Monday, August 24, 2015

For ME - Mindful Self Care

I have always been one of those "over achievers". The ones who is never content with herself...well, ever. I'm always researching, learning, exploring, shifting, taking it all into focus in my mind's eye - trying to be the best me I can be. And frankly,

It's exhausting.

I've always gotten straight A's and done extracurriculars - stay focused and think about the end-of-the-year-project in September and have it done the week it's assigned.

My favorite section of a book store - Self Help.

My favorite websites - personality quizzes, tests, predictors, research, health, wellness, self-improvement.

Is this something we are taught or is it Engrained? Written somewhere on my DNA before I came Earthside? Is it because I'm a middle child-always looking for that middle ground-the perfect way to appease EVERYONE? Or is it because I never had the self esteem or self confidence I deserved (even when everyone else in my life cheered me on)? What makes some people QUESTION their existence while others simply OWN it?

Someone once asked me what I was doing to decompress / find joy / do for myself. With great enthusiasm and excitement I told her I started running. And she looked at me. And I scrunched my eyes and tilted my head to the side "what?" I was expecting a much more enthusiastic response to my new hobby. Getting the endorphins going. Upping my winter-blues-with exercise. Shaping my body. And she looked at me and said ... "What are you doing for you...that doesn't involve improving you?" In other words...what are you doing for fun? For ME? 

That day I was so put off, even offended by our dialogue. How could she not show more positivity and enthusiasm for my new-found desire to run? And the more it stirred, the more I realized she struck a chord. And usually when we get defensive it's a deeper reflection of ourselves...there is something there. 

The more I sat with it the more I began to see her point. And it was a good one. And she was so right. I don't do much of anything FOR ME. Or just FOR FUN. For the pure joy of doing it. Of loving it. Of living in it. 

Of course I want to be the BEST Me I can be. But even that seems to set me up for failure. 

By acknowledging that there is likely a "better" version of myself, does that mean that this current version isn't enough? Good enough? Lean enough? Intelligent enough? Enough?

Subconsciously, my personality set me up to believe I wasn't ever enough. That I constantly had to change. And while I appreciate the importance of stretching and growing ... I'm also learning that me - right here - right now - is enough

I am enough.

That is so incredibly simple and powerful.

So simple yet sometimes, so difficult to say. Usually it's followed by "you are too" or "except when.." Or "but..."




I am enough.

There. I said it. I am Enough.

Yes. Me. This girl, right here. 

I am enough. 

I am deserving. And worthy. And filled with love. And hope. And joy. And life.

Somewhere along my Mama-journey I lost sight of that. Of MY worth. Of my being Enough.

Every time I turn around there is an unmet need. A beckoning. A calling out. A void only I can fill.

And it's beautiful and purposeful and amazing and yet, often so messy and difficult and chaotic. It's messy beautiful.

I have lived my life for my family. For my children. I have grown three amazing little souls inside my womb and birthed them into this world. I have breastfed for almost eight years straight. I have been away overnight from them for only 2 nights. Ever. And it was when I only had one little one Earthside. I am a work at home. Stay at home. Homeschooling Mom. 

Yes, somewhere along the way I lost sight of myself. Through foggy, sleepless dough....and bath times...word problems ...times tables..I lost sight of me.

The oh so very important ME. 

Every thing I was doing was to improve. To better. To be a better parent. Be a better mom. Be a better spouse. A better friend. A better housekeeper. A better planner. A better business owner. A better teacher. A better student. A better driver. A better communicator. A better citizen. A better lover. A better neighbor. A better daughter. A better sister. 

Some days I forget to acknowledge all the better and the best that is already deep within. That glows right now.

I am enough.

And while I hope that the years ahead will lead me on a journey of even greater and deeper self discovery .... I will continue to remind myself of the journey I've already embarked. And I will show up for me. Because if I can't count on myself, who can I count on? 

This year I have been actively (very actively) trying to see and acknowledge my own needs. To rediscover myself. Jessica. Not wife. Not Mom. Not business owner. But, me. My hopes, my dreams. What brings me joy. Because, somewhere along the journey I kind of got lost in the shuffle. 

It has been humbling. And envigorating. And exciting to date myself. To rediscover me. Over a cup of tea. Mug of hot chocolate. A random doodle or stargaze. In a minute quote find or thought drift. 

I am reminding myself that it's okay to tell my two year old he needs to wait to nurse until after I've finished my (still-warm) meal. And it's okay to tell my four year old to get her own milk (even if she spills it) or wait a few minutes for my help because I just sat down. 

The other day I was at the pool. The children were all swimming, having a wonderful time in the water without me. Content. I enjoyed watching them and sitting poolside, relaxing....when I realized  I wanted to get in the pool to swim too. But it wasn't for them, this time, like it usually is. And it wasn't to "burn off that extra s'more" or even because I "should". It was because I wanted to. I genuininely wanted to get into the water and move my body and feel my limbs float and sink and swim. A sensation I was unfamiliar with in the chaos if my every day life but a sensation that I am trying to feel and interpret with greater ease. 

That was such an aha moment for me. The internal dialogue was different this time. It wasn't about me not being enough if I didn't do it. It wasn't about getting the better beach body. Or being a good Mom. It was about me, finding the joy and excitement in swimming and allowing myself to do it.

I am enough.

I am worth it.

Apparently swimming brings me joy.

What brings you Joy?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Train Books

My youngest is a train enthusiast. He's an anything-that-travels-by-wheels guru. He's a figure-it-out-investigator. Let's-see-how-this-works thinker. In a way that is more mechanical than my other two. They were interested. But he is fascinated. 

We have had a few birthdays for him this month because we have been traveling all over and every family stop we make we have been singing Happy Birthday along the way. One of his birthday cakes had a plastic train on it - not because it was Thomas - but because it was a build-a-block-train he could use when the cake was gone.

We usually have birthdays themes after children's book (I LOVE children's picture books. Some day I will write and illustrate a children's book. Someday.) but, for now, I just collect them. Like a librarian. Freight Train was this birthday's theme because he likes trains so much. I purchased a hard copy of the book for our family members to sign for him (Thanks cousin Cassandra for the book-momento-inspiration!!) he will always have this book with our love written inside to remember his second birthday. It was difficult to choose just one train book that we liked so muc, because he likes all books about trains...but this has been a favorite since he was an infant. I love the simplicity and cadence and illustrations. 

Here is a roundup of our other Train Book Favorites. 

This is a simple, beautifully illustrated, classic. I remember reading it and wishing I had written it because it was just simply fun. Upbeat. The words are easy to flow and remember. He has loved this one since we started reading books.

A new addition for me, but the Karen Katz books are fun. I really wanted to get some "other kinds of trains" into circulation and, living in the city I thought this would be a good fit. I also like the diversity of the people illustrated in the book and the colors definitely caught my attention. It's rhyming, musical text is fun to read aloud and the repetitious sound words are easy for little ones to remember and read along.

This is one I bought for his 2nd birthday hoping to learn more about trains with longer sentence structure and more information. Some longer books he won't sit through but a book about one of his favorite subjects that's longer? Yep. It's so important to find what turns your child on....their attention span and focus may surprise you when you stir one of their passions!

This is another simple, classic favorite that Lincoln chooses almost every reading time. I like the sturdy board book style while it still has vocabulary substance and I love the simple but bold graphics.

I bought this one for his birthday because it is a factual train book but has a rhyming structure which is good for early readers. It helps them anticipate the next words and chime in with the vocabulary to finish sentences. It has been a hit.

This one wasn't on my initial photo collage but it absolutely should have been because, seriously, it has been his FAVORITE since about 8 months old! We first borrowed it from the library and he couldn't put it down. We borrowed it 3 times in a row and then I bought a copy. And then, when I was visiting family in FL I bought a second copy to keep there. We love the sounds, the illustrations and books with onomatopoeia!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

New Shared Girls' Bedroom

Three months of being displaced while the girls' room was being repaired. Three months solo parenting while on the road, hopping from gracious family member to family member while we explored our hot Summer days and Daddy tirelessly worked his regular job and his home-repair hardhat with Poppop. It has been a long, fun, extremely exhausting Summer. I am ready to head Home. To settle in. To build a rhythm to life again. As the school year quickly approaches I am reminded of how important and necessary those rhythms are in our life. We all need them. For our sanity. For our growth. And for our connection. I am grateful to have these Summer days to go rogue and be reminded of the fun of free-flight but of the simple necessity of having a direction to fly. Like migration.

Heart Valance
Via - Honeybee Vintage

I have been brainstorming about the girls' shares bedroom space. What it's purpose will be. What the intention of their space will be. I want it to be inspiring and light. A place of creativity, dreams, and imagination. A place of comfort, love, and reminders of their specialness, our connectedness, family, love, and encouragement. I want it to be the quiet space that wraps them in warmth while cherishing the pictures and words of favorites stories and books. A warm hug at night during the quiet stillness of the dark. I want the room to wake with curiosity and enthusiasm in the same way my children do. And to embrace the day and imagination with grace and compassion. 

That's a lot for one room.

A place for creativity. Investigation. Imagination. Slumber. Sleep. Dreams. Tinkerings. Musings. Inspiration. Love. Safety. Security. Comfort. Reflection. Warmth. 

It used to be a play space. An organized chaos of things and stuff where their imaginations unfolded and re folded into itself in attempts to organize and put back and clean up. I want this space to be less chaotic. Less stuff. So the time they spend there isn't filled with anxiety over where to find things and why ... Or where things have to go back ... A place to ENJOY the history and imagination building tools encompassed there. 

So here is the color palette and words of inspiration I have begun to source and allow myself to become EXCITED by. It will be a work in progress - for a while - as I, bit by bit, find the perfect additions to this vision. But I will be patient. I am excited to start my #konmari remodel in this space that brings so much hope. So much joy. So much future. 

Here are a few of the things I've been inspired by so far:

Be Brave Little One 
- via Orchard Girls

I Can Do Hard Things
- via Or So She Says

- via Hello, Wonderful

What A Wonderful World
- via Lost Bumblebee

On Rainy Days Create Your Own Sunshine
- via Lil Luna

Dream Big
- via Seven Thirty Three

She Believed She Could So She Did
- via This (Un)Scripted Life

Chest of drawers - 
- via Amazing Interior Design

Stripey Quilts

Picture Frame Arrangement

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Delicious Ice Cream Science

We went to the Carnegie Science Center last week and one of the demonstrations we saw was about how to make ice cream. It was a delicious experiment and my little chef was very interested in the science, discovery, and of course, the end result - taste-testing her concoction! 

When we got home we thought we could  try to make more ice cream...she had been brainstorming different flavors all day. We scooped up ingredients and went to work making ice cream in Freezer Bags. Everyone got to engineer his/her own flavor and write his/her recipe to later be taste-tested. 

We also had a tasting vote to determine which flavor was the popular favorite!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Doodle A Day - Start

It started when I signed up for Judy DeYpung's #DoodleDaysOfSummer. Learn more about it here:

I began my #DoodleADay August 1st. I'm excited about holding myself to some kind of journaling entry every day for a month. It may even be difficult to stop at only one. I allow myself a confined space on my sketchbook page... It somehow feels less daunting this way. Sometimes I wonder how I can choose just one thing to say, draw, or capture in my 3x3" space. Today it came to me AS SOON AS I woke up. Lincoln smiled at me when my eyes opened and I couldn't help but smile ... One of those deep, contented smiles ... And I thought: everyone should begin their every day like this. Smiling. Heart-smiling. So I will leave you all with this thought for the day. 

Start Each Day With A Smile.

(And a Smiling Heart)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Movie Night Turned Family Scripting Night

Big Kid Movie Night - not what we expected. But fun memories for sure <3

Tonight we had a movie night. After finally agreeing on a movie (selecting a movie title from a hat) we watched for about 30 minutes before the sound went out. Just the sound. The picture was fine. But there was no sound. At this point it was already way to late to be watching a movie, let alone starting a new movie so we just sat, and watched....a soundless movie. As we watched we made up our own words. Our own songs. Our own dialogue. For at least another hour of the movie....until the end.

The "scary" parts were less scary. 

There were silly, humorous parts where there may not have been scripted.

We made do. We rolled with it. Instead of stomping our feet and getting upset/angry ... We made it a fun collaboration - a cinematic experience.


Christmas In July Giveaway Winner Announcement and COUPON

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