Tuesday, October 27, 2015

To the Mama at the Pumpkin Patch

To the Mama at the Pumpkin Patch,

Yes, you.  I saw you.  You had your tiny baby in a carrier and you were trying to make sure she was warm enough on this brisk fall day all while trying to sit comfortably on the wagon ride with your rambunctious toddler.  You might have caught me staring out of the corner of my eye while my little girl was sitting calmly in my lap. No, I'm not a bitch, and I wasn't judging you.  In fact, I was doing just the opposite, I was reminiscing- longing for the time that that was me.  I was young, halfway frazzled, tired, and yearning for every holiday to be picture perfect.  I did the pumpkin patch, had the perfect costumes planned out for weeks in advance for my kids- usually in a family theme, and had matching totes or buckets for each kid to happily trick or treat with.

But ya see, things change.  This year as I sit quietly with my little one, she doesn't have on the perfect Halloween monogrammed outfit like her sister would have worn. Instead of being so excited about the trip and for this very wagon ride, I'm somewhat doing it to check the box- ya know just going through the motions making sure my little girl gets her special time- and to be honest, I am really thinking how many times am I going to have to go down that damn bumpy slide before we have to call it a day to meet the kids at the bus stop.  Ya see, this is my third kid and she goes with the flow.  There are times when we look at her and wonder if she's had a bath this week- Ya know, a real one where her parts were washed and she wasn't just playing in a tub full of bubbles while I brow dried my hair.  Her Bubber and Sissy are in school and truth be told we have baseball and softball tourneys this weekend so the likelihood of this sweet little girl getting to carve a pumpkin is slim to none.  And her costume will be bought at the last minute and won't be from that Chasing Fireflies catalogue and if she wants the tacky Paw Patrol costume, then so be it.  My kids might even use plastic grocery bags for candy so I can save money and my son might just be a gangsta like he's been begging to be.  No, not one with a dapper suit and gun, but one that sags his pants and is so politically incorrect it's not funny but the fact that he thinks it's something he can dress up as and not be makes this Mama happy. Oh yeah, and mainly because I can pull that one together for free- so don't shoot me.

Yes, I've been looking at ya because the chaos that you are living right now is precious.  Part of me wants to bless your heart and the other part wants to just have that moment back for even a second.  People will tell you all the time that it gets easier... but I'm going to tell you that that's a lie.

Life will get different.  Not easier, not harder, just different.  I'm still tired. I think I'll be tired for the rest of my life.  My oldest turns eleven tomorrow.  Every day I'm checking homework, worrying if someone has said something about his face breakouts, running him to and from practice, and praising Jesus he didn't get in trouble on the bus.  My eight year old is into watching you tube videos and it drives my hubby and I nuts.  We hope to goodness our parental controls are enough and I'm not gonna lie, I kind of follow this random Bratayley family right along with her.  I want to cry when there are girl fights going on at school because yes, it starts as early as eight. Get ready for it.  And last night when I said, "I love you morether." to her because that was we have always said to one another and she said, "Mommy, you know morether is not really a word," a little piece of my heart broke.

I look at you and I can't even imagine what the mothers of tweens, teens, college aged kids, and early twenty somethings look at me and want to think or say.  I'm only a step ahead of you girlfriend and I have so much to go through and it's only just beginning. My kids first love, first heartbreak, proms, driving lessons, weddings...  There is still sooooo much. As my kids grow, so does my love for them. Every second of every day- When I am disappointed, about to pull my hair out, ready to cry, bursting with pride, laughing from their jokes... every single second my heart swells and they don't even know it.  Half the time, I don't even know it... As parents we countdown until bedtime and thank the Lord we made it through the day and don't realize it until moments like these how amazing parenthood really is.

So, yes, I'm looking at you.  While you scramble after your snotty nosed toddler and are probably mapping out how you are going to cram in a diaper change, feeding, and get those two sweet babies home without dozing in the car so you can still take advantage of naptime, I will squeeze my own little girl and enjoy my time here at the pumpkin patch just like this is my first rodeo.  She deserves it.

I will look at you and see myself.  I won't tell you this too shall pass, better times are coming ahead, and I won't even tell you that you're going to miss this.  If you notice me looking, I will tell you enjoy this moment in time because though you might not be thinking it now-  we are the lucky ones.

Squeeze them, hug them, love them. It goes so fast.

The Mama who should have packed a sippy cup and have a hat on her kid because it's cold outside

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Life on the sideline

My skin is covered in a layer of dirt and I can feel it in my teeth.  I didn't keep my promise of quitting Diet Coke because I've been shuttling between fields all weekend.  I might not have changed my daughter's diaper because we were in a tense game and she might be covered in dirt from head to toe. And I might be way too excited because I heard I haven't missed out on the online store deadline and I can still order a team sweatshirt that will surely take up a day of the week's wardrobe and be sported every Sunday.  Yep, I'm a travel sports Mama.

I won't try to lay it on the line about how I love it so, because to those that aren't "one of us" you probably just don't get it.  Although you respect others, you probably roll your eyes about the time commitment and over hype of youth sports. Trust me, I get it.  When I saw 30 parents lined up with iPhones grabbing a picture of their daughters claiming their tournament trophy- ya know a trophy like thousands of girls collected at tournaments all over the country today- I even had to take a minute and laugh. 

I get it.  I get it all.  And I love it. 

I had one kid that was undefeated and Champions of a tourney this weekend, and I had another that struggled and was defeated in their tourney.  Yep, an 0-for weekend.  And I loved them both the same.

Yes, there were moments this week where I might have been psycho sports mom- where I caught myself finding joy in the fact that other travel teams are struggling and it's not just us.  And I was disgusted at myself for even thinking and feeling that way. Yep, there was a night where I might have gone bat shit crazy because I didn't get my kids showered and in bed until ten at night on a school night due to practices. Yes, there was even a hot second where I was googling other teams records and checking them out.  Crazy.  Even I'll admit it.  Because at the end of the day does any of this travel sports crap even matter?  Nope.

But to those of us that cave to it, we get it.

Today, I saw the biggest smile on my daughter's face.  I saw the love of a game, a hobby that has helped her grow from a 4 year old barely hitting a ball off the tee to a little girl with hopes, dreams, and friendships that I have no doubt will last a lifetime.  Not to mention confidence, work ethic, and a discipline like no other.

And my son- well, I saw a boy that is on a team that is in a "growth" season.  New players, new families, tension, disappointment, such high hopes, and everything in between.  I also saw a boy ready to show up at the next practice, give it his all, and an ability to start over next weekend. I saw a team full of so much potential its scary... that I have no doubt if they see the course will gel... and do amazing things.  Above all else, I saw the promise of a new day and a boy doing what he loves.

 For some of us,  no matter how much this whole youth sports thing gets bashed or misunderstood we will still love it, swell with excitement at game time, and be those proud parents lined up taking photos because there's no better feeling in the world than seeing your kids do what they love. And when I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw it all staring right back at me.  It's a short season we don't want to end.  Defeated or undefeated, it's simply a way of life.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Live and Learn...

I am not a designer.  I have no background or education in decorating.  And some may get sick of me posting photos of my house because they are just average.  Yesterday, I went through a model home with my mom and let me just say- WOW!  It was divine.  Lovely. Breathtaking... and yes, I walked away thinking- my house sucks.  Don't ya hate it when that happens?

What I am is a stay at home mom married to an awesome man that would be happy living in a trailer and using plastic patio furniture in our kitchen (brilliant idea by the way, we might have done that in college.:)). No joke, he once wanted to take a flying job in Hawaii and we couldn't afford the cost of living so he really propositioned me with getting a U-Haul to live out of and claiming we'd have oceanfront property and could drive around to beaches and be gyspies.  Don't you worry, he had it all planned out and was going to get me a gym membership so that I could shower.  Totally looking out for me.  True story.  Although looking back, that might have been pretty fabulous and I could have lived out my hippie fantasy and been on the beach all day.:)

So basically, I'm just your average girl on a tight budget... so when I post decorating ideas, they have been done on a shoestring budget- without the funds as half the people in our area so I guess I'm proud- Ya know, a little elbow grease and wheeling and dealing goes a long way.

This weekend we transitioned our daughter's room from a nursery to a big girl room and spent zero dollars out of pocket.  Score!  We might have bought a stolen mattress from a guy on Facebook to stay within budget, but hey- whatever works...  So I thought I'd share some of my money saving tips when doing a nursery.

Looking back at my first born's nursery I get a little teary-eyed... We were so excited and naïve and had absolutely no clue what this whole parenting thing would bring... ok, I'm sentimental.  We went to Babies-r-us and bought out the store, had clouds painted on the ceiling to go with our whole airplane theme, and that little boy rocked our world.  Rocked it with love we never knew we'd have and rocked it- as in ruled the roost and turned our house upside down- Ha!  And ignore the wallpaper border- what were we thinking??:)

*And yes- getting these photos made me feel guilty- my son has a real baby book... I yanked my daughter's off of facebook that were taken from my phone.  Poor thing. 

**And sweet Addie Tay, I'm skipping right over your room.  Thank Goodness it is you- my easy- going, wonderful, talented little girl that makes us so proud that is our middle child.  Every day it is you that makes being a Mama easy... and I have to remind myself not to let you feel like the middle child- Ya know- like not even having your nursery pictured... Fail.


This time around, our nursery was very different... 

And wouldn't ya know it cost about half the price!  And to transition my daughter to her big girl room we simply sold the crib, added a headboard, comforter, sheets and a bedskirt from Target and it was done.  Tweaks and an accent wall are on the way, but without spending any money we now have this:

So after going through this ten years apart, here are my tips...

  • Buy furniture pieces that can grow with your child- Don't buy a changing table- A dresser will do just fine with a changing pad set on top (see above, we still use it- and yes that dresser was picked up from Craigslist).  Find a rocker/glider secondhand- unless you have a place in your house for it in the future because it will only be used for a short time. The side table I bought so that I could set things on in the middle of the night when I wanted to cry because my baby wasn't sleeping was able to be used as a nightstand (don't mind that it's off to the side now- we don't want our daughter to hit her head if she rolls out of bed:)).

  • Start with a color palette that can grow through the years- Clouds? I mean really? No "big boy" is going to want clouds on his ceiling.  Think about how your room will transition because they don't stay babies forever.

  • Don't be afraid of Craigslist and used furniture- Don't get me wrong. I'd love to go to a furniture store and pick out gorgeous things to fill my house. Unfortunatly, my husband might have a heart attack and I have bills to pay so we have to make do.  Second hand items can be like new... I got the above dresser for $200.  The nightstand was $45 at a yard sale... I even paid $20 for the mirror above the crib- I bought it off Craigslist and it was selling for 3 times that on Pottery Barn... Ain't no shame here.  Also check out websites like Joss and Main and One King's Lane.  You have to watch their prices because one thing will sell for several different prices... but if you watch it, you can get things like a gorgeous tufted headboard like I did above for $120...

  • Target is the new Pottery Barn Kids- Target is smart- They know what they are doing...  And they make things in colors that coordinate with Pottery Barn Kids and other stores.  I went to Pottery Barn Kids for inspiration for my daughter's room and they had a gorgeous bed made. It had layers and layers of comforters and sheets and was to die for.  But I would have had to sell a kidney to afford it, so I turned to Target... I bought one sham and a duvet cover from Pottery Barn and filled in the rest with Target sheets, bedskirt, and a comforter- They all match perfect... and I still have my kidney.

For my son's room I wanted the star sheets from Pottery Barn but didn't like the price tag...
But good ole Tar-Jay came through with these for $17.99 and I could sneak them in on my grocery bill.  Shhhhh:)

  • Splurge on one statement piece (and justify it to your spouse)- Usually I can get away with one awesome piece.  Just bat those eyes, promise to give it up, or even lay out a case for getting it.  For my nursery it was my iron crib (which my mom and I drove to Baltimore to the Bratt Décor Warehouse store and got a $1100 floor model for $499... If you are looking for furniture it is so worth the drive! Score... :)

  • Find ways to incorporate things they love- Rooms don't have to scream "I have a kid and a million hot wheels and crap that take over my house!"  There can be toy rooms and areas for that. I'm not saying don't let your kids live in your house, but there are ways to let your kids "think" they are decorating their room but still have it looking nice.  For example, my son loves baseball... so we have his special autographed and home run balls on display- He loves it and it's acceptable.  Don't worry- I'm not that much of a tyrant bitch mom- we also have Bryce Harper on the wall... :)

  • Create free art- When I was looking for something to hang on my daughter's wall, I took some of my grandma's old sewing buttons and created a cross or a burlap scrap and framed it... and then hung my sweater from when I was a baby on the wall... Cheap and easy. I don't have a creative bone in my body, so I'm sure you can come up with something. :)

  • If ya can't afford it, work for it- Just realize there are going to be plenty of things you could do to make your space more beautiful.  When I wanted custom pillows for my daughter's crib because I knew I could then use them for her big girl bed, I knew I couldn't afford the price tag... But I knew If I bought one extra curtain from the outlet (yes, I got Restoration Hardware curtains for under $20/each- I just had to dig through the mess one day) that I could have that fabric turned into pillows by a neighbor that sewed... Yep, one curtain, all these pillows (besides the one Home Goods crown pillow:))

So that's just a few of my tips.  Another big one is if you find something online that you want- go ahead and cart it.  If you wait a few days, may companies will then send you a coupon through email saying you "forgot to complete your purchase" on your cart... here's a coupon to help you finish.

Now that I've written this, I realize my hubby should be sooooo proud of me. I'm halfway frugal. I mean in my mind, all that savings surely deserves a mani and pedi today- right??? :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

If you give a mouse a cookie...

Dear Friends,

I'm a mouse.  Yep, totally a mouse.  Ya see, if ya give a mouse a cookie, she's going to want a glass of milk.  And this here mouse is gonna want so much more than that.  It's true, I'm a bottomless pit. And well, when you are trying to become comfortable in your skin again and drop some lb's, doing anything social can be hard.

Here's your warning... It's not that I'm trying to diss you, not hang out with you, flake out on plans that sound so fun, or even avoid you.  I'm just trying to find me again... and it's hard.

Take this weekend for example.  We had no plans on Saturday.  Zilch.  And for the McCullers family- this NEVER happens.  We are social by nature.  We are on the go, hanger outers, get in the car and go, and make an adventure if there isn't one. We're not homebodies, and we love people.  That's just how we roll. 

So in our minds, what did we want to do?  I'll tell ya.  I had a friend who asked me to join her at a winery.  Awesome. The hubster was home, it was a beautiful day, Score!  But then I thought to myself... If I go to the winery, I'm not gonna just have a glass of wine.  I know myself.  I'm going to order that oh so buttery crusty bread and brie.  And I'm not going to have a little sliver of brie.  I'm going to freaking have a loaf of bread and a an entire brie.  It's happened before.  Not to mention wine.  And I don't even like wine- I'm a beer girl... or well, Vodka (and chase it with a chip) girl.

And then, my parents said they would watch the kids so we could go to the Florida Georgia Line concert.  Holla!!!!  But then, I think of the situation and I know myself.  There is no way in hell I'm going to a country concert without a beer... and playing cornhole.  And then the next thing I know I would be downing helluva good French onion dip and it would be so helluva good that I wouldn't stop.  And with our group of friends and the fact that we would be kid-free for a night it would probably result in one of those late night "Let's pretend we're young again and end up at a waffle house" kind of nights.  And then I would probably eat bad for the next two days and then I'd be working out for he next 2 weeks just for the calories I consumed at a concert.

I know, it sucks.  But here's the deal.  I'm taking some time to learn better eating habits, how to control my love for all things fried, and in a way, it feels good to focus on me (not that that Mexican restaurant last night was much better than the concert choice, but hey, I tried.)

Last week at a swim meet, I had this dreamy conversation with a friend.  By dreamy, I mean I was talking to a girl that looks fabulous and I said, "How did you do it, you look so amazing."  Her reply, was just what I needed to hear. "It's HARD.  So hard.  I'm hungry. And I'm avoiding the snack bar and I really, really want it."  She might not know it, but I wanted to hug her, and cry all at the same time. Like literally cry.  It was just what I needed to hear.

Ya see, there is no quick fix.  There is no magic pill.  This weight loss thing is freakin' hard... especially for a person that never in her life thought she'd be in this here situation. 

So as I start this weight loss journey and try not to be a ding dong ditcher, I'm trying y'all... like really trying.  I ended up not doing the winery and my friend was happy to hit the bike trail for a 4 mile walk that was such a breath of fresh air. 

And that felt way more fulfilling than any loaf of bread and chardonnay ever did. 

We skipped Florida Georgia Line and while that sucked a big one, laying her with my baby girl and preparing for a morning walk is pretty great and way better than feeling like a Mack truck ran over me because I'm not 21 anymore.

Oh, and there's big challenges ahead.  I mean the good 'ole county fair is this week and I'm not denying my kids that... but I WILL deny myself that funnel cake... as I sit here and my mouth waters just thinking about it.

So friends...  please bear with me for a while.  It's not that I don't want to hang, or host at our new house, or meet ya out... I'm just trying to become a better me. 

Give me a few months... and I'll be back to dancing on a table... and hopefully not worrying about breaking it or my spanx showing. :)

Love you, and yes, I'm a nut... just don't give me a nut... because I'm a mouse and I'd want something to go with it. :)

21 day fix begins tomorrow.  If I'm bitchy you know why. I'm hangry.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Never Say Never

Another year...  another year on the beach where it's just not my year. I've been in my cover-up and cupping my boobs and setting them up high to sit just right in my swimsuit. 

Story of my life.

Just another year that I sit in my beach chair saying to myself "next year I'll be fit and in the best shape of my life...

In fact, that happens often... Like that time I said I'd have my third and final baby "when I lost weight."  And then six years passed by and I just said, whatever... might as well do it heavy or not.

Or like how I have this huge plan to lose a bunch of weight so I can have family pictures done... Where I'm in this pretty white dress with cowboy boots surrounded by my little ducklings on the bed of an old beat up turquoise truck in a field. I mean I haven't thought about this or anything. But it hasn't happened because I haven't dropped those lb's.

And the list goes on... Dreams of buying an outfit with a cute Lily Pulitzer belt with embroidered lobsters or crabs or something to wear with a cute formfitting polo instead of my usual oversized XL Kohl's polo.  Visions of cutting my hair in an inverted short bob when I lose that double chin.  Picturing myself driving our tractor in the field with a cowboy hat, daisy dukes, and a bikini top... and let's just say my moments of doing that are running out because my kids might be mortified.

Ya see, I have all these dreams for "when I lose my weight." 

I also see my facebook feed filled with Mom's and friends that sell crap.  Yep, their statuses annoy me- but in a strange way.  Yes, they get on my nerves, but a small inkling of me wants to join in- just to try to contribute to my family so that I might not have to one day sell my body to afford a pitching lesson or a softball tournament shirt. 

So guess what... Meet your new Beachbody Coach!  Yep, me!

And guess what... I PROMISE not to fill your feeds with nonsense (OK- just a little, but y'all put up with me being the crazy I already am)...  and I promise to never, ever bring up Beachbody or "sell" anything to you so please, please don't dodge me at the supermarket.  In fact, I won't bother anyone unless you come to me.

And don't you worry... I'm already the butt of my family's jokes this week... I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my life and I want to give YOU transformation advice.  LOL!  I even find it funny.

But the truth is, not to sound full of myself- but I am GREAT at taking care of others.  It's just finding the time for myself that I find hard.  Who knows... it might even be YOU that motivates me to finally take control of my oh so svelte figure. :)

Never say Never...  I might just show up in your feed with a duck face, cowboy hat, and driving a tractor one day.  But for now, I'm just a fat chick bandwagoning with some 21 day fix, Shaun T, and some Shakeology. Let's get it girls.

This blog is about to go down for real... hopefully along with inches and my scale.:)

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Here We Go...

It was a cold winter break day and the hubby was traveling.  I had a car full of kids so excited to rock climb and swim and Mama was in a great mood... until I was happily splashing with my one year old and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an old high school classmate.

I wanted to die. 

I will never forget that moment.

That pit in my stomach, the next hour dancing around the pool trying to strategically stay away from him, and the feeling of ridiculousness because he was one of the nicest people in the world, yet I was letting my own body keep me from enjoying a wonderful day with my children.

I remember trying to stay in the water up to my neck, sucking in to try to lesson my roll-filled belly, and swearing up and down that I was never going to eat until I dropped forty pounds.  Ever. Not even a morsel.

Well, that didn't last long- when as I was leaving the recreation center, I grabbed a Diet Coke... and then I saw they had Bugles which reminded me of summers at the beach, and you can never find Bugles, and well, if I'm going to get Bugles, then I might as well get a Kit Kat to go with it since I'm now starting the no eating thing tomorrow...

And tomorrow became the next day, then the next day, then the next day...

And here it is summer, I'm dreading a swimsuit, my 15th wedding anniversary is this week and I couldn't fit my left thigh in my dress, and it's finally time to do something.

Five years ago, I blogged for LA Boxing- even was a guest speaker at a fitness blogger convention- and blogging gave me the one thing I needed... accountability- and a place for me to write- the thing I love doing...  Remember this? Oh yeah, it's a good one (and I can't believe I'm posting this- but it's amazing what can happen in three short months when you invest in yourself!)  http://theknockoutmama.blogspot.com/2010/03/deal-is-deal.html :)

Well, it's time to go back to square one...  no gimmicks, no diets, no magic pills, just hard work and healthy eating- and maybe a little shakeology. :)

Let's do this... and make tomorrow not be a day away.  Here goes nothing... Bikini on Labor Day - you read it here first... calm down y'all don't start lining up to see it. :)