What Do You Do With Your Jewels?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Part of me has been thinking about this since before I moved out - and part of me wants to squash the thoughts into the deepest part of my brain, never to be thought of again. What do I do with my wedding/marriage jewelry?

I have a necklace with 3 diamonds that my ex gave me earlier on in our relationship. During our brief break-ups in the past, I have just replaced the charm with another. But now that our relationship is completely over - what's to become of it? I also have my wedding ring, which is really simple (read: cheap) since I couldn't find something I really loved and we had planned to upgrade me in the future. Additionally, my ex purchased a beautiful necklace and earring set which she gifted to me on the day of our wedding. It was a really thoughtful gift, because she knew I was having trouble finding the perfect wedding jewelry to go with my dress. It was such a nice surprise. But it all hurts too much to continue to wear.

A few options are available:

  • saving them for the girls and using the diamonds to turn into something else
  • pawning them and using the money to pay down some debt
  • sucking it up and keeping them in a safe place (just in case)
I honestly don't even know what a "just in case" would be. We're never going to get back together, so maybe it's more of a just in case I regret picking the wrong option of the previous two. What do people do with their jewelry that was supposed to mean commitment, love and building a future together? When that jewelry no longer holds the same meaning? When you get a pit in your stomach just glancing at it? 

Some people have told me to save them and turn them into earrings or other jewelry for the girls - as a token of their parent's marriage. A reminder that they came from a love of something. Others have scoffed and told me to get rid of it pronto! "Why would you want to hold onto that?" "Why would your kids care about a marriage they didn't know?" Good point. So I'm at a crossroads.

For now it sits in the bottom of a desk drawer, stuffed way in the back - out of sight, out of mind. It'll sit there until I figure out what my heart wants to do with it all. Maybe, if I'm lucky, my brain will kick in and make an executive decision. 

Happy Halloween!

Here's to a safe and happy Halloween night for you and your littles! Hope you have fun trick or treating, carving pumpkins, and just enjoying the night with your family!

Some Days are Hard

Thursday, October 29, 2015

There are days that I wake up normally, get dressed and on my way to work ... and then creeping up behind me the day churns over into something else. Something dark and sad, and scary. I can't always tell when it's going to happen and I honestly can't even always pinpoint my triggers. But there are moments when all of a sudden I'm in a funk. My outlook dims, my positivity fades - when I feel like a failure. When I feel unlovable. When I'm jealous of the security that others have with their relationships. Envy is an ugly thing.

I try to push the thoughts out of my head - the ones that stick around and try to ruin my day, my attitude. But sometimes they succeed and snatch it all right up. It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself. To feel like I've already hit the best part of my life and it failed - over and done with as quickly as it started. It's easy to feel like I'll be alone forever - that I'm destined to see my children only 50% of the time ... and to be bitter about it all. 

This isn't a big post where I spew a ton of advice of how to feel better. It's a post where I'm real and I'm stuck (for a moment) in something ugly. The reality of going through a divorce and being a single mom. The longing I have for what I thought my relationship was. The reality for what it is. 

So - I'll just end with some days are hard. I guess I need to be easier on myself. I know it all comes and goes and I've had a lot better days than bad. I'm just a work in progress and I have to remember that I'm not at the finish line, yet. My story isn't over. 

Single Mom Money - Part 2 / "Where's My Money?"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

While going through all of my debts, one thing that keeps popping up is my car payment. In 2012 I bought a brand new 2013 Honda CRV EX-L. I love it. It's fully loaded, and beautiful and has zero issues. I've never had a car with zero issues. Last fall, I refinanced my car loan and pulled out some equity because we needed the money. We were running low on our reserves as my ex finished up nursing school and was getting ready for a full time job. We were new parents and in desperate need of more room - so we needed to move. That money helped us get to where we needed to be, but in order to keep my payment around the same amount, I had to tack on an additional year of payments. At the time it was no big deal but now I'm facing 3 more years of payments instead of only having two more years left. Plus, my car payment is huge. Gulp. It's $606 a month. That's not including the monthly insurance, gas, oil changes, etc. Just a flat $606 out of my pocket every month.

I've been thinking about what I should do. Should I keep the car and the payment and just focus on paying the car off. Then in 3 years I'll have no car payment and can drive my car into the ground? Or do I try to wiggle my way out of this car and opt for a lower car payment, a used car or even trying to sell my car privately and using my grandmother's car for a year (she doesn't drive so she has a brand new Corolla sitting in her garage). I don't know what I should do. But at times I feel like I'll never get my head above water if I don't eliminate some of these large payments that I have.

I consider myself lucky though. I only have a student loan payment, car loan, small personal loan and 1 credit card. In reality, my debt is not that large. However, just eliminating my car payment, personal loan and minimum monthly credit card payment I can have $860 a month back to my wallet. WHAT! I want to pass out.

Just for S and G's (ten points if you know what that means), I decided to check my credit score on CreditKarma. If I had crap credit, then even if I tried to get a loan, I'd only be offered in the double digits so it'd likely not be smart anyways. And, I was right. My credit score stinks mainly because my credit card is almost maxed out. We'll call it "marriage debt" since I haven't touched the card in ages. I'm under my max balance but it's like 84% used of my allotted credit limit. The good news is that once I pay about $500 towards the balance, it'll move me to the next tier (positively). I'm glad I checked my score. It's good to prevent me from making dumb decisions (ie. having my record pulled for another ding on my score) as well as make me aware of what I can do to make it better.

So I'd recommend to use your resources available to you to make smart financial decisions. Research the possibilities and make the best decision for you and your family. Know where you stand, financially, in terms of your credit to debt ratio and credit score. Be realistic in what it takes for you to meet your goals financially - to free up your money so you can do with it what you want to do with it. And be diligent! Don't let another week or month go by without re-evaluating your financial situation. It's a continuous process that you should have a pulse on every day!
This post is not sponsored by CreditKarma and contains my sole views from personal usage/experience. 

I Think It's Finally Time

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

When I was pregnant with the girls, I hit my highest weight ever. That was 256 lbs. My pre-pregnancy weight was pretty high at 200 lbs, but that 56 lbs was rough to bounce back from. I dropped a lot of weight initially after giving birth, but one of my issues postpartum was having the motivation to do anything, let alone work out. I was caring for the girls and merely exhausted at the idea of going to the grocery store, let alone pushing my body to do cardio or pick up a weight. I was also a little depressed, and felt hopeless and personally just felt like crap. Where would I begin?

When my marriage starting unraveling this summer, I dropped weight drastically because I just had zero appetite. In 1 short month I lost about 20 lbs and was only 5 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I felt thinner, but I wasn't healthier and due to my crap eating habits lately (I'm pretty sure I'm eating my feelings) - the weight has slowly crept back up to 219 lbs. I'm not going to sit here and slam myself. I grew two human beings. I had some depression. I am going through the end of my marriage. I'm starting my life over. I've had ALOT of stuff happen in the past 15 months of my life - let alone the past 4 months of my life. I've come a long way.
Losing lots of weight quickly can result in unsightly sagging skin. This article discusses ways of getting rid of sagging skin.:
But - I think it's seriously time to get serious about my health. I had a biometric screening last week for my health benefit plan. If you do the screening, you get $200 towards your medical bills. It's a time to find out where your lands and to get some light counseling from a nurse on how you can improve your numbers. My numbers weren't great. I'm considered obese, I have a pretty large waist measurement (hello, twins!), I'm pre-diabetic, and have pre-hypertension. Not at all a shock since I had gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced hypertension, paired with my weight gain ... I know I'm not healthy. The thing is that I can reduce all of my health risks, by losing weight and eating better. It's a simple fix! It's something I can control! And I think it's time that I grabbed my health by the neck and did something about it. I'm not aiming for a 6 pack or to become an Crossfitter. I don't even have a goal of running a marathon or anything crazy like that. Seriously, I just want to slim down, make small goals (5k!) and get into a healthy lifestyle.

I plan to start writing *some* about my health journey. I'm not an expert by any means and I'm sure I'll have tons of stumbles along the way. But I'm hoping my journey inspires other single mamas out there to get serious about their health for not just themselves, but for their kids too!

If you'd like to share any free resources that have helped you on your health journey, I'd love to hear about them! I'm an avid weight-loss/health IG follower and have a few accounts I love to follow to get ideas on work outs and meals. Now it's just about implementation! :)

Name Changer

Monday, October 26, 2015

When I got married, I was excited to change my last name. Not because I didn't love my maiden name but because my ex and I were building something together. And since we wanted kids - we wanted our little family to all have the same last name. It took some getting used to but my new last name was shorter and goes along with my first name pretty well! I got a promotion at work right around the same time I got married, so it was like I was building a new identity as my clients all became used to my "new" name. But now that I'm facing my divorce, I've decided to return to my maiden name.

I remember the day that I went down to the Social Security Administration building, with my civil union paperwork in-hand. I went by myself, on a free day I had. I walked up to the booth and when asked why I was changing my name, presented my paperwork stating that I was legally tied to another - and I wanted to take her last name. I had no issues and after getting my new SSN card, I promptly made my way, by myself, to the DMV to change my driver's license as well. I was excited, but also overwhelmed with all of the documents and companies that needed my updated "new" name. But I did it all - by myself. Two short years later, the tables have turned and I had a decision presented to me if I wanted to return to my maiden name or continue with the name I took during marriage.

For a moment, I thought I'd keep my married name since the twins' will keep my ex's last name. When asked if we wanted to hyphen it or talk about changing their last name, I dismissed that thought. My maiden name is 9 letters long and Serbian (read: super European) - all of the letters rhyme when trying to spell it out. It's kinda hard and I didn't want my girls to have to switch from an easier name to a more difficult name - especially if we hyphenated. Nightmare. Plus, I'm the biological mother. Nothing will ever change that. They are part of my DNA. My ex, however, is the adoptive mother and I feel like having the girls keep her last name was another little part of her the girls could have. We are still sort of a family, after all.

But for me - it's getting my identity back. I'm the last remaining family member in our tree with our last name (besides my dad and uncle). I'm the only "kid" with the family name. And even though we found out that my dad was adopted (so my Serbian last name doesn't even have much direct family heritage related to me), it's part of my identity. So, once my divorce is finalized, I'll find myself returning to the Social Security office, walking up to the booth and presenting a different kind of paperwork. I'll make my way to the DMV by myself and get a driver's license with a name that I possessed for 30 years. I'll update all of my contact information and I'll be teaching my clients that I have a new/harder name for them to remember ... but it would be just like I was married, only reversed. There might be some explanation that goes along with that - that "No, I'm not married - actually, I just got divorced." But I'm ready for it. And I think I'm ready to return to "me".

Taking Yourself Back: How to Change Your Name After Divorce in your 20s - Trash The Dress  #divorce #namechange #trashthedress:
I've been asked if I get re-married, would I change my name again? My mom married twice and took her husband's last names each time. With her second divorce, she stuck with hubby #2's last name, opting not to return to her maiden name. On the flip side, I actually know a lot of married couples that kept their own names - so no "family" name. I don't know what I'd do if I re-marry, but right now I'm leaning towards keeping my maiden name forever. :) If you have been divorced, what did you do with your last name?

Awesome Mom Product!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Baby, it's getting cold outside and don't you hate when you bundle the little one up for an outing and they kick all of their blankets right off of them? You end up dusting leaves and dirt off of your nice clean blanket, (or in my case rolling over it completely) and are left with a chilly little one who thinks it's all fun and games! Not so much, kiddo!

My friend Liz came up with a really cute product that helps prevent those blankets from flying off in those colder months. Her fleece blankets have openings that fit right around the baby's buckle so your child sits in top of the blanket and it wraps around them! GENIUS! She has a ton of cute patterns available and ships within 4-5 days of placing your order!

Check out her etsy shop here: TheUrbanPenny

Stroller Blanket (Pink Birds Print)

Cute Fall DIY Ideas

Friday, October 23, 2015

Are you looking for some cute DIY ideas to do around your home or to craft with your kids? I've found some super cute ideas on the web that I wanted to share with you! If you try any - link up in the comments and let me see what you did!

Fall Bucket List - so cute idea to keep track of all of your fun family activities this season!

Chalk Painted Pumpkins - a fun twist on decorative pumpkins for the home!

Fall Leaf Painting- such an easy project and great for child development skills too!

Fall Coloring Pages - who doesn't love to color??

Pumpkin Pasta Craft - warning: involves glitter! But how cute is this idea?

Apple Volcanoes - have kids that love science? Or that just like to make a mess? This a fun activity that involves both!

Fall Leaf Alphabet Movement Activity - a fun activity for those littles that don't like sit still! (So all of them)

Harvest Hash Halloween Trail Mix - whip up a batch of this fall goodness and take in a family favorite like "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" ... or "Hocus Pocus"!

Pumpkin Patch Dirt Cups - how adorable would these be at your toddler Halloween party? (keep a vacuum nearby, though!)

Slow Cooker Potpourri - make your home smell delicious with this easy recipe for a nice fall day!

10 Second Tidy

We are TV watchers. CALM DOWN MOM PATROL! Yes, I have it on as background noise, no I don't care what you think, and my children are fine. Anyways, we watch TV and because I went sans cable when I moved, we have been watching a lot of shows on Hulu and Netflix. (BTW I hate that Netflix doesn't run show after show like Hulu - anyone else with me? Is there a way to fix this?) One of the shows I discovered on Hulu is from my childhood when WE didn't have cable. So, a lot of my kid shows were on PBS and one of them was called The Big Comfy Couch. It starred Loonette the clown and her bff Molly - a doll.

Loonette slept (and did about 80% of her activities) on or around her couch - which was massive. She had a lot of adventures and they always had a theme to teach kids to be good people. One episode was when she was angry and she and Molly went on an adventure where they learned to not be so angry and take it out on other people. She has an aunt that travels all over the world, and a grandma that pretended to be a cat in one episode. Then there's Major Bedhead - he's the unicycle riding mailman. I'm excited that my kids like the show, because I get to relive it too. Harper loves the clock stretch and some of the songs. She shrieks and dances and tries to stretch every time, just like Loonette.

This is not the original Loonette - this is from their reboot years :)

My point in this post isn't exactly to relive kid shows from my past, although that'd be super fun. But in every episode of The Big Comfy Couch is the "10 Second Tidy". It comes at the end of the show after Loonette has had all of her fun and she looks around and sees a disheveled mess. She proclaims, "HEY! Whoooo made this big mess?" The camera zooms in on her face and she responds with an innocent, "Meeee?" The camera "nods" up and down. And then Loonette agrees she made the huge mess and it's only fair that she's the only that cleans it up. Then she launches into a super speedy "10 Second Tidy" where she picks everything up - mostly stuffing it into the seat of the couch. 

I've realized that I have my own "10 Second Tidy" and it mainly occurs when the girls are in bed. It's when I warp speed clean - pick up toys, Spot Shot any stains, throw a load of laundry in the washer, do a load of dishes, etc. And it happens quickly.  So quickly that I just realized the other day that it was a thing for me. That it was something that automatically happened once the girls were settled into bed, something that helped me unwind for mommy-time. The speedy cleaning gets my home back in shape and doesn't overwhelm me at the end of the day when I just want to relax on the couch with a glass of wine. I'm not stuck with a million chores to do because I bust butt and go into auto-clean for about 30 minutes each day. It's worth it. 

And isn't that funny about being a mom? The things we just do and we don't even realize we're doing them. I remember pre-kids how annoyed I'd be to have to take a dog out, or doing nothing because I didn't want to do anything. But now I do things to care for two little humans that need me and I don't even blink an eye. They scream, they cry, they unravel all of my toilet paper, but I love them. I want to do everything I can for them. I want to soothe their cries and curb their screams. And I'll collect my toilet paper from around the apartment, because in those minutes they are unraveling it all - their faces dance with the brightest smiles. They're the reason I have patience I never knew existed. They're the reason I've gained a new outlook on life. They're the reason that keeps me moving forward, even on days when I'd really rather not. 


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Let's talk about empowerment and what that looks like as a single mom. It's not just what makes you a strong woman - but what makes you strong as the only adult in your family. What builds you up when life is tearing you down. How you maintain that strength and feel (and know!) that you can tackle anything that comes your way.

I've felt empowered at various moments, but one that recently hit me was when I took the girls to the pumpkin patch. I was excited to have this experience with my daughters - to not feel like I'm missing out on these life experiences because our family is breaking a part. But the moment I pulled into the lot at the pumpkin farm, and saw family upon family lugging their pumpkins around, posing for photos with big bright smiles - and even seeing all of the pregnant women who were carrying their own pumpkin in their bellies - I felt a punch straight to my stomach. I yearned for what they all had ... the comfort of a marriage, a fall family tradition, happy family photos, and even the whisper of a new future on the horizon for those little ones yet to be born.
focus on the good.:

I could have let that ruin my time. I could have let that bring tears to my eyes and bitterness into my heart. Instead I turned my face to the sun and soaked in the smiles and giddy laughs of my girls as they ran all over the pumpkin patch. They didn't care that I was the only parent with them that day. They didn't see all of the other families surrounding us, because I was their family. They saw an open space to run and a mommy willing to chase them - and what fun that was! Twin toddlers are no joke, especially in crowded places!

When I looked at us ... and the fact that I packed them all up and brought them out into a public place by myself, and I took pictures of us and we made memories together - suddenly, I felt empowered. No longer was I sad or jealous over other families, but was proud of my own little family and the experience we were having.

There are many moments where a surge of empowerment hit; simple things like when I get a bill that I can afford to pay (I'm doing it on my own!), when I make healthy choices for what my children eat, when I teach my girls something and they pick it up! Little moments scattered across our days help me feel that what I'm doing is worth something ... that I don't have to be sad for what I lack but need to continue to be appreciative for what I already have. I think it's really important as single moms to keep that in perspective. It's easy to fall into feeling sorry for ourselves and envious of others' family traditions. But we're strong, and we have the power to be/do anything we put our mind to. Our children depend on us - we depend on us. Find moments (even small ones) during your day that make you feel you're strong, that show you that you can do this on your own, that once you can step outside of being the victim (I have a hard time falling into this mindset) that you can become your own hero. Find what empowers you. Use it as your fuel to rebuild and come back stronger than ever!

Who we are and What We Can Do For You !! Email: salona@dtrix.co.za www.dtrix.co.za Call: 074 409 9730:

Single Mom Money

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

One of the crappiest things (non-emotional) due to my divorce is now I have to run 1 household on 1 income versus 1 household on 2 incomes. That means I'm responsible for it all; the rent, the car payment, the personal loan, the student loan, medical bills, oh yeah and living necessities like food, diaper, toilet paper, etc. Luckily, I have a good job but holy moly ... the sudden pressure and responsibility is intense.

I've had to do a lot of thinking because my future is no longer "we's" and working with someone else on a retirement plan or even the simple act of eliminating any debt. It's all on me. I'm dictating what my retirement plan looks like, and I'm in charge of my debt and getting rid of it to free up some money so that I can retire! Problem is - I've never been super good at managing my money and have gotten into a lot of personal financial trouble in the past. This includes foreclosing on my condo in 2011 and filing for bankruptcy. Not good. But it gave me a clean slate and I was able to re-establish credit (through a new car purchase and credit card) and have been trying to stay really smart with living within my means. I'm a huge consumer, especially when I'm going through a rough patch in life. So my spending can spiral out of control when it's something that makes me happy through a really hard time.

To combat that, I've been keeping track of all of my "debts" and balances on them - and have created a Plan of Attack! My goal is to get my debt to almost nothing or paid off by the time the girls are ready for kindergarten so that I can purchase a home in an ideal school district and afford to live in that area. Having no (or very little) debt will definitely help with that dream. I've read the Dave Ramsey book, Total Money Makeover and he has some great tips if you can get past all of his rants and woman-bashing examples. You do a few "baby steps" to get to the final goal of paying off your debt and then investing in your future and building your wealth. A lot of people have had great success from his plan, including one of my favorite Instagrammers (who also blogs about debt), Jen Dufore at jenplans.com. Jen also hosts a community of people focused towards paying off their debt in her Facebook group which you can link into from her website. There's a lot of great success stories and tips shared through the group.

Another resource that I've been an avid reader of is the blog And Then We Saved. Anna paid off almost $24,000 in debt in just 15 months! She has a lot of great tips and "challenges" including the Spending Fast and the Spending Diet. Do you have what it takes to spend no money for 30 days? How about a whole year? Imagine how much money you could throw towards your debt if you eliminated non-essential spending! She encourages "out of the box" ways to save money including selling unused items, purging non-necessities, doing odd jobs, etc. All of it is in an effort to life a debt-free life! I honestly, can't imagine. I'd be rich hahahaha!

There's also a great website, if you're interested in couponing, sweepstakes, or freebies called Free Stuff Times. They peruse the world wide web and find the latest contests, and even put together a shopping list for major retailers like Target and Walmart and pair their ad items with coupons so that you can get the best bang for your buck during that week's shopping trip! And some of the bargains they find equal FREE products!! I like to check for the free Kindle listings for the week or month, and sometimes there are free Pampers Rewards codes too!

How do you budget on a single income? What crazy things have you done to earn extra money or pay down debt?
money balloon How To Give Money in Style   10 Creative Ways to Give Cash party ideas fun gift ideas fun art and crafts:


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One of the things that I've enjoyed about this journey (which is kinda sad) is all of the people that I have met that have similar stories. Marriages didn't work out, assets were split up, custody configured, and pieces of your heart picked back up from the ground and put back together. People have come to my rescue, whether it be from a kind random text to check on how I'm doing - to offering all kinds of help like moving services, babysitting, etc. It's amazing how people to come together when life's crap happens.

When I started this blog, it was to share my experiences. It was to find that virtual community that I've really enjoyed through blogging in the past. It was to flex my writing skills - because I looooove to write. It was to do something that I was passionate about - something for me. Now, I've noticed that quite a few of you peep on here daily. (hello friends!!!!) But none of you comment. I'd love for you to share a comment or two, if you feel inclined - even if it's anonymously. I'd love to learn what brought you here, what your experience is. I'd love to have that virtual community for us to be a part of.

So, I dunno. I guess this is a "call to action." Tell me a joke, or your favorite color. Tell me what was best about your day today. Tell me your favorite IG accounts ... I love KrispyShorts :)

Top 30 Very Funny Animals Memes:
This ... because it's hilarious.

Internet Life v. Real Life

On my car ride into work the other day, the local radio station was talking about people having "fake" lives on social media and that they do not portray their real lives to the world. These leads their friends, family, followers to get down about their own lives because of this fabulous life the other person is living. For example, that supermom that has perfectly put-together kids and a DIY home of your dreams, with a spotless white couch and is able to multi-task the crap out of any family outing her gorgeous brood does. Ah, don't you hate her already?

I can't tell if I notice this now more that my little "perfect life" has changed ... but I do find myself envious of other people's lives (marriage, perfect home, seeing their kids every day) and that can bring me down. The smart part of me realizes that people's lives are messy, regardless of what's portrayed on social media. Even taking a look at my posts on Instagram, one could think I totally have my $hit together going through this divorce. We choose to share the happy times and picture perfect moments. Who wants to look back at their IG account and see a bunch of depressing pictures? Who wants to follow someone like that? Answer: no one.

So, I think it's important to remember that NO ONE has their total life together. We're all struggling with something, and we all have days when life isn't as perfect as our social media accounts portray. When you stumble upon that swoon-worthy account and wonder how this miracle woman has the time to do what she does while seemingly keeping her marriage in-tack and staying in a size 4 jeans after popping out 4 kids ... remember she struggles too. She's not going to always share those dark moments, arguments with her hubby, the constant mess she likely has to continuously clean up after chasing around 4 kids, or sleepless nights her newest baby puts her through.

Honestly, sometimes it makes me "root" for their perfect lives more. Of course I'm looking for people I can relate to - that don't look at me like my failed marriage will rub off on them, but I honestly want everyone to have the happy lives that they deserve. It's something to aim for - not perfection, but happiness amidst a life of imperfection.

Book Review: The Sometimes Daughter

Monday, October 19, 2015

On my work trip earlier this month, I had a short flight, which didn't provide a movie since we were on a regional jet. I think my flight was less than 2 hours both ways. So before my trip, I snagged a discount book at Barnes and Noble (yep, they still exist) and also brought along my Kindle, which I didn't even use on the trip. Sometimes I just like the feeling of turning the pages and the accomplishment of actually working your way through the book instead of tracking it through a percentage of completion.

Anyways, so I grabbed a book called The Sometimes Daughter by Sherri Wood Emmons and thought it had a really interesting premise. Basically it's a story around a mother-daughter relationship that's distant and abandoning at times ... much like my own life story.

Sweet Judy was born during Woodstock, during a Crosby, Stills and Nash performance to her 19 year old mother, Cassie. Cassie was an ultimate free-spirit. She loved music, smoking pot, and dancing. She enjoyed free love, and although a fun mom - wasn't the best wife to Judy's father, Kirk. As the years passed, Cassie's husband seemed to "grow up" and be interested in his own education and building a career. So, he attended law school during the evenings. Meanwhile, Judy and her mother enjoyed late nights jamming out to bands, multiple visitors in and out of their home and a Cassie that refused to grow up. This caused a wedge between Cassie and Kirk - eventually driving Cassie away from the marriage and in search of a community of acceptance and other free-spirited individuals.

The novel tracks Judy's life and follows as Cassie dips in and out of Judy's life - always an unstable character in the young girl's life. Judy bounces back and forth between natural love for her mother, and feelings of abandonment and insecurity in her mother's decision making and care for her own child. My heart ached for her, as I could relate to that distance that was wedged between mother and daughter.

Overall it was a pretty easy read with interesting characters and good character development. The story follows most of Judy's life from her birth to adolescence and her mother's struggles as she tries to find herself.

My Heart Hurts

Friday, October 16, 2015

I have always had an extremely hard time going through break-ups. I form really strong attachments, even to relationships that are not good for me, and I can't let go. I over-analyze things, imagine a world where nothing went wrong, I project on myself all of the things that went wrong and become my own worst enemy. I allow my heart to shatter into a million tiny pieces when the *hint* of my ex dating someone else comes into my mind - it serves as severe punishment to myself, like I deserve to feel such intense pain when the person I love has moved on with someone new. I hate it and it's hard to change.

I've been trying really hard to work on not letting it get to me so much. I'm not really sure why it does - but I feel a literal physical reaction when I think about an ex with someone else. It depresses me. I really wish it could be something I could shrug my shoulders at and say, "Well, I just hope she's truly happy" (and actually mean it). But I can't.

I can't tell if I deal with things too much - you know people say that some folks compartmentalize and don't "deal" with their feelings. Am I overdealing??  Or, am I literally just doing this to myself? Is it something that I let bother me for a second and then not wallow in it and eventually the pain will go away? Seriously I don't know and sometimes I'm a little desperate for an answer - for some relief. I'm angry that my emotions are on such a rollercoaster. At times I'm SUPER okay. Like surprisingly the okayest I've been in a REALLY long time ... like years. And then there are fleeting moments where the floor drops out from under me, big huge tears develop before I know it and my heart literally aches out of my chest.

I'm 4.5 months out of the real fall-out of my marriage. I'm a month and a half from filing for divorce. I'm almost a month out from actually moving out on my own. Time felt like it stood still this summer, and then all of a sudden it flew right on by. My life has completely changed. My home, my dishes, my neighborhood, my bed ... everything is different. Yet, there are times where my heart still feels like it's a caged animal, trapped within me with no release in sight. It still *loves* - if you call what it's doing love. It's still hooked on someone. I desperately want it unhooked.

I need advice, ya'll. What helped you get over a bad break-up? What helps you feel better when your heart aches?
he convinced her to jump promising that he'd catch her, but as soon as she started to fall he was already turning around -S.B.:

What Rocks About Being a Single Mom

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I figured since there's a lot of negativity surrounding divorce and a marriage ending - and it's especially negative when kids are involved and their lives are split up, that I'd share some uplifting things about being a single mom. And yes, believe it or not, there are some upsides to it! (We gotta grab the positivity where we can!)

It Rocks to be a Single Mom Because ... 

  • You can do what YOU want to do: activities with the kids, dress them how you want, etc. You don't have to coordinate with anyone else. Your ex complains that baking with kids will make a mess? So what! You can bake your little heart out. Your ex hates large crowds and veto's the zoo? So what! Take the kids to the zoo! You dictate what activities your little family does!
  • Build your own traditions! One of the things I looked forward to most when thinking about our family's future was our family traditions. Incidentally, it was one of the things I was most sad about when I was asked for a divorce. But just because you're a single mom doesn't mean you can't make your own family traditions! It's an opportunity for you to make your own and I promise your kids will love any time spent with mom!
  • You rule your roost. That means you can use your money to buy what you want. You can decorate your home the way you want. No more questions on why a certain brand of diapers were purchased over another, no more questions around a purchase on iTunes, no more consulting with someone else when selecting a color scheme for your bedroom. I haven't had a "girly" room in my home for years so guess what? Both my room and the girls rooms are PINK! And I didn't have to ask anyone's permission :)
  • You're strong. You've likely gone through a great hardship and that can be your divorce, raising a kid (or kids) by yourself or a combination of the two. You are likely working to provide for your family, and some of you are making all decisions related to your children 100% by yourself. You're strong, woman! You've built a strength that not everyone gets to go through and you are doing it all on your own! 
  • You get to be a role model. Now, most parents are default their kids' role models already. But I find comfort in knowing that my daughters will see a strong mom and a hardworking woman that they can model after. I always want my girls to be able to look up to me - and this is my opportunity to show them that whatever crap life throws your way, you can bounce back and make it through!
So that's just a few inside tips on what makes being a single mom great (even when you don't feel great). We have to try to look at the positives, where we can because our kids need us ... and we can 100% still provide an awesome life for them and ourselves! 

Why do you think single moms rock? 

Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles. - 10 Habits Of A Successful Mom:

Divorce Sucks - and other obvious realizations

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Divorce sucks. They say it's like a death - you deal with all of the stages of grief as you mourn the death of your marriage, your relationship, your hopes and dreams. Everything is now erased and your future has completely changed. Whether you wanted to divorce or not - it sucks for everyone. It sucks to not be able to call up your best friend whenever you want - that that person can no longer serve that role in your life (at least for me) because then you'll never move on. It sucks because things you loved in your life (in-laws, inside jokes, their smell) has all been ripped away. It's hard because all of your dreams fall a part and now you begin to imagine your future without that person - perhaps replacing their face with some future mystery person's. Or you're able to start realizing what your new holidays will be like, how the family dynamics have changed and the intricacy of juggling your children's schedules so they can visit everyone - but separately. Needless to say, your life changes drastically.

Some people use divorce to re-invent themselves. To work on all of the things they couldn't work on during their marriage (because there's no time to work out, or have a free second to yourself). When you're suddenly all alone in your apartment on a random Monday night, what the heck do you do with your time? Now you actually have to think about it. There's no one to cook dinner for, or make "family" plans with, some nights there are no kiddos to bathe and put to bed. It's all eerily strange. It's all just you.

So of course you can get down in the dumps and evaluate what went wrong and be bitter because your kids aren't with you tonight. You can down a glass (or 3) of wine and watch crappy television all night. You can let the laundry pile up and dirty dishes sit in the sink. You can literally do nothing. Because no one needs you in this moment. And trust me, I've had those nights. You're bound to. Because divorce sucks.

But it's not an excuse to stop living. And you can't make it a pattern. The dishes need to get done (because you're the only one to do them and no one wants to live in a pig sty), the laundry needs to get done (because your kids ... and you ... need clothes to wear), the crappy television can wait - can you use this new time to exercise or do a hobby you love and haven't had the time to do (ie. blogging)? The world is now your oyster, my friend! That person that you couldn't make a marriage work with? Just became your part-time babysitter. You now get free nights to decompress, take care of yourself and do whatever the heck YOU want to do - because no one needs you in this moment.

So yes, divorce sucks. There are days when you'll cry for no reason, there will be bitter thoughts that run rampant in your head, there will be crazy @$$ situations that you do not want to deal with but it's not your entire life. And I try to repeat this to myself daily. I'm 32 and although I feel like I've lived a long life already - I literally have my entire life ahead of me. I have two wonderful, healthy children. I have supportive friends and family that have leant their support and friendship in amazing ways I never knew existed. People have showed me they care about me, that they love me ... I'm not alone on this earth. There is a silver lining to this divorce thing. It's the fact that you have your life. You get to walk away with you. Even if it feels that other person stole everything from you, ripped away who you are ... you have you. You can bring you back. You can do the things that you want to do. You can find that happiness again. You can build the life you were always meant to have. 

Because you have you. 

The World Is Your Oyster - Black & White Typography Poster - Inspirational Quotes / Travel:

Pumpkin Patchin'

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My sister and I ventured out to the pumpkin patch this past weekend with the kiddos. It was gorgeous weather, but that meant super busy - seriously it was a madhouse. But it was a big ole farm with lots and lots to do. We let the girls run around with the pumpkins for a while - I was hoping to get some cute fall shots but my 15 month olds wanted nothing to do with it. They just wanted to be free! :)
Mommy and Harper at the pumpkin patch!

Caiden showing off his fun find!

Holland so cute with the white pumpkins!

We enjoyed some apple donuts, and Harper even loved looking at the huge fake buffalo (seriously, she wanted to take him home). But after all of fun wore them out, we headed home for some chili and play time. What a great little fall family tradition!

Harper and her buffalo friend!

At least one of them kinda looked at me, right?

What are some of your favorite fall family traditions? Anything your smaller or toddler aged children love to do?

DIY: Spray Painting a Crib

Sunday, October 11, 2015

When we were splitting all of our belongings up, we had to split up the girls' stuff too. I took most of their furniture (it's all white) and their other mom took their brown cribs. So although I had a nice dresser and bookcase and even our nursery recliner - I had no where for them to sleep. 

I don't know if you've had to buy a crib recently but they aren't cheap! Add a convertible crib option (it changes to adapt from infant to toddler stage) to even the cost of the mattress, any protective pads and sheets and you're going to dish out a small fortune. I just didn't have money for that. So I took to the virtual garage sales on Facebook (I'm a huge fan) and found a beautiful crib with sleigh sides in a gorgeous off white color. It was from 2008 (no recalls) but was a high quality crib with no teeth marks! I was lucky to score that crib for $40! Then I was on the hunt for a matching crib and not necessarily the same style, although that would be nice, but really another white-like crib that has a convertible option. I came across a well-loved white crib and mattress a woman was selling for $30. It had teeth marks and crayon marks. But it was the same sleigh style and I had bigger plans for both cribs anyways!

The furniture in the girls room is bright white and the off-white crib just didn't match plus because I wanted to cover up the markings from the other crib's precious little vampire I decided to research how to paint a crib. I honestly didn't even know if it would be an option. Could they get sick from any off-fumes or if they teethed on a painted and I covered area of the railing? But I found a few DIY posts explaining that almost any crib can be transformed with handy use of spray paint! I decided to give it a whirl. I will be the first to admit this isn't how I wished it would turn out but honestly it's fine for what I need. It's a bit gritty from all of the off mist and it probably could have used a better wipe down after it was lightly sanded. Lessons learned! 

Materials that I used were:
• Kilz original primer
• Rustoleum Universal paint and primer in one - white
• 150 grit sander/sand paper

You might want to consider face masks to cut back on the fumes and always work in a well ventilated area. I also used latex gloves and paint tarps to keep myself and my area as clean as possible! 

Before painting I took my sand scrubber and worked all over each possible area of surface of the pieces of the crib. I then used a damp rag to wipe away any dust remnents to leave a surface the paint would cling to. 

I started by spraying each individual piece (one side at a time) with Kilz primer. You want to lightly coat/mist so as to prevent drips from occurring. You should let dry for about an hour and then re-apply another coat of primer, if needed. Then let dry/cure for 24 hours. I did one side at a time and then flipped at 24 hours to do the other side. 
After my primer dried, I then repeated the same step with the spray paint - allowing time between coats to fully dry. You want to be able to grasp it without ruining the paint. Then once everything is all dry you can put it all back together and voila! If you want to take it a step further, you can apply some poly with a brush to smooth the entire surface, lock in the paint and make it overall more durable. 
I eventually added some teething bumpers to the top rails of the cribs so that my worries of the twins gnawing on some nasty paint were no longer a concern! So far it's been working out great and the twin cribs match each other and everything so well! You can barely tell the cribs are slightly different (their bases are a little bit different as well as the rails)! 

Have you ever tried to spray paint furniture? How did it go? Any tips? 

Mommy's Night Out

Thursday, October 8, 2015

At the conference I'm attending, there are a lot of networking opportunities. And one of those opportunities was a conference sponsored "Night Out". Typically I would balk at these events. Going "out," drinking, or socializing after 9 pm is not my idea of a fun night. I'd rather be already curled up in bed. Hey - I'm a twin mom ... gimme a break. I honestly can't tell you the last time I was actually out though ... must have been well before the twins were born, or even conceived to be honest. But I did it and I had a fun night after all.

I chatted and dined with co-workers, reconnected with an old college friend, danced until the early morning hours, and met a lot of people from other companies. I thought it would be sad - to see all of these people and still feel alone ... to still yearn for my marriage and be lost without the comfort of knowing I have someone back home, someone that wanted to check in on my well-being, that worried what I was up to that night. And sure there were pangs every now and then where it would creep up. But I tried to shove it to the back of my mind and enjoy the present - not focusing on what my past held.

I can't say this will become a regular activity. I'm no longer a big-partier and my ideal night has switched to Disney Jr. shows with the girls, an early bedtime and then an eventual glass (or two) of wine. I think I've turned very much into a homebody that I never thought I would be. But it does provide me comfort in those moments or days when I know longer have the crux of a serious or long term relationship to lean on. When I have to rely on myself to be comforted.

Traveling, ya'll

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Long time no chat! I'm currently traveling on business to the wonderful southern state of Texas. Follow me on Instagram (shlee528) for more updates!

Right before I left, the girls and I did our first Little Lady pictures as a family of 3. I was excited to get some updated snaps of them since our last pics were in March and they were just sitting up and rolling around. Now they are walking and teetering all over the place. Our family photographer Kat, (she's done our wedding pics and the girls' newborn photos) captured some beautiful shots of the girls walking around a park, and interacting with each other and even some cute pics with me! 

I was kind of nervous just because it's my first real single mom thing. Like a documentation of our new little family - me as a divorced mom. I did think it's be a little sad just because it wasn't the traditional gleaming whole family. But I ended up having all of my fears wiped away as it's beautifully documenting just a mom with her daughters. And I know they'll have the same opportunities to have beautiful family pics taken with their other mom. 

I can't wait to print these out and decorate our little apartment, and share with my family. My grandma will cherish these pictures of her favorite little girls and I'm so happy we documented our life today - even amidst all of the changes ... we are a family filled with love and it truly shows in these images! 

Co-Parenting is Hard

Friday, October 2, 2015

I'll start with a simple statement - "Co-parenting is hard." 

It's hard when your break-up is fresh. It's hard when there are emotions and feelings still involved. It's hard when there's that fine balance of what's fair to you, the other parent and most importantly your children. It's hard when you have to work with someone that you couldn't work in life with. How messed up is that?

I know that we're both doing our best to have quality time with our daughters - that we both have experiences that we want to share. That in a perfect world, we could see them every day and know every minute of their lives. But we're not in a perfect world, and we still have to make it work. I've been reading a lot of articles to help myself reign it in, in regards to co-parenting. I've been told now that my marriage has turned into a business and my ex and I are now business partners - with our children has our most valuable transaction. Every conversation and action should only relate to them. Every move or decision we make is to benefit them. To put feelings aside because it's no longer about the two of us.

Parenting After Divorce: 10 Ways To Make Talking To Your Ex About The Kids Less Stressful.:

Not going to lie - it's super freaking hard to do that. When you've been with someone for so long, there's bound to be some intense feelings left behind. Especially if things feel unresolved or one partner (or both) feels wronged in some way. It's hard to shift gears and to not be selfish of your needs and really try to now get along with this person that you've had such a negative life-changing experience with. It's life's special joke for those going through divorce. But I'm trying and have at least 17 years of co-parenting experiences and decision making left so I better start getting good at it (she too!). 

I've found some resources that have helped me learn more about what positive actions and reactions I should follow/model. One of the articles that I really liked is surprisingly Dr. Phil's stance. You can find it at: Dr. Phil's Advice on Co-Parenting. I'm always looking for great resources to be a better person/parent. If there are any that have helped you - I'd love to hear about it! 

It'll Never Happen to Us

Thursday, October 1, 2015

One of the things I get a lot - especially from newly married couples - after the initial shock of learning about my divorce, is a short gasp and an odd statement, "Divorce should not be an option! You're married!" It's a funny thing ... options. We get married and are crazy in love with our spouse. We make proclamations like, "You'll never leave me!" "Divorce is not an option!" "I'll never love anyone but you!" But then life happens, and sometimes those plans fall a part.

We were a couple that proclaimed that divorce wasn't an option. And it wasn't ... until the day it was. You never know when that day will happen until it's right there in your face. So although you passionately think you and your spouse will never fail (and I truly hope you never do), you're still dealing with another person's emotions and feelings and experiences - all of which YOU have no control over. Divorce might not be an option for you ... but maybe one day it will become an option for your spouse. When they are no longer happy, or want to take another path. You might see it coming on the horizon ... a slow build up until they finally break. Or you might have no idea that it's happening and be completely blindsided. But it CAN happen. Never take anything for granted - especially when human beings and their emotions are involved.

I was someone that felt blindsided. I didn't know anything was wrong and I blame myself for not being intuitive until it was too late. Some days I wonder if I just realized something was wrong earlier, could I have saved my marriage? But that's a silly thought because it's all unfolded and way too much has happened to even waste time wondering about things that will never happen. What I would say to every married couple I know is to foster your marriage. Make time for each other - be selfish with your relationship. Life, work, kids, etc. will all get in the way and before you know it every day is just like the last. You never want the spark to leave you - it's the foundation of what you're building. Never forget those butterflies your spouse gives you, never go a day without appreciating each other. Never stop dating each other.