearly one year gap of employment makes getting your resume seen seem nearly impossible. Sure, I can write a cover letter and explain that I was a stay at home mom, but does that make me less attractive as an employee? I’ve never been in the recruiting world so I can’t say for sure, but based on the lack of response I received from many jobs I was qualified for, I think it’s safe to say it does.

However, I think women wanting to get back into the work force are likely better employees than they were prior to having kids. Here’s why:

  1. More Authoritative: Let’s be honest; being authoritative in the workplace can be hard for a woman. Put your foot down and you’re a b****, let things slide and you’re an airhead. I struggled with this many times in my previous career. As a mom, I’ve mastered the art of learning to fight my battles, how to be stern without being mean, and how to regain morale after having to put my foot down.
  2. Better Trainers and Coaches: There seems to be a huge culture and communication gap in the workforce between millennials and the generations before us. I get it, we seem whiny, needy, and incapable of handling responsibility and stress. I truly believe that the root of this problem is a lack of training and coaching. I’ve seen time and time again, employees  stop thriving after leaders continually tell them “no.” No, they didn’t put this report together right, no, they didn’t get this promotion, no, their plan was “wrong.” With my daughter, I’ve quickly learned that I can’t teach her about the world by telling her “no” every time does something I don’t want her to do. Sure, knowing what “no” means is necessary (and don’t get me wrong, she hears it several times a day) but it doesn’t actually teach anything. As moms, we learn that instead of just saying no, we need to teach them why they shouldn’t do that and what they should do instead. Learning this step in coaching, and quite frankly, being in a continual state of coaching makes moms great candidates for leadership positions.
  3. Decisiveness: As a Stay at Home Mom, you are the boss and those little ones aren’t going to wait around for Mom to hum and haw over what they are going to do today, or if they should get into the cleaning supplies. Instead, we learn to act on our feet; we evaluate circumstances quickly, always keeping in mind priorities and make decisions fast.
  4. Self Motivated: Another big complaint against millennials is that they are difficult to motivate. I always thought I was self motivated, until I became a stay at home mom, and then I realized I had just skimmed the surface. As a stay at home mom, there’s no one watching you all day to make sure you get dressed, clean the house, cook the food, play with the kids. The demand for you to do these things all has to come from a desire inside yourself to do these things.
  5. Mastering the Art of Engagement and Multitasking: A few years ago, being able to classify yourself as a continual multitasker was a great advantage. Lately, science is telling us that the human brain is only really capable of focusing on one thing at a time. I think the truth is that great employees lie somewhere in the middle and what sets them apart is the ability to prioritize when to multitask and when to be engaged in one activity. As a Stay at Home Mom, your to-do list is long; cooking, cleaning, playing with your babies, etc. What I’ve learned is that little ones know when mom isn’t fully engaged and in some instances it can be harmful when we choose to multitask when we need to be engaged.
  6. Appreciate a Social Environment: One of the hardest things about becoming a Stay at Home Mom, was losing the social environment of my job. I didn’t realize how important the daily conversations about how our weekend or evenings were to my overall satisfaction. Being a Stay at Home Mom can be isolating; hire her if you’re having a strong team-like setting is important to you.
  7. Technologically Advanced/ Social Media Experts: As I mentioned in #6, finding fulfillment socially can be challenging as a Stay At Home Mom, so many women turn to social media and technology to find fulfillment and support. Without any formal training, we have a good idea of which platforms are best for what content, how to visually streamline your Instagram, optimal post frequency, etc. We probably are also very familiar with some great influencers that might be useful to your business.
  8. More Organized: Staying at home all day with a baby or toddler in a home that has no organization whatsoever is miserable. If you’re looking for a woman who’s mastered the art of decluttering and organizing, look no further than a former Stay at Home Mom.
  9. Financially Cautious: One of the scariest things as a family about having one parent stay at home, is having all of your financial “eggs” in one basket. What if the economy crashes? What if my husband doesn’t meet his sales quota? What if we get sick? Stay at Home Moms know how to prioritize financial needs like a boss and are experts at making the most of a budget.
  10. Entrepreneurial: Saved the best for last! As I mentioned in #9, managing a family’s finances on one income is hard, no matter how much the breadwinner makes. In my year as a Stay at Home Mom, I’ve never met so many entrepreneurs. These women are incredibly smart, hard working, innovative and creative people. If those traits don’t suit your search, I don’t know what will!

My question is this: how do we change the paradigm in our society that being a stay at home mom is easy? How do we communicate to corporations and recruiters that taking a year to focus on being a mom doesn’t mean that I took a year off from my growth and development? If anyone has been in these shoes and found a way to communicate this in their search, I’d love to hear it! let’s help each other out!

If you’re curious how my story ends: I chose to become a REALTOR and couldn’t be any happier. I’ve found that I like the independence of being a Stay at Home Mom and being a REALTOR allows me to have the best of both worlds!

This House

This house was my mom’s dream house. After years of checking out model homes and open houses on the weekends and crunching the numbers, she found one that fit. It was 2006 when my parents put our old house up for sale, the real estate market was cooling off. Selling the old house was hard and took months but my parents persevered and finally found a way to sell our old house and buy this house.

This house turned out to be the perfect sanctuary for my mom. When she lost the job she’d had for over a decade, she spent a year in this house searching for a job every day. I’m sure it wasn’t easy but in the years after my parents bought this house, almost every house in our neighborhood was foreclosed on, but my parents held on tight to this house.

This house was where my mom fought the hardest battle of her life. When she was diagnosed, the doctors thought she might have a couple months but we celebrated her birthday twice in this house while she battled cancer. Our family grew closer together over that time and spent more moments together than we had in a years. After 17 long months of fighting, we mourned the loss of my mom in this house.

This house is where I lived my last year of high school and was my safety net during college. My little sister grew up in this house; she was eight when we moved here.  After my mom passed away, my dad found companionship and eventually love with a woman who lived two houses down from this house.


This house became my older sister’s house when she and her husband moved back from Ohio. They spent two years here, raising their beautiful daughters. We started a new generation of memories in this house and my sister made this house their home. All seasons of life must end in order for new ones to begin and today my sister moved out of this house.

This house will soon be someone else’s. They will celebrate hard work, accomplishments, birthdays and holidays. They will cry over hard days, wounds, and loss. This house will comfort them with the warmth and shelter and will be the solid foundation for their lives, just like it did for us. Life will go on, as it always does, in this house.

This little firecracker

She’s a hoot these days and that’s the best way I can describe it. I think this stage has been my favorite so far because her excitement for life is so contagious.

I’m loving having a great balance between work and mom lately. I feel like I’m fully engaged with her during our days together rather than constantly thinking about what else I could/should be doing.


We made some play dough this week which was a blast. I wasn’t sure how she’d do with it but she played with it for a good 45 minutes which is a record. We haven’t made any other recipes but I would highly recommend this one for littles. No dairy, soy, salt, and I think it’s gluten free too. Also, even though it is edible, Ava didn’t love the taste, which I was totally ok with.


I tried my hand at meal prepping last week too. I’d say it was successful for the most part, although it didn’t really happen until Tuesday. That might just have to be my meal prep day going forward because weekend days, as are Mondays as these are one of my work days.

Ava has been doing great with yogurt and cheese which is amazing! We let her go crazy with some pizza this week which was hilarious. Do not mess with this girl’s food.

Speaking of food though, I’m desperate for her to wean off formula. We are kind of in this super expensive in between stage where she explores a lot of foods but the only ones she really consumes are the pre packaged baby foods so I try to buy those organic/ no sugar added but she still gets most of her calories from formula. In total, we are spending about $150/week on her foods alone which is just not reasonable for us. Any tips for weaning off formula?

Friday night, Dustin and I had a date night. We wanted to go to Panzano, our favorite Italian restaurant but as soon as we got there, we realized they changed their whole menu and they didn’t have anything that sounded good anymore. Since we hadn’t ordered anything, we just up and left and ran to Ocean Prime haha! Ocean Prime was delicious as always. I love that we still make time for date nights, it’s crazy how easy it is to forget to flirt with your husband when you get so busy with jobs and babies and such.

Saturday, we hung out with my sister and my nieces. We tried to go to the aquarium but when we got there, there were 200 people waiting to buy tickets (apparently it was sloth weekend). Then we tried to go to the Children’s museum but that was packed too (I’m assuming all the families headed there since the hipsters clogged the aquarium?). We finally landed across town at the Museum of Nature and Science. I hadn’t been there forever. It’s changed a lot but they have an amazing area for the littles to play.

Ava LOVED the water room. She played in that for about 30 minutes and would have stayed in there longer if we let her.

She’s obsessed with little boys, to a level that’s kind of embarrassing. She calls them all “kid” since that’s what she calls her cousin Maddox.

We also checked out the rotating exhibits upstairs. It was in the Mummy exhibit where Ava realized that a room full of people will look at her if she yells. Needless to say, the outing went downhill quickly after that.

We kept Sunday pretty low key after a few really busy days but went out to dinner with my side of the family for my sister’s 30th. It was a bitter sweet outing as it’ll probably be our last for a while.