When the going gets tough: letting go of perfect

I've decided that when making a commitment to better health, fitness, eating...the hard part isn't starting. God knows in the past few years I've "started" many, many times. The hard part comes when you hit a bump in the road, when you lose some of your motivation, when you're busy, when life gets chaotic. That's when it gets hard because it tests whether you're going to keep on going, or give up.

I feel like since late summer, early fall--I've been in the hard part. I've been trying to figure out where this time for myself--exercising, planning my meals (that are oftentimes different from my family's meals), getting to the gym--fits in to a suddenly overwhelming family schedule. 

One of the first things to throw me off the rails is chaos and lack of a smooth, low-key schedule. (*cue maniacal laughter*). That's pretty much my whole life right now. And I've discovered something about myself along the way--I struggle when I'm not doing this whole journey perfectly

And while that might sound like a wonderful thing, it can be really defeating when you mess up. There were days this summer where I wouldn't 'stick to the plan' and so instead of going to the gym or checking in the with nutritionists who are helping me on this journey, I'd say to myself, "I can't go in there until I'm back on track. Until everything is perfect again." Turns out if you wait for 'perfect', it's not going to happen. 

So I had to adopt a better attitude. Not sticking to it for a meal or a day or a moment, doesn't screw up everything. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, for pete's sake. 

The good news is, I'm back at it. I'm back on track and feeling good. (Could this possibly be why I'm writing about it again? I may be guilty.) The other good news is that even during this "bump", I still never lost sight of the big goal. I knew what I was going through was a temporary re-adjustment but I still felt extremely committed to the long-term. And I still know this time it's gonna work. I don't want to lose what I've lost and worked so hard for. Apparently, I just had to climb this hill first.

As always, thanks to so many of you who have emailed, commented and lamented, and who have said, you're in the trenches, too. Whatever the goal, I hope we all can help push and encourage each other along the way. 

More soon...xo.

From the weekend : food, family, rest

If I had to choose three words to describe my weekend, it would be food, family, and rest.

A full day of rain on Saturday was perfectly timed and I was secretly cheering at the gift of a day with no soccer games  (don't tell my children). And this rainy Saturday conveniently hit when I was also knocked out with a two-day headache that just wouldn't quit. To be able to go back to bed at nine o'clock in the morning, and then again in the late afternoon, nursing my headache and escaping crazy schedules and running around? It was a beautiful thing.

We ate dinner at Waffle Hill Farm Saturday night. One of my most favorite things. Brisket and potatoes. Apple cake and ice cream. New Zealand guests. Wine and candles. Orioles on in the background. Kids lost somewhere, playing in another room. I love to soak it all in. 

Sunday I stayed home from Mass to continue nursing my headache and my smallest sidekick stayed with me. Eventually, we made our way to the kitchen to tidy up breakfast dishes, put away magazines and school books and mail that had piled up on kitchen island during the week, and then made our way back to the sofa for morning news. 

The afternoon was spent grocery shopping, horseback riding, and a little Rick Steves-watching. All of us getting a serious case of wanderlust. 

Sunday night, we gathered together as a family again. A much needed time together before a family member begins chemotherapy this morning, the next step in his cancer recovery. It was good to be together. To do the normal things like Sunday hot dogs and laughter and groups of us scattered around the room telling stories and catching up. And then there were the special things in light of what's ahead--the prayer before dinner, the hugs and the holding hands. 

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. Love your people. xo.

Just what we need at Woodlawn

If there's one thing you hear me say it's that we need more girls around this place.

So ten new heifers milling around the fields outside the house? No big deal. They arrived on Monday and we've been talking about things like the fact that the electric fence is now turned on, what songs they probably want to have sung to them, and who gets the orphan with the black and white face. 

They are currently being named and claimed. And serenaded (though not by trombone.) And last night, I found a certain 12-year-old flat on her back in the middle of the field doing homework and hoping curiosity would bring them in greet to her.

I told the girls we need to come up with a theme for name-selection. 

We're open to suggestions. 

Happy weekend friends! It's been wonderful being back here so much this week. Feels like old times. Must get back in the habit.

More soon...xo.

More than just clean teeth

My girls and I were asked by our friends from Social Stars to take a look at these products from LISTERINE® SMARTRINSE. We were sent some goodies and tested out the products as part of our nightly bedtime routine. My promise to my blog readers is that I will only share sponsored posts on this blog if they are for products I would recommend to my friends, purchase myself, and have some connection to something I am learning, working on, teaching my children or care deeply about. So if I'm sharing it here, know that it's because I think it's worthy of sharing.

I went to the dentist last week and I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't been in the dentist chair in quite awhile. Long enough that I couldn't remember the last time, and had to put a big fat question mark on that part of my new patient form. It's the classic "no dental insurance, put the kids' teeth before my own teeth" scenario. Thankfully, through the power of good genetics and good brushing, my thirty-eight year streak of no cavities and no fillings has continued.  And the dentist office was quick to make sure I would be back in six months and keep up with my healthy teeth. I promised I would.

I have to admit that in my current commitment to better health, my eyes have been opened to the power that lies in taking care of all of oneself. 

In my blissful youth, I was the kid who never had to worry about her skin. But the bliss of those days is apparently over as I've hit my late thirties. And I have adopted a Skin Care Routine. As crazy as it may sound, taking care of my skin has been an eye-opening experience. Those five minutes I take at the end of the evening to pull back my hair, wash my face and put on a little magical cream feel so important. Not only the fact that it's good for my skin, it's been good for my soul as well. 

Cavities are SCARY! 

Cavities are SCARY! 

Setting aside that time, caring enough about myself to take care of myself, and take time for myself? That's so important--for health, for heart, for self-esteem, for outlook on life. I know, I know, it seems like a bit much to get from a five-minute face washing, but I am convinced that these healthful habits are important and set a pattern for healthful habits in other areas of my life. 

It's this same intention--the importance of caring for yourself--that I'm trying to teach my girls. While we're not needing to worry about blemishes and zit creams yet, we can start off on this same path by taking good care of our teeth. 

Lately, that's meant not only standing in front of the mirror brushing, but also adding more to that nighttime routine, including flossing and using mouthwash. I want my girls to know that taking care of their teeth isn't just about cavity prevention, it's also about taking care of the whole self. It's about setting aside time to establish healthy habits--something that will serve them well in all areas of their lives. 

The girls recently got a fun package in the mail full of teeth-care-taking goodies from the folks at Listerine. Now, if you live in a house of girls, you can probably guess there's a little bit of excitement over pink mouthwash, purple dental floss and cool toothbrush holders that suction cup to your mirror. 

It was the perfect way to continue to encourage the point I am trying to make--that caring for teeth is more than just clean teeth. But in the meantime, while they're swirling and spitting and I'm feeling good about them taking care of their bodies--the LISTERINE® SMARTRINSE is cleaning up the gunk their toothbrushing didn't get, strengthening their teeth and taking care of their whole mouth. Because a happy mouth is a smiley mouth. And who wouldn't want to see this crazy smile?

Want to know more about LISTERINE SMARTRINSE®? It helps prevent kids' cavities, and strengthens teeth 99% better than brushing alone. It cleans in places the toothbrush cannot reach (and c'mon we know kids aren't the best brushers), and provides up to 12 hours of cavity protection. And my girls say the pink is the best. Sorry boys. 


14 things I've learned by sending my homeschooler off to school

If you haven't picked up on it already one of the big changes for our family this fall has been that we made the decision to send Emma off to middle school...no more homeschooling for my oldest girl. It was definitely a big decision. But I wouldn't necessarily describe it as hard. I think we all knew the timing was right and once we found the place that was the right fit, everything seemed to fall into place. 

For her mama, it meant a lot of anxiety this summer. I felt like I needed to soak up every moment before sending her off for seven hours of her day, five days a week. And there's nothing like sending your child off to school to dredge up all those homeschooling insecurities that are always swirling around in the back of your head. It was easy to let myself doubt all the things I'd taught her and start to panic about the things she 'wasn't going to know.' 

Turns out, I was the only one who would have a bumpy transition, and she'd slip right into the routines of school days, homework, schedules and uniforms. 

I'm liking how this year is unfolding. I'm loving getting up early--making the school run and coming home to chores, a little laundry and an earlier start to our homeschool day.

With one month under my belt, I've learned a few things about sending my homeschooler off to school, (shared with you in list form because I live and die by lists these days). 

  • Every day is not an evaluation of my abilities as a homeschooling parent. Some things she'll get, some things she won't. But so will every other kid no matter their educational background.
  • When she gets home from school she'll be hungry. Very hungry. Have a big snack.
  • It's okay if she goes to school with homework she did all by herself, and it's not perfect. That's what her teachers are for. (Also. See bullet point number one.)
  • Teachers aren't trying to trick her into failure. (These words were spoken at our parent night and I may have sighed audibly.) "We're here to help. We're on their side. We're not trying to trick your child into failing." Bless it.
  • Lunches get progressively more uninspired as the week goes on.
  • School drop-off outfits get progressively more uninspired as the week goes on.
  • Even though you taught her math last year, suddenly when she asks for help with homework, you can't remember a darn thing.
  • On the days you're on time to school, you'll get all green lights.
  • On the days you're late to school, you'll get behind a school bus. (or a tractor.)
  • If you bring the puppy on drop off, he's going to end up on her lap, in the front seat of the car, licking her face, spilling your coffee, and trying to jump out and see all the fun kids playing outside the school.
  • Despite all the things you read on what to say or questions to ask your child to encourage her to open up and share about her day, the thing that works best is a little bit of quiet and a little bit of space. It seems like she's always willing to share, when I'm not prying for details. 
  • Even though you can't wait to see her when the day is done, you'll still need to set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to stop what you're doing and go pick her up from school.
  • You will consider adopting school uniforms for the whole family. It's so nice.
  • A really good travel mug is key. Because, coffee.