Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wedding Day Afro

This is a true story...

The night before my wedding day, I had the most bizarre dream.  Part of me wants to call it a premonition of sorts... My dream was about walking down the aisle, in a beautiful white dress, smiling from ear to ear, but there was a problem.  As I watched "myself" walk down the aisle, I noticed that I was wearing no makeup, and my hairdo was taking on a 70's afro look. What in the world?!  What a strange dream.

Then I woke up....

It was my wedding day! Of all days, I have never felt so calm or excited.  It is very unnatural for my personality to not worry or overthink when I am attending or preparing for big events--let alone, my own wedding day.  To this day, I still say that by the grace of God I was able to stay calm and feel peace because of prayer.

Well, I arrived to the hair salon to get my makeup and hair styled.  We had done a trial run a few weeks before, so I knew what to expect.  But the one thing I didn't expect was for my makeup artist to NOT show up!  My dream was becoming real....

My bridesmaids were all flipping out and saying how unreal this was.  The weirdest thing was that I calmly was like, "Everything is alright. If I have to, I will do my own makeup."  For someone that usually gets easily upset, I was so surprised that my anxiety and tension was not flying through the roof one bit.  I was as peaceful as a dove. It seemed all surreal and all day felt like an out-of-body experience.  My hairdresser insisted she try to do my makeup, even though she had never done makeup professionally.  Worth a try.

In the end, everything turned out fine.  My hair was exactly how I pictured it, and my makeup was amazingly applied just right.

I still laugh to this day about my dream and how it "prepared" me for what was to come... And thank heavens that I didn't have an afro on my wedding day.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sail Away! {Cara Box Reveal}

This month I participated in Wifessionals Cara Box Exchange.  Every month we get partnered up to send themed gifts and a note of encouragement.  For the month of July, the theme was "Sail Away" or nautical themed. I love anything that has to do with anchors and the beach scene!

Chancy was the person I sent goodies.  She is such a fun-loving girl, who is a newlywed, and an EMT. Chancy is a fairly new blogger, so go check out her page and send some love! 

My other partner was Jenny.  We found out that we both have degrees in elementary education and love kids!  Jenny is a nanny and enjoys crafting.  She was so sweet to send me some fun items for this month's exchange:

  Anchor Tote Bag
Beachy candles
Candle holders
Nautical Ribbon
Boat Cookie Cutter
Nautical Pen

Thanks, Jenny!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

DIY Rotating Goals

When I came across Cornflower Blue Studio and saw their rotating goals project, I knew I had to try it myself!  This is such a simple way to post your goals for the week/the month/the year.  This is great for those who love to make to-do lists but can never seem to stick with it, or find it overwhelming to keep up with complicated lists.  This is a way to simplify your goals and to focus on what takes priority. 

This project took me 10 minutes to complete.  The main supplies you will need to make your own are:  markers, post-it notes, and a sheet of cardstock.  You can make it as elaborate or simple as you would like.  Show off some creativity! 

I truly love this idea because there are a million to-do lists that I start and can NEVER find the lists again. The lists get stuck in piles of papers, torn up by my toddler, or get found a week after they needed to be done.  So on that note, this rotating goals sheet will be hanging near our computer--easy to see!

Anything that can simplify my hectic, overwhelming, busy, mommy life, is a lifesaver!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Overcoming a Phobia

Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; 
It is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow 
-Alice Mackenzie Swain

For 3 weeks I have barely left my house. For 3 weeks I have dealt with immense FEAR. The silly thing is that this fear is controlling my life. It takes my breath away. It consumes my every thought. I have even found myself holding my breath for too long. This phobia of mine is very embarrassing and is irrational.

For the past 2 years, I have dealt with the incline of being afraid of storms. Even if it's a little bit windy; I am afraid. Even if there is only 10% chance of rain; I am afraid.  If there is a dust storm coming my way, I want to hide in a basement. No joke. Now I check my weather apps and the news 50 times a day to prepare myself if bad weather were coming my way.  It is absurd.  This is not how I want to live my life.

This all started 2 years ago when I was big and pregnant with my son.  There was a bad monsoon storm, and all I could hear was the pelting of rain and hail on my roof, and the howling wind. Hiding in the closet, I called my mother who lived 4 hours away and frantically cried, screaming that I thought the roof was going to fly off. The only way to describe the intensity of this fear is to say that it is equivalent to the fear of being in a tornado. It makes no sense but that's how much it scares me.

Last summer, the monsoon season still scared me but not to the extent it does now. The last 3 weeks have been beyond horrible. To the point that I begged my family to put me in the hospital because it is the only place where I would feel safe.  I wanted some peace and comfort, and thought the hospital would be the only place to find that. I never got my wish, but am trying to find ways to cope with this debilitating phobia.  The crazy thing is that it didn't even dawn on me that I have developed a phobia until this week...  When my counselor showed me a work book titled "Anxiety and Phobias", that's when I knew this has gotten out of hand.  The great news is that he says it is 100% fixable. As long as I am facing my past, present, and future, and attacking this fear, then I can overcome this.

My counselor keeps asking me what happened during my childhood. He keeps asking me over and over again, trying to dig something out.  How the heck does my past have anything to do with my anxiety and fear I'm dealing with today?  To me, the honest answer was that my life felt pretty "normal".  Other than the fact that my parents ended up divorced from one night of abuse, I felt like my family life was pretty normal.  That night when I heard my parents fighting and found my dad pinning my mom on the bed was very traumatic.  I'm still very confused about some stuff though, and have never acknowledged that my dad was verbally harsh with my brother. There were two times growing up when my brother and dad got into raging arguments. When I was 5 and then again around 15, I had to witness my dad being a total jackass (no better word). He used a Judo move on my brother and sat on top of him, holding my brother's arms down to the ground. At 5 years old, I remember running behind a chair, screaming, "Get off him! I'm going to call the police if you don't stop!"  I have always questioned if that is abuse or not... I'm not sure, and that's what bothers me. Then there was the time when I was 15 and was deep in depression. For 3 days straight I did not sleep. I was on suicide watch. My mom stayed up with me for at least 2 days and then needed a break. Within the first 20 minutes of my dad taking over "the watch", he fell asleep on the couch.  I just sat next to him thinking "what in the world?  does he even care? I could go in the other room and hurt myself and he wouldn't even notice."  It was the first time I felt the deep pain of realizing my father was not there for me.  How can a parent fall asleep like that when their child might kill herself?  It is still a memory that angers me to this day.  I also discussed with the counselor that I had been in a car accident with my dad around 4 year old, and then by myself when I was in college. I was not able to get back into a car for awhile. To this day, I try to avoid freeways at all costs.

During last week's session, my counselor said that it sounds like I had a scary childhood. That I have lived in fear for a very long time now...  It didn't dawn on me until now that he is right. I kept trying to convince myself that this was normal life...that there was nothing bad about my childhood. My entire life I have felt like the people closest to me have left me, or I have fear that I will grow up to be like some of my family members. I'm not sure how it all plays into the storm phobia issue, but I am learning that the fear I have held onto my entire life is now showing it's ugly head through my anxiety.

In the last few weeks, I have felt utterly lost. Like the roof is caving in on me. It devastated me to have another major fallout with my dad a few weeks back. This time I think it's totally over. I cannot have him in my life if it's going to cause me more hurt than good.  With that happening, finding out our medical debt is beyond our control, and then the monsoon started, I crumbled. Life got to me. I couldn't take anymore. So the anxiety took the place of everything else and now I'm dealing with fear every second of the day.

But I will say that today I felt real hope.  My first trace of hope in 3 weeks!  Today I didn't have rapid heartbeat, I did not worry that a storm was coming our way. I told myself, "Nothing bad is going to happen. You will survive."  That should be my motto for life. When bad things happen or I get down on myself I should always remind myself that "Bad things might happen, but you will survive".

Although it has been really difficult to share this on social media, I hope that I am not utterly alone. I don't want anyone to think I am crazy (that's my worst fear), or to label me as a "freak". Hopefully someone can understand my "issues" and can relate in one way or another. It is not a happy post. I'm not one to sugarcoat things.  This is about real life. The ugly, the happy, and the honesty that life brings.  I am in the middle of this mess, and maybe a few months from now, a year from now, I will be writing about how I came out on the other side.  Maybe I will have an inspirational story of how I overcame my fear... But until then, I'm working through this tough stuff and becoming stronger.

Kid Stash {Review}

Kid Stash is a new subscription box that focuses on different careers for children.  I was provided with a Kid Stash box that focused on Entomology. My 2 year old son had a blast digging through the contents, and pretending he was a bug collector.

This monthly subscription comes out with new themes every month.  It is geared towards ages 3-7, and costs $27.99 per month.  You can pick whether you want a box geared towards a boy or a girl.  This is definitely worth the money you spend!  Most of the items retail for more than what you pay.  Most of the boxes come with a craft, book, and toys focused on the month's theme. 

You can follow Kid Stash on Facebook to receive the latest updates and news about the product.

Our box contained a pamphlet that described the Entomology theme, and provided details about each item that we received.  The four items we received in the box were fantastic for my bug-loving son!

The first item in the Kid Stash box was this Big View Bug Jar.  If you push the top of the ladybug, the wings pop open.  There is a huge magnifying glass to view any bugs you catch in your bug jar.  

This inflatable grasshopper was a hit with my toddler!  It was surprising to see how super-sized this inflatable insect was...about 2 feel long!  It was neat to see the details of the grasshopper up close and be able to describe the different parts of the insect.

Our Kid Stash box also contained the book "The Leaf Men" by William Joyce.  This is such a cute, illustrated story.  This imaginative story captured my son's attention, and we were able to point out different insects throughout the book.  In my opinion, the book really captured the main idea of the Entomology theme. 

The Artzooka! Clothespin Wings Craft is a great craft!  It contains enough items to make four creative insects. 

*I highly recommend Kid Stash for any occasion--birthdays, educational toys, and as a gift!  Kid Stash provided me a complimentary subscription box in exchange for my review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Book Exchange

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the "Love Books" exchange from The Educator's Spin On It.  There were more than 30 bloggers that participated.  Everyone was paired up to send a book and activities to a partner.  I was fortunate to be partnered up with Giselle Shardlow from Kids Yoga Stories.  It was a blast to work with some great mommy and educational bloggers from around the world. Plus, receiving a box of goodies is always a great way to start the day!

Our package from Giselle was all about yoga!  Giselle is a former teacher, who now writes yoga stories for kids!  We were sent three books, a lesson plan, and material to create an activity. This was a new, exciting adventure for my 2 year old and myself.  Over the years, yoga sounded rather intriguing but I never got around to it.  This was a great way to get a little taste in it without becoming overwhelmed. The best part was being able to include my son in this process of learning about yoga too (lots of trial and error!).  To see what we sent Giselle and her 2 year old daughter, {click here}.

Intro to Yoga:

The first book I read to Joshua was Little Yoga by Rebecca Whitford and Martina Selway.  The book has really cute illustrations of children doing animal-inspired, yoga poses.  

After reading Little Yoga, Joshua and I practiced some of the yoga moves that the book mentioned.  Watch this video to see how Joshua did during his FIRST yoga experience. It's too funny....Gotta love the mindset of  a 2 year old :)

Alphabet Yoga:

Another book we were sent was a book written by our partner!  Luke's A to Z of Australian Animals- an alphabet coloring book was a great fit for my son since he loves to color, and loves anything to do with the alphabet (he's actually really obsessed with alphabet stuff at this point).  Joshua was able to color a few pages and we went through some of the interesting animals you only see in Australia.  With kangaroos being such a popular animal in Australia, our partner gave us supplies to create a stuffed kangaroo from Sew Fun to Learn.  Joshua loves pretending with this new toy, and carries his new "buddy" around with him.

 Beach Yoga:

Lastly, we read Luke's Beach Day by Giselle Shardlow and Emily Gedzyk.  The big, colorful illustrations are great for any young or older kids.  With it being a little lengthy, Joshua glanced through the illustrations and would point out all the crabs and beach items.  Since we live in such a dry, Arizona climate, Joshua was really taking in the beach scene while reading.  

A few days later, we went through the book again.  This time we focused on the different poses the characters were doing.  In the back of the book, it summarizes the different yoga movements with little illustrations. It really helped to have the little photo prompts since we are still new to all the yoga terms and poses. After practicing a few more poses with my son, we finished the day with a coloring page from Luke's Beach Day.


 The "Love Books" Summer Exchange was a hit!  We hope to participate again next year :)  Stay tuned for a link to see what the other participants received!

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Love Letter to Myself

 July 8, 2013

Dear Elizabeth,

Sometimes it is difficult to know why things happen. Most people would like to say there is always a lesson to be learned in every situation.  There will be times in your life when people disappoint you, and HAVE already done so. 

Remember that you are not your parents mistakes.  You open your heart again and again to your father--in hopes that things will change, that he will act differently, that he will come to his senses. Until he directly comes to YOU and shows evident good changes, do not approach him or convince yourself things are better. You have been hurt by his words and actions, and the only thing you can do is find peace in your heart so you can move on. You deserve far better and need to remind yourself of the truths of God.  Do NOT repeat the negative thoughts your father has told you. Easier said than done, right?  But you are the person in control of your own thoughts, and need to break the hurtful cycle of telling yourself you are no good, that you are broken and will never be fixed. God has bigger plans for you. Yes, you deserve a great father that understands, will comfort you, and will see his wrongdoings and will work things out.  But you do not have that, so you need to move on and understand that it is NOT because of you.  Your father has treated every family member this way, and you need to know that this is his battle that he has to overcome.  You cannot change him. Nobody can change someone if the person is unwilling to make changes or see their wrongdoings.

Break free from this negative cycle, so you can focus on beauty.  Life gets rough at times but the more you focus on your past, the less likely you will have full healing and be able to enjoy the present.  Let go of the bitterness, the anger, the lonely feelings that consume your mind.  Do something positive instead of dwelling on what you cannot change.  You will be far happier if you just remind yourself of that.

You are beautifully and wonderfully made. You have a lot to offer people and can impact people in a positive way-- That is what brings you joy.  Focus on such things. Things that bring a smile to you and others, that encourage, that inspire, and that show love.

You have come a long way in the last few years. You used to be so shy, and would not dare to think of coming up with ideas that require you to be in charge.  Something happened in the past year that has made you want to step up. When you are inspired, your anxiety and doubt seem to vanish. Two months ago you also never would have imagined of wanting to be in leadership.  Not sure what's going on, but now your heart is showing interest in that area.  What an amazing thing!  God is working in you and has better, bigger plans for you than you can even imagine!  You are an example of change. You can overcome ANYTHING that comes your way.  If you can change for the better in just one year, just think of where you will be in 5 years!

Remember that you deserve far better, and you are the one that allows people to treat you a certain way. If you do not hold yourself up to higher standards or respect, others will trample you and take advantage. *You is smart, You is kind. You is important* Believe it!

-Your Former Self

*This morning I was surfing around my favorite blogger sites. One of my favorite writers is "Me to the Power of We" .  She had a title called "Love Letter to Self". Before I could read it, I jumped on my blog and started writing a love letter to myself. After having such a tough week and feeling like there was no happiness in sight, I found this writing prompt to be very comforting.