Put down your yoga pants 

People do yoga in yoga pants?

Athleisure wear is all the rage. Companies like Athleta, Title Nine, and Lululemon are making lots of money off women running around in spandex leggings and sweatshirts that hang off one shoulder. Does anybody actually work out in these clothes? It’s doubtful that it’s the majority.

coco chanelDo you know the saying “dress to impress?” This saying isn’t just for the external viewer but for you, your internal thoughts! It’s time to put down your leggings and reach for the jeans.

Every day I venture out of the house and I see moms [or just women, I can’t really say they are all moms] wearing athleisure wear and I know they will never reach the gym. We live in a face paced world where dry shampoo is a staple [My fav is EVO and Living Proof] and work out clothes for every-day-wear is normal. And if I’m totally wrong [which I am not] then please don’t wear your sweaty clothes all day long. For one, it’s really bad for your skin. If the sweat is trapped between your skin and tight-fitting clothes, the moisture can mix with the skin’s bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells to create a pimple. Ew!

But moving on, it’s been proven that if you look good you feel better about yourself. Looking good doesn’t mean you need to have an expensive purse or the 30-minute makeup routine, but it does mean that you need to shower, brush your hair and teeth, and not wear clothes that look like pajamas out in public. I know leggings are stretchy and sometimes it’s hard to button those jeans, but listen up, it’s time for you to splurge on yourself and buy a pair of expensive jeans. Your perception of yourself is totally gonna change.

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Photo cred Kris Drake Photography/ Evereve

Have you ever seen this Mom Butt article? It’s a great read. A mom tried on cheap jeans and expensive ones and it’s incredible the change of her shape in the good ones. You pay more for brands like AG, Hudson, and 7 For All Mankind, but let me tell you, you’ll feel so good in them, and you’ll look good too! These pants all have a better cut, they are more flattering with the pockets, they have stretch, and many of them are high waisted! Yes, even I like to tuck in my belly roll.

Time to go shopping

So, where do you start? My suggestion is going to the nearest Evereve store and telling one of the girls that you need new jeans and that this will be your first pair of good jeans. The girls are so awesome at these stores and I promise they won’t lie to you.  Now be prepared to spend over $100, maybe $150 on jeans, but I promise that it’s worth it. You are worth it! Warning, many of the jeans have a “worn in” look but if you find a pair that fit great and make your butt look better than it ever has, you can probably head to the brand’s website and order a different color with no rips. Side note: there are lots of places to buy jeans but this store just happens to be a personal fav.

I really feel that it’s time to bust out from the yoga pants. Once I bought a pair of good jeans I never turned back. I always feel great wearing them and they are just as comfortable. You can still wear a messy bun and spray your bed head with dry shampoo, but just take off the yoga pants and slip on some jeans. Switch your running shoes for comfy flats and you are good to go. It’s time that you get to feel like a million bucks, even if you only got four hours of sleep last night and the kids cried in the van all the way to school. You can do it, I believe in you!

Finding Balance

Balance: mental and emotional steadiness;  stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis. A balanced life should equal a calm and steady one but just thinking about trying to balance life gives most people a headache.

balanceI’ve been fortunate to have the innate ability to keep things pretty well balanced in my life, but that hasn’t come without a learning curve. On a daily basis I juggle so many roles (as do most parents, namely mothers): mother, alarm clock, chef (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), school bus driver, teacher, small business owner, blogger, runner, friend, daughter, wife, parent, and the list goes on, right?! Some of you even have more roles than that. It’s insane what we expect ourselves to accomplish in a day.

But that’s just it. Maybe you are expecting too much from yourself? Yes, there are things we much accomplish because it’s our duty, but sometimes you just need to let go of the things that are bogging you down. For example, the kids have to eat lunch at school and you have to make it. But if this is the one thing you hate doing then change it up! Hot lunch, make it at night, make the KIDS make their lunch at night. If my 4yo can make a PB&J then your 1st grader can too.

rocksWe also live in a world where we are pressured as parents to be the best we can be and to make sure our kids are learning what the real world is like. If getting shoes on the kids on the way out the door in the morning is like being in WWII then forget everybody else when they say, “just let your kids go to school with no shoes, then they’ll learn.” Ya know what, that’s not gonna happen here. Life lessons aren’t being taught on the way to school at 8am. Set all the shoes out with their clothes each morning or line them up by the back door. Keep shoes in your van! I’ve chosen to pick life-battles with other things.

You aren’t super mom. You don’t have to be! I have gotten comments that are meant to be compliments, “Oh, you do so many things, you are such a super mom!” And I know that these words are meant to be kind and uplifting. And for the most part I’m truly flattered but there is one little voice in my head that tells me I need to keep being super mom in order to keep their expectations of me high. I don’t want to be a failure! Now I know you are thinking, “Girl, that is not true!” And it might not be, but it’s still that little voice that hangs around. We all face this scenario in some fashion. But it’s up to you to decide if you can conquer it or not.

Balance looks different for everybody. Some people can tolerate clutter and some are just neat freaks. You need to decide where in your life are you feeling unbalanced and why?

Are you a YES person? I was. This was one part of my life that stressed me out! I was saying yes to projects that gave me no satisfaction, made no money, and took up way too much time. I was trying to please everybody and it just wasn’t working for me. One day I said NO to somebody and it ended up not being a big deal. Why? Because people hear NO all the time and one more isn’t going to make it any worse for them. When I started saying NO to projects that I loathed I actually felt so much better. I had more time to spend on the important things in my life. See, I found one a part of my life that wasn’t balanced and I found a way to fix it.

Where are you feeling unbalanced? Do you commute to work? That takes up so much time for many of you. What’s worse, it’s almost impossible to multitask while driving! Do you wish you read more books? Have you tried listening to books on tape? Maybe something as little as this will give you some joy and help balance out your days.

It’s also ok to ask for help or outsource something. You’d be surprised by how many people are willing to help somebody out with a car ride or a meal. Hire a cleaning lady or ask a friend to meal plan for you if cooking is stressful. You could easily eat her meal plan each week, right? P.S. I have a great friend that can help you with this.

As I get older I realize that our life journey should not be stressful. Yes at times it can be and we do have adult responsibilities, but life should also be fun and enjoyable. Your stress will definitely rub off on your kids and we certainly don’t need more kids battling anxiety in life. Take time to figure out what makes you anxious and leave it behind!

One last example for you, over the years I have found out that driving in the snow makes me extremely anxious (so does being late). I have told friends that if it’s snowing to just count me out. I don’t try to make the event or over-promise what I know I mentally can’t handle. If it’s snowing hard, I won’t be there and I’m ok with that. Forget FOMO, it’s time to grow up. As for being late, I factor in wiggle time for everything. I leave ridiculously early for stuff so that I’m not late. Being late and stressing about it doesn’t affect me because I plan for it. I’ve learned to balance my time and my expectations for myself.

You can do this. You can create balance in your life; talk with a friend, a therapist if you need to, send me an email, ask a parent. I’m positive there is something in your life that you can change so that you feel more relaxed on a daily basis. You owe it to yourself. You only get one life and you deserve to be happy in it.

Strong Families Mission Outreach

For almost two years our family has been donating monthly to an organization called Strong Families. A friend recommended this organization and it’s run through Christ Church in Mequon, Wis. She knew it to be a very reputable organization and the money donated actually goes to the women in the center.

Strong Families Care Center is a mission of Christ Church in Mequon, Wis. and operates under Strong Hearts Ethiopia. The center provides a safe, nurturing place for children during the day so their mothers can work to support their family. Opened September 14, 2013, Strong Families was almost immediately at full-capacity, with 40 young children in care from infant to age three. They are receiving proper nutrition, early childhood education, and basic healthcare and hygiene education. Social support, counseling, education, vocational training, parenting and life skills training are also being provided to their mothers. The center’s holistic approach to caring for children and their mothers will enable them to obtain the skills and opportunities necessary for a successful future and save them from a life on the streets.

The mothers in this program may not otherwise be able to provide for their children and run the risk of having to abandon them or release them to an orphanage. By providing care, mothers are able to generate income in order to provide for their children. The children are welcome at the center five days a week.

Our Family

The mother we support is Serkalem. In March she was hit by a car and her knee was badly injured. She was not able to work for awhile and had no way of paying her monthly rent. But God was watching! Some other Strong Families mothers in Ethopia collected money for her and helped her pay for rent!  These are families that can barely pay their own rent, but together, they collectively helped their fellow mother and sister in Christ!

Serkalem is doing the best she can and is doing a great job at providing and never giving up.  The ground of their home is free of debris, covered in plastic.  The walls are also made of plastic and there is a leak in the roof when it rains. Before rainy season begins, the center will provide a plastic tarp to hopefully help keep them dry.  The Center helps with a piece of plastic for various reasons.  One reason being that when the families move, they can take this with them.  The other main reason is that if an “improvement” (in this case, fixing the roof) is done, then it would raise the value of the rented home, therefore the landlord would raise the rent.  It is the most unjust system they are caught in, but this is how we can responsibly help our families out, until there are no longer people out there to take advantage of the poor.  The space they have in their home is not enough for 7 people to live, but it is what they can afford now.  She is keeping their home clean and cooking items clean, which is so important in the accommodations they have.  She has dreams that someday Rediet (daughter) can be a nurse, to help others.

rediet.jpegRediet

Rediet is doing well at the center!  She is such a happy little girl!  The nurse reports that she has been healthy, with no treated illnesses in the past months and is growing at a steady pace.  She has accomplished most of the 2-year-old milestone checklists that we use to measure each child’s progress.  When asked, what is her favorite thing to do during the day, the caregivers responded that she likes “playing with the group of kids” the best.  A little social butterfly in the making.  She is a great addition to her class and she brings much joy to everybody.

What can you give?

If you have been thinking of supporting a family in Africa and don’t know what organization to start with, I encourage you to look into Strong Families. We get a few updates a year and I know that the money we give is truly helping a woman and her children. I also think it’s really important to set a good Christian example to MY kids and show them that you give everything you are able to to help those less fortunate than yourself. You can read up on my Entitled Kids post here. I read to them the updates on our family and make sure my kids understand the drastic difference in living environment they have. I know my kids still don’t fully see the whole picture but it’s a start. A start at raising them to be kind and compassionate humans.

Hydrate Your Skin

img_1627We hear all the time about how important it is to drink water and stay hydrated, but nobody ever seems to really push the fact that our skin needs to stay hydrated too. “Dry skin is the top skincare complaint among women of all ages,” says Dr. Kathy Fields, a dermatologist and co-founder of Rodan + Fields.

Everyday life and the environment can do a number on our skin: sun, wind, harsh heaters in wintertime and cleansers that strip away the skin’s protective oil layer can leave the epidermis parched and fragile. And poor lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking too much alcohol can make it even worse.

templateThe University of Kiel in Germany conducted a study and found that dry skin, even in young people, acts like older skin. The 1997 study measured classic signs of dryness including scaliness, loss of smoothness and loss of elasticity in test subjects age 20 to 35 versus a group over age 60. They found that dry skin was equally scaly in young and older test subjects. And young people with dry skin had rougher skin than older subjects with dry skin. But the good news is that both younger and older skin felt equally smooth once it was properly hydrated.

“What a moisturizer does is it stops water loss. A hydration product brings water to the skin,” says Dr. Tim Falla, PhD, vice-president of research and development for Rodan + Fields. The team at Rodan + Fields created a new molecule that allowed them to create the Active Hydration Serum, a 30% glycerin serum that instantly hydrates skin to its optimal moisture equilibrium for softer, smoother, more radiant-looking skin that continues to improve over time.

I personally think this serum is a skincare necessity. Even if you don’t use any other product, use this one. I’d love to answer any questions you have and can also offer you a full ingredient list. If you are looking for the big WOW FACTOR for your skin— this is it.

Here is what one week of added Hydration to your skin can look like. Just imagine the change to your face!


View and shop here.

Sweet Potato Bread

sweet potatoBaking has never been my forte. Anything that requires following the directions can be challenging. I found that baking loaf breads was a good way to ease into the science that is baking. I love freezing these breads and pulling them out for breakfast or company. My kids generally eat any of them, especially if I call any flavor the generic “banana bread.” This sweet potato bread is easy and easy to modify. The kids chow it down and so does my Dad (who hates sweet potatoes).

Ingredients

1 C sweet potato puree

2 eggs

1/2 C vegetable oil (or substitute applesauce)

1/4 C water

1 C white sugar

1/2 C brown sugar

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour (you can use whole wheat as well because it’s such a moist bread)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or put parchment paper on the bottom instead of flouring) one loaf pan. If you double recipe then use two pans.

In a large bowl, mix together the puree, eggs, oil, water and sugars until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Stir dry ingredients into the puree mixture. Combine just until incorporated. Do not over mix. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes or until a wood toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!