Why Our Daughter Doesn’t Have Her Own Cell Phone

Happy Wednesday, loves!

I’m just sitting over here in a mild state of panic because the busy season of our lives is here. Do I say that every season? Probably, but this is different busy. This is cheer competition busy. And that means we basically move out of our home and live in hotels for the next two million days.

Okay, that might be a *small exaggeration.

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But….that’s neither here nor there. It’s an exciting time even if my inner tired-girl pretends it’s not. I’m dramatic. I know. And that’s not the point of this post, either. Does anyone else ever read my blog and think, “Her husband must legit be the most patient person in the world because when this chick tells a story, it takes her six hours and 7 other stories to get to any actual point.”? Back on track. Really. I promise.

Just before Christmas, I partnered with Life360 to discuss their cool new app. It’s all about keeping track of your family with the app, and it helps promote safety for all family members. Our family loves this app, and I’m sure we will extra super completely love it when our daughter gets her first cell phone in August.

That brings me to the point of this post – I had a million questions on Instagram about the cell phone situation. Parents who are concerned about when is the appropriate time to give one to their kids, should they be worried that their kids feel left out because their friends have cell phones and they do not, and so many more questions. I’m going to try and answer those based on our personal decision.

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No Cell Phone For Addison

She’s 10. Sorry, but there is not one tiny reason on the planet that our 10-year-old needs a cell phone. She is either with us, with her grandparents, at school, or with the parents of her friends. And believe me when I tell you that she’s not allowed to spend time with friends whose parents we do not know well and closely.

In short, there is not a time in her life when she’s not able to contact us. Her teacher has our cell phone numbers. We have their cell phone numbers. Her friends’ parents would never tell her she cannot call us or ignore our calls if she’s with them. That’s all there is to it. She’s not in the car with people we don’t know, and she’s not anywhere I can’t immediately get access to her or vice versa. She has no need for a cell phone. My husband and I are the only people she needs to speak to. That’s it.

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Middle School and the Cell Phone

My husband and I have gone over this so many times that I cannot even begin to tell you how many hours we’ve spent discussing this. When do we get her one? When we do go that route, and how do we handle it when she’s got one?

The simple answer – when she goes to middle school in August. It’s a different world in middle school. She’ll be in a different school, and she won’t be nearly as close to us as she is now. She’ll be involved in school-related activities rather than the extracurriculars we sign her up for now. I won’t be taking her to practices and meetings – she’ll merely stay after school for those.

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Additionally, she won’t be with many of the kids she’s with now. The kids she’s with now she’s been with for a million years. We know them. We know their parents. I know all her teachers, her principal, and the administration, and I communicate regularly with them and pop into their classrooms often. I am actively involved in both the PTA and in Safety Patrol at her school, and I make it a point to be near my kids as often as possible when they are at school. I’m probably too involved, but I’m not opposed to being a stalker when it comes to my kids. #worstmomever and proud of it.

However, when she goes to middle school, she’s going with a few of her best friends, and a bunch of kids from a different school. She’s not going to the middle school that is fed from her current school. So, there will be more kids, different kids, different teachers, and I’m getting the distinct impression parents who make themselves at home at the middle school aren’t nearly as welcome as they are in the elementary school. So…she gets a cell phone.

I want to know she can get in touch with me throughout the day. I want to be able to text her and tell  her that she’s going home with her best friend’s parents when we have a last minute change. I want her to know she can text me and let me know if practice is cancelled and she needs to be picked up at pickup. I need to know we can communicate, and I have a feeling it won’t be as easy as it is right now.

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I mean, I can pick up my phone and text her teacher now and tell her that I’m going through the pick-up line in the afternoon rather than getting out and coming into the school to get her because it’s pouring and I’m not ruining my hair, can she let Addy know? She responds yes, sends the GIF from FRIENDS where Monica’s got the ‘fro going on, and we laugh and laugh and laugh (I mean, what a fun teacher, right?!).

I don’t think that’ll be the situation in middle school. So, she’s getting a phone.

Stipulations

You didn’t think she’s just going to turn 11 in July and get a cell phone without any rules, did you? We love rules in the Raiford house. Uncool rules like the kids can’t get up and run around in restaurants, and they have bedtimes every single night – even the weekends – and they have to sleep in their own beds and stay out of ours, and they have to eat their veggies, and they have to be respectful and do their homework and make good grades and use manners and pick up after themselves and clean their rooms and put their laundry in the laundry room and play outside instead of watching television and read books and be decent, kind human beings.

We love rules.

Good grief – there I go again.

Back to the point. There are stipulations with the cell phone situation. For one, she cannot have any social media accounts. Again, she’s going to be 11. No child needs social media at 11. It does no good. It brings no value. It does nothing for her brain.

She cannot have any apps other than school-related apps. It will have parental controls, locks, and a password she’s not allowed to discuss. She’s not allowed to store phone numbers in it except for ours, our parents, and a few of our close friends’ numbers.

Final stipulation – and this is the BIG one.

When she comes home from school in the afternoons, her cell phone goes into our home office and she doesn’t get it back until she goes to school the following day. That’s the rule. She gets it when she is not with us, and that is it.

What does she need a cell phone for at home? She has a tablet. She has a laptop. She has a smart tv. She also has homework, and she has the great outdoors, and she has sports and family obligations, and friends to spend face-to-face time with.

So, while other kids are busy texting and getting lost in horrible, awful, terrible things the internet has to offer, our child will not be learning to take duck-face selfies or posting to social media. She’ll be reading books and playing outside with her siblings, and going on bike rides with us, and enjoying family trips, and having innocent fun.

She’ll grow up soon enough. Why encourage that? There are too many kids her age far too mature our taste. We like our sweet, innocent little girl just like she is. We aren’t trying to rush her into growing into a teenager just yet.

But, don’t think for a moment her entire phone will not be filled with selfies of myself and my husband and our little ones making stupid faces and doing other embarrassing things so she’s always thinking about us. Oh, and I cannot wait to pick up my personal ring tone for her.

Listen, Raiford and I became parents for the sole purpose of one day being the most embarrassing parents ever. It’s been 10 years, and our time is finally coming. Let us have it. It’s our dream.

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So, when should you get your child a cell phone? I can’t answer that question for you. I can only tell you why we chose the situation we chose, and I can only tell you to ask yourself if you feel it’s necessary and safe. Your decision is a personal one, and that’s the beauty of parenting. You get to do you, boo, and I get to do me, and we get to high-five and embarrass our kids and complain about how stupid we are when they ask for math homework help. #goals

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Monday Motivation: Never Miss A Monday (In Whatever You’re Doing)

Happy Monday, loves!

You know the saying, never miss a Monday? So well-said, if you ask me. However, I’m not convinced it applies only to workouts. It’s everything.

Personally, if I miss a Monday with anything in my life, I feel as if the rest of the week turns into a big ol’ mess. Whether I sleep in or I miss a workout or I put off something I need to do on a Monday, it throws my entire week off track in about a million ways.

I should really get it together and not let that day dictate my entire life, but I suppose I’m not that mature.

That said, I do like Monday. It’s the January 1st of my life. A fresh start, a new week, a new beginning. Again, I’m not mature enough to do that any other day, apparently. Oh well; we can’t all be perfect, right?

If you’re struggling with the Mondays, I have some advice that might help you find your motivation to never miss a Monday. I’m talking workouts at the moment, but you can take this advice and apply it as needed to any other aspect of your life.

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Ask Yourself One Question

How will I feel when I’m done?

Boom. There you go. You’re welcome. I’ve got nothing else for you.

Kidding. Kind of. It’s all you need to do. Sit back, ask yourself how you’ll feel when you’re done, and be honest.

When I ask myself how I’ll feel when I’m doing with a workout, I have one answer – amazing. When I ask myself how I’ll feel if I don’t work out, I have one answer – fat and lazy.

And that’s my main motivation. Ask yourself how you’re going to feel, and then decide how you want to feel.  You do realize you’re in control of that stuff, right?

Get it Over With

I like to do things I don’t like to do first. That helps me get them done so that they don’t go to the wayside. It also lightens my mood when I’m doing with something I wasn’t excited about. Not only do I feel accomplished it’s over and done with, I feel so good that I’m done thinking about it for the rest of the day.

Create A Vision Board

What do you want from your life? Put it on a vision board. Every time you feel unmotivated to do what you want to do, put that vision board in front of you and ask yourself if you’re willing to give up what you want for the day or if you’d rather conquer it and take that step to get closer to your goals.

Hold Yourself Accountable

I tell my husband my goals for the day every morning and ask him to please kindly heckle me when I don’t get them done. I ask him to judge me, to make me feel bad, and to give me hell.

He doesn’t. (I mean, what a meanie).

But, telling him makes me more accountable because then I feel as if I have to do it or I make myself feel like a failure in his eyes (not that he would ever make me feel that way). Tell someone. Post it on social media. Do something to hold yourself accountable so you don’t let someone else down.

Make Like Nike

Just do it. Come on. You’re a bad ass motherfucker. Now get it done.

Buy This, Not That: How to Make Your Outfits Look More Expensive

Happy Friday, loves!

Is it just me, or is this month basically flying by without any real slow down? I cannot believe we are already more than halfway through the first month of the new year, but I guess I should considering how much faster time goes by with four kids than it did before.

I’m loving it, though. This is an exciting year for me and my family with all that we have going on, and it’s so much fun to live through it a day at a time – even if it feels like those days fly by. Since it’s Friday, I’m going to keep this short and sweet and basically to the point.

Y’all know that I love high-end fashion. I love designer shoes, bags, and sunglasses – I’ve been collecting Louis Vuitton handbags since I was 20 (though I’m super guilty of rarely carrying anything other than my Neverfull GM the past two or three years). I have more Louboutins and Manolo Blahniks than most people have clothes. I loooove high-end designer fashion.

Mostly accessories – though I tend to always spend more for designer basics. Jeans, dresses, and coats (that I really only need for our twice-yearly winter trips to NYC). Other than that, I’m good buying the budget-friendly version of most things. If it’s trendy or it’s easily replaceable, I won’t spend much on it. It’s those classic pieces I cannot live with if they’re poor quality.

Because I like to mix a lot of high-end fashion with low-end items, I get a lot of questions about making cheaper pieces look expensive. The truth is that it’s so much easier than you imagine. You don’t need to have designer items to make your outfit look expensive if you’re on a budget. You just need to know how to shop for pieces that don’t look cheap – and how to mix and match.

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Buy A Long Coat, Not A Short One

If you buy a long coat with a classic cut, you can make any winter ensemble look more expensive. Just be sure you’re not buying your long coats from the trendy shops you see on Pinterest or Facebook. You can get a good quality long coat with an affordable pricetag at Nordstrom, Macys, Dillards, and even H&M.

Try this one, this one or this one.

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Find a Tailor, Don’t Settle

Do not settle for pieces that don’t fit well. It doesn’t matter if you spend $500 on a dress or you spend $15 on it. If it doesn’t fit you well, it looks cheap. Find a tailor. Become her best friend. Have your clothes hemmed and fitted to your body type.

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Know What You Can Pull Off, And Don’t Be A Victim

So many women look gorgeous in those high-waist, wide-leg culottes. I, my friends, am not one of them. As much as I love them, you won’t find me in them because I know that I cannot pull them off. Know what your body can handle, and don’t deviate from that path. You cannot pull off every trend that comes your way. Know thyself.

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Wear Pointed Toes, Not Round Toes

I just don’t love a round toe when it comes to a classic heel. If you’re going to look high-end, the first thing you should do is throw on a pair of great shoes, but make sure those pumps have a pointed toe. They’re instantly more flattering because they help elongate your legs rather than making them appear squatty. They just don’t work – and they never look upscale.

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Think Basics, Not Basic

If you want to look expensive, try the basics. Think wrap dresses, fitted jeans and high-quality tee shirts with a blazer. Add classic pumps to an outfit, or get a few fitted oxford shirts. Keep your jewelry simple and sophisticated. Add a pair of oversized sunglasses. Get a structured bag. Stick to basic colors, and take off that last layer of whatever. Less is always more.

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Show Off One Body Part, Not All of Them

The quickest way to look cheap is to put every body part you have on display. Keep it classy by keeping everything else modest and only showing off one asset at a time. If your hemline is short, make sure your neckline is high. Show off those gorgeous legs, but keep everything else under wraps. If your neckline is plunging, make sure the length of your dress or skirt is at or below the knee. For example, a plunging neckline in a fitted sheath that hits just below your knees is one of the sexiest yet most sophisticated looks imaginable.

My gorgeous grandmother always told me that you attract what you put out there. If you want to be treated like a lady with class and elegance and attract people of the same nature, dress like one. If you want to attract low-quality people who treat you as such, dress like one. It’s that simple.

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Remember That You Attract What You Put Out There

Here’s the deal – your personal style choices are just that. Personal. Don’t let me dictate what you wear. However, always remember that you do attract a very certain type of attention when you walk out the door based on how you dress. Keep that in mind, and you’ll always be a step ahead of the game.

2019 Fitness Challenge with BBG – Adding an Additional Program to My Workouts

Happy Wednesday, loves!

So, I did a thing.

Well, I’m working on a collaboration with a company, and I did a thing, and I’m really excited about it. Y’all know that I’m big on being fit and toned, eating well, and being healthy in general. Not that I don’t love me some vino and some decadent and unhealthy foods, but I really place so much importance on being fit and toned.

Listen, I’m 35 years old and my metabolism isn’t going to carry me forever. I love to work out. I love the endorphins and the rush I get after a good workout. My mood is good. I have so much more confidence, and I have zero problem putting on a bikini. I love the feeling of knowing my size and that I can fit into whatever I want to wear. I love that. I love have abs, and I love having a muscle and being toned.

And I’ve developed a serious passion for both running and yoga.

I like the gym, too. I work out at the YMCA when I’m not running at home. I take a very intense yoga class at the Y 2 to 3 days a week, and I use their machines and equipment there, too, when I’m not working out at home. I like a nice variety – but I’ve been a little bored with my standard workouts. Well, bored might not be the right word.

I told my husband before the new year began that I wanted to find a fun new way of working out to add to my running and my yoga. I love both, but I know that I have to add something to it and change it up a bit to make it effective. I’m at a plateau where I love my body the way it is, but I’m not feeling the additional challenge or seeing results in other places because I’m doing the same thing – though yoga is different every single day.

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So, when a collaboration with Kayla Itsines and the BBG workout was presented, I was all over it. I’d been checking the internet – I love you, Pinterest – for new workout ideas and routines, but nothing seemed challenging. When this opportunity came about, I decided I’d give it a try. I love to work out, I love to try new things, and I’m always up for mixing it up.

The idea of 28-minute workouts every day is also exciting to me. I want to be stronger and even more toned, so this is something I’m excited to try. I’m excited to share more with you as I get started. I only just started this week as the program just went live – and that’s exciting.

I’m not going to give up running or yoga. I’m not replacing either, and I am using a combination of the at-home workouts and the gym workouts. I don’t think everyone does that, and it’s certainly not required, but it’s something that I’m excited to try. I’m always up for new things, and this seems fun. I don’t know if I’ll love it. I don’t know if I’ll dislike it, but I do know I’ll see myself through all 12 weeks – because I don’t quit.

Here’s what I’m hoping to get from this workout program.

  • A new appreciation for variation
  • More strength
  • More toned
  • the ability to run further
  • more stamina
  • change
  • a more well-rounded workout

 

While yoga and running give me what I want and what I need, I also love variation and exciting new things – and that’s something I’m going to enjoy. Basically, I love a challenge, and I’m excited to try something new that I’ve never done.

2019 is all about adventure for me, and I’m considering this my first step to trying new things and adding to my life. Here we go!

National Clean Off Your Desk Day: Tips For Getting and Staying Organized

Happy Monday, loves!

Super fun fact: Did y’all know today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day? Well, it is; and I cannot think of a better Monday vibe. If you know me, you know I’m all about organization and cleanliness and all things OCD when it comes to being neat and clean and all that fun stuff.

Basically, this day speaks to me like no other.

I love organization. I live for cleanliness.

Isn’t that just ironic when I’m the mom of four? I’ve been instilling in my kids since day one that cleanliness is a real thing – not that Ava gets that, but she keeps her door shut and I avoid her room like the plague. Her idea of clean is too cluttered for my taste, so I just don’t go into her room. I want her to be independent and her own self, but she’s actually killing me.

Fortunately, the rest of my people are clean. And my desk is always clean. My office is always clean, to be quite honest. The kids aren’t allowed in our home office since we both work from home and we both have so many important items in our office.

It’s so important to understand the importance of an uncluttered, clean desk. Before I get to my clean desk tips, I want you to know what a clean desk can do for you.

  • Make you more motivated
  • Make you less stressed
  • Give you more time
  • Make your life easier

A clean desk means you’re not overwhelmed the moment you sit down.  You’re not spending valuable time searching for things, cleaning things out, or feeling like you cannot get organized. You’re more motivated to work at a clean desk. You’re less stressed when everything is neat and tidy.  Your life is easier because your mind is as uncluttered as your desk.  You’ll get more done, and you’ll get it done more efficiently.

How’s that for clean your desk of day motivation?

In honor of #nationalcleanoffyourdeskday I’m offering you a few tips that might help you keep things neat, clean, and as minimalistic as possible.

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Get Rid of It

You know you don’t need everything in your desk. Go through it with a trash bag on hand, and throw that junk away. Throw all of it away. What you cannot throw away, find a file or scan it or something. And that goes for everything on top of your desk, too.

Sign Up For Online Billing

If you’re looking for a simple way to keep your desk clean, try signing up for online billing. This keeps your desk clean and uncluttered because all of those bills you get each month go right to your inbox rather than your mailbox. Additionally, this is so much safer for your financial identity – keep that personal information out of your physical mailbox – and your desk cleanliness.

File It

I advocate for digital filing if you can make that a thing in your life. Scan it and create files on your computer in which you keep all your important stuff so it’s not in files around your office. Our home office is as uncluttered as you can imagine, and that’s because I keep everything digitally filed. We have our desks, we have one decorative table and lamp, and we have a sizable cabinet with a few shelves and a big cabinet. We keep as much on our computers as possible, and everything else gets filed into pretty files in the cabinet.

Make it A Habit

The best way to clean your desk is to keep it clean all the time. Put a trash can by your desk and put trash in it right away rather than shoving it in drawers. File things immediately rather than putting them in a ‘to do’ pile. You can make it a habit after a few weeks if you really dedicate your life to keeping your desk organized.

You don’t have to work from home to have a clean desk. And you don’t have to stop at your desk. Organizing your life makes it that much sweeter, and we are big advocates of a sweeter life.

Best Beauty Buys of the Year

Happy Friday, loves!

It’s Friday, the kids have been back in school for a few days now, I’ve had some serious quality time with my husband this week, the weekend is officially here; my mood is stellar.

It’s Friday, so I’m going to make this quick and just round up a few of my favorite beauty purchases. I’ve mentioned before – to an extent – how much my skin has changed in the past few years. I hit 35 in 2018, and my skin is still changing. I’ve changed my skincare and even my makeup routine, and so far, so good. I’m really impressed with a few purchases I made in the past year – some after a few fails and some on the first try.

I put a lot of weight into the reviews of a product, and I tend to stick to classics. I’m not a ‘fad’ or ‘trend’ kind of girl in most aspects of my life, but especially not when it pertains to my skincare. I value my skin, and I work hard to keep it looking good. That said, here are a few of my absolute favorite skincare must-haves.

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Beauty Blender

I just switched from my all-time favorite powder foundation to a liquid foundation in the past year. My skin just couldn’t handle the powder foundation the way it did for so long (though I love, love, love and recommend it to anyone whose skin can handle it before that whole age situation hits). I cannot believe I lived my entire life without ever using a beauty blender until 2018.

But, I also learned that you cannot go the cheap route on the blender. You must buy the real thing, or you’re not doing yourself any favors. This is one tool that will change your life, but the cheap version falls apart, doesn’t handle the job well, and it leaves your skin looking less than flawless. Do not try to save here.

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Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask

I’m a weekly mask girl, and this is the one I use weekly. For my skin – pores, *eye rolls* – this is the best. It’s perfect for what I’m looking to achieve, and you absolutely cannot beat the price point ($28). I highly recommend Clinique for your skincare needs – it’s an established brand with a long history of making women feel gorgeous, and it’s one that you cannot go wrong with once you find the mask that works for you.

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Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

Florida weather is weird, and my skin dries out so hard during the fall/winter months. We also travel a lot, and we spend quite a bit of time in the air. This also makes my skin thirsty. Of all the moisturizers I’ve found, this is by far the absolute best of the best. I use it every single morning after I shower before I put on my makeup. It’s a dream come true.

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Clinique Smart Night Custom Repair Moisturizer

Nighttime is a great time for your skin, but only if you’re using the right nighttime moisturizer. This one is a dream come true – literally. It’s everything you want at night to keep your skin firm, hydrated, and looking younger than ever.

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Belief Moisturizing Eye Bomb

I’m going to be honest and tell you I only use this a few times a week. I’m fortunate that I don’t suffer from many fine lines and wrinkles at this age, and my crinkly laugh lines are not something I’m looking to get rid of. But, this is great when my eyes are feeling tired – which they do a lot with four kids and a business.

What are your favorite beauty buys? I’m loving so many these days!

Hitting Reset on Your Body and Mind When You’re In A Funk

Happy Wednesday, loves!

Can you believe we are officially nine days into the year already?! It’s amazing, isn’t it? I swear to you, it was just New Year’s Eve, and I was just rounding out the last day of the year. It was such a fun way to end the year, too. We had a Gator Game party at our house on the 29th, and our friends’ daughter – our honorary fifth child – stayed after they left Saturday night for two nights. We made plans to make no plans on Sunday, so we were super lazy, but Monday was a busy day.

It was NYE, and it began with a family morning. My girlfriend called me that morning to say she was going to join our afternoon movie date and take back her daughter from us that afternoon, and she wanted to know if I wanted to go get lunch first. We had a fun lunch on the water – in the 80 degree temps – and then we took the girls to see Mary Poppins with another friend and her kids. After the movie, the girls and I ran home, rounded up the twins and Craig, and we went to our friends’ house for a very low-key NYE party. It was all kids and fireworks and fun, and we enjoyed the new year in the best possible manner ever.

And then it was January 1. And then I blinked, and now it’s the 9th already. Life is about to get hectic for us because of Addison’s competition cheer schedule and all our travel, and we are trying (and failing) to keep our schedules light for the next two weeks so we feel prepared for that.

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It’s been a bit of a blur so far, and I know it’s so easy for us to feel a little bit lost this time of year. The holidays are over, we are all kind of holiday-hungover from all the fun and excitement, and we are working so hard to get back into our groove. It’s not like a big secret that the only thing I like about January is that it brought me the birth of the love of my life (happy almost birthday, handsome). Otherwise, I legit don’t care at all for this month. It’s a weird transitional month that doesn’t really bring much to the table.

And I always feel a little bit like I’m in a funk in January. I don’t love that feeling, so I’ve been working hard to avoid it this year by resetting not only my body, but my mind as well. If you’re also in the same weird post-holiday, pre-spring funk, here’s a few things you can do to help reset your body and your mind.

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Work Out

I cannot tell you enough just how good it is to work out. I don’t like to miss a day of exercise because I love how good I feel after. Happy, free, light, airy, enjoying life more. It’s a nice feeling, and it’s not just my feeling. You always feel better when you release those endorphins. Do it.

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Date Night

We have always been big on date nights – with four kids, you have to be. We make it a priority to enjoy at least two dates a month without the kids. Sometimes that’s dinner with friends. Sometimes it’s date night just the two of us. Sometimes it’s a Sunday afternoon grocery store and errand trip. Sometimes it’s a weekend away. Whatever it is, make time for more of that.

Drink Water First

I love water – aside from coffee and wine. And I cannot even tell you how good I feel drinking a big cup first thing when I wake up. I fill up my big Yeti cup at night and leave it by the coffee pot in the mornings so that I can drink it before I grab my coffee. And I feel so good when I do.

Pamper Myself

I’m a fan of a facial and a massage, but you can do it at home, too. I highly recommend investing in a great face mask to use once a week (my favorite is the Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask). Not only is this a good habit to adopt all year, it’s a great way to pep yourself up when you’re in a funk.

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Change Your Routine

Okay, this is big for me. I’m not a routine-changing kind of gal. I prefer my routine and my schedule, but sometimes the best thing I do is say screw it and change it all up. Sometimes that means walking away from my desk and spending the day doing what I want. Reading, heading to my favorite local hotel for a bucket drink and a day by the water, brunch with friends, a trip to Starbucks and Nordstrom. Something, anything.

Eat Better

Here’s what I really think the issue is this time of year – I spend a few weeks not eating my normal diet. Totally my fault, I know. My body is so accustomed to a healthy diet that I get all kinds of out of whack and in need of a healthy cleanse this time of year. I love the treats around the holidays. I might not eat cinnamon rolls all year, but you better believe I’m all over them at Christmas. There’s something about holiday food that I definitely enjoy for a few weeks around Christmas. The rest of the year, I don’t really care too much for it. At Christmas, I give myself all the green lights for eating whatever.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not mad about that. I eat well all year, so I don’t mind spending  few weeks eating all the junk. But, I do feel it when it’s over. It’s like Christmas ends and I’m like “Oh, wait, I don’t actually love those things,” but I will never not eat them this time of year. My funk this time of year is quick to hit the curb when I just treat my body right again. More homecooked meals that are good for me. More fruit. More veggies. More good stuff. It helps tremendously.

geoffreys

Go Play

When you are in a funk, just get outside and play. My husband and I love to golf, and that always helps. We love to get outside with the kids and play baseball, run, take walks, play whatever. Ride bikes. Go Swimming. Go do something that makes you feel like a kid again. It does wonders for your soul.

Say No

  • You don’t have time
  • You’re not into it
  • It doesn’t make you happy
  • It’s not worth your time
  • It’s not adding to your peace
  • It’s not for you
  • You just don’t want to

If any of those things go through your mind when someone extends an invite or you’re asked to do something, say no. Nothing will help you get out of a funk faster than being good to yourself. No is a complete sentence, after all.

Happy 2019, friends. I hope you’re all living your best life so far.

Being Content: Finding Happiness Right Now

Happy Monday, loves!

I hope you all had the most fantastic weekend. We did, and I loved every second of it! I know I say it all the time, but we are so fortunate to have had the same amazing friends in our lives since long before any of us had kids. We all got married around the same time, we all had our babies together. We’ve been to every one of the other’s baby showers, we’ve spent a least a day together every week for more than a decade, and we are family.

How does it get better than that? How does it get better than having your very own amazing family and then having this amazing family you’ve created for yourself? You have all these memories. You travel and vacation together. You raise your kids together. You spend so much time at one another’s houses you know them and feel as comfortable in them as you do your own.

Family is what life is all about, whether you are born into them or you make them yourself. And I love that.

It also has a little bit of something to do with today’s post, which is all about being content. If you know me, you know I have my off days and a bad attitude and all the uglies sometimes. But you also know that I lay my head down at night with a full heart and a sense of peace that I don’t take for granted. You know that saying, “I remember the days when I prayed so hard for everything I have now?”

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I do.

I remember those days.

And I know that it’s like to want more. I’m always looking to expand my business, to grow more, to have more, to do more, to give back more, to experience more, to be more. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with wanting more.

But, if you know me, you know that I know that I’m content. Like, really, truly, happily content. What I have is everything I’ve ever wanted. I wasn’t always. There was a time when I was younger when I thought I needed more of everything to be content. More money. A bigger house. A more expensive car, another expensive bag, more expensive shoes.

And don’t get me wrong – I love those things.

But they don’t make me happy. I mean, okay, they do make me happy, but they don’t make me content and fulfilled. They bring me temporary joy (like every single time I put them on) but they don’t make me content.

What makes me content can’t be measured in terms of more.

It’s babies who want to be cuddled. Sweet little faces who love me to the moon and back. A handsome man who has loved me since I was 18 years old and has seen me at my very best, my very worst, my most vulnerable, and my ugliest, and somehow decides every single day to love me even more than he did the day before, and to show it in everything he does. It’s people to surround myself with who would do anything for me, who love me, who make fun of me, who make me feel like I’m home when I’m with them.

Learning to Find Content In Your Life

Here’s the thing – once you learn to find it, it’s so easy to keep it.

  • Don’t compare
  • Don’t wish
  • Don’t complain
  • Focus on what is important

 

Comparison is the thief of joy. If you spend your entire life comparing what you have/are/look like/do/go/whatever to what other people have, you’ll never be happy. Additionally, what makes other people happy probably won’t make you happy and vice versa.

Don’t wish. If you want something you don’t have, make it a reality by creating a goal and working for it. Don’t wish for it. Do it. Make it happen. It’s okay to want more if you’re willing to work for it and make it happen. It’s not okay to sit back and wish your life away.

Don’t complain. I mean, it’s okay to complain that Starbucks once again took 2746938473 minutes to make your latte, but then let it go and enjoy the deliciousness of it and remember that without all those minutes, you wouldn’t have this amazingness in your hand.

Focus on what’s important. People. People are important. Things are not. They’re fun, but they’re not important.

 

Really, and honestly, the best way to find content in your life is to focus on what is good in your life. It’s not to sit back and wish for more. It’s getting to work to make your life what you want and then sitting back and enjoying it every step of the way. If I complained about all the things that go wrong in my life, I’d waste a lot of my time being very unhappy. Instead, when life throws me a curve ball, I take a moment to panic, and then I remind myself that every single thing I ever thought was a bad thing in my life somehow turned into the best thing that ever happened to me.

Every lesson in life is just that – a lesson. You learn form it. You grow from it, and you change from it. You let it hurt, you let it get to you for a minute, but you stop yourself and learn to be content with it. You cannot change it, but you can use it to change you for the better. Everything that happens in your life is for a reason, and that reason is to help you grow. Put your faith first and you will always remember that there is something happening because you need to learn from it. You need to grow and change and evolve, and that shit doesn’t happen inside your comfort zone.

That’s how you find content in your life. You smile when you feel happy. You walk away when you need a moment, and you love what you have while you work for more. It’s easier than you think, and I certainly hope that even just one person reads this and realizes that life is really, really good.

Friday Thoughts: Growth and Confidence

Happy Friday, loves!

Funny story – I did not have a blog post scheduled for today. I’m writing this on Thursday, scheduling it for Friday morning because it’s currently on my mind and I’m feeling a bit passionate about it.

If you’ve been following along the past few years, you already know my family and I have what we call Wednesday Night Dinners. It’s a looooooong tradition that began before we even had kids. As a matter of fact, it all began in 2008 when I was pregnant with our first child. My husband and I had been married three years and our friends, Corinna and Geremy, were married for two years at the time. They weren’t parents yet, either, but they were working on that.

My husband and I always went out to dinner on Wednesday nights to our favorite local restaurant. It was like our halfway through the week celebration, and we began inviting our friends. They joined us for the better part of two or three years every Wednesday night for dinner. Addison came along in the late summer of 2008 and their first child, Geremy Jr., came along in the spring of 2009. Somewhere in 2010, we made the decision to stop going out to dinner on Wednesday nights and start hosting our dinners at home.

We’d host one Wednesday, they’d host the next. And we’ve been doing that ever since. We’ve also added a total of 5 additional kids for a grand total of 7 little people. Wednesday nights are loud, fun, and something we all look forward to every week. We laugh – a lot.

(Fun Fact: Craig and Corinna are the same person, and Geremy and I are the same person. In fact, we are so much alike in our mannerisms and the way we think and act that we’re POSITIVE that somewhere along the line, we share some familial DNA and we are FOR SURE related in some way, shape, or form.)

These kids have grown up together, but so have the adults.

And that’s where this post actually begins now that you’ll never get the past two minutes of your life back. My bad – but not really.

During our #wednesdaynighttradition this week, Geremy mentioned he read my New Year blog post, and that he just had to tell me that he feels that I’ve changed so much in the past year – for the good. I’ve become more confident in myself and who I am, unapologetic, and very much a badass motherfucker – language situation, y’all (maybe I should mention that the four of us use BAMF regularly in our vocab to describe our current life situations and the things we’ve accomplished in the past few years…).

Anyway, he’s not wrong. I have changed a lot in the past year. I have become so much more self-aware and confident. I know what I bring to the table, and I don’t make apologies for who I am and where I stand.

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And that made me realize something – when the three people you look up to and admire and respect most in the world all think you’ve grown so much in the past year, you take a look at what they’re talking about. I spent some time this morning reflecting on the conversation the four of us had about that, and it makes me want to share some of what I think helped me to grow in my confidence and my success over the course of the past year – their love, support, and sarcastic comments aside.

I’m always learning

At some point, it occurred to me that my failures are just learning curves. Perfection is overrated and unattainable, but perfectly imperfect is pretty darn awesome. I make mistakes, but you won’t hear much about them because they’re nothing more than a notation on the list of “things that taught me to do better,” in the future. If I make a mistake, believe me when I tell you that I’m owning that mistake. I don’t place blame. I don’t pretend that everyone else is wrong and I’m right, and I never assume I know everything. I make the mistake, I own the mistake, and I move on from the mistake with a newfound lesson in life that will help me grow and become better the next time around. And I apologize when I’m wrong.

If I’m happy, I don’t care if anyone else is happy

I recognize the harshness in that statement, but I don’t apologize for it. What I mean by this is being happy with myself is far more important to me than making other people happy. It’s important for me to like myself, but it’s not important for me to have others like me. I live by two mottos in life – the first is that what other people think of me is none of my business, and the second is that I just don’t care what other people think. It’s a waste of time and energy. If I cared what others thought of me, I’d spend my life very sad. Trust me – I’ve written well over 100,000 articles over the past 11 years since I began my business, and they’re posted online on dozens of client websites in which I have millions of monthly views. And with that comes the comments. The emails. The Facebook messages. The Instagram messages. The Pinterest messages. And most people aren’t nice.

In addition to that, I recognize how I look, the things I love, the way I speak and the way I behave – and I know it’s not for everyone. I get it – and I like it. I like me – a lot. If you don’t…that’s okay. You don’t have to. I don’t mind. The caveat here is that you have to stop worrying about other people, too. How other people live their lives is none of my business, and it’s not my concern other than to be happy for them when they’re happy.

I know the kind of person I want to be

I might like myself now, but I’m always looking to evolve, change, and grow as a person. I can always find something about myself I could improve upon. For example, 2018 was one of those years I learned a little bit about how easy it is to backslide into habits I thought I gave up in high school. Gossip, judgment, negativity. They can creep into your life in a quick second, and it took me a little longer than that to realize that I needed to get that in check and reel that in fast. I’m imperfect, but I can fix those things when I realize they’re a problem.

I know who I want to be, and that’s a good person. I love giving back. I love doing for others. I love people who do the same. I surround myself with the best of the best. Kind, humble, hardworking, successful, generous, hilarious, wonderful people who I’m so fortunate to call my own – because you become like the people you spend the most time with.

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And, you guys, I don’t want to be a petty, reactive, overdramatic, loud 4-year-old. Cute as they are, I spend most of my time with tiny humans who suck the soul right out of me when they’re not being sweet and cute and reminding me to let my inner child out (does she come with that inner child metabolism if I let her out? Because my kids have been doing nothing but snacking every 2.4 second this Christmas break and I could use some of their never-gain-a-pound situation).

I choose people who mimic the traits and qualities I love and admire the most, and then I learn from them every single day. I want to be more like them because they are the best of the best – and anyone who knows them will tell you the same. From my husband to our friends – I can honestly say that I have the best people in the world, and I know who I want to be is more like the kind of amazing people they are.

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I embrace whatever

My confidence is growing daily, and it’s because I embrace myself. I don’t mind being overdressed. I don’t mind being materialistic in many aspects of my life. I’m good because I embrace my situation. I don’t mind being a bitch, because I get stuff done. I don’t mind that I’m not ‘traditional’ in many aspects of my life. I don’t really cook or do laundry, but my husband is so good at it that it doesn’t matter. I embrace that. I embrace that my life doesn’t look a lot like everyone else’s. I embrace that my husband and I don’t have traditional careers or that I’m not much of a housewife.

I embrace that I have OCD tendencies that might make people raise their eyebrows. I embrace that I like things my way, all the time, and I’m not all that lenient about wanting it my way. I embrace that I like certain things, certain places, and certain creature comforts, and I’m okay with that. I embrace whatever I am, whoever I am, and whatever makes me happy. I have high expectations, and I don’t view that as a problem.

I choose to be happy

Life is not perfect, y’all. But it’s pretty damn great. While we sat at Wednesday night dinner this week, we were discussing our goals for the new year. None of us make resolutions, but we always have new goals – though we don’t just make goals in the new year. We make them all year, work on meeting them, exceeding them, and then working on new goals. It’s a thing (BAMF, anyone?). When my sweet friend, Corinna, made a comment about seeing all these people on social media making new year resolutions this week, she said she has a long list of goals to meet this year, but she doesn’t have resolutions because she likes how she looks, she likes how she feels, she likes her marriage, she likes her life, and she’s really happy where she is and she’s not looking to change any of that.

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It’s like she took the words right out of my mouth – probably why we are so close. But she’s right. When you choose to be happy where you are and with what you’re doing, it’s okay to not want to change your life. It’s okay to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m good where I am. I like me. I like who I am,” and then make some goals and let it go. I like that.

In a nutshell, if you’re not surrounding yourself with people who are just so badass and awesome and you don’t respect them or admire them and they don’t respect and admire you in return, you might want to make it your goal this year to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you every single day. It’s like I tell my kids – a friend is a person who will never utter a negative word about you when you get up and walk away from the table…they’ll walk with you.

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It’s not hard. 

Growth is not optional – it’s a requirement. If you’re not changing every single day to embrace a stronger, more confident, better you by auditing your life and spending less time with those things that don’t bring out the good in you and more time with the things and people who do, now is as good a time as any to get started. If you aren’t good with yourself right now, make a change. The most difficult part is getting started – once you realize the kind of freedom you have when you don’t worry about how other people feel about you and you stop focusing on other people instead of focusing on yourself, life is much sweeter.

Instagram Roundup

Happy Thursday, loves!

I love that this new year is already off to such a great start. It’s been a few days, and it’s already been one of those weeks when you just sit back and embrace life to the fullest. I basically took the past month off work. Almost entirely other than the two weeks before the kids were out of school where I played catch up and work ahead. Other than that, I’m only doing some contract work for one client until the second full week of the year. The kids are home. I like to be with them. I like to spend time organizing, getting things prepared for a great new year, going to the dentist and the doctor and all those things.

Mostly, I’m just enjoying the laidback mornings. Sleeping a little later. Enjoying a little more. Being fully present. Those are things I value and love, and this year is off to a great start already. And on that note, I’m sharing with you a quick Instagram round-up since it has been a while since I’ve done that!

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I love, love, love this Likely dress so much it actually hurts. I picked this up a few months ago and knew it would be my Christmas Eve dress, and it received so many compliments! It’s elegant and classic – and it’s perfect. Paired with my favorite Manolos, and I was the happiest mom around.

(I cannot find this exact dress anymore at Saks; they have the shorter one available. I found some similar dresses here and here. My Manolo Blahniks are a few years old, but I love this red pair. Givenchy large sunglasses are sold out everywhere, but I did find these online.)

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This Topshop sweater is one I picked up a few weekends ago when my husband and I had a date weekend in Tampa for his company’s Christmas party. I can’t go to Tampa without making a stop at Nordstrom and bringing home all the things, and this sweatshirt is one thing I’m glad I took home…in every color. I sized up to a US 4 because I wanted it loose.

Topshop Sweatshirt, Tinsel jeans (my new favorites), Michael Kors booties (old but similar here, Givenchy Sunglasses linked above).

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This jumpsuit is every single thing. I mean, I cannot even begin to tell you how much my husband loves and adores this jumpsuit. I originally rented it for Thanksgiving from Rent the Runway, and I ended up ordering it to have after I sent it back because he loves it so much. I mean, so, so, so, so much. He cannot keep his hands off me when I put this on, and since he typically can’t keep them off me anyway, this was even better! And these fun little kitten heels are actually like 13-year-old Jimmy Choos that I picked up. Aren’t they fabulous?