Pssst! Thirty days of happy!

You guys know me well enough by now that when things get quiet here on the blog it’s usually because life has gotten crazy at home. The last month has been one of the tougher ones, I can’t really get into details publicly but it’s been an enormous amount of both emotional & physical ups & downs. I’d almost rather take all the bad at once than these hopeful ups followed by intermittent surprise downs, the stress makes me not as nice a person as I’d like to be & it certainly isn’t very compatible with being a blogger since when I’m going through a hard time I naturally go into my little home cave & keep to myself until life feels light enough to emerge.

There have been a few times I’ve started to sit down & write (I haven’t even shared my Sharpie TV segment with you guys yet) but each time they get left as half-written drafts & eventually I just close the tab on my screen without ever publishing. A few days ago however I found exactly what I needed! I was sifting through Instagram & I noticed that Disney (like I need to tell you who she is, she writes the wonderfully cotton candy sweetness that is Ruffles & Stuff) had dyed her pink hair blonde. She along with Kat from Sew Chibi had inspired me to go for my new pink ombre look (still LUVVVING by the way) & I was curious why she had given up her pink for the blonde, so I started digging through her archives & it didn’t take me long to find this post. In her words, she had “been feeling poopy” & to pull herself out of her rut she decided to focus on the wonderful little things that make her happy every day for 30 days. I immediately knew that was/is EXACTLY what I needed! I need a good month of daily reminders that my cup runneth over with love filled blessings!thehappy30

I’m going to be posting pictures everyday on my instagram account @mspinkmonster, FB page & twitter with a picture of that days’ ‘happy’ & then every couple of days I’ll come back here on the blog to expand on the journey. I know so many of you are going through some rough terrain on your life road & I encourage you to come take the thirty day happy journey with me! Just tag your picture with #TheHappy30

Thank you for the inspiration Disney, I really think this is exactly what I need to get out of my rut, it’s like ‘Count Your Blessing Bootcamp!’

I can’t wait to see what will come my way for ‘day 1′ but in the meantime, as a friendly reminder, I’m going to get this song stuck in your brain all day, one of my girls’ favorite videos too!

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Dear Sister

Dear Sister,

Today is my 34th birthday. I know, I’m so old right? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking today, it’s kind of hard not to be reflective on your birthday, especially the older you get. While I was in this moment of introspective reflection my thoughts kept drifting to you, all three of you actually…One of whom is in college, the other who is starting college this Fall & the third, my baby-ist of baby sisters is entering her final year of high school. I thought about all of the ways I view life now & how different it is than when I was your age. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a problem with the way you think, in fact, there’s a part of me that misses my twenty year old mind & all of her hope mixed with overly healthy self-esteem & naivete. Although I have to say, there is a lot I’ve learned in this past decade & a half that I think would have come in quite handy in my 20′s. Actually someone probably did tell me, I most likely just didn’t listen, that’s the downside of naively thinking you have it all figured out. I didn’t have a big sister however so maybe, just maybe, there is something special about a sister-ly bond that will make my words sink in a little deeper than all those other old people who like to give you unsolicited advice.

So here it goes, I’ll try to brief.

1. Be nice to your neighbors. Whether they be dormmates, roommates or eventually house neighbors they are the people who will probably be there when you didn’t anticipate needing someone. Much like today when I locked myself out of our house. No phone, no key, no way in. Luckily I have very kind neighbors who were able to let me into my other very kind neighbor’s house which held a spare key to our home. For years P & I mostly kept to ourselves, in fact, at our first home in Florida we didn’t even know our neighbors names, but since kids have come into the picture it gave us a reason to talk to those other families around us & you know what I’ve discovered? We were missing out to not do it sooner. Even if it feels a little uncomfortable spread out your social circle, you never know who you might end up finding.

2. Be respectful of your parents. Even when (if) you hate them. Now that I have kids, I have an advantage over you guys, I can see things from the other side. The dark side. And you know what? This is a really hard job & we’re totally figuring it out as we go along, I’m pretty sure our parents did the same thing because there is no magic manual. Now that you’re grown it means your parents have put two decades into pouring themselves into being & supplying everything you might need from infancy through teenagers in all their hormonal glory. It’s an exhausting & mostly thankless job but we don’t care because the love a parent has for their child isn’t something I can even begin to explain to you. What I can tell you is that while I can somewhat mentally prepare for Sam & Sophie (especially that little one) slamming some doors or bursting into dramatic tears I hope I never have to hear them say that they hate me. My eyes tear up at just the thought that they might not love me back one day, even if it’s just for a day. So even though you might feel like you’re going to explode with anger when they’re being completely & utterly unfair to you, watch what you say, I don’t think words sting harder to anyone than from a child to their parent.

3. Leave room to love each day for what it is. Whether it was the best day ever filled with roller coasters & first love’s kisses or the most mundane rainy Saturday that you spent in bed with a cold there is beauty to be found in each one. This may not be too hard for you now but one day you will have so many responsibilities that if you spend a day or two without ‘getting anything done’ you might start to beat yourself up for it. One thing I’m learning this year, because re-training your brain is a process, is that it’s ok if everyday I don’t meet all of my self imposed expectations, those days still have something wonderful about them. There are no days that were worth nothing.

4. Take time to do things you love, everyday if possible. It’s great to take a dance class, paint or get your nails done but even if it’s just taking 30 minutes to sit & watch trashy TV in bed with your favorite ice cream, every day we have on this Earth is a blessing & the least we can do is even on the craziest of days take a few minutes to spend it being happy.

5. While we’re on the subject of feelings let me fill you in on something that took me years to learn. Feelings are fickle. They can & will change on a dime & just because you aren’t happy right now doesn’t mean you won’t be tomorrow & the opposite is also true. Base what you know to be true on the foundations of what you believe, what you feel in your gut, not a fleeting emotion, even if it’s so strong it feels as though it may consume you, give it time to settle down & while you wait for your brain to catch up to your heart just try to keep your feet firmly planted in what you know to be true.

6. Take care of your body, it is the only one you get & later in life you’ll thank your younger self for keeping it in the best shape possible.

7. While I know college is a time of experimenting with boundaries & experiences there are certain things you should never ever do. No pills, no powders…ever. You don’t know what is really in that stuff, where it came from, or what it could do to you Don’t even try it. No unprotected sex, I don’t care what he says. Never drink & drive & just as importantly don’t you dare get in a car with someone who has been. I know I’m sounding so ‘mom-ish’ when I say this but most fatalities in DUI accidents are not the driver, it’s the passengers. If you’re worried about hurting their feelings or are scared to say something than lie. Normally, and this might be somewhere down the list, I would never encourage lying but in this case it’s ok. Just tell them you met someone else you’re going with, or if you see things are getting bad get out early so you’re not put in the situation of being in the car. Tell them you have a curfew, or a headache…then call me or call mom. I may be in Maryland but that doesn’t mean I can’t send a taxi to pick you up, anytime, anywhere, no questions asked.

8. Dye your hair pink or purple or blue. Get a pixie cut if that’s what you’ve always wanted to try, hair will always grow back. Try new styles of clothes & don’t be afraid to find what your ‘look’ is. Now is the only time in your life where you never have to say, “Am I too old to pull this off?”

9. Having your heart broken is one of the worst feelings you’ll experience. Chances are it will happen more than once in your life but here’s the good news. Even when you feel like you’re chest is going to explode with all of the sadness you’re experiencing remember when your sister told you that it happens to everyone and IT WILL PASS. You will get over him & you will fall in love again. I know how hopeless & painful a broken heart can be, it can last for days, even weeks, but I can promise you this, it always gets better.

10. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If the caps didn’t convey it than I’ll say it flat out, this is important! I 100% believe that all of us are given an innate sense of what is right & wrong. Call it a conscience or whatever you like but whether it’s a little knot in your stomach that you shouldn’t be doing what you’re up to or maybe it’s an uneasy feeling you get from someone who gets into the elevator with you trust that little voice! It’s almost never wrong & it can literally save your life. Don’t worry about hurting a stranger’s feelings or acting weird. I can think of multiple times that I’ve noticed a pair of headlights in my rear-view mirror that seem to be making all of the same turns I do & I drive right on past my house & out of the neighborhood again just in case this is that one time some creeper is following me home. If someone knocks on the door that you don’t know you don’t have to open it. Yes you may seem a little weird to be carrying on an entire conversation with someone through a closed door but better that than your bones being made into windchimes.

Finally, know when to shut up. Like right now… Whether it’s talking to your boyfriend, parents or baby sister(s) there comes a point when you just have to know that you’ve said your point & that’s all you can do. The older I get the more I see the value in using less words.

With that said I’m going to take my own advice & tell you this sister…

I love you. I’m always here if you need me, I remember the days each of you were born & now here you are, beautiful young women…I couldn’t be any prouder.

Love,

Natasha

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stylish mom: gladiator maxi

Today was such an awesome day! We’re in Tampa for a week and a half so since it was such a long trip I finally had enough time to spend a day with my sorority sister, college roommate, maid of honor & all around bestie Brooke. Even better she has two little girls that are the same ages as Sam & Soph, (and the cutest little boy named Jack who’s cheeks I found extremely hard to not nibble on) I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to be spending time with someone who was such a large part of my twenties & now we’re watching our little girls play together. ‘Surreal’ would be a good start. I guess we really are grown ups now.

All that to say Brooke mentioned to me that she wished I would share more ‘mommy fashion’ posts on LPM, my girlfriends back home in Maryland have also said the same thing & we got such a great response from the mommy fashion show on ‘Let’s Talk Live’ that I thought, “You know what, maybe I should share some more mommy fashion posts?” It’s amazing how I connected those dots isn’t it? I think the only reason I’ve hesitated is because it takes one of two things to be a fashion blogger, either a good set of cajones or a decent amount of self-delusion. Neither of wish I believe myself to have in abundance. Don’t get me wrong, I LUV my favorite fashion bloggers, it’s just hard to take pictures of yourself & consider what you look like/have chosen to wear to be so good that it’s worth sharing with the internet as a suggestion for what they should wear. Then there’s also that whole part of actually acquiring pictures of yourself, Sam’s tried but she gets a little trigger happy & most of the pics are of my nostrils. Today however my mom was here to take the picture & I really loved what I had on so I figured what the heck, let’s do a fashion post!

mommy fashion: gladiator maxi dress look mommy fashion: gladiator maxi dress look mommy fashion: gladiator maxi dress lookFree People Andrina’s Dress (on sale!), Gee Wawa Summer Haze Sandal (looks like the b&w I have is sold out but the cheetah is cute too), Alex & Ani assorted bangles, Turquoise Infinity ScarfBlack Bandeau

So what’s your vote? More outfit posts?

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Beauty How to: Rose Gold Eyeshadow (aka how to get compliments every single day)

I so wish I could remember where I saw this original idea so I could give due credit because I kid you not, I get compliments every single time I wear this combination of eye shadow. The pictures really don’t do it justice, you have to see the subtle yet noticeable fine pink sparkle that the sunlight will bring out, even indoors, especially that nice overhead lighting they have in department stores, strangers have literally stopped to ask me, “Excuse me, what eyeshadow do you have on?” Which is always nice, gotta take those little ego boosts when you can get ‘em.

It’s actually not one shadow, it’s a combo of a creme gold base with a soft slightly glimmery pink powder on top. Instead of an eyeshadow primer I use my BB Cream over my entire face (if you missed it, one day for whatever the heck reason I decided to do a youtube video with my entire makeup ritual, in case your curious) & then I apply a light coat of Bobbi Brown’s long wear cream shadow in ‘Goldstone’. I tend to put a little more towards the inner corner of my eye & blend towards the outside verses covering the entire lid. After that I apply a light coat of Laura Mercier’s shadow in Petal Pink. A little brown liner, a coat of mascara & that’s it, your new favorite summer eye look!how to: Rose Gold Eyeshadow by Little Pink Monster

**UPDATE: I found it!  This is the original tutorial & she actually uses Maybelline’s Color Tattoo in Gold Rush, which I cant personally vouch for but it’s certainly cheaper than the Bobbi one so if you get it please let me know! Her pictures are really fantastic too so take a peak, it kind of puts mine to shame but I’m ok with that. (;

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Our first garden: how to plant a cutting garden with your kids

How to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink MonsterHello my friend ((big hugs)), how have you been? Things have been crazy here, as usual, Sam came down with another one of her coughs, which was awful for her but also meant mommy being up all night with her, which as you know all too well equals fried brain cells. Luckily for me, & all of the plants I had purchased that were sitting on my deck beginning to wilt, she was better by Tuesday & we were able to finally plant our first garden.

This whole garden idea started one day in February when I asked the girls if they wanted to plant a garden this year. I’m pretty sure I got the idea from when it’s those last few months of winter & you are just dying for warm weather, green trees & flowers. I pictured myself & my little minions every day after school pruning away at our beautiful little flower garden, we’d talk about our day & be warm & tan & have little aprons that would be overflowing with all of the flowers that our beautiful little garden with a white picket fence around it would ever so effortlessly produce. Usually these perfect mommy daydreams I have come nowhere near actually manifesting into reality but the girls took this one hook, line & sinker. They have asked me almost every day since February if it was spring yet & time to plant our flower garden. Last week I was finally able to say, “Yes. Yes my lovelies it’s time to plant our garden!” ((insert high pitched squeals here from them & a reality check for me that I actually have no idea how to plant a garden. Oops.))

I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb. It’s not quite brown either, I’d say it’s a good amateur asparagus green. (lovely visual, right?) I’ve grown herbs on the deck, which required pretty much nothing of me, & some flowers in pots but never a real, in the ground, GARDEN. I chose a ‘cutting garden’ (a garden that produces flowers that are good for cutting, duh, I know) because I figured it would be pretty to look at in the yard & also would produce a quick & continuous payoff for the girls & myself. As I mentioned, I don’t know a lot about growing flowers so before I headed off to the nursery I did some self education via Pinterest. Better Homes & Gardens & other legit gardening sites were very helpful, I love this flower index BH&G has, but I also loved reading first hand accounts of other people’s experiences with cutting gardens. Yet another reason I love blogs. I really liked this lady’s the best, I think she might be British which made her even cuter, she actually seems to live in PA about 6 hours away from me, same difference, but what I loved most was her honesty about what worked & what did not. (a good dose of sarcasm never hurt someone’s chances of turning me into a loyal new blog follower either.)

So step one, choose a place. We have a decently sized yard but ever since buying a playhouse/swingset thingie last winter most of yard has become a high traffic play zone. I looked around wondering & then saw it, the bastard corner of the yard to the left of the deck that has become the dumping zone of cracked pots, moldy toys & other outside junk that at some point had been dumped in this area that was just out of sight from guests. Come to think of it, it was actually perfect, the majority of it got full sun (which most of the beautiful cutting flowers need, BH&G says ‘full sun’ is at least 6 hrs of direct sunlight) & it also offered a small part-shade section that would be perfect for the blue hydrangeas I desperately wanted.

How to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink Monster

Step two is the probably, no, most definitely the hardest part. You have to dig up & remove all of the grass, break up all of the ground to aerate it, & you’ll probably have to bring in some healthy topsoil too. Remember my ‘ah-ha decision to take small bites‘ , well, this is one of those moments where I knew doing it myself would be biting off more than I can handle & would most certainly end with brutal repercussions. This is where I feel kind of uncomfortable about blogging about this because I know not everyone is as financially blessed as we are at the moment but I want to be honest & not give the impression that I did all that hard work. I paid our yard guy to do it. I went out there & spray painted the outline in the yard & he & his crew came in, did their thing & left us with a beautiful blank canvas for our garden.

How to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink Monster

Step three, now it gets fun! I made a mental map of the garden & chose plants according to the sunlight & what I had read about their care needs. I wanted nothing that was going to be a fussy, needy, plant. We have enough fussy, needy creatures, including myself, in our house thank you very much. Through my reading I also discovered that different flowers bloom at different parts of Spring, Summer & even into Fall. (l told you I was new to this, stop laughing!) So, with a little planning our garden could keep producing a variety of flowers for the next 6 months, with that in mind I chose the following…How to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink Monster

I went to a few different nurseries in my area & here’s my take. Going to the big home stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s are ok but the selection is pretty dull & honestly the plants tended to look a little sad, like they’d been sitting around for awhile by the time they got there. The nurseries on the other hand had an amazing variety & I found that the people working there were experts & were more than happy to guide me through all of the different plants & even give some great advice on which to purchase. The prices did seem a bit higher than the big home stores but if the plant cost less but isn’t as healthy or what you really wanted than it’s kind of going to be a waste of money anyway, at least that’s how I justified it. For you local peeps I went to Potomac Garden Center & Behnke’s)

I bought mostly plants because I’m impatient, but I did also purchase some bulbs & ordered some seeds online for really beautiful vase fillers like White Bishop’s Lace & Mammoth Sunflowers

(I cant wait to have those beasts growing up the side of our deck!) How to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink Monster

I also bought cute little gardening gloves for the girls because I thought they’d be girly & not want to really get their hands in the dirt, it was a waste, they lasted about 10 minutes before being tossed aside, looks like my tomboy genes actually are somewhere in those little princess bodies, they were even playing with earthworms by the end! I’m sure ‘Queen Elsa’ the worm & ‘Princess Anna’ the worm are quite happy with their new dirt castles the girls built for them.How to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink MonsterStep four, planting, turned out to be one of those things my kids really want to to do but aren’t fully capable of doing correctly, I found myself having to walk that fine line of fixing their work while still ‘letting them do it’. I worked on planting the big boys & delegated the Cosmos & Snapdrapons to the girls. There was a lot of stopping what I was doing & helping them with each of theirs & it crossed my mind that I certainly could have done the whole garden in half of the time it was taking but I had to remind myself that this isn’t a garden for me, it’s for us, & in order for them to feel like they have ownership in it, which is what will reap all of those wonderful benefits like quality time, responsibility, pride in their work & just a whole lot of fun good memories, they needed to do it too.How to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink MonsterHow to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink MonsterHow to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink Monster

In one afternoon we planted the entire garden. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work & I was so sore the next day, at one point I asked P if I had run a marathon in my sleep or something because planting a garden should not have kicked my butt this hard!

It was of course completely & utterly worth it, the girls have been watering & tending to it…some more than others…How to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink Monster How to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink MonsterHow to plant a cutting garden:: Our First Garden with Little Pink MonsterI’ll be documenting our progress with our little family garden throughout the year so if you want to get in on it it’s not too late! I HIGHLY recommend planting a garden as a fun activity you can do with your kids. Remember how we talked about hating playing with Barbies, well I figure this way we can be pruning & caring for our garden together instead, it’s a win win my friend.

Think about it & if you do or if you already have one & have some knowledge to share then please share away in the comments below! Even better share a picture with me on Instagram, I’m @mspinkmonster & let’s use the hashtag #ourgarden so we can all see one another’s! Yay! This is going to be so fun! As long as it doesn’t die…that would suck.

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Small Bites

I’ve had an “ah-ha” moment…again. I feel like I’ve had a lot of those lately & I’m curious if me documenting this journey is helpful for you, or even entertaining. It’s very cathartic for me but I so wish I could pop my head through the screen & see who that is on the other side reading about my life. Blogging can be such a healing, communicative, wonderful medium but it can also be downright bizarre!

I see it’s been 12 days since I’ve posted, my first feeling when I see that is complete disappointment but on the flip side I’m learning a really cool lesson, actually I’d even call it a lifestyle change…I’m learning to take ‘Small Bites’. I’m no longer planning out my days & weeks in advance hoping to find some peace by forging a path of extreme organization & diligence that will lead me to my place in life, because isn’t that what we’re all looking for, instead I’m going to take life one nugget at a time.

To properly explain I should probably fill you in on the past 12 days…

So you know how I did the Easter Egg segment on TV last week with the girls? It was amazing, like, wow, dream come true where I just have to pinch myself because I can’t believe this is real life, & I got to bring my girls on TV with me, how ridiculously cool is that?! BUT, there is a catch. Those segments, even though they’re only 4-6 minutes long, take a ton of preparation. They usually air on Thursdays & I’d say it takes the entire week to prepare. I won’t get into all the details, all the details aren’t important, I just want you to get that it was a week of high stress, albeit good stress, but stress nonetheless. I’m sure you can relate. Then we also had family come visit for the weekend, once again, wonderful happy times & I just love having them but there just is stress when you have company coming to stay. Then it was Easter, oh dear, Easter.

Easter at little pink monster

(That was “Mr John” in the bunny suit by the way, best $24.99 I ever spent!)

Four years ago I decided I wanted to host an Easter brunch & egg hunt at our house. When we first moved here I had almost no friends so once we had a little handful of friends who had kids that were friends with our children I felt a need to strengthen our social circle by having people over our home. It makes me happy & I think it’s good for our family, it gives us roots & support. Annual Halloween & Christmas parties were already taken so I decided to claim Easter & make it an annual brunch & egg hunt. As gatherings you’re hosting can be, it was stressful, but always so much fun.

As time went by our family began to settle & grow & by last year we ended up having 40 people over our house on Easter! FORTY. My house is not big people, it’s a pretty average medium size house. It was also raining so we couldn’t even use our deck or outdoor space to help give people some room to breathe. It was amazing to see all these wonderful people that we’ve grown to love & share our lives with but it was also really overwhelming. All that to say this Easter, because of last year & also because I’m trying to consider my health limitations we still had the egg hunt & brunch but it was MUCH smaller. Only the morning show, my family that was here already & two friends with their kids. It was small but SO much fun, truly one of those days where at the end you plop down on the couch, look around & go, wow, that was really nice! BUT it was still work, it was preparation of food, shopping for eggs not to mention it was still a full day of being “on” which I now know being “on” for too long doesn’t go so well with my body. Once again, not complaining, this is all ‘fun stress’ but I’m learning even ‘fun stress’ isn’t good if you have too much of it. (Oh if only I had the innate laissez-fare of Sophie)

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I went to bed Easter night feeling extremely tired but also extremely relieved that my marathon week was over. I could finally relax…at least that’s what I thought.

On Monday morning I woke up at 4am with a raging migraine. The kind where any movement causes these horrible throbs of clutching pain across my forehead & down my neck, I took my regular migraine medicine (I’ve had migraines since I was a kid & almost always one dose of Imitrex completely resolves my headache) & tried to quietly get into the shower without waking the peacefully sleeping munchkins that had at some point crawled into my bed during the nights, & sat with the hot water running over my head, hoping it would off a little relief while I waited for the medication to kick in. I also remember eating crackers…in the shower. The thought was a little food would help the medication get digested & also help prevent any nausea. I’m chuckling now at the visual, I can’t be the only person who eats in shower, right?

After the hot water ran out I got out of the shower, wrapped my head in a towel & snuck back into bed. I was able to dose off for two hours until around 6:30a when Sam woke up. I opened my eyes to her tapping me, “Mama? Mamaaa? Wake up!”, & as soon as my eyes opened it truly felt like a truck was sitting on my head. You know when they ask you at the doctor how you’d rate your pain? (I hate that question by the way, it’s so subjective & I never know how to answer) This was for sure a “9″. I stumbled downstairs, grabbed a bad of frozen berries from the freezer & buried myself on the couch with the ice cold bag on my head. Thank goodness my Dad, Stepmom & sister were all still there because I just knew this was one of those migraines that would absolutely debilitate me & since the Imitrex obviously hadn’t worked I knew I needed to go to the ER. I asked my Dad to take me & then went through the drill of IV meds used for migraines & also nausea medication since I couldn’t stop vomiting, so much for the shower crackers, for the next 4 hours. Eventually the hospital meds re-hydrated me & did make enough of a dent in my migraine that I was able to go home & sleep for a few hours, every so slowly over the next 24 hours my migraine dissipated & I followed up with my doctor the next day. He said without a doubt the migraine was my body reacting to all of the stress. Even though they were all fun things, things I wanted to be happening, they were still stressful & the migraine was my body’s way of flicking the bird to my brain, shutting off the engine & saying “Screw you, I’m out.”

This experience left me in a really confusing position. How am I supposed to live my life, chase my dreams & give everything to my family if I also have to pull back so my body doesn’t hate me for it? After my doctor’s appointment I came home & the TV was on E!, I saw a promo for ‘Giuliana & Bill’ & I  thought to my myself, “How does SHE do it? She’s throwing herself into her career, (the promo showed how during her reality show she was also getting ready to launch a clothing line…in addition to HER REALITY SHOW) raising a baby & also beating breast cancer. THIS DOES NOT ADD UP! What am I doing wrong that I can’t pursue work, be a great mother, & also understand my bodies’ limitations? Of course in God’s perfect timing, the next day I had my monthly appointment with my therapist/life coach who I’ve been seeing to help guide me through all of the emotions & changes since receiving my diagnosis at Mayo Clinic. 

As soon as we sat down I told her, “Listen, I know we only have an hour so let’s get to it, I need to know, how do I pursue life to the fullest when I also have a body that has far more limitations than my mind does? I have so many opportunities & open doors right now, how do pursue them when I’m not allowed to push?”

I was pretty surprised by how quickly & easily she was able to answer that question, while I don’t remember her exact words it was something along the lines of this…

First, in order to function at your body’s full capacity, whatever that is, you need to be in optimal health. Whether it’s Dr’s instructions, exercise, paying attention to what you eat, or knowing your body’s threshold your first priority needs to be making sure you’re operating with a full tank of gas. Second, it’s ok to take ‘small bites’ when it comes to acheiving your dreams. It’s ok to take it one day at a time, to see your end goal & take little nibbles, as you can, to get there.

When she said that a wave of relief came over me.

When I think about everything I want to do right now it’s so easy to be completely buried at the thought of accomplishing it all, much less doing it with the asterisk of “don’t push yourself too much unless you want to end up in the hospital again.” I’ve found that it’s then all to easy for me to swing to the other end of the pendulum & just do nothing. This thought of ‘small bites’ though, whether it’s one task at a time, one day at a time, heck maybe even one hour at a time, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing if you want to change your life. It can be brick by brick, as you can & before you know it you’ve built your dream house.

Before this ER visit followed by my revelation in therapy I had been trying to plan out my life weeks at a time & you know what, I usually just ended up disappointed in myself for not being able to achieve it, or even worse I did push myself & then felt physically ill from trying too hard. Now though I’ve taken the guessing game out of how far I should push myself & in what direction out of it. I’m letting my faith lead me one day at a time.

I hope I didn’t just lose some of you by sharing that but it’s my honest truth & that’s what we do here on LPM, we don’t sugar coat it & we don’t censor ourselves, we share our unedited truths, however they may look.

While I have this vision of what I’d like my future to look like I truly believe that being on the path God has set for me, even if it looks different than what I’ve envisioned, will be what brings me true happiness & peace in the end. So with that in mind, just like having that ‘sweet spot’ of time with my girls every day, (which is still a work in progress by the way) now I also have a moment of quiet thankfulness every morning. I realize how granola, hippy trippy that might sound but I SWEAR to you it makes a true difference in my day.

It goes a little something like this…after I get home from taking the girls to school, before the tasks of the day take over, I sit down (I always look for the where the sun is shining in my house, there’s something about literally sitting in the light that makes me feel closer to God) & I sit, with my eyes closed & my hands open. Literally open your hands as if someone is handing you a gift. (because guess what, they actually are) Next, no matter how unthankful I feel at that moment I start to thank God, outloud, for everything I’m thankful for. An interesting thing usually happens when I do this, there’s something about saying outloud everything you have in your life that is wonderful that changes your perspective. For instance my mornings lately have been so hard with Sophie. Everything is a battle, putting on socks, getting your backpack, choosing the clothes…I don’t know how many times I do the warning count to 3 each morning…but when I’m in the process of thanking God for her I’m forced to list off everything I love about her…her strength, her zest for life, her mind that almost always sees life through an iridescent, sparkling bubble of Sophie-ness…can you see how this can change the way your morning was heading? (PS-It also works wonders for how you might be thinking about your spouse that day.)

My morning ‘quiet time’ isn’t just about reminding myself of what I’m thankful for, it’s also a time I ask God to lead me to what He wants for me that day. With those open hands, and now an open thankful heart, I pray everyday that God will use me as a vessel to help someone, somehow. There have been a few times where by doing this, by leaving behind the preconceived idea of where I wanted that day to lead me I’ve been able to experience an amazing circumstance where God used me to help someone in a way I didn’t see coming. I can tell you right now, that feels so much better than being able to check off any ‘to do’ list I had set for myself.

Of course there are still things that need to be scheduled, lists that need to be made & ‘checked off’, but as for ‘my path’ that I’ve been stressing so much about sprinting down I’m trying a new way of walking blindly. Somehow not knowing where I’m going is a heck of a lot more peaceful than seeing where I want to be & stressing about how to get there.

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Four *NEW* ways to decorate Easter Eggs!

There is something to be said for the nostalgic PAAS pack of little dye pellets, a wax crayon & a wonky wire scooper, I have a lot of good childhood memories with those kits, but this year I know too much. I’ve seen more glitter in my life & had more dye stained on my hands than hopefully any of you ever will but I’m here to say there is more, oh so much more, you can do with a little white egg! Below you will find all four techniques to create the eggs in the picture below along with two videos & tons of tips & tricks just in time for your Easter egg dyeing!Four New Ways to Decorate Your Easter Eggs:: by Little Pink MonsterFirst, I just can’t wait any longer to show you Sam & Sophie’s TV debut where they created a few of the eggs! (which even if you could care less about eggs you totally need to watch, I don’t think anyone heard a word I said because those two were so stinking cute to watch! Sophie’s face cracks me up to no end, I cannot believe she stayed still for so long. P later told after we got home from the TV station that “I never would have had the balls to take two kids on live TV, I didn’t want to scare you before but now I can say I  NEVER WOULD HAVE DONE THAT!” Lol, so glad he chose to keep that to himself pre-shooting!)Four New Ways to Decorate Your Easter Eggs:: by Little Pink Monster

We also weren’t able to get to the ‘nail polish marbling’ technique on the show which is a shame because it really is fun to do with kids & the eggs come out AMAZING so when the girls & I came home from the station I took advantage of us all being camera ready & we make a little You Tube video on how to marble eggs:

Now let’s go back to the beginning & start with expanding on the basics, dyeing the eggs. I learned through this blog posting from Not Martha that I could dye my eggs with food coloring instead of the pellets & achieve beautiful vibrant results instead of the waiting 15 minutes just to get pastel blue the old school way. I actually already had two packs of the PAAS dyeing kits so I went ahead & used those as my dyeing containers but any disposable cup would be just as easy. I didn’t have the exact same dyes as Not Martha so I veered from her recipe a little and did the following…Four New Ways to Decorate Your Easter Eggs:: by Little Pink MonsterI filled the largest Pyrex measuring cup I had with hot water & filled each of the containers so it would be just deep enough to submerge each egg. I also mixed two tablespoons of white vinegar into each. For the coloring I had to work with what I had which wasn’t much but we ended up being able to make…Four New Ways to Decorate Your Easter Eggs:: by Little Pink Monster

Each cup had around 20 drops of dye total, for example turquoise was 10 blue + 10 green, purple was 15 red + 5 blue because the blue tends to be really strong…just fiddle with it, you really can’t go wrong. Also a note on food coloring, the gel ones rock & the natural ones suck. I desperately wanted the all natural to work for edible items I’ve made in the past but they just aren’t there yet, especially for a project like this. I really like the McCormick Neon 4-pack or the Wilton Jewel Color Set, those are fantastic for homemade play-doh!

Once the eggs are dyed it’s time for the fun! How about my favorite, glitter polka dot eggs! We’re getting crazy here people! So crazy it’s all in italics, WOOHOO!

Four New Ways to Decorate Your Easter Eggs:: by Little Pink MonsterSimmer Down, I know.

These are so simple you’re going to say exactly what I did when I saw them, duh, why didn’t I think of that?! Simply stick a double sided glue dot (these are often used for hanging papers or other light objects) to the egg & then sprinkle glitter over it, shake off the excess & that’s really it! So easy it’s ridiculous. (I used Martha Stewart’s Neon Glitter Set for mine, so pretty.) It’s also a project the girls really loved, the dots are a bit hard to manage since they’re sticky on both sides so I placed those first & then let the kids sprinkle on the glitter. They even rolled the eggs in the excess glitter on the plate to get every single spot. The glitter on the non-spotted area easily wiped off. Just make sure you’re using completely dry eggs.Four New Ways to Decorate Your Easter Eggs:: by Little Pink MonsterThe chevron taped eggs are one of those things I saw on Pinterest & so wanted to make but then just couldn’t quite get right. I think my problem was the tape, this girl pulled them off beautifully but she used electrical tape which I know I bought because I remember seeing all the pretty electrical tapes at Lowes & thinking, “Oooo, pretty tape, but I don’t do anything electrical…but it’s purple!” & I bought it. Ironically now that I actually have a use for it I couldn’t find the darn thing anywhere. So I went with what I could dig up, some washi tape & some regular scotch tape. In the end I had two problems with the project…one, cutting all the pieces identically enough so the zig zags would look nice, that was turning out to be way more work than an Easter Egg should require. So I winged that part & it wasn’t too bad but what did kind of suck was the tape leaked. I’ll admit they do have kind of a cool 80′s rockstar vibe going, but not what I had in mind. Four New Ways to Decorate Your Easter Eggs:: by Little Pink Monster

Here are a few more tips for marbling the eggs with polish that I didn’t mention in the video above: Four New Ways to Decorate Your Easter Eggs:: by Little Pink MonsterDO use a disposable bowl, fill it 3/4 of the way full with water

DO drizzle lines of polish across the water, you can use multiple colors if you’d like, just work quickly

DONT use glitter nail polish, it globs

DONT dip the whole egg at once, we learned the hard way that it would inevitably end up sticking to the surface it was left to dry on, not to mention the yucky sticky fingers…

DO dip one half at a time

DO swirl it around to create the ‘marbling’ effect

DO skim off any old polish on the surface before dipping the next egg

The final egg decor really doesn’t need a ton of explanation, I saw this post where she made cool lego eggs using temporary tattoos on eggs, so clever right? Turns out they stick to plastic or real eggs…Four New Ways to Decorate Your Easter Eggs:: by Little Pink Monster You can buy about 1000 Easter tattoos on Amazon & let me just tell you, give your kid a sponge, a bowl of water, temporary tattoos & a pile of plastic eggs & you’re going to have a good 45 minutes of complete occupation. You’re welcome. Although one last thing to note, don’t leave your child alone with tattoos when they’re supposed to be on TV the next day, I do believe we’ll be finding Sophie a sweater to wear. Oops

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There is a Second Chance for Happily Ever After.

My best friend got married this weekend! Normally this would be a fairly exciting thing to share, you would assume that this beautiful bride finally found her ‘soulmate’ & now that she’s found her one true love they can start their lives off together & live happily ever after…

Except there’s more to the story…and it makes it amazing!

I asked Meg if I could share her story on my blog because I knew it could give great hope to so many women out there who are currently in the situation she found herself in a few years ago. I was with Megan on the day she found out her husband had been unfaithful. I was with her in the following weeks & watched helplessly as everything in her world crumbled around her, it was horrible to see someone I loved go through so much pain, it broke my heart, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be her.

I met Megan 7 years ago when we bought our house, she was our real estate broker & when she showed up to take us house shopping in the exact same blouse from Express that I had I instantly knew I liked her. In fact, everyone who meets Megan likes her, she’s one of those people who you just know beyond a shadow of a doubt is a genuinely good person. Her cheerfulness is contagious & being near her makes you feel happier whether you want to or not. That was one of the saddest parts of seeing her going through her divorce, that sparkle went away. In fact, since I’ve lived here 3 of my good friends have gone through separations from their spouses & with every single one I wondered, “WHY THEM?!” They have all been pretty, kind, intelligent women who loved their families more than life itself but somehow woke up one day & realized their husbands’ wanted something else. Someone else.

So here’s the thing, I remember in the months after Megan & her husband separated that she & her kids spent a lot of time at our house. She has two little girls that are almost exactly the same age as Sam & Sophie so it worked out well that the kids could run around happily distracted & Meg & I could sit at my coffee table & talk. Or not talk, it came to a point where there was nothing more to talk about & all she could do was just sit, kind of like a shell of the girl I once knew. She went through the motions but that sparkle, heck even just a little bit of the light in her eyes was all but gone. I couldn’t tell you how many times P & I would tell her, “Meg, you’re a young, beautiful, smart woman who has so much to give, you’re going to get snatched right up as soon as you’re ready!” We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Megan would marry again. Somehow, and I can’t explain it, I just KNEW that at some point, maybe even just around the bend of the sad road she was on, was going to be a man that was not only going to adore & honor her but also would love her children as his on. I just knew it. I tried to tell Megan this but she just wasn’t capable of seeing it. Not only the thought of being able to give herself, her trust, to another man seemed unlikely but she just couldn’t see what kind of man would want to marry a thirty something year old woman with two kids. We could see it but it was a long time before she could.

The happy ending here is that time did go by & Megan did heal ever so slowly. During this time Meg not only found out how to move on but really found out who she was & just how strong she really was. In God’s perfect time she did find that man who we knew was out there, and I have to say, he’s even better than any of us expected.

wedding3(Nate presenting both of Megan’s girls with a necklace to remind them of his promise to take care of them as well)

wedding2(this is right about the time I lost it…me and everyone else!)

I have no doubt that Megan has found her happily ever after. Will there be bumps in the road? Of course, as there is with any relationship but this time, these two, I know will always cherish one another till death do they part.happily ever afterI don’t know why God’s plan was for Megan to find her ‘soulmate’ the second time around. I know she’s struggled with mourning the loss of her old idea of her ‘family’, but I also know that what she has now has made her so much more grateful for this new family. I know I have friends now who could use a story of hope, a real life example of how the dark sad place they’re in is actually not a dead end road, there’s a bend up there somewhere & around that corner is a new way, a new life, and it is beautiful. I hope this helps them…you.

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clean your plate: time to reheat the leftovers

Were you here a week or so ago when I wrote about “Cleaning your plate”? One of the things I told you I was going to try & change was dedicating one hour, a “sweet spot”, of time every day to spending quality time with my girls. I’m at a point in my life where my plate is really overflowing with what’s happening, good and bad, & I found I was going to bed with guilt every day that my girls were just being dragged around my busy-ness & weren’t getting enough of my full attention. So the one hour each day sounded like a completely doable great idea, right? And it went that way for a few days, it was really wonderful but then I missed one, which then turned into two, which continued until here we are two weeks later & it’s totally not happening anymore. At my followup appointment with my therapist I answered honestly about this & told her I felt so guilty & moreso really frustrated & even hopeless that I couldn’t make my new commitment happen for even 2 weeks. My therapist’s answer however was awesome & has really changed the way I look at frustrating situations in my life. Instead of saying, ok, well you’re a terrible mother who’s priorities are out of whack & now you’re a failure (which is initially how I felt) or that this idea was obviously unattainable & should be scratched completely she took a different approach. She asked me, “Why do you think you didn’t spend that hour with the girls? What kept you from it?” I thought for a minute, thinking back to all the busy afternoons we’d had & what the heck I was so busy doing, & decided there were really three things that were repeatedly keeping me from spending that committed quality time with Sam & Sophie. They were:

Forgetting, Fatigue & what I like to call “The Afternoon Crunch”

We then went through each, one by one, & tried to find a way to make them a non-issue in the future.

Forgetting: There were days where I truly would flat out forget that after school we were going to be doing things differently. I would come home, put away the backpacks, let the dogs out, get the kid’s a snack, open the mail…and before I knew it I was back in the motions of the afternoon scramble. To prevent this I needed to make it a commitment, same as if it were any other appointment. It’s now in my daily calendar as a blocked off time which means just like my other events I’ll get a reminder every day & also in the morning when I check to see what’s on the schedule.

little pink monster

Fatigue: This is a tough one. Sometimes because of my health limitations I’m just totally spent by 3:30 & truly need to just lay on the couch for an hour or so. We talked about this for awhile & decided (much to my relief to hear someone else say) that on those days IT’S OK to set the girls up with a coloring project or put a movie on & just be “with them” even though I’m not able to be physically interacting.

“The Afternoon Crunch”: That’s what I’m calling all of those end of the day things that you just haven’t done yet. For example, the doctor’s office closes at 5 so you have to call them before they close, or you need to run to the grocery store because you didn’t go earlier & there’s nothing for dinner…I could come up with a hundred things that come up during that closing of the day crunch time. This is probably the hardest one to overcome & my therapist had a great explanation as to why that is.

Kid’s don’t have deadlines.

Spending time with your children is not something that if you don’t do that day you’ll get a late fee. It’s such a slippery slope too because it’s easy to think to yourself I can always spend time reading to my kids (or whatever your chosen quality time activity is) the next day & then sometimes, that next day can turn into another day & all too quickly it’s months that your kids have missed out on your quality time good intentions that never came to be. The only solution to this is it has to be a conscious choice that you make & then stick to. It’s about making a mental decision that this is important to you, to your values, & you’re going to do it. It will take planning around it just as if it were a meeting on your calendar that you couldn’t cancel.

And here’s the thing it won’t be easy. Another point my therapist made that was really helpful was to admit something that none of us parents want to say. “It is not fun to play with my kids” I know, I said it, & I’m slightly worried you might throw rocks at me through my computer screen but I’m afraid it’s true & I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. I HATE playing Barbies, I can do it for around 10 minutes before I find that I’m creating a scenario where Barbie takes a terribly suspicious plunge from the 3rd floor of her pink dream house. Here’s the good thing about admitting this, you’re a lot less likely to continuously make yourself do something you don’t enjoy, instead you can create a list of ideas which you can pull from that will be enjoyable for both you & your little one. It’s just like finding a way to exercise that you also like, you’ll be much more likely to commit to it. In the end, everyone wins. Except Barbie, which kind of makes me happy, that girl has everything.

Here are a few activity examples that we came up with which both the girls & myself can enjoy, keep in mind your list could be completely different than mine, whatever works for you & your kids is the goal.

Craft Projects are big for us. (duh) This would be anything from making homemade play-doh together to using a craft kit like the seasonal foam sticker ones from Michael’s or one of those cute sets Melissa & Doug make.

Art Work: If I’m not feeling great this is good one, I google whatever each of my kids are into that day & include the term “coloring pages”, (i.e. “monster high coloring pages” “fireman sam coloring pages” “butterfly coloring pages”) you’ll be amazed at how many free coloring pages are out there! All you have to do is print them out & you’ve got some new images (rather than that half colored coloring book you have that they’re tired of) that you can all sit down & color together. You’ll be surprised how therapeutic coloring as an adult can be!

Gardening: This is a bigger one but one I’m dedicated to making it happen. As soon as we’re in the clear from more freezes the girls & I are going to plant a cutting garden (strictly flowers) & I think it’ll be good for us to spend a little time outside everyday tending to our plant babies. This is my first garden so you better believe I’ll be on here blogging about the process & asking for your help!

Other quickies that I don’t mind are puzzles, using the play kitchen to play ‘restaurant’, hide & go seek, pretend cooking together or doing hair & nails. (I’d be clueless with a boy so if you have great boy ideas please leave them in the comments for the other boy mommies!)

So starting this week I’m starting again. It’s funny, I have been very gradually learning to look at my life & react to it a little differently than I have in the past. A few years ago in this situation I would have felt the same guilt but it would have stayed with me which often sabotages your efforts in the future, which creates more guilt, which puts you in a bad place to change anything, which creates more guilt…you see where that’s going. This time however when what I was trying didn’t work & I felt the guilt, instead of just focusing on that I had failed, my therapist showed me how to concentrate on figuring out why I failed & then breaking it down so I could see how to remedy it. I believe you could call that making a plan. And you know what, sometimes you have to change the plan mid-game, & that’s ok.

So many of you chimed in, even my close friends that I had no idea felt the same way, after the “clean your plate” post that I wanted to make sure I kept things honest & let you know how things were actually turning out, we’re in this together right? I like to think so. (:

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LPM on Let’s Talk Live: Spring Fashion for Everyday Moms

Woohoo! I’m so excited the awesome ladies at ‘Let’s Talk Live’ loved this idea & let me roll with it!

I love my fashion magazines but I get so annoyed that all of the articles about the upcoming trends feature outfits made for wearing to an office, cocktail party or weekend in the Hamptons. What about us everyday moms who want to feel stylish & cute but also first & foremost need to be comfortable & practical? I don’t care how hot those 4″ platforms are, I will not be a happy mama after a day of toting two kids to the grocery store, Target, preschool & the playground & will then be mad for spending my money on something that isn’t practical for my real life. So I was thinking, why don’t we do a segment where we can take some of the hot Spring trends & translate them into pieces any of us could wear on any day?!

They loved the idea & after some scouting for great, practical looks & some AWESOME help from stylists at Free People & Nordstrom we put together a fun mini fashion show for everyday moms. You can watch the segment here & then look below for all of the outfits featured! I’d also love to here your fashion tips or favorite pieces for the Spring in the comments below!

(A HUGE thank you to the lovely ladies at Free People Bethesda at Montgomery for all of your help, you have such a wonderful understanding of your mommy clientele & also I can’t say enough about Michelle, she’s a personal stylist at Nordstrom Montgomery Mall who styled the ladies & let me say, this girl GETS IT. Her services are free & she is AMAZING, just call Nordstrom to set up an appointment with her!)

LPM Spring Trends on Let's Talk Live!

 

LPM Spring TrendsModel #1: Kelly (purchased at Free People Montgomery mall except for the shoes which can be found on Amazon)

Twisted Solid Harem Pant $68

Fly Away Tank $68

Knit Hooded Denim Jacket $148

Electric Stone Hard Bangles $28

Toms Burlap Wedge $68.50

Model #2: Danni (purchased from Target, Forever 21 online & Steve Madden)

Mossimo Back Zip Tee $19.99

Mossimo Moto Vest $17.99

Go Baroque Pants $14.80

Steve Madden Troopa Boot $99.95

Model #3 Corinne (all purchased from Nordstrom Montgomery Mall)

Caslon Utility Jacket $78

Hinge Lace Yoke Sheer Floral Tank $24.97

Rag & Bone Boyfriend Jean $198

Harper Bootie by Sam Edelman $99.95

South Sun Pendant Necklace $18

Michael Kors Reversible Leopard Belt $42

Model #4 Amy (All purchased from Free People Bethesda or Free People Online)

Washed Denim Overall $98

Ciao Belle Tee $78

Coin Layering Necklace $48

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