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Home Life

Practicing gratitude.

This has been one of those mornings where I woke up just thankful to be alive.

I’m getting over a severe stomach bug that had rendered me useless for the past 24 hours. It’s funny how you take basic bodily functions for granted until you become violently ill. I’m just glad that I can keep my food down now.

My appetite has returned, my aches and pains are gone, and I finally am able to indulge in my morning coffee once again. Hallelujah!

Today started off kind of cruddy, though.

I woke up to the cat banging things around the house. He does this when he gets hangry. Next, the fridge was looking a little neglected, with none of our usual breakfast staples like eggs, fruit, etc. We were also out of bread. I ended up cooking beans and rice for breakfast, since it was all we had in the pantry.

Then my husband started talking to me about the bills, before my morning coffee. Probably not the best idea. During this, the cat came out again, bit my ankles and drew blood because he was still not fed yet.

In one swift movement, I cut my husband off, picked up the cat, tossed him in the bathroom and closed the door. Probably not the best way to deal with that, but those bites hurt! And I didn’t get to eat or have my coffee. I was hangry too, dammit.

——–

Whoops! This post is about practicing gratitude. It really is easy to slip back into a negative pattern of thought.

So now, let me rewrite the morning above in a different light.

——–

I woke up today with no aches, nausea, or chills. It was definitely an improvement from Monday’s crap and I felt relatively rested for the first time in a while.

PJ was awake and playing peacefully in her bed. When I walked in the door to get her for breakfast, her face lit up to see that mom was still home during the day. (She usually doesn’t see me during the weekdays.) We ate an odd, but healthy breakfast of black beans and rice, with some broccoli and cheese. Both PJ and Dan gobbled it down. It was great to remember that I could still manage to make something out of nothing when the kitchen was a little empty.

Dan began to talk about the bills that could be paid once he gets a check from the last odd job he did with his parents, and tried to get me up to speed on what I missed while I was passed out for the entirety of Monday. Meanwhile, the cat was still being crazy. (I can’t make that part sound positive, no matter what I do.)

After the cat was fed, we all had a pretty chill morning. And for the first time in months, my daughter was in a cuddly mood. So we shared some snuggles on the couch while we watched Word Party. I was one happy mama.

——–

It’s amazing what a little change in perspective can do, isn’t it?

Sometimes, I just have to pause and take a hard look at what is really in front of me. There are a lot of days where it’s just easier to default to complaining, comparing, and just not being happy with what I have. It requires less energy for me to do this. These days, I have little energy to spare. Guess what happens then? I tend to become a bit negative about things when I’m tired or when I’m feeling sick.

Fortunately, this is something for me that can be changed with practice. It’s a change of habit in my own thought patterns. It sounds really dumb and silly on the surface, but it’s true.

Lifehack has some pretty good tips on how to practice gratitude here.

For example, in my first version of my morning, I had no bread for breakfast. Our family sometimes runs on toast alone. In my second version of my morning, surprise! We still had no bread.

Despite the fact that we didn’t have bread, eggs or fruit, I improvised and thought: Well, I have rice, a can of black beans, and some broccoli. Not a typical breakfast, but it’s a meal.

Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, I switched my focus on what I did have to work with in the pantry. Some food is definitely better than no food at all. And I know how to make sandwich bread in a pinch, but that still feels a bit ambitious for me at the moment. Maybe later. We’re not gonna starve.

Second example: In the first story, I was mad about how much the cat was bugging me. In the second, I was thrilled to spend some quality time with my daughter. Both of these things happened, but in the second version of my morning, I chose to focus on the positive things, which included those snuggles I got from PJ. I haven’t received those since she was just a few months old, so that was awesome.

So of course, there are going to be good things and bad things that happen during the day. Some days, the bad can outweigh the good. This is when I believe it is very important to try and see the silver linings that may be present to get through the nastiness of the day. It may be the one thing that saves my sanity for the moment.

I honestly have it pretty damned good most of the time. And I’m super thankful for that.

Hey, there are definitely worse things out there that I will (hopefully) never have to experience… Like cleaning out the bathrooms at a McDonald’s. Or at a Taco Bell. Or any bathroom that I’ve had to use recently with my stomach bug. My heart goes out to you and I weep for you. You have my sincerest apologies. I am thankful for you.

Categories
Life

Why I love being a working mom.

The other day, I had an unfortunate comment thrown my way, and I’m sure other moms who are out there working crazy schedules and trying to balance home and personal life can relate. I’ve heard some crazy stuff for the past few years, but I was totally unprepared for this sentence to be said right to my face:

“You spend more time with work and friends than you do with your own daughter.”

Ouch.

Needless to say, they were pretty much implying that because I wasn’t home very much, it meant that I was a sub-par mom. This person also happened to be raised in a very different time and environment than I was. Maybe they were just having a bad day or something.

Still, I will never, ever allow others to guilt trip me into thinking that being a working mother is bad for my children. I’m actually really sick and tired of having to try and explain myself or justify my reasons for working (besides the obvious income, duh). I don’t know, it seems that I can’t ever win with this mothering thing. Literally, once I had my daughter, it seemed like everyone all of a sudden had an opinion on how to raise my kid.¬† It can certainly be frustrating at times.

Maybe it’s surprising to some people, but I love to work. Seriously. Whatever I end up doing, I want to do it well and go above and beyond where I can. It’s been in my blood since I was younger. I love learning new things and honing my own skills. Pushing myself to my own limits is something I try to do daily. It also helps that I’m just a tad bit competitive.

I know I’m not the most nurturing type of person sometimes, but I have a lot of other qualities that are mom-worthy. Here are some of my reasons why I love being a working mom:

1. Being a positive role model.

Now, I’ve never thought of myself as marriage material, let alone mother material. I knew that it was a big deal having a kid, especially watching my own mom raise me and my little sister on her own growing up. She was a huge role model for me, and probably one of the main reasons why I continue to work hard today. And I want to be that same kind of positive influence in my own daughter’s life – to encourage her to do what she loves and to pursue her dreams.

I was also delighted to find a study that shows girls who grew up with a working mother tended to surpass the career achievements of those who did not, and also earned 23% more than those with mothers who did not work. (It also showed sons who had working mothers were more likely to contribute to household chores and spent more time towards childcare!)

2. I have a college education in something I enjoy doing.

And I want to use it, damn it! I didn’t spend so much time and money on it for it to start collecting dust.

But until I can get a job in the 419 involving market research, keeping up my copywriting skills and staying up to date on the latest market studies, digital marketing tools and strategies will just have to be the next best thing for now. Being able to use my skills that I have acquired to help others in need is amazing. I just have a natural curiosity about everything and anything, and that helps me continue to learn long after graduation. So you can stop me at any time if I start asking too many questions… it’s just what I like to do!

3. My current lifestyle is nice.

I’m not going to apologize for wanting to earn more money to afford nice things. I grew up sort of poor. Nice things made me nervous (and sometimes still do, I’ll admit. I’m afraid I’m going to break or ruin something…) After working 12-hour shifts during the week, updating and maintaining the blog, and doing household-y things like cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, whatever the thing is – I like to treat myself every now and then. And I freaking deserve it.

4. It keeps life interesting.

My husband also works from time to time, but his work is more seasonal and his schedule is way more unpredictable than mine. Lately, we’ve been swapping war stories about our work environments; mine being in a warehouse and his being on job sites all over Toledo. It gives us a chance to reconnect with each other at the end of the day and there’s always a story to tell each other.

5. My kid has a stronger relationship with her grandparents and dad.

This was something I really wanted my daughter to have, and I am fortunate enough to have a supportive mom and some kick-ass in-laws to help us out in raising PJ. What’s really neat is since both of our families are extremely different, it will give her plenty of exposure to different beliefs and ideas from a very young age, and she will be more tolerant of different views later in life. She has a lot to learn from both sides, and I’m excited to see what she takes away from these amazing people.

Whether a mom decides to stay at home or go back to work, I believe they all deserve some mad respect. After all, they are raising tiny humans. That is really hard work and should be something to be proud of. Keep fighting the good fight, mommas!

working-mom-is-awesome-mom
I love my daughter.
Categories
DIY Home

An update on the thing we did.

So! I completely forgot to give an update about our house that we picked up to rehab. I wanted to drop some before and after photos before we handed the keys over to the lucky family who now calls the place home! This place came a long way from what it once was.

See if you can guess what photos are the before and after!

We re-mulched with the landscape fabric (I didn’t get another pic) and updated the house numbers.

Since we were already on a shoestring budget for the project, we weren’t able to bring all of the ideas we had for the place to life, but it sure did turn out nice anyways! We think some of the imperfections that it still had at the end kept with the home’s unique character.

The bathroom makeover was definitely the most dramatic one of them all.

Missed the subway tile backsplash I wanted to do, but there’s always next time…

It is truly amazing what a fresh coat of paint and a little elbow grease can accomplish! We hope this home serves its new family well! Now we wait for our next project…

Categories
Home Life

Why small homes are smart for new moms.

Before I dive into this next post, I would like to define small as under 1000 square feet. To me, this is more than enough space for our current needs, but I didn’t want to confuse this kind of tiny with the tiny home movement tiny.

I mean, I could see myself living in a tiny house built on a 16 x 8 trailer by myself, but if I had to share that small space between two other humans, I’d probably get cranky real quick. I value my own space. Even I believe there is such a thing as too small.

We live in approximately¬†980 square feet of awesomeness. To me, this is more than enough space to live. We’re also lucky to have about half an acre of land at our disposal, which we plan on converting to garden space once we solve our water drainage problem. (If anyone has suggestions on doing that, I’m all ears.)

We have a bunch of big, beautiful, and modern looking houses in our neighborhood, and thanks to the local construction business picking up, there are more homes and subdivisions being built. I drive by these all the time for future inspiration because some of these are truly #homegoals.

The one below was built by Black Oak Building Company. If I’m using their photo in my post and gawking at their current projects IRL, then they at least deserve a shoutout here.

black-oak-construction-toledo-sylvania-2011
Like, seriously. Home goals. I’m in love.

But would I want to live long-term in a house over 1200 square foot? Unless I happen to pop out more kids and inherit some secret trust fund I didn’t know about, then no. Not likely.

Am I crazy to want less? Maybe I am. But hear me out – here are my reasons below why a small house isn’t so bad.

1. Easy to maintain and most importantly, CLEAN.

If you hate cleaning, then boy do I have great news for you on this one – less space is less to clean. I know, mind-blowing, right?

I love how fast I can pick up my entire house. I have two small bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a tiny bathroom. The bulk of my space is a neat little rectangle split in half between the living room and kitchen. Even while managing a baby during the cleaning routine in her little sling, it takes me about an hour at most to clean my house. It’s awesome.

Truly, it frees up my time so that I can even have some blog time to write. That to me is worth every penny I have put down in this house so far. If I have more time, then I can do more stuff. I like doing a lot of stuff. I hate cleaning. It works out for me here.

Speaking of stuff, below is my next big point:

2. It prevents overspending and excessive clutter.

Retail therapy would be counterproductive since I have a small house. Where the heck would I put all of my stuff?

I’m already thinking of doing an item purge once it’s time for spring cleaning. Our closet is a mess and is packed full of clothing that my husband doesn’t even wear. It’s not that he wouldn’t wear anything he has in there – the problem is that he can no longer find the clothes he wants to wear because of how much stuff is in there.

closet-clutter
The top is mine. The bottom is his. The laundry basket below that is his, too.

We also started to worry once PJ got her own room, it would be filled to the brim with toys that she wouldn’t even get the chance to play with. Fortunately, we haven’t run into this problem yet, but when we do we will start following a simple rule – for every toy in, a toy of equal size goes out.

I think this will be a great way to also teach our daughter how to be happy with less stuff and to think before trying to grab toys at the store when she’s older.

3. Lower energy bills.

Think less space, less _______. Another thing to put in the blank here is utility bills. Who needs more bills in their life? I certainly don’t. I have yet to meet a person who is actually excited about getting bills.

Given the home is well insulated in the winter and the appliances aren’t running 24/7, this is another neat little perk that I have for my house. This also helps prevent shutoffs and financial emergencies when times are a bit lean.

It also tends to leave less of an ecological footprint if you use fewer resources. A big win for me, my wallet, and the environment! What’s not to love about that?

4. Less to furnish, renovate, and repair.

Okay, I’m a Fixer Upper junkie. Joanna is a boss when it comes to interior design and can give anything old a new breath of life in her space.

But when I feel compelled to run to our local thrift and antique stores after binging the previous season on Netflix, I remember that a lot of the look here came from being creative with the old things lying around in the first place. And that it also doesn’t require a lot of stuff to pull the look off.

Living Room, Dining Room, and Kitchen
My home is definitely inspired by this clean and cozy look.

I do want to renovate our home someday when we get the money for it. Our living room could use an overhaul. It has pink carpet and pink walls. The previous owner had red and black furniture with that. When we saw the listing on Zillow, it looked like something straight out of a bad 80’s movie. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan.

When the time to renovate comes, it will cost us significantly less to redo things like walls, floors, and fixtures. Basically, there is less to spruce up and fix so it will cost less. And we can take the cost savings a step further by embracing this popular style and using what we have to create some unique pieces to serve us in the years to come.

5. Encourages creativity.

My office is my kitchen. That is surprisingly not detrimental to my weight-loss goals. Unless there is a chocolate cake on display next to me. Y’know, out of sight, out of mind? That’s why I have a bunch of fruit and veggies lying around if I get the munchies. I’m so smart, ha.

kitchen-nook-office-workspace
Where the magic (usually) happens. 

This isn’t the only area of the house that has more than one purpose. In order to make the most of our space, almost every area of the house has some sort of clever storage solution to maximize how much space we use. We have drawers in our drawers in our kitchen. I’m not even kidding.

Living in a small space keeps me on my creative toes, trying to figure out what I can get away with when placing furniture and appliances without cluttering the space. If I have to be creative every day in my house, I can use that creative muscle to solve other problems outside my home, too.

Anyone else with me in the small living space boat? What do you like about living small?