The Maiden Voyage

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving this year was the first one solo in a long time. I consider it a little bit of my maiden voyage - navigating the holidays on my own, with my family and my traditions. It was okay - strange, but okay. I had the girls during the day and we trekked to see my dad, grandma and uncle. My dad whipped up a really good meal and the girls tore their home a part like 16 month old toddlers do. It was the first time my uncle had seen them since they were a few months old - it was great to see him interact with them.


The twins are so mobile and understand things and are really their own little people. It was the first time that my family has seen their personalities really blossom and it was so fun. Crackers scattered across the carpet, and I diligently following behind trying to collect as many crumbs as a I can; toys tossed around the living room as my blind uncle tread slowly hoping not to step on one; two little girls giggling and exploring their little world. It was really nice.

We scarfed down a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but weren't able to all sit together because my grandma has a pretty small house, and I didn't have high chairs there. But we made it through and the girls ate a big meal, played a lot, and it was a great day spent with family. After all was said and done, we headed back home to meet their other mom for their drive to Ohio to spend Thanksgiving with her side of the family. I'm thankful that I was able to spend the day with them - but it's still sad that they're having their own maiden voyage without me too. I guess this is the new normal.

I had three days solo - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All kid-free, and all plan-free. 72 hours with not one thing to do - not one person [besides my dog] needing anything from me. Time spent trying to fill up the hours so I'm not sad and lonely and depressed while my children are two states away. I resisted the urge to go shopping - that has long been my go-to when feeling down. I stayed in on Black Friday except to run out and go grocery shopping and pick up gifts for my Secret Santa kid at work [you can buy a gift for a child that is in need], then returned home to start wrapping gifts, plowed through six episodes of The Walking Dead [catching up from last season], and relaxed.

Part of me is glad for this me-time. Moms don't usually get that. But then part of me is guilty because I haven't spent that time eating right or working out or doing stuff on a check-list that's to help be supermom, ya know? I've lounged. I've drank wine. I've watched a lot of tv and spent time on social media. I zonked out at 8:30 pm. Is that time wasted or well-spent detox "me" time? I dunno. But this is my first year out and I still have Christmas on the horizon to tackle all by myself with the girls. My plan is to surround myself with family and stay busy busy busy. I'm thankful for what I have, and in a time when I can easily be dragged down or spin into a depressed state, I'm trying to keep my head above water and stay focused on having a good holiday season with my girls.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! This year, in the midst of divorce, I still have some awesome things to be thankful for:

  1. Supportive and loving friends + family
  2. Two amazing little girls that I get to call my daughters
  3. A good paying job to keep a roof over our head + food on our table
  4. Being [pretty much] healthy
  5. A reliable car
  6. Starbucks coffee + Target shopping sprees [when I can afford them]
  7. Midwest living - changing seasons and bright fall leaves!
  8. My education - although it was expensive, it provided me with a lifetime of friendships, opportunities and knowledge
  9. Freedom - isn't it amazing that we get to live in the land of the free?
  10. Marriage equality - although my marriage didn't work out, I'm grateful for marriage equality to exist in all 50 states so that my beautiful friends have the opportunity to experience the government acknowledging an amazing partnership and love
What are you thankful for this year?


Single Mom Money: Twenty Bucks

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


For the past month or so I've started budgeting - like seriously budgeting - and sticking to a cash only plan for myself. As in, I don't spend it, if I don't have it in an envelope and it's been budgeted for. No more swipe-a-roo-hoo at the grocery store or mindless shopping trips. No more auto refills to my Starbucks cards. No sir-eee.

I've taken out a bulk of cash and keep it in my envelope and track how much is taken out and for what, right on the envelope. This goes for gas, groceries, fun money, etc. It's totally made me more mindful of my spending and makes me second (and triple) think purchases. The other day I did not want to make dinner for myself. After working all day, then getting the girls dinner going and then into their bedtime routine, the last thing I wanted to do was stand at stove and make a meal. (And this is why I'm not losing weight, people!) So - I thought about ordering a pizza. I checked out my local Pizza Hut for deals (could I get a pizza delivered under $10??), then switched over to checking out prices at a smaller local pizza joint (no go ... they're cheese thin crust started at $11.50) and landed on good ole college days Domino's.

Me- "Look! It's funny!" Goose- "I don't like stuffed crust pizza." Me- "You don't like dating either, so...":

I picked out my pie and even threw in a side of bread sticks for good measure. My total was like $11 but with a delivery fee and tax it came out to just over $16. Crap. Then add tip and that's $20. Look how easily that $20 can be spent! And on what? A binge-worthy night of greasy pizza and bread sticks - all of which I shouldn't be eating anyways?

Not gonna lie - it was a nice treat. They even sent over a plain cheese pizza instead of the Hawaiian I ordered and I didn't call to complain because - TREAT PIZZA! But afterwards I felt guilty that I spent a whole $20 on that one meal when it could have gone to anything like gas, groceries, a night out with friends, etc. And felt even more guilty because I slammed the meal myself and then felt bad about that too. And greasy. Literally, there was garlic coming out of my pores. I hate that.

Idk why I even bother grocery shopping honesty.:

So, I'm glad that now I think about the value of $20 more. It's made me more aware of what is needed and what is a want, and then more thoughtful of my want purchases. You just can't get far with twenty bucks now a days but you get a lot farther if you're not blowing it on pizza.

Thoughts on Dating ... After Divorce

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The thought of dating makes my skin crawl. And, honestly, my divorce isn't even finalized yet. I have a yearning to be okay with myself - to not dive into placing my value/worth into the hands of someone else. Yet - I still want that companionship. I want those butterflies in my belly. I'm not sure I'm anywhere near ready for that yet.

I signed up for Plenty of Fish - honestly, just to browse and be nosy to what's out there. My profile is hidden (so don't try to find me, creeps). The moment faces began popping up, my stomach dropped and I wanted to vomit. It honestly made me miss my ex more. It made me miss the comfort of my marriage and the person I was with for 8 years. The thought of starting over with someone new is nauseating. But I know it'll happen someday - or I'll be alone for the rest of my life :)

I'm not ready. I don't know when or if I'll ever be ready. It's weird being in this limbo - of wanting something (comfort?) but still wanting to be by myself. I guess at the end of the day, I just want to be happy and I don't want to need another person for that happiness. I'm trying to practice patience with myself and give myself time. Sometimes I'm flushed with the urge to "be somewhere". Such as, "Shouldn't I be moving on by now?" "Shouldn't I not be crying any more by now?" "Shouldn't I start working out by now?" None of this has happened quite yet.

Some days it feels like a race - will my ex move on and fall in love before me? How will that leave me feeling? It's honestly the most ridiculous thought ever. Honestly - I hope she's happy. I want to be happy. I shouldn't be worrying about anyone except myself. And if someone else is meant to enter my life - they will, and likely that'll happen when I least expect it. Not on PlentyofFish.com.


Freshly Picked Black Tuesday Deal!

Monday, November 23, 2015

This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are 100% mine. 
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Freshly Picked is having an awesome Black Tuesday sale {T O M O R R O W}. Yep - you read that right! Snag select moccs at 25% off, plus even bigger discounts on apparel!

We have been huge fans of Freshly Picked moccs! They're quality is stellar - my girls wore their moccs all summer and fall. Durable, adorable colors and patterns and a mom-owned business! How can you not get behind that! Plus, they were all cool and stuff and featured on "Shark Tank"! Head on over tomorrow start your holiday shopping early - deals start at 10 am!

Getting Through the Holidays

Recently, I found a post on Blogher that was titled 10 Ways to Survive the Holidays After Divorce. Ahhh! Right. Up. My. Alley.

Thanksgiving is this week, ya'll! And Christmas is hot on it's tail. It's the first year in 4 years that I'll be doing holidays solo. It's also the first year that I have to not only coordinate my family's availability - but now have to hand my kids over at a certain point because they have another side of the family to celebrate with. Part of me is excited to just be with my children on both holidays. Part of me dreads creating my own traditions, but it only keeps pushing myself further and further away from "the life that was." 



I want my girls to want to spend the holidays with me and sometimes I have the expectation that we will have that awesome, annual family tradition. But mostly I'm fearful of failing in that area of tradition for them and just having a "blah-holiday with mom." I know, ridiculous.

Some of the tips from this article that I really liked were:
  1. Give Yourself Permission to Suck. I laugh at this because I was not the chef or even the ringleader of my marriage. My ex was great at whipping up a delicious meal and always had fun ideas of things to do with the family during holidays. I'm not so creative and although I can follow directions to cook a meal, I'm not Julia Child. So, I know I need to give myself some lee-way and make the most of this new adventure.
  2. Create New Traditions. There are a ton of things I wanted to do when we were a family of four but the girls just weren't old enough. Like looking at Christmas lights, making Christmas cookies, doing holiday arts and crafts, etc. They're still not quite old enough for some activities, but that doesn't mean the 3 of us can't have our own little lady family traditions. If you have some cool ideas for what I can do with two toddlers, let me know!
  3. Don't Just Sit at Home. I think one of the easiest traps to fall into is staying at home and feeling sorry for yourself and your "lost" future. Who wants to be depressed during the holidays? Not me! I know I'll be sad enough as it is - but I want to still be able to have a life and enjoy the season, if anything for my girls.
Have you gone through the holidays post-divorce? What helped you get through the season?

Single Mom Money: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Friday, November 20, 2015


I'm on a budget. I have specific goals in mind and I want to reach them by a specific time. I've switched to cash-only purchases and zero balance budgeting which is super scary and stinking hard. But I'm also going through a super hard, emotional time in my life and with the holidays coming around - I feel the need to treat myself so I'm not totally depressed. I deserve it, right? Well, how do I manage that without exploding my budget completely?

Some ways I've opted to "treat myself" without ruining my budget is to look little or no-spend opportunities that I'd enjoy. One of those opportunities recently was a $10 student haircut at Mario Tricoci for my haircut! I have an inverted bob hairstyle and I've had it for years. It looks good on me, it's super easy to maintain (I can even blow dry and iron with the twins running around because it takes minutes!) but it's hard to keep up with since it grows out fast, and it's even harder finding a hair stylist that can actually do the cut correctly.

When a student for MT posted on Facebook that she needed a hair model and the cut was only $10 I was in!! It did take about 2.5 hours of my life, but it was well worth it. I got a great haircut at 1/5 of the price. And I'm super duper happy about it and it helped me feel excellent about myself - a much needed perk in this emotional crap-show I'm currently experiencing.

Another way I treated myself was cashing in my United frequent flyer miles. In a role I previously had at work, I traveled - a lot. I racked up tons and tons of miles and for the past 2 years where my traveled dwindled to maybe once a year - I've kind have just been sitting on the miles. Well, instead of saving them up for a trip I'm not taking any time soon, I decided to spend them on myself. Selfish, but worth it. After wracking my brain deciding what to spend it on - there's a catalog you can choose items from with mile values associated with the product ... everything from jewelry, to travel bags, to designer bags (Kate Spade, swooon!) to Mac Books. I finally picked two things I truly, truly have wanted. One is a pair of wireless, sweat/water resistant ear buds that actually sound good and I can use for working out. I've been pained to spend $30+ on a good set of earbuds. So, by using my miles I was able to score a $200 set of earbuds for free. It's a true splurge, but something I'd never in a million years buy for myself. Now - I hope it gets me to the gym more often!

The second thing I picked up with my miles is a Michael Kors black zip wallet. I've been eyeing a Kate Spade one but didn't have enough miles. But I've been wanting a new wallet and this again, was the perfect splurge because it's something I'd use every day that I'd never buy for myself. A $150 wallet? Psh, no. But to cash in my miles and treat myself - you betcha!

It's too bad, though that I didn't have 70,000 more miles or a Mac Book Air would have been mine like WHOA! #allthehearteyes

I'm just excited that I was able to treat myself with miles that were just sitting there - and I didn't have to spend a dime! Not even shipping costs! Merry Christmas, to me!

This Big Scary World

Thursday, November 19, 2015

If you have been paying attention to any current news lately, you're aware of the attacks on Paris, France, and the numerous other attacks on innocent civilians across the world. It's truly heartbreaking to know that people going about their daily lives, are being taken out of this world by senseless acts of hate. Because that's what's fueling this - hate. And as a mother, it makes me wonder what my beautiful, innocent children will have to endure in their futures. What is this world turning into? What will the world look like when they are all grown up? Will they have to fear traveling abroad (or even more appalling - just going to work or running daily errands) because someone decides to take out innocent life on this planet?

It's horrifying.

Do I think the world has always been like this? Yes. Think about it - all of the World Wars of the past, the Berlin Wall, disputes with Russia ... we've always had this kind of terror existing in this world. But now, we're more in-tuned to what's occurring across the world. With instant news coverage available at our finger tips via our cell phones and the internet in general, to people live Tweeting the horror and chaos that occurs. You can't even go on Facebook without tributes to those that lost their lives as Facebook now allows you to even change your profile photo to a background of blue, white and red in honor of the national flag of France. It makes it more terrifying because it's all so real and real time.

It's terrifying also because never have I literally seen and felt racism so real and alive as it is today. I'm not ignorant to think it doesn't exist - but now it's slapped in our faces and the horrifying things that people do and say to each other out of hatred for another race (or religion!) breaks my heart. It breaks my heart for my children to know that type of darkness is out in the world that they live in.

My only wish is to raise two strong women who will bright light and love into this world. Who will be able to help others and soften the edges of the dark things that happen every day. I wish for them to find their place in this world, have an empathetic and giving heart - and to radiate all that is good in this world.




The Person You Should Marry

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


 I came across a TedX presentation online that was titled "The person you really need to marry," and was immediately intrigued. Did I marry the wrong person (for me)? Cannot I select the right partner? Did I set myself, my marriage, up for failure? Maybe this Ted Talk had all the answers I was desperately seeking.

Speaker Tracy McMillan is a 40-something three time divorcee and she has some advice for those of us that are going through divorce. For those of us lost in the process, and those of us who have lost ourselves. Tracy knows - with her relationship history, she figured out what she was reaching for in each relationship, and why each one did not work out. She now has come to the realization of the person you really should marry - yourself.

It's a powerful statement. To accept yourself in sickness and in health. To love yourself through the good and the bad - at your best and your worst. To invest in yourself and not bury your worth in another person ... because you'll only really guaranteed to be with yourself for the rest of your life. If you don't love yourself, how do you expect to have a healthy relationship and allow someone else to love you like you should?

I really liked this Ted Talk and if you're looking for some powerful advice post-divorce, especially if you're feeling lost - this is a great pick me up to help you head into the right direction.


World Prematurity Day

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Every year World Prematurity Day falls on November 17th - and it's a day to remember how strong tiny little bodies fight to stay in this world. A day to remember all of the families currently spending countless days and nights in the NICU praying over their little babies born too soon ... urging them to keep the good fight going.

I remember when I was told that I needed to deliver the girls early. I was 33 weeks, 5 days pregnant and was being monitored for pregnancy induced hypertension which was leading to preecclampsia. It all started around 28 weeks of my pregnancy, when I was sent overnight for observation. The MFM (maternal fetal medicine) doctor came to chat with me - discussing the possibility of delivering at 28 weeks but thinking I had time to bake them a little longer. Luckily, I lasted 5 more weeks. I had steroid shots literally injected into my butt to help the twins' lungs develop and prepare for the big scary world, since it was inevitable they were going to be delivered soon.

And even as I was wheeled into the OR - it was all really surreal. I will never forget how tiny they were - how jittery their skinny bodies were in their clear plastic box. The raspy screams they made as their nurses changed out their IVs or the fussing they put up as their NG tube was inserted back into their nostrils because they snagged it out. The beeping that was incessant and the panic that rises up in your chest when an alarm goes off - praying a nurse runs in and fixes everything.

But finally after 16 and 18 days, we got to take our sweet girls home. They made it up to the required release weight of 4 lbs, 5 oz and they mastered eating from a bottle by that point. On their last days at the NICU, the nurses proudly paraded them around to say g'bye too everyone that was on staff during that shift ... everyone so excited and so proud of my little girls for going home. And now they're 16 months old and thriving. They're amazing little people with big personalities that grow every single day. They're the best thing that's ever happened to me and my whole reason for being on this earth. I'm massively proud of them and how far they have come.


Recipe: Easy Orange Chicken

Another throw-back recipe I wanted to share from my former blog Sunnyside Shlee - easy orange chicken that is super yummy! I've also included a printable version of the recipe that you can print and go!

Easy Orange Chicken
Serves 2 | Prep time 15 min | Cook time 30 min

Ingredients:

1-2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (for frying)

Marinade:
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tbsp. water

Orange Sauce:
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
¾ cup pulp free orange juice

3 tbsp. BBQ sauce

Instructions:
  • Cut chicken into squares/small chunks and put into mixing bowl. Add soy sauce, cornstarch and water. Let sit for 5 minutes to marinate.
  • While the chicken is marinating, start the orange sauce: in a small mixing bowl combine vegetable oil, orange juice and BBQ sauce. Mix well.
  • Start frying pan on medium to high heat and add vegetable oil and marinated chicken. Let pan fry for 5-7 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and crispy.
  • Add orange sauce mixture to pan and stir continuously until sauce thickens. Should be about 4 -5 minutes.
Voila! Serve with white rice and enjoy! You can also add sesame seeds and/or sliced green onion as a garnish! 



New Expectations

Monday, November 16, 2015

Life is now a constant readjustment to new expectations for my future. Everything is uneasy and unplanned (not like it was ever really planned) unlike when you're in a marriage and it anchors you down. I feel like my marriage grounded me. It had me on a path - grow our family, be great parents and eventually retire so I can drink wine seaside for the rest of my days. ::::ahhhhhh!::::  #thelife

But now it's all up in the air. Part of it is exhilarating - knowing that I can make my future anything that I want it to be. Sometimes I'm really excited about the possibilities and I just feel free - the freeness from not being in a relationship. But, if I'm being honest, most days are just plain terrifying. Things are wide open and I have to start over again. If I want to be re-married someday, that means I have to eventually date, right? Ha! If I want to plan for retirement, I have to think about what me, myself and I needs for that period of my life. I have to plan it all as if a future spouse doesn't exist (which one doesn't) and then I'm smacked with the reality that I'm alone. Shit, shit, shit. How did this happen? I'm single.

I will always have my children (well technically 50% of the time per the custody agreement) but I'm a single woman. There's no plus one. There's no co-adult here to drink wine with. There's no one to share my life with - to build something with. And that's one of the things I liked most about marriage, the building of a life together. There are days where I struggle to stay positive. When I miss my ex (not just the companionship - but her). There are mornings where I wake up hoping it was all a bad dream. But it's not - it's all my current reality.

I feel pressured with so much to do and having to do it all myself. Keep my home up and running, stay positive, lose weight, be a good parent, plan for my future, eventually try to date in some far off future - blah, blah, blah. It's enough to force me into hiding ... you think I could hibernate with the girls all winter?  I'm scared I can't handle it all. That all of my crazy, sad, feelings will re-emerge at some point and just take me down into a fit of tears. I've maintained a strong front for a while now, but I dunno, sometimes I can feel it licking at the back of my throat.

But I'm trying to stay positive, and I'm trying to focus on the good. I'm trying to realize my worth and invest in myself. I'm trying to not let my emotions take me down. I'm trying to take it one day at a time so that I can look back and remember how strong I was that I made it through all of this.



Great Break-Up Music

Friday, November 13, 2015

You ever have those nights where you're doing housework, or just hanging out, sipping on a glass of wine and you need the perfect playlist to go with your mood? I've recently started running the below playlist on loop and I think it's that perfect angtsy, wine-sipping music that just gets everything all out (even tho some of it has nothing to do with breakups, like the Empire song lol). So tune up your pipes, pick out your favorite glass of wine, turn the lights down low and just let it out, girl! You deserve it.

Adele - "Hello"  (who isn't in love with this one?)


Gwen Stefani - "Used to Love You" (I'll always be Team Gavin, but this is a good one)


Carrie Underwood - "Relapse" (Perfect for that attitude, gurrrrrrl - she has the best Girl Power ballads)


Empire Cast, Jussie Smollett - "Good Enough" (this is about a parent-child relationship but relatable still!)


Justin Timberlake - "Drink You Away" (Do they make a medicine for heartbreak?)


Selena Gomez - "Same Old Love" (Biebs needs to get a clue :) )


What are you favorite break-up tunes?

Naked

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Blogging is an exposing experience. There's a fine line between putting yourself all the way out there (and wondering if people will judge you because of it) and keeping things mostly to yourself for protection. I think if you're going to be a lifestyle blogger (like I consider myself) then it's important to be real - it's important to not hide behind a facade. Here's a real snippet for you: The other day, in the midst of texting with my ex, I just started bawling in the middle of Homegoods. Nothing of significance happened, and it was a pretty normal day anyways. But here I was finding big fat, huge tears well up and burst out of my eyes. I don't always have it "together," I'm pretty sure I'm far from that. But I do worry what other people think of me and the experience that I've been going through. I write because it's cathartic for me - it provides a release that I haven't been able to get from anything else (therapy, crying, etc.).

But, there have been days when I'm tormented by embarrassment, days when I feel I should be handling it all better. Days when my eyes gloss over, red with rage at what I feel "happened to me." Then, I'm ashamed for being a "victim." And even though I'm aware of my part in everything, and even in all the aftermath - it's hard not to fall into victim mode sometimes. I'm human though and can only control so many of my feelings.

It's all kind of like being naked - exposing yourself, your fears and doubts and your life to people you don't even know ... even more terrifying to expose yourself to people that you do know (hi all!). I just hope there's someone out there that can relate to me ... that finds comfort that they're not alone in facing their demons. That what they're feeling is real and normal, even though it's sometimes exposing ourselves to the judgement of others.




Single Mom Money: Divorce Debt (or the Double D)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

When many couples part ways, they are left with sorting out any debts and assets accumulated throughout the marriage. If you're debt-free, you're awesome. But that's not really a reality for all of us. The ex and I sorted through all of our credit card bills, medical bills and any other miscellaneous debt we may have had over the course of our relationship and then found a way to divided it between the two of us so that we were both happy. That's not always how it happens though and many "could-be" amicable divorces can turn nasty when people are arguing over money. And once it's all finalized in court, there may be either side of the parties involved unhappy with their lot - or just buried in debt in general. And now you're on 1 income. What the heezy?

I wanted to gather some resources that I found online that addresses other people that have gone through divorce and left with a pile of debt. Personally, I'm sifting through a personal loan and credit card debt valued upwards of $7,000. Yuck. That's not including my car payment and student loans I still owe on. So resources like these help me see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that I can crawl out of debt and it can be manageable to tackle!

7 Ways to Deal with Divorce Debt - I've been a long-time reader of "And then we saved" blog and in this post, she welcomes guest blogger, Kady, to discuss how she crawled out of debt after her divorce. She gives some tips on how she purged that $45,000 out of her life for good!

Balance Transfers - "Trash the Dress" is a blog for the 20-somethings that have hit the divorce path. This post, although financially controversial because you're basically just moving money around, even for a lower APR reviews some benefits with paying down that debt at a lower interest rate.

13 Things to Do Once Your Divorce is Finalized - Babble is a great resource for random posts on a variety of topics. In this post there are tips on what are some things you should do the moment those papers are signed and you've breathed your first breath of fresh freedom air. Some of them financial, like opening your own checking account!

There are some other standard resources out there to get yourself back on track. Many financial gurus like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey have their own ways to help you chip away at your debt. The key is to find what works for you and stay dedicated! We now have to plan for ourselves, by ourselves and keep an eye on our future.

What are some ways that you try to save money or work down your debt? I'd love to hear it!

Do It Yo'self: Gold Painted Wall Decor

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I recently worked on a DIY project that I'm SUPER excited on how it turned out! I saw this $3 discounted mirror at Homegoods a month or so ago and snagged it up. The mirror had a huge crack down the middle, but I just knew that I could pop it out and re-do it altogether. Then when I scored a free "A" on a garage sale on Facebook over the summer - I realized what a perfect match the frame and the A would be for my adult bedroom! I think it gave the final touch to going from feeling like a college kid with no sheets on the bed for a month (don't judge) to now having my room 90% decorated and set up! It's such a simple project that you can do yourself!


The first thing I did was peel off the sale sticker and unscrew the backing from the frame with a Phillips screwdriver. 



Then I carefully separated the mirror from the frame. Since the mirror is cracked - just make sure you're extra careful to not drop any mirror pieces or cut yourself on the sharp edges! 



At first, I hoped the backing was salvageable, but after taking the frame a part I learned that the mirror was taped/glued to the backing. So that wasn't going to work. I decided to ditch it altogether and just stick to the frame.

I then used Rustoleum Universal Metallic Paint and Primer in One in Pure Gold. I gave the frame a few all-over light coats. Since there were some edges, I wanted to make sure it was all covered. I did the same thing with the letter "A" you see in the picture below. Then just allowed it all to dry, attached a picture frame hanger bracket to the back and voila! I'm so excited for how it turned out!!




Thoughts on C-Sections

Monday, November 9, 2015

There's a lot of negativity in the "mom community" surrounding c-sections - there's quite frankly a lot of negativity in the mom community surrounding EVERY topic (read: cloth v. disposable diapers, breastfeeding, CIO method, pacifier use, etc.). But one thing that has always hit me, and I've written about this before on my former blog, is the negativity around c-section births.

Meeting Holland for the first time!
Vaginal births are touted as natural and the epitome of the birthing experience - it's something to be admired for; the hard laboring through hours of contractions, the mustering through intense pain to bring your child into this world the way your body was made to do. And if you can do a vaginal birth unmedicated ... well, you're basically superhuman. No seriously, you probably are. But what about the moms that couldn't do a vaginal birth? Those, like my sister, who labored for hours with no progression? Those whose bodies just don't open the birth canal wide enough for that baby to squeeze through? Those with other serious medical issues that physically couldn't go through labor? Are they less superhuman?

And, what about those of us that wanted a c-section? Are we weak? Is it a cop-out? If I'm being completely honest, I've never had a desire to vaginally birth a baby. I'm not even sure how certain I was that I wanted to carry one until my ex and I decided together on that plan (and I had a great experience ... more on that in the future). But when thinking about how that baby (or in my case babies) was going to exit my body, the last thing I wanted to do was labor through it. It was just never "for me". See - I'm on odd duck. And I got odd looks throughout my pregnancy when asked about my birth plan ... when I would boldly look at someone and tell them I wanted a c-section.

Aside from pure desire for a c-section, there are a few other reasons why this was the birth plan for me:

  • women do this every day - but do you know the risks associated with vaginally delivering twins? You can only deliver vaginally if Baby A is head down (which darn it, Harper Ann, she was :)). Now, here's the tricky part - once Baby A gets out ... it's kind of up in the air what happens with Baby B. If Baby B is head down and DOESN'T MOVE OUT OF POSITION after it's sibling is born, you can attempt to vaginally deliver that baby too. But if Baby B is transverse (sideways) or breech (upside down) you might not have that option. The doctors can attempt to painfully push the baby around from the outside (or might try to reach inside of you to re-position the baby) to get it in a better position for a vaginal birth. But if that doesn't work - it's a c-section for Baby B. Yep, that's a recovery from a vaginal birth AND a c-section. NOTHANKYOU. And, wouldn't you know it ... Holland was transverse anyways. 
  • I had preeclampsia. At 26 weeks I was put on modified bedrest due to my increasing blood pressure rate. At 28 weeks I was admitted overnight to the hospital for the same reason, where I met with a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor (high risk OB) who discussed delivering my babies THEN, but stating he thought I still had some time to wait it out. My doctors waited as long as they could to keep my babies in before it seriously impacted my health. Remember Sybil from "Downton Abbey"? She died from preeclampsia. Then I had another day visit to the hospital due to blood pressure around 30 weeks and then finally at 32 weeks I spent another over-nighter when the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor decided to pull the plug and get the girls out at 33 weeks, 6 days pregnant. I don't think my body could have made it through the stress of labor and delivery. My blood pressure was regulated during the c-section due to the medication I was on, but when it weaned off it jumped to 200/180 and I nearly had a stroke. I was put on magnesium to bring my bp back down and sent to the ICU for 24 hours. 
I still remember trying out prenatal yoga to help with my back issues around 19 weeks of pregnancy. The circle went around telling their name, suburb, birth plan, etc. When it got to me and I mentioned that I wanted a c-section, I swore I grew eyes on top of my head. I was then referred to as "the c-section mom". But I didn't care then, it was my body and I wasn't bound to let someone else shame me into the experience that I desired having. Think c-sections are the easy way out? They aren't. It's about to get TMI ya'll ....

Your insides are sliced open, and then stapled (or stitched) back together, and because of that you have a longer recovery time because you just had major surgery. The pain in your mid-section, once the medications wear off, is like nothing I've ever felt before. You honestly don't realize how much you use your stomach muscles for everything you do. Some of us have that c-section flab in the middle. Your stomach has a weird overhang, especially if you're still carrying some of that baby weight. So, although I never felt one contraction (praying hands emoji) I still didn't have it easy. 

I'm proud of my c-section and I've always tried to stay proud of that decision. It helped my girls be delivered safely, and I didn't have to try to squeeze 3 lb 12 oz Harper or her 4 lb 2 oz sister out of my body. It helped me deliver safely, without overloading my blood pressure so that I stroked out during delivery. It gave us the safest option for all three of us and I will always be thankful that modern medicine exists for this reason - and that my doctor agreed with my decision to opt for a c-section birth. And whenever I glance down at the rigid, ugly scar I am just reminded of the two beautiful little people that I get to call mine.

Throw back to March 2014 :)

Let Me Be Clear

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Recently it's come to my attention that someone I know has told my ex that I am portraying her on this blog in unfavorable light. I have been ultra-mindful that it's not just me I talk about in this blog and I've literally gone through pains (and multiple drafts) because I don't want to portray my ex in any way. This blog isn't about her. It's about me - and my journey. From time to time, I may use examples in my posts to show a point or provide advice, but ...

LET ME BE CLEAR: Every time I provide advice or shoot out an example, it does not mean it's a personal example. 

I will not censor myself on this blog, but I will remain respectful of the people I care about and my ex is someone that I still care about deeply. I cannot control how anyone reads into what I write or how they will interpret it. I can't please everyone - but I will not stifle myself, my words and my experience because of what someone thinks I've said on social media.

Let this serve as my PSA for everyone that visits this blog - and I know a bunch of you do. I have tons of views per day ... chances are some people know both me and my ex. But I want EVERYONE to know that I will never degrade her, put her down or blame her for the failure of our marriage. Do not look into everything that I write as a dig at her and let me continue to forge through my personal divorce journey the way that works for me.


Recipe: Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie

Friday, November 6, 2015

When I blogged at Sunnyside Shlee (now shut down), I used to share some quick and easy recipes that I tried. While I no longer have the pictures of my wonderful finished products, I still wanted to share some of the recipes with you. Hopefully, you can enjoy and I can't wait to re-try some of these this winter!

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie
serves 4 | prep time 15 min | cook high 3-4 hrs/low 4-6 hrs

Ingredients:

(3-4) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(2) 10.5 oz cans of cream of chicken soup
(1) cup of skim milk
(1) cup of water
(1) bag of frozen veggie medley
(2) stalks of celery chopped
(1) small onion diced
+ additional desired spices

Instructions:

1. Place chicken breast side-by-side on bottom of crockpot, so that it covers the entire bottom.

2. Pour cans of cream of chicken soup over the chicken so that it is fully covered.

3. Add veggies that need extra cooking time (ie. celery or potatoes) and cook on desired heat setting.

4. About 30-45 minutes before you're ready to serve, add frozen veggies and mix well - continue to cook on desired setting.

Pair with warm buttery biscuits or even some gooey dumplings and enjoy!

I've included a printable version of this recipe below:

Coming to Terms With My "Mom Bod"

Thursday, November 5, 2015

We've all seen in the news the trend of the "dad bod" and how women are swooning over the kegger belly versus the slim and trim 6-pack of yore. (can I trademark that saying? 6 pack of yore?) It's becoming a trend because it's associating men with more realistic body images of "fatherly" type of bodies that women [apparently] really go for, instead of the chiseled Abercrombie type model. Kind of like how women have those unrealistic body images of super slim super model bodies - especially those that can bounce back after baby within weeks. EGH. The dad bod is the new version of male sex appeal.

Distractify | 16 'Dad Bods' That Show Why The New Trend Has Us Swooning:
Leo DiCaprio and his "dad bod"
I'm a tad frustrated at this. I still feel that women who have had children and now sport the "mom bod" are not glorified like their male counterparts. Instead of letting ourselves go due to Cheetos and beer - we actually popped out a human [or two] from our bodies. We grew life! I'm pretty sure no one is swooning over my thick purple stretch marks that adorn my now flabby mid-section. I'm pretty sure that society has taught me the minute I pop out a baby, I should be focused on getting back into the gym and losing all of my baby weight. 

I have not seen 1 media outlet praise the sexiness of a normal post-mom body. But I have seen them cover the quick body "bounce backs" stories of millionaire celebrities with personal trainers, personal chefs and a staff of childcare givers on payroll. Take Carrie Underwood in Shape magazine - the cute songstress gained 30 lbs with her singleton pregnancy and she just gloats about how the pounds just fell off. And she quotes:

“After I had Isaiah, my goal was to take control of my body again. I was lucky: I gained only 30 pounds, which is the recommended amount, and I exercised throughout my pregnancy," she told the magazine. "I did have a C-section, which meant waiting six weeks before working out. Within 20 days, though, I was able to begin walking slowly on the treadmill and around my neighborhood." 
She continued, "It felt so good to be active! Now we box and we hike trails, among other things. I like to continually mix up my routines to stay motivated.”
I do not want to slam Carrie, since she's a fellow mama. But I can't tell you the last time I had time to hike trails. And I will hang my head in shame with my 56 lb weight gain, 20 of which still sticks around my mid-section. And from my personal experience, by week 6 after my c-section all I wanted was my babies to sleep through the night so I could have 30 minutes to myself - not on a treadmill. But that's just me!

A few months ago the media outlets lit up of the model who was 8 months pregnant and still sporting a 6 pack! Really? If her pre-pregnancy body didn't make me feel bad enough, now I have to compare my postpartum come back to hers? I do feel sorry for that teddy bear phone cover she sports, though.

I won't comment on my thoughts on Glory Johnson's Instagram post. But let's say I shook my head.

I want to see the media glorify a mother's body and make "mom bod" all of the rage. I want to make realistic expectations for getting back in shape - because you'll never get your old body back. I want to see the celebrities embrace their stretch marks, curves, and figure and be a shining example of other moms out there that might be overwhelmed with the pressure to drop the baby weight, on top of caring for a new baby. I wish we could put the "mom bod" on a pedestal and tout it's sexiness' like we tout Leo DiCaprio's mid-section that was formed from booze and food.

Let's all Scream for Halloween!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ok we don't need to literally scream, but I thought it was a catchy title. Anyways, it was the girls' first Halloween where they're movin' and a-shakin'! Last year they were adorably "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" from Dr. Seuss. But they were also like 4 months old - so not too much into the festivities. This year, at 15 months old, even though they don't eat candy, they were all ready for their first "big girl" Halloween! Unfortunately, the Chicago area weather was not as ready as H&H were. The ex and I decided to try to do Halloween together this year, and it wasn't bad. We actually had a good day and I'm just happy the girls were able to have both of their mommies there for the fun day!

We decided this year to do simple costumes of a bumblee and a ladybug! The girls were soooo stinking cute and were cracking up at each other, chasing each other all around. We were surprised that Harper loved her little hat with antennas. Every time it fell off she cried for us to put it back on! Apparently she was taking this bumblebee gig pretty seriously!


Unfortunately, though the weather was pretty dreary on Halloween. It was cold and raining all day so we didn't get to hit up the local pumpkin patch as we originally planned. It would have been nice because they have a lot of fun things for little kids to do and since the girls don't eat candy yet, it would have been a fun activity for them. But - we made the most of what we could. Because of the cold and rain, we tried to go to a local mall that was doing trick-or-treating, but as you could imagine, it was a complete madhouse. After navigating the crowds and seeing lines of kids grabbing for candy, we decided to turn right back around and head out. Best decision ever and we will never go back to a mall for Halloween. Ever.

From there, the girls started to get a little antsy (aka hungry) so we just went over to Whole Foods for their hot lunch bar. It's perfect for kids that are hungry now! Mac and cheese, turkey and sweet potatoes were on the menu and the girls loved it! After lunch, they played in this small kitchen area at the store with some other kids. Holland kept wanting to hug this other little boy and he wanted nothing to do with it. But she was persistent and followed him all around with a big smile on her face. We may have a boy-problem with her later on in life! Harper was content doing her own thing and checking out all of the toys that she doesn't have at her two homes. Can you imagine that there are toys that these girls do not have? Neither can I! 

Then after that, we headed back to my apartment to snap some pics and I kissed to girls goodbye as they headed home with their other mom for the night! It was a pretty fun day and I'm glad we were able to capture some moments of the girls on the actual holiday. 

This pretty much sums up mom life, right? No one look at the camera, but me!




Single Mom Money - Part 3 / "Ain't No Shame"

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


When you're running your home on 1 income, with two little ones that grow like weeds, you're bound to need to dish out some dough to keep clothes on their back and toys in their hands. And if I'm being 100% honest here (safe space, okay), I can't always afford the newest, greatest things *and* keep the lights on. And, if I want to get us to the location/school district that I want us to be in - I have to make some sacrifices to pay off my debt and get us there. Let me be clear, though: my children do not want for anything. I'm not touting that we're underprivileged or go without basic necessities. They have good food on their table, they have brand named clothing, they have tons of toys, and even sometimes wear Honest brand diapers. (so don't feel sorry for my kids :))

What I'm referring to in "ain't no shame" and providing on 1 budget is this - I don't buy everything brand new. One of the best things I've come across are virtual Facebook garage sales. It saves the time and effort of in-person haggling - and allows you to get steals on stuff you need! I try to mix my kids clothing with brand new and gently used. When I can throw $20-$50 towards brand new outfits from Carter's or if Target is having a really good sale on Circo, I'll stock up. But I also keep my eye peeled for clothes and especially shoes for a good deal, online! I've purchased 1 pair of shoes for the girls brand new. It was a gray and purple pair of gym shoes that they're currently wearing and I got it for $4.98 (with an extra 25% clearance shoes) from Target, so it's Champion brand. It was an awesome bargain and brand new, just not a fancy brand like Nike or Stride Rite.

Recently, I've been on the prowl for gently used shoes. The girls' feet are growing at a rapid pace - Harper's feet went from a 4 to 4.5 overnight, I'm pretty sure. So I've been able to get a few pair of (basically) new Nikes for anywhere from $5 - $10 each. I picked up a pair of size 5 Saucony gym shoes for $5 for when their feet get a tad bigger. And have snagged two pairs of Stride Rite mary janes for $8 each. Sure, another child has gotten some use out of them - but who cares? As long as they aren't totally ragged and cover my kids' feet - I personally don't care. I can't dish out $30+ for kids shoes every few months.

I've scored adorable clothes, and even a Pottery Barn table and chair set (for $15!!) that I refinished and will share soon! From cribs, to clothes, to bottles to toys - you can find some great stuff if you're okay with it having a previous owner!

Another thing I ventured into was resale shops (the real kind), where you can buy gently used items but where you can also sign up to be a consignor and sell your own goods! Recently, I signed up to be a consignor through a mom group called Posh Tots. They resell gently used name-brand clothes, baby items, toys, baby gear, maternity wear, etc. I signed up all of the clothes I could scrounge up that met their requirements, plus all of my old maternity wear and our leftover baby gear. You determine the price of your items and make 70% off of items that are sold. If you sign up for a 3 hour shift as a volunteer (which I did!) you get an extra 10% added to your take-home proceeds! It was a great way to make some money on things the girls had outgrown - and also a great place to score some really cute stuff at big discounted prices!! I picked up a few things at the end of my shift like some $2 Carter's brand fleece pjs that the girls would need this winter!

So - although I'd love for my girls to sport the cutest, newest brand name items ... I just can't afford to splurge all of the time. And, that's ok. After awhile, new clothes get dirty, or stained or whatever else a toddler can throw at them. New shoes get scuff marks and sand all of them. Being able to provide new stuff when I can is a gift, and is something that I love to do. But there's no shame in looking for bargains and deals when you simply can't afford to buy an entire wardrobe every few months or so.

What are some ways that you save money shopping for your kids? Have you ever felt bad for saving on items or buying off-brands?
 
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