Friday, February 28, 2014

Five on Friday: Long Hair Don't Care

Just kidding with that title.  If you want long, healthy better care girl.  Today will be the start of a little thing I'm calling Five on Friday.  Every Friday I'll post 5 secrets, 5 favorites, 5 something.   I can't promise that you'll find it helpful or even interesting.  But I realize all I really blog in detail about is Kollyns (which is my favorite thing in the world to talk about by the way) and sometimes fitness and food, and maybe just maybe but probably not some of you might want to know a little bit more about me.   So this is my attempt at helping you get to know me better through seeing some of the things that I do.  I hope I don't disappoint, but based on my track's very possible, so do yourself a favor and don't set your hopes too high.

I get asked so many times how I grew my hair out so long and how I keep it healthy.  I usually respond with "get pregnant, it does wonders for your hair."  And that is true in my case, but there are a few more things I have done to make and keep it the way it is...things that I don't share with just anyone.  Lucky you. ;)

Let's keep this short & sweet shall we?

1.  De-junk your hair.  If your hair is colored, chemically treated, anything...let it grow all the way out of your hair.  I used to have blonde hair.  Yep, this is 16 year old me. I had my hair highlighted every six weeks because my natural color is dark brown and roots don't lie
After about 6 years of giving my hair a chemical beat down and watching it slowly break off piece by piece, I decided to go back to my natural hair color so my untreated hair could grow out completely.

This is my husband and I at 19, and the shortest my hair has ever been because I had to trim off all of the damaged hair.

I enjoyed the pretty blonde hair while it lasted but look, just look ^ at what it did to my hair.  Not worth it.  Now I get my hair colored only ONCE a year with semi-permanent color just to keep it from looking frumpy.

So again, step one is get the chemical crap OUT and/or stop overloading your hair with chemical processes.  If you have completely chemical free hair, you are way ahead of the game.  Congratulations! :)

2.  Wash hair with a paraben-free shampoo/conditioner.  I can't say that I'm anti-paraben, even though parabens have had a bad rep for quite sometime now.  But I do know that I've noticed a difference in my hair since I switched over to paraben free hair products.  My favorite is Herbal Essences Naked Shine CollectionAnd it smells amazing.

3.  Go easy on your wet hair.  Wet hair is so much more prone to breakage.  I know you're tempted to wrap your hair up twisty tight in a towel after you wash it (because I am too, every.single.time), but don't.  Squeeze the excess water out with your hands and use a wide tooth comb for detangling.  Save the paddle brush for your dry hair because as it's busting through those tangles, it's also damaging your hair.

4.  Steer Clear of the heat if you can help it.   I wash my hair at night most of the time and sleep on it damp.  When I wake up, it's dry and I avoid the heat blast from the dryer.  I have a straightener with adjustable heat settings, and I turn the heat down as low as I can, and only straighten the parts of my hair that actually need it.  I used to have 'hair straightener OCD' and thought I needed to straighten every inch of my hair for it to be "done".  Not anymore, no just no. 

5.  Deep condition once a week.  I apply coconut oil from mid-shaft to ends and leave it on for 1 hour and rinse.  If you have really dry hair, you can probably do this from root to tip.  My hair is super oily so it will grab the oil at the roots and keep it there for daysss, so I can't go there. 

That's it...that's all I do for my hair and it stays decent and manageable! 

I hope a few of these work for you and your hair!  Happy Friday y'all!

Here's another hair pic, but I mainly posted this because just look at this little angel at 8 months!  My doll baby.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is The Juice Worth the Squeeze?

For some reason I have been completely wiped out this week.  Lack of sleep?  Maybe.  Too much on my plate?  Could be.  Husband on night shift and no help at home?  Probably.  I'm not complaining, I wouldn't trade my full speed ahead, toddler chasing lifestyle for anything.  But it's just so odd for me to feel this way...totally and completely out of it.  And I only have one kid.  One I said.  To all the mamas out there that have 2+: I admire you and your ability to conquer the world with your line of kids in tow... but do you mind letting me in on your fountain of energy secret?  Please and thank you. It's so bad that I seriously drove past my gym the other day while wearing the gym clothes I had just driven all the way home to change into, with my water bottle in hand and Kollyns in the back seat screaming "mommy, you missed the turn!"  What the heyyy? Who does that?  My three year old has been more coherent than I have all week long.  All I know for sure is a gallon of the strongest coffee ever made couldn't cure this sleepy slump.  I know this because I tried it, thank you.  Coffee failed me this week.  How could you coffee?  I thought we had a 50/50 relationship here.  I make and drink you, at least give me a little boost mmmk? Enough of that.

So let me just go ahead and put out there why I used The Girl Next Door [Love that movie, just don't watch it when your kids are around.] "Juice & Squeeze" saying.

The Juice:  Early bedtime for Kollyns and a little bit of late night down time for mama.
The Squeeze:  No nap during the day for Kollyns and an ornery kid from noon-7:55pm.

Yesterday was great until about 12pm when Kollyns started to get sleepy and turned into her usual sleepy/moody self.  I take full responsibility for that part of her personality because when I'm tired I'm 1/2 monster.  Then she became distracted by her scooter, became un-sleepy and flew around the office on that little life-saver until it was time to go to the doctor for her checkup which she was extremely excited about.  

We loaded into the car for her appointment and she whined all the way up the road (for no apparent reason) until it was time to turn into the parking lot, and she dropped off to sleep...of course.  So I threw her limp little snoozing self over my shoulder and checked in at the front desk.   She was startled awake (10 minutes after she had originally fallen asleep) when the nurse came in and began asking us the routine checkup questions.  Kollyns must have had a nightmare about the doctor's office during her mini siesta because her attitude towards this whole checkup situation had flipped completely.  She refused to stand on the scale and pitched a crying fit, so they had to zero the scale with mom on it and I had to hold my three year old while they weighed her.  The nurses were staring like they had never seen a three year old act like this before, or at least that's what it felt like. We go back in for her checkup and she did as fine as I expected.  Only requesting that I hold her hand while she was getting checked out to which I happily obliged.  Despite a series of shows of independence over the past month, she does still need me.  That made me happy.

I felt my happiness begin to dissipate as the doctor was giving me a spiel about consistent discipline, and Kollyns started having a complete and total meltdown because she didn't want to put her shoes on.  Which continued into a consecutive crying outburst as we walked out into the waiting room full of people because suddenly she didn't want to leave the doctor's office.  So there we were surrounded by parents and kids and I was clinging to her little kicking and screaming self with no shoes on because she won that battle a few minutes before during the speech about earning respect from my kid hoping she wouldn't escape and make even more of a scene. The fit continued into the parking lot, as I was strapping her into the car seat, and 30 minutes driving down the road until we finally arrived home. 

Suddenly she was happy again because we ate a snack and watched Mickey Mouse in bed while we waited for daddy to get ready for work.  Not long after, another fit began about God only knows what.  I really have no idea.  And it feels as if the rest of the evening was a long strand of fit after fit after fit. 

This is not my kid.  My kid is happy, fun and full of excitement about life in general all of the time.  I was starting to regret the whole no-nap thing.

Finally 7:55 rolled around and she was out like a light.  Exhausted from no sleep and snoring so loudly she was startling the dogs. 

Stick a fork in me, this mama was done with this crazy day.  I sank into a hot bath and just sat still, I couldn't move.  My body was already tired from a week of unwarranted exhaustion and I just wanted peace and quiet and 30 minutes to just close my eyes and unwind.  Suddenly I was bored.  She was right in the bedroom next to me sleeping peacefully, but I missed her.  I wanted to play in the tub, I wanted to sing our songs like we always do during bath time and play "ABC ball" and help her play her water instruments. 

Without even thinking, I found myself jumping out of the tub and putting on my pajamas in a hurry just so I could crawl into bed with her and watch her sleep.  I did my devotions with her right there beside me sleeping so peacefully and I just thanked God for every part of being her mommy.  Even the days like the one we just had: the long, exhausting & overwhelming ones.  Because really, "me time" is overrated.  And I'm not really me anymore when she isn't around.  I realized that between 8 & 10 pm is my most cherished time with her.  We have bath time, play time, story time and prayer time.  It's my favorite part of the day, and I'm not willing to give that up for a stupid bubble bath and a little bit of quiet time.  I'll get enough of that one day when she's all grown up and my house is empty. 

So yeah, I think we will stick with napping during the day instead of squeezing through a day full of tantrums and moody Kollyns, just for a little bit of juice at the end.

The juice ain't worth the squeeze y'all when it comes to skipping a nap.  Not for me or Kollyns.  Rearranging naptime is off limits for this mama from here on out.

AND she woke up this morning at 7am instead of her usual 9am.  So I have a halfway done face because I was trying to get ready for work in between fixing her milk, a peanut butter sandwich that she requested for breakfast, and wiping the eye shadow off of her face because she wanted to put on make up just like mommy.

No. More. Skipping. Naps.

Shew, I don't know where I found the energy to type all of that.  And I know this post was all over the place, just as I have been all week long.  And to think it's only Wednesday.  There's no telling what might end up on here by Friday. 

And I will dig myself out of this sleepy hole at some point or another.

Speaking of holes.  Here's one that I'm pretty excited about...

P.S. Kollyns is taking a nap right now.  So it's already a great day. :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Miss Priss Had A Party

So we had a teeny tiny little family party for Kollyns' birthday this weekend.  And I have to admit that I bought all of the stuff from Party City and Target gasp.  Not one single thing was from Etsy, Shop Sweet Lulu or a fancy party shop.  I know, so shameful.  But we had just as much fun making ice cream sundaes in our pink and blue plastic party cups as we would have if we had wooden spoons,  fancy paper cups and stripey straws. (Isn't it like mommy blogger code that stripey straws must accompany every occasion? Woops.)  But don't worry, I redeemed myself because I made this pretty three layer cake all by myself and it actually tasted good too.  That's one point for Kels y'all!

The party was so much fun, and Kollyns enjoyed opening the clothes more than the toys.  Atta girl! 
Then she gave us all a mini fashion show.  I love my kid.


[If you're wondering why my husband is wearing dirty jeans to the party, it's because as usual he had to work and had just walked in the door.  I swear I do laundry.]

I was thrilled that my cake was pretty and didn't fall apart when I cut it.  Because I just knew it was gonna.

I love my daddy.

My pretty mama and aunt.

Kollyns' 6 grandmas all in a row.


In other news, I drove past our land yesterday and there was actually a bulldozer there digging!  We have a construction entrance and a silt fence people!  And today they were digging a hole in the ground for the basement.  Is this real life?  We bought our land one, two, three, four, five months ago.  And we are finally actually starting on our home!  You know I'll be blogging about our new house like it's my job as it's constructed. So if you don't wanna read about all of my excitement, close your eyes.  Because oh, I'm excited.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Captured: Our Snow Day!

Don't get me wrong, I'm so over the snow.  I hope we don't get another drop of it until next year. 

Reason (1) We are scheduled to start construction on our home next week and bad weather would eff that up and push it back yet another week.

Reason (2)  Do I really need another reason?

It was beautiful while it lasted, but so long winter... I need some warmth, sunshine and blue skies in my life.

Until that day comes, I'll just dream about it...and post a few pictures from our snow day.

I made it all the way into the front yard in the snow without falling on my butt.  This is my victory stance.
MarLee was rockin' the socks as gloves look.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday Kollyns!

Today is my little girl's 3rd birthday.  Please someone tell me how this happened and where I can find a machine that freezes time.  Is it possible to bottle up the way this awesome kid makes me feel so one day when she's old enough to understand, she will know exactly how happy she has always made her mama?  I can't even begin to put into words how much I love her.  I would do anything and be anything for her.  And as much as I wish I could keep her small and hold her tight forever, I'm excited to watch her grow up too and become who God wants her to be.  I pray as her mommy I will always live my life in such a way that she can see God's love displayed in its absolute perfection through me.  I hope she finds the joy and hope I've found in Christ early in life and seeks to glorify Him in all she does. I have so many hopes and dreams for her.  And I know her life will turn out exactly how it is intended to.  So for now I'll just enjoy every moment of her being little.  Every kiss, every hug, every temper tantrum, every little thing.  She is the greatest blessing, and the greatest joy I've ever experienced... and I'm so thankful for every second with her. 

I love you beautiful girl.  Happy Birthday!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Weekend Recap: Snowed In & Screamed Out

This past week has been cray cray at the Almond casa.  So let me just give you the short version of it if that's even possible.

Wednesday I left work when it started snowing.  By the time I had driven 3 minutes it was like really snowing.  Where I live, 1 inch of snow is a huge deal and the weather was calling for 14 inches between Wednesday and Thursday.  I don't know why I waited until it started to leave work.  I guess because I totally thought I had outsmarted this storm by driving my husband's big 4WD truck, so I was just chunking along through the mess like nobodies business because I was wheelin' the Avalanche and I was bad.  Well by the time I rounded the turn to the back road that we live on the ground was covered and our truck literally started fish tailing like crazy and almost completely spun around in the road.  I had no control of my vehicle, my little girl was in the back seat sleeping and my heart fell to my feet.  I screamed like a little girl until it finally straightened up perfectly so I could turn right onto our road.  Thank you Lord!  We were fine, the truck was fine,  and Kollyns was still snoring in her car seat.  The only thing that got hurt was my pride when I realized I hadn't even put the truck into 4 wheel drive to start with.  I swear I'm smarter than that, but you know sometimes even the best of us have brain farts.

Wednesday night my poor husband had to drive to work in the blizzard, but Kollyns and I were snowed in and stayed glued to the news like 2 little old ladies, because for some reason it never gets old watching the weatherman tell us 15 times in a row that we are going to be snowed in tomorrow.  I threw a bowl outside and within 30 minutes it was full and we whipped up some 'snow cream' and followed that with a little bit of yoga in the playroom since we couldn't make it to the gym.  It was perfectly boring and fun at the same time, just like we like it.

Thursday we were completely snowed in so I slept until 10!  That never ever happens, but it did feel nice knowing I couldn't go anywhere.  We played in the snow for about 15 minutes because that's how long it took for our clothes to get wet since I don't waste money on snow frocks for the one snow we might get each year.  It was fun while it lasted, and I'm glad it didn't last long because I'm more of a snow watcher than a snow player... and Kollyns seems to feel the same way.  I'm boring, okay?  I know this.

We came in and made old fashioned hot chocolate.  Like with milk, cocoa, salt, sugar and boiled it on the stove.  I couldn't help but feel like the best mom ever when I saw Kollyns' face light up with excitement as she tasted it.  I can't lie, it was delish.  Super mom status.

Husband then left for work and informed me that he was too late to swing by and feed his hunting dog.  He was gone before I realized that we couldn't make it down that hill in the truck because I had no earthly idea where the driveway was and didn't want to destroy the yard.  I only had one option, I had to walk.  I made it there and back, but almost passed out from exhaustion because I had a 40lb bag of Gravy Train slung over my shoulder and walking in a foot of snow is not ideal.  Ehhh, don't put me down for cardio on Thursday...because my trek to the dog lot was it for the day son.  I was officially over the snow at this point.  And Kollyns had started getting really really whiney.
We went to sleep at 11 pm,  and at 12am Kollyns sat straight up in the bed and began screaming in pain.  I'm not talking a crying screaming. I'm talking horror movie screaming.  Scaring the sheeet out of me because I did not know what was wrong, and Devin was at work.  It took me about 10 minutes to get her to finally tell me what was hurting.  It was her ears, both ears.  Nothing I tried helped her.  Not Motrin, not warm compresses on both ears, not any amount of cuddles or rubbing her back and hair, not pacing the floors while holding her, NOTHING.  I have never seen her in this much pain and it ripped my heart out.  I was crying with her and praying that the doctor's office would be open in the morning.  Then I became totally pissed at myself for weaning her from breastfeeding back in November because I swear that has kept her perfectly healthy until now.  I would have breastfed her for life if I knew it would keep the pain she was feeling Thursday night from happening ever again.       

Her pediatrician slid us in for an appointment at 10:00am Friday, but the ride up there was a frickin' nightmare.  She was in so much pain she was screaming at the top of her lungs and physically trying to hurt herself and claw her face and pull her ears off.  I was holding her hand and crying as I was driving and I thought she was going to rip my fingers off but I was willing to sacrifice my hand if it kept her from hurting herself.  It was a complete crap show.  We finally got there and of course she had very bad infections in both ears.  I picked up her medicine and got it in her as quick as I could.  The medicine and my non stop praying must have worked because after that she slept for 3 straight hours and woke up feeling less pain and in a much better mood. 

Friday night, she slept straight through...and I don't even remember going to sleep I was so exhausted.  Saturday was spent playing and cuddling, and being so thankful that she was feeling herself again.  And by Sunday, she was up to her old tricks....squeezing herself into doll houses & such.

What a week.   There were fun parts, scary parts, 'heart at my feet' parts, and there were parts I thought I might break down completely.  But it's life, and it's what being a mom is about.  It's not always easy, but it's the most rewarding thing I've ever experienced.  This week really put things in perspective for me even though it was just an ear infection. And I know in the big scheme of things none of these events I've rambled about are really a big deal.  But little things like this remind me of how blessed we are that we have a healthy child and that we get to share this life with her.  Even the bad weeks are good, because I'm just so incredibly thankful to be her mommy and I wouldn't trade a single night of pacing the floors while she screams or a crazy car ride to the doctor's office for anything in this whole world. 

And I'm sorry, this post was in no way a short version of my week like I had intended.  Lucky you.

Oh & did I mention ear infections suck?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why do bloggers blog?

So, there are...Mommy Bloggers, Wifey Bloggers, Wifey Bloggers Who Are Annoyed by Mommy Bloggers, Single Bloggers Who Are Annoyed by Mommy and Wifey Bloggers, Fashion Bloggers, Foodie Bloggers, Bloggers with 50,000 Followers for No Apparent Reason, Lifestyle Bloggers, Beauty Bloggers, Random Bloggers, Rip Off Bloggers [aka unoriginal bloggers], and the list goes on and on and on.

And I don't know their reasons for blogging, although I'm sure they are great. 

But I do know why I blog.

[Be forewarned, the number of times I use the word 'blog' in this blog post is probably going to get on your last nerve.]

I didn't realize how huge the blogging community is until my second year of blogging at Beautiful Life (my pregnancy blog turned 'letters to Kollyns' blog) and I quickly became overwhelmed, and extremely intimidated.  Then I started questioning myself and developing 'blogginsecurities' [yep, that was my horrible attempt at combining the words 'blogging & insecurities'].  Was I writing about the right things?  Why was my blog design so 'blah looking' compared to everyone else's?  Are there actually bloggers that walk around with professional photographers just to capture their daily outfits for fashion posts?  Does every mom in the blogging community dress their kids like they walked right out of a JCrew magazine?  Will I be accepted?  Are there bloggy cliques and mean girls? Because I freakin' cannot deal with mean people, they get on my nerves. Will people think I'm interesting?  Will people think I suck?  Why do some really crappy blogs have a million followers, while there are some really great blogs with like no followers?  Why the eff would I want to put my life on display for the world to see, am I crazy?

After all of these ridiculous questions flooded my mind, I felt guilty for spending time even thinking about it because life isn't about blogging, it's about living.

So why am I a blogger? 

Well I'm not....
...blogging for followers, obviously.  Because I have like 2.  Glad I don't take that personally.
...blogging for approval or popularity, because I'm seriously like the lowest blog on the totem pole here and if I took the amount of comments I receive to heart I would probably quit blogging like, yesterday.
...blogging for likes, pins or so you will think my life is perfect because it's far from that.

I blog because I love it.  I love telling stories about my hilarious kid, and breaking my life down into blog posts so I can one day remember what has been.

It's my outlet to ramble about my awesome kid, my workouts, my weekends, my vacations and just random stuff that I want to remember about my life.  My, my, MY.  It sounds so selfish, it sounds narcissistic, it sounds self-centered.  But it's not. 

There's a certain amount of humility that accompanies sharing your life with the world.  I know that there are mom's out there that are far better than I am.  I know that there are wives out there that are better. I know there are better writers, wittier bloggers, more talented website designers, and much more interesting content in the blogging world than what you will find on here.  But I'm giving you a front row seat to my life anyway.  I know that I'm no where near the best, and to some of you I'm probably so boring that you are falling asleep reading this. WAKE UP.  But I try to be the best I can be.  And there's something in me that hopes I can inspire someone with my simple life and the love that explodes from the depths of my soul for my Savior, and for my husband & daughter, & my family.

I'm humbled that someone who doesn't know me might want to know my story and read about my life.  I'm humbled when I can help someone or encourage and inspire someone to find joy in every part of this beautiful, crazy life.

And I'm completely humbled when I see the blessings and sweet moments all in one place, here on my blog, instead of having to dig them out of my memory someday when my memory is too far gone to remember half of it.  It's a daily reminder that I'm blessed with so much more than I deserve.

I won't lose anything that I've posted on here, and I won't forget it either.  Kollyns can look back at this someday and know how much she is loved.  She will know how much I've loved her from the day I knew I was carrying her.

I love my blog, and I love sharing my life with the people that love reading about it.  The beauty of a blog is:  if you don't want to read it and you think I'm totally and completely don't have to. 

And don't worry, If I find you boring or annoying...I won't read yours either.

But if you happen to love me, feel free to stalk the living shiznit out of my blog...because I love you too. 

Weekend Recap: Waterparkin' It

There are so many wonderful perks that go along with having a winter baby.  When they are newborns, you can hide in the house for weeks after you get home just pouring love into your new baby because it's too dang frigid to go anywhere.  It's too much work to bundle them up and take them places, so you have an excuse to stay under a blanket and just stare at her and kiss those sweet chubby cheeks.  And it's too cold for other people to come out, so you have less visitors [aka less germy hands pawing at your precious infant and less people sitting on your sofa staring at you while you're trying to learn how to masterfully whip out a boob and feed your hungry baby without offending anyone.] AND you have a good 5-6 months before you have to worry about wearing a bathing suit, hallelujah.  But then there are the not so perky parts of a February indoor birthday parties and even worse...snowstorms that could prevent people from even showing up to your indoor birthday parties.  I'm sure on her 13th birthday or whenever she figures out she's about the only kid ever that hasn't had a pool party for her birthday, she might just pitch a dramatic pre-teen fit.  Let's hope not though.  And since we were already bored of indoor birthday parties after only two of them, we decided this year we would change it up a bit.  My sweet parents decided to treat us to a weekend at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg.  There are several of these sprinkled around the country, so if there's one near you and you have a February baby, you should totally go.  It's huge, and fun...and the best part:  It's 84 degrees year round inside of the waterpark!  And make sure the one you pick has a Starbucks nearby because I only needed about 127 cups of my favorite latte to keep up with Kollyns for the two nights we stayed.  She went from pool to pool, slide to slide, and never stopped for a second until we had to drag her out of there kicking and screaming as everyone stared at us, just so we could put her down for a nap. Because we knew the evening would be completely unpleasant if she skipped a nap after hours on hours of swimming.  By the way, she took a 2 hour nap...mama always knows best. So anyway, go to Great Wolf Lodge won't regret it!  But you will probably need another weekend to recuperate from all of the fun when you get back home.  And Happy almost birthday to the most beautiful blessing in my life.  I love you to the moon Kollyns River.
Getting ready to leave for Great Wolf Lodge.  She is thrilled!

My goofy not so little brother might have been just as excited as his niece.
 And what birthday girl doesn't eat Meat Lover's pizza at midnight on the first night of the birthday trip?  She's so much like me.
 Right before we headed down to the waterpark for our day of fun/exhaustion.
Mid-way through the day.  Daddy needs a rest, mama needs a tan. 

Headed home and napping all the way. 

The downside of waterparkin' it in the winter, is the cold that follows.  I hope my baby girl feels better soon, but I sure am enjoying her cozy feel bad cuddles in the meantime.