Pre-Holiday Stress? Try These 7 Things

Happy Monday, loves!

Can you believe there are only 8 more days until Christmas? This is the single best week of the year, and I cannot believe it’s here already! But, let’s be a little bit honest. This time of year can be a little overwhelming if you’re not careful. Parties, events, travel, hosting, and more can make it seem like you have more to do than you have time to do it, and you are not alone in that feeling.

December is halfway over, and we haven’t had a moment to breathe in our house. The kids have an activity every single time we turn around. Christmas parties and events at school on top of their regularly scheduled sports, teams, and events. My husband’s company hosts a beautiful Christmas party every year that we cannot say no to (he works from home only, and he only goes to the office two or three times a year because we live so far away). It’s a weekend-long event for us since we have to travel, and it’s one of the most fun weekends of the year. Add that to our other regularly scheduled travel plans and hosting, and we are just exhausted.

Last week, for example, my husband and I were in Tampa for the weekend at his company Christmas party. It was such a beautiful, elegant evening in the Le Meridien ballroom. A sit-down dinner and casino night, and all the excuses to wear a floor-length sequin gown – it was all my favorite things wrapped up into one amazing night. And, I’ll never pass up an opportunity to spend the weekend away with my love shopping and spending quality time together. I swear, I think that’s what makes our marriage so much fun. We have the best time together, and we definitely make the most of it!

This weekend, we packed up and left again to spend the weekend at the Gaylord with the kids and our oldest daughter’s best friend and her family. We love the Gaylord, and we try to spend a few weekends there every year because the kids love it so much. ICE was amazing – as usual – this year, and the kids have never had more fun.

Honestly, I cannot even begin to explain with words how amazing they were this weekend. They travel often, and they know how to behave when we are in a hotel or a restaurant or plane or whatever, but this weekend was even more spectacular than we imagined. They were having too much fun with our friends’ daughters to even bother bickering with one another – and it was glorious! What a fun weekend. We rushed home Sunday so that my sweet Charlotte and I could enjoy a ladies’ brunch with our favorite friends (Miss Ava has a sore throat and stayed home because she has a performance at school today and she cannot be sick and miss it) and Addison opted to stay in Orlando with our friends.

It was such a good weekend.

But, we are tired. And we still have to prep for the week ahead, and it occurred to me today that I have no free time this week between Ava’s class performance, my annual shopping day with my best friend, our usual evening activities, the kids’ half-day on Friday followed immediately by a birthday party followed immediately by about a million other things – and we are hosting a brunch for 25 on Saturday. I’m not even done shopping for Christmas yet, wrapping still has to be done, I’m still waiting on packages to arrive, and we have no time.

This is also the busiest time of year for me in terms of work. I’ve found myself running late almost every morning and afternoon heading to school, working after the kids go to bed, and I even found myself responding to emails from clients the other day while sitting on my yoga mat waiting for class to start.

When the actual hell will I not be so busy?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed this time of year.

If you’re in the same boat, here are a few pre-holiday stress tips that I use to help me calm down, reduce my anxiety about getting it all done, and remembering to enjoy this season.

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Delegate

The single best thing I do in life – delegate. Get someone else to mow your lawn and water your flowers. Hire someone to do the non-everyday cleaning at home (think bathrooms and ceiling fans and blinds and baseboards and dusting and stuff you don’t do every single day when you’re straightening up as you go). Order your groceries and have them delivered. Order your gifts and let someone else wrap them (I do not let someone else wrap my gifts – I won’t lie to you. I do it myself because I have specific wrapping paper I use to organize and match gifts every year. I can’t haphazardly wrap gifts in mismatched paper. It throws the main tree all off).

My husband and I delegate a lot of stuff because we simply don’t have time for it, and that is the single best decision we ever made. It’s even better this busy season.

Workout

At the risk of sounding judgmental, I just don’t get people who don’t workout. Like, how do you not love to feel so good about yourself when you’re done? I don’t know if my body just releases some kind of abnormal amount of endorphins, but I feel so freaking good after a workout. Nothing that was on my mind before a workout seems to matter after. It’s so good. Try it – because you can eat more Christmas goodies when you’re done. Best thing ever.

Be Mindful of What You’re Putting Into Your Body

This is a big one. l love sweets as much as the next girl, mostly during a certain week of the month. However, most days you’ll find me eating nothing but good, healthy, delicious food. I don’t indulge much, and I really don’t have many cravings for ‘bad’ foods. When I do, I absolutely eat them. However, I’m very mindful what I put into my body.

For example, the last thing I do when I’m feel overwhelmed or stressed is eat junk. I know it makes me feel heavy and disgusting, and I don’t eat it. I also don’t drink anything but coffee or water, and I don’t take anything. I don’t do well with medication or supplements, so I just don’t take them. I find that you just feel better when you eat good-for-you foods and enjoy those. Your body needs the right stuff, and your job is to make sure it’s getting it. I promise you, it definitely makes you feel better (lighter, more energized, non-moody).

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Bake Something

Is that hypocritical after saying you shouldn’t put a bunch of crap in your body if you’re not feeling well already? You don’t have to eat it to bake it. I don’t eat a lot of what I bake, but I love to bake this time of year. There is something so good about being in the kitchen with the smells of amazing things baking. It’s just so Christmasy, and it makes me so happy! I just give away whatever I bake – and people love that!

Set Aside Time For What You Really Enjoy

For me, it’s spending quality time with my husband and my kids. We love to schedule an early night where we take early baths and showers, get into our matching Christmas pajamas, make some popcorn and hot chocolate (wine) and watch a Christmas movie together. Our kids LOVE when we watch Home Alone, and it’s our favorite holiday tradition.

Give Back

If there is one thing we want our kids to know and do and see us doing, it’s to give back. There are so many families who have so little, and we have so much. Giving back is what we’re meant to do, and nothing feels as good as knowing that a little generosity – even if it doesn’t take any time our effort in our lives – can change someone else’s life forever. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, forget what’s on the schedule, go out, and make someone’s holiday dreams come true. I can assure you that you will forget what had you so stressed in the first place.

Remember to be Thankful

When life gets a little overwhelming, I just sit back, take a few deep breaths (try five-count breathing….one of the very best things I ever learned at yoga), and remember that while I may be overwhelmed or annoyed at how much I have to do and how little time I have to do it, I’m beyond fortunate. I have a wonderful family, an active and exciting social life with friends who are absolutely family, a beautiful home, the freedom to enjoy life, and everything I ever prayed for and dreamed of growing up. I might be annoyed or overwhelmed, but I’m also living a life that’s beautiful – and I’m very blessed. Sometimes it takes a quick reminder that life is good to calm me down immediately. I have no complaints, and I’m not in the business of creating them.

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Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, loves!

Before the turkey goes in the oven, before the formal dining room table is set, before our guests arrive, I like to wake early and sit outside with a hot cup of coffee and my thoughts. I love the back deck this time of day (or the front porch or lanai if it rains) when the sun is rising behind our home. The sky is pink, and everything is quiet. The kids are still asleep, my husband may or may not rise to join me depending on whether I can get out of bed without waking him – which he doesn’t mind, but it always makes me feel bad.

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. Nothing is a problem on this day. All the things that bother me leading up to it are gone. The fact that there is an additional guest coming that no one bothered to mention to us, or the fact that everyone loves to gather in the kitchen and basically get in our way nonstop, or the fact that everyone wants to help us and all we want is for them to get out of the kitchen and leave things alone…they disappear. They aren’t a big deal (I mean, I’m fully aware they aren’t a big deal – ever – but I’m a petty kind of Type-A, so give me a little slack, mmmkay?). Everything is right in my world.

Growing up, all I ever wanted was a big, beautiful house in which my husband and I could host holidays, and the realization that the one thing I wanted more than anything in the world is my reality is my favorite feeling.

I also love today because our kids like to wake up and cuddle us before we prep our big breakfast and then dinner. They like to sit down and ask us what we are grateful and thankful for this year. Of course, we are always thankful for their sweet faces and for one another, but hearing them tell us that they are thankful for God or for us or for playing outside or for cookies or something else equally sweet and adorable makes us feel so good. We’ve raised four beautiful babes into polite, kind, loving little people – with enough sarcasm and dry humor to make them awesome. Pat on the back to us, please.

I always feel that I have so much to be thankful for, and this year is no exception. This year, my gratitude is just overwhelming (I know I say that every year). However, I really feel it so much more this year. So many beautiful things have happened this year that remind me of that and make me feel thankful every single day.

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There’s Beauty in Simplicity

Ask my husband or anyone who knows me well, and they’ll tell you I’m anything but simple. And they’ll tell you my taste is as far from simple as it gets. However, it’s the simplicity we’ve worked so hard to find this year that has brought me so much joy, and for that I’m thankful. Getting #backtobasics has been everything. While I’d like to say our calendar isn’t full all the time, that’s not true. We have for kids, careers, and a life that don’t allow for us to go unscheduled, but we have made it a point to avoid putting too much on the calendar. If we don’t really want to do it, we don’t do it.

The lack of planning every single weekend with events months in advance has been the most valuable experience. Even though none of our free weekends have been free at all, the ability to get up and say, “Let’s go to the Omni and take the kids to Disney for the evening,” or “Let’s book that weekend to go to Texas and see my grandmother,” or “What? Date night? We’d love to!” has been everything. We are more relaxed, we are happier, and we are enjoying the quality of our lives. If the past two weekends have been an example, it’s the simplest, most basic things that have the most profound impact and make for the most amazing memories. We are just so fortunate.

Laugher is the Best Medicine

I don’t care who you are, if you aren’t laughing as much as we’ve been laughing this year, you aren’t doing life right. There have been a lot of date nights and Wednesday night dinners and dinner parties this year that have been so much fun, so hilarious, and filled with so much laughter that every single one of us has forgotten we have a phone. No pictures. No tags. Nothing. Best nights ever. We’re doing life with some super fantastic people, and that’s what it’s about.

There’s No Time For Negativity

We all have bad days, annoyances, and stuff. Like, for example, I spent a few hours on Friday on the phone with Under Armour asking why the gifts I ordered on October 20th hadn’t arrived yet on November 16, only to find out that what I ordered was out of stock – no notification, but they did charge me. Then I hung up, called UPS and asked them why the Nordstrom package I was expecting that day went from being on the truck for delivery to being in Miami only for them to tell me someone messed up (um, obviously?) to then being on the phone with FedEx to ask if I can possibly reschedule the delivery of 51 boxes of fundraiser items because even though I told the fundraiser lady that this week is Thanksgiving and there is no one at my daughter’s school to accept the shipment, she shipped it for delivery this week anyway.

We all have our stuff. And it’s okay to complain about it. But it’s not okay to blame everyone else for your life problems. Most of the time, it’s your own fault you’re not enjoying life. You put yourself into situations that are just stupid, pointless, and take away from your life. It’s not anyone’s fault but your own, but many people don’t see that. They are always right, their opinion is always the correct one, and they know everything about everything all the time.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

This year has been so good for me minimizing that kind of interaction, and it’s been good for me to learn to put that kind of negativity away when I’m feeling it, too. That’s made me so much happier. When you just realize your own issues, work on them, and move on, your life is much happier. Listen, you can take a sandwich bag filled with pennies from a 6-year-old and count out $4 for them to buy a book at a book fair all while inhaling the overwhelming scent of marijuana straight from that baggie and complain about the fact that you’re just a volunteer and this is not your job, or you can laugh about it, pass it around for everyone to smell and then laugh harder when they realize what you just gave them. #lifechoices #truestory

You Do You, Boo

You know what? Do you, sister. Be yourself. Do what you love, what makes you happy, what brings joy to your heart. And love everyone else who does the same. What makes life so much sweeter is worrying about you. Don’t worry about anyone else, who they are, what they are, or that their preferences are different than yours. Worry about you, boo. If you’re like me and you won’t leave the house without some form of bold red lipstick just to drop off your kids, that’s amazing.

If you’re like two of my favorite ladies in the world who roll out of bed in the morning and have all the natural beauty and need none, that’s amazing. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks about you. And, hey, try to find some good people in your life who love you and your weird stuff. Remember this – people focus on things about you that bother them because they are insecure about themselves in the same manner. But, the truth is that most of us don’t care how you live, what you look like, or what’s up in your life – unless it’s funny. I love the funny stuff.

If this year has taught me anything, it’s that my own approval is all I need. And the fact that my people get that and embrace that is like finding an extra cookie in the bakery box when you thought they were all gone. #delicious

Focus on Quality Over Quantity

My husband and I have spent a great deal of time this year focusing on quality over quantity with our time and with our kids. We want our time with them to be present, focused, and engaging. And that’s what we love the most. It’s been good.

Early Bedtimes Are Everything

The kids. Us. Me. Listen, if you can be asleep before 8:30 p.m., do it. You won’t ever regret any of that. That’s my life goal nightly. And that’s why our kids have always had early bedtimes. Because I like to sleep. I like to wake up early, and that means I have to go to sleep early so I can get a full night of great sleep and be my best self. It’s how I live my best life.

Get Away Every Month

We’ve always been frequent travelers, but this year we made a deal that we would get away for at least a weekend every month, with or without the kids depending on the situation – and so far we’ve managed to exceed that goal. We’ve had 14 weekends away or trips this year, everywhere from the Bahamas to New York City to two trips to Texas to West Palm Beach to Tampa and Orlando. We’ve taken the kids, we’ve not taken the kids. And we still have a few more trips in the books before the year is over.

That time away has been priceless for both us and our kids, and we’ve loved it. There is nothing like knowing that at least once a month, someone else is going to uncork your bottle of champs and deliver coffee to you in bed in the morning. I consider that living my best life.

Get to Church and Spend Time With God

Do I need to add anything to that?

Smile

There might be a long list of annoyances in the everyday, but life is too good to complain about. So, stop complaining, look for the good in every day, and smile. You have a good life, you just have to stop focusing on the negative, make changes where you’re unhappy, and make everyday a good one. Trust me, you can do it. It’s a hell of a lot easier than you think.

So, that’s what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for life lessons, for laughter, for the people in my life, for my faith, for the good fortune we work so hard for, and for our sweet family and the abundance of love that we have in our lives. We are overflowing with love and with people who make our hearts feel so full – and that’s what’s so important to us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Remember, your irritating in-laws (or your own family) will be gone at the end of the day. So, if you’re currently struggling to find something to be thankful for as your mother tells you that you’re not doing this right or your in-laws make comments about this, go ahead and just be thankful that you don’t have to have these dinners every night, give them a hug, and tell them you love them even if they make you crazier than you want to be. The good news is that they probably already know they make you crazy, and they’re never going to stop. It’s called family, and they’re the best.

28 Little Ways to Celebrate Your Love Everyday – Not Just On Valentine’s Day

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February is the month in which everyone celebrates love, but we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day in our household. It’s not that we have a problem with it – we don’t. It’s just not in our nature to feel the need to celebrate our love for one another on a very specific day because someone told us to do it that way. We’re more of a celebrate our love everyday kind of couple, and Valentine’s Day is a fun way to celebrate something sweet with our little ones.

In our house, Valentine’s Day means celebrating the kids. Craig always sends me flowers – even though we have 3-4 bouquets of fresh flower in our home at all times – and we exchange cute cards (and I like chocolate, and I will never turn that down, Raiford…hint, hint). But our day is mostly about being sweet to the kids. Celebrating love with them.

What I love is the little things that happen everyday in our marriage. Those are the moments I like to celebrate every day. It’s the little things my husband does that make me feel the most loved. It’s that he gets all four kids out of bed, makes their breakfast, packs their lunches, and gets them ready for school every morning. He knows that when I’m most productive and motivated and creative, and he wants me to have the chance to utilize that time in my office.

It’s that he is right there next to me at bedtime every night to read to the kids, tuck them in, kiss them goodnight, and all that. It’s that he does 90% of the laundry in our house, and that he cooks dinner. It’s that he loves to spend time with the kids and he’s 100% involved in their lives. It’s that he never tries to take the hot water from me when we’re in the shower – he waits for me to decide I don’t need all the hot water and space and share with him. It’s that he tells me he loves me like 87 times a day both verbally and through his actions.

It’s the little things. And I have 28 little things you can do every day this month to show your love through your own actions. It’s simple, it’s amazing, and it has the potential to change your life if you make acts of service like this a habit every day.

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  1. Say thank you for the little things rather than taking them for granted. Thank your spouse for taking out the trash or changing the baby’s diaper. Thank him for standing when you excuse yourself from the table, or thank her for always making sure you have your favorite breakfast item in the house.
  2. Turn off your phones and spend time together every night.
  3. Go to bed at the same time every night.
  4. Take a family walk and really pay attention when your spouse talks to you.
  5. Surprise him or her with their favorite treat the next time you’re out.

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  1. Let him or her sleep in while you get up with the kids one morning.
  2. Offer to do something he or she usually does so they can relax or at least have a little less on their plate.
  3. Cook dinner.
  4. Plan a date night.
  5. Bring home grocery store flowers (I don’t know what it is about grocery store flowers picked up in a moment of, “Those are pretty, and my wife would love those,” that I love so much more than a flower delivery, but it’s special).

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  1. Pick up a card and write a sweet note in it for your spouse.
  2. Make the bed for your spouse if he or she is usually the one who does that.
  3. Make a donation in your spouse’s name to a cause that’s important to him or her.
  4. Get away for the weekend.
  5. Make breakfast together on the weekends.

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  1. Do that one thing he or she mentioned they’d love to do or wish they had more time to do and surprise them.
  2. Offer a massage to your spouse.
  3. Don’t have a headache (the more you say yes, the more you want to say yes and the more intimate time you spend together, and the closer you become).
  4. Give him or her a break when you’re in a bad mood instead of snapping or being short.
  5. Come up with something fun that’s not typical and do it together.

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  1. Clean out his or her car.
  2. Tag team things one of you usually does alone to make it faster and easier.
  3. Choose to laugh more often than you choose to have any other response.
  4. Send the kids to the grandparent’s for a night alone in your very own home, where you sleep the best, where you enjoy your coffee the most, and where you can both relax and really enjoy one another.
  5. Make your spouse’s coffee in the morning.

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  1. Bring home donuts.
  2. Ask if there is any way you can help him or her make their live easier on a daily basis.
  3. Never miss a moment to smack one another on the ass when you walk by (that is what marriage is for, right?)

And the bonus – just be a nicer person in general. Everyone loves a nice person, and what better way to celebrate your love for someone than just being a nice person? I like it.

What do you do to celebrate your love for one another on a daily basis?

In Need of Last Minute Fourth of July Inspiration? Here Are My Fourth of July Favorites

Happy Birthday, America!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sitting here work, work, working away the day before the Fourth of July, and I have no complaints. The big girls are at a sleepover, the babies are at school, and I’m using this day as a chance to catch up, to work a little bit ahead in anticipation of our upcoming vacation, and to get organized. I needed this day!

It was such a fun weekend! To recap just a little, we spent Friday night low-key and casual at home. We had plans every night last week that kept us out late and meant late bedtimes for everyone, and we were mentally and physically drained.

Saturday was busy. We loaded the kids in my SUV and headed to Tampa for the morning. Some of our very best friends host an amazing Fourth of July party every year – I mean, guys, you should just understand they grace us with a PRO fireworks display without the hassle of joining thousands of people and crowds and parking problems, etc…it’s amazing – and I like the fam to match. Unfortunately, the dress I bought myself was the wrong size and I needed to head to Lilly Pulitzer to get the correct size, so it was a shopping day.

Saturday evening was so much fun. Our friends put on the best show. I literally cannot even express to you the amazingness of their show. The kids had a blast – and they wore us out. Twins are no joke, you guys. We did nothing all night but watch them in the pool, playing outside, and running after them as they used their energy and sapped ours completely!

Sunday was a day of rest and relaxation. We took the big girls to see Despicable Me 3 – which was beyond adorable. They’ve been so excited for so long. Of course, we’ve been excited about it, too. We really enjoy the franchise…I won’t even pretend we don’t.

Tomorrow we’re doing the low-key pool day thing with my in-laws. My father-in-law is in town for the week, and we’re headed to spend the day with his side of the fam so the kids can spend a little time with their grandfather – which they are SO excited about – but not before we have to run back to Tampa so I can take my favorite bracelet to Tiffany’s to have the clasp repaired. My wrist feels empty without it.

Today, though…it’s all about catch up, work ahead, get it together. I have a few new clients and contracts to deal with, and I need to get my calendar organized like you don’t even know.

In honor of tomorrow’s Independence Day, I wanted to share a few last minute Fourth of July ideas with you. I know some of you are still figuring out what to wear, what to make for your friends or parties, or even what to drink – so I’m sharing a few of my Fourth Favorites for your last-minute shopping list.

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Last Minute Fourth of July Outfits

I fell instantly in love with the Star Struck print by Lilly Pulitzer and knew immediately it would be our Fourth of July print. I bought the girls these shorts and myself this dress for the Fourth and everyone loved it (my dress runs TTS and I’m wearing an XS. The girl’s shorts all run a little big, but they have pull tabs inside I was able to use to make them smaller)! My husband and our son sported Patriotic Under Armour I picked up at our local Dillards.

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Fourth of July Cocktail Recipes 

You can make this with or without the alcohol depending on your preferences, but I thought this was the most fun drink when I was looking up something light and fun to drink. I’m a sucker for a good sangria, and how much fun is this recipe I found online?

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Fourth of July Decor 

We don’t host a Fourth party in our house – we are Halloween party and Christmas party people over here. But, I did order these fun napkins from Crate and Barrel just because they are so adorable. And, really, I’m in love with anything they offer me.

I’m super excited about the Fourth and a laid back day of fun in the sun with the family! What are your plans for the Fourth?