February Goals!

Oh blog I miss you so stinking much.  I am going to ease back into this blogging thing and in February I am going to focus on posting 28 of my favorite things, I promise things are going to get real deep and serious on here this year at some point, so enjoy the fluff this month!

I will be completely honest with you that I will now be using affiliate links in my posts, but I will only be posting things that I really truly love to use and I’ll add recipes, stories, etc to all my posts.  But if you see something you like this month, this stay at home mama, who works 3 jobs, would LOVE if you clicked and purchased through the link I provide.  Alright, now that that’s out of the way, here is my first favorite thing!

This morning Vaughn was a complete disaster. She’s got some sickness going on with puffy eyes, a runny nose, ear discomfort and I could do NOTHING for her.  I tried to get her to take a bath because she loves the water, but she was not having it.  Then I bribed her into the bath by telling her I would take a bath with her.  I’ve never done it before (she’s hopped in my shower with me in the past), but I thought, it’s worth a shot because she is MISERABLE.  We hopped in the tub and played for a solid half hour.  For Christmas I asked my brother to get the girls boon Jellies (link below) and they have quickly become our favorite bath toy of all time.  I kinda hate bath toys, they get gross and can get moldy and are just sort of yucky, but these are so nice, they can air out, and the girls love to stick them all over the tub and their bodies.  I highly recommend them!

Gratitude

gratitudeEvery year I pick or word, or rather a word picks me, that I focus on throughout the year.  This year the word that has stood out to me the most that I am going to intentionally focus on is gratitude.  There is always something to be thankful for and I plan to start each day this year stating 3 things I am grateful for.

I genuinely hope I can start blogging more. I’ve missed this little space so much.  There is a ton going on in my life right now and I just haven’t made the time to sit down and write down my thoughts, but I’m hoping 2017 can be a year for more of this!

Vaughn’s 2 Year Letter

To My Sunshine Vaughn Emerson,

We’ve had a rough year, but when I rock you at bedtime, snuggle your sweet body, sing you songs, look into your still chunky face, kiss those cheeks of yours, I genuinely view you as a bright spot in my day no matter how challenging our day together has been.  You are a riot.  Your dancing is some of the best I’ve ever seen.  You love to enrage your sister and you are quite good at it.  You have figured out what her buttons are and are on a mission to push as many of them as you can, I find this at the same time maddening and hilarious.  I called to get a speech therapist evaluation for you and within a week you were talking about twice as much as before, you must have heard me talking to them and decided it was time to break the silence.  The words are coming slowly, but I can see the gears turning in your head.  You understand what people are saying way more than you let on.  You love to be rough: wrestling, jumping off of things, punching, biting, slapping, hitting, kicking and just generally making your presence known.  Unlike me you really enjoy being outside, we got a baby rollercoaster from a friend and you can ride on that thing non-stop, you love a thrill.  Much to my dismay you have become a picky eater, I’ve always said I wouldn’t cater to that, but on more than one occasion I’ve handed you an applesauce pack before bed in hopes that you wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night starving, this mama likes her sleep.  You turning two was a rough one for me, the end of us having babies in our house.  I now understand why the baby of the family stays a baby longer, it’s very hard to let go.  I’ve started rocking and snuggling you more than ever before as I hold on to this phase for as long as I can.  I can’t stand the thought of the transition to the bed or potty training because that feels really really final.  While I’m holding you back in these small ways I’m doing my best to usher you into the next phase, teach you as much as I can, and help you bloom.  While I know logistically you need to go to preschool next year in order for me to get my work hours in, I’m secretly (or not so secretly) hoping you are waitlisted one more year so I don’t have to let you go quite yet. I’ll let God work that one out and be satisfied with either outcome.  I just love watching you grow!!

Love you forever,

Mama

Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos from our photoshoot with Jenna at the end of September.  There are SO many good ones of you, but for time sake here are four of my favorites.

vaughn v-and-e-sept-2016 me-and-vaughn vaughn-and-dad

On Rediscovering My Joy

joy

This week I’ve been on the quest to locate the joy in motherhood again.  It’s been missing for awhile and I’m tired of not loving it anymore.  This week has been one of my best weeks in awhile and I am beginning to realize a few things that have been stealing my joy and I’m now working hard to eliminate them.

If you know me personally I am a DOER.  Kind of to the extreme.  I work 3 jobs, yep 3….while staying home full time with my kids and am committed to spending nearly every evening after bedtime not at my computer, but with my hubby or with friends.  How do I do it?  I hustle ALL DAY LONG.  I rarely ever take one single moment for myself and my day is planned out from the moment my alarm sounds at 6AM until the kiddos go to bed at 8PM.  I finally committed 2 weeks ago to take time off every week from work and it’s been HARD, like I literally don’t know what to do with myself (that is why I am blogging right now).  So from 5PM on Friday until I wake up Sunday morning I do not allow myself to open my work computers.  I think I will learn to love this break from work, but right now it’s sorta driving me nuts.

So that is one step in the direction of finding my motherhood joy.  Taking the time on the weekends to not be pulled in any direction other than relationships.  So far it’s been a struggle for me, but I’m pretty confident in the next few weeks I will learn to LOVE it.

Step 2, this week I have let go of something every day.  One day Ellery went to school without having her hair or teeth brushed and it was very obvious when we walked into school that I hadn’t touched her hair in at least 24 hours.  The next day we got the hair and teeth brushed, but breakfast was an applesauce squeeze pack and a cup full of rainbow goldfish on the drive to school.  Then the following day I let work go all morning and took Vaughn on an outing for the first time, maybe ever, I realized I needed to spend time with JUST Vaughn and I never do that, like ever.  It was a stretch for me, mornings with Vaughn are my time to get the groceries done, answer e-mails, run errands, do anything that is easier with one than with 2, but it was really good for us to GO do something just her and me and I hope to make this more of a habit. Then last night perhaps the hardest thing to let go of was my expectations of what it looks like to have people over.  I went to the store bought pre-marinated chicken breasts, frozen french fries, boxed brownies and fruit and I called it a day.  Guess what?  We had just as nice of a time visiting with friends than we would have if I had made the homemade potatoes, made my own marinade and made brownies from scratch (which was all on the original menu).

This week I realized I had lost my joy when I made the vow that I had to do it all.  Been going to a mom group called Mom to Mom and it’s been the best thing I could do for my mom self.  They affirm us every week that we cannot do it all so I’m trying to do two things a day well.  1.  Be present with my kids.  This week has been intentional outings that I knew my kids would love.  2. Ask my husband everyday, “what can I do today to make your day better?” Then I commit to do that one thing even if other things get dropped in order to do that.

Step 3:  I am committing on Monday to call ECI which is an early childhood intervention program to help us with Vaughn.  Something is off, we don’t know what, but I have hope that they can help us to work with her to communicate better and cut down on the hours of daily screaming.  The screaming has really zapped my joy and fried my nerves and after a YEAR of not giving into the extreme tantrums without much progress I have gotten affirmation from several people in my life that it’s time to seek some assistance because the behavior is more extreme than the normal “terrible two” type stuff.  There is a really sweet girl in that little body and I want to help her learn to showcase that more often.

So I haven’t FOUND my joy yet, but I am full steam ahead on the adventure of finding it again.  Making my doer self do less is going to likely be my hardest challenge, but I am committed, I must turn the tide.

Fall is a Decision

fall-photo

Here in Texas I have learned something…..Fall is a decision.  In Illinois Fall is a FEELING.  The air turns crips, the leaves change colors and drop, there is a smell in the air unlike anything else and you want to cozy up with your pumpkin spice whatever every day.  Here we don’t get that.  Today on the calendar it says it’s fall, the forecast says it’s a high of 93 and the sun will be BLAZING hot all day long.  But inside the Campbell house we have it decorated, have been diffusing Theives, there are fake fall leaves scattered across the floor because the kids got into my craft box, and very soon we will bake some apple crisp, purchase cider and a great big pot of chili will sit atop my stove.  This is the hardest season for me in Texas.  Don’t get me wrong, summer is terrible, but pretend fall I think tops my list of the time I feel the most homesick.

In case you are like, uh oh, Laura hates Texas again, quite the contrary.  I still love the town we live in, just accepted a job at our church that I’m excited about, and we are making friends, I just wish all of this was happening in the midst of 70 degree temps with a backdrop of beautiful colored trees.  So to all my friends in the North, HAPPY FALL!  I will sit down here in a tank top and shorts with my jealousy in check, because I also am very aware what happens after fall up there and I have learned not to miss that frigid cold!

 

 

To My Future Self

Because I know myself, and I know that hindsight is in fact NOT 20/20 and rather it’s cruel, I’m writing myself this letter because it’s going to happen, I’m going to look back, reflect on the time my kids were under my care and tell myself I could have done so much better.

Dear Laura with an empty nest,

You are probably sitting down to enjoy your morning read in a quiet house that is picked up, cleaned, and all your carpets still have the vacuum lines in them.  Your house is quiet, a little too quiet, and you are reflecting on the years where you would have paid money (and on occasion did) to have a quiet moment to yourself.  And you miss your kids.  And you think you took the time they were home in your care for granted.  Let me assure you, you didn’t.

You’ll wonder why you didn’t hold them more, kiss them more, tell them you loved them more, or cater to their incessant requests more often.  Here’s why…. you simply couldn’t.  There were days that the kids cried for hours, literally hours a day, over the smallest seemingly insignificant things and you picked them up countless times and then you hit your limit, you simply could not bend over and pick up a child one more time that day.  You were not a super hero, a saint, or a magical being.  You were human and sometimes humans hit a limit, there were days, many days, where you hit yours.  If you had kissed those baby cheeks one more time they would have started getting chapped, I assure you, you didn’t take the plump cheeks for granted, you kissed tears away, kissed them while they were stretched tight from giggles, and kissed them a million times in the morning when they woke up and at bedtime when you said goodnight.  Your babies always went to bed feeling loved by you.  Speaking of love.  You told your kids you loved them constantly, it was probably annoying to them if we’re being honest.  But you felt a lot of love for those sweet little ones in your care and you made sure they knew it.  And the incessant requests, when you finally snapped and raised your voice, and hurt your tenderhearted child’s feelings, I just want to remind you about that human thing, you weren’t perfect, but you were quick to apologize and heal up that hurt heart.

Don’t be one of those older mama’s who while looking at the young mama struggling in the grocery store with her screaming kids tell them, “enjoy it, you’ll miss this when it’s gone.”  Even though you probably DO miss spending your days with them, you probably only remember the sweet times when they would lean together in the cart for eskimo kisses or giggle and beep their car carts at other shoppers.  Those moments were sweet, but they weren’t the majority of the moments.  Many times you did shame shopping where people stared at you and wondered why you didn’t have better control over your children as they were bawling while you walked through the store attempting to complete your shopping list.

You will tell yourself that you should have worked less, I know you will, but work was a source of sanity for you and you needed it.  Not only did it give you something outside of mother and wife, but the money was helpful in those early years.  Don’t kick yourself for contributing to your family in this way, your kids learned valuable lessons while “working in your office” with you and learning how to entertain themselves.  It also made you much more intentional during the rest of the hours of your day when you were with your children you focused more on being present with them.

You loved your children well, you did everything in your power to enjoy the journey.  It wasn’t always easy, some days you wanted to get a full time job (you considered it on several occasions), but you made the choice to stay home with your kids while they were little and you did not take that privilege for granted.  Some days it was a sacrifice, some days it was a total blast and you felt spoiled that you GOT to stay home with your kids, and ALL of it was worth it.  So don’t beat yourself up, don’t wish you did anything differently, instead remember the good times, remember the bad times (that you can now laugh about), and above all enjoy where you are TODAY, enjoy where your kids are as adults outside your home now, and enjoy the journey….life is quite a ride!!

From your 30 year old self raising a 4 and nearly 2 year old….

Here are some photos that give you a sampling of what life was REALLY like day in and day out with these two, because you don’t always take pictures of the rough moments and I don’t want you to think your instagram feed is a good representation of your life at this time!

fullsizerender-19

img_6853

img_7702

Ellery 4 YEAR letter

To our kind and considerate Ellery Wynn,

Four going on fourteen.  You’ve started saying things like “seriously mom,” I’m not exactly sure where you got that phrase or the sassy tone to go with it.  For the most part you are super considerate.  If I’m busy preparing for something you’ll come up to me and ask, “mom, what can I do to be helpful right now?”  I find this so incredibly endearing and it’s a habit that I absolutely adore, I also have no idea where you picked this up.  You will even think about what Vaughn might miss while she is napping and save television shows for later because you think Vaughn might want to watch it.  You’re laugh right now is hysterical and you have a great sense of humor.  Your favorite hobby is taking pictures which I have to frequently delete from my phone so I actually have storage space left.  You are an avid reader, and I don’t just mean you look at books.  You are a READER, like at least second grade level, which both blows me away and terrifies me, because WHAT WILL YOU DO IN KINDERGARTEN?!?!  This is truly no credit to your dad or me, you just were genuinely interested in reading and essentially taught yourself with a few videos and paying attention to words while we read to you.  One day you were playing with a friend and said, ” That’s actually called a dromedary, not a camel, because that one only has one hump.”  Later I asked how you knew that and you immediately recalled that it was from a book that you read in your bed at night sometimes, wowzas!  This year sleep has been one of our biggest issues, I would say 5/7 nights per week you have woken up screaming and begged us to come to our bed, and basically we let you every single time.  I used to have a very strict rule about no kids in the bed and then I realized you’ll outgrow this phase so I better enjoy it while it lasts.  It is starting to sink in that this is my last long summer with you ever, which basically has me wanting to homeschool you so I don’t have to come to terms with sending you to school in mid-August every year from here on out. Since turning four you have become incredibly brave, one example of this is tubing.  You went tubing with Hudson and me last weekend on the lake and I was so proud of how long you stayed on and enjoyed it.  Your Dad is SO sarcastic, which is completely lost on four year olds.  He is probably going to give you an anxiety disorder before the age of five, but you are STARTING to sense when maybe he’s not being total serious and you’ll incessantly ask, “dad are you just kidding????” until he finally answers “yes, or course I’m just kidding.”  He has also convinced you that Yittle Baby (instead of little baby) is actually a term that means big girl and you make sure to tell everyone that is what it means.  I love spending time with you, especially one on one, and I’m committing to being more intentional about our time together this year while you still want to be around me!  You are sweet and enraging, funny and challenging, considerate and selfish, basically you have become a whole human being this year and I just love having you in our lives.

Love you forever,

Mama

IMG_7564

IMG_7632 IMG_7725 IMG_7796 IMG_7762

8

To Andrew on our 8th anniversary,

Today we have been wed for 8 years. 2,992 days of me and you doing this life together committed to one another on the good days and bad ones too.  There have been a lot of highs and lows in that time, but when I look back on THIS particular year I will look back with fondness.  Moving across the country with you, yet again, has definitely been an adventure, it really show us what we’re made of when we have to start over, make new friends, fit in to a new culture, and do hard things that we don’t want to do (there have been plenty of those).  You have been supportive, kind, loving, encouraging, sacrificial and calm through all of it.  And then in the midst of our crazy life and trying to settle in I came to you and said I felt like I was really supposed to start a coaching business and you have been nothing, but supportive and excited for me.  Helping me brainstorm ideas, talking about the business way more than someone would want to, and celebrating every little victory I have had with this thing.  We committed on our honeymoon to get away for the weekend every year for our anniversary and let’s just say we had no CLUE how impossible that would actually be once kids came into the picture.  Between births and nursing, kids have pretty much disrupted this idea every year for the past 4 years, and last year was the double whammy of nursing AND moving the next day.  Someday, my love, we will sit on a beach reading and relaxing and honestly probably talking about our kids and how funny they are and how we are so glad we have each other and them.  That day is coming, but today we woke up with a warm body between us because she can’t bear to spend an entire night in her own bed.  We groggily stumbled down the stairs and worked out in our own corners, I blended shakes for breakfast and remarked about how different life looks 8 years later.  And then I kissed you goodbye and sent you out the door for you to work hard for us all day so that we can have the life we have, and I can raise our babies at home.  It’s not the beach, but man, I’m one lucky lady that I get this life with you.  Better days are coming (and worse ones too) and I will live them all with you.

Love you forever,

Laura

I looked through my phone and this is the only somewhat recent one of just the two of us, yikes we need to take a photo together soon!

I looked through my phone and this is the only somewhat recent one of just the two of us, yikes we need to take a photo together soon!

And one where we don't look like lunatics :)

And one where we don’t look like lunatics 🙂

A Surprising Day

This past weekend wasn’t BAD, coming off of a fabulous long weekend it was a little lack luster, but not bad. But it FELT bad, mostly because my attitude was bad.  I snapped at my kids way more than usual, I was negative about pretty much everything and I was a real blast to live with (dripping with sarcasm).  At one point on Sunday Andrew nicely told me I needed to go somewhere, so I found myself at the grocery store…. yeah I really know how to have fun.  So I went to bed Sunday night with a huge amount of dread for Monday.  I did not know how I was going to get through an entire week with the kids, and then Monday came and it was one of the best days I’ve had with my kids in awhile (besides our long weekend as a whole family).

Here are some of the highlights:  Ellery had her first swim lesson.  She loved it and did AMAZING. It blew my mind because she won’t leave the steps for us most of the time and when we left the lesson she said about the teacher, “she didn’t even let go of me so I could swim.”  I also met a mom there that lives really close to us and has girls close to our kids ages!

IMG_7636

When we got home the girls wanted to have a picnic lunch while watching a show.  While they did that I did a quick facebook check and found someone giving away a rug for free.  It has a few stains on it, but I was looking for something for under my dining table (so it’s going to get stained anyway) and it happened to MATCH my room.  The thing to know about this facebook page is if you don’t see something in the first 3 minutes you likely will not be getting it, after I commented that I wanted it 10 people commented that they wanted it if I didn’t take it.  This person happened to live super close so I threw the girls in the van and I went to pick it up.  I mean a FREE rug that matches like this (felt like a God thing to me)…..

FullSizeRender (15)

Then the day continued to be great.  I checked my e-mail and had a referral from a friend in one of my challenge groups and so I have a new beachbody client that I get to coach and help them in their health and fitness journey, that was an exciting surprise for the day!  Speaking of healthy I had an avocado sitting on my kitchen counter and when I cut it open it was GORGEOUS, that pretty much never happens for me.  So I whipped up some avocado chicken salad.

IMG_7649

The girls got along quite well and I was able to get my work done for the day (I’ve had some major work issues due to a very messed up computer).  The girls played nicely, had two picnics and sweetly worked together to “do Andrew’s hair” (check out Ellery’s hat).

FullSizeRender (16)

We ended the night trying out the new ice cream place in town.  The appeal for me at this place is they have coconut milk ice cream (I can’t stomach dairy ice cream anymore).  They make it fresh right in front of you, and it’s a fun experience, we’ll go there pretty sparingly at $6 a scoop, but for a once in a while treat it’s great!

FullSizeRender (17)

It was a surprisingly good day.  Somehow I kicked the funk I was in over the weekend and we are determined to have a great week.  I have been listening to some audios and one of them said to be motivated by gratitude.  I HAVE to start being more in tune with what I’m grateful for and less focused on what isn’t going my way!!

A Girl Can Dream

A Girl

Andrew was off 4 days this past week, well actually 4.5 days.  His company gave them 1/2 day Friday and then TWO whole days off for the 4th of July and for the first time IN MY MEMORY he was not sick for his time off….but that’s another story for another post.  We had all this time off as a family and we made the most of it.  Boating, bowling, house projects, the town parade, party with friends, dinner with friends, running errands as a family, taking turns spending alone time with each kid and then taking our littles on a chik-fil-a date to end our long weekend.  It was one of our best weekends we’ve had as a family of 4.  It was the right amount of activity balanced with the right amount of down time.  And it had me dreaming hard about what it would look like to have a stay at home family.  Andrew would NEVER go for it, but a girl can dream right?

Some of you already know, but for people who just read my blog and are not on social media with me otherwise I recently became a beachbody coach so I could share the amazing programs and nutrition that helped me transform my body, health and fitness.  I have been doing a lot of professional development and many of the top coaches retired their husbands within the first 3 years of their business.  I would love to say this is going to happen for me, but honestly I would have to change quite a few things I’m doing currently and I’m not sure I’m ready to make those changes, we’ll see.  Do I think it’s possible to be making 6 figures in 3 years as a coach?  Absolutely.  Will I be super bummed if that doesn’t happen for me? No.  I actually started coaching because my goal is helping people transform their lives through health and fitness.  If I made enough money that Andrew COULD quit his job if he wanted to that would just be a big bonus (he would not quit working no matter how much money I make….he was made to work).

But this coaching thing has gotten me to start dreaming.  I have never been a dreamer.  I’ve been a hard core realist and honestly kinda a dream crusher.  I have taken it as my personal job to make sure people are aware of the reality of a situation instead of looking at something with hopeful eyes.  I don’t really know where I got this.  Maybe somewhere in my past something didn’t come to be that I had big hopes for and I just decided it was safer to work towards goals that were really safe and that had a clear marked path.

But then I watched a friend transform her body with beachbody and she looked so healthy and appeared to have freedom from unhealthy choices and I thought to myself, why not me?  Instead of looking at her and thinking, why her, why does SHE get to look like that (which was my former attitude), I instead looked at her, got inspired and adopted this “why NOT me” attitude.  And that has carried over to other areas of my life, especially coaching.  When I see the top coaches doing their thing, helping people transform their lives through health and fitness I have that same attitude, why NOT me?  I can do that too, and I REALLY want to do that, so I’m just going to.  Whether I’m helping ONE person or one THOUSAND people I get to have an impact and I’m going to do that.  And I believe fully that YOU too can make changes in your life to accomplish your goals!

And because my goal is impacting lives and not making tons of money (although obviously I wouldn’t turn that away), I give away a lot of free advice over on my youtube channel.  I also have a FREE 7 day challenge for new customers I’ll be doing monthly (my pilot group launches this week and was invite only, but after that anyone can join, e-mail me at size12to2@gmail.com if you are interested in joining one of those) and I always have 30 day groups running if you are ready to get serious about your health and fitness and need the extra accountability (this was absolutely my secret to success).

I lost 30 pounds this past year, but I’ve gained so much more: confidence, self love, goals, health, a new hobby, an extra income for my family, etc.  I could write a book about my gains, but maybe the biggest gain was the ability to dream.