Have you ever noticed how often multi-tasking ends up taking longer than doing each thing separa...

Have you ever noticed how often multi-tasking ends up taking longer than doing each thing separately does? Or maybe not always longer, but you are definitely not doing as good of a job? For example, I often try to do something else while I brush my teeth. Brush my hair, put on socks, read, etc. After a long time my whole life of doing this, with much more than just brushing my teeth, I finally admitted to myself I wasn't actually accomplishing more or better tasks. Well I've known for awhile, but now I finally committed to make a change.

My goal is simple (not). Learn to focus. Fully embrace whatever it is I am doing. Whether that's brushing my teeth, playing with my kids, slinging some code, or writing this blog post. You just can't be fully immersed in more than one thing at a time. You think you can. I fall trap to it constantly. Convincing myself that I can do multiple things at once and do a good job.

Another one I do all too often is eat and work. I eat lunch at my desk every work day, and oftentimes breakfast as well. I get actual work done too, so I justify it. But my meal suffers. I end up taking forever to finish eating and then my food is cold. That's just silly. I have to adjust my life to make time for important things, like eating. Maybe it's part of my eating disorder recovery that I never gave enough thought too. Allowing food to be important enough to dedicate time to eating. And staying off my phone, email, social media, etc. But I could, and probably will, write a whole post just on that topic.

When I'm most on my game, with anything, work, husband, kids, anything in life, it's because I'm concentrating. I'm in it. Whatever it is at the moment, I am fully present. That's where happiness happens. Not when I'm reading an article on my phone while Sebastian is begging me to play Battleship or Yahtzee for the billionth time or Oscar is asking for help finding each and every tiny Thomas train in his set, the TV is blabbing in the background, and Brian is telling me the funny story of the kid's day. No one can concentrate on all those things at once! Shut off the TV, put away the phone, and be with your family! I know I'm not the only guilty one, but it's still more than a little embarrassing to admit this scenario is not an uncommon occurrence at our house.

But at least progress is being made. I realize the distracted multi-tasking is occurring much sooner these days and am quick to turn off the screens. I'm revamping my evening and morning routines to try and give myself time to take a real break at mealtimes. One day recently I actually woke up early enough to sit down and eat breakfast with Sebastian. I even put my phone away when I realized what a momentous occasion it was. I could relax and listen to my child who more than anything wants to talk, and not be rushing around trying to get my ass out the door and sneak into work right before 9. It was glorious. And I made it to work before 8:30. Miracles do happen! Actually nothing miraculous about it. It's all hard work to fight that voice that tells me "just a few more minutes" when my alarm goes off. I fight I lose most mornings (like today).

I have to give a big shout out to Habit Bliss who's 21 day morning routine I finished reading a few weeks ago. She did a great job of breaking down the reasons to have a good morning routine, ideas on how to accomplish change, and what things were worth changing. A lot of information I'm sure many of us could be reminded of. My favorite part was that we don't have to make drastic changes overnight, but can achieve lasting results with gradual changes instead. Something often forgotten, especially around this time of year when everyone is struggling with their New Year's resolutions or goals. I've attempted to have a better morning routine often in the past, but I eventually slip back into old habits. Usually it's because I'm trying to add too many things to my morning. This time instead, I am simply concentrating on eating breakfast at home and getting to work on-time without having to rush around. Once I make these things a habit, then I'll try adding more things to my morning.

What does a morning routine have to do with multi-tasking? Maybe nothing for you if you live in a bubble of a perfectly scheduled day. But for the rest of you who feel distracted and rushed like myself, you know what I'm talking about. I don't want to feel so stretched for time, over-scheduled, and constantly busy. I want to be present and active in my own life, and not like life is passing me by. I want to be focused.

So I encourage you to struggle along with me in the path to mindfulness. Any moment I achieve it, no matter how brief, feels so wonderful. Like I am truly "living in the moment".

Happy Thursday! Linking up with Danielle again for another round of Confessions. Or in today...


Happy Thursday! Linking up with Danielle again for another round of Confessions. Or in today's case, some word vomit from me. I'm a tired and stressed out mess today. So today's post is really a mix of several bad and good things. Such is life.

I confess...

...that here I am, again, writing my confessions at the last minute. I am just not good at posting on a specific day. Too much of life is scheduled, I don't want things I do for fun to be on a schedule too. Takes the fun out if it. Except confessions, it's always a good venting session.

...that I feel like crap. Stomachache, headache, and my knee is killing me again. I don't know if it's my usual IBS/food intolerance flair up or what. But I've been eating really healthy lately so it's just not right. Was it really the 1 glass of wine I had the other day?!

...that I am fed the fuck up with my stomach, as you can no doubt tell from above. Seriously when will I make it longer than a month without a flair up?

...that every time I make some progress towards pain-free running, I end up getting sick or injured. Feels like I'm constantly starting from the bottom. At least I'm still rocking lots of yoga.

...that yoga has been my savior this past year. I am getting so much more from it then ever before. I will just have to write a whole post about it because it won't all fit here.

...that I hate politics and am so sickened by all that's going on that I have been avoiding all news like the plague. Except immigration. That one has my attention. So happy to read about the strike today. Wonder how all those spoiled, rich, white, elitist pricks in DC are enjoying a day without people to do all the hard work for them!

...that Brian and I are planning a trip to Belize in May! Sans kids. Brian's mom is nice enough to come up here and watch the monsters for us. I am so indescribably grateful for all the grandparents. They are just amazing.

...that we bought our plane tickets for Belize a couple weeks ago but still haven't booked hotels or even decided exactly where we're going to stay. We want to see all the Mayan ruins but there are too many spread all over for us to see in 1 week.

...that I feel like a hypocrite for making fun of rich, white people and then talking about planning a vacation. Did I mention that we save up for YEARS before a trip like this? Good, then hopefully you know I'm not a total ass.

...that when I'm feeling down, overly positive people just piss me off. Like I want to punch them in the face. But when I'm feeling up, I'm right there with them saying stupid shit like "let's just be happy every day!"

Wish I could relax as well as Oscar! Well hello! Last week I had a 3 day vacation in Phoenix. S...

Wish I could relax as well as Oscar!

Well hello! Last week I had a 3 day vacation in Phoenix. So now, I have to take a few moments to be grateful. I had a wonderful time visiting my friend Sara. We went hiking, got pedicures and manicures, went to a spa, saw a movie, and even hung out in the swanky corporate bay at the Phoenix Open golf tournament. No I am not a golfer, and neither was I'd guess half of the over 200,000 people there. Instead the majority were just there to get drunk, socialize, and enjoy the beautiful weather. Not a bad time.

17th hole (I think)
We slept in every morning (so wonderful) and stayed up late chatting each night. There were lots of jokes and laughs and plenty of good times people watching. Ladies I gotta know... what's with the tiny rompers giving you the biggest wedgie ever and the 6 inch ice pick heels that prevent you from walking normally??? Does fashion really have to come at such a ridiculous price? Anyways...Phoenix surprised me with healthy and delicious food everywhere we went. And such perfect weather. I soaked up plenty of sunshine and over 70 degree days. It was the perfect winter break. I will definitely be back, but always in the spring and never the summer!

This trip was very good for me. You see, I have a hard time relaxing. Not just now, but for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I stayed busy. School, sports, band, choir, clubs, friends, there was always something going on it seemed. Then in college I took as many classes as possible nearly ever semester, so there was always homework. I remember when I graduated and started working, it was the weirdest feeling to come home from work and not know what to do. There's no homework? No choir practice? So I can just, like, relax?!

Thanks for the hot tip
It didn't take long before I busied myself again. Running, yoga, cycling, hiking, crafts, movies, books, friends. I have always had too many hobbies. Then came kids. And real busyness started all over again. Hobbies became less frequent, or changed to include kids. Carving out time for rest and relaxation became much more of a challenge. Like most new parents it took us awhile to adjust and learn to make time for ourselves. Now I feel like we are mostly there. Both Brian and I still feel like there just isn't enough time in the day for all the things we want to do. But I think that's okay. I feel that way because I love my life and just want to get the most out of it. A good problem to have.

But with that feeling of not enough time comes the inability to relax. At least for me. I wonder who else feels the same? I feel like any moment I spend relaxing and not doing something productive is a waste. I have to constantly remind myself that I am a much more productive human being when I'm properly rested. And that only happens when I not only get enough sleep but also take enough breaks. Being a working mom means everywhere I go someone needs something from me. Busy at work. Busy with kids. I steal moments as often as I can to get in my exercise or time to write. But a real break, away from it all, is a beautiful thing.

Each time I've traveled away from my family I have to wrestle away the guilt. I spend the first few hours (or more) having an internal battle to find that peace. To find that place where you know that you need this time and do not need to feel any guilt from it. The memory of Sebastian crying on my shoulder the night before I left, because he was going to miss me so much, did not help my cause. But I know he was well taken care of, is often a drama king, and was possibly just trying to get me to read longer past his bedtime. But it (sadly) made me feel better about my momming skills anyway. I feel like I spend too much time telling Sebastian what to do and not do, and not enough time just having fun with him. Sigh... I suppose that's just a part of parenting though. But it was good to hear he would miss me, even if did add to my guilt.

Cactus that jumps on you!
The guilt this time started days before I left, in preparation for my break. Brian reminded me I had nothing to feel guilty about and that I should just enjoy myself. (How awesome of a husband do I have?! I can always count on him to help me feel good about myself. Thanks babe, if you're reading this. 😚) And of course he's right. I'm glad I got the guilt out of the way before I landed. In sunny 70+ degree weather. I love you Oregon, but you have been a cold and icy winter. What is this, Nevada?! Give me back the rain and mild temperatures!

So today I am thankful for the wonderful time with a good friend and the opportunity to take a real break. I'm so glad I was able to fully relax this trip instead of wasting the time feeling guilty. So here's yes to us all getting time for R&R and no to mom guilt!

It's Thursday already?! Why do I never realize it's Thursday until 8 o'clock at ni...

It's Thursday already?! Why do I never realize it's Thursday until 8 o'clock at night? Linking up late with Danielle over at Sparkles and Lattes for Confessional Thursday.

I confess that...

...I had the opportunity to cut back my hours and I enjoyed only working 4 days a week for about 6 months. Now I am slammed at work and back to working full-time and I am not loving it.

...I always thought a "work-life balance" was a myth. Now I realize I had that these last glorious months. Like so much in life, we never fully appreciate something until it's gone.

...transitioning from nerd bad-ass programmer to mom isn't easy. Exercise is the only way I can manage it and keep my sanity.

...I feel like I barely see my kids during the week, and what I mostly get is the evening rush of dinner, bath, bed. I've got to carve out at least a few minutes of play time each night.

...we have a fairly flexible schedule at my work which means I've let myself get in the habit of not getting to work until 9am. I am having a hell of a time trying to move it earlier so I don't have to stay as late or work through lunch. I am just not a morning person

...there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. Working full-time really emphasizes that fact.

...even though I'm tired and bitching about work, I couldn't imagine being a stay-at-home mom. I love my kids but holy crap do they talk a lot. Just be quiet for 5 minutes!!!

...Brian helps out so much with the kids and cooking, and it is still hard being a working mom. I don't know how single parents or parent's with deadbeat partners do it. Seriously you guys are amazing.

...last month was 10 years since I graduated college. That is really weird to say. I have over 10 years of experience in my field now?! I'm not going to let that make me feel old. That can wait until it's been like 30 years.

...I'm taking a mini-vacation to see my dear friend Sara in Phoenix for a couple days next week. So excited for this much needed break!

Birthday boy enjoying his new Dora book My youngest son Oscar turned 3 years old on December 22...

Birthday boy enjoying his new Dora book
My youngest son Oscar turned 3 years old on December 22nd. You can just ignore the fact that I'm a month late on this post, totally planned out, just to keep you on your toes. Late or not, I love writing birthday posts and looking back on the past year and how much he's grown. And how many awesome moments we had with him.

This year brought us a lot of music...

February 9th, 2016
April 7th, 2016
And even more music than this, but he's naked in all the other videos I took. He's definitely a little nudist. Well he likes clothes for fun at least. There was definitely lots of dress up:

March 3rd, 2016
May 21st, 2016
August 21, 2016
And some yoga:
July 22nd, 2016
August 26th, 2016
And some awesome naps:
July 9th, 2016
August 23rd, 2016
October 7th, 2016
His favorite things are cars and books. No surprise there considering that's what he's been surrounded with since birth. He pretty much skipped playing with most toddler toys and went straight to all of Sebastian's. Big brother's toys are just way cooler. Who could blame him? 

He may have inherited my OCD...
He likes TV of course, but lately it's been mostly requests for more educational shows at least, like Super Why and Leap Frog. Can't complain about that.

Comfortable way to watch TV
Oscar is very bright, funny, and athletic. He is talking up a storm. No word is too hard for him to try repeating. And he's counting really well thanks to many games of hide and seek. We just started him in gymnastics and he is loving it, as expected, since he's quite the little monkey. He's already running fast enough that we catch Sebastian cheating sometimes if they're racing each other. He's very strong-willed and throws plenty of fits still. But more often than not, he's a very happy kid.

December 29th, 2016
Snow Day! January 11th, 2017
It's so weird to have my baby not be a baby anymore. He's quickly turning into a little boy, with the toddler year's a blur behind us already. I'm doing my best to appreciate each stage of these early years. But no matter how many moments I stop and cherish, they just don't pass any slower. Regardless of the speed, I am enjoying watching him grow into the wonderful little human he is becoming.
Today, January 24th, 2017

Hiding from the world Well hello there! You may have been wondering where I've been the las...

Hiding from the world

Well hello there! You may have been wondering where I've been the last couple weeks. Let me tell you all about my week long stomach flu! 😷 Okay maybe I won't give you the details. We'll just leave it at, I didn't have the energy to do anything but lay in bed or on the couch. Oh and there was another dead rat under our house. Since the town was basically shut down because of the ice and snow, the pest control company never came to get it. This weekend Brian had to go find it himself again. Yuck. It was hard to get well with the smell of death. I feel much better now that it's gone. Except for the cold I'm fighting. Waaaah!

Anyways....onward! Being sick usually comes with a fairly bad bout of depression for me. That's possibly normal but sometimes it can stick with me for longer than the illness, making me think I'm still sick when I'm actually not. The symptoms sometimes blur together too, so that I can't tell if I'm sick because I'm depressed or depressed because I'm sick. It's more than a little frustrating.

I may have kicked anorexia's ass, but defeating depression has been a much harder battle than I ever anticipated. I still struggle, far too often, with being depressed. I've come a long ways from my worst of course. Besides no more disordered eating, I also don't worry about everything or get down over every tiny bump in life. Now my stress and depression is more often spent on large and important issues. And during and after illness, which happens far too often.

Nothing some cuddles won't fix
I'm not talking about just being a bit down either. I'm talking hiding in my room, often with the lights off and a dark blanket on the window. And either sleeping, crying, reading, watching mindless TV all day, or a combination of those things. And not socializing with anyone and barely even seeing my own family. This is usually what happens to me with the aforementioned bout of depression that comes with illness. Which is how I justify it to myself that it's okay to hide in the dark and quiet when I'm sick. But whether this is a typical or healthy response to being under the weather, I don't like it and want it to happen less often. My entire life I've had the tendency to get sick often, it was even worse when I was a child. So it's not like any of these bugs I catch as an adult are the worst I've ever had. On the contrary, I'm positive the worst ones happened when I was under the age of 10. So it seems like all this sick time should've toughened me up a bit instead of seemingly making me weaker. Well I don't like feeling weak. That's a big, fat, blinking sign that it's time to change something.

Which brings me back to my most recent illness. It started like any other, with me hiding in my room. Extra justification was escaping the smell of death downstairs which was obviously not helping my intense nausea. Brian poked his head in to check on me and did something that made all the difference in the world. He moved the blanket on the window and opened the blinds. It was last week on the morning after the most snow I've ever seen since we've lived here (like 6 whole inches, it was crazy!). And it was sunny and, obviously, extra bright from all the snow. My first reaction was of course, "No! Ahhh my head! It's too bright!" But we both knew it would be good for me, so I left it. After the initial shock wore off and I could open my eyes, I realized it was bearable. I made a point of opening the blinds anytime I rested in my room during my sick days.

Our backyard last week
And you know what happened? I made it through my entire illness without getting depressed. I can't even remember the last time that happened. Or if that's ever happened. Seriously, it was pretty fucking epic. So all these years I've felt like my progress with defeating depression has been creeping along in slow motion, now one illness bam! I feel like I've jumped ahead a hundred steps. There's always more steps ahead but for now, I'm taking a moment to just enjoy this progress. 

So if like me, you tend to get depressed when you're sick, try not to hide from the world. Instead, try getting some natural light in your life. Doesn't even have to be sunny, you just need to be able to see outside. It reminds you that the world isn't ending and before you know it, you'll be all better.

"Why are people setting off fireworks? It's not the 14th of July," Sebastian asked...

"Why are people setting off fireworks? It's not the 14th of July," Sebastian asked me last night.
I couldn't hide my chuckle at that. "The 14th? Try that one again buddy."
"The 4th, the 4th, I mean!"
"People like to celebrate on New Year's."
"It's just a way to measure another revolution around the sun, another year has passed. It reminds us to take time to appreciate the moment. And to evaluate everything we did the past year, and make goals for the coming year, " I replied...or something that probably didn't sound quite that organized, but was the gist of our discussion.

This, of course, got me thinking of taking my own moment of appreciation. Today always marks a unique point in time for me. I often wonder if having my birthday on New Year's Day is what makes it seem that way. I'm betting most people have a moment like this on their birthday's as well as New Year's, so I guess I'm just combining my New Year's and birthday moments. It usually results in lots of deep breathing and heavy sighs. Another year is over already. I'm another year older. 32 today. How weird that sounds. Am I the only who still feels like a teenager? Back when being over 30 was "really old"? Now I don't think of old as starting at a specific age, but more of a way some people feel about themselves. But it still seems like I'm young and have all the time in the world. Maybe that's because I'm trying to remain at peace with my age.

You know what I mean... "to age gracefully". I don't want to be that 30-something person who lies about her age and spends all my time and money on covering up the fact that I'm not 16 anymore. Of course it feels weird to see new wrinkles showing up on my face, old ones getting deeper, the white hairs spreading like wildfire on my head. But my thoughts on aging are less worries of the physical, and more of the philosophical. I feel the worry of, am I doing all I should be doing with my life? Am I making the best use of my time on this planet? Am I making the largest, most positive impact I could be making? Those are the questions that nag at me. Not if I should start using anti-aging cream. Fuck that pile of bullshit. Concentrate on your life, not your wrinkles.

So while I have been wrestling with all those thoughts as my birthday approached this year, another moment worthy of appreciation caught my attention. Today marks my 5th anniversary of this blog. Which started with a short, honest post about my purpose and intention, which you can read in less than a minute here.

Interestingly enough, my intentions have not changed much in the last 5 years. I have many writing goals, but probably not the typical blogging goals. I try not to care about the numbers (followers, page views, likes, etc.). I get it, if you're trying to use your blog as a source of income, then the numbers are important. But thankfully, I'm not. I'm just trying to make myself write, you know, somewhere people might read it. I don't really care how many people read it. Well that's probably inaccurate. Of course I want many people to read it, and if they enjoy it, stick around. But I don't want to attract people to my blog because of products, free giveaways, a fake service, or false promise of being able to help you drastically change your life. I want people to come here simply because they enjoy reading what I write. Period. So it is with that in mind, that I share with you my blogging goals for the year:

2017 Blogging Goals
  • Get published on more sites, big and small.
  • Connect with more of my readers.
  • Write posts about once a week.
  • Stay ad-free.
This is starting to sound like a resolution post. Oddly enough, I've never been a fan of New Year's resolutions. Maybe because most people don't stick with them. I set goals for myself whenever I think of it, definitely more than once a year. And I rarely share them with anyone, because I don't need anyone's judgements if I fail. I want goals to be a way to keep me motivated, but not stressed out and disappointed if I don't achieve them. Being an overachiever for most of my life meant I spent a lot of timing feeling bad about myself, especially if I failed to achieve a goal. But for many years now, one of my biggest goals has been to STOP feeling bad about myself. As is even obvious in my first post. But now, finally, I feel confident enough in myself to share just a few of my more personal goals with you, without worrying about your judgement or the fear of failure.

2017 Life Goals
  • Less depressed episodes (days where I hide from the world)
  • More patience (especially as a parent)
  • Mindfulness- conscious and intentional decisions in all areas of life
I also have many small goals like spend more time outdoors, keep working on pain-free running, more yoga, more traveling, etc. etc. But these bigger goals are the real challenge, what requires more of my concentration. The things I have a higher chance of failing at, but also the ones really worth achieving. Like all important things in life, they won't be easy.

So here's to 2017! Don't be afraid to set some challenging life goals for yourself this year. Have you already set some? Share them in the comments!

This popped up on my Facebook memories on Dec 17th: Wow I don't believe it's been over ...

This popped up on my Facebook memories on Dec 17th:
Wow I don't believe it's been over 4 years since we first heard Sebastian might have NF1 (neurofibromatosis type 1). My memory of the day we first heard that word is still very clear. Brian called me at work not long after Sebastian's check-up. I stepped outside to take the call. I answered, expecting to hear all was well. But instead, I heard concern and frustration in Brian's voice as he told me what the doctor said. My heart immediately sank, before I knew anything about it. Not because I was convinced there was anything wrong. But because I had so been hoping for a good check-up for him, finally. But it just wasn't to be.

Re-reading that post now brings up so many emotions. It's funny to realize how much I just HATED all his doctors, even though they all turned out to be good. Like his pediatrician at the time. I had never even met her at that point but I was pissed she didn't give Brian more information (which I still think she totally should've). In retrospect, I think she just didn't want to scare him if she was wrong. And also general practitioners seem to be well trained, or maybe almost forced, to recommend a specialist for anything that ails us past the basics. I didn't realize at the time how incredibly lucky we were to even have a pediatrician who knew what NF was and recognized the signs. If anything serious had been wrong with Sebastian, catching it early could've made all the difference in helping him.

When reading this, I also feel immense sadness and compassion for the 2012 version of our family, and how perfect our lives had been going until that moment. The year leading up to this news was one of the most stress-free years of my life. We were enjoying living in Oregon and having Sebastian stay home with Brian and being well and healthy more often. I was loving my job and being debt-free after our short-sale had finally went through. I was finally feeling healthy myself, and running, cycling, and doing yoga more than ever before. We had even started trying for baby #2. Life was good.

Obviously the diagnosis changed our lives forever. I used to feel guilty for my depression from this, but as I progressed through my grief, I realized there was nothing for me to be ashamed of. It's hard to go from feeling like life is perfect in one moment to total shit the next. And it's okay to hurt for your child. It's okay to be depressed when you're left helpless. It's okay that I was in denial about it for a long time. It was a rough couple of months after this post as we worked through the process of getting the diagnosis confirmed, seeing all the specialists, doing all the research and educating ourselves as much as possible. But in the end, it all turned out well. We learned this diagnosis was not a death sentence, not even a guaranteed rough life sentence. It's just a label (and we know how I feel about labels). His condition has not worsened. Physical therapy is helping him increase his strength and coordination. He is smarter than ever, reading a full grade ahead and asking me a new math problem daily. He is perfectly healthy, despite the NF1.

I am beyond grateful for how well he is doing. I continue to choose to believe only the best for Sebastian. I'm confident in the knowledge that positive thinking and not worrying every moment is by far the best thing I can do for my kids, no matter what happens in their lives. But a piece of me still wishes I could just go back and hug myself 4 years ago and say the words I needed to hear and believe...

🎶"don't you worry, about a thing, cause every little things gonna be alright."🎶

Today seemed like a great day to join in on a confessional link-up with my dearest Danielle o...

Today seemed like a great day to join in on a confessional link-up with my dearest Danielle over at Sparkles & Lattes.

I confess that...

...I dislike most Christmas music. Some of it's okay, and I'll play it for my kids occassionally and sing along with them. But it gets overplayed to death every year and some of it is just so cheesy and terrible. Except Mariah Carey's Christmas album. I still listen that shit every year hahaha! (Yes I know it's cheesy and overplayed too!)

...I just love decorations, especially lights. I want to be one of those crazy people with a billion lights on my house. I just don't want to spend the money and time to do it.

...I hate shopping. No matter what it's for or what time of year, it's just not my favorite thing. Decisions have to made, money has to spent, and this time of year there's crowds and traffic and weather to drive in and I'd rather stay home curled up on the couch with a cup of tea. I've never been more thankful for online shopping than I am this year.

...Christmas is so much better with children. It's easy to get stressed and burnt out on this crazy, busy season but the kids make it worth it. They're so excited by the decorations and silly Christmas movies and baking and Santa and presents of course. Now if I could just get them to appreciate giving as much as receiving, we'll be all set!

...I love the movie Elf. And so does Sebastian. So we have seen it way too many times. But not as many as Home Alone 1 & 2. You've never heard a kid laugh as hard as Sebastian does while watching the bad guys get hurt.

...I really do enjoy giving gifts, even though I don't enjoy the shopping piece. My favorite gifts to give are homemade ones. I just wish I had time to make every present, but I would have to be making gifts year round for that to happen.

...Brian and I hardly surprise each other with gifts anymore. We're too practical to spend money on something we don't think the other person will like, so we always ruin the surprise and make sure we get the right things each year. He even bought his own presents this year, and already used it the cheater!

...I much prefer staying home to traveling during the holidays. It just saves so much time and money to travel in the summer when there are less holidays and no ice and snow.

...I haven't mailed out actual Christmas cards in years. I guess I feel like it's a waste of paper and postage, mostly cards just get thrown away. Just saving the planet, one card at a time. 😉

...the biggest thing left on my to-do list is to get pictures printed. I am procrastinating because it takes so long to sort through thousands of pictures and decide which ones to print! Plus I forgot to do it last year so it will be twice as bad as normal. Waaaa!

What about you? Have any Christmas confessions you need to get off your chest? Leave them in the comments below!

It's official. I'm an adult now. I've been looking at college savings plans for my ki...

It's official. I'm an adult now. I've been looking at college savings plans for my kids and this week I voluntarily went to a meeting about my 401k. It's time to make decisions about how to invest my money for RETIREMENT? Seriously, I'm not that old, but I have to worry about that now? UGH!

Fuck being an adult. I feel like I'm just now realizing that I'm all grown up. At this point in life, we're expected to already be well established in our chosen career, be making lots of money, buying a house, buying multiple new cars, investing wisely, getting married, having kids, taking expensive vacations, the American Dream baby! This is it, we're all there right?! Yeah me neither. You know why? Because the American Dream is bullshit. Because success isn't something defined by society or anyone but yourself. Success is what you decide it should be.

And success for me? You guessed it. It has NOTHING to do with money. Yes I have a good career. But I don't own a home. We only own 1 used car. At the moment, I have 0 dollars invested in anything. I don't own designer clothes or purses or anything like that. I shop at Goodwill. No joke. I don't give a single fuck about financial position or social status or any of that crap. Success in my mind is defined by how I feel about my life. What am I accomplishing? What progress have I made with my own issues? What am I giving back to the world? These define my success.

So do I feel successful? Eh, sometimes. Not like I've completed my life's goals or anything. I have lots of goals about lots of things and it will take my whole lifetime to complete them all, I'm sure. But I feel good about the progress I've made, the things I have accomplished, and where I'm at. Sometimes I don't, sometimes I'm downright depressed if I focus too much on what's ahead. But you know what helps me get over that? My children.

From the American Dream's standpoint, I'm nothing special. But when I look at my children, I think wow, I'm not a waste of space at all. Look at these kids! They are beautiful, intelligent, mostly polite, little human beings with good hearts! They talk to people. They care about people. They want to be friends with everyone. They aren't afraid to dance and sing. They aren't afraid to be goofy and laugh inappropriately loud at fart jokes. They give us hugs and kisses and say awww when they see a puppy or a baby. They say "I love you" to us everyday.

I'm not taking credit for all of their wonderful qualities. Who can say how much of these things are just their own personality and how much is what we taught them? No one knows. But I know that they came from me and Brian. I know that Brian is unique in his dad skills. And while he won't admit it, he works really hard and does an amazing job at raising these crazy little kids. I know that I try my hardest to do the best I can for them. And when they kiss me on the cheek and Sebastian asks me how my day was or Oscar gets excited to see me and yells "Mommy!" my heart sings. And I experience true happiness in those moments because I know that I am a successful human being. Even if I do nothing else worthwhile in my life, at least I helped create these amazing people.

That is not my intention of course, I intend to continue doing my best so that they continue learning all they can from me. But they are still my reminder to define my own success. To not get wrapped up in what the world is trying to tell me I need to do to be successful. Because that is what I want them to do for themselves. The best way to help our kids achieve their dreams would be to give them an example of how that's possible. What better example then their own parents?

Success should be a personal thing. It should be unique to your dreams and goals. It should be raw, real, genuine. It takes a lot of effort to come up with our own definition of success, create goals for ourselves, figure out our dreams, and plans for accomplishing them. Following along with society's definition is the easy way out. Anyone can put on a suit and go kiss some corporate ass if they want to achieve the stereotypical definition of success. But there's nothing genuine about that. And would you really be happy even if you had all that? Sounds like a life lived on the surface to me. I want to dive into the deep end of life and find all the hidden treasures. I'm not interested in staying in the shallow end.

So I'm going to keep defining my own success. Living life on my own terms. Setting goals that are MINE and no one else's. Figure out my dreams and how to achieve them. It won't be easy but at least it will be real.

What about you? How do you define success?

These are all labels I have been called, by myself or others, in my lifetime. Do you ever thi...

These are all labels I have been called, by myself or others, in my lifetime. Do you ever think about the different words that have been used to label you in your life? There are so many. I'm sure if I thought about it longer I would remember many more, too. It's interesting to write them down and think about what each means. And how one person could be all these things. Well I'm not still called all these today, but I am definitely still many of them.

We LOVE labels in this country. We use them for everything, good and bad. To educate, diagnose, and inspire on one end and persuade, cheat, and manipulate on the other. But more often than not, people use them as insults. Society uses them to box people into groups and ideals. This is most obvious in high school I would say, with all the cliques. At that age it seems everyone uses labels to decide if you're cool or not, worthy of notice, or easy to ignore. They start to define your identity.

As many teenagers do, I spent a lot of time wrestling with my identity. I was called so many different things in those years, I couldn't be all of them. And how many of them were true? How many were just used because of people I hung out with? Because of things I was taught and repeated, without knowing if I believed it? By the time I was done with high school, I remember hating labels and the people who loved to use them to insult. I didn't like being told I was something, whether it was true or not was irrelevant. It was the idea that someone could describe me in one simple word.

I don't think I know anyone I could accurately and completely describe in one word. Except for the word "human". We are all humans. We all have basic human needs and rights that should be met, but being labeled is not one of them. I don't need society's opinion of where I sit in the great chart of cliques. As if life will always be a high school cafeteria, where no one ever changes. You think eventually everyone around you will grow up and it will quit mattering. And if you find good people to surround yourself with, it usually does. But then you'll be around someone who will say another one. I always cringe when I hear it happen. When will it end? Life should be about a lot more than that.

So grow up. Stop it with the negative labels. Whether you mean to or not, it is often insulting to slap a label on someone. It makes you sound like you think you're better than that person. Because why, they're different than you? You're not better than anyone. And no one is better than you. We are all equal. We're all human beings with differing opinions and beliefs that change as often as we do, which is daily! Today I sound like a pissed off crazy person, but last post I was an idealistic dreamer. That's just how it goes.

So society, fuck your labels. I don't need anyone to tell me who I am. I don't need you to try and define me. A label comes with a set of rules. I don't need someone else's rules. We all have our own rules (well most of us) that we live by. They are a personal thing and nobody fits 100% into just one label. Our true "label" is as unique as we are, every person's is different. No two people on the planet are exactly the same. And for that I am very thankful. Imagine how incredibly dull the world would be if we were all like that? I'll take this often chaotic but eclectic group of human beings over a world of easily labeled drones any day!

Keep finding the things that make you unique. Keep being different. Keep being "weird". Keep being you.

On Friday night, Brian and I went on a date. We headed to a restaurant in downtown. When we got...

On Friday night, Brian and I went on a date. We headed to a restaurant in downtown. When we got there, the waiter mentioned that it was dead that night because everyone was avoiding downtown. I had completely forgotten about the protests when I chose the restaurant. Nothing crazy had happened on the block we were on, so we enjoyed our meal and didn't think much of it. Except that I could see the traffic on the road from my seat, and continued to notice more and more police cars driving by. Clearly something was still going on.

After we finished, we started to walk back to our car and heard the protestors nearby. We hung around, curious to see if the protests were indeed "riots" as everyone had been calling them. We saw no criminal activity, just people marching, some with signs, some with various noise-makers, some chanting, some just walking. My first thought was, the media has blown this way out of proportion. Big surprise.

At about 9 o'clock, multiple SWAT cars rolled into the neighborhood. The police got on a megaphone and started telling everyone they needed to clear the street or force would be used. Of course they didn't listen. We started to wander away because tear gas doesn't sound like fun or something an asthmatic should inhale. But then the crowd got much louder. Suddenly several incredibly loud bangs were fired off. I thought for sure someone got shot, but the flashes of light accompanying each shot told us they were flash bombs. The police were firing them, and followed them up with tear gas. And not long after, shooting rubber bullets. People were running down the streets to get away, but many would just circle the block and take the abuse again.

It was interesting (and disturbing) to see that what appeared to be a peaceful protest didn't turn into a riot until the police came. It was also eye-opening to realize that the whole group was basically being punished because of vandalism that had happened on previous nights. Regardless, all I could feel was everyone's anger, rage, and hatred. It was overwhelming and scared me. I just wanted to leave. Below are a few clips I got on my phone.

What I witnessed was anger and violence meets more anger and violence. The result being, no one won. Isn't anyone else but me tired of this division in our country? Each side is hating the other side equally, each just as guilty, but all the while blaming the other guys for the problems of the world. But guess what? The worst problems in the world spawn from everyone's hatred, prejudice, anger, envy, and fear. As long as we all continue to have these negative and destructive feelings about each other, nothing will ever really get better. The answer to our problems isn't in politics, in democrat or republican, activist or police officer, socialism or fascism. The answer is in how we treat each other. The answer is in love.

In my mind, the number one thing we should all be protesting is hate. Tragic events that happen from hate are worth our protest. Things like war and famine, those are worth protesting. But our protest should not include more violence and hate. Otherwise we just perpetuate the cycle and the hatred never ends. If we could learn how to forgive and move on, and even how to love each other instead of hating each other... how do you think that would look? Can you imagine a world where people loved each other equal to the current amount of hate in this world?

Yeah I know... I'm an idealistic dreamer. That's okay. I just hope someday we have enough dreamers in this world to make this a reality.