Bye, Negativity

Happy Wednesday, loves!

How many negative thoughts have you had this morning? Hazard a guess. I’ve probably had dozens already, and it’s first thing in the morning. Honestly, it’s so hard not to find negative thoughts creeping in these days. Any day, really, but these days it’s almost impossible not to feel negative more often than you’re accustomed to.

Let’s face it; the world is an ugly place. No matter your personal beliefs, your political affiliation, your stance on current events in the world, it’s an ugly place right now. Most people are in a mood…and it’s not a good one. You already know I’m not that much of a people person, but I’m so much less of a people person these days. It seems everywhere I go, more and more of the people I encounter are in a bad mood.

The news is filled with negativity. Newsfeeds are filled with negativity. I’ve taken to using social media to post my photos to share with my grandmother and other family members, and then I’m out. I haven’t scrolled my own Facebook feed since the beginning of July. I can’t. It’s so negative. People can’t have their political beliefs without shoving them down the throats of everyone else. People who don’t speak up about current events are suddenly the problem. People who don’t speak up soon enough about current events are the problem. People who speak up about current events but not in a timely fashion are the problem. People who speak up about current events but disagree with your opinions about current events are the problem.

April Stock Photo

You guys…we have enough problems. What’s with all the negativity? Everything is so negative anymore, and you know that this kind of negative consumption is feeding our brains and our hearts nothing but garbage. I’m done with it. I am so careful in so many areas of my life to choose positive people, positive influences, things and people that bright me joy and happiness, and I’m not about to let the fake, fear-mongering news and social media and everyone else’s opinions ruin all that hard work I put into leading a happy life.

To quote that one woman that one time (can someone remind me of the exact event, please?), “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

So, how do we stop these negative thoughts from sinking in and becoming our prevalent thoughts? It’s not easy. We are hardwired to have negative thoughts simply because we are more sensitive to negativity. But, it’s possible to (I’m sure I’m quoting my mother, here) ‘turn that frown upside down,’ and have positive thoughts.

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Get Rid of the Phone

Social media, the news, our emails, all of it. It’s killing us a moment at a time. How many times a day do you dread checking your email because you know that you’re going to get an email or a text from a client, a coworker, a friend, a family member, a company, someone who needs a favor, wants to add something else to your plate? How many times do you check social media and find yourself annoyed by the posts you’re reading?

Get off the phone. Stop checking. Turn off your notifications. Set aside a few minutes a day to check the important stuff, and stay off social media and the news sites you’re so accustomed to inhaling and absorbing each and every day. This is especially important in the morning when you wake up. Don’t start your day with that nonsense.

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Write Down Your Feelings of Gratitude

You already know that this is helpful, but let’s start actually doing it, okay? Pick up a notebook today while you’re out. Write down three to five things first thing in the morning that you are grateful for and that are good in your life. They can be big, small, whatever. Just write them down, then read the list. Then add a few more things to that list at the end of the day that are specific to that day. Keep this up. You’ll be amazed how quickly you are able to turn your negative thoughts into less frequent visitors. For example, this morning I am grateful for these things:

  • Watching the sunrise over our backyard from my spot on the lanai while it’s still quiet at home
  • Being able to be home with my kids to make memories and be present in their lives
  • Listening to my sweet twins read books to me out loud
  • Family dinners and game nights
  • A whole cup of coffee consumed in absolute silence while the sun rises
  • Front porch rocking
  • Being married to a man who kisses me every single time he walks by me

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Shut Down Your Thoughts

When negative thoughts come to mind, make it a habit to literally tell them to stop. Literally, say it aloud. Say, “Stop, right now. Stop this train of thought, right now,” and keep that going. Every single time a negative thought comes to mind, tell yourself to stop. Out loud. Where you can hear it. It’ll help.

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Write Down Your Negative Thoughts

Okay, Tiffany, tell us again how we are writing down things we are happy for and then telling ourselves to physically stop thinking negative thoughts, yet you have us writing down our negative feelings and thoughts on a piece of paper?

I realize it seems counterproductive, but it’s not. Now that you are working on getting rid of negative thoughts, take a moment to write down what bring you these thoughts. Your negative beliefs. Your negative feelings, etc. For example, if I were writing down my own negative beliefs right now, my list would look like this:

  • People are so negative
  • No one bothers to use their common sense anymore
  • The world is so divided
  • Kindness suddenly seems gone from the world
  • All I see are bad things all day, every day

But, that’s not true, now is it? People aren’t all negative. Some are, but not everyone in the world is negative. Some people lack a lot of common sense, but most don’t. The world is not as divided as the mainstream media wants us to believe. Kindness is everywhere; it’s just not as visible because it’s not nearly as newsworthy. All I see are bad things everyday because I’m seeing news stories and opinions online, and I’m not focused on the good things that surround me all the time.

You see? I just debunked – to borrow a term from mainstream media – all the negative thoughts in my mind. They look a little silly when they’re on paper, don’t they?

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Just Relax

What’s going to happen is going to happen, and worrying about it and thinking about it and feeding it your constant negative attention is not going to make a difference. Let life unfold before you, and don’t perpetuate fear and uncertainty in your own mind. It’s not helpful.

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Detox Your Digital Life

I’m not an advocate for unfollowing people or pages that don’t fit your narrative or simply because you don’t agree with their outlook, but sometimes you have to do it. Let me be very clear; don’t go unfollowing people because they have different beliefs than you. Do unfollow them if they bring negativity to your life or your feed. For example, unfollow someone who name calls or belittles or says hurtful things. Or, even more simply, detox your pages so you’re only seeing things that bring you joy and happiness, even if that means unfriending your mom and only following pages filled with kittens and puppies and donuts.

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Take Care of You

I feel like a broken record because I say this all the time, but that should really make it obvious how important this is. Take care of you. Don’t put yourself last. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to work out or eat healthy – nothing is further from the truth. I see you – and I hear you – saying you’re so busy and overwhelmed and you don’t have time to go to the gym or work out or eat a healthy diet, but I also see you sharing dozens of memes and articles and commenting on every political post on the internet each and every day and talking about binging your favorite shows every evening when the kids are in bed. You have time; you don’t have the right priorities.

Get up. Take a walk. Go a quick breathing exercise. Work out at home. Download a workout app. Go for a quick run. Do some squats or crunches during commercial breaks. You have time, but you have to make it a priority. Meal prep. Or, if you’re like me and you cannot fathom the idea of eating leftovers (I cannot eat anything that’s been put in the fridge and then taken back out to reheat), order a meal service so the hard work is done. We love Hello Fresh. We love their calorie smart and vegetarian meals, ironically (we are not vegetarian). They’re quick, flavorful, and so easy.

Drink more water while you’re at it. If you’re not hydrated, you’re not living your best life. It’s really that easy. Take care of yourself. Eat right, make yourself a priority. It’s easier to feel good when you actually feel good, you know?

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Focus on the Good in Your Life

The best things in life really are those small moments. Of course, you’ll always remember the big ones and the amazing ones, but those little ones are what make up your entire complex system of happiness and fulfillment. You find your joy in those little moments. Focus on those. Look around you. Focus on what little things you do each and every day that bring you so much joy.

For me, it’s when the kids laugh and giggle and climb all over us in the pool. It’s doing cannonballs and letting down my hair – literally – to jump in the pool in the pouring rain not caring how I look. It’s simple Saturdays talking about life and laughing about every-damn-thing with the people we love most. It’s Saturday nights laughing nonstop with some of the most hilarious people around. It’s the excitement on the kids’ faces when someone rolls a Yahtzee during game night. It’s the moment my husband makes eye contact with me during the eyeroll-inducing 3908 questions Carter asks during every. Single. Movie. Night. Ever. It’s his excitement when we watch a movie about tornadoes. It’s mornings when my husband’s alarm goes off and he snoozes it for 9 minutes so he can cuddle with me a little longer. It’s Wednesday night traditions. It’s sitting on the lanai with my coffee in the morning. It’s Sunday dinners. It’s the way Addison is so sweet with her sisters and her brother. It’s Ava’s quick wit and smart mouth. It’s Charlotte’s sugar-sweet kindness and love for everyone. It’s Carter’s quick laugh and sweet “I love you, mommy,” and the feeling I get when my husband reaches for my hand when we are walking anywhere.

It is so many small moments that, when you put them together, create such a beautiful life. Even when the world is a shitshow of WTF all around us, it’s those moments you can turn to and know that you are living your best life even if you momentarily forgot all about it.

What is Confidence?

Confidence is not “They will like me,” Confidence is “I’ll be fine if they don’t,” – Pinterest

I’m sure someone more important or interesting said that, but it’s all over Pinterest without a direct attribute to the person who said it, so…(if you know to whom this belongs, please shoot me a quick email so I can properly credit the quote).

On the Fourth of July, our very best friend’s younger brother (21) asked a very honest question of me.

How are you so confident?

Well, I don’t know. I never really thought of it. I wasn’t always. I wasn’t a super confident kid. I wasn’t a super confident teen. I would like to hazard a guess that my confidence finally fell into place when I was around 22, freshly married to the love of my life, and finally living my own life on my own terms (our own terms is probably more accurate). I felt as if I finally came into myself at that age.

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I finally started taking care of my health. I was working out regularly, I was eating well. I was traveling a lot, I was making my own decisions, I was becoming successful. I was happy where I was going and where I’d been. I was finally confident in my own skin, and that’s about the time I began to realize that I really, really liked myself. I matured around that age, and it was so good for me.

So, when I was asked this question, my initial (cocktail-inspired) response was, “Because I’m a badass motherfucker.” Which is entirely true.

The truth is simple. I am a badass, and I’m proud of it. I’m 36. I’m in great shape. I have a great sense of style. I work hard doing what I love and loving what I do. I have four kids. I have the world’s most amazing husband. I have a beautiful home and beautiful friends and a beautiful family, and I live life on my own terms. Why wouldn’t I be confident?

Growing up, I always thought about what others thought of me. I simply did not know that it was all right if people didn’t like me. I didn’t know it was all right to be too much for some people. I didn’t know it was all right to just be myself and not worry about how that made other people feel. I wasn’t confident because I was not myself, and I didn’t own that.

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When I grew a bit older, it occurred to me that I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t like being someone who was playing small and being small and living small just to fit in with other people. People I don’t even care that much for (anyone who knows me knows I keep a small, tight-knit group of people close to me and I’m not that much of a people person outside that). I wasn’t happy with me, and for what? So that I was like the other people?

Why was I wasting my time with that kind of nonsense? It was at that point I began to really come into my own. I was no longer worried about being the most overdressed person in the room. I no longer cared that I didn’t look like everyone else. I no longer cared that I didn’t live life on the same timeline as everyone else. I didn’t care that I wasn’t into the same things as everyone else. I no longer cared if people thought my ideas or my interests or my preferences were too much (I’m thinking that’s where I earned the nicknames fancy pants and princess).

That time in my life was beyond liberating. I realized that I didn’t need the approval of everyone in the room when I walked in. I simply needed my own. With that came a brand-new me. A confident me. I person who lived life on her own terms and wasn’t concerned about anyone else.

But, with that comes a few other life lessons. Confidence is not thinking you’re better than others. Confidence is knowing that you have no need or reason to compare yourself to others. I think that’s something many people forget. If you are looking to become more confident, grow your confidence, find it, whatever, maybe I can share a few words of wisdom that might help you along the way.

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Confidence is quiet

True confidence is quiet. It’s knowing you are amazing, and it’s being fine with the fact that other people might not know that. It’s being happy with yourself and not caring if other people are happy for you. Truly confident people do not feel the need to make others feel down, badly, or uncertain about themselves or their own lives. Truly confident people know that there’s room for everyone to be amazing.

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Confidence does not leave room for comparison

Those who are truly confident do not compare themselves to others because they know everyone is on a different chapter in their own book. They also know that everyone matures, grows, and thrives in their own timing. They are also happy with their own lives, so there is no need to compare (unless we are talking about actual gardens and comparing them, because I have a black thumb and I am always comparing what I did right and wrong with those who have beautiful gardens and don’t kill all the things, but you know what I mean).

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Confidence is happy

If you aren’t happy, you can’t be confident. A confident person knows how to find happiness, and they know that it’s the journey. They know that you can be perfectly happy with everything you have right now, right this moment, even if you have bigger dreams, goals, and a life to live. A truly confident person appreciates the small things now so that they can continue to appreciate the larger things later.

As my sweetest, wisest best friend, Corinna, believes, confidence is happy. If you’re not happy with your life and the way you are living – if you’re not truly happy with the little things, and appreciative of what you have, thankful for how far you’ve come, and you don’t appreciate the moment – you won’t achieve a level of confidence that’s worthwhile.

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Confidence doesn’t care

Truly confident people do not worry about what anyone else thinks about them. It’s not their business. Truly confident people live their lives worried only about whether they are living a life they love and appreciate, and they live for themselves – never for anyone else. While discussing the topic of confidence at a date night dinner last week with our best friends, our exceptionally confident best friend, Geremy, pointed out that confidence is something personal. You don’t have to believe it right away, but you have to keep telling yourself that you’re amazing – and a BAMF – until you do. Don’t worry about what others think of you, but be very careful how you think of – and talk to – yourself.

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Confidence leaves no room for regret

Regret is something I’ve always considered a wasted emotion – a lot like hate. To regret something means that you are not happy where you are in your life, which doesn’t leave room for true confidence. Your experiences might not be ones you care to repeat, but you never regret them. You learn from them, view them as a lesson, and you make positive changes so that you don’t make the same mistake twice. It’s a learning curve. If you find yourself in a place where you regret something, it’s likely a sign that you know you did not learn from the experience, you didn’t use it as a lesson, and you are not happy with yourself. Figure out why, learn from it, and change it. There is no room in life for regret.

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Confidence is generous

A truly confident person is a generous person. Someone with true confidence is always happy to tell you where they bought their shoes/coffee table/couch/dress/got their nails done/hair done/hired a house cleaner/redecorated their office/etc. A truly confident person is happy to share their successes, their advice, their inspiration. They want other people to be equally happy and successful and confident in life, and they are happy to make sure they do their part to help.

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Confidence is never too serious

When you’re confident, you can laugh at yourself. You’re confident, not perfect. You can laugh at yourself. You can poke fun at yourself. You can dish it as well as you can take it, and you sure know how to have fun. Confident people laugh loud, and they laugh meaningfully because they have absolute joy in their hearts.

At the end of the day, it’s important to realize that confidence is highly personal. It doesn’t matter how it compares to others. It doesn’t matter what others think of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re boisterous and confident or low-key confident in a way that makes you happy. What matters is that you know your worth. In all honesty, knowing your worth is all that confidence really is. And, let’s not forget to add some tax to that.

Quick Tips When You’re In A Funk

Happy Friday, loves!

Do you ever find yourself in a total funk? It’s like a weird place where you’re present in life, but you feel almost as if you’re looking at your life unfolding before you from up above; almost like a dream, if I’m putting it into a tangible concept. You can’t put your finger on the issue that’s causing your funk because you don’t really have anything to complain about. You don’t really have any issues, but yet you don’t know what the problem is that’s got you feeling as if you’re watching life unfold before you.

I spent the better part of the end of June/beginning of July in a funk. Some might say it’s because it was almost ‘that time,’ (ladies, you know), and I won’t disagree. Some months are just more difficult in that specific timeframe than others. However, it’s just not uncommon for me to find myself in a funk more often than not in the summer months.

You guys, I don’t like being hot. Rich, I know, coming from a Floridian. In all honesty, I feel as if I go through bouts of seasonal depression this time of year. it might not be truly ‘depression,’ so much as it is bouts of just blah feelings that don’t bring me much joy. I certainly don’t want to minimize the severity of seasonal depression, but I do want to bring attention to the fact that much like those who do go through that feeling in the cold winter months (not in Florida!), I feel some of the same things on a much less serious level in the summer. Why?

  • The long days are not my favorite
  • The afternoon sunlight – from about 1 pm to dusk – during summer is such an unattractive color that bothers me endlessly
  • The heat is stifling
  • The humidity is nothing short of oppressive
  • The way it feels so sticky following the rain is so gross
  • I hate sweat
  • I don’t like to feel hot
  • I don’t like that it’s just so gross outside the kids can’t even play outdoors and enjoy themselves because it’s miserably hot and dangerously humid

I know it’s the unpopular opinion, but I’m simply not a summer fan. Don’t get me wrong – I love summer in that it’s such a time of freedom and relaxation. I love that there is no responsibility in summer. I love the feeling of easiness and slow enjoyment summer brings. I love that the kids are so relaxed. I love afternoon thunderstorms – they give me so much life and so much joy – and river house days and pool days and summer nights. I love the Fourth of July. I love so much about summer except for summer itself. I love the summer mornings and the way the morning sun looks pouring in our doors and windows. I love the mornings in summer. It’s just that darn afternoon sunlight that brings me down. I can’t explain it. I just feel blah in the afternoons during summer, and sometimes I find myself in a funk if we have endless days of sunshine. My funk immediately disappears when the sun is gone and the rain comes in the afternoon. Which, I believe, is why the end of June and beginning of July were funk weeks for me – too much sunshine and weeks without a cloud in the sky.

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I’ve already got my countdown to the official fall season (which begins September 1st in my house). It brings me life and endless good moods until June rolls around again. Honestly, I might as well be useless for three months from June through the end of August. But, in in all honestly, I want to be transparent and honest. This is not a good time of year for my attitude, and I know that. I know it every year. I don’t know how to change that, so I just do my very best to focus on finding small ways to help improve my blasé attitude in the afternoons throughout summer.

Maybe this will help someone who has the same issue. Maybe it will help someone who really doesn’t live their best life too often. Maybe it will help someone who has the same guilt and feelings of ‘what is wrong with me?’ that I deal with off and on for the three longest months of the year. I know I have nothing to complain about. I know I have nothing to worry about. I know I have nothing to stress me out. Yet, I find myself really down sometimes for a few hours in the afternoon.

So, here’s what I’ve been implementing this year. I’ve asked my doctor for suggestions, I’ve asked around, I’ve done my research, and there are a few things that have really minimized my ‘summer afternoon seasonal down-ness’ significantly this summer.

I check in with myself

At the beginning of the week, I do a quick check-in with myself. I do this Monday morning prior to doing anything else (save for hitting snooze once or twice and then making a cup of coffee and meandering into my office). I sit down with my journal and write down the following:

  • My priority for the week
  • What I want to do less of this week
  • What I want to do more of this week
  • How I want to feel this week
  • How I can make sure I feel this way this week
  • What I’d like to remember in moments of ‘down-ness’

Throughout the week, I check on that list to make sure I’m doing what I can to make it as realistic as possible. It’s important for me to remember that this is not a list of major goals. It’s a simple priority list. What I need the most that week is my priority, and it doesn’t matter if it’s big, small, minor, simple, life-changing, etc. It’s just the priority I need to focus on any given week.

Change negative thinking

I’m not immune to negative thoughts. No one is, if we are being honest. However, I try hard to make sure they don’t linger. I try to stop them in their tracks. It’s not always easy for me since I’m a creative person by nature, and my mind tends to run away quickly and efficiently a thousand miles a minute (writer’s hazard, I suppose). I don’t even notice when my mind turns to the negative until it’s been there a few moments, but I’m learning to recognize, realize, and refocus quickly.

Trust me – it’s a habit that takes time to develop.

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Breathing is what helps me most. I learned in my favorite yoga class to try five count breathing when I need to slow down my racing mind (and heart) and refocus myself. Sit quietly, close your eyes, count to five slowly while inhaling, hold your breath for a count of five, exhale slowly for a count of five. Repeat until you find yourself at peace. It helps rearrange your thoughts and refocus your feelings. Trust me, it’s effective.

Write down happy thoughts. This is another helpful tool. Writing down a few things that bring me joy is a quick and simple way to change my pattern of thought. Again, this doesn’t have to be a long list of beautiful things that make you happy. It can be the simplest thing. The only rule is that it must be something that brings you joy.

Stop and do something else

There are times when I’m feeling myself in a funk, and I just need to stop what I’m doing in that moment. Sometimes this means putting things to the side and leaving the house. Maybe a family dinner out. Maybe a family walk. Maybe a quick game of cards or Yahtzee with the kids. A second workout for the day. A conversation with someone I love. Sometimes, the best thing I do for myself is put down what I’m doing and make my way into the office to sit down on my husband’s lap and interrupt his work for a long hug. I mean, what’s better?

Write

You don’t even want to know how many rambling thoughts I have written down. In notebooks. On pieces of paper I find in my desk. On my computer. On my iPad. On the notes section of my phone. In email drafts. The best therapy is a writing session. Don’t worry about grammar or form or function or readability. Just write. Write what’s on your mind, what’s on your heart, what’s in your life. You don’t even have to know what you are writing. The simple fact that you’re able to take those thoughts and put them somewhere outside your brain is a kind of release that is literally freeing.

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Remember that it’s okay to feel less than perfect

It’s hard, I know, to fully comprehend that everyone goes through down days. It’s not easy to remember that you are not alone. It’s not easy to remember that most people keep their bad days to themselves. You are not alone. You are not by yourself in this. Everyone has off days. Just look at me – I have off weeks during the summer because it’s just hot and miserable and not my favorite. But, the good news is that you can change that. You can easily turn a blah day around, get out of a funk, and focus on far better things. It’s easier said than done, but it’s going to become habit to quickly turn your thoughts around.

***Also, please remember that while a funk might occasionally be a normal thing to feel, and having a bad day or a grouchy day, or a PMS-y week might be totally normal, feelings of absolute darkness, despair, dangerous or harmful thoughts, and the inability to find the joy in anything are indicative of a major health concern; please call your doctor if you experience any of these feelings. He or she can help you figure out what’s going on, run tests to see if there is anything going on in your body you cannot see, and they can help you work through this. I am not a doctor, I do not have experience with serious mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, and my suggestions are not medically based in any capacity.

A Big Announcement Following a Difficult Decision

Happy Friday, loves!

This is one of those days that’s just so sweet. Who doesn’t love a Friday? I make sure I have all my deadlines met prior to Fridays so that I can sleep a little late, linger a little longer over my morning cup (cups…who am I trying to kid?) of coffee, and spend the day doing whatever makes me happy in the moment.

Today, that’s botox and shopping followed by a fab weekend filled with family, friends, and date night, and the ensuing progress on all the big things happening at home – I’ll come back to that in a week or two to share with everyone what’s happening in the Raiford house. For now, though, Friday means a morning to myself while the littles are home with my husband (definitely not interrupting him while he’s working) and my forehead is officially fixed (the judgement lines are worse than ever thanks to COVID cancelling my most recent appointment and, well, everything that’s going on in the world). It’s a good, good day.

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It’s also a day that I thought I’d share with you some big news from our house. We are actually filled to overflowing with big news these days, but I’ll start with this one and leave the rest for another day. After months of deliberation, uncertainty, and research, my husband and I have officially enrolled our three youngest kids in virtual school for the upcoming school year. Fourth and first grades will be learned from home, and we are feeling really good about our decision. Sweet Addison is uncertain what she’d like to do. She’s waiting as long as she can to make a decision as to whether she will go back to brick and mortar school for seventh grade or learn from home. It’s her decision, and we respect whichever decision she makes.

However, the three littles will not be returning. This was not a decision we made lightly, nor was it one that was easy for us to make, but it’s the best decision for us for many reasons. A culmination of things led to this decision, and it feels right. If you’re on the fence about what you’re doing during the upcoming school year, I hope that our thought process and the factors we took into consideration might help you make your own decision a little better.

*No one knows your child better than you, so please use your own judgement when making this decision.

The Uncertainty

Nothing makes me at all comfortable with little kids and the uncertainty of the upcoming school year. The fact that our twins ended their kindergarten year abruptly and without warning in March without so much as a goodbye to anyone was hard on them. Our two oldest have years of experience in school. They know that this is not what school looks like, or how it works, so they just went with the flow. The twins, though; they’re 6. They don’t know what elementary school looks like. They haven’t had a full year in school to compare it to.

The uncertainty of what it will bring next year with kids this age is a bit too much for us, as parents, to handle. For example, one of our twins is a boy. He’s not a child who sits still for long periods of time – as no little boy should be expected to do. He loves recess and PE and the physical aspect of playing outside and being active and rough and tumble with his friends. He likes to learn, but the idea of him sitting in a classroom without being able to leave for lunch or specials or outside time is hard for me to imagine.

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My fear is that he will spend all day in his classroom as they work hard to protect the kids through social distancing and lack of contact with as many people as possible, and he will foster a distaste for education. What 6-year-old wouldn’t develop a negative feeling for school if it doesn’t involve any sort of enjoyment to break up the educational aspect? I worry that being confined all day, being asked to wear a mask, being asked to stay in one room with one set of kids without being able to play up close and personal without books and toys and fun is going to ruin school for him.

The uncertainty is frustrating, and the fact that everything changes on a daily basis doesn’t leave us confident that what’s currently being touted as the plan for the new school year will, in fact, remain in place. Everything is changing every single day, and I worry that the uncertainty will cause too many upsetting changes.

The Disruption

My other main concern going into the 2020-2021 school year is the potential disruption. Let me preface this with a small statement that I have three educators in my immediate family who work at a total of two different schools in two different counties – and I’ve befriended many amazing admins and teachers over the years; and not one of them has a clue what the new school year will look like. Not one of them is confident that these kids will go back to school as scheduled on August 10. Every single one of them is leaning more toward a return after Labor Day, and every single one of them is worried they’ll return for a few weeks and be asked to cancel school again due to the pandemic.

When my own mother – a woman who has been teaching at the same school since I was in elementary school in the 80s – is recommending we keep our kids home for the year, well, that speaks volumes. When I mentioned it to all my educator friends and family members and not one of them came back with, “Oh, I don’t know that this is the best idea,” because they all said, “I don’t blame you,” instead, it speaks volumes.

The disruption was hard on our kids when school was cancelled initially. They did so well distance learning, but it was hard to help them understand why they were in school one day and never went back after that. It’s not easy.

It’s also not easy for my husband and I. My husband works from home, and he spends the vast majority of his day on the phone with his clients. I work from home running my content creation company, and I spend my time working with strict deadlines for numerous clients, and disruption in my everyday schedule is inconvenient, at best.

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Distance learning was quite the transition, but we really did make the most of it. We created a schedule that worked well for us and for the kids. I’ve learned that without the constant interruption of needing to leave for school and get backpacks and lunches and stuff ready all morning, I can sit down in my office at my typical 5 am and finish my work before the kids are even all awake (it really is amazing what happens when you don’t have to stop working after an hour, spend three hours doing all the things, work for an hour, spend another hour doing all the other things, work for a half hour, pick the kids up from school, go to sports, do all the things, etc.) because it all gets done with absolutely no interruption.

After that, I’m free to focus on their schooling. The transition was hard, but the disruption to our schedules was harder. Right now, we aren’t in a place where we necessarily want to bother with the potential disruption again. Why bother creating a new schedule and new routine only to have it changed on us again, forcing us to create yet another schedule and routine? It’s not worth it to us.

The Changes

Our kids go to an amazing elementary school, but it’s dealing with its own set of transitions for yet another year. Our daughter is going into the fourth grade this year, and she’s also going into her fourth principal at the same school. So many of the amazing faculty and teachers who we have grown to love and respect so much have left, leaving just a small handful of the amazing people we know to teach our kids. Honestly, almost every single one of them save for a small handful of amazing educators that we adore. Sadly, it’s not the educational leadership that is the problem over there.

Personal Preferences

At the end of the day, one thing that really helped us come to the conclusion to keep our kids home is that it’s what is best for our family right now. Our hope is that when everything goes back to normal, our kids can return to school and have a normal educational experience should they choose. If they want to continue to learn from home, we are fine with that, too. We love to travel (and cannot wait to be able to take real vacations again when this is all over) and we can work from anywhere. If the kids can learn from anywhere, we can really take our time exploring the world and living an adventure.

We chose this for our kids because keeping some consistency in their lives during these times is so important to us. It’s also been amazing for us to see them thrive at the distance learning game – though we know it will be significantly more structured and far better in the upcoming school year.

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We are not traditional people in our house. We don’t have traditional careers. We’ve never really followed any sort of ‘normal’ life guidelines. We’ve never really been much for conforming. We like doing life our way, and we like being in control of what we do, where we go, and how we live. We hope our kids will do the same, and we feel that the experience of learning from home will help them see that life is not meant to be lived in a box and that they don’t have to conform. We hope that it teaches them the discipline that they need to be productive and efficient so that they really, honestly learn the value of the phrase “work hard, play hard,” and I am looking forward to this new adventure in our lives.

This comes as a big surprise for many, I know. I recognize that so many people say year after year that they’re tired of the educational system and the schools and all the politics in schools and they’re making a change, yet they never do it. We just aren’t those people. When we say it, we do it. But, we also don’t say it until we’ve made a decision, which is probably why so many people are surprised we’ve made this decision. However, I know so many people seem to struggle with the decision-making process as it applies to their own families, and I wanted to share our story and our thoughts. I hope that it helps you make a decision that works for you, your family, and the little ones who should love learning and feel confident in their education.

How are you feeling as June comes to a close and the last full month of (the longest ever) summer vacation is upon us? Are you sending your kids back to school? Are you waiting until there is more information available so you can make the most informed decision? What are you worried about? What are you excited about? What is at the forefront of your mind?

Favorite 2020 Purchases So Far

Happy Tuesday!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post linking my outfits. I wasn’t sure it was the right tone during the Pandemic when no one was going anywhere, and no one needed to shop for things to wear nowhere, right? But, still, that didn’t stop the questions from rolling in on social media, so I’m going to round up a few of my favorite 2020 purchases so far and link them for you. Shopping is therapy, and therapy is great, and being great is good, and being good is amazing. An, honestly, the world could use some fun, light-hearted distraction right now.

We all know how I feel about Lilly this time of year, and that will never change. All Lilly, all the time. These are a few of my recent purchases, though I haven’t had a chance to wear all of them, yet. I’ve mostly been living in these Amazon jumpsuits…I bought them in every color.

 

Gratitude Prompts Days 15 to 31 (oops)

Sooo…I’m behind with my gratitude posts for the month. Honestly, I cannot believe I allowed two weeks to go by without a post! No excuses. I dropped the ball there, and today I’m catching up in a big way (with the remainder of the month). Can we just talk about how great I did the first week-and-a-half? It’s not an excuse, but I will share with you why I completely failed the second half (three quarters) of the month.

I was in a wedding planning haze! My husband and I had a beautiful trip to St. Kitts and Nevis planned for our 15th wedding anniversary. We booked a Nevis Peak Suite at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour. A beautiful suite with a massive private balcony with its own infinity pool overlooking the beach and the mountains across the way. We were excited…and then COVID-19 happened. Cancelled. Refunded. No trip.

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So, during one of our quarantine weekends with our favorite quarantine crew, we had the amazing idea to plan a vow renewal for our anniversary. It’s 15 years! We couldn’t go anywhere and celebrate, so we decided that we’d put the River House to good use and renew our vows on the dock using the river as our beautiful background. It was very last minute, very thrown together (have you ever tried to cater anything during a pandemic, even when things are opened back up and you can go out again, when there’s an apparent meat shortage, the florist can’t promise to have flowers here in time, and you have to just do it all yourself?). Needless to say, the week prior to our May 15th anniversary was hectic, and I was busy meeting my regular deadlines for my clients, helping my kids with their distance learning, celebrating with my husband, and planning our second wedding.

You guys…it was the most beautiful day! We were surrounded by the people we love the most, and we definitely had entirely too much fun! There is something so special about standing in front of the man you’ve loved for 18.5 years, to whom you’ve been married for 15, and stating new vows to grace your original vows. I can’t even describe the feeling, but it was more exciting than the first time we wed. To know that after all these years, I still love him – but better yet, I still like him – more than ever is an amazing feeling. It was a good, good day.

Once that was over, I was going to catch up on my blog posts…I was. But, I woke up that Monday morning sick. No, it’s not the coronavirus. I’ll leave this right here for anyone confused or slightly misinformed – but other illnesses do still exist. Not every sore throat, cough, and general feeling of malaise is the corona. Things like the common cold, the flu, bronchitis, and strep throat, and other things, well, they’re still here. They’re running rampant, as always, but it’s not newsworthy, so we’re ignoring that, right? Anyway, I spent the better part of the week sick and staying in bed to rest, so I wasn’t doing more than I needed to do.

Of course, I’m out of excuses now. I felt good enough Friday to take my oldest to a birthday party at Hammer and Stain for her sweet twin friends while I went to lunch and shopping with two of my very favorite friends (whose kids were also at the party), and good enough to go on date night with my handsome husband and our best friends that night, and good enough to pool party it up on Saturday, and host Sunday Funday at home, and have a Memorial Day pool party with our favorites.

Soooooo…I just dropped the ball there. Sorry.

I’m catching up. Today. I promise. Here’s all the prompts for the rest of the month. It’s still possible to be filled with gratitude with me, even if it’s a bit late, right?

Day 15 What activities bring you joy?

Too many to count! But, I will say that reading is a favorite. Our customary Wednesday night dinner with our best friends brings me joy. Playing board games with my families on rainy evenings. Rainy day movie days. Traveling. A good cup of coffee on my back deck while the sun is rising. Working out. Yoga and running. It’s so many little things.

Day 16 How is your life more positive today than it was a year ago?

This is a tough one. A year ago we were celebrating the last week of school with our littles coming off of a long few months of traveling – so fun, but exhausting – and my husband and I were getting ready to travel to Washington D.C. with our oldest daughter and her friends and their awesome parents for a week of Safety Patrol tripping. That was…an experience.

This year? We are coming off a long few months of going nowhere, doing nothing, being forced to slow down. But, at the same time, it’s been the best few months. We’ve really bonded with the people we love the most as we quarantined together. We’ve learned to appreciate the simplest things. This time last year, I was fresh into an adventure I thought would be so much fun and so enjoyable, and it ended up being the most toxic situation that brought so much negativity into my life. This year, that’s done, gone, and in the past – thank goodness – and I’ve learned that not everything is worth my time. That’s a freeing feeling.

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Day 17 What did you accomplish today?

This is going to sound silly, I know. I’m such an early riser. I’ve always been a 5 am riser. I like the quiet and the solitude. I like to sit down with my husband when it’s still dark outside and enjoy a cup of coffee while everyone else sleeps, and I like to get into my office and start working before the kids wake up, but quarantine life has changed that. Today, however, I was out of bed at 7:30 and in my office by 7:40 and it felt really good. Not that sleeping until 8 every day isn’t good, though!

Day 18 When was the last time you felt lighthearted?

These days? It’s every day in those little moments. It’s still really early, though, and I haven’t had a conversation yet, so I’ll go back. Last night, during dinner with our best friends we were having one of our infamous inappropriate conversations and laughing so hard at the dumbest stuff, and I just felt so lighthearted. Not many people get to have friends like ours and a relationship like ours, and it’s so special to know that we can have the deepest conversations and the most motivating conversations and then turn around and literally laugh at the most asinine stuff a second later. It’s good times. That makes my heart feel light.

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Day 19 What Inspires you to keep going when it’s hard?

This is a good one. Life is hard sometimes. Sometimes, it’s just plain dumb and stupid and hard. But, what inspires me to keep going is my husband and my kids. My husband is strong, and very little affects him negatively. He’s just magic like that. Things always seem so effortless and easy to him, so he’s always the ‘strong’ one as I’m the over-reactor and the panicky one and the freak out in the moment before I have time to realize it’s not a big deal one. So, I’m inspired by him and his ability to see that things really are never as bad as they seem. Also, our kids. I’m always inspired to keep going on hard days because they’re watching. I don’t want them to be quitters or learn to give up.

Day 20 What sounds make you happy?

Easy – the sound of the twins laughing. I love to hear all the kids laughing, but Carter and Charlotte were blessed with the best laughs. Both of them. It is physically impossible not to smile, laugh, and feel elated when you hear their laughter.

Day 21 What makes you feel alive?

Running. I feel so strong and so alive when I run. It’s such a liberating feeling.

Day 22 What makes you unique?

This is tough. I don’t know what makes me unique. I think it might be my ability to find the right words for anything, and to see through the words of others to figure out what they really mean even though that’s not what they are saying. Does that even make sense? Probably not, but it’s just a thing. Someone can say something, but their eyes and their body language, and the words they choose to use, their inflections, their mannerisms, their tone…all of it says something, and it’s not always the same as their words. It might be why I’m so empathetic to people, even when I don’t particularly care for them.

Day 23 How do you show love to yourself on a daily basis?

I workout every single day. I also get myself ready each day. Makeup, hair, and a cute outfit; every day. It’s not for everyone, I know, but it’s for me. I find that being put together helps me feel more put together, which helps me have a better attitude, a better mood, and a more productive day. I can’t stand the idea of feeling lazy and un-put together. It’s not for me. So, I show myself love by appreciating my body each day.

Day 24 What are some things you are really good at?

Being efficient. I never fail to cross everything off my to-do list each day even when I don’t know how I’ll find the time. I’m also exceptionally good at letting go and enjoying when the time is appropriate. I’m very good at baseball. I’m a good mom and wife and friend. I’m really good at keeping a clean house and car (you guys, it’s not that hard or time-consuming, I swear).

Day 25 What are some things you’d like to be better at doing?

I would love to improve my patience. I find that it’s very easy for me to lose patience with people, and then literally blame them for every moment of it. For example, my patience is tested when I’m driving (or passenger-ing) because I cannot handle people who don’t know how to drive. I mean, how hard is it to use the left lane to pass the slow right lane drivers, merge over when you’re done, and let the rest of us continue to pass until we can merge into the right lane? How hard is it to at least drive the speed limit rather than 15 miles under the speed limit? How hard is it to walk off to the side of the aisles at the store so people can continue to drive down the aisle and find a parking spot? How hard is it to just keep driving to park a few spaces back rather than sit in the aisle blocking traffic for 898 hours while you wait on someone to finish loading their car, answering their text message, calling their mom for a chat, and buckling their kids in the car before they depart so you can park two spots closer to the door? Honestly, is the extra 10 foot walking distance going to kill you? I could have been in the store, purchased everything I need, back in my car and gone in the time it took you to sit there and save yourself 10 feet. Clearly, I have rage, right? So, I’d like to have more patience.

Day 26 What is something money can’t buy that makes you happy?

Let’s be honest here – I’m a material girl living in a material world. That will never end, but what brings me the most joy in my life are the things that money can’t buy. Like the feeling of peace knowing that at only 36, I’ve already accomplished more in life than younger me thought I’d accomplish in my whole life – and I still have all these years ahead of me! My family brings me so much happiness. Our friends. Our freedom. Our love. The feeling of knowing that the little things are the ones that matter the most. Something that money can’t buy is this amazing feeling that I’m not defined by things. I don’t feel the need to compare myself to others or to care if mine is bigger or better or more expensive or more whatever. I love that feeling of knowing that what I have is what I want, not what society or other people make me feel that I need. That, my friends, is a powerful feeling.

Day 27 What is something in nature I’m grateful for?

Okay, so when we bought our dream house five and-a-half years ago, it had everything we wanted. The space, the number of bedrooms, the character, a massive covered front porch and a beautiful back deck and all this outdoor living space, and a corner lot, and did I mention all the character? But, honestly…the magnolia tree in our front yard was the kicker for me. I’ve always wanted one, but I was too afraid to buy one and plant it at our other house because I do not have a green thumb. This one is already established and mature, and I literally fell in love.

And then that motherf*cker never, ever bloomed. Okay, that’s a lie. It had three magnolia blooms on it one year, three years ago. Three flowers. My magnolia was a dud. But, guess what? Not anymore! I don’t know what changed, what happened, whatever. But, my beautiful baby has been showing out like a champion for weeks now! She’s got a minimum of 10 blooms open and fragrant at a time, and always 10-20 more buds ready to bloom at the same time. She’s a beauty, and I walk outside every single day now to watch her in action. I’m in love, and I know that I’m a dork, but this tree brings me all the feelings of joy and happiness and excitement. Am I showing my age yet?

Day 28 What is something that comforts me that I’m grateful for?

Aside from the obvious, my family, a good book. Beautiful words put on paper bring me so much comfort. I’m guilty of downloading most of my books on my iPad and reading them in that light, but I keep a collection of my favorite literature in actual book form in my office. The weight of the book. The smell of the paper. The feel of the pages on my fingers. I find so much comfort in words, but especially in book form.

Day 29 (that’s today, you guys) What is something you are grateful for today?

Today, I’m grateful for adventure. I am beyond excited to be headed off on an exciting adventure this weekend with my sweet family and our best friends.

Day 30 Where is your favorite place to go?

I can’t pick just one. So, here we go. Home. Our home is my favorite place in the world. I’ve never felt happier than I do here. The way the light pours in our family room doors and windows when the sun is rising. The way the sky turns the most beautiful shades of pink in the evenings while we sit on our front porch. The attention to detail, the character. It’s so light and bright and filled with windows and natural light. I always feel so sad and down when I walk into a home that’s dark and dim and has solid doors and few windows. It’s my favorite place.

My second favorite place – New York City. Over the past 13 years, my husband and I have made it a point to have at least two date weekends a year in the city. We have our favorite hotel (the Omni Berkshire on 52nd between Park and Fifth Avenunes), our favorite restaurant with our favorite bottle of Sangiovese (Il Tinello), our favorite place to watch the sunset over the city (Salon de Ning rooftop at the Peninsula) and our favorite place to have brunch and enjoy the view (the BoatHouse in Central Park) and our favorite place to have the best glass of champagne and the best service (the Champagne Bar at the Plaza Hotel). I could go on, but the city is my home away from home, and I love to be there. I love that our hotel doorman is always excited to see us when we arrive because we’ve become friendly over the years. I love that the staff at Il Tinello has never changed, and they always remember us. I love so many things about the city.

And then there’s SoCal. Orange County is another of our favorite places. Some of our very favorite people live there, and we love to visit. We have our favorite hotels (the Montage in Laguna Beach and the Surf and Sand) and our favorite restaurants (I’m looking at you Javiers in Crystal Cove) and the views and the smell of bougainvillea and so many other things.

Hawaii – We haven’t been in years (because I’m not willing to be that far away from our kids, but we also weren’t willing to take on a 12-hour flight day with the twins being so little, either) but we think the twins are finally at an age they can handle the flight with us, so we’ll be back soon. I mean, hopefully. Right now, we don’t even know what’s open and what’s not. But, we loved everything about it here, and we cannot wait to go back. Some of my fondest memories are from here.

North Carolina – it’s just the simplest, friendliest, most beautiful place, and we always feel so at home here.

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Day 31 What is the best gift you have ever received?

Hmmmm….I love all the gifts I’ve ever received, honestly. Okay, well, most of them. I love the things the kids make for me. I love everything my husband has ever given me. It’s hard to pick a favorite. Nope, let me stop myself right there. I have two favorites.

When I was pregnant with Addison Grace, my husband gifted me the most beautiful Tiffany & Co. Necklace with a small circular charm on it with a simple “A” engraved on it at our baby shower. Then, on my first Mother’s Day, he gave me a matching Tiffany & Co. bracelet with a charm on it that says “Mom”. Since that day, he’s filled that bracelet with the most beautiful charms, all meaningful in some way.

My other favorite gift is the one he just gave me for our 15th wedding anniversary. It’s the crystal anniversary, so he gave me a beautiful crystal vase. It might not seem special to some, but I’m obsessed with fresh flowers. I always have a fresh bouquet on the fireplace, on the island in the kitchen, on the dining room table, on the breakfast nook table, on the formal living rooms tables, and in our master bedroom. I refresh them weekly so we always have fresh flowers. So, to go along with my beautiful vase, he bought me a flower subscription. I’ll get fresh flowers delivered weekly for the rest of my life (well, year, I think, but he’ll renew it every year knowing him) to put in that vase so it’s never empty. I thought that was the most thoughtful, most beautiful gift.

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What’s important as we round out this month with gratitude is that we are thankful and appreciative of the beauty in our lives. Every day may not be the best day, but every day is a good day.

Gratitude Prompts: Days 12, 13, and 14

I know, I know…I missed a few days of gratitude this week, didn’t I? Oops! Well, let’s be honest. I’m not perfect, and sometimes things slip through the cracks, and this was just one of those weeks…and it hasn’t even reached crazy capacity just yet! I can’t wait to share more with you guys next week, but I will tell you that right now, this is one crazy, hectic, amazing week!

So, to catch up on day 14…I owe you days 12 and 13, too!

Today, my husband and I should be on a plane. We should be on our way to St. Kitts and Nevis to spend 4 days in a Nevis Peak Suite at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbor Resort. We were so looking forward to it, but the Coronavirus said no. We are disappointed, but trying not to let it get us down too much. So, that said…here are my gratitude prompts for the past few days and today.

Day 12: What keeps you grounded?

My husband, for sure. He is the exact opposite of me. He’s calm and cool and collected to my very temperamental hotheaded kind of crazy. He is always reasonable when I’m emotional. He doesn’t panic. He is calm, and there is always a logical answer to any situation. He keeps me grounded in every manner of speaking. When I’m mad, he reminds me that things aren’t that big of a deal. When I’m sad, he reminds me I have so many more things to be happy about. When I’m overwhelmed, he reminds me that it’s my choice to be overwhelmed and I should let go of my obsessive compulsive need to do everything myself and ask for help (well, he’s nicer about it than that, but you see what I’m saying). He’s my rock, and I love that about him.

Day 13: What is the biggest miracle of your life?

Honestly? Once again, I’d say my husband. How I managed to find someone who is so good to me and so kind and such a good father and such a strong person is beyond me. Especially at such a young age! We found one another when we were only 18. That was more than half our lives ago. The biggest miracle, to me, is that even after almost 19 years together, it’s not boring. We share an office. We have four kids. We are together like 98% of our lives, and we aren’t tired of one another. I’m still so attracted to him. I still love him so much. I still need him and want him even more after so many years together. I can’t explain it, but it feels like such a miracle to not only get to spend every day with someone I love so much, but someone I just plain like a lot, too. I don’t take that for granted.

Day 14: What does it mean to be free and fulfilled?

Can I just stop for a moment and tell you how much I love this question? It’s such a good question! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: for me, freedom and fulfillment go hand in hand. For me, being free means living life on my terms. It means not answering to someone else every day of my life. It means making my own schedule and my own choices and my own opportunities. It means not being on someone else’s terms every single day. It means going to the store and never worrying about price tags. It means being free of fear and the mundane.

Fulfillment is so similar to me. It’s that feeling of going to bed at night with a full, happy heart knowing that I don’t dread the following day. There is something so fulfilling about knowing each day, each season, is my own choice. It’s knowing that I can create all I want in life, and that I can do it around the things that are most important to me, like being present for my kids. It means knowing that I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and so much more is just an added bonus. It means loving where I am, and being excited about where I am going.

Gratitude Prompt Days 9, 10, and 11

I love when I get to go into a long weekend worth of gratitude…though I wish I had the time to do them all one day at a time! No, that’s not true. I love that I don’t worry about things on the weekend. I focus on having fun, making memories, and living my best life. That brings me to days 9, 10, and 11 of gratitude.

What’s a moment in your life that was pure joy and light?

The first night both of the twins were home from the NICU and we were able to put them into their sweet little bed in our bedroom, together, for the first time. Carter was discharged a day before Charlotte, and we had to leave her behind. They were in the NICU for a week after they were born, and we lived in the hospital with them – even after I was discharged, they let us keep our room.  We were in the NICU every three hours, 24 hours a day, to feed them, cuddle them, and spend time with them. When Carter was discharged, we made the decision to stay as late as possible, go home and be with our older girls, take them to school in the morning, and then come back. I cried all the way home with a broken heart. I never imagined being in a position where we’d take one baby home but not the other.

My heart was broken all night long, and I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital to be with our girl the following morning. When we got there, they were so excited to tell us that they were sending her home with us. She had a very rough night – as did Carter – which wasn’t something they’d ever had. They were both so upset and inconsolable for the first time since they’d been born, but when they were together again…they both relaxed, calmed down, and were happy and content once again.

The moment we got home and had all four of our babies together, the twins together, was the sweetest moment of pure joy. It was the first time the girls got to hold Charlotte (they held Carter the night before when we got home) and see the babies in person because of NICU rules. It was the most magical moment.

What season are you grateful for?

When we had Addison, we knew immediately we wanted all the babies. When we decided to have number two, we were shocked, crushed, heartbroken, and horrified when I suffered two miscarriages before our sweet Ava joined us. That season was the single worst thing we’d ever been through in our lives separately, together, and in our marriage. Losing babies is debilitating – even when you never got to hold them.

I would never wish that season on anyone, ever. But, it is the season I think that I am most grateful for in hindsight. We’d never been through anything difficult in our marriage or life until then. To go through that was a moment that hurt more than anything in the world, but to see how much stronger it made us, how much closer it brought us, and how much we leaned on one another during that time…that’s strength, and I cannot tell you how much more we appreciate one another, love one another, and how much less we taken for granted in life as a result.

I hated that season, but I’ll never forget our sweet Ava the day she asked us a question that made me realize that God’s timing is flawless.

“Do you think Carter and Charlotte are our angel babies we never got to meet that went to Heaven? Because I think they are. God decided we needed them,” and that’s when I realized that our season was awful, but she’s right. We did need them. If we’d had them before, we never would have known Ava, and what would life be like without her? God knew what we needed, and He provided.

What was the best thing that happened today?

Well, I’m writing this in advance, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what the best thing is that happened to me on the day that I’m writing, so it’s not specific for the day this blog is going live (full disclosure and stuff).

It’s still early in the day, but this is the moment that delighted me beyond measure already today. Per usual, I was awake and enjoying a cup of coffee while working in our bed. Charlotte woke up, woke Carter up, and went into the kitchen to ask Craig to make their breakfast. I could hear Charlotte telling daddy all about her dreams from the night before, and Carter came into the master to say good morning. He never misses a morning of coming to see me when he wakes up before I have a chance to put things down and come out to hang out. He walked over to me, he reached his hand out for mine, and I put my hand in his. He then pulled my hand up to his sweet little face and kissed the back of my hand very gently and said, “I love you, mommy,” before he told me he had a dream about chocolate muffins the night before.

That little moment just melted my heart. What could be better than that?!

Gratitude Prompt Day 8: What You Love Most

You guys…it’s Thursday. That might not mean much, but it means that we are coming up on the most exciting night ever – our first date night outside of the CAR! We’ve been having our regularly scheduled date nights almost weekly during the pandemic, but they’ve been in the car. Like, put the second and third-row seats down and have a picnic in the car kind of date nights. It’s been a lot of fun, we have some photos that will literally bring us so much laughter the rest of our lives, and we made some seriously good memories, but we get to have date INSIDE A RESTAURANT. I get to dress up. I get to wear heels. I get to DRESS UP. You guys…nothing else matters right now. I cannot wait.

What do you love most about life?

The people I share it with.

Cliché? Probably. Cheesy? I’m sure. But, the people I share my life with are, without a doubt, the absolute best thing in my world. They’re what I love most about life. My husband, who makes me smile with his kindness and his sweet demeanor, his handsome smile, and his desire to be with me 24/7 even after almost 20 years together…that’s everything to me.

Our kids, who make us laugh like crazy when they’re not making us literally crazy. They are so perfectly imperfect that I cannot even stand it. Just look at them. They are amazing! To get to be their mom is such a gift. To know that they’re cool, and funny, and that they are witty and just sarcastic enough to be funny without being impolite or rude, and that they are loving and kind and happy and generous and selfless and that somehow that’s primarily because of us is the coolest feeling in the world.

Our friends and family, with whom we live our best lives. They are always there for us. They’d do anything for us. To know that no one is ever going to go to the front door let alone ring the doorbell or knock, to know that they’re going to bring me the very special laundry detergent we use for Sweet Charlotte because of her sensitive skin after I made – and promptly forgot – a comment about how it’s getting harder and harder to find it with all the pandemic stuff going on because they saw it in the store and knew I needed it, or that I’m going to grab them toilet paper because I know they’ve not seen any lately, or to know that it’s always filet Friday/Sunday/Wednesday or that their bar is always stocked with our favorites and vice versa, to know that our kids all feel at home in one another’s homes and everyone just helps themselves, and that there is literally nothing off-limits in conversation…ever.

The people I share my life with – they are everything. They’re amazing. I don’t even know what I did to deserve them.

What do you love most in life?

Gratitude Prompt Day 7: Personality Traits

How’s everyone doing with their gratitude prompts? It’s hard to keep up with all that needs to be done each day. Some, in my opinion, require a little more thought and a little more time – there’s more to say. Others, still, are quick and easy. This is one of those for you.

What’s one of your personality traits that you’re grateful for?

This one is so easy for me, but I do have two that are right up there.

Number One: I am so grateful that I have an open mind and the ability to entertain thoughts that I don’t necessarily agree with. I find one of the least attractive personality traits in the known universe is a know-it-all. You know what I mean – the kind of person who is always right, whose opinion is always superior, who is never wrong, who becomes immediately defensive if your opinion or thoughts differ from their own. The type that makes you avoid certain topics of discussion at all costs. I love that I can have an opinion, I love that I can carry on a debate and still remain calm and respectful even when I disagree with others. I love that I can see things from other points of view not my own, and that I am generally not an asshole about things.

Number Two: I am so grateful that I don’t feel the need to compare myself to others. I feel a profound sense of sadness for people who compare themselves or try to one-up everyone. I imagine it’s an awful way to live, and it must suck so much happiness out of life to feel that way rather than to feel the desire to celebrate the victories of everyone around you. I am so grateful I feel happiness and pride when people accomplish things, or when good things happen, or when people are killing it. I also love being invited to the celebrations mainly as an excuse to get a babysitter, dress up, and have some champagne – so call me if y’all are celebrating anything. I mean, literally, anything – because I’m thrilled for you and ready to raise a glass!

What is something about your personality you’re grateful for?