I’m Still Here

I ran across this quotation today and it stopped me in my tracks. This is true for me, but it almost wasn’t. As a society, in general, we don’t like to talk about our problems, our missteps, our mistakes. But it is so important that those around us, especially those who are in the midst of their own storms, see us struggle and push through. It’s important to be real. It’s also not something I’m good at.

We have Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat. We have filters for our pictures and photo editors on our phones. We crop out the mess, smooth away the wrinkles and post our highlight reel online, while hiding the mess of real life. This gives off a false sense of perfection to those around us.

We have come to value perfection in a way that is unrealistic and unattainable. We also don’t acknowledge a mental health problem for the medical diagnosis it is. If I have a diagnosed heart problem, that caused an emergency, and I go to the hospital for treatment, my friends and family would likely post prayer requests and information for my friends and distant family to see. However, if I have a diagnosed mental health problem, that caused an emergency, and I go to the hospital for treatment, my friends and family might not know much about it at all and they most certainly wouldn’t post about it online. It would likely be considered shameful. This is wrong. And this wouldn’t help me seek support or treatment.

More than ten years ago, through the perfect storm of stress, the ending of a difficult, debilitating relationship, and isolation from friends and family, I found myself in a pit of despair that seemed unending and inescapable. This is almost where my story ended. But instead of being the period at the end of my story, it became the semi-colon. Simply a pause. A break that was painful, difficult and hard to overcome, but oh-so-worth the struggle.

You see, ten years ago me had no idea what life would hold for me now. I had no way of seeing the joy and strength and love that would define my life now. Not perfection, by a long shot. Not struggle-free at all. But beautiful in it’s own messy way.

I want to be more genuine. I’m working to build a circle of friends that I share more of myself with. Women whom I can call, not only when I have joy and excess to share, but also when I’m in need physically or emotionally. Do you have this circle? When something bad happens or your day goes south, do you have supports in place to build you back up, help you find a smile even when it seems impossible, or come along side of you to shoulder the load?

Would it shock you to know that women in our Everyday Mom’s group have very real, very scary struggles right now? What if I told you some of them don’t know exactly how they will feed their children next week? How about if I told you that more than one of us have contemplated, planned or even tried to end our lives? These are beautiful people, who love their families so much, but they are in pain and when they look around, they only see our highlight reels. They are suffering in silence because they don’t know exactly how to reach out. They don’t want to reveal the struggle or expose their own weakness because somehow we’ve sold the lie that our lives are always perfect. This is not ok.

How do we overcome this? How do we move past the fluff and find depth in our relationships with each other? What will emotionally investing in one another cost us? I don’t have all the answers here, I really am asking, how do we help? What would help you?

We do have an awesome local resource in The Seventh Mom Project that advocates “holding the umbrella” for one another as we weather the storms of perinatal mood disorders. I think the analogy holds for any season in life. We can be umbrella holders for those around us, but only if we are allowed to see the storm. Only if we know that it’s raining in your world.

I also think there is opportunity here to put together a more tangible resource for our group. I haven’t ironed out all of the ideas that are floating in my mind yet, but we are so involved in each other’s lives, in one sense, because we interact online almost daily, and yet at the same time we are so distanced from one another that the problems can slide under the radar. There has to be a way to pull together and be there for each other during the storms. For some of us, this may mean offering childcare so a mom can run out for coffee alone. For others, it may mean helping sort through mountains of laundry. I love helping after a new baby comes or when there’s an illness in the family. I like to make a meal, send takeout or gift cards. There’s room to form an organized system for some of this, but it will only work if you will reach out. What do you think? Will you share your struggle, to help others share theirs too?

Pinterest Picks: Winter Break Crafts

Winter Break is right around the corner and that means LOTS of time alone with your kids asking “what are we doing today?”

Fill in those days with some winter break crafts!

So far, these are the ones we’ve done:

Name Recognition Lights 

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                     Pinterest version                                                                    My version

I cut the lights out (freehand) out of construction paper and drew the bases of the lights with permanent marker. I took a piece of paper and folded and cut it in half and drew a squiggly line for the lights.

Then, I gave them glue sticks and let them go to town.

Lights (Patterns for older kids)

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        Pinterest Version                                      My version

I found this idea here and she used wine corks for the paint, but I had Do-A-Dot art pens laying around and used those! Much easier and less to clean up afterwards!

Cutting Practice trees

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     Pinterest version                                      My version

This one was super easy: Just draw triangle-shaped trees on a green piece of construction paper and let the kids cut them out! My girls actually used the Do-A-Dot makers again since they were laying around and “decorated” the trees.

With all the crafting, your kids are bound to get hungry. So, in addition to our crafts, here are some Pinterest picks for some holiday snacks and food:

Rudolph pancakes

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                   Pinterest version.                                                     My version

I buy pre-made frozen chocolate chip and mini pancakes just for breakfasts like these!

I bought a HUGE bag of holiday M&Ms (which I’ve read I can save and use the red ones for Valentine’s Day and the green ones for St. Patrick’s Day).

I used one red M&M for the nose, two chocolate chips for the eyes and pretzel sticks broken up for the antlers.

Muddy Buddies

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           Pinterest version                                               My version 

Did you know you can buy these pre-made now?! Genius!

I just dumped a bag of muddy buddies, holiday M&Ms and pretzel sticks in a gallon sized Ziplok baggie and mixed it up!

Ruldolph PBJ

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Pinterest version                                 My version

Once again, red M&M and two chocolate chips for the face!

I’ve pretty much figured out that if I put 3 pieces of candy on anything, my kids will eat it ALL!

I cut the shape with my butter knife (it was supposed to be a heart-shape) and put mini pretzels in between the bread.

And just for some LOLZ and to show you that everything doesn’t always turn out just like Pinterest, here is my Pinterest FAIL!

Snowman pancakes 

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Pinterest version                                           My version

I had seen this lady’s post on a cute snowman breakfast and tried to replicate it.

She used mini chocolate chips and apparently, mine are enormous.

I used 3 green M&Ms for the buttons and pretzel sticks for the arms. Mini marshmallows for the snow beneath the feet.

Then, it went terribly wrong. I didn’t have anything cute to use for the nose. I attempted to use a candy corn, but then my snowman just looked like a penguin!

Oh well, the kids still ate them!

Happy Winter Break!

 

 

“Dress” like you are hot (but really not in this heat)!

By: Kelly Roque

Dress Shop Image 1

     We all know when the “summer” truly hits our sunshine state, the last thing we successfully accomplish is looking fashionable.  Or how about I say, the last thing we feel like is fashionable (or at least the majority of us).  I at times fear the mirror after the hustle and bustle of running my boys around (boys= son and husband), running to the store, running errands and just always running.  I think I can actually feel my makeup sliding off of my face like candle wax and my clothing stick to me like a garbage bag.  However! This does not stop me from trying, in fact, it can be my day’s challenge.  One thing I’ve tried not to loose is looking presentable in the heat (even if I’m the only one that believes I indeed look presentable and favoring sitting in an air conditioned space like a mannequin…ha)!

There comes that dreaded time where you have to get dressed and it is south of 85 degrees outside of your door, weather it be to your Uber job (we are all Uber drivers to the loved ones in our life, no pun intended of course), your office job, a play date or a cool brunch.  So what is the top pick for these days when living in an inferno, alas…a dress of course! Yes…this is far from rocket science but a staple piece that is much alive and easy to achieve.  When it comes to maximum ventilation, the perfectly fitted dress is my #1 choice.  I myself like to go crazy with colors and patterns but cotton is typically my go to.  Being an advocate and owner of organic and sustainable clothing for women, organic cotton is definitely something to choose when looking for favorite finds.  Especially in the heat, it is soft and truly absorbs any moisture throughout the day.  Of course it is not always available when choosing your favorite dresses, so plain ole cotton works just well.  Please…please and please again, stay away from any poly’s and rayons (100% that is, a mix is fine though) because you will find yourself like that garbage bag I’ve mentioned.  Materials are key when it comes to the heat.

Plaid Dress

     Again- you can’t go wrong with a dress but you can if it is continued to be paired with the basic flip flop.  I know we all love a flip flop but change it up a bit and loose the mindset of “if I can’t wear flip flops…I’m not going!” Throw on a sandal sometimes  (note: a flip flop is not necessarily a sandal).  Now, if you are attending an event weather it be day or evening, a small wedge or heel will give any dress and YOU a few more points, I promise.  Don’t always flip and flop, give your leg muscles a run in something elevated, plus you will feel like you look…which is sexy and quite amazing! Speaking of what not to do,  I see soooooo many beauties walking around in exercise clothing and I think to myself, Yep! I am guilty too but I just cannot continue to choose exercising cloths as my “dress.”  At least not everyday that is.  First of all, I feel that it screams “look at me…I have to take Jimmy, Johnny and all of the kids to soccer.”  It has become the obvious choice of mom identity (no ladies- I am not saying we shouldn’t show our mom identity but at times, actual girly/ whimsical/ women’s clothing can make a difference and accent your personality even better verses the neighborhood women’s uniform of exercise clothes).  Lets admit, we are not all running and working out the way we are wearing these work- out clothes.  My husband actually notices this with women and has commented on those that are definitely not exercising but have chosen to replace Under Armor and Nike with their dresses.  It is warranted for some functions but not everyday and for everything (just saying’…we know who we are, I can be guilty at times myself).

Outside of the “dress,” there is a list for this summer that is sure to steer you in the right direction as either a stay at home mom or an office warrior:

Maxi Dresses– Always in, so buy a couple.

Lightweight Denim– Oh this is my fav (weather it be a dress, bottoms or a top).

Cold or exposed shoulders– Now, it took me awhile to accept this one since I felt like a gypsy when I bought my first top.  Can I say how many compliments I got when I wore it.  A winner!

Tanks– We live in the south so this is a no brainer but have fun with them and choose some patterns and stripes.

Skirts– Choose the skirt with pleats please.  Minimal pleats but get some pleats this summer.  When is the last time you wore a skirt (if recent, kudos to you then)!

Comfy Bottoms– Yes, loose bottoms, preferably with a paper bag waste are totally in right now!  The great thing is they can be worn like sweats and won’t stick to your thighs.  🙂

Fab fabrics this summer include patchwork patterns, gingam and stripes.  Let me tell you, I am a patchwork gingam gal…I challenge you to try these fabrics, you will be sure to be noticed.

So- the next time you are wondering what to wear in this heat for just about anything, find “that dress” and rock it like it’s your exercise clothing!

With lots of summer love ♥-

K. Roque

 

 

image1 I’m Kelly, busy mother of one amazing son and a wife to an awesome husband.  Our family of three loves any and all things family and each one of us contributes dearly to the life we’re enjoying together.  We live in the Fishhawk area and value our time spent surrounded by other great families and friends.  I am a WFHM by trade and a writer and entrepreneur by heart. My pass time is an obsession for fashion, home and interior decorating. 

 

 

Are you putting your mask on?

By: Michelle Hudock

You are sitting on the airplane, about to take off and they are going over the safety instructions. They talk about the oxygen masks and tell you “Put your mask on first before assisting others.” Your small child is sitting next to you. If you had to make that decision, would you listen? Would you put your mask on first or put their mask on first?

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I know when I sat and listened to them say that I would think to myself “No way! I am putting my child’s mask on first. It is my job to take care of them and put their needs before mine.” This was my way of thinking in several areas of my life. But now I know I do need to put my mask on first.

After our second child was born I was constantly exhausted. He wasn’t the best sleeper and was still up every couple hours way past the time he was “supposed” to be sleeping through the night. I had daily headaches and took Aleve each day like it was a daily vitamin. I would skip meals or wait too long to eat because I was busy taking care of his needs and he had to eat first. But then I found myself even more drained. I would stay in my pajamas all day, skip taking a shower, some days not even look in the mirror to see the hot mess I was. Not only was I taking care of a baby, but I had a Kindergartner at the time who needed me. I had to get her breakfast in the morning and feed the baby, which meant there was no time for me to eat. Then I had to drive her to school that wasn’t close. By the time I got home it was time for the baby to eat again, so that meant I had to wait even longer to eat. This is how my day went. The baby needs his diaper changed, I have to change it. The baby needs to eat, I need to feed him. I have to get our daughter breakfast, take her to school, pick her up from school, get her a snack. It was always something and it meant that my needs got pushed back. I was always putting myself on the back burner. But what did that get me? I was tired, had headaches, I was stressed, moody, and just going through the motions. My husband and I would sit on the couch watching TV each night while we would watch our kids play and entertain themselves nearby. We would doze off most nights. We hardly ever made dinner and mostly ordered pizza, Chinese delivery, picked up Carside to go, or went through a fast food drive thru.

In October 2014, something changed. One day I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was tired of the same old, same old. I was tired of the headaches, the stress, being moody, and just being a Mombie. (Mom Zombie) I was tired of my pre-pregnancy clothes not fitting right STILL, not feeling confident about myself, not looking forward to date night with my husband and making excuses to get out of it because I didn’t have anything to wear and didn’t like how things looked on me, I was tired of just not feeling good. My husband had some pregnancy sympathy weight to lose too. We both decided we needed to make a change. We started working out in our family room as soon as we put the kids to bed. We made it like an appointment we had to be on time for and “met” each other there. It became our time together and like a hobby which we never really had together. We started making healthier food choices and did meal prepping and planning together. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but we started seeing changes so we kept going. Not just on the outside of losing weight and inches but on the inside too. We started having more energy, I had less headaches, I was able to deal with the stress better by letting it out in my workouts, my moods were better, and I was feeling like a better Mom and Wife. I realized I needed to eat too. I realized in order to feed my baby well, I needed to feed myself well. I started eating 5-6 meals and snacks a day, every 2-3 hours. I thought of it like this- if my baby was hungry and crying to eat, would I make him wait? Would I tell him “Sorry, I don’t have time. You’ll have to wait to eat.” No! And I shouldn’t tell myself that either. We had to make some changes and adjustments and although it took time, it was so worth it. We were making healthy dinners at home together. We were going on walks and bike rides around our neighborhood together. We were playing WITH our kids and not just watching them play. We were setting a good example for them to be active and healthy.  We started seeing more and more positive changes and it became so rewarding! It let us know we were making the right steps towards better health which effected so much on a daily basis. When you feel better, you do better. When you feel better, you are better. Whether your job is at home as a stay at home Mom, you work from home, you work outside of the house. You are a better Wife, a better Mom, a better employee.

 

If you want to see change, YOU have to change.

For things to get better, YOU have to get better.

For things to improve, YOU have to improve.

When YOU grow, EVERYTHING in your life grows with you.

So whenever you start feeling run down and worn out ask yourself “Am I putting my mask on?” You MUST put your mask on first before assisting others!

 

 

10897977_10206241527816591_3774314369757525231_n My name is Michelle Hudock and my husband and I have two kids. Kyla is 10 years old and Kellen is 4 years old. I work from home as a health and fitness coach helping people with their health and fitness goals. I have always wanted to “help people” and I feel like each day I get to do just that! It also allows me to stay home with our two young kids and have the freedom to volunteer at their schools or go to class parties, go with my husband when he travels for work, and to truly enjoy Spring Breaks and Summers while the kids are off school. I love trying new recipes to cook for my family, going to playdates and meeting new Moms just like me, and just being an “Everyday Mom!”

 

 

It takes a village.

By: Melissa Beckley

I know that many of us have heard this over and over before, but it is so true! I am a wife to a recently retired coastie, so we’ve made our fair share of moves and the closest we’ve been to family during my husband’s career was about 5 hours from his family and 9 from mine, needless to say we didn’t get to visit as much as we wanted. Because of this, I have found the truth and importance behind the “It takes a village statement.” This is exactly why I am a huge fan of Mom’s groups!

I have 5 children with a HUGE age range, my oldest is 13 and my youngest is 10 months old. I can tell you I would not have survived without my momma friends! Whether you are near family or not it’s so important to get plugged in with “your people, or village(AKA mom groups),” these mommas have either been there, done that or are going through what you are right at that moment. They can either help guide you, cry along side you, drink insane amounts of wine with you and even cheer you on.

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Whether we lived in California, Alabama, Michigan, Louisiana or Florida, the one thing that remained a constant, was my support system in a local mom’s group. They helped encourage me in my journeys as a wife, mother and photographer.

I encourage all moms to join some sort of mom’s group. Whether you need someone to pour your heart out to, find out what events are going on this weekend or make a play date for your kids, to keep them busy and give you a few minutes peace, it’s so important to join that village.

untitled-279 copyI’m Melissa, wife to a handsome guy and momma to 5 crazy kids (ages 10 months to 13 years). I am a birth, newborn and baby photographer and I love living in Florida!