Friday, August 11, 2017

Swim Suit for the Mom Bod

I'm no longer eager to play dress up in the fitting rooms and test out styles. Okay. Correction. I was never fond of clothes shopping.
Swim suits are the most difficult. Followed closely by pants. I feel awkward.
Which translates to me thinking I look awkward too. It takes forever to find something that accentuates my curves satisfactorily. Everything is typically too loose/tight in the waist, but perfect length. Or too short. I usually have my kids in tow as well. They don't like waiting for mommy to try on clothes. Its considered boring. And now that I have quite the mom bod going on, these things are intensified. I'm not so well toned. Or tanned. Not like I used to be. My hips and thighs need toning, my belly is flabby with an extra 30 lbs that needs to go. But the most I seem able to do is sit ups in bed and squats while holding the baby and trying to bounce her to sleep. 

Let me just explain something before any of you decide to go heavyweight on me about size. I don't think of this as beautiful:
Or even this:

I'm sorry, but that is just ugly. Someone please donate cellulite to fix what they are missing. And I'm not just referring to a lack of cleavage. Ribs are showing. Angles are pointy. That is not beautiful. That is emaciation. However, I don't think of this as pretty either:
This and larger is a death wish, no matter who you are. Its one reason I couldn't stand Mama June.
They used her gross obesity and lack of good manners from her and her daughter to turn them into celebrities. That, to me, is a gross way to entertain. 

I believe that women are beautiful in their own way. Size doesn't matter, so long as you are healthy and happy for yourself. The above examples are sitting on the extreme ends of the spectrum. Everyone else has their place in between. I look at all the women I know and think each of them are beautiful. I don't judge them at all. 

So where am I going with this? I don't feel beautiful. I'm 5'10" (ish - the scoliosis and spinal deterioration might have shortened me a little), and weigh in at 170-ish pounds. I wear a Large now. I'm the girl who was forever tall and lanky. My friends joked about setting up a fat bank to donate to me so I could have curves. My best attribute was a toss up between my long legs and my eyes. Everything else was flat and sharp. Then I had kids. I started to soften up. My rock hard abs went, came and went again in between pregnancies. I worked out and started eating less. Not so much healthy, just less. Now I'm nearly 30, have 4 children, and am 30 pounds over my healthy weight. My OCD screams at me when I sit and the side that is most crumpled from curvature in the spine has rolls. I look down and there is a roundness in the belly that makes my filter-less children ask if I'm having another baby or just fat. My reply, "I'm just fat." I don't want to be a super model. I don't want to look like a celebrity. I just want to lose 30 pounds and flatten the stomach a bit. Thanks to the back pain, as well as my age catching up to me, I'm finding that is easier said than done! I put off getting new clothes because I believed that I could get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes by the time my daughter turns 1. She's 8 months and I haven't lost a single pound... *head slap here* 

What am I to do? Well, I'm setting new rules. I'm moving to plan B. I've told my husband how I feel. I'm getting him to realize that even though I love the fact he will always see me as beautiful, regardless of how I look, I need the support to lose the unhealthy weight. He has been very good at it! We make fresh smoothies almost every day. I've been buying healthy snacks. We gave up Pop Tarts and Doritos. I stopped buying cinnamon rolls, except for a once-in-a-blue-moon breakfast treat for the kids only. Laying off the pizza and cooking more foods that incorporate veggies. Cookies or ice cream are for special treats only. And are mostly given to the kids. Which reminds me... Side note: we tried a couple new ones. Hostess Twinkie version and Halo Top chocolate.
Can you believe that both were not to the adults liking, but the kids seemed to think they were okay? The Twinkie one tasted like birthday cake and the Chocolate one... tasted awful. Bland. Sugarless maybe? I barely withstood one spoon. Gave it all to the kids. They didn't seem to mind it. So much for the "better for you" ice cream. Its a lie! Guilt-free zone? Only because you are eating tasteless ice shavings.
Back to my journey of losing weight. I've been eating more salads. And to make them interesting, we added chicken. The one we really enjoyed was chicken cooked in balsamic dressing. It makes eating salads easier for my husband. He's not big on the greens. 
We drink lots of water. Doing these things has made me feel better about myself. Then I checked the scale. Nothing. My husband weighs himself. Guess who lost 10 pounds? Uh huh. Then came a real test. With summer, comes the possibility of pool time or river fun. I had to get a swim suit for my 4 year old daughter and who else? Yes, me. I no longer fit into the ones I had. One of them hadn't been used in so long that the straps dry rotted. Who knew they could do that?! So the mom who hates shopping for clothes, let alone a bathing suit, heads to Wally World. All 4 kids in tow while my husband sleeps off a night of working. You know how much I dreaded trying them on? And there weren't many left to choose from. Its so late in the season, they had the crappy ones no one wants anymore. 
I finally came across this two piece set.
I love the color. Its light weight. And the design was decent. I tried it on. But the fitting rooms don't have mirrors inside. What is wrong with that store?! No, you have to walk outside the dressing room to the corner where the sales floor starts to use a full-length mirror. This is where my children were stationed and waiting for me. The lady attending the fitting station gave me the look over as I came out. I was asking my kids what they thought. She says, "Lady, with 4 kids, you look amazing! I've seen women come in here with no kids, looking terrible and fat. You got it, so flaunt it, honey!" Walmart is not known for its amazing customer service. They are known for having Wal-Martians. People who look so awful, there is a website dedicated to pictures of them. People who shouldn't be allowed to leave their homes. Don't believe me? Look at this website and try not to wet yourself laughing or be careful. You might want to bleach your eyes at some of them.  So to have her so openly complimenting me, gave me courage that I do have some of my good looks left.

Another way I find myself being reminded that I'm still pretty high on the hotness scale, would be the fact that my husband still gets excited when he catches me undressing. If you are in a relationship and don't have that kind of romance, I feel sorry for you. Doesn't matter how old you are. Its great having that physical attraction. I even put on the lingerie that was given to me at the bridal shower. As my mother-in-law said, sometimes its good to just feel pretty in them.

Now don't get me wrong, I've accepted and even embraced my Mom Bod. I have better defined hips and a bigger booty. And I love it. Heck, as of right now, I can actually say I have boobs. I just can't stand a muffin top. Or a spare tire. It drives me insane. Especially when I work out as often as I can. Just holding my daughter and doing squats while trying to get her to sleep is a workout.

So here goes. I'm embarking on a new trend. I'm going to love my Large(r) self. I'm going to teach myself to see it as beautiful. I won't give up on my desire to lose the extra pounds. I need that for my back issues. But I'm going to start investing in bigger clothes. Its time to get out of the rut of wearing the same handful of t-shirts and 2 skirts. I bought a skort and pair of shorts for the summer. I'm finding a style that will flatter my curves a little more. And I'm going to "flaunt it"!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Giving My Kids Motivation to do Chores!

Chores aren't fun. I do them often because I'm OCD and can't stand to have clutter or a mess anywhere. But now I'm seeing that there is just too much for me to handle on my own. So I've taken some time to devise a system that will motivate my kids to help out around the house just a little more. 
A family friend that I call my Nana S. sent this picture to me.
It gives me a little more direction in how to structure who can do what around the house. 

Growing up, my family had a "Chore Store". We had fake money that we got for doing chores. Each chore came with a dollar amount. Then my Mom had a picnic basket with little things she'd find at garage sales, thrift stores, dollar stores, and flea markets. We could "buy" the things from that basket at the end of the week with the "money" we had accumulated from doing chores. It was a fun way to celebrate the end of a week well done! 
I've taken to that path, but added my own upgrades to it. I printed out this Excel worksheet I created. Then laminated it to make it reusable. I took a Lego bucket to use as the storage for all the things my kids can "buy" at the end of the week.
I'm lacking in things for my little girl, but hoping to get things soon. 
They now feel more motivated to read to the baby or to wipe down the table. Now, there are times when I find they don't want to be helpful. Regardless of the rewards. So I got a little crafty. I now ask, "Who wants to be my volunteer?" They don't know the task, they don't know the reward. Its up to them to volunteer and do the task. Once they volunteer, they have to do the chore. And then they get their initial in the correct slot so they get "paid". And it gets done right away. 
I think its important that kids do chores. After all, Moms can't do everything alone. Then we have less time and energy to spend on them. It also teaches them responsibility. It teaches them how to care for themselves. They won't be living under my roof forever. Eventually, they will move out and need to know how to do things for themselves. 

I have the sort of things they need to work on anyhow. Such as: making their own beds, reading books aloud, wiping down the table, cleaning their own bathroom. Life skills they will need later, but will help me with now. 
Do you have a chore list? Do your kids help out? What rewards do they get for doing so?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Christmas started in July?!

Seriously... when did Christmas tree shopping start in July? And why is the "fall" decor already having a 40% off sale in Hobby Lobby?? Where have the times gone?! 

Okay, moving on now...

I've been slowly working on gifts for the remaining birthdays and Christmas. I'm searching for things that aren't run-of-the-mill. Trying my hands at crafts. And yes, checking clearance. Its the thought that counts, not how much money was spent. Besides, I still to what I know about people and try to be creative in what I give them. 
Tonight, I had to go to Walmart since my baby girl is teething and ran out of her Tylenol. You parents with teethers and those who have passed this phase know exactly what I mean! She busted the one through the skin tonight and was screaming bloody murder into my ear while doing so. She wouldn't take her nap and wanted bottle after bottle because its soothing, but I can't give her that or she throws up everywhere. So... to Walmart my husband and I went! 

(Yes, she's wearing a super hero shirt and looks adorable!)
While there, we also went to look for pajamas for my older daughter. She will be turning 5 next weekend. *eeee!* Where has the time gone?! My baby isn't a baby anymore. She's starting kindergarten in a couple more weeks. I'm excited, but also sad. Anyhow, we needed to get her a gift and she's been needing some new pjs. Walmart, at least our store, has a very limited selection. As a matter of fact, most of the ones they had on the one rack of pajamas were on clearance. But guess what size they didn't have? Yep. Hers. So that was a no-go. But wait! I need to get gifts for my two younger sisters. And they had everything in their sizes. So now that I know that, I'll be going back to get them pajamas or shirts in the cute horse and unicorn prints. They also had all their Wonder Woman clothes for girls on clearance.
Is it just me, or was that movie a bust? I mean, all the Wonder Woman merchandise is already on clearance. Or was it a great movie that no one needed the stuff for? Hmm... Haven't seen the movie still (shocking, right?!), so don't ruin it for me. Even if it wasn't that great, I have to satisfy my WW craze. She is my hero after all. And I did like her in the Batman movie. 
We also grabbed a couple tee shirts for baby girl. She is outgrowing her onesies and I try to put her in tees and pants when she's crawling around on our stained concrete floors so that she's not scraping her legs. They were $2 a piece. Not a huge discount, but I only needed a couple more. 

We checked the clearance aisle. I like that Walmart keeps it mostly to one valley (that is retail talk for an aisle with both sides having the same thing). There, was where I found some pretty good deals. Like the doll food set for a few bucks.
My sisters are into the American Girl dolls and are thrilled to have 18" dolls to play with. My girls are getting their own from their Nana as well. So I had to grab this fun set to add to my sisters' collection. 
I found these bath toys for the baby. She is quite the inquisitive one who loves to splash and play in the bath. Unfortunately, we only have Mommy and Daddy's stuff like soap bottles in the tub. So now she has actual toys to play with. Best of all, they were only .50 each. There were some toothbrushes on clearance. I can't do the cheap brands. They always leave bristles in my mouth. But these Colgate ones should work. I grabbed a few to keep on hand. Plus, I have them in case family visits and needs one. They rang up .50 each, which was cheaper than the sticker said. 

My final grab was a framed mirror. I had this big bag of pearls my mother sent me.
And I've been using them for various projects.
But I still have so many left. Then, while on Pinterest (so addicting!), I came across a marvelously cute idea for a girls room decor item. And it spawned another idea that would make the perfect gift for my oldest daughter. I decided to decorate a mirror with pearls to hang in her room. She loves to dress up and dance around. And a couple times, I've caught her doing so in the bathroom in front the mirror. Now, she will be able to in her own room! In addition, its girly. Just like her. But classy enough that she can grow with it as well. I have to get more glue sticks, but I'm excited about it so far!
Yes, I went to Walmart for one thing. I left with much more.
BUT, in my defense, I now have some more gifts out the way. Who else out there has already started putting gifts to the side??

Friday, August 4, 2017

New Mexico or bust!

I was about ready to bust. After all, it was a twelve hour drive each way for our family. Four kids, one being 8 months old. All of us stuck in the rental van together. You know how that goes? "Mom, her leg is touching me!", "Mom, can I have more chips?", "I have to pee!" (at which I respond, "Can you wait just a little longer? We have to find a gas station.") "No, I can't hold it. I really have to pee!" 

*deep sighs and a head slap*

Yep. That was the drive there and the drive back. We left early Friday morning and got back home Sunday night. It's been described as a "whirlwind trip" and that's exactly how it felt. Too much time in the car, not enough with the person we went to see. 

We spent time and money preparing for this trip. I wanted to make the road time as painless as possible. I wanted to keep the kids as entertained as possible. I wanted myself and my husband to feel as comfortable as we could. Sitting for 12 hours... I can barely manage 2 hours at time! But I had a goal. A very important goal. We were going to see Great Grandpa Al! 

One thing we purchased to make the trip better was the Ozark Trail cooler.
It was truly worth the nearly-$50 price tag! If you make long trips, plan to go on all-day park adventures, or otherwise need a long-lasting drink/food cooler - this is it! They boast staying cold for up to 3 days. And they aren't kidding. I had 2 ice packs and enough drinks to cover us for at least half the drive one way. We thought we needed more ice, so we filled 2 gallon-sized baggies with ice to add on the bottom and the top of the waters. After 12+ hours, the ice from one bag had melted, but was still icy cold. The other bag still had ice! The zipper on this thing is water tight. Keeps liquids from spilling out like you wouldn't believe! The carrying strap that goes over your shoulder has gel in the center to keep it comfortable. I can't stand chaffing straps. And it has a convenient zipper pocket in the front. Need I say more? My husband and I were thrilled all throughout our trip that we had decided to spend the money and get one. We have so many plans to use it. Water park, lake, road trips... Oh yeah, gonna have some ice cold water all day today and tomorrow without adding ice! If you are looking to get one for yourself, we picked ours up at the local Wal-Mart. *These opinions are strictly my own. I was not paid, given incentive, or otherwise coerced into writing this mini review!*

Most of the trip was through flatlands.
Seriously. Everything is flat and looks the same.
I even got so bored that I started playing with my sons fast food toy...
Most towns we drove through were ghost towns. People lived in shacks, but there was nothing in the form of businesses. How do they manage?! 
We did enjoy some rainbows along the way. 
We stayed at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico right alongside the airport. It was affordable, we were able to book it online, in a safe part of the city, and within a 5 minute drive to Grandpa's house. Let me just say, this hotel room was perfect for our 6-person family.
There were two beds in the room, with a half wall separating the "living room" area that had a pullout couch.
Trash cans were larger than your standard hotel rooms normally carry. This is a big deal when you have kids.They even set my daughters Minecraft Ocelot stuffed toy in her pillows to greet us when we came back that afternoon. I only had 2 issues with this place. One elevator was constantly having issues. We found it quicker to take the stairs sometimes. And then we had issues with drainage being slow in the shower. Other than that, it was a wonderful stay! 

My baby girl even begged Daddy to let her "drive". I can already tell, she will be quite the troublemaker! Just like her Mommy. 
Every time we stopped, we all had to get out. Potty, food, gas, and stretching those legs. Probably why the trip took 12 hours. But the time we spent there was totally worth it. The weather is a million times better than what we have here in Texas. They actually had cool breezes! Can't tell you how refreshing it was. 
I'm looking forward to the next time we go. So much more to do!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Taking Time Out for Family

Anyone who reads my blogs often, knows that family is very important to me. I'm dedicated to my family. Especially the older members in it. I lost my Nana this year. She was near and dear to my heart. But I gained another great grandparent when I married the love of my life.

My husbands great grandfather is truly a remarkable guy. He lives a 12 hour drive from us. Try doing that with 4 kids, youngest being 8 months! Felt like it went on forever. And then, we couldn't stay long. I thought I had to work the following Monday morning (turns out, my shift was canceled and I wasn't told). So we stayed the night Friday night, visited all day Saturday, had breakfast with him Sunday morning, and drove madly back to Texas right after. As my husbands Nana so accurately put it, "a whirlwind visit" was exactly what it was. But in those hours with him, we learned so much of his life. We saw his enthusiastic attitude light up the atmosphere. It was such a joy being there with him. 

I think todays generation, the millennials, has lost the ability to see past what is commonly referred to as senility to see the person beneath. Those wrinkles cover years of hard work. Those tired eyes have seen more than we can imagine. Those shaky hands have handled far more than any of our generation could possibly think to do. They are full of stories. Wonderful, daring, and exciting tales. Sometimes, we need only listen. The stories they tell us are often full of wisdom. Wisdom that will be lost once they pass on. 
Our trip gave us insight to a man who has had two careers; one in the military and one for the police department. Both were intertwined over the years. Both had him meeting famous people. Both had him doing things that tested his abilities and rewarded his efforts. I could listen to him for hours on end. Just as I did with my Nana. 
Maybe its because I love history. Maybe because I want to further my self-growth by drawing from the aged. But I also know that just as I am gleaning from them, they are fulfilling a need of their own. You see, so many times the elderly are set in the corner of life. They get lonely. Feel forgotten. Feel as though no one truly cares anymore. They need to be reminded that they are still a necessary part of our society. That they are still contributing. There is more to them than what they have to leave their kinsmen at death. They need to be reminded they are loved. 
So I end with this. I implore you to take a few moments and genuinely listen. Interact with them. And grow.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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Lunchable food warnings

I recently bought some Lunchables for my kids. This is not something I do often, and in light of a purchase I made gone bad - I don't think I will continue purchasing their products. 

I bought each of my older three kids the one of their choice. My daughter had chosen the mini burgers one. Within an hour of buying them, we were back at home with them settling at the table to dig in. Thankfully, my daughter couldn't open her burgers without my help. She hands me the pouch with the patties inside and I find green mold covering the middle of one of them. I told her she would have to miss out this time around and tossed everything in the trash. I even checked the date on the box, thinking maybe I bought one that was expired. Nope. Still in date.
As a mom, I felt bad that something she had looked forward to so strongly was ruined. But I also felt concern. What if my kid had opened it herself? What if she had rushed to eat before asking or understanding it was no good? After all, she's 4. I felt guilty. I don't often buy things like this. I know my kids need to have healthy foods and snacks. While I'm not perfect, I do try to give them the best.

So I contacted Lunchables. Talk about a hassle. Finding the Contact Us and getting through their rigorous system took quite a while. Turns out, they look like they are a part of Kraft. Anyhow, I have never received any response from them. 

So this Mommy isn't buying Lunchables anymore. Their lack of response translates to them not caring of a potential safety risk to children. Or a dismissal of a Mothers message. Either way, they don't have my trust. On top of it all, I will not be buying the drink pouches or Go-Go Squeezes.
Looked those up and found out that mold growing in them is more common than you would think possible. I encourage all Moms out there to look before you serve. I don't diss any Mom who buys these products. To each their own. However, you never know what might be growing inside those fancy little boxes. I mean after all, wasn't there a scare of mold growing in the juice pouch drinks at one time?

Buyers Beware!