Sometimes You Just Fix It

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There was a viral video that came out a couple of years ago in which a woman is complaining to her husband about a problem and was upset because he just kept trying to fix the problem instead of listening to her. It would cut to her husband intermittently, and he would exhaustively plead with her to simply fix the problem and that the solution was so obvious. In the middle of the video, we see that she has a nail stuck in her head, and her husband was trying to get her to stop complaining about the pain and simply remove the nail. They go on to argue about the situation and he finally gives in and “listens” to her talk about the problem some more.

Here, you can just watch it for yourself.

This is a bit sexist, pretty funny, and sadly, painfully true.

My husband is a pretty patient man. He has been there for me through now two pregnancies, two c-sections, and 4 ongoing attempts at child-rearing. It has not and is not pretty.

On Saturday, I had a meltdown that I wish I could blame on hormones, but it pretty much only stems from my own impatience and pettiness for my body to get “back to normal.” (2 weeks postpartum/post-op… seems reasonable, right?) Give me a break, feeling comfortable and somewhat attractive in clothes is a big deal! Anyway,  I was complaining that I didn’t have a lot to wear and that I was tired of looking this way and bah blah blah. I cried, you guys. Bryan sat patiently and waited for me to finish blubbering and then calmly responded:

“Ok, lets go get you a couple of things then.”

Like oh ok.

Why do I make things so difficult?

We drove the three minutes it takes to get to Old Navy where they happen to have been running a Mothers’ Day sale with BOGO free t-shirts and 20% off shorts (Which is what I needed the most). I was a happy camper. I feel 100% better knowing that I have a couple of things that actually fit me right now. Just whatever if they will be too big soon. You can take that logic and hit the road, sir. Alls I know is that I have crap to wear now.

Sometimes, the answer really is black and white. Sometimes, we need to shut up, stop talking about the problem, and just freaking fix it.

(Yes, Mom, I know you’ve been telling me this for years.)

Love, Alex

Nothing in It for Me

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I’m a feely person. I am 100% an external processor, it is difficult for me to “let things go” (how does one even just “let something go?”), and hormones are sooooo not my friend. SO this whole raising a baby-turned-toddler/adoption/growing another baby/adoption again thing has really taken a toll on my emotional state.

People say a lot of things about me. Lately, most of those things have been positive. “You guys are just so awesome.” “I’m so thankful for your calling.” “I don’t know how you do it, but God is really blessing you guys.” “She is a super-mom.” This is all very flattering, but do you want to know how I feel? I feel like a piece of crap. I feel like a selfish, whiny, brat of a person and I wish I could feel a lot stronger. 

The truth is that I am not a strong person, and for the first time in my life I can say that I can’t do this alone. That’s not to say that I could before, but I think God has been stringing me along for my entire life letting me think that I had it so hard and that I was handling everything so nicely, only to teach me a lesson that I apparently badly needed to learn, and with nothing short of grandeur. This lesson has come in loud and clear from the Big Guy. Are you ready?

“This isn’t about you, Alex.”

Ugh. Ouch.

You see, I didn’t even know it, but all of this excitement and pushing forward and all of the things that kept me (and both of us) going through this process was all about how it made me feel. It made me feel like a baller who was just doing the Lord’s work with grace and ease. Then reality hit me like a ton of bricks and it hurt. Badly. Having a teenager is hard. Teenage boys are gross and bonding with one in a maternal way isn’t as natural as I thought it would be. It often feels like all I am getting out of this is more laundry and less food. This is real-talk, you guys. THIS CRAP IS HARD. I don’t really know how to eloquently put it. Throw in a new baby with his own set of health problems and who cries all of the time, and my eyes have only one setting now: crazy.

This reality set in on day one. I sat in my closet alone on move-in day and realized that this didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. I asked God what was wrong. How could something I was so excited about not feel all that exciting after all? Every time I have asked Him that question, which is all the time, His answer has come in loud and clear (which for me is a rare occasion. As you may remember, I am not a sweet whispers from God kind of person. I am a kick-in-the-pants kind of person for dang sure.):

“This is still My plan, even if there’s nothing in it for you.”

So this is not necessarily a sweet blog post in which the lesson or message can be wrapped up neatly with a bow. This crap is still hard. I am not nearly refined enough to take that message from God and allow peace to fall upon me or something. I am getting by a day at a time with the help of those closest to me (including God), and lots of crying and chocolate. I am a firm believer in the power of a good cry. My husband, on the other hand, wishes I would learn another coping mechanism that doesn’t stress him out quite as much. FAT CHANCE DUDE.

PS: Please don’t think I have gone off of the rails and am against foster-care and adoption now. That is the opposite of the truth. I am still 100% in and think that (most of) you should be too. Please still ask me questions about all of that, you can just trust that my answers will be raw and real and honest, which is really better, right?

Love, Alex

The Calm before the Storm

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I am literally minutes away from getting a delivery. Of a baby. Someone is coming my house to deliver a baby. To live with us. This is in addition to the baby I already have and the baby growing inside me right now.

I wanted to take a minute, really just for myself, to compose myself before possibly the craziest time *ever* begins. I don’t know what to expect, what to do, or how to be. All I know is that God has been setting me up for a while to trust Him with everything in me. He’s done that by turning my life upside down lately. Multiple hospital visits,a surgery, a surprise pregnancy, becoming the mother of a teenager I didn’t know before, scary moments, and lots of change. I have been an emotional wreck. And now He’s asking me to trust Him again.

I tried to enjoy my last night of regular sleep, but I really couldn’t. Dreams of chaos crowded my mind. As soon as the new baby starts figuring out sleep is probably when the even newer baby will make her grand entrance, then the cycle will start over. These last few moments are so weird. I feel like they should be sacred or something, but really they are just full of anxiety. I know I should be better, but I’m not. I feel like a crazy person. I have no idea what to expect and that scares the crap out of me. I am not a go-with-the-flow person. I need plans and structures and routine. We’ve been over this before, it’s nothing new. I am not easy-going, but apparently God would like for me to be.

So alright God, here goes.

Love, Alex

Consumer Voice

Dat Cruelty-Free Life

So a few of you have become aware and had to endure my annoying new(ish) habit, trying to live cruelty-free. What do I mean by this? Well, that is a very complex question, but I will try to give an as-brief-as-possible overview:

The vast majority of beauty, hygiene, and cleaning products use real, alive with a brain and a will and thoughts and NERVES, and yes, feelings, animals to do testing on in their labs. Most of these animals are rabbits, but cats, dogs, etc are often used as well. Most of you probably knew this, but don’t think about it or feel badly about it because you don’t see it every day and it doesn’t directly affect your life, or you just don’t care, which sucks a ton (This is an area where yes, I totally and completely judge you). I’m of the camp that human life is worth more than animal life, which is why I eat meat and train my dogs that I am their master and stuff. I’m sure at one point in time animal testing may have been beneficial, like in the very beginning, when scientists were all, “Maybe this will keep people clean! Let’s make sure it won’t kill them and stuff though.” The truth of the matter is, though, that animal testing is RARELY a necessity anymore, all of the ingredients have been tested already, and it is absolutely stupid and ridiculous that it’s still a thing.

Some companies just do animal testing because they do, and this sucks. A lot. But the biggest reason companies still do animal testing is because their biggest client, China, requires it. That’s right. It is an actual law in China that every single product go through animal testing. Keep in mind that this is the same country that has extremely questionable ethics in their meat industry. Basically, they give zero effs about hurting animals. To pull all of this together, companies are essentially so greedy and money hungry that they will not do animal testing for their products that go state-side, but will submit to animal testing to sell to the largest consumer group in the world. So the money they get from that is more important to them than another living breathing thing that they have stripped of choices. You have to also be careful because some of these companies will boast that they are cruelty-free, when in actuality they are just cruelty-free for the stateside product that you are holding, but that exact same product is submitted to animal testing to ship to another country. “Does not conduct animal testing unless required by law” is the verbiage you want to look out for.

I know this may be ignorant of me, but I try to avoid doing any research on this stuff that involves becoming aware of exactly what they do to these animals to a graphic extent. I’m just too big of a baby, y’all. I’ve seen enough though. Enough to make me sick time and time again. I know that regular testing involves blinding, burning, poisoning, and way too much more. Let’s think about this for a moment. Anything that says boasts being “tear-free”: how do you think they know? How many animals  have been blinded and hurt to ensure for the one billionth time that that is true?

I made the decision a couple of years ago that yes, my household will not make enough of a difference to make these companies change their processes. But at least I’m doing something. I’m not adding to the masses, and no animal’s blood will be on my hands. I can put on make-up, clean my house, take care of my baby, and more without feeling the guilt of giving my US dollars to greedy, heartless companies.

I have worked really hard to get my house completely cruelty-free, which is a process I am still working on, but since I have received lots of questions anytime I tell someone about my convictions, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks on cultivating a cruelty-free environment for your home as well. You can go all-out on this stuff and spend lots and lots of money, but because of the increasing demand for natural or cruelty-free products, you can find most of what you need at Walmart or Target and for an extremely comparable price to your normal stuff. Also, I am sure there is stuff I will miss, so if you don’t see something on this list and have questions, PLEASE comment and ask, that way others can see as well. I will also be posting some resource links that I have used in this process for further help. Also #2, I am giving names of products that we use at home, but I am sure there are lots of other affordable options out there outside of these. Also #3 (Sorry.), I am going to try and list where you can tangibly buy these products, but keep in mind that all of them are available online and getting them from Amazon is probably cheaper. Prime baby!

Beauty and Hygiene

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  • Make-up: Milani is a company that sells their stuff in Walmart, Target, etc, like they have a little section beside Loreal (Not cruelty-free) and all of those other companies. It’s very affordable and its quality is comparable to all of the other drugstore make-up brands. Other good ones are Yes To, Bonne Bell, e.l.f., and Wet’n’WIld.
  • Teeth Care: Toms of Maine is another brand that can be found in Walmart, Target, etc and they have toothpaste, mouthwash, and whatever else you could need.
  • Bath/Body/Face Care: We have used an assortment, all of which are awesome and have different scent options. Burt’s Bees, Yes To, Shea Moisture, JĀSÖN (<– what I have in my shower right now. It smells so delicious I could die. $7 for a huge pump bottle.), Nourish, Seventh Generation, BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty!), the list could literally go on and on.
  • Hair Care: Lots of the above brands make haircare products, but my favorite find is definitely OGX (Organix). They have the products that I need and it smells good and works! I used to be a total Aussie girl, but this is has been an easy switch.
  • Deodorant: Sooo this has been one of the harder ones for me to find. I switched to Toms of Maine deodorant, and it works great, but finding antiperspirant has proven harder. The true blue natural people will tell you that our bodies don’t need it and that it’s actually bad for you, which is why I only use deodorant and not antiperspirant, but I get that some people would prefer the strong stuff. THANKFULLY, Toms just started putting out antiperspirant! There are other brands out there that are totally researchable as well.

Household

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  • Cleaning Products: These are a tough one because so many of us have our sworn favorites, but you can find cruelty-free versions for comparable price and at the same stores. A few are: Attitude (Target, Walgreens), Method (Target, Safeway, Kroger), Mrs. Meyers (Target, CVS, Whole Foods), Caldrea (Target, probably others), Nature Clean (IGA, Safeway, Whole Foods, Toys”R”Us), Biokleen (Locally, Cook’s Natural Food, but you can put in your zip code on their website and see who sells them near you. Also widely available online.). Another list that could go on and on.
  • Laundry: There are tons and tons you can buy online, I buy Molly’s Suds (on Amazon) because they are affordable and work really well. I started using them when I began washing Grady’s laundry and didn’t want to have to buy baby detergent. It’s safe enough for the whole family. Some honorable mentions are most of the above-mentioned cleaning brands as well as Seventh Generation, which you can purchase at Walmart and Target.

Baby

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Sorry guys, but the classic Johnson & Johnson is not cruelty free :(. But you know who is? Babyganics (Target), Honest (Target), California Baby (Target), Burt’s Bees (Walmart, Target), Shea Moisture (Walmart, Target), Yes To (Walmart, Target), plus lots more! I usually use either Babyganics or Honest and they work really well and are comparable in price to the classic baby brands.

You can google all of these brands to find their website and order online, or go through Amazon, or go to your local drugstore. There are loads more cruelty-free brands out there, but I tried to focus on the ones that are cheaper and easy to find in order to bust the myth that living cruelty-free is difficult and expensive. Bottom line though, even if it was, is it worth it? Food for thought :).

Here are some helpful links that I have used again and again in this area.

http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/

http://www.mybeautybunny.com/

http://www.leapingbunny.org/

Do you have any other good websites? Share them in the comments!

With Baby Comes…

This is one of those things that I know no one reeeeeally cares about reading, but I neeeeeed to talk about it.

Weight.

So I had a baby, in case anyone reading this doesn’t already know that from my bombardment of photos on the interwebs. And with a baby comes extra weight. It’s a fact of life. When you’re pregnant, however, you can be smart about it, or, like me, be stupid about eating and healthy weight gain.

I had packed on a few pounds before I got pregnant, and was in the process of trying to lose it, and failing miserably. I just love food ok? When I saw the double line on the pee stick, I was all “Great! No more having to worry about losing weight!” And I ate…and ate…and ate…and gained a lot more weight.

Y’all.

*Swallows pride.*

I weighed well over 200 pounds at the end of my pregnancy.

It was hard for me to accept. I wanted to badly to be able to control it, but losing weight has always been difficult for me.

Before I move on, I just want to say that I am not at all trying to be one of those people who isn’t that big, but is going to complain about it anyway. If there’s nothing we women get more annoyed with, its skinny girls talking about how fat they are, meanwhile we are sitting here, obviously heavier than them, eating a burger. No, I am not trying to be that woman. Just talking about my personal story, and although I was and still am overweight, I try not to think of myself as “fat.”

Losing weight has NEVER been easy for me. I can exercise, but I am unwilling to change my diet much if at all, so when exercise doesn’t cut it (10% exercise/90% diet right?), I give up and feel even worse about myself. I like carbs, cheese, and sauces. Those are my vices. Plus I love to cook, it’s a creative outlet for me, and cooking some variation of chicken, again, gets old. When given the choice at a restaurant, I will always choose something I want instead of something healthy. Why pay for a salad when I can make that at home, right? It’s a real problem. I use food for comfort too. I have a hard time sitting and watching a tv show or movie without having something to snack on. I tend to break the golden rule of dieting by drinking my calories as well. Coke is like sweet nectar of the gods on my mouth. I could go on and on.

The point is, it has always been a problem, but a bigger problem is feeling down about myself. This is hard crap you guys. I hardly have time to dress myself and keep laundry washed, let alone to spend 2 hours of my day working out. Because let’s be honest, doing  45-minute work out is only a small part of it. For me, It means pumping, because, you know…jumping around and stuff, squeezing into a sports bra and still-too-small work out clothes, making sure the kid is asleep or otherwise occupied, doing the work-out, showering (maybe), and changing again. THAT’S LIKE HALF THE DAY YOU GUYS.

Ugh.

I do love the #MomBod movement over the past few weeks, and I am all over giving grace to moms to get their bodies back, but that doesn’t mean that I should just do nothing. I want to be able to run and play with my kids and get down on the floor and color without it hurting. I want to be able to…gosh just to wear MY OWN CLOTHES again. We like to paint a pretty picture of how beautiful childbirth is, but rarely do we have honest feelings about how hard and sucky it is to accept that our bodies will never be the same. I don’t want to feel like I am body-shaming or mom-shaming by saying that it is sucks to have stretch marks all over my body and to accept that it’s just how my body looks now. Or can we just talk about boobs? Or extra skin? Or just all of it?

I want to feel healthy and good about myself again. I want the fat in my face to go away so I can stop hating every single photo of me. And sure, there’s a part of me that needs to learn to love myself and my body more, but there’s another part that needs to suck it up, get her act together, and eat better.

All of this to say, I am on a diet. *Shudder.* Even I hate those words. I wish I could be one of those women that’s all “HAHA what’s a diet??” but no, I did not win the “Bounce-back-after-childbirth lottery,” and something’s gotta give. I don’t like diets. They rarely work and I never want to have to buy a bunch of shakes, drops, bands, wraps, and whatever other diet fad is going around now. Just no. I am doing the 17-day diet. I like it because it’s structured, but simple. I can have as much as I want of certain things, so I am never hungry, and it’s easy to wrap my mind around. I am down about 6 pounds since starting, and I am 2/3 of the way through cycle 1 (It consists of four 17-day cycles). That puts me at (crap is there still pride I need to swallow??) 174 currently. My goal is 140.

As far as eating out goes, that’s where Bryan comes in. I asked him to be in charge of my diet for the time being. He was all “Nope nope nope nope this is a trap nope.” But I talked him down and explained that I don’t have enough self-control to eat well, so could he please order for me at restaurants and slap chips out of my hand when necessary. He has been great so far! I think showing him that I wouldn’t fight him on it in the moment (bites tongue) really helped him to not feel like this was a lose-lose for him.

I may post updates as I go, but maybe not. I know this stuff isn’t exactly riveting, but it’s a big part of my life right now. Food is so hard for me that when I limit myself, it occupies roughly 97% of my thoughts. So I’m just trying to hang in there…for now.

Love, Alex

So much to do and I’m doing this instead.

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In the wise words of Jim Gaffigan, “you ever have so much to do that you just take a nap?” That’s where I’m at, you guys. My house looks like a tornado went through it, we’re going on vacation next week WITH A BABY FOR THE FIRST TIME, I’ve done zero packing or purchasing the necessary items to TAKE A BABY ON VACATION TO THE BEACH because even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know where anything is in my house because it looks like a tornado went through it. We’ve come full circle. So now you can see why I am sitting at my bar on my laptop instead of doing I don’t know, anything productive. (Even if you can’t, please just nod and smile.)

I’m also slightly distracted by the fact that a very important conversation regarding that whole adoption thing is happening at some point today. If you’re the praying type, we could use it.

Speaking of the house. I’m still in that honeymoon phase where I get in bed every night and say to Bryan “I can’t believe we get to live here.” I want to stay this way. I really don’t want to get complacent and start thinking of this house as anything besides such a blessing that isn’t really mine, but is God’s to be used for His glory. So bring on the parties, bring on the small groups, bring on the bridal/baby/wedding showers, the guests, the students needing a place to crash, and on and on.

The next subject on my mind: vacation WITH A BABY. You guys. I’m kind of stressed about this, which I realize is ironic given the fact that it’s vacation. This is Grady’s first time outside of like a 100 mile radius and most definitely his first overnight trip besides to my parents’ house. And it’s the beach, and the ocean. I need your tips! What’s your best advice for babies at the beach? Especially babies at a beach I’ve never been to. Also, babies on long road trips? Bring it on, readers!

Camping in Our House.

You guys.

We are sleeping in our new house for the first time! Oh, you didn’t know that we bought a house? That’s probably because I suck at blogging as of late and also because OMGithappenedsofast.

We drove by this house on a Saturday and I said “nah, I don’t want to look at it because it’s a row home and probably isn’t what we want. On Sunday, Bryan went to look at it anyway without me. He called and said “So how would you like a house that has 4 bedrooms plus an office, a formal dining room, a big kitchen, and a bonus room, AND is in our price range?” I was all “Please yes I would like that please.” “Wellllll it’s that house you didn’t want to look at.” So our awesome realtor Blair showed us both the house on Monday, put our offer in and the owner accepted it on Tuesday. For real. They wanted to close 30 days later and we had to slow their roll.

(Seriously though, if you are local-NWA-call Blair Williams asap to be your realtor. He stuck with us even after last yeah when we had him show us houses all over the area and then were like “Haha jk Alex is pregnant so we’re not buying for like another year hahahaha sorrrrryyyy.” He did everything we asked and took amazing care of us. CALL HIM.)

So moving still sucks, in case you were wondering. We have been moving throughout the week and have been stuck in the limbo of two different houses with halfish of our stuff in each of them. Tonight though, we are sleeping here! It’s not as chaotic as I thought it would be, but I still feel like I’m camping out in my own house. I mean sure, our bed is here, but Grady’s is not and neither is his monitor, so I’m typing this all stealthy-like because he is asleep in the rock-n-play beside me and I’d like him to stay that way.

Here are a few of the many piles of un-gone-through stuff that I am choosing to deal with tomorrow instead of tonight. (“LALALA it’s all organized and decorated so you can take a chill pill and go to bed crazy person LALALALA”)

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I’ll try to put together some sort of virtual tour soon for you guys. I know you’re all dying to see an undecorated house with boxes everywhere.

We filmed a virtual tour earlier today TO SEND TO AN ADOPTION HOPEFUL! The kid will be shown our photos and video on Tuesday, so if you’re the praying and/or encouraging words type, we could use all of the things before and on that day.

I’ll keep you posted! Eeeeeeee!

Love, Alex